Following up on my article about how to use the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG), this article reviews how to use a tool that is bundled with that tool, the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG). Like the VRAG, this is an actuarial tool that can be used to predict the risk of re-offending among sex offenders.
Before reading about the SORAG, it is helpful to review the VRAG post as many of the elements that are covered in that post are required before proceeding to the SORAG items. It is recommended that any completion of the SORAG be preceded by a completion of the VRAG as this will save you a significant amount of time.
Completing the SORAG
Like the VRAG, the first step is to complete the Childhood & Adolescent Taxon Scale (CATS) worksheet and the list of Conduct Disorder Symptoms.
Cormier-Lang Criminal History Scores
In order to answer item 5 on the SORAG, Criminal History Score for Non-Violent Offenses Prior to the Index Offense, it’s necessary to complete the Cormier-Lang Criminal History worksheet also provided on the SORAG. This worksheet is completed by filling out the number of non-violent offenses and applying the weight to them noted on the sheet.
Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) Items
The SORAG itself has 14 items that are similar to those found on the VRAG.
- Lived with both biological parents to age 16 (except for death of parent)
- Elementary School Maladjustment
- History of alcohol problems
- Marital status (at the time of or prior to index offense)
- Criminal history score for nonviolent offenses (from Cormier-Lang system)
- Criminal history score for violent offenses (from Cormier-Lang system)
- Number of previous convictions for sexual offenses (pertains to convictions known from all available documentation to be sexual offenses prior to the index offense)
- History of sex offenses only against girls under 14 (including index offenses; if offender was less than 5 years older than victim, always score +4)
- Failure on prior conditional release (includes parole or probation violation or revocation, failure to comply, bail violation, and any new arrest while on conditional release)
- Age at index
- 11. Meets DSM criteria for any personality disorder (must be made by appropriately licensed or certified professional)
- Meets DSM criteria for schizophrenia (must be made by appropriately licensed or certified professional)
- Phallometric test results
- 14. a. Psychopathy Checklist score (if available, otherwise use item 12.b. CATS score)
14. b. CATS score (from the CATS worksheet)
14. WEIGHT (Use the highest circled weight from 12 a. or 12 b.)
You’ll note that many of these items are available from the VRAG. The tool indicates where there are overlaps in order to save you time filling out the worksheets and tools.
Determining Risk Level of Sex Offenders
After completing the tool, you must take the total score of the SORAG and compare it to the below levels.
- A score of -17 to +2 indicates an individual is at Low risk for re-offending
- A score of +3 to +19 indicates an individual is at Medium risk for re-offending
- A score of +20 to +34 indicates an individual is at High risk for re-offending
An individual who is on the border between these two levels should have that indicated. For instance, someone who scores at +1 or +2 should be noted as “Low-Medium Risk” to highlight that they are at the edge of the established risk level.
Recidivism Rates using the SORAG
Rather than grouping an individual into low, medium or high risk categories, it is often more illuminating to examine the recidivism rates. These come from Violent Offenders as well.
|Probability of Recidivism|
|SORAG score||7 years||10 years|
|< − 9||0.07||0.09|
|−9 to -4||0.15||0.12|
|-3 to +2||0.23||0.39|
|+3 to +8||0.39||0.59|
|+9 to +14||0.45||0.59|
|+15 to +19||0.58||0.76|
|+20 to +24||0.58||0.80|
|+25 to +30||0.75||0.89|
American Psychological Association. (2006) Quinsey, V.L., Harris, G.T., Rice, M.E. & Cormier, C.A. (2006) 2nd Ed. Violent Offenders: Appraising and Managing Risk. Washington D.C: American Psychological Association.