Standards and Guidelines for Clinical Polygraph Examinations of Sex Offenders


  1. Objective
  2. Definitions
  3. Clinical Pdd Examiner Qualifications
  4. Continuing Education
  5. Polygraph Instrumentation
  6. Clinical Examination Formats
  7. Recommended Frequency of Clinical PDD Examinations
  8. Clinical PDD Testing Techniques & Procedures
  9. Question Construction
  10. Compliance With The Indiana Polygraph Examiner's Act


In recent years, polygraph examinations have become an integral part of many assessment and monitoring programs utilized by sex offender treatment providers, probation and parole officers, and other court officials.

Being aware of the increasing role of clinical polygraph examinations with sex offenders, in September of 1993, the Indiana Polygraph Association's President David L. Motsinger appointed a committee to propose recommended guidelines and standards for this examination process. Guidelines were developed, and a preliminary certification program was implemented in 1996, revised in 1999, and finalized in the year 2000.

The Indiana Polygraph Association feels it is important to recognize that as with any powerful beneficial tool, there exists a potential to misuse this benefit. A critical point of understanding concerning the clinical polygraph is that it is a diagnostic tool. Its utility, i.e., its ability to elicit admissions and allow a formulation of opinions concerning deception, is a separate issue from forming diagnostic opinions, which are scientifically valid, reliable, and defensible. By emphasizing the use of methods with established validity and reliability, these guidelines seek to protect the examined subjects, therapists, probation officers, and clinical polygraph examiners.

We, the Indiana Polygraph Association, recommend and direct, that these following guidelines be followed by any polygraph examiner conduction clinical polygraph examinations of sex offenders (so adjudicated) for therapists, supervision specialists (probation of parole), or any other agent or agency under order of the courts. We believe these guidelines allow competent examiners to maximize utility without sacrificing procedures necessary for accuracy.

The Board of Directors of the Indiana Polygraph Association is charged with the implementation of these guidelines and any amendments that may be necessary in the future. Its duty in this matter will include the directing of training and establishing testing standards.

Guidelines for Clinical Polygraph (PDD) Examinations of Sex Offenders

1. Objective: The objective is that all PDD examiners conducting clinical polygraph examinations in compliance with these guidelines are;


Specifically trained in clinical PDD examination of sex offenders, concerning issues associated with supervision and treatment of sex offenders, and issues associated with being a sexual assault victim/survivor.


Using standardized polygraph examination and reporting procedures; and


Upholding the highest professional and ethical standards of practice while providing clinical PDD services.

2. Definitions


Clinical PDD (psychophysiological detection of deception) examinations refer to the utilization of the polygraph for the purpose of detection deception or verifying truthfulness of statements of any person under supervision and/or treatment for the commission of sex offenses. Clinical PDD examinations are specifically intended to assist in the treatment and supervision of sex offenders.


All examiners shall use analog or computerized, four or five channel polygraph systems that will simultaneously record the physiological phenomena of abdominal and thoracic respiration, electrodermal (galvanic skin response or conductivity) responses, and cardiovascular activity.


Clinical PDD Examination Technique is defined as:


A technique or procedure which has achieved a published, scientific database sufficient to support and demonstrate validity and reliability from the application and use of that specific polygraph technique; and,


A technique or procedure that is evaluated according to the published methods for that specific procedure, and provides for numerical scoring and quantification of the chart data, where applicable; and,


A technique or procedure that has not been mnodified without support of published validity and reliability for that particular modification.


Mixing issues within a Clinical PDD examination is defined as:


The inappropriate mixing of relevant questions within the clinical PDD by crossing a defined time frame of reference, i.e., asking a question about pre-conviction history with post-conviction behavior.


Issues are considered mixed when they cross defined "time barriers". For clinical purposes, it is not considered missing issues to investigate different offenses, issues, or behaviors within the appropriate time barrier.


Within the Maintenance and Monitoring test, missing clinical treatment questions such as masturbation and fantasy, with supervision (probation or parole) questions, within the same examination, is considered missing issues.


A Specific issue Examination is a test, which addresses a single issue for resolution. For clinical purposes, "Monitoring Examinations" and "Disclosure Tests Over The Instant Offense" examinations, utilize a Specific Issue test format.


Quality Control Review is defined as:


An objective review of a polygraph examination by an independent, qualified examiner, designated by the executive board of the Indiana Polygraph Association. This review is designed to ensure that professional standards were maintained during the polygraph under review.

3. Clinical PDD Examiner Qualifications


Clinical PDD examiners shall hold a current Indiana Polygraph Examiner's Certificate in accordance with the Indiana Polygraph Examiner's Act IC 25-30-2


Clinical PDD examiners shall maintain membership in the Indiana Polygraph Association.


Clinical PDD examiners shall successfully complete a minimum of forty (40) hours of specialized post conviction sex offender PDD training, and pass a final written examination, which is recognized and approved by the Board of Directors of the Indiana Polygraph Association. This training shall include, but not be limited to; sex offender assessment, evaluation, and monitoring.

4. Continuing Education


All continuing education shall be recognized and approved by the board and shall be consistent with these guidelines.


All PDD examiners conducting clinical polygraph examinations shall, as a minimum, document completion of sixteen (16) hours of approved continuing education every two (2) years following completion of the required forty (40) hours of specialized training and successfully completing the course written examination. Such continuing education training may include:


Polygraph procedures and other professional topics applicable to polygraph and the sex offender.


Specialized training on the behavior and motivation of sex offenders.


Specialized training on trauma factors and sexual assault issues associated with victims/survivors.

5. Polygraph Instrumentation


The polygraph shall simultaneously record:


Respiratory tracings of two (2) separate pneumograph components. One respiratory component will record the thoracic (upper chest) respiration and the other pneumograph component will record the abdominal (stomach) respiration.

One (1) pneumograph component is acceptable when the polygraph is designed for a single recording format, such as some conventional (analog) polygraphs.

A single pneumographic recording may also be allowed when the examiner has converted one of the pneumograph components for another recording alternative, such as a movement sensor, thumb transducer, etc.. In such cases, the single pneumograph component would be applied at the subject's most active physiological position of the thoracic or abdominal area.


Electrodermal Response Activity tracings by means of either skin Conductance Response (SCR), or Skin Resistance Response (GSR).


Cardiovascular tracings which demonstrate changes in relative blood pressure, as well as changes in pulse rate and pulse amplitude.


Calibration or functionality charts shall be conducted, consistent with manufacturer's recommendations. At a minimum, these charts shall be amintained by the examiner for no less than one year.

6. Clinical Examination Formats


Clinical PDD examination formats include the following : Disclosure Examination over Sexual History, Maintenance Examinations, Monitoring Examinations, and Specific Denial Over Instant Offense Examinations.


Disclosure Examinations over Sexual History explore sexual histories, therapeutic issues, sexal deviance and behaviors, prior to the time of conviction. In conjunction with appropriate examination procedures and professional adroitness, admissions are often obtained during the pretest phase, as well as the posttest interview phase of the examination. Often, sex offenders deny sexual behavior and ideation, except for what has been identified as a result of the investigative and judicial process.


Disclosure examinations and admissions are relied upon by treatment providers, court officers, attorneys, supervision officials, and others on the sex offender containment team in their development of appropriate supervision and treatment programs.


The focus of the Sexual History Disclosure Examination pertains to the sexual history of the examinee, and issues identified by therapists. Approved sexual history written questionnaires are appropriate subject matter for this examination format.


Maintenance PDD Examinations have a different purpose and intent from disclosure examinations over sexual history, or other forms of clinical PDD testing. They are designed as a utility test to confirm the examinee is following rules and regulations of probation/parole, or treatment, during a specific period of time following the date of conviction.


Utility designed tests to verify compliance with probation or parole orders are classified as "Maintenance Test over Supervision" examinations.


Utility designed tests to verify compliance with treatment rules and regulations, including compliance with treatment protection plans, are classified as "Maintenance Test over Treatment" examinations.


Monitoring PDD Examinations explore the possibility of commissions of sexual offenses, or a specific issue forbidden by supervision, while the examinee is on probation, parole, or in treatment. Such tests are conducted as a specific issue examination only.


Specific Denial PDD Examinations involve only the examinee's post conviction denial, either in part or in whole, of the instant offense for which the individual has been placed on court supervision. Such test are conducted as a specific issue examination only.

7. Recommended Frequency of Clinical PDD Examinations


The following guidelines for clinical PDD examination frequency are recommended to maximize validity and reliability of examination results.


To safeguard against habituation and familiarization between the examiner and the subject, a clinical PDD examiner shall not conduct more than four (4) separate clinical polygraph Maintenance or Monitoring examinations, or any combination of Maintenance or Monitoring examinations per year on the same examinee, unless significant reason exists for more frequent testing.


A re-examination over previously examined issues where no opinion was formed would not be considered a separate PDD examination.


The examiner shall not conduct a clinical PDD examination of less the ninety (90) minutes duration.


To safeguard against error caused by examiner fatigue and insufficient testing time per examinee, a limit on the number of examination that can be conducted per single calendar day is as follows :


No more than three (3) disclosure PDD examinations in any one calendar day.


No more than three (3) maintenance, monitoring, or specific denial PDD tests in a single calendar day


A combination of no more than three (3) clinical PDD examination in any single calendar day.

8. Clinical PDD Testing Techniques & Procedures


Clinical PDD examination techniques will be limited to those which are recognized and published within the profession as standardized and validated examination procedures, as defined in section 2.3 of this standard, and/or recognized by the Indiana Polygraph Association Board of Directors.


Standardized and recognized published examination formats and procedures define the number of relevant questions that may be utilized that pertain to the issue under examination. SUch examination procedures do not allow for more than five (5) relevant questions to be asked during any given clinical PDD examination.


Recommended test formats for specific PDD examinations include: standardized and published Zone Comparison Techniques (ZCT); standardized and published Control Questions Test formats (MGQT), and may allow other standardized and published procedures that meet the guidelines and requirements described above.


Clinical PDD examiners shall use comparative (control) question test formats that allow qualitative and quantitative numerical evaluation and scoring for specific clinical PDD examinations. The recommended diagnostic opinions of clinical PDD examinations are; No Deception Indicated (NDI), Deception Indicated (DI), or Inconclusive (INC), (also referred to as "no opinion").


Clinical PDD examiners shall not disclose the results of the examination until it has been adequately and sufficiently analyzed, in compliance with the examination and scoring protocol of the technique utilized.


To maintain proper confidentiality practices, PDD examiners shall obtain, at the beginning of each examination session, the examinee's written authorization regarding the release of information of any and all admissions, statements, and resulting from the PDD test and interview.


Reports of Clinical PDD examinations shall, upon proper release authorization, be forwarded anly to the named authorities as each program specifies, which may include: treatment providers, supervision specialists (probation/parole), and/or any other-agent or agency under order of the court to receive such reports.


All clinical PDD examinations shall be approprately recorded for diagnostic and documentation purpose. All such documentation, including recorded charts and reports should be maintained for a minimum of one (1) year, unless the matter remains pending before the courts, such as an appeal.


PDD tracings should be easily readable. Tracings that are either to large or too small, or have extraneous responses to external stimuli are no recommended.


In order for the PDD examiner to deliver a valid and reliable opinion based on the recorded tracing information contained within the polygraph charts, it is recommended all pneumograph and Cardiograph tracings recorded during a PDD examination be of sufficient amplitude to be easily read and evaluated, by the examiner, and by a reviewing examiner when necessary for quality control purposes.


All pneumograph and cardiograph tracings should be not less than one-half inch in amplitude. Chart tracings consistently less than one half inch in amplitude in the pneumograph and/or cardiograph tracings, without sufficient documented explanation of physiological cause, shall be considered insufficient for analysis purposes. Every effort should be made by the examiner to increase baseline amplitude of recordings that are less than recommended minimums. Chart that are evaluated and determined to be inadequate may require additional testing of the examinee.


Demonstrational/Acquaintance (stim) Tests may utilized during the PDD examination. The demonstrational/acquaintance test is used to demonstrate that psychological set of the examinee and the examinee's reaction capabilities are established for diagnostic purposes. This test is a recognized procedure utilized in conjunction with professional examination formats.


Video or audio recording of the \pretest, in-test, and post-test phases shall be made and maintained for possible evidentiary or quality control purposes as noted in section 8.4. Although video recording is the preferred medium, audio recording is sufficient to meet these guidelines.


Questions shall be balanced in terms of length and impact for each category of questions used. Questions used in the assessment of truth and deception shall be preceded by time intervals of no less than twenty (20) seconds, from question onset to question onset


When, of if, approved validated research supports the use of another time interval, than time span shall prevail.


Conditions, under which PDD testing occurs, shall be free from distractions that would interfere with the ability of the examinee to appropriately focus on the issues being addressed. The examination site should be relatively free outside noise and distraction.


Standardized chart markings, recognized and utilized within the polygraph profession shall be employed to annotate all calibration and examination charts.

9. Question Construction


In order to design and effective PDD examination which adheres to standardized and recognized PDD procedures, the questions utilized should be constructed in the following manner:


Simple and direct


As short as possible


Should not include legal terminology (i.e. sexual assault, homicide, incest, etc.), which may allow the examinee to rationalize or utilize any other defense mechanism.


The meaning of each question must be clear and not allow for multiple interpretation.


Shall use language easily understood by the examinee.


Must be easily answerable by yes or no.


Should avoid the use of emotionally laden terminology in questions (i.e. rape, murder, assault, etc.)

10. Compliance with the Indiana Polygraph Examiner's Act


All Clinical PDD Examinations conducted by examiners in the State of Indiana must be conducted in full compliance with all rules, regulations, and statutory requirements of the Indiana Polygraph Examiner's Act, as provided by Indiana Code 25-30-2. Nothing in these guidelines is intended to, or may replace compliance in any way with the requirements of the Polygraph Examiners Act so stated. This certification does not attest to an examiner's competence, ethics or integrity. It merely attests to the fact that the examiner who possesses this certification has met the minimum requirements as set forth by the Executive Board of Directors of the Indiana Polygraph Association