Saturday, August 29, 2015

Historical Studies of Adult Sexual Offenders: Sexual History Interviews

SMART Office Paper: Chapter 3

As noted above, very few studies focused on juveniles who commit sexual offenses were undertaken prior to the 1980s, and very little attention arguably was paid to this population by juvenile justice policymakers and practitioners. That all began to change, however, when a series of retrospective studies based on sexual history interviews with adult sex offenders was conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In these studies, adult sex offenders self-reported a significant, previously unidentified history of sexual offending, which included sexual offending as a juvenile. For example, 24 to 75 percent of the adult sex offenders reported committing sexual offenses that were unidentified by authorities and 24 to 36 percent reported sexual offending that began when the respondent was a juvenile. In one of the studies (Longo & Groth, 1983), adult sexual offenders reported a juvenile history of indecent exposure and voyeurism, suggesting that juveniles who commit less severe sex crimes can progress to committing more serious adult sex offenses.

Despite their limitations, these studies played a significant role in shifting policy and practice. Juveniles who commit sexual offenses began to be viewed as budding adult sex offenders, and efforts to intervene with this population began to be based on the assumption that they were fundamentally similar to adults who were engaged in sex offending behavior (see, for example, Groth, 1977; Groth, Longo, & McFadin, 1982; Longo & Groth, 1983; Marshall, Barbaree, & Eccles, 1991). ..Source: SMART Office Study..

(All Longo papers are here) ---- And see NY Times 2007 "How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?"

Friday, August 28, 2015

Do tough sex offender restrictions really hurt women and children more than keeping them safe?

8-28-15 National:

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this lengthy new Al-Jazeera America article headlined "Collateral damage: Harsh sex offender laws may put whole families at risk: Research says that registries and residency bans leave children of sex offenders vulnerable to bullying, homelessness." Here are excerpts:
In 1996, Congress passed Megan’s Law, which allowed states to publicize the names of those convicted of sex offenses. A wave of federal and state laws followed that created online sex offender registries, broadened who is listed and restricted where registrants can live.

But today there’s a growing body of research and court opinions questioning those laws’ effectiveness and constitutionality. No studies have looked at what proportion of the country’s nearly 850,000 people on state registries are providing for families of their own. Activists say, however, that thousands of female partners and children are being hurt by laws that aim to protect kids....

Vicki Henry, who runs Women Against the Registry, a group trying to roll back registration and residency laws nationwide, [with] volunteers operate a hotline for family members of registrants seeking help in dealing with the consequences of those laws. They field about 100 calls a month, Henry says.

The only quantitative study to date suggests how serious those consequences may be. In the American Journal of Criminal Justice in January 2009, researchers Jill Levenson and Richard Tewksbury reported on their survey of nearly 600 immediate family members of registrants. More than 20 percent said they had to move out of a rental because their landlord found their relative’s name on the registry, and 40 percent said they found it hard to find an affordable place to live.

Respondents said that their kids didn’t fare well either. Two-thirds reported that their children felt left out of activities because of their parent’s status, more than three-quarters said their children were depressed, and almost half reported that their children were harassed....

Two new qualitative studies provide more backing for the 2009 study findings. From 2010 to 2012, a team of researchers from four universities surveyed almost 450 registrants about the consequences for their families of their being on the list. Their report on the study ran in the October 2014 Justice Policy Journal. Another by two University of Delaware researchers involved surveys last year of 36 family members and interviews with 16 of them; it’s still under review for publication. Both studies asked open-ended questions, so the researchers couldn’t crunch any numbers. But key themes run through the responses — children being shunned and harassed, families struggling to find a place to live, wives losing friends and jobs because a husband is on the list....

Those families may be the collateral damage in a war on sex crimes that’s been underway since passage of Megan’s Law. But it’s far from clear that the chief weapons politicians have employed — registries and residency bans — are helping to protect children or the public.

None of the six studies on sex offender registries conducted between 1995 and 2011 found that registries lowered recidivism, according to a meta-analysis of 20 years of research in the November 2012 Journal of Crime and Justice. “Over the last 15 years, sex offender registries have been established in all empirical forums not to reduce sexual offending behavior, violence, or the number of victims,” Kristen Zgoba, coauthor of that study, wrote in an email.

There’s an even broader consensus on residency restrictions. A U.S. Department of Justice brief released last month concluded that “research has demonstrated that residence restrictions do not decrease and are not a deterrent for sexual recidivism.” And a December 2013 study report in the journal Criminal Justice Policy Review noted that Florida’s residency laws likely play a “significant role” in homelessness and transience among sex offenders.
..Source.. by Sentencing Law and Policy

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CSOM: Recidivism of Sex Offenders

May 2001:

The criminal justice system manages most convicted sex offenders with some combination of incarceration, community supervision, and specialized treatment (Knopp, Freeman-Longo, and Stevenson, 1992). While the likelihood and length of incarceration for sex offenders has increased in recent years,1 the majority are released at some point on probation or parole (either immediately following sentencing or after a period of incarceration in prison or jail). About 60 percent of all sex offenders managed by the U.S. correctional system are under some form of conditional supervision in the community (Greenfeld, 1997).

While any offender’s subsequent reoffending is of public concern, the prevention of sexual violence is particularly important, given the irrefutable harm that these offenses cause victims and the fear they generate in the community. With this in mind, practitioners making decisions about how to manage sex offenders must ask themselves the following questions:
  • What is the likelihood that a specific offender will commit subsequent sex crimes?
  • Under what circumstances is this offender least likely to reoffend?
  • What can be done to reduce the likelihood of reoffense?
The study of recidivism—the commission of a subsequent offense—is important to the criminal justice response to sexual offending. If sex offenders commit a wide variety of offenses, responses from both a public policy and treatment perspective may be no different than is appropriate for the general criminal population (Quinsey, 1984). However, a more specialized response is appropriate if sex offenders tend to commit principally sex offenses.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the critical issues in defining recidivism and provide a synthesis of the current research on the reoffense rates of sex offenders. The following sections summarize and discuss research findings on sex offenders, factors and conditions that appear to be associated with reduced sexual offending, and the implications that these findings have for sex offender management. Although studies on juvenile sex offender response to treatment exist, the vast majority of research has concentrated on adult males. Thus, this paper focuses primarily on adult male sex offenders.

... ... ...

Referencing the Graphic above (Prentky Study) found on pg-6:

Conversely, Prentky, Lee, Knight, and Cerce (1997) found that over a 25-year period, child molesters had higher rates of reoffense than rapists. In this study, recidivism was operationalized as a failure rate and calculated as the proportion of individuals who were rearrested using survival analysis (which takes into account the amount of time each offender has been at risk in the community). Results show that over longer periods of time, child molesters have a higher failure rate—thus, a higher rate of rearrest—than rapists (52 percent versus 39 percent over 25 years).

They fail to mention this study is of KNOWN recidivists
in a civil commitment center in Massachusetts.

..Source..PDF by CSOM

Note the following from a study "Sex offense recidivism, risk assessment, and the Adam Walsh Act" by Jill Levenson -in part- covering the Prentky study above:
pg-2-3: Sex crime policies are often driven by the belief that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders will reoffend. Sex offense recidivism statistics are frequently declared in legislative preambles without citing a source, and even when properly attributed, statistics are sometimes misinterpreted or misrepresented. For example, in the Alaska case of Smith v. Doe in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Megan’s Law, the opinion cited the reported findings of a study funded by the National Institute of Justice (Prentky, Knight, & Lee, 1997). While the 25-year recidivism rate of 115 predatory child molesters in that study was cited as 52%, it is important to note that this was a projected, not actual, recidivism rate.

As the authors explained on p. 11 of the article, the reported 52% recidivism rate describes the estimated probability that this particular sample of child molesters would “survive” in the community without being charged, convicted, or imprisoned for a sexual offense over a 25-year period. In actuality, 32% of the child molesters in the sample reoffended, and they did so relatively quickly – within 4 years. Ray Knight, one of the authors of the NIJ study, stated in a recent email correspondence to this writer: “There are several things about the ‘97 study that are important to mention. First, the sample is a civilly committed one. The recidivism rates for those referred to the Treatment Center for evaluation and released are significantly lower (see Knight & Thornton, 2007:) ..Source..