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.

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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..

Who will the sex-offenders registry protect?

12-29-2004 Canada:

Society has always held a particular sense of revulsion toward sex offenders. Unfortunately, Canada's government, charged with the duty of protecting its people, is more ambivalent about sexual crimes and, until recently, had done little to diminish the risk sexual offenders pose to society once they are released from custody.

On Dec. 15 -- after more than a decade of lobbying by police officers, the provinces and victims' rights groups -- a national sex offender registration system finally became a reality.

A national database will allow police to track the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders once released from prison. Within 15 days of being released from jail, offenders will be required to provide local police with a current address, phone number, fingerprints, photographs and information on identifying body marks. This information, and their criminal records, will be registered and updated on an annual basis or when they move.

The good news is that this is a significant step forward in enabling police to rapidly locate likely suspects in a specific area when a sex crime has been committed or a child has been abducted. Locating potential offenders quickly is a critical factor when children go missing: It is estimated that 44% of children who are abducted for sexual assault and then killed are dead within one hour, 74% within three hours, and 91% within 24 hours.

The bad news is that the registry may be too little, too late. Because of some inherent flaws, it won't be able to reach its full potential as a tool for public protection.

How Likely Are Sex Offenders to Repeat Their Crimes?

1-24-2008 National:

In debates over laws monitoring released sex offenders, it’s common to hear claims that they’re sure to commit more sex crimes. “‘What we’re up against is the kind of criminal who, just as soon as he gets out of jail, will immediately commit this crime again at least 90 percent of the time,” a California legislator told the New York Times in 1996. (Other examples of such rhetoric are collected here.) Fox News — like the Wall Street Journal owned by News Corp. — said of child molesters in 2005, “Not only are they almost certain to continue sexually abusing children, but some eventually kill their young victims.”

But as my print column this week points out, the numbers don’t bear this out. Recidivism rates vary widely depending on which crimes are counted, the timeframe of the studies, and whether repeat offenses are defined by convictions, arrests, or self-reporting. But even the author of a widely published report suggesting a recidivism rate of 52%, Wisconsin psychologist Dennis Doren, told me of the notion that all sex criminals are likely to re-offend, “There is no research support for that view, period.” Dr. Doren, evaluation director at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, Wisc., added, “You’re not talking to a bleeding-heart kind of guy here.”

Undetected Recidivism among Rapists and Child Molesters

Crime & Delinquency July 1982:

Although recidivism among dangerous sexual offenders is generally reported to be low, clinical experience suggests otherwise. In order to assess the actual recidivism rate of offenders who commit sexual assaults, we administered to a sample of eighty-three convicted rapists and fifty-four convicted child molesters an anonymous questionnaire in which they were asked a series of questions pertaining to their history of sexual offenses. The results indicate that the majority of the offenders had been convicted more than once for a sexual assault. Furthermore, on average, they admitted to having committed two to five times as many sex crimes for which they were not apprehended. This study suggests that dangerous sex offenders usually commit their first sexual assault during adolescence, and that they persist in this criminal behavior, but that the offense has low visibility. For this reason recidivism, as judged by rearrests, is not a dependable measure of rehabilitation of the sexual offender.

Study Sample:
Our sample of offenders was drawn from two different populations: men who were convicted of sexual assault but were committed to a security treatment center for rehabilitation before sentencing, the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in Gainesville; and men who were serving time for a sexual assault in a maximum security prison, the Connecticut Correctional Institution at Somers.

The subjects for this study not only come from different regions of the country, but also were in two different types of settings: one a mental health facility designed exclusively for sexual offenders, and the other a traditional correctional facility in which the sexual offenders were housed in the general population with other adult male felons.