We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.


2000 Iowa:

The Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP) received funding through the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program for the purpose of collection and analysis of data related to implementation of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. The research had two specific goals:

· To enhance understanding of the State’s Sex Offender Registry through collection and analysis of data on sex offenders before and after the Registry’s implementation.

· To develop and validate a unique Iowa Sex Offender Risk Assessment tool to assist in identifying those offenders who constitute the highest risk to re-offend.

Few studies have addressed the impact of a Sex Offender Registry program on recidivism rates or other variables. It was the purpose of this first study to examine and compare two groups of individuals to determine what effect, if any, the requirement to register as a sex offender had on recidivism rates over a 3-4 year period.

Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994 requiring states to create registries of sex offenders convicted of sexually violent offenses or crimes against children. Megan’s Law, amending the Act in May 1996, placed sex offender information in the public arena by requiring states to disclose information to the general public under specific guidelines. In response to increased public interest, researchers are beginning to address the issue of recidivism in this offender population, as well as questions concerning offender and victim characteristics.

Much of the current work being done in sex offender research is focused on the possibility of reoffense, including predictors of recidivism and the effects of various treatment programs.

Research results vary considerably depending on the definition of recidivism used, length of time for follow-up, and sample selection.

In an attempt to consolidate some of the current research findings on recidivism, Hanson (1996) conducted a meta-analysis of approximately 61 studies, using a 4-5 year follow-up period. He found an overall average recidivism rate of 13.4 percent for sex offenses, 12.2 percent for violent crimes and 36.6 percent for general recidivism. In the reviews, recidivism was defined in several ways, including reconviction, arrests, self-reports, and parole violations.

How many recidivists commit new sex crimes is of utmost importance not only to researchers but also to the general public, who may face the prospect of living near a convicted sex offender.

It appears that sex offense recidivism is relatively low when compared to other reoffenses. Several studies report recidivism rates for sex offenders as high as 45 percent but report recidivism for new sex crimes between three to seven percent (Arizona Department of Corrections, 1999, Eisenberg, 1997, Motiuk & Brown, 1996, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 1996). The majority of reoffenses included other violent crimes, property offenses and/or probation or parole violations. Most of the studies reviewed used a time frame of 3-5 years for follow-up.

What follow-up period is adequate is not easily determined, as most recidivism research fails to go beyond three to five years. However, the Arizona Department of Corrections in 1999 published a fact sheet that outlined the rate of recidivism for new sex offenses by year after release using one to seven years. They found that the majority (79 percent) of recidivists committing new sex offenses did so within the first three years after release. On the other hand, Hanson (1992), in his long-term follow-up study of child molesters, found the greatest risk of recidivism to be between five and ten years from the convicted offense. The Hanson report also stated that 23 percent of the recidivists were reconvicted more than ten years after they were released. Clearly, time to recidivate will be one of the issues to be addressed in future research.

For the remainder of the study: by Iowa Department of Human Rights Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning and Statistical Analysis Center

Note: Excellent before/after registry chart Table-A

Iowa recidivism percentages are in Table-4

Other charts

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