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

Lifetime sex offender recidivism: a 25-year follow-up study.

October 1, 2004

See criticism of this study by K. Hanson. (Just below this: Myth: Sex offenders have a 94 percent recidivism rate

A sample of 320 sex offenders and 31 violent non-sex offenders, seen for psychiatric assessment between 1966 and 1974, were compared retrospectively on lifetime recidivism rates to 1999 over a minimum of 25 years. A number of criteria and data sources were used; RCMP records and hospital records were the best sources, albeit the RCMP had records for only 54.1% of the cases. Approximately three in five offenders reoffended, using sex reoffence charges or convictions or court appearances as criteria, but this proportion increased to more than four in five when all offences and undetected sex crimes were included in the analysis. Group differences in recidivism were noteworthy, with child sexual abusers and exhibitionists most likely to reoffend and incest offenders least likely. Time at large and time incarcerated played a relatively minor role overall in results, except in the case of offenders who were sexually aggressive against adult females, courtship disordered, or violent. The typical known criminal career spanned almost two decades, indicating that sex offence recidivism remained a problem over a significant part of the offenders' adult lives.

Sex offender recidivism studies have become increasingly prominent in the psychological and criminal justice literature over the past two decades. With the increase in the number of incarcerated sex offenders, such studies have become an important aspect of correctional planning and administration. Recent estimates indicate that 37% of sex offenders will return to the correctional system (Hanson and Morton-Bourgon 2004). Recidivism risk is also a prominent factor in evaluating the rehabilitation of sex offenders and any danger they present to public safety. The Correctional Service of Canada has long been a world leader in providing treatment to sex offenders, and recidivism results have become the most important criterion in evaluating treatment effectiveness and informing parole board decisions (see Hanson, Broom, and Stephenson 2004; Hood, Shute, Feilzer, and Wilcox 2002). The last two decades have also seen the development of a number of actuarial risk prediction measures that have consistently been demonstrated to be more accurate and reliable than clinical judgement. These instruments rely mainly on recidivism data to estimate their reliability and validity in prediction. Thus, how recidivism is measured has an important bearing on (1) correctional and administrative planning, (2) evaluating the effectiveness of sex offender treatment, and (3) the validity and reliability of actuarial instruments that predict risk of recidivism. The present study examines lifetime recidivism rates among various sex offender groups and evaluates the effect of data sources and criterion measures used in calculating recidivism rates, irrespective of any treatment intervention. Treatment and actuarial risk measures will be evaluated in separate reports.

A number of review studies have been reported in the professional literature and will not be duplicated here (see Cottle, Lee, and Heilbrun 2001; Doren 1998; Furby, Weinrott, and Blackshaw 1989; Hanson and Bussiere 1998; Soothill and Gibbens 1978). We were unable to locate any extensive reviews of the sex offender recidivism literature in the past five years, but the journal Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment devoted a special issue to the topic in 2002, and the problems discussed by Furby et al. in 1989 remained basically the same in 2002, when the research documented here was carried out (see Hanson 2002).

Published recidivism rates for sex offenders have been remarkably variable, but generally low. For example, Furby et al. (1989) reported on 42 studies and found that recidivism rates varied from 0% to 88%, the majority being under 30%. Hanson and Bussiere (1998) reported on 61 studies representing 28,972 cases and found an average sex offence recidivism rate of 13% and general recidivism of 36% overall. These rates are essentially unchanged in a 2004 update examining 95 studies on 31,216 sex offenders (Hanson and Morton-Bourgon 2004). There are several possible explanations for the great variability in results.

First, several criteria, which may produce different rates, have been used to define recidivism: sex offence re-convictions; any new charge or arrest for sexual offences; any type of new conviction; any type of new charge; self-report; or, less often, parole violations or number of court appearances. In the studies reviewed by Hanson and Bussiere (1998), re-conviction was used as the criterion in 84%, arrests in 54%, self-report in 25%, and parole violations in 16%. The most common source was national crime statistics, used in 41% of the studies. In the Hanson and Morton-Bourgon (2004) update, 53% of studies used national crime statistics, 41% provincial or state records, 22% records from treatment programs, and 22% other records (such as child protection or parole files); 15% used self-reported data, and the data sources for 15% were unknown. A total of 34% of the studies used multiple criteria.

Hood et al. (2002) have been critical of the low rate of recidivism based on re-convictions, noting in their own study that the decline in number of sex offenders re-convicted of a sex crime is probably due to the difficulty of securing convictions rather than to a decline in actual sexual reoffending. Thus rearrest rates may be more informative than re-conviction rates in evaluating the true incidence of sex crimes in the community. Both convictions and arrests are examined in the present study.

Researchers also dispute whether non-sexual offences should be considered in recidivism measures, especially if therapy for changing sexual behaviour is being evaluated. However, sex offences are often reclassified through plea bargaining as violent non-sexual charges (such as common assault) and even as property offences (such as break and enter) if, for example, an offender is foiled in an attempted rape (see Hood et al. 2002). Sex murders may be excluded altogether, as they would be labelled not as sex offences but with the more serious label "homicide." Schlesinger and Revitch (1999) report that even property offences are frequently sexualized in cases of sexual homicide. It may therefore be valuable to examine all episodes of recidivism, whether they are labelled as sexual or as some other offence. In the present report, convictions and arrests leading to charges for sexual and non-sexual offences are examined separately.

A second problem... ..more.. by Langevin, Ron ; Curnoe, Suzanne ; Fedoroff, Paul ; Bennett, Renee ; Langevin, Mara ; Peever, Cheryl ; Pettica, Rick ; Sandhu, Shameen

1 comment:

A Voice said...

This study has been questioned by a credible person.