11-17-2007 New York:
New York State provides a wealth of studies on sex offender recidivism. While the thought of statistical studies causes the eyes of many to glaze over, any who are concerned that public policy be based on fact rather than mythology are grateful to have some hard data. It is extremely informative to look at the data gathered over the last 20 years.
The earliest study in this period was a New York Department of Corrections study (Profile and follow-up of sex offenders released in 1986, prepared by Canestrini, K., State of New York Department of Correctional Services) which followed 556 sex offenders released from state prisons in 1986. A total of 49% of these were returned to prison within the 9 year follow-up period. It should be noted that only 6% of these (34 out of 556) were returned to prison for a new sex crime. Most were returned for parole violations (27%) or for committing other crimes such as drug offenses. The study includes the clear statement: “These findings suggest that sex offenders are a diverse population and that when looking at sex offender recidivism it is important to distinguish total criminal activity from sexual reoffending.” (p. 34) Unfortunately, politicians and the media often do not do this. It should also be noted that this study was conducted before New York's Megan's Law was enacted.
New York regularly publishes 3 year follow-up studies of all those released from state prisons. Between 1985 and 2001 a total of 11,898 sex offenders were released. Only 253 of these (2.1%) were returned to prison for new sex crimes within three years of their release. (2001 Releases: Three Year Post Release Follow-up, State of New York Department of Correctional Services, p. 18) Of course, as in the above mentioned study, recidivism rates are higher if one counts those returned to prison for parole violations or for committing other crimes such as drug offenses. In terms of this overall rate of recidivism, it is important to note that sex offenders have a lower 3 year rate of recidivism (34%) than the general prison population (42%). Only 8% of sex offenders were returned to prison as a result of a conviction for a new crime. Most were returned for parole violations.
The latest sex offender recidivism study, Research Bulletin: Sex Offender Populations, Recidivism and Actuarial Assessment (New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, May, 2007) is unique in that it also includes those sentenced to probation and county jails. Most recidivism studies (including those previously cited) examine only those who were sentenced to prison. The study examined 19,827 offenders on the New York State Sex Offender Registry on March 31, 2005. ..more.. by Rev. Dr. C. David Hess (RIP), New York State Representative of SOhopeful International