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Washington State Sex Offenders: Overview of Recidivism Studies

Washington Feb 1995:

Some convicted offenders reoffend after they return to the community.this reoffense behavior is known as recidivism. The percentage of offenders who reoffend within a specified time period is described as the recidivism rate.

State policymakers have expressed interest in knowing the recidivism rates of Washington State sex offenders. Information on these rates can guide policy decisions on issues such as sentence length, terms of supervision, and treatment options.

In 1990, the legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to study the effectiveness of the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA). Legislators wanted to know if this treatment option.which allows judges to order community treatment for eligible sex offenders.compromised public safety.

In 1991, the Institute reported on sex offenders who received or were statutorily eligible for SSOSA from January 1985 through June 1986. The report concluded that SSOSA is an effective sentencing alternative for eligible sex offenders because:

• The community is at no greater risk,
• Criminal justice professionals and treatment providers support the alternative, and
• Costs to state government are presumed to be lower.

Following this research, legislators inquired about the recidivism patterns of sex offenders who are not eligible for SSOSA.rapists and repeat child molesters.and requested more information on the effectiveness of treatment.

This publication reports on three studies regarding sex offenders that are designed to answer policymakers. questions. Each study addresses a particular aspect of recidivism.

I. The Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative: A Follow-Up Study of Recidivism

This study examines sex offenders who received community treatment, and determines whether their recidivism rates were different from sex offenders who did not receive treatment. It extends the follow-up period of the 1991 study and includes a new group of sex offenders. those not eligible for SSOSA. The study sample included all male sex offenders convicted in Washington State from January 1985 through June 1986.

Sex offense recidivism rates within a seven-year period were: 11 percent for those who received SSOSA, 14 percent for those statutorily eligible but who did not receive SSOSA, and 31 percent for those not eligible for SSOSA.

This study addresses questions such as: Does the community treatment option for sex offenders pose additional risks to public safety? Which offenders are more likely to be selected for community treatment?

II. Recidivism Patterns of Adult Sex Offenders

This second study examines the recidivism patterns of adult sex offenders convicted between 1985 and 1991 in Washington State. The overall recidivism rates for various crime categories were estimated, as well as the offender characteristics that were associated with a higher likelihood of rearrest. This study had the largest sample (1,373).

Recidivism rates within a seven-year period were estimated to be: 12 percent for sex offenses, 3 percent for violent offenses, and 8 percent for other felony offenses.

This study addresses questions such as: What is the overall pattern of recidivism for sex offenders? What are the characteristics of sex offenders who are most likely to commit additional sex offenses? Does a community treatment sentence reduce recidivism?

III. The Twin Rivers Sex Offender Treatment Program: Recidivism Rates

The third study compares the recidivism patterns of sex offenders who received treatment during prison confinement with those of offenders who were imprisoned without treatment.

The treated offenders completed a sex offender program at Twin Rivers Corrections Center and resided in the community for an average of 20 months.

The estimated recidivism rate of the treatment group (11 percent) was slightly lower than the rate of the comparison group (12 percent). However, the difference was not statistically significant. ..more.. by Lin Song -and- Roxanne Lieb

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