Sexual offender recidivism risk: What we know and what we need to know

Corrections Research, Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8, Canada.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 07/2003; 989(1):154-66; discussion 236-46. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07303.x
Source: PubMed


If all sexual offenders are dangerous, why bother assessing their risk to reoffend? Follow-up studies, however, typically find sexual recidivism rates of 10%-15% after five years, 20% after 10 years, and 30%-40% after 20 years. The observed rates underestimate the actual rates because not all offences are detected; however, the available research does not support the popular notion that sexual offenders inevitably reoffend. Some sexual offenders are more dangerous than others. Much is known about the static, historical factors associated with increased recidivism risk (e.g., prior offences, age, and relationship to victims). Less is known about the offender characteristics that need to change in order to reduce that risk. There has been considerable research in recent years demonstrating that structured risk assessments are more accurate than unstructured clinical assessments. Nevertheless, the limitations of actuarial risk assessments are sufficient that experts have yet to reach consensus on the best methods for combining risk factors into an overall evaluation.

Download full-text


Available from: R.Karl Karl Hanson, Aug 15, 2014
  • Source
    • "These factors seem to facilitate pervasive myths concerning sexual offenders, including that: (1) sexual offenders and their motivations are all the same (a homogenous population ); (2) almost all sexual offenders will reoffend; and (3) sexual offender treatment is ineffective (Quinn et al. 2004). These myths are so prevalent that even law enforcement and clinical professionals frequently believe them (Hanson cited in Kersting 2003; Meloy et al. 2013). A recent study by Meloy et al. (2013) confirmed that recent sexual offender legislation was created based on pervasive sexual offending myths and that many policymakers believe current sexual offender policy is effective in ensuring public safety. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite an extensive research literature on sexual offending, much of current sexual offender policy within the United States runs counter to such literature, and instead, is based on common, pervasive myths about sexual offenders. Not surprisingly, recent studies on sex offender policy effectiveness suggest that current approaches are both costly and largely ineffective. In this paper, we suggest that a longstanding socio-cultural climate of sex-negativity fuels common fears and misconceptions about sexual offending and about policy related to treatment and supervision. We present a positive sexuality model and consider how the effectiveness of dealing with sexual offending issues could be improved through using a positive sexuality approach to guide policy.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Critical Criminology
    • "Child sexual offenders, especially, have been found in follow-up periods exceeding 10 years to show reconviction rates of almost three out of four for non-sex offences (Parkinson, Shrimpton, Oates, Swanston, & O'Toole, 2004). A lack of relationship between the perpetrator and the victim has been found to be related to sexual offence recidivism (Hanson et al., 2003); offenders with extra-familial victims thus tend to be conceptualized as more prone to relapse than intra-familial offenders. Studies suggest that offenders with extrafamilial victims show more antisocial and deviant behaviours, have more convictions for sexual criminality, offended more often against both boys and girls 342 T. Nilsson et al. and are more sexually preoccupied and emotionally over-identified with children than intra-familial offenders (Beech, 1998; Russell, 1983; Sullivan, Beech, Craig, & Gannon, 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Rates of recidivism and types of recidivist crime have varied greatly in follow-up studies of child sexual abusers. In this long-term study of a population-based cohort (n = 193) and a nationwide clinic-referred study group (n = 166) of child sexual abusers, rates of recidivism and associations between index descriptors and outcomes were compared between intra-familial offenders and extra-familial offenders. Overall, 9.8% relapsed into sexual offence, 12.4% relapsed into violence and 2.6% relapsed into both types of offences in the population-based cohort. Corresponding numbers for the clinic-referred group were 13.9, 10.8 and 4.2%. Extra-familial offenders at index were significantly more likely to relapse into both sexual and violent criminality than intra-familial offenders, but no differences were found in rates of hands-off and hands-on crimes. Analysis of receiver operating characteristics showed that age at first conviction predicted sexual, violent and any criminality, with areas under the curve ranging from .67 to .80.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology
  • Source
    • "Since sex offenders show a prolonged risk of re-offending (Hanson,Morton & Harris, 2003), and recidivism can occur even after a decade or more (de Ruiter & de Vogel, 2004), a sustained awareness of risk and a long-lasting motivation to counter risk effectively are needed. Changes in mood (negative mood, anger) and an increase of psychiatric symptoms are empirically identified as acute precursors to sexual offending (Hanson & Harris, 2000). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) provide re-integrating sex offenders with a group of trained volunteers who support this rehabilitation process. Effect studies show promising results in reduction of recidivism. This study provides a theoretical underpinning and empirical validation of the COSA intervention model, based on a grounded theory analysis of 38 circle narratives, reflecting the experiences of 21 circles. Four circle functions appear to be essential, with inclusion being most important. Inclusion is serving basic human needs and is motivating the sex offender to allow monitoring and being held accountable. Program integrity and a positive group development are essential preconditions for circle effectiveness.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice
Show more