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Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994

Short version

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 3, 2003 

Introduction

In 1994, prisons in 15 States released 9,691 male sex offenders. The 9,691 men are two-thirds of all the male sex offenders released from State prisons in the United States in 1994.

This report summarizes findings from a survey that tracked the 9,691 for 3 full years after their release. The report documents their "recidivism," as measured by rates of rearrest, reconviction,
and reimprisonment during the 3-year followup period.

This report gives recidivism rates for the 9,691 combined total. It also separates the 9,691 into four overlapping categories and gives recidivism rates for each category:

 3,115 released rapists
6,576 released sexual assaulters
4,295 released child molesters
443 released statutory rapists.

The 9,691 sex offenders were released from State prisons in these 15 States: Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, California, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, Texas,
Illinois, New York, and Virginia.

Highlights [2]

The 15 States in the study released 272,111 prisoners altogether in 1994.  Among the 272,111 were 9,691 men whose crime was a sex offense (3.6% of releases).

On average the 9,691 sex offenders served 3  years of their 8-year sentence (45% of the prison sentence) before being released in 1994.

Rearrest for a new sex crime

Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime.  Within the first 3 years following their release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517 of the 9,691) of released sex offenders were
rearrested for a sex crime
. The rate [*] for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of 262,420).

[* of a sex crime, not the general rate, which is 68%. Ipce]

The first 12 months following their release from a State prison was the period when 40% of sex crimes were allegedly committed by the released sex offenders.

Recidivism studies typically find that, the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism.  Results reported hereon released sex offenders did not follow the familiar pattern. While
the lowest rate of rearrest for a sex crime (3.3%) did belong to the oldest sex offenders (those age 45 or older), other comparisons between older and younger prisoners did not consistently show older
prisoners' having the lower rearrest rate.

The study compared recidivism rates among prisoners who served different lengths of time before being released from prison in 1994. No clear association was found between how long they were
in prison and their recidivism rate.

Before being released from prison in 1994, most of the sex offenders had been arrested several times for different types of crimes. The more prior arrests they had, the greater their likelihood of being rearrested for another sex crime after leaving prison. Released sex offenders

with 1 prior arrest (the arrest for the sex crime for which they were imprisoned) had the lowest rearrest rate for a sex crime, about 3%;
those with 2 or 3 prior arrests for some type of crime, 4%;
4 to 6 prior arrests, 6%;
7 to 10 prior arrests, 7%; and
11 to 15 prior arrests, 8%.

Rearrest for a sex crime against a child

The 9,691 released sex offenders included 4,295 men who were in prison for child molesting.

Of the children these 4,295 men were imprisoned for molesting, 60% were age 13 or younger.

Half of the 4,295 child molesters were 20 or more years older than the child they were imprisoned for molesting.

On average, the 4,295 child molesters were released after serving about 3 years of their 7-year sentence (43% of the prison sentence).

Compared to the 9,691 sex offenders and to the 262,420 non-sex offenders, released child molesters were more likely to be rearrested for child molesting.

Within the first 3 years following release from prison in 1994, 3.3% (141 of 4,295) of released child molesters were rearrested for another sex crime against a child.
The rate [*] for all 9,691 sex offenders (a category that includes the 4,295 child molesters) was 2.2% (209 of 9,691).
The rate [*] for all 262,420 non-sex offenders was less than half of 1% (1,042 of the 262,420).

[* of a sex crime, not the general rate. (Ipce)]

Of the approximately 141 children allegedly molested by the child molesters after their release from prison in 1994, 79% were age 13 or younger.

Released child molesters with more than 1 prior arrest for child molesting were more likely to be rearrested for child molesting (7.3%) than released child molesters with no more than 1 such prior arrest (2.4%).

Rearrest for any type of crime

Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prison, sex offenders had a lower overall rearrest rate. When rearrests for any type of crime (not just sex crimes) were counted, the study found that 43% (4,163 of 9,691) of the 9,691 released sex offenders
were rearrested. The overall rearrest rate for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was higher, 68% (179,391 of 262,420).

The rearrest offense was a felony for about 75% of the 4,163 rearrested sex offenders. By comparison, 84% of the 179,391 rearrested non-sex offenders were charged by police with a felony.

Reconviction for a new sex crime

Of the 9,691 released sex offenders, 3.5% (339 of the 9,691) were reconvicted for a sex crime within the 3-year followup period.

Reconviction for any type of crime

Of the 9,691 released sex offenders, 24% (2,326 of the 9,691) were reconvicted for a new offense. The reconviction offense included all types of crimes.

Returned to prison for any reason

Within 3 years following their release, 38.6% (3,741) of the 9,691 released sex offenders were returned to prison. They were returned

either because they received another prison sentence for a new crime,
or because of a technical violation of their parole, such as failing a drug test, missing an appointment with their parole officer,
or being arrested for another crime.

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