Myths & Facts about Recidivism
Alliance MP. Richard Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley) felt that,
In opposing Bill C-20 he knows
Others repeated this belief which is the basis of demanding harsher sentences and civil commitment where offenders may be held indefinitely after the end of their sentences. While it is impossible to establish if sex offenders are cured as there is no way to determine what they may think, their behaviour, their rates of recidivism, are matter of much investigation and record.
A recent report of the American Justice Department [see below] report looked at almost ten thousand sex offenders released in 1994 and found that only three percent were subsequently convicted of another sex offence, a much lower rate than for other crimes.
The myth of incurability serves the interests of many in the criminal justice system.
Rearrest Less Likely for Sex Offenders
November 16, 2003 By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sex offenders are less likely to be rearrested after their release from prison than other criminals, a government study released Sunday finds.
The Justice Department study of 9,691 men convicted of rape, sexual assault and child molestation who were released in 1994 found
Ryan King, researcher at The Sentencing Project, suggested the difference may be because the most serious rapists, sexual assaulters and child molesters do not get released in the first place and are unable to commit more crimes. Those studied served an average of 3˝ years, indicating they had committed less severe crimes.
Erica Schmitt, a statistician who co-wrote the report, said research repeatedly has shown that released sex offenders tend to get arrested less often than those convicted of theft, robbery, stealing vehicles or illegal weapons trafficking. But a small core of sex offenders often commits similar crimes over and over, she said.
The study found
The study was an outgrowth of a landmark project by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Released last year, it examined how often 272,111 prisoners set free in 1994 by 15 states ended up behind bars again within three years. The study is the largest and most comprehensive look ever at prison recidivism.
Most of the sex offenders studied had been convicted of only one sex offense but often had long criminal rap sheets: 78 percent had been arrested at least once previously for another type of crime.
The study found that those with long criminal records also were more likely to commit a sex crime after they got out of prison. The report said 8 percent were rearrested if they previously had committed between 11 and 15 offenses.
Still, the numbers appeared to dispute the popular notion that sex offenders are incorrigible. Even among child molesters, about 18 percent had been arrested for similar offenses before, and only 3.3 percent of those released in 1994 were arrested again for a crime against a child.
A few, however, fit the mold of a serial pedophiles. The study documents an unidentified man who was first arrested in 1966 and continued to molest children in the 1970s and 1980s until he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, gaining release again in 1994.
These repeat sex offenders have led all 50 states to adopt laws allowing the public access to certain high-risk or serious offenders, including where they live. These ``Megan's Laws'' are named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed in 1994 by a child molester who moved in across the street from her house.
Most children molested by those in the Justice Department study were 13 or younger and in half the cases were the offender's son, daughter or other relative.
The study examined prison releases in 1994 from Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, California, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, New York and Virginia. The researchers did not include sex offender recidivism rates for the individual states.
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Paedophile programmes work - study says
Treating paedophiles in the community significantly reduces sexual reoffending, a study shows.
This is a key finding from a Corrections Department follow-up of community-based sex offender treatment programmes run by the Safe Programme in Auckland, Wellington Stop in the capital and the Stop Trust in Christchurch.
A study by Ian Lambie, of the Auckland University psychology department, followed up 175 adult male sex offenders who had received community treatment.
Offenders who completed the programmes had a recidivism rate of 5 per cent. In two control groups that did not receive treatment, rates were 21 per cent and 25 per cent, Wellington Stop manager Hamish Dixon said.
Dr Lambie, a specialist in forensic psychology, said the results for community-based programmes were as good as those obtained for prison-based treatment.
Though the four years of the study was a relatively short period to follow up offenders, other studies had shown that the greatest rates of reoffending occurred between two and four years after treatment.
The results showed the programmes were effective and had a positive effect on the community, Dr Lambie said. "When further sexual offending is reduced to this extent there are huge social and financial benefits to our communities, as there are fewer victims of sexual abuse in the future."
With specialist help, most adult sex offenders could be rehabilitated and integrated into the community.
The programmes are funded by several organisations, including the Corrections Department, Child, Youth and Family Services and community funding grants.
Mr Dixon said Wellington Stop, set up in 1993, was "very proud" of the success of its programmes. "We're up there with the best in the world."