Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State: Sex Offenders Least Likely to Re-Offend

The Penn State University sex scandal and cover-up have stunned, horrified and angered people nationwide.  The allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, if true, seems to profile a pedophile--predator. 

This may be of little consequence to the many victims and their families, but sex offenders are least like to recidivate.  Paul Heroux writing in the Huffington Post suggests:

Contrary to popular belief, as a group, sex offenders have the lowest rate of recidivism of all the crime categories. These statistics completely fly in the face of conventional wisdom about sex offenders being the most likely group of criminals to re-offend for their initial crime, but these are the facts. It could be argued that sex offender recidivism isn't detected and that is why this number is so low, but that could also be said of other crime categories, too.

Independent studies of the effectiveness of in-prison treatment programs for sex offenders have shown that evidence-based programs can reduce recidivism by up to 15 percent. This might not sound like much, but it is. Recidivism can be further reduced up to 30 percent with after prison intervention. However, our current policies make no sense; we release many offenders to the public without some form of post-release supervision. Regardless of the program offered, it is very important to measure the effect the program has on recidivism; just because something is evidence-based, there can't be an assumption it works in the new location!

Heroux further writes, "The percentages rearrested (but not necessarily guilty) for the "same category of offense" for which they were most recently in prison for were:

13.4% of released robbers
22.0% of released assaulters
23.4% of released burglars
33.9% of released larcenists
19.0% of released defrauders
41.2% of released drug offenders
2.5% of released rapists"

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