Monday, February 20, 2017

Sex-offender recidivism rate low

America's unsubstantiated fear--convicted sex offenders who don't respond to treatment and are released from prison to offend again, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
The myth is reinforced whenever cases go bad and get extensive media coverage, said Melissa Hamilton, a law professor who has written extensively about sex offenders.
"These incredibly horrible stories occur, the media picks them up and the public reacts," she said. "It stokes fears of sex offenders as people who are likely to re-offend. But the statistics don't support it."
Hamilton, a visiting criminal-law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center, said one of the most comprehensive studies on sex offenders was issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003. It tracked more than 9,000 sex offenders released from prisons in 15 states, including Ohio, in 1994. Three years after their release, 5.3 percent of the offenders had been arrested for another sex crime.
"I wouldn't characterize that as high-risk," Hamilton said.
The sex offenders who were most likely to offend again were men whose victims were boys, not adults, the study found.
Two years ago, Ohio prison statistics showed that 11 percent of released sex offenders returned to prison on sex charges, compared with a recidivism rate of 28.7 percent for all inmates.
The Justice Department study made a similar finding: "Sex offenders in the study had a lower overall re-arrest rate than non-sex offenders."
But Scott Matson, acting deputy director of the Justice Department's Sex-Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking office, cautioned that recidivism is hard to measure because so many sex crimes go unreported.
"We don't know the true recidivism rate," Matson said.
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