There are various disparities in the overall demographics of this type of offense. As one report on the demographics of sex offenders in the United States, notes; "… although the vast majority of attention on sex crimes focuses on men as the offenders, an increased awareness of females as sex offenders has surfaced in recent years." (Female Sex Offenders, 2007) This study also adds the important proviso that, "At present, the research and literature about this unique segment of the sex offender population remains in its infancy, and there is no evidence-based guidance or other consensus about the most effective approaches to working with them." (Female Sex Offenders, 2007) Furthermore, research indicates that, with regards to statistics on adolescent sex offenders, "….females are responsible for 3% of forcible rape cases and 5% of other violent sex offenses -- and 19% of non-violent
sex offenses -- handled by the juvenile courts annually" (Female Sex Offenders, 2007).
According to this study an interesting anomaly in the statistics is that while there has been a decrease in the number of adult female sex offenders in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of adolescent girls in court for sex offences; for example in the region "… juvenile cases involving female-perpetrated forcible rapes, other violent sex offenses, and non-violent sex offenses rose by 6%, 62%, and 42%, respectively. (Female Sex Offenders, 2007)
Recidivism is defined in a 2005 report entitled STATEWIDE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RECIDIVISM AND REVOCATION RATES as follows:
… a return to criminal activity after previous criminal involvement. Since all criminal activity committed by an offender is not known, indicators of subsequent criminal activity are used to calculate recidivism rates. Some of these indicators include rearrest, conviction, probation or parole revocation, and recommitment to incarceration.
In this regard, Thompson ( 2006) states that, according to figures released by the United States Department of Justice "Recidivism among sex offenders is quite high" (Thompson, 2006). In more precise terms recidivism among this group is four times more than for criminals convicted of robbery, murder, assault or other charges (Thompson, 2006). One of the many reasons or causative factors given for this high rate of recidivism is that these criminals have an innate or ingrained desire to commit certain sexual acts such as rape and molestation (Thompson, 2006). One should also bear in mind that generalizations such as above are imprecise and that there are many different categories and types as well as causes for sex offences.
This report by Thompson also states that,
According to statistics over the last forty years, fewer than 40% of sex offenders will reoffend within the next fifteen-to-twenty years. Of course, this figure only reflects sex offenders who have been caught, arrested and convicted of a second sexual offense upon release from prison.
More comparative and comprehensive figures about recidivism rates over a period of time can be obtained from a report entitled Sex Offender Recidivism Analysis: A State-by-State Comparison of Recidivism Rates Between Sex Offenders and All Felony Offenders (1983-2010). This report emphasizes the fact noted above that "…recidivism rates for sex offenders is higher than any other criminal offense"… " (Caldwell, 2010). The report, for example, notes that the recidivism rates from these types of crimes increased from sixteen percent in 1988 to twenty- seven percent in 2004 (Caldwell, 2010).
As the literature points out, the question of recidivism is a complex issue that has to incorporate variables relating to treatment and rehabilitation during incarceration and after discharge. This fact is made patently clear in the article entitled Recidivism Among Sex Offenders by Thompson ( 2006).
There are many causes and numerous variables that have to be considered in the issue of recidivism. As the report by Thompson states,
The factors that predict recidivism among sex offenders are diverse, stemming from both past and current behavioral analyses. For example, sex offenders who committed incest are less likely to reofend than sex offenders who committed extrafamilial rape. However, sex offenders with mental disorders (including sociopathy) are more than ten times more likely to reoffend than sex offenders without such disorders. Other factors can include age, childhood abuse and expression of remorse.
Studies also note the difficulty of definitive predictions of recidivism rates for this type of offence. One also has or bear in mind that statistics and data on recidivism rates among sex offenders can be distorted by a number of variables, including the possibility of false convictions (Thompson, 2006).
Central to the debate on this issue is rehabilitation and access to rehabilitation. This is due to the fact that the high degree of recidivism has been closely linked in many studies to the lack of rehabilitation programs and facilities. As an article by Floyd ( 2007) states; "The percentage of these 9000 offenders who will commit new sex offenses can be directly linked to the lack of meaningful treatment they will receive in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice…" (Floyd, 2007). This refers to a recognized link between treatments and rehabilitation programs and reduced recidivism rates for sex offenders. Floyd ( 2007) provides the following example;
… the State of Washington leads the nation with penal sex offender treatment programs and they offer impressive data to support those programs: 2.7% of the sex offenders who did not receive treatment and released from prison were convicted of a sexual felony within six years while only 1.8% of those who received treatment were convicted of a sexual felony within six years.
Floyd ( 2007)
Floyd criticizes the State of Texas for not providing sufficient funds for proven rehabilitation programs for sex offenders. Floyd also claims that programs to reduce recidivism make for good economic sense. He elaborates on this aspect as follows:
The economic math of this issue begs scrutiny. Let's assume that all 9000 of the Texas sex offenders cited above are released. 15% of those offenders will commit new sex offenses, or 1350 offenses, based on Justice Department statistics. Let's assume that all of them qualify for the death penalty (although that is unrealistic). State prosecutors will then select 10 to 20% of the death penalty eligible cases for prosecution. Using the minimum 10% selection rate, 135 will be prosecuted for the death penalty. Let's assume that juries will return the death penalty in 70 of those cases. Those 70 cases, from arrest to execution, will cost the State of Texas $2.3 million dollars each, according to the Dallas MORNING NEWS -- or, $161 million for all of them.
The above is quoted at length as it clearly illustrates the need for rehabilitation and a reduction of recidivism from purely economic point-of-view, providing further justification for an intensification of treatment and rehabilitation programs. This is an aspect that will be further explored in the sections below.
A very useful study of recidivism among sex offenders is Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994 by Patrick A. Langan et al. ( 2003). This study summarizes recidivism reports and findings over a period of time. One of the central findings from this study is that, "Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime" (Langan et al. 2003).
One could therefore posit on the basis of this study and many others that sex offenders are much more likely to commit the same crimes again, which reiterates and reinforces the argument for more extensive and inclusive rehabilitation programs after release from incarceration. The above study also reiterates the finding that recidivism rates for sex offences tend to differ markedly from the recidivism rates for other types of crimes.
Another fact to consider is the variable of age in the case of this type of crime. An article from the Texas department of State Health Services entitled Council on Sex Offender Treatment of Sex Offenders - Recidivism Rates, states that, "Recidivism studies typically find that the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism"( Council on Sex Offender Treatment of Sex Offenders - Recidivism Rates). However, this study also notes that this view is not always consistent. The study does however emphasize the consistent and increasingly high levels of general recidivism over all demographic variables. "Of the 9,691 released sex offenders, 3.5% (339 of the 9,691) were reconvicted for a sex crime within the 3-year period… ( Council on Sex Offender Treatment of Sex Offenders - Recidivism Rates).
A very important fact to note, and which the above study emphasizes, is that "… there is an inherent societal assumption that the sex offender recidivism rates are a fixed rate that will not change"( Council on Sex Offender Treatment of Sex Offenders - Recidivism Rates). This, the study emphasizes, is not the…