Sexual predation is back in the national spotlight since Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defense coordinator who’s accused of sexually assaulting eight boys over 15 years, and two top university officials have been charged covering up the abuse.
There are nearly 740,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. 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
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.
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 and 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.
“Effective strategies to deal with sex offenders [should] not be based on anecdote, emotion, or case examples of just one; they [should be] based on facts and what we know about the issue. At times we hear about a high profile event; but it is important to remember that high profile events are high profile precisely because they are unusual and unlikely. Making policy based on high profile events is a surefire way to overreact and make inefficient and, worse, ineffective policy.