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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sex offender (also sexual offender, sex abuser, or sexual abuser) is a person, who committed a sex crime, although what constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and by legal jurisdiction. In most jurisdictions, offenses include child sexual abuse, downloading child pornography, rape, and statutory rape. The term sexual predator is often used to describe severe or repeat sex offenders.

In the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries, a convicted sex offender is often required to register with the respective jurisdiction's sex offender registry. These registry databases are frequently accessible to the public through the internet in the US, though not in the UK. Sexual offenders are also sometimes classified into levels[1]. The highest level offenders generally must register as a sex offender for their entire lives, whereas low-level offenders may only need to register for a limited time. As a label of identity it is used in criminal psychology.


Recidivism rates

Figures from a 1994 DOJ study on recidivism indicated that compared to non-sex offender felons, a sex offender was 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime (1.3% of released non-sex offenders were later arrested for a sex crime, while 5.3% of released sex offenders were later arrested for a different sex crime). On the other hand, the same study mentions that 68% of released non-sex offenders were rearrested for any crime (both sex and non-sex offenses), while 43% of the released sex offenders were rearrested for any crime (and 24% reconvicted).[2]

According to the Office of Justice Programs of the United States Department of Justice,[3] in New York State the recidivism rates for sex offenders have been shown to be lower than any other crime except murder. Another report from the OJP that studied recidivism of prisoners released in 1994 in 15 states accounting for two-thirds of all prisoners released in the United States that year,[4] reached the same conclusion.

In 2007, the State Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina made significant changes to its sex offender registration system, including new search criteria that include an "offender status" search, enabling an explicit search for convicted sex offense recidivists in the sex offender database. Manual searches by county using the new criteria yield some of the lowest recidivist percentages ever disseminated by any law enforcement establishment. In the entire State of North Carolina, there are only 71 recidivists shown on the registry, if incarcerated offenders are included. Per-county results for "Registered" status offenders compared against "Recidivist" status offenders on the North Carolina registry yield actual convicted recidivist percentages ranging from zero to fractions of one percent.[5]

Sex offenders[2]

  • Within 3 years of release, 2.5% of released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for a new homicide.
  • Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense –– 43% of sex offenders versus 68% of non-sex offenders.
  • Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3% of sex offenders versus 1.3% of non-sex offenders.
  • On a given day in 1994 there were approximately 234,000 offenders convicted of rape or sexual assault under the care, custody, or control of corrections agencies; nearly 60% of these sex offenders are under conditional supervision in the community.
  • The median age of the victims of imprisoned sexual assaulters was less than 13 years old; the median age of rape victims was about 22 years.
  • An estimated 24% of those serving time for rape and 19% of those serving time for sexual assault had been on probation or parole at the time of the offense for which they were in State prison in 1991.
  • Of the 9,691 male sex offenders released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, 5.3% were rearrested for a new sex crime within 3 years of release.
  • Of released sex offenders who allegedly committed another sex crime, 40% perpetrated the new offense within a year or less from their prison discharge.

Child victimizers[2]

  • Approximately 4,300 child molesters were released from prisons in 15 States in 1994. An estimated 3.3% of these 4,300 were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within 3 years of release from prison.
  • Among child molesters released from prison in 1994, 60% had been in prison for molesting a child 13 years old or younger.
  • Offenders who had victimized a child were on average 5 years older than the violent offenders who had committed their crimes against adults. Nearly 25% of child victimizers were age 40 or older, but about 10% of the inmates with adult victims fell in that age range.

Post-incarceration registries and restrictions

A sex offender registry is a system in place in a number of jurisdictions designed to allow government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences. In some jurisdictions (especially in the United States), information in the registry is made available to the general public via a website or other means. In many jurisdictions registered sex offenders are subject to additional restrictions, including housing. Those on parole or probation may be subject to restrictions that don't apply to other parolees or probationers.[6] Sometimes these include (or have been proposed to include) restrictions on being in the presence of minors, living in proximity to a school or day care center, or owning toys or other items of interest to minors.

Megan's Law is designed to punish sex offenders and reduce their ability to re-offend. The law is enacted and enforced on a state-by-state basis. Most U.S. states also place restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live after their release, prohibiting residency within a designated distance of schools and daycare centers (usually 1,000 - 2,000 feet).


Behavior modification programs have been shown to reduce recidivism in sex offenders.[7] Often such programs use principles of applied behavior analysis. Two such approaches from this line of research have promise. The first uses operant conditioning approaches which use reward and punishment to train new behavior such as problem solving[8] and the second uses respondent conditioning procedures such as aversion therapy. Many of the behaviorism programs use covert sensitization[9] and/or odor aversion, which are both forms of aversion therapy and have had ethical challenges to them. Such programs are effective in lowering recidivism by 15-18 percent.[10] The use of aversion therapy procedures remains a controversy and is often discussed as an ethical issue related to the professional practice of behavior analysis.

Chemical castration is used in some countries and states to treat sex offenders, it is reversible once medication is stopped unlike physical castration.

Physical castration appears to be highly effective as, historically, it results in a 20-year re-offense rate of less than 2.3% vs. 80% in the untreated control group, according to a large 1963 study involving a total of 1036 sex offenders by the German researcher A. Langelüddeke, among others,[11] much lower than what was otherwise expected compared to overall sex offender recidivism rates. Although considered to be a cruel and unusual punishment by many, physical castration does not otherwise effect the lifespan of men compared to uncastrated men.

Risk assessment

Therapists use various ways to test the dangerousness of sex offenders. Below are some tests used to determine a sex offenders risk to reoffend:

  • Abel Assessment
  • LSI-R[12]
  • Static-99[13]

Another perspective on the problem is offered by Anna Salter, one of the foremost experts on sex offenders in the country. She writes the following in her popular book Predators:

"The dry research figures only confirm what I have seen over and over in this field: there are a lot of sexual offenses out there and the people who commit them don't get caught very often. When an offender is caught and has a thorough evaluation with a polygraph backup, he will reveal dozens, sometimes hundreds of offenses he was never apprehended for. In an unpublished study by Pamela Van Wyk, 26 offenders in her incarcerated treatment program entered the program admitting an average of 3 victims each. Faced with a polygraph and the necessity of passing it to stay in the treatment program, the next group of 23 men revealed an average of 175 victims each."

See also



Monitoring, assessment, other


Shows & organizations


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c BOJ Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994, November 2003
  3. ^ U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Offenders Statistics: Recidivism, statistical information from the late 1990s and very early 2000s, retrieved May 4, 2007
  4. ^ Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, June 2002
  5. ^ North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry, searches performed as of May 6, 2007
  6. ^ Sex Offender Registry Review 2007
  7. ^ Marshall, W.L., Jones, R., Ward, T., Johnston, P. & Bambaree, H.E.(1991). Treatment of sex offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 465-485
  8. ^ Maguth Nezu, C., Fiore, A.A. & Nezu, A.M (2006). Problem Solving Treatment for Intellectually Disabled Sex Offenders. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 2(2), 266-275
  9. ^ Rea, J. (2003). Covert Sensitization. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4 (2), 192-201
  10. ^ Marshall, W.L., Jones, R., Ward, T., Johnston, P. & Bambaree, H.E.(1991). Treatment of sex offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 465-485
  12. ^
  13. ^ [2]

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