Sex Offender Recidivism
Recidivism is the repeated criminal behavior by an offender previously convicted and punished for an offense. Most studies measure reoffending behavior by looking at new arrests or multiple convictions. However, sexual violence is a widely underreported crime. Therefore, researchers are concerned that some reported recidivism rates are artificially low.27 For example, when a sample of imprisoned sex offenders who admitted to assaulting one victim were given polygraph examinations, researchers found the offenders actually had an average of 110 victims and 318 offenses.28
Understanding Sex Offenders: An Introductory Curriculum, Section 2: The Nature and Scope of Sex Offending Covers the incidence and prevalence of sex offending, age and gender of victims, victim-offender relationships, reporting considerations, and detected and undetected offenses.
Research findings also suggest that recidivism rates vary, depending on the type of sexual offense. "Contrary to conventional wisdom, most re-offenses do not occur within the first several years after release. For example, in one study, subsequent sex offenses occurred as late as 10 years after prison discharge. The study found a 30 percent recidivism rate at year 10 of offender's release from prison. By the year 25, re-offending had increased to 52 percent."29