Sex-Offense Recidivism and Reoffense Rates in Adults


Understanding recidivism rates of sex offenders is important in determining how to devote resources to treatment and management.  Data on recidivism are confusing.  Recidivism rates for adult sex offenders have been quoted to be as low as 3% and as high as 88%.  In a survey originally completed in 2007 and updated in September 2012, Dr. Brake reviewed 48 recidivism studies published between 1980 and 2009 in an attempt to arrive at an understanding of what the literature says about recidivism. 

The review illustrates considerable variability in reported recidivism rates.  The findings taken as a whole seem to suggest that reported recidivism rates are very low for a few years post-conviction but, in the aggregate, increase over time (even though an individual's risk likely decreases over time).  The findings also suggest that sex crimes are largely under reported and that recidivism rates underestimate reoffense rates.  (Please note that several studies have appeared since this review was last updated in 2012; the review cannot be considered as current and so is no longer posted.  Please contact us if interested in the review.)

We believe that it is important that sex-offense-specific evaluations incorporate what is known about recidivism, reoffense, and treatment effectiveness in  making decisions about which offenders require intensive sex-offense-specific treatment and which do not




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