U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Sex Offender Recidivism (From Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, V 39, P 145-211, 2010, Michael Tonry, ed. - See NCJ-242292)

NCJ Number
Date Published
67 pages

Sex offender recidivism is discussed in this essay.


There have been major shifts in the perception of sex offender recidivism over the past 30 years and increased interest in public and professional spheres. However, the discourses of the public and the professionals are becoming increasingly discrepant. The media are pivotal in demonizing all sex offenders and focusing on punitiveness. Media myths have developed that mask professional advances. A paradigm shift is needed from the current emphasis on behavioral science research toward a fuller recognition or system changes and procedural questions. History instructs that only a minority of sex offenders are really dangerous. Nevertheless, sex offending is a pervasive problem, and criminal justice solutions alone will not be enough. Indeed, current policies to prevent or address sexual offending have largely failed. Social justice solutions with compassion as an ingredient need to be brought more to the fore. (Published Abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 2010