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Age and Sexual Recidivism: A Variable Connection

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 123-135
David Thornton
Date Published
April 2006
13 pages
This study examined the link between sexual offenders' age at their release from prison and reoffending (sexual offenses) for a large (n=752), nationally representative sample that was monitored for 10 years after their release.
The findings were consistent with the research results of C.F. Roberts, D.M. Doren, and D. Thornton (2002) in finding that age at release from prison was significantly related to a subsequent reconviction for a sexual offense when two aspects of criminal history, sexual deviance and general criminality, were controlled--overall, the odds of being reconvicted for a sexual offense declined by approximately 0.02 with each year of age. In addition to this general decline in recidivism with increasing age, for offenders sentenced for sexual offenses on at least two prior occasions and released from prison when they were between 18 and 24 years old, their reoffending rate was exceptionally high (80 percent). For offenders with multiple prior sexual convictions released after age 25, the reoffending rate was just under 50 percent. There was no further decline for those with multiple prior sexual offenses until the age of 60, when the rate again declined by approximately 40 percentage points. For the offenders with one prior conviction for a sexual offense, the effect of age was a gradual linear decline in the odds of sexual reoffending. For those with no prior conviction for a sexual offense, age at release and sexual reoffending were unrelated. Hypotheses are offered to explain these variations in sexual reoffending by age at release. This study combined data from two previous studies: a 16-year followup of male sexual offenders recorded in a national Prison Service database in England and Wales in 1979 and the 10-year followup of male sexual offenders recorded in the same prison database for 1980. 2 tables and 14 references


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