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What Do We Know About the Effect of Aging on Recidivism Risk for Sexual Offenders?

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 137-157
Dennis M. Doren
Date Published
April 2006
21 pages
This study reviewed the findings of recent research on the effect of aging on reoffending risk for sexual offenders in order to draw practical implications for sexual offender reoffending risk assessment, and it conducted further analyses of existing data in order to develop additional hypotheses regarding the link between offender age and sexual reoffending.
Overall, the review concludes that it is premature to draw significant conclusions about the effect of age-at-release of over-60 on the sexual reoffending of sexual offenders. The studies reviewed--Barbaree et al. (2005), Thornton (in press), Hanson (2005), and Langan et al. (2003)--showed that a sexual offender's age at release from prison may be an inferior measure of reoffending compared to age when the offender first committed a sexual offense. Another conclusion from this review is that there may be a serious problem in integrating the results of the studies, because the samples apparently differed in the degree to which older offenders show "life-course persistent antisociality" (using the Harris and Rice definition of this phrase). This review’s further analyses of existing data used to examine age at release and subsequent reoffending identified numerous potentially influential variables that interacted with age to determine reoffending. These included participation in treatment, type of risk measure used, type of sexual offender, jurisdiction, and different measures of offender age. Thus, from the perspective of the risk-assessment practitioner, research findings to date leave additional areas of potential importance to be explored. 26 references


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