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Where Should We Intervene? Dynamic Predictors of Sexual Offense Recidivism

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 27 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2000 Pages: 6-35
R. Karl Hanson; Andrew J. R. Harris
Curt R. Bartol
Date Published
30 pages
Recognizing that effective intervention with sex offenders requires targeting appropriate risk factors, this study collected information on dynamic risk factors through interviews with community supervision officers and file reviews of 208 sex offender recidivists and 201 nonrecidivists in Canada.
The study included offenders convicted of a sex offense involving physical contact with the victim and who had served or were serving part of their sentence in the community. Recidivists had committed a new sex offense, including noncontact offenses such as exhibitionism, while on community supervision. Nonrecidivists were selected from sex offenders who had successfully completed at least 6 months of community supervision. Objective risk scales were the Statistical Information on Recidivism Scale, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide, and the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism. Interview variables encompassed social influences and problems evident during community supervision. Recidivists generally had poor social supports, attitudes tolerant of sexual assault, antisocial lifestyles, poor self-management strategies, and difficulties cooperating with supervision. The overall mode of recidivists and nonrecidivists was similar, but recidivists showed increased anger and subjective distress just before re-offending. Dynamic risk factors reported by community supervision officers were strongly associated with recidivism, even after controlling for pre-existing differences in static risk factors. Factors identified in interview data were reflected to a lesser extent in contemporaneous case notes of officers, suggesting interview findings could not be completely attributed to retrospective recall bias. Implications of the findings for the treatment and community supervision of sex offenders are discussed. 43 references and 3 tables