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February 24, 2011

Recidivism Rates: Factoid -v- Reality

2-23-2011 National:

What are "Factoid Recidivism Rates," well lets say that is a coined phrase to describe the number of times that speakers quote sex offender recidivism rates incorrectly, or numbers that plainly make no sense!

While it is true no one knows the exact recidivism rate for those who have previously committed a sex offense, but everyone knows it is LOW, and at very least, a 2003 Dep't of Justice study has proved that (See below).

So, lets settle for, its not high!

But, in the recent House hearing a certain person testified, and now I will quote from their submitted testimony, "sex offenders represent the highest risk of reoffense; and ..." and there is no authority for that comment.

Now lets see what the DOJ has to say "Within 3 years following their release, 5.3% of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime."
The following is quoted from that study:
Rearrest for a new sex crime:
Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime. Within the first 3 years following their release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517 of the 9,691) of released sex offenders were rearrested for a sex crime. The rate for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of 262,420). (page 7 of study)
Non sex offenders released also committed sex offenses within three years of release, but notice the study uses percentages rather then actual numbers. Why? Study the chart, my answer follows the chart:

U.S. Dep't of Justice Recidivism Statistics:
Sex offenders compared to non-sex offenders

Who will commit more new sex offenses within 3-years of being paroled, sex offenders -OR- non-sex offenders?
Non sex offenders commit more new sex offenses when paroled!
Recidivism Rates:
All released sex offenders -vs- non-sex offenders
Source: "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994."
(NCJ 198281).

Offender Type ParoledReArrested for
New Sex Offense
%/# of New Sex
Offenses by Parolees
Convicted of
New Sex Offense
9,691Sex Offenders5.3% (517)13% (1 every 2 days)3.5% (339)
262,420Non-Sex Offenders1.3% (3,328)87% (3 per day) .83% 2,179)**
272,111All Offenders1.4% (3,845)100% 
Construction of chart- DOJ Pg-24 states: Sex offenders compared to non-sex offenders: "The 15 States in this study released a total of 272,111 prisoners in 1994. The 9,691 released sex offenders made up less than 4% of that total. Of the remaining 262,420 non-sex offenders, 3,328 (1.3%) were rearrested for a new sex crime within 3 years." and "Based on official arrest records, 517 of the 9,691 released sex offenders (5.3%) were rearrested for a new sex crime within the first 3 years following their release (table 21)." and DOJ Pg-2 states: "Of the 9,691 released sex offenders, 3.5% (339 of the 9,691) were reconvicted for a sex crime within the 3-year followup period." **Calculated using same proportions between 517 and 339 for sex offenders.

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Using percentages (5.3% and 1.3%) certainly makes sex offenders look worse than non sex offenders, at least until you convert percentages into actual numbers: 517 -v- 3,328. Yes, those numbers represent new crimes and new victims, but which group is more of a danger to the community? Right, the non sex offenders released from prison.

Finally, think about this, there are no laws covering the non sex offenders released back into the community, and because of their new sex crimes, lawmakers try to put more and more controls on former sex offenders believing that will stop the new sex crimes by non sex offenders released.

Lawmakers refuse to do anything about this problem, and you'll notice that there was no mention of this problem in any hearing before Congress. Are those victims (3,328 in 1994) being sacrificed to perpetuate a political stance, year after year after year? Sixteen years worth of victims which must now number in the tens of thousands!

There was another study released which covered recidivism of all crimes of prisoners released in 1994. The study is "Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994" and the following chart appears in that study.
Look down the column colored green, new convictions following release, is there any way to conclude, other than factoid based, that "sex offenders represent the highest risk of reoffense" or are there other crime types with higher recidivism rates?
I'll close with that comment.

Have a great day and a better tomorrow.

© Sex Offender Research 2011, All Rights Reserved!


  1. Considering the second chart and the relatively low reconviction rates, the DOJ study also showed that of those former sex offenders who were reconvicted, a substantial majority were convicted of other crimes, NOT sex crimes. Funny, how if you keep people from jobs and housing, they may well resort to stealing and selling drugs to survive (or get locked up for not being able to give the state a residence address). We just don't think about the big picture.

  2. I learned 7 years ago when my husband went to prison that the 'big picture' does not count. The main thing that politicians are interested in, and can pretty much count on, is a dumbed down voter base that has no inclination to check factoids. Even though voters will say they don't trust politicians, they rarely question what he/she does unless it personally affects the voter himself. If you try to approach said politician with actual facts, he will brush you aside as an annoyance. My experience with the representatives in my state (Missouri) was "My mind is made up, please don't confuse me with facts."

  3. Maybe there should be a study for each state's registered sex offenders data bases and the funding creating false data bases.
    i.e. 1)How many dead sex offenders are included?
    2)How many don't reside in that state?
    3)The criteria for levels 1, 2, or level 3
    offenders, and the political motivations
    to reflect more them on higher levels?
    4)Over time, why isn't the level lowered
    and / or the offender removed for the
    offenders who are not re-offending?


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