Fast Facts About Recidivism Among Individuals Who Have Sexually Offended

Fact 1: Once a sex offender, rarely again a sex offender.

The average recidivism rate for people who have sexually offended is approximately 7%, lower than for any crime but murder.

Fact 2: Sex offender registries and residence restrictions do not help lower the sexual re-offense rate.

Because the rate of re-offense by people who have sexually abused someone is so low, registries do not generally help drive it lower. In addition, most registries are based on preventing stranger-on-stranger sexual abuse, which is extremely rare. Most sexual assaults are committed by people known to the person who is sexually abused. Thus, registries do not necessarily target the people most likely to reoffend.

Fact 3: Failure to register as a sex offender does not correlate with higher recidivism.

Recent studies have found no link between the recidivism rates of people who meet all their registry obligations and those who do not.

Fact 4: Public registries do not necessarily make communities safer.

Instead of reducing sexual abuse, registries and residence restrictions primarily make it harder for the individual who committed a sexual offense to become a productive member of the community. The impact of such restrictions typically is to increase homelessness and dependency on social services rather than to enable individuals to become independent, employed, tax-paying citizens. Some studies have found that sex offenders who are placed on public registries actually display a slightly higher rate of recidivism than sex offenders who are not listed on public registries.

Fact 5: Wraparound services can help prevent recidivism.

Experience with programs in Canada and some U.S. states shows that individuals who have sexually offended are more likely to successfully and safely reintegrate into their communities when they receive assistance finding housing, jobs, transportation, and treatment. These kinds of social supports help drive down the already low recidivism rates among people who have sexually abused others.


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The following citations reflect research, publications, and presentations by current ATSA members.




2018 ATSA Conference