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International Megan's Law, a Deception? The Recidivism Study

2-10-16 National:

Part I of a series: The Recidivism Study

2-7-16 A Washington Post Article: "An important step to reduce child sex tourism" by U.S. Representative Chris Smith

Justifying International Megan's Law, Rep Smith states:

"... ... ... Studies demonstrate that even when caught, some child predators have a propensity to reoffend. For example, a 2009 study by Mark E. Olver, Stephen C.P. Wong and Terry P. Nicholaichuk, one of many available on the Justice Department’s SMART Web site, found that untreated moderate- to high-risk sex offenders were reconvicted for sex crimes at a rate of 17.7 percent after three years and 32 percent after 10 years. ... ... ..."

What Rep Smith doesn't explain about that study:
The study speaks about a specific Canadian treatment program which is explained in a Dec 2010 California Law Review titled "Sex Offender Civil Commitment: The Treatment Paradox" pgs-2120 which explains:
However, sexually violent predators-who have designated mental illnesses and pose a high risk of reoffending-may respond differently to treatment than the average sex offender analyzed in these meta-analyses. Few studies focus on high-risk prison inmates who, similarly to sexually violent predators, receive treatment in secure state hospitals. Thus, the Clearwater Treatment Program-a high-intensity inpatient sex offender program in a Canadian federal maximum-security correctional treatment facility-provides a valuable case study.162 The Clearwater Program study followed moderate-tohigh-risk sex offenders who had completed a six-to-nine-month long cognitive behavioral treatment program.163 Significant group differences were observed between the treatment group and the control group at each stage of follow-up: 5.9 percent versus 13.6 percent after two years; 11.1 percent versus 17.7 percent after three years; 16.9 percent versus 24.5 percent after five years, and 2.8 percent versus 32.3 percent after ten years.'164 A related study examined the sexual-violence recidivism rates for the forty-five "psychopathic sex offenders" in the Clearwater Program over a ten-year follow-up period.165 Psychopathic offenders who failed to complete the cognitive-behavioral treatment program were more likely to recidivate violently but not more likely to recidivate sexually than those who completed the program.166 Researchers studying the Clearwater Program concluded that high-intensity treatment programs can decrease a moderate-to-high-risk sex offender's risk of sexual recidivism in both the short and long run.167

162. See Mark E. Olver & Stephen C.P. Wong, Therapeutic Responses of Psychopathic Sexual Offenders: Treatment Attrition, Therapeutic Change, and Long-Term Recidivism, 77 J. CONSULTING & CLINICAL PSYCHOL. 328, 328-29 (2009).
163. Mark E. Olver, Stephen C.P. Wong & Terry P. Nicholaichuk, Outcome Evaluation of a High-Intensity Inpatient Sex Offender Treatment Program, 24 J. INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE 522, 526 (2009) (subjects had a history of one or more prior sexual offenses).
164. Id. at 529, 531.
165. Olver & Wong, supra note 162, at 330-31. Psychopathic sex offenders are high-risk and high-need offenders with diagnosed mental abnormalities as evaluated by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-Revised). Id. at 328.
166. Id. at 331.
167. Id. at 335.

Rep Smith's chosen study is of Sexually Violent Predators incarcerated in a high security prison in Canada (likened to Civilly Committed sex offenders following their prison sentence in the U.S.), and does not represent the over 800,000 U.S. RSOs which reside in communities all across the U.S. and use passports to travel on vacation (authority GAO report on passports); use of that Canadian study misleads readers.

The Appropriate Study:

Instead of comparing U.S. RSOs to Canadian Sexually Violent Predators (selected most violent type of sex offender) Rep Smith should be comparing them to a 2003 U.S. Dep't of Justice study, of ALL types of U.S. Sex Offenders also on the SMART Office website.
Perhaps the largest single study of sex offender recidivism conducted to date was carried out by Langan, Schmitt, and Durose (2003). The study, which was published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, examined the recidivism patterns of 9,691 male sex offenders released from prisons in 15 states in 1994. These offenders accounted for about two-thirds of all male sex offenders released from state prisons in the United States that year. Using a 3-year postrelease followup period, rearrest and reconviction rates for sexual and other crimes were reported for the entire sample of sex offenders as well as for different categories of sex offenders.

The researchers found a sexual recidivism rate of 5.3 percent for the entire sample of sex offenders based on an arrest during the 3-year followup period. The violent and overall arrest recidivism rates for the entire sample of sex offenders were much higher; 17.1 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for a violent crime and 43 percent were rearrested for a crime of any kind during the followup period. Of the 9,691 sex offenders released from prison in 1994, 3.5 percent were reconvicted for a sex crime and about one-quarter (24 percent) were reconvicted for an offense of any kind during the followup period. Nearly 4 out of every 10 (38.6 percent) sex offenders in the study were returned to prison within 3 years of their release due to the commission of a new crime or a technical violation of their release conditions.

What was the purpose of the Canadian study? Readers decide..

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