Factors that affect sex offender recidivism rates vary widely by type of crime committed, age of the offender, and his or her criminal history. The offender’s deviate sexual preferences also figure into sex offender recidivism rates. If an offender abused strangers, especially if multiple victims were involved, his or her odds of re-offending increase. Substance abuse, lack of employment, and poor social skills represent other factors that affect sex offender recidivism rates.
Studies on sex offenders show mixed results because sex offenses fall into various categories. Some research found rapists more likely to re-offend, with one study reporting non-violent rapists more prone to commit future crimes than violent offenders. Prior sex offenses and the criminal’s mental condition also determine the rate of recidivism for rapists.
Researchers who study factors that affect sex offender recidivism rates typically identify traits that can be changed and static factors that cannot be resolved. An offender’s age and the age when he or she first committed a crime represent static factors. When a sex offender commits a crime as a juvenile, he or she is more likely to re-offend. This risk becomes more pronounced if the offender was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.
Dynamic, or changeable, factors that affect sex offender recidivism rates include drug or alcohol abuse. The offender’s attitude might also change with therapy, such as learning to empathize with a victim, which might lower recidivism rates. If he or she forms strong social relationships it might prevent re-offending because lack of social support is a risk factor linked to recidivism rates.
Sex offender treatment programs and their effectiveness on recidivism rates vary, but cognitive therapy that reduces arousal shows some success. Offenders who focus on deviant sexual preferences might resist treatment and pose a greater risk of committing future crimes. Sex offenders who target both male and female victims, or victims of all ages also show higher rates of recidivism.
The type of therapy and where it takes place might determine its success or failure. Forced therapy in a prison or mental institution generally proves less successful than therapy sought independently by the offender. Even when therapy is voluntary, drop-out rates tend to be high, which affects recidivism.
Sex offenders are more likely to commit additional crimes than other types of criminals, one study showed. When looking at child molesters, the study found offenders who are sexually preoccupied with children face a higher risk of re-offending. Attempts to assess the sex offender recidivism rates of child molesters prove difficult because these crimes commonly go unreported or underreported.