Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $76,502)
The proposed project aims to 1) build a researcher-practitioner partnership between the University of Louisville and New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC); 2) establish a senior-faculty-mentor/ junior-faculty-mentee relationship providing guidance in the establishment/conduct of research within criminal justice agencies; and 3) complete two studies assessing sex offender recidivists' characteristics and timing. The studies will build on the literature that shows sex offenders, have lower recidivism rates than commonly assumed, are distinctively different from other offenders, may have subgroups of unique specialists, and as a result of sex offender registration and community notification laws experience unique collateral consequences arising from their legal/social status. Currently the literature in this area does not include methodologically sophisticated examinations of the effects of registration/notification laws on recidivism and how the offense, the supervision, and the experience of collateral consequences may or may not affect recidivism rates, frequency and timing. This researcher-practitioner partnership will draw on the expertise, agency needs and agency data of the practitioner partner (NJDOC), the applied research skills and sex offender research experiences of the senior faculty mentor and the basic research methodological sophistication and sex offender research experiences of the junior faculty mentee. For the first study the team will identify the categories and characteristics of randomly sampled sex offender recidivists originally convicted prior to and following the implementation of Megan's Law in New Jersey using group-based modeling. For the second study the team will identify recidivist groups (and associated characteristics) for the random samples of post-Megan's Law convicted sex offenders and non-sex offenders. The analysis will focus on identifying the influence of demographic, background, offense, supervision, and experiences of collateral consequences on recidivism for all the random samples. The project will provide law enforcement, corrections, and community corrections officials with information about which types of sex offenders are most likely to recidivate, the likely period of time between their release from incarceration until recidivism and characteristics of the offenders, and their offenses and post-incarceration experiences that are associated with an increased likelihood of recidivism. Additionally, the project will strengthen research partnerships between a team of researchers with strong and complementary skills and a criminal justice agency with research needs and a limited capacity for producing research.