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Long-Term Impact Evaluation of Specialized Sex Offender Probation Programs in Lake, DuPage and Winnebago Counties

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2002
389 pages
This study compared the recidivism and treatment failure rates of the standard sex offender probation program to the recidivism and treatment failure rates of the specialized sex offender probation program in three Illinois counties.

The researchers examined the long-term impact of the specialized sex offender probation programs in DuPage, Lake, and Winnebago Counties. The main measure of program success was recidivism after being placed in the specialized program, as measured by new arrests or self-reports of new offenses. The specialized probation program offers increased community surveillance and visits to probationers' homes. The researchers speculated that the increased surveillance could have two opposing effects on the study results. First, higher levels of surveillance make the detection of crimes more likely, thus increasing the ultimate rate of recidivism among this study group. On the other hand, the increased surveillance could deter the study group from further criminal acts, thus reducing their overall recidivism rates. The researchers predicted that offenders would make rational choices about their behavior, and as a result would be deterred from committing new crimes because of the increased surveillance offered by the specialized sex offender probation program. On the other hand, offenders who exhibit symptoms of mental illness would not make rational choices about their behavior and would, therefore, have higher rates of recidivism regardless of the increased surveillance. Study methodology included an examination of the Illinois State Police Rap Sheets and supplemental information from FBI criminal histories, violation of probation petitions, polygraph tests, and therapists' bi-monthly treatment reports for the study group who participated in the specialized probation program and for the control group who participated in the standard probation program. Findings are presented for each county in the evaluation study. Generally, findings indicated that each county had successfully implemented the specialized sex offender probation program and that recidivism rates for certain groups of sex offenders were lowered as a result of the program. Furthermore, the researchers' hypothesis that mentally ill offenders would exhibit higher rates of recidivism was supported by the data. The findings also revealed that the counties differed in which groups of offenders were affected by the increased surveillance of the specialized program. Recommendations for each county are included in the analysis of the study results. The final chapter offers an examination of risk assessment measures for sexual offenders and for child molesters.

Date Published: November 1, 2002