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Sex Offender Management, Treatment, and Civil Commitment: An Evidence Based Analysis Aimed at Reducing Sexual Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2011
82 pages
This study collected normative data on 3,168 New Jersey male sex offenders; determined which sex offenders were selected for treatment as well as the selection criteria used; ascertained the effect of treatment on recidivism; and compared those offenders selected and not selected for civil commitment as a "sexually violent predator" (SVP).
The study found that the best predictor of placement in the treatment facility was the demonstration of some treatment amenability or readiness for treatment. Those placed in the treatment facility had lower risk scores than those in the general population. These findings suggest that offenders who are at highest risk to recidivate are not receiving treatment. Further, this undermines the widely accepted concept of risk-need-responsivity, which advocates providing the most intensive services for those offenders at highest risk and with greater criminogenic needs. In terms of recidivism for any type of new offense, those offenders who did not receive treatment had new convictions at twice the rate of those who did receive treatment (51.7 percent compared to 25.0 percent). This difference persisted even when the groups were matched based on actuarial risk scores. Regarding recidivism for only sexual offenses, there were no differences between the treated and untreated groups of sexual offenders, even when they were matched on recidivism risk. The overall recidivism rate for new sexual offenses was 5 percent over an average 6.5-year follow-up. Sexual offenders designated for civil commitment under SVP statutes were determined to be at significantly higher risk of reoffending than offenders not committed under SVP statutes. Data were obtained from the archival records of the sample, who had been housed at either a prison-based sex offender treatment facility or any of the State prisons with no treatment. They were released from custody between 1996 and 2007. 16 tables, 11 figures, 93 references, and appended missing-data analyses (general and recidivism), and a discussion of study limitations

Date Published: January 1, 2011