Welcome to the Studies & Research section of the USA FAIR website. You can survey recent studies, articles and policy papers on sex offender issues utilizing the category buttons above.
USA FAIR advocates for sex offender laws based on facts and evidence. As these studies clearly demonstrate, high sex offender recidivism, the foundational belief upon which the registry was created - is a myth.
Sex offenders actually have one of the lowest recidivism rates of any offender group in the criminal justice system.
What is the recidivism rate of sex offenders? This question can only be answered accurately by first responding with another question: Which sex offenders are you talking about?
Sex offenders are a diverse population for whom the severity of their crime and their likelihood of reoffending varies widely. A review of all of the empirical research to date builds a compelling argument that “sex offenders” are not a homogenous group and that they lack sufficient commonalities with each other to justify a singular policy response of similar controls and sanctions.
The one-size-fits-all laws that paint all registrants with the broad brush of the most heinous offenders make no sense and represents an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources. Indeed, the catch-all label “sex offender” obfuscates the diversity of this population. Society does need to fear some former sex offenders - but not most.
Among the findings that are consistent throughout these studies are:
- Sex crime recidivism is much lower than what people think.
- Those who offend against adults have a higher recidivism than those who offend against children.
- Pedophiles who molest pre-pubescent children have much higher recidivism than statutory age of consent offenders who offend with teenagers.
- Incest offenders have the lowest recidivism of all.
- Most reoffending occurs within the first three years and drops dramatically thereafter.
- Recidivism risks drop sharply with age.
- Former offenders with years of offense-free living in the community pose little risk of recidivism.
- Contemporary treatment programs have shown a demonstrable reduction in recidivism.
- Even the vast majority of the highest risk "Level 3" offenders do not reoffend.
- The most dangerous precursor for sex crime recidivism is a sex offender with a rap sheet that includes other non-sex related crimes.
- First time offenders who are not listed on any registry commit approximately 95% of sex crimes.
- Most victims of child abuse know their molester.
- Danger from strangers is a rare ocurrance.
- One-third of all child sexual abuse cases are committed by other children.
- Residential proximity to places where children gather such as schools and playgrounds do not increase recidivism.
Our current sex offender registry laws have not been driven by reason or by the facts and evidence presented in these studies, but rather by the fear and emotion resulting from the handful of rare child abduction crimes that gained national attention over the last several decades.