July 30, 2009

New sex offender studies

The booming sex offender industry is producing lots of literature these days. A few current studies of interest, all with negative findings:

Child porn use not linked to contact crimes

Men who use internet child pornography are not at high risk of committing hands-on sex offenses, especially if they do not have a prior criminal record of such activities, suggesting that other risk factors must be taken into account to identify potential offenders.

The article, The consumption of Internet child pornography and violent and sex offending, by scholars in Switzerland and Germany, is available online for free, through the open-access site BioMed Central.

Actuarials fail to predict juvenile recidivism

There's a lot of demand these days for tools to predict which juvenile sex offenders will reoffend. The recidivism rates are very low, which makes this task especially difficult. In this study, Jodi Viljoen of Simon Fraser University and colleagues tested four widely used instruments, and found that none of them significantly predicted sexual reoffending. The instruments were the ERASOR (Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism), the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI), the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV), and the Static-99.

The abstract of Assessment of Reoffense Risk in Adolescents Who Have Committed Sexual Offenses: Predictive Validity of the ERASOR, PCL:YV, YLS/CMI, and Static-99 is available through Criminal Justice and Behavior's "online first" website, but you need a subscription to see the whole article.

Adam Walsh: Only an illusion of safety

This project used a sample of sex offenders in New York State who are registered under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA), to perform the fist empirical assessment into whether the Act's implementation is likely to increase public safety. The answer, unsurprisingly, is a resounding no. As it turns out, the offenders classified as lowest risk (Tier 1) reoffended at higher rates than those classified as moderate (Tier 2) to high risk (Tier 3).

Again, you can see the abstract of this study, The Adam Walsh Act: A False Sense of Security or an Effective Public Policy Initiative? by Naomi J. Freeman and Jeffrey C. Sandler, at Criminal Justice Policy Review's "online first" site, but the article requires a subscription.