The Probabilities of Sex Offender Rearrest
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, Vol. 13, pp. 125-143, 2003
23 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2012
Date Written: February 3, 2003
Estimates of the probabilities of rearrest for sex offenders apprehended (n=2,785) in Western Australia between 1984 and 1994 are reported. Subjects on average were followed up for 5.7 years and assessed by criminal record, Aboriginality, bail status, age, occupation and penal intervention. Three criteria, rearrest for any, repeat sex or a violent offense are used to summarize the ‘careers’ of sex offenders. Overall ultimate probabilities of rearrest for any offense were 0.61, for a repeat sex offense 0.33 and for a violent offense 0.51. Probabilities of rearrest for non-Aboriginal offenders were lower for all definitions. Younger offenders, Aborigines and those with prior arrest for non-sex offenses had higher probabilities for any or violent rearrest but older offenders tended to have higher probabilities of repeat sex offending. Community supervision and imprisonment significantly reduced the ‘rate’ or speed of rearrest. The utility of actuarial risk assessment for low probability high consequence events such as dangerous recidivism and the evaluation of penal interventions for criminal justice policy are discussed.
Keywords: sex offenders, recidivism, longitudinal study, actuarial risk assessment
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