Inevitable Recidivism: The Origin and Centrality of an Urban Legend
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Vol. 34, p. 186, April 2011
10 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012
Date Written: April 1, 2011
This paper examines the pervasive conviction that sex offenders – particularly child molesters – will continue to re-offend. This belief in inevitable recidivism turns out to be absolutely essential to both the justification for, and the structure of, the sexually violent predator laws. When actual evidence of sex offender recidivism is examined, however, a huge gap exists between what is assumed and what the data actually show because most sex offenders do not in fact re-offend. Thus there is a galaxy of sexually violent predator laws and an entire branch of Supreme Court jurisprudence that is founded upon a demonstrable urban legend.
Keywords: Sex offender, recidivism, U.S. Supreme Court, public perceptions, socially constructed truth
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation