Rates of Sexual Recidivism in High Risk Sex Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of 10,422 Participants

Singh, J. P., Fazel, S., Gueorguieva, R., & Buchanan, A. (2013). Rates of sexual recidivism in high risk sex offenders: A meta-analysis of 10,422 participants. Sexual Offender Treatment, Volume 7 (2012), Issue 2

13 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2014

See all articles by Jay Singh

Jay Singh

Global Institute of Forensic Research; Høgskolen i Molde

Seena Fazel

University of Oxford

Ralitza Gueorguieva

Yale University

Alec Buchanan

Yale University - Department of Psychiatry

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Background: Despite the widespread use of structured risk assessment instruments in the prediction of repeat sexual offending, it is not known how stable rates of sexual recidivism are in people classed as high risk. This is important, as high risk classifications are used to justify indeterminate detention decisions in an increasing number of Western countries. We investigated the extent and sources of variation in rates of sexual recidivism in sex offenders found to be high risk by structured risk assessment instruments.

Methods: Studies on eight widely used risk assessment instruments were identified via a systematic search of PsycINFO, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and US National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts (January 1, 1995 to January 1, 2011). Rates of sexual recidivism for offenders classed as high risk were extracted, and binomial logistic regression was used to investigate potential sources of variation, including the population rate of sexual recidivism, sex, age, geographic location, instrument characteristics, and outcome characteristics.

Results: Information on rates of repeat sexual offending was collected on 10,422 unique sex offenders in 29 samples from 21 independent studies. Overall and mean annual rates of sexual recidivism in those classified as high risk varied both within and between instruments. Multivariable binomial logistic regression revealed that odds of sexual recidivism in high risk groups were significantly lower for each year increase in the mean age of the sample, when an actuarial instrument was used, and in studies that relied on conviction as their outcome.

Conclusions: The rate of sexual recidivism in individuals classified as high risk by structured risk assessment instruments varies systematically. Taken alone, a classification of high risk, whether generated by actuarial or structured professional judgment methods, does not imply any particular probability of repeat sexual offending. Recent suggestions that sex offender age is insufficiently weighted by structured instruments warrant clinical attention.

Keywords: Risk Assessment, Sex Offender, Meta-analysis, Forensic, Crime

Suggested Citation

Singh, Jay and Fazel, Seena and Gueorguieva, Ralitza and Buchanan, Alec, Rates of Sexual Recidivism in High Risk Sex Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of 10,422 Participants (2012). Singh, J. P., Fazel, S., Gueorguieva, R., & Buchanan, A. (2013). Rates of sexual recidivism in high risk sex offenders: A meta-analysis of 10,422 participants. Sexual Offender Treatment, Volume 7 (2012), Issue 2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2473264

Jay Singh (Contact Author)

Global Institute of Forensic Research ( email )

11700 Plaza America Drive
Suite 810
Reston, VA 20190
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gifrinc.com

Høgskolen i Molde ( email )

Molde NO-6405
Norway

Seena Fazel

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Ralitza Gueorguieva

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Alec Buchanan

Yale University - Department of Psychiatry ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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