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Review: individual variables have low power to predict recidivism with sex offenders

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Question What factors are related to sexual, non-sexual violent, and general (any) recidivism among sexual offenders?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching PsycLIT and the National Criminal Justice Reference System using the key words sex(ual) offender, rape, rapist, child molester, pedophile, pedophilia, exhibitionist, exhibitionism, sexual assault, incest, voyeur, frotteur, indecent exposure, sexual deviant, paraphilia(c), predict, recidivism, recidivist, recidivate, reoffend, reoffense, relapse, and failure. Reference lists of identified articles were also scanned, and letters were sent to 32 established sexual offender researchers requesting unpublished articles or data.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they followed a sample of sex offenders; reported recidivism information for sexual offences, non-sexual violent offences, or any reoffences; and included sufficient statistical information to calculate the association between a relevant offender characteristic and recidivism.

Data extraction

Data were extracted on nature of offence, duration of follow up, predictor variables, and recidivism rate.

Main results

61 follow up studies involving 28 972 sexual offenders …

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