Canada's sex offender legislation: 'tough on crime', short on smarts!

Supplemental Resources:


Recidivism Studies:


 "... if we are to believe even half of the research that has been conducted across this nation in this field, then we can only conclude that, in general, sex offender registration… have little or no discernible effect on recidivism or public safety. The most prevalent threat to the public comes from those who have not yet offended or have not yet been identified and caught."

Report of Iowa Sex Offender Research Council to the Iowa General Assembly, Appendix 2, January, 2009



Texas department of State Health Services. “Council on Sex Offender Treatment Treatment of Sex Offenders - Recidivism Rates”

·         "73% of sex offenders had not been charged with, or convicted of another sexual offense"


 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, “Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases.”

·         "8% of sex offenders were recommitted in the 10-year period"

·         "3% of sex offenders committed a sexually-related violation of probation/ parole"

·         "½ of recidivists re-offended within two years of release"

·         "2/3 of recidivists re-offended within 3 years of release"


 Michigan Parole Board, “Recidivism Statistics 1990-2000”.

"Sex Offenders have a lower recidivism rate than other offenders"

·         Follow-up Period: 4 years                 Recidivism Rates

·         Sex Offenders                                        2.46%

·         Forgery                                                    6.86%

·         Burglary                                                  10.56%

·         Drugs                                                      6.42%

·         Robbery                                                  5.17%

·         Larceny                                                  12.65%


Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, “Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases.”

·         "7.1% of sex offenders who went through treatment recidivated"

·         "16.5% of sex offenders who did not undergo treatment recidivated"


Virginia Criminal Sentencing Division

This study reflects a general consensus that treatment is indeed effective (Virginia Criminal Sentencing Division, “Assessing Risk Among Sex Offenders in Virginia," 2001, p. 22-29).


U.S. Department of Justice Recidivism study p. 11. Most sex offenders are first time offenders:

·         "Only 14% of inmates in prison on sex crimes had prior sex crime convictions"

·         "In short, 86% in prison were first-time offenders, or about 6 out of 7".


Bureau of Justice Statistics: Inmate Study 1997 (Noted on DOJ Recidivism study, p. 39)

"2 out of every 3 people who committed a serious sex crime would not meet the base DSM-IV criteria for pedophilia".


U.S. Department of Justice, Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released into the Community in 1994
Sex Offenders have a low Specific Recidivism rate

·         9,641 sex offenders released in 15 states (Three-year follow-up period)

·         262,420 non-sex offenders released in same 15 states in 1994

·         517 sex offenders (5.3% of all sex offenders) were arrested for a sex crime within 3 years, 3.5% of sex offenders re-convicted

·         3,228 non-sex offenders (1.3% of all no-sex offenders) were arrested for a sex crime  within the same three year period


California Sex Offender Management Board ( June 2008. RECIDIVISM OF PAROLED SEX OFFENDERS – A FIVE (5) YEAR STUDY:


Wyoming Legislative Service Office. Research Memo


New Jersey Department Of Corrections Study on the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration, February 11, 2009:
New Jersey DOC Study on the effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration 2.11.09.pdf

New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives Research Bulletin: Sex Offender Populations, Recidivism and Actuarial Assessment, 2007
New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives ResearchBulletin.pdf

Arizona Department of Corrections. Arizona Inmate Recidivism Study. 2005


 Sex Offenders Increase Recidivism and Sexual Violence? Journal of Sex Offender Civil Commitment: Science and the Law, 2006, p. 141-149)


American Psychological Association (

"Statistics show most sex offenders are not likely to repeat their crimes. [We see] the increasing efficacy of offender treatment, largely due to a modern behavior modification model stressing relapse prevention through recognition and avoidance of criminal impulses".



Additional Publications:


The Economist: America’s Unjust Sex Laws. 2009

The cover story calls America's harsh punishment of sex offenders "unjust and ineffective."


Sarah Tofte. Human Rights Watch, 2007. "No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws In The US" The landmark study outlining the problems with American sex offender legislation

Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction” by Patrick S. Carnes. 3rd ed., Hazelden,
2001.-- The landmark work in understanding sexual addiction

Handbook for Sexual Abuser Assessment and Treatment” by Mark S. Carich and Stephen E.
Mussack. Safer Society Press, 2001.--The Safer Society Press is one of the premier publishers of books dealing with treatment of deviant sexual behaviors. This handbook is a guide to different treatment techniques

Failure to Protect: America’s Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State” By Eric S. Janus. Cornell University Press, 2006.--One of my favorite books, this work shows the rationale and the dangers behind "sexual predator" laws

Preventing Sexual Violence: How America Should Cope With Sex Offenders” By John Q. LaFond. American Psychological Association, 2005-- A good critique of the current state of sex offender legislation from one of the leading psychologists in the field

"The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender policies in the United States." Tracy Velazquez, the Vera Institute of Justice, September 2008. Great comprehensive report on sex offender laws, policies, and research on the efficacy of these laws

The Adam Walsh Act: Scarlet Letter, by Lara Geer Farley, April 17, 2008:

Fact Sheets Examine Impact of Sex Offender Registries: Justice Policy Institute, September 2, 2008:

Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders by Jill Levenson, Ph.D.,  Associate Professor of Human Services at Lynn University Published in (2009) issue of American Journal of Criminal Justice,
Collateral Damage - Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders.pdf

Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies:Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States., December 31, 2008:

Revising the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: Our Best Hope for Dealing with Sex-Abuse Hysteria in the United States, Richard A. Gardner, 1993 to the reporters.

Residential Proximity to Schools and Daycare Centers:Influence on sex offense recidivism, An empirical analysis by Jill Levenson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Human Services at Lynn University, December 23, 2008:
Residential proximity to schools and daycare centers.pdf

When Evidence Is Ignored: Residential Restrictions For Sex Offenders. By Richard Tewksbury and Jill Levenson

 The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender Policy in the United States, Vera Institute of Justice, September 2008:

Failure to Register: An Empirical Analysis of Sex Offense Recidivism, by Jill Levenson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Human Services at Lynn University, April 1, 2009
Failure to Register; An Empirical Analysis of Sex Offense Recidivism.pdf

Treatment and Reentry Practices for Sex Offenders, An Overview of States, Vera Institute of Justice, September 2008:

Youth Sex Offenses Fact and Fiction, Justice Policy Institute, February 2009$FILE/JPI_Fact.pdf

Registering Harm: How Sex Offender Registries Fail Youth and Communities, Justice Policy Institute, November 21, 2008:

 SOL Research on Sex Offender Laws and their Effects on People and Society

Sex Offender Treatment: Reconciling Criminal Justice Priorities and Therapeutic Goals by Mary Ann Farkas & Gale Miller, December 2008:

Sexual Predator Laws: A Two-Decade Retrospective by Eric S. Janus & Robert A. Prentky, December 2008:

Brandishing the Mark of Cain: Defects in the Adam Walsh Act by Joseph L. Lester, December 2008:

Perpetual Panic, by Michael O’Hear Marquette University Law School, March 2009:

Life before the Modern Sex Offender Statutes, by Deborah W. Denno, Fordham University School of Law, January 2009:

One of These Laws is Not Like the Others: Why the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act Raises New Constitutional Questions, by Corey Rayburn Yung, The John Marshall Law School, August 2008:

Banishment of Sex Offenders: Individual Liberties, National Rights and the Dormant Commerce Clause, Environmental Justice, and Alternatives, by Shelley Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University, September 2008:

The Sex Offender Register: A Case Study in Function Creep, by Terry Thomas, Leeds Metropolitan University, June 2008:

Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification: Past Present and Future, by Wayne A. Logan, Florida State University College of Law, February 2008:

Be They Fish or Not Fish: The Fishy Registration of Nonsexual Offenders, by Ofer Raban, University of Oregon, August 2007:

American and Canadian Approaches to Sex Offenders: A Study of the Politics of Dangerousness by Michael Petrunik, Lisa Murphy, & J. Paul Fedoroff, December 2008:

From Wetterling to Walsh: The Growth of Federalization in Sex Offender Policy by Richard G. Wright, December 2008:

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and the Commerce Clause by Corey Rayburn Yung, December 2008:

Child Pornography Sentencing: The Road Here and the Road Ahead by Ian N. Friedman & Kristina W. Supler, December 2008:

Hollida Wakefield, “The Vilification of Sex Offenders: Do Laws Targeting”
As former offenders are denied opportunities to reintegrate into society and stigmatized, they lose hope. Stigmatized offenders are more likely to recidivate than reintegrated offenders, as the resistance to recidivate diminishes among offenders who are ostracized. On the other hand, a “pro-social identity,” including concrete recognition of their reform, is integral to reducing recidivism

 American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law:


Risk Assessment:

·         The Accuracy of Recidivism Risk Assessments for Sexual Offenders: Karl Hanson and Kelly E. Morton-Bourgon

This paper found that actuarial methods were the best predictors vs. professional judgment. It means that psychologically informed risk assessments may have strong predictive accuracy and clinical use for specific cases (general, sexual, violent, etc.)

·         Assessing the Risk of Sexual Offenders on Community Supervision: The Dynamic Supervision Project , Karl Hanson, et al Public Safety Canada

This project found that trained community supervision officers can reliably predict sex offense recidivism, specifically with STATIC-2007, STABLE-2007 and ACUTE-2007 assessments.

·         Clinical and Structured Assessment of Sex Offenders

This research bulletin builds upon the first by introducing concepts related to structured assessment and instruments that foster collaboration among probation officers, clinicians and treatment providers

·         Sex Offender Populations, Recidivism and Actuarial Assessment

This research bulletin the first in a series published by the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives bringing together issues in managing sex offenders on probation.

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