repeat sex offenders

The Numbers Guy has a fascinating blog entry about sex offender recidivism (read his print column too). He writes

Conventional wisdom says people released after serving time for sex crimes are likely to strike again. The numbers aren’t as certain. Among convicted criminals released from prison, sex offenders released from prison are less likely to be arrested for any new crime than most other offenders, with the notable exception of murderers, researchers say.

We’ve all heard that nearly all (90% or more) sex offenders will immediately start committing offenses as soon as they are released from prison, but the reality may be closer to 50%. The conventional wisdom has resulted in stiff minimum sentences, three strikes laws, sex offender registries, among other things, all of which require many of our tax dollars (However, I can’t say I oppose many of these measures, even if they’re not as effective as we were promised). This type of analysis has already been considered by Al Blumstein, who studied criminal careers and recidivism and modeled criminal careers as a longitudinal stochastic process.

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