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For the purpose of their studies, researchers must determine what specific behaviors qualify sex offenders as recidivists.They must decide if only sex offenses will be considered, or if the commission of any crime is sufficient to be classified as a recidivating offense.
They may fear that reporting will lead to the following: These factors are compounded by the shame and guilt experienced by sexual assault victims, and, for many, a desire to put a tragic experience behind them.
Incest victims who have experienced criminal justice involvement are particularly reluctant to report new incest crimes because of the disruption caused to their family.
Reliance on measures of recidivism as reflected through official criminal justice system data obviously omit offenses that are not cleared through an arrest or those that are never reported to the police.
This distinction is critical in the measurement of recidivism of sex offenders.
Thus, this paper focuses primarily on adult male sex offenders.
Research on recidivism can be used to inform intervention strategies with sex offenders.
For a variety of reasons, sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime.
The National Crime Victimization Surveys (Bureau of Justice Statistics) conducted in 1994, 1995, and 1998 indicate that only 32 percent (one out of three) of sexual assaults against persons 12 or older are reported to law enforcement.
However, the way in which recidivism is measured can have a marked difference in study results and applicability to the day-to-day management of this criminal population.
The following section explores variables such as the population(s) of sex offenders studied, the criteria used to measure recidivism, the types of offenses studied, and the length of time a study follows a sample.