Specialization and versatility in sexual offenders referred for civil commitment
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Offense specialization and versatility have been investigated in general offender populations, but have only recently been examined in sexual offenders. This study explored the extent of both tendencies in the criminal histories of 572 adult male sexual offenders referred for civil commitment. The specialization threshold and the diversity index were used to compare offender subgroups by referral status (committed versus observed) and offense type (rape, child molestation, and incest). Offense versatility was the more likely tendency across the sample. Committed and observed offenders did not differ. Although predominantly versatile, child molesters were significantly more likely than rapists to specialize in sexual offenses, and were also more likely to specialize in child molestation (compared to rapists specializing in rape). These results confirm previous findings on criminal versatility among sexual offenders. This adds to a growing body of research that questions universal and selective crime control policies designed exclusively for sexual offenders.
Journal of Criminal Justice
Correctional Theory, Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation