Generality of deviance and predation: Crime-switching and specialization patterns in persistent sexual offenders.
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Contrary to public perception, empirical studies have constantly shown that persistent sex offenders constitute a small subgroup of the sex offender population. Indeed, only a small subpopulation of sex offenders tends to persist in committing these crimes over time, as recidivism rates tend to be approximately 10% to 15% over a period of about five years after release (Lussier, 2005). This small subgroup has attracted a lot of attention from the criminal justice system, which in turn has led to the development of various risk assessment tools designed to help practitioners in screening for persistent offenders. Many characteristics have been identified, and theoretical models have been proposed (Beech & Ward, 2004; Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2005). In the meantime, however, the behavior of persistent sexual offenders has been overlooked to a great extent. One could reasonably question what those risk assessment tools are really predicting, as the criterion used to develop those instruments is "sexual recidivism," which includes much heterogeneity in its manifestations. Of interest is the fact that many predictors of sexual recidivism are related to offending characteristics, such as having offended against an extrafamilial, male, prepubescent victim. The purpose of the study described in this chapter is to build on previous studies to further understand the sexual criminal activity of persistent sexual offenders (Guay, Proulx, Cusson, & Ouimet, 2001). The emphasis here is on the tendency for that subgroup of offenders to switch from one sex crime category to another. Building on the criminological literature, this investigation focuses on the sexual criminal versatility of persistent sex offenders and the associated risk factors.
Violent offenders: Theory, research, policy, and practice
Causes and Prevention of Crime