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Adult Sex Offender Management

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2015
8 pages
This brief summarizes what is scientifically known about the effectiveness of various features of adult sex offender management, the policy implications of the research findings, existing gaps in knowledge, and unresolved controversies that require further research.
The research review summarizes findings on the effectiveness of the following features of adult sex offender management: specialized supervision (the use of specially trained probation and parole officers who have caseloads of only sex offenders); use of the polygraph to reveal past sexual behavior and compliance with supervision conditions; electronic monitoring of an offender's geographic location; circles of support and accountability (COSA); civil commitment; sex offender registration and notification; and residence restrictions. Based on this research review, the brief concludes that specialized supervision combined with treatment is apparently effective in reducing recidivism for adult sex offenders; the effectiveness of specialized supervision without treatment has not been found to be effective. The few studies of COSA have produced encouraging findings, but more research with rigorous evaluation designs is needed. The polygraph should only be used in conjunction with a comprehensive supervision and treatment approach. Research findings on the effectiveness of sex offender registration and notification in preventing recidivism are mixed, although public support for this system persists under the perception that it increases public safety. Regarding residence restrictions for sex offenders, the evidence is clear that it is ineffective in reducing recidivism and may even increase recidivism risk. 2 notes and 36 references

Date Published: July 1, 2015