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Effect of Age on Sexual and Violent Reconviction

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 55 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 75-97
Leam A. Craig
Date Published
February 2011
23 pages
This study examined sexual and violent reconviction in sexual and violent offenders and examined reconviction rates and levels of actuarial risk associated with age bands.
Although a number of research studies indicate an inverse relationship between age and sexual offence recidivism, the effect of age on sexual and violent reconviction remains unclear, with some studies producing contradictory results. In the present study, reconviction data were obtained for 131 offenders (85 sex offenders and 46 violent offenders) followed up over a 2- and 5-year period. The sample was grouped into four age bands (i.e., less than or equal to 24, 25-34, 35-44, and greater than or equal to 45 years) and rates of sexual, violent, sexual and violent (combined), and any offence reconviction were compared. There was an almost linear relationship between age and rate of reconviction, with the youngest age band (less than or equal to 24 years) presenting the greatest risk of reconviction and the older age bands (greater than or equal to 45 years) presenting the lowest reconviction rate. At the 5-year follow-up, the youngest age band was significantly more likely to be reconvicted of sexual and violent offences (combined) than any other age band. This age band was significantly more likely to be actuarially assessed (i.e., Static-99) as high risk (controlling for age) and was more likely to target strangers, be single, and display non-sexual violence during the index offence. In relation to sexual reconviction, there was a plateau effect in the middle-age band, with the oldest age band (greater than or equal to 45 years) obtaining the highest sexual reconviction rate compared with all other age bands at the 5-year follow-up. Although these findings support the view that lower-aged sexual and violent offenders pose greater risk than their older-aged counterparts, this was not true for sexual reconviction at the 5-year follow-up. Implications of these findings are discussed. (Published Abstract) Tables, notes, and references