nextgenforensic

Long-term reconviction rates for individuals convicted of indecent image offences appear to be low

Ian A. Elliott

Although they’re a relatively small proportion of individuals convicted of sexual offences there is increasing concern about the behaviours and management of individuals with offenses relating to indecent images of children (IIOC) online. The consensus in the literature appears to be that, contrary to popular notions, sex offenders don’t reoffend at high rates and that the rate for IIOC offenders is lower than those who commit contact sexual offences. This post summarises the findings of our new study into (relatively) long-term reconviction rates for IIOC users.

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Examining the latent structure of pedophilic interest

By Ian McPhail (@IanVMcPhail on twitter)

In the last five years, there has been a series of attempts by forensic and sex scientists to examine and elucidate the latent structure of sexual interests in prepubescent children, or, pedophilic interest. In this blog post, I will discuss what latent structure is and what the recent science has been finding. In two upcoming blog posts, I will examine the ramifications of this recent latent structure research.

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Reinventing the wheel: Testing a new CoSA-based sex offender intervention

John Vaccaro

In 1994, a small-town event catalyzed the creation of a new method of supervising sexual offenders in the community. At that time, the residents of Ontario, Canada became aware that a high risk sexual offender, who had molested multiple children, was being released with no supervisory restrictions (Canada’s equivalent of “maxing out”). This led to immense upheaval in the local community. The situation seemed irresolvable until a Mennonite pastor of a local congregation offered to supervise the offender and keep him accountable through regular meetings, checkups, and guidance. After the situation turned into a success story – the offender was never rearrested – the Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario and the Correctional Service of Canada partnered to create what is now called Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA).

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CoSA: An inconvenient truth

Ian A. Elliott

This week I read the new (July) edition of the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Inside was a new outcome study of the Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) re-entry program in the South East region of the United Kingdom, by Andrew Bates and colleagues. I consider myself to be a supporter of CoSA and its mission, and I think it’s an excellent program implemented by motivated, diligent, and benevolent individuals. Myself and Ian McPhail have written positively about CoSA on this very blog. Nonetheless, I have constant lingering concerns about the inconvenient truth that, as yet, there is simply not enough evidence to suggest that CoSA programs are effective in their aim to significantly reduce sexual reoffending by Core Members (the individual to whom support and accountability is provided).

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Once a sex offender, always a sex offender?

Kelly M. Babchishin

It is a striking task to ask undergraduate students (as well as friends and family members) what they believe is the proportion of convicted sex offenders who recommit a new sexual offence. The typical response is: “most” or, for the more statistically-inclined, “80%, give or take 5%.” Research, however, does not match the public’s view. When based on official statistics (for example: new arrests or convictions for a sexual offence), the rates are disproportionately lower than common expectations: about 7% after 5 years and 12% after 10 years (Helmus et al., 2012).

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What’s the point when research on sexual offending has no links to practice?

Ross Bartels

The measure of greatness in a scientific idea is the extent to which it stimulates thought and opens up new lines of research” – Paul Dirac (physicist)

A good deal of research is being conducted by both academics and clinicians to help us understand, assess, and treat sexual offenders. As such, it is understandable to see ‘nextgen’ researchers (myself included) wanting to provide a valuable contribution to the field. However, finding a ‘great scientific idea’ can to be a challenging endeavour. There are a great many factors inherent to the understanding of human behaviour, and offending behaviour is no exception. Luckily, as researchers in forensic psychology, we have a vast body of psychological literature (whether it be a principle, theory, method, or findings from a study) to draw upon when formulating a specific research question. I find this process exciting, as you never know when you might find a ‘hidden gem’ that will reveal new ways of understanding, assessing, and treating sexual offenders.

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Why do we keep rehashing the sex offender treatment effectiveness debate?

Kelly M. Babchishin

There are a lot of meta-analyses and review articles examining the effectiveness of treatment programs for sex offenders. The most recent meta-analysis by Grønnerød and colleagues (2014) did not find that treatment programs reduced the risk of reoffending among sex offenders against children. These authors arrived at the same conclusion that Långström et al. (2013) presented in their systematic review a few months earlier: there is a lack of quality studies, and the limited “good quality” studies do not provide overwhelming support for the effectiveness of sex offender treatment programs. Of course, not all treatment programs are created equal.

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