Factors Related to Recidivism

Canadian research on what triggers recidivism among sex offenders found that the recidivists were generally considered to have poor social supports, sexual pre-occupations, attitudes tolerant of sexual assault, antisocial lifestyles, poor self-management strategies and difficulties cooperating with community supervision.7

This same study found that the number of recidivists and non-recidivists who had attended treatment programs was the same. However, the recidivists were more likely to have dropped out or to have been described as poor treatment candidates.

Success While on Supervision

Recent amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, designed to deny more sex offenders access to conditional release, suggest that there is a perception that sex offenders on conditional release are at high risk for re-offending or violating conditions. However, studies have shown that sex offenders have success rates on conditional release similar to the general offender population.

A follow-up study of sex offenders on conditional release found that almost 80% were successful on conditional release.8 In comparison, National Parole Board statistics for 1996/97 show that over 85% of offenders on parole and statutory release were successful.9

Treatment Issues

Treatment is one variable associated with recidivism that can be influenced by correctional programming, making treatment a high priority for sex offenders.10

The public tends to believe that sex offenders are not amenable to treatment. However, successful sex offender treatment programs have been shown to reduce the risk of re-offending.

In terms of treatment, the most highly regarded approach employs a cognitive behavioral model employing relapse prevention in high risk situations.11 This model fits with the Correctional Service of Canada's (CSC) assessment and treatment of sex offenders. CSC focuses on identifying the nature and pattern of the offender's behaviour and providing the offender with the coping strategies that will reduce the risk of recidivism. This approach emphasizes the need for offenders to take responsibility for their actions, recognize their cycle of offending and identify their high risk situations, and helps them develop strategies to avoid relapse.12