Age, Actuarial Risk, and Long-Term Recidivism in a National Sample of Sex Offenders
Terry P. Nicholaichuk, Mark E. Olver, Deqiang Gu, Stephen C. P. Wong
Age at release has become an increasing focus of study with regard to evaluating risk in the sex offender population and has been repeatedly shown to be an important component of the risk assessment equation. This study constitutes an extension of a study of sex offender outcomes prepared for the Evaluation Branch, Correctional Service of Canada. The entire cohort of 2,401 male federally incarcerated sexual offenders who reached their warrant expiry date (WED) within 1997/1998, 1998/1999, and 1999/2000 fiscal years were reviewed for the study. Sexual and violent reconviction information was obtained from CPIC criminal records over an average of 12.0 years (SD = 1.7) follow-up. This study focused upon the cohort of sex offenders who were 50 years or older at time of release (N = 542). They were stratified according to risk using a brief actuarial scale (BARS) comprising six binary variables. For the most part, older offenders showed low base rates of sexual recidivism regardless of the risk band into which they fell. The exception was a small group of elderly offenders (n = 20) who fell into the highest risk band, and who showed high levels of sexual recidivism. The results of this combination of cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of elderly sexual offenders may have important implications for offender management, particularly in light of the increasing numbers of offenders in Canada who fall into the over 50 age cohort.