All Part of the Process? A Qualitative Examination of Change in Online Child Pornography Behaviors

Mollee Steely, Tusy ten Bensel, Tabrina Bratton, and Robert Lytle published their latest article on child pornography offenders in the journal of Criminal Justice Studies.


Over the past two decades, there has been increased attention on offending behaviors and motivations of child pornography offenders (CPOs). Although existing research has provided a knowledgeable foundation in regard to this offending subpopulation, the literature has been relatively limited on examining changes in offender behaviors and motivations. This study used interviews with 25 online CPOs in a southern state to identify themes underlying offending behaviors and motives at onset, as well as, continuation of offending over time. We found that offenders reported various circumstances (ranging from intentional to unintentional) and motivations (including thrill-seeking and attraction) at onset; however, CPOs reported thrill-seeking and attraction to be the most common factors driving their continued offending. We applied these themes to the existing literature on child pornography offending and recommended directions for future research. Based on our findings, we offered considerations for the treatment of CPOs.

Nobody Gives a #%&!: A Factorial Survey Examining the Effect of Criminological Evidence on Opposition to Sex Offender Residence Restrictions

Check out the latest article by Jason Rydberg, Christopher P. Dum, and Kelly M. Socia published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology.


Objectives:This short report tests whether altering messages concerning the presentation (i.e., criminal justice actor experience vs. summary of scientific findings) or nature of criminological research findings (i.e., lack of crime control effect vs. collateral consequences) regarding the (in)efficacy of sex offender residence restrictions (SORR) would subsequently affect public support for this policy. Methods: The experimental conditions were presented in a factorial survey delivered to a national online panel, which was subsequently matched to a sampling frame representative of US adults on the basis of gender, age, race, education, ideology, and political interest (N = 970). Analysis of variance was used to estimate the impact of the experimental manipulations on SORR opposition. Results: Support for SORR was high across all experimental conditions, and no manipulations were statistically associated with variation in opposition to the policy. Conclusions: The results support limited previous research suggesting that the public would continue to support SORR even in the lack of evidence to its effectiveness. This research suggests that altering the presenter or nature of research evidence subsequently produces no opinion change, at least in the form that was executed here. Further research on the mechanisms underlying the recalcitrance of SORR support is necessary.

The Difference Between Desistance from Sexual Offending and Not Reoffending

In their recent article published in the Journal of Crime and Justice, Brooke Cooley and Lisa Sample discuss the difference in desistance and recidivism from sexual offending.


Scholars have generally relied on a lack of sexual recidivism as an indicator of desistance, which can be misleading because desistance and the lack of recidivism are two distinct constructs and should be measured as such. Desistance includes gradual cognitive and affective transformation, whereas the lack of reoffending could be a function of several factors including the natural aging process, the lack of opportunity, or increases in social bonds. This research conducted a comparative case study analysis to highlight how desistance and the lack of reoffending differentiate within sexual offending. Our results demonstrate a desistance pathway in one case and a simple lack of reoffending in another. Our findings can be used to expand our theoretic understanding of desistance as more than a lack of reoffending.

Beyond Circles of Support: “Fearless”—An Open Peer-to-Peer Mutual Support Group for Sex Offense Registrants and Their Family Members

Lisa Sample, Brooke Cooley, and Tusty ten Bensel published an article in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.


The term sex offender carries expectations that include a continuous level of sexual criminal risk and untreatable mental health conditions that govern sex offending behaviors. These role expectations by the public can socially isolate individuals who have been convicted of a crime and the people who love them. This is likely to contribute to negative self-images that can result in loneliness, isolation, and depression, and, subsequently, contribute to discontinuing support for sex offender’s loved ones and reoffending. This article highlights the creation and maintenance of a peer-to-peer social support group for registered sex offenders and their family members that helps combat the effects of “sex offender” labels. This group differs from formal organized circles of support model and traditional self-help groups such as Alcohol (AA) or Narcotic (NA) Anonymous. We review this group’s creation, processes and procedures, and outcomes, including changes in cognition, mood, and affect over time for members in the group.

The Sex Offender Housing Dilemma: Community Activism, Safety, and Social Justice

Monica Williams recently released her new book!


No community wants a sex offender in its midst, but instead of vigilantism, Monica Williams argues, citizens often leverage moral, political, and/or legal authority to keep these offenders out of local neighborhoods. Her book, the culmination of four years of research, 70 in-depth interviews, participant observations, and studies of numerous media sources, reveals the origins and characteristics of community responses to sexually violent predators (SVP) in the U.S. Specifically, The Sex Offender Housing Dilemma examines the placement process for released SVPs in California and the communities’ responses to those placements.  

Taking the reader into the center of these related issues, Monica Williams provokes debate on the role of communities in the execution of criminal justice policies, while also addressing the responsibility of government institutions to both groups of citizens. The Sex Offender Housing Dilemma is sure to promote increased civic engagement to help strengthen communities, increase public safety, and ensure government accountability. 

College Students’ Online Pornography Use: Contrasting General and Specific Structural Variables with Social Learning Variables

Article in American Journal of Criminal Justice by Danielle Cooper and Jennifer Klein.

This research partially tests Akers’ social structure-social learning theory (SSSL). The data was collected online through a self-report questionnaire and nearly half (48.8%) of the sample of 812 college students reported visiting a porn site. To better understand this self-report behavior, bivariate correlations and three binary logistic regression analyses were conducted. In Model A, participants who were male, Hispanic, had more years in college, and more inclined toward homosexuality had an increased likelihood of visiting a porn site. In Model B, again, gender, ethnicity, year in school, and the sexuality scale were significant predictors. However, race appeared as significant for the first time along with number of sex partners, and frequency of masturbation, indicating that participants who were Black, had a greater number of sexual partners, and masturbated more frequently had an increased likelihood of visiting porn site. As with the first and second models, gender, race, sexuality scale, and frequency of masturbation were significant predictors in Model C. Additionally, differential peer association, differential reinforcement, and definitions favorable were significant, indicating that participants who had greater association with peers who viewed porn, who had observed someone watching porn and decided to mimic their behaviors, and who had defined visiting porn sites favorably had an increased likelihood of visiting a porn site. Overall, Akers’ SLT variables fully mediated ethnicity, year in school, and number of sex partners, but it only partially mediated gender, race, and sexuality scale.

Beyond Panic Variation in the Legislative Activity for Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Across States Over Time

Check out the latest article by Robert Lytle in Criminal  Justice Policy Review. 


Nationwide moral panic has long served as a primary explanation for sex offense laws. These laws, however, remain primarily left to state legislatures, which implies potential variation in their content over time. Variation in legislative content, to the degree that it represents implementation, not only suggests differential consequences for registrants and communities, but also it would raise questions to the sufficiency of moral panic as a sole explanation for sex offense policy change. I build upon earlier work by exploring variation in the content and timing of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) reform in all 50 states over time. After documenting variation in these laws, I present the ways in which SORN legislative content has evolved differently across states. In addition, the timing of legislative reforms differed not only across states but also within states over time. These findings have implications for existing theoretical assertions regarding criminal justice policy.

Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders: Research and Realities

Donna Vandiver, Jeremy Braithwaite, and Mark Stafford have an exciting textbook coming out in 2017 geared towards undergraduate and graduate courses.  Be on the lookout for this book to hit the shelves.


Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders: Research and Realities provides an overview of social scientific theory and research on sex crimes and sex offenders. Most other books on the market are focused on a single issue—such as treatment, rape, pedophilia, theory, etc. This book is unique in that it covers the most current theory and research along with individual cases of sex crimes (e.g., Kobe Bryant, Jerry Sandusky, and other case studies), effectively linking theory and research with the realities of sex crimes and sex offenders as well as their victims. Vandiver, Braithwaite, and Stafford are careful to dispel myths and to focus on the heterogeneity of sex crimes and sex offenders, and not on any one issue or population or theory. Instead, they weave a framework using a full range of theoretical concepts and research data to integrate their discussions of crimes, offenders, victims, treatments, and policy implications. The result is a valuable resource for students and early-stage researchers investigating sex crimes or offenders.

Living Arrangements for Sex Offenders in Ohio: Effects of Economics, Laws, and Government Assistance Programs

Shawn M. Rolfe, Richard Tewksbury, and Karen F. Lahm recently published an article living arrangements for sex offenders. This article has been published in Prison Journal. You can read their abstract below.


Throughout the United States, Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) laws have created housing issues for registered sex offenders (RSOs). As a result of SORN, many RSOs may need to rely on family members for their housing needs. This study focused on two separate SORN laws (i.e., Megan’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act) in Ohio. Each law is enforced based on the offenders’ conviction date. This study draws on data from 188 adult male RSOs in Ohio using a disproportionate stratified sample technique. The findings suggest that neither law influences RSOs living with family members. The results did, however, find that an RSO’s income, or receiving government assistance, or being on probation/parole predicted the odds of living with family members. Policy implications of such findings are discussed.

“The Sleeping Army”: Necropolitics and the Collateral Consequences of Being a Sex Offender

Ethan M. Higgins and Shawn M. Rolfe recently published an article in Deviant Behavior.


The current study examines responses from 188 registered sex offenders to assess the impact of collateral consequences and situate such experiences within a framework of necropolitics. Two research questions are addressed: How can the experience of collateral consequences be explained through necropolitics; and, do sex offenders use necropolitics in resistive efforts? Results demonstrate that exclusion from social and political institutions results in a “death in life” for sex offenders. Last, this article discusses an alternative lens for conceptualizing policy initiatives towards sex offenders by juxtaposing Luckmann’s “life-worlds” with Mbembe’s “death worlds.”