Bad Data: How government agencies distort statistics on sex-crime recidivism

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Alissa Ackerman and her colleague, Dr. Marshall Burns published a study in the Justice Policy Journal.  

Abstract: Data on the recidivism rates of individuals convicted of sex crimes varies considerably across studies. Both academic papers and government reports have assessed various forms of recidivism for this group, with different findings. The vast majority of the public believes that people convicted of sex crimes will inevitably reoffend and this is the premise upon which most related legislation is based. However, this premise is based on false and misleading information contained in numerous published reports. After a review of 287 studies of recidivism statistics, we selected seven that exhibit the most egregious misinformation and that have been the most influential in shaping governmental policy. We examine these seven studies thoroughly to better understand their definitions, interpretation, and presentation of recidivism data. We then seek to resolve discrepancies and to determine what can legitimately be said about sex-crime recidivism. We then discuss new revelations about recidivism and sex crimes vis-a-vis our analysis and we offer suggestions for future research.