Over the last thirty years, countless studies have been published in respected scientific journals, documenting the low rate of sex offense recidivism among most individuals with sex offense convictions. The percent of individuals previously convicted of a sex offense who committed a new sex offense within five to ten years of release, range from the single digits to mid-teens, depending on the study, and the nature of the sample.

Below we report on both national and state studies regarding recidivism rates. Particularly relevant to the passage of ever more draconian and restrictive laws, imposing greater and greater hardship on ex-offenders and their families, is the low rate of recidivism for ex-offenders in New Jersey, especially those who have undergone treatment at the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center in Avenel, New Jersey. As detailed below, seven different studies, including two conducted by research staff at the ADTC, reveal a 5-10 year recidivism rate of under 10%. Armed with this uncontroverted research A.R.I.S.E. challenges legislators, and other elected government officials to more closely scrutinize any proposed legislation that would impose greater restrictions on ex-offenders, living safely and responsibility in the community while simultaneous diverting scarce state revenues which already overburden taxpayers, from less costly, more effective, and less stigmatizing alternatives to public safety.

New Jersey Recidivism Rates for Individuals with sex offense convictions.

Zgoba, K. M., Sager, W. R., & Witt, P. H. (2003). Evaluation of New Jersey’s sex offender treatment program at the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center: Preliminary results. The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 31, 133-164. Click here to download PDF.

This study tracked groups of ADTC releases for seven years and found that overall, only 8.2% of those released committed a new sex offense within that time period. 

Zgoba, K. M., Simon, L. N. J. (2005). Recidivism rates of sexual offenders up to 7 years later. Does treatment matter?. Criminal Justice Review, 30(2), 155-173.

United States Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports

Prison Rape Elimination Act Data Collection Activities – 2014, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2014, NCJ 245694

Minton, Todd D., & Golinelli, Daniela. (May, 2014). Jail Inmates at Midyear 2013 – Statistical Tables. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (NCJ 245350).

Durose, Matthew R.; Cooper, Alexia, D.; & Snyder, Howard H. (April, 2014). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (NCJ 244205).

Langan, P. A., Schmitt, E. L., & Durose, M. R. (Nov. 2003). Recidivism of sex offenders released from prison in 1994. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (NCJ 198281).

Risk Assesments and Civil Commitment Under Sexually Violent Predator Laws

Krivacska, J. J. & Margolis, H. (2011). Reliability of Sex Offense Risk Assessment at Civil Commitment Threshold Levels in New Jersey SVP Proceedings. Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology, 13.

Jackson, R. L. & Hess, D. T. (2007). Evaluation for civil commitment of sex offenders: a survey of experts. Sexual Abuse : A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19(4), 425–48. doi:10.1007/s11194-007-9062-3

Riley, G. C. Bastecki Walter, B. Bayer, C. B. Greenfield, G. T. Krivacska, J. J. & Tate, J. W. (2003). Inside Civil Commitment: Competing Rights, Competing Interests. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, 13.

Zander, T. K. (2008). Commentary: inventing diagnosis for civil commitment of rapists. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 36(4), 459–469.

Caldwell, M. F., Ziemke, M. H., Vitacco, M. J. (2008). An examination of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as applied to juveniles: Evaluating the ability to predict sexual recidivism. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14(2), 89-114.

Found that the Risk Registrant Assessment Scale used in New Jersey did not predict sex offense recidivism, at least among juveniles. Also found that the rate at which juveniles with sex offense histories and juveniles without sex offense histories committed a new sex offense, did not different statistically, calling into question the appropriateness of singling out juvenile sex offenders for special restrictions or community notification.

Prisoner Reentry

Legal Services of New Jersey – Corrections and Reentry White Paper


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