Statutory rapist register as sex offenders

‘Leaky pipeline’
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  2. Learn more about Sex Offender
  3. Sex Offender Databases: Getting Your Name Off if Your Acts Are Now Legal
  4. Sex Offender Registry and Removal | Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law

Hidden offending presents significant challenges for professionals working in sex offender management as it is difficult to know whether offenders who appear to be nonrecidivists based on official records are truly offense free. In addition, perceptions of the public safety risk associated with sex crimes and certain sexual offenders may be distorted when they are based solely on crime and on offender profiles identified in official records.

Even though the basic meaning of recidivism is clear cut, recidivism rates are often measured differently from one study to the next. Different ways of measuring recidivism rates can produce substantially different results, and comparing rates that were derived in different ways can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Some of the most common ways in which measurement variation occurs in recidivism research are summarized below. An operational definition states in very concrete terms precisely how something is to be measured.

When researchers operationally define recidivism for a study, they must specify the event that constitutes recidivism — such as an arrest, a conviction or a return to prison. In some studies, recidivism is defined as an arrest during the follow-up period; in others, recidivism may be defined as a conviction for a criminal offense or a return to prison for a new crime.

The length of time an offender is tracked to determine if recidivism occurred also can vary from one study to the next. Recidivism rates will naturally increase as offenders are followed for longer time periods because there is more time when they are at risk to reoffend and more time for recidivism to be detected. Hence, policymakers and practitioners should always be cognizant of the length of the follow-up period when interpreting recidivism rate research findings.

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They also should recognize that analyses that fail to standardize the time at risk for everyone in a given group of offenders being studied may further undercount recidivism because some offenders will not have been at risk for the entire follow-up period. Variation in the types of offenders studied is common in recidivism research, and studies of sex offender recidivism are no exception Maltz, For example, some recidivism studies focus on offenders released or paroled from prison, while others focus on offenders discharged from probation.

Because offenders released from prison typically have a more serious criminal history than probationers, and criminal history is related to recidivism, recidivism rates are likely to be higher for prison releasees than for probationers Przybylski, In addition, parolees may be subject to more behavioral constraints than probationers, resulting in higher recidivism rates due to technical violations of the conditions of release Maltz, Additionally, some prisoners are released without parole supervision. Because differences such as these can affect observed recidivism rates, policymakers and practitioners who use findings from recidivism rate research should exercise caution when comparing the recidivism rates of markedly different populations Maltz, Most recidivism studies search for new recorded criminal events and place offenders without the new events in the nonrecidivism category.

Heil and colleagues conducted a recidivism study that accounted for every offender and excluded from the final calculations those who moved out of state, who died or whose residence could not be verified. This reduced the sample size by more than 17 percent, all of whom would have been calculated as "nonrecidivists" in traditional studies. Not surprisingly, one- and five-year recidivism rates for this group of 1, prisoners were higher than those reported in many other studies that used follow-up periods that were similar in length. The one- and five-year recidivism rates found by the researchers were, respectively: 3.

Empirical data on the recidivism rates of sex offenders come from two broad categories of research: single studies and meta-analysis. Single studies typically track one or more cohorts of sex offenders following an arrest, discharge from probation or release from prison to determine the proportion rearrested, reconvicted or returned to prison within a specified period of time.

It employs statistical procedures that combine the results of many single studies into one large study with many subjects. By pooling the original studies, meta-analysis counteracts a common methodological problem in research — small sample sizes — thereby helping the analyst to draw more accurate conclusions. Meta-analysis is especially useful when synthesizing the results of studies that use different types of measures, which is a common occurrence in recidivism research, because one of the summary statistics meta-analysis can generate in recidivism research is the average recidivism rate across studies.

This can help make sense of single-study findings derived from different operational definitions of recidivism or different follow-up period lengths.

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Perhaps the largest single study of sex offender recidivism conducted to date was carried out by Langan, Schmitt and Durose The study, which was published by the U. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, examined the recidivism patterns of 9, male sex offenders released from prisons in 15 states in These offenders accounted for about two-thirds of all male sex offenders released from state prisons in the United States that year. Using a three-year postrelease follow-up period, rearrest and reconviction rates for sexual and other crimes were reported for the entire sample of sex offenders as well as for different categories of sex offenders.

The researchers found a sexual recidivism rate of 5.

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The violent and overall arrest recidivism rates for the entire sample of sex offenders were much higher; Of the 9, sex offenders released from prison in , 3. Nearly four out of every 10 As part of their study, Langan, Schmitt and Durose conducted a comparative analysis of recidivism among sex offenders and non-sex offenders. Findings were based on the three-year postrelease offending of 9, sex offenders and , non-sex offenders released from prison in The analysis revealed that once released, the sex offenders had a lower overall rearrest rate than non-sex offenders 43 percent compared to 68 percent , but their sex crime rearrest rate was four times higher than the rate for non-sex offenders 5.

Similar patterns are consistently found in other studies that compare sex offender and non-sex offender recidivism see, e. Another important study, because of its large sample size, was conducted by Sample and Bray The researchers examined the arrest recidivism of , offenders who were originally arrested in Illinois in Arrestees categorized as sex offenders based on their most serious charge in being a sex offense had one-year, three-year and five-year rearrest rates for a new sexual offense of 2. Sex offenders in the Sample and Bray study had one-year, three-year and five-year rearrest rates for any new offense of These overall recidivism rates were lower than those found for all other categories of offenders in the analysis, except homicide and property damage offenders.

But like Langan, Schmitt and Durose , Sample and Bray found that sex offenders had a higher sexual recidivism rate than all other categories of offenders. Sample and Bray , p. Sex offenders in Illinois do not appear to commit future offenses, in general, at a higher rate than do other offenders. However, they may have higher levels of recidivism for their crimes than other types of offenders exhibit for their particular offenses. Another important study because of its large sample size and extended follow-up period was conducted by Harris and Hanson The research employed a combined sample of 4, sex offenders drawn from 10 prior studies; seven of the studies involved sex offenders in Canada, two involved sex offenders in the United States and one involved sex offenders in the United Kingdom.

All of the 4, sex offenders in the Harris and Hanson analysis were released from correctional institutions, except for Canadian sex offenders who were placed on probation and American sex offenders who received community-based sentences in Washington state. Harris and Hanson generated recidivism estimates based on new charges or convictions for sexual offenses using five-, and year follow-up periods for several categories of sex offenders.

The five-year sexual recidivism estimate for all sex offenders in the analysis was 14 percent. The and year sexual recidivism rate estimates for all sex offenders were 20 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Using the same data set, Hanson, Morton and Harris reported that the year sexual recidivism rate for the sample was 27 percent. One of the most important findings that emerged from the Harris and Hanson analysis was that the year sexual recidivism rate for offenders who already had a prior conviction for a sexual offense was nearly twice that for first-time sex offenders 37 percent compared to 19 percent.

Another important finding was that the rate of reoffending decreased the longer offenders had been offense-free. While 14 percent of the offenders in the analysis were sexual recidivists after five years of follow-up, only 7 percent of the offenders who were offense-free at that time sexually recidivated during the next five follow-up years. For offenders who were offense-free after 15 years, the observed sexual recidivism rate was only 4 percent over an additional five years of follow-up. Hanson and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 23 recidivism outcome studies to determine whether the risk, need and responsivity principles associated with effective interventions for general offenders also apply to sex offender treatment.

This meta-analysis produced an average sexual recidivism rate of An earlier meta-analysis of 43 sex offender treatment effectiveness studies found somewhat similar results Hanson et al. The average overall recidivism rate was The analysis included 69 independent studies and a combined total of 22, subjects. Overall, 29 independent comparisons containing a total of 4, treated and 5, untreated sexual offenders were included in the analysis and all of the comparisons were based on equivalent treatment and control groups.

The researchers found that treated offenders had a mean sexual recidivism rate of Treated offenders in the analysis had a general recidivism rate of Each of the meta-analyses highlighted above was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of sex offender treatment. All of these studies found positive treatment effects, but what is most relevant is the consistent finding across studies that sex offenders are far more likely to recidivate with a nonsexual rather than a sexual crime. Several single studies that have been undertaken to evaluate treatment effectiveness, and several meta-analyses that have been undertaken for other reasons, have produced similar findings.

For example, McGrath and colleagues compared a group of adult male sex offenders who received treatment, supervision and periodic polygraph exams with a matched group of sex offenders who received the same type of treatment and supervision services but no polygraph exams. Based on a five-year follow-up period, 5. The general recidivism rates for the polygraph and nonpolygraph groups In a study employing an even larger sample treated and untreated sex offenders and an average follow-up period of 12 years, Hanson, Broom and Stephenson reported sexual recidivism rates of The general and violent recidivism rates for both groups were more than double their sexual recidivism rates.

Treated sex offenders had a violent crime recidivism rate of Untreated sex offenders in the study had a violent crime recidivism rate of Olver, Nicholaichuk, Gu and Wong , p.

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Based on a mean post-release follow-up period of Violent crime recidivism rates for the treated and untreated groups were Again, these rates are more than two times higher than those found for sexual recidivism. Tewksbury, Jennings and Zgoba examined sexual and general recidivism as part of a larger study primarily focused on the impact of sex offender registration and notification SORN.

The study involved a sample of sex offenders released from prison in New Jersey from —94 prior to the implementation of SORN and sex offenders released during the years —99 after SORN implementation. Based on an eight-year follow-up period, the researchers reported sexual recidivism rates of 13 percent and 9. General recidivism rates of The researchers also found "two distinct general recidivism trajectories" for the entire study sample: a "low-risk trajectory group and a high-risk trajectory group. In discussing their findings, Tewksbury and colleagues , p.

More recently, Mercado and colleagues examined the recidivism rates of sexual offenders as part of a larger study of sex offender management, treatment effectiveness and civil commitment. The researchers reported that both treated and untreated offenders in the study had recidivism rates of 5 percent based on reconviction for a new sexual offense over an average 6.

By comparison, the general recidivism rates reported for treated and untreated sex offenders in the study were 25 percent and Several studies that have examined the recidivism rates of sex offenders across multiple time periods also are worth noting.

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Olver, Wong and Nicholaichuk , for example, conducted a treatment outcome study that examined sexual reconviction rates for treated and untreated sex offenders using three-, five- and year follow-up periods. For the treated sex offenders, the researchers found sexual reconviction rates of Sexual reconviction rates for the untreated sex offenders were Durose, Cooper and Snyder reported a similar pattern for overall recidivism rates in their large scale recidivism analysis involving , inmates released from state prisons in in 30 states. Durose and colleagues reported that inmates who had been incarcerated specifically for rape or sexual assault had an overall recidivism rate based on a new arrest of By comparison, the overall recidivism rate for these sex offenders was Findings from these studies, like those from the Harris and Hanson analysis, demonstrate how the recidivism rates of sex offenders increase as follow-up periods become longer.

In the study conducted by Harris and Hanson , sexual recidivism rates increased from 14 percent after five years of follow-up to 24 percent after 15 years of follow-up. In the study conducted by Olver, Wong and Nicholaichuk , sexual recidivism rates for treated offenders increased from While higher recidivism rates should be expected with longer follow-up periods because there is more time for reoffending to occur and to be detected, findings from these studies illustrate how important follow-up periods of longer than three or five years are for understanding the absolute risk of reoffending in sex offender populations.

Findings from two other large-scale studies of sex offender recidivism are reported below. Both studies are meta-analyses that undertaken specifically to identify factors related to the recidivism of sex offenders, and their findings regarding recidivism rates are quite consistent. The researchers found an average sexual recidivism rate of The average sexual recidivism rate found was Recent research has begun to shed light on the differential rates of recidivism displayed by female and male sex offenders.

Cortoni and Hanson conducted a study involving 6 sources of recidivism data and a combined sample of female sex offenders. Based on an average follow-up period of 5 years, the researchers found an average sexual recidivism rate for female sex offenders of 1 percent. The observed violent recidivism rate was 6. More recently, Sandler and Freeman examined the recidivism patterns of female sex offenders using a sample of 1, females convicted of a sexual offense in New York State. They found sexual recidivism rates based on rearrest of 0. The five-year rearrest rate found for a violent felony offense was 5.

The comparison indicated that female sex offenders had far lower rates of sexual recidivism 1. Further evidence that female sex offenders reoffend at significantly lower rates than male sex offenders comes from a recent meta-analysis of 10 studies conducted by Cortoni, Hanson and Coache The researchers found an average sexual recidivism rate of about 3 percent for female sex offenders based on an average follow-up period of 6. While researchers have identified a variety of sex offender typologies see Chapter 3 , , "Sex Offender Typologies," in the Adult section , sex offenders are often classified by their crime type or victim age preference in recidivism research.

Individuals involved in rape behavior and those involved in child molesting behavior are the two principal categories of sex offenders that emerge from this approach, and studies that examine the recidivism of specific types of sex offenders frequently report recidivism rates for one or both of these categories. Incest offenders are sometimes distinguished from other child molesters in recidivism research.

A limited body of research has also examined the recidivism rates of "hands off" — or noncontact — sex offenders, such as exhibitionists. When reviewing recidivism rates for different types of sex offenders, however, it is important to keep in mind that research has documented a significant amount of crossover offending among sex offenders. While the knowledge base regarding recidivism rates is less extensive for specific types of sex offenders than it is for sex offenders overall, several important studies on the recidivism rates of rapists and child molesters have been published in recent years.


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Key findings from these studies — and from studies on recidivism among exhibitionists — are presented below. Researchers studying the recidivism of sex offenders are increasingly reporting recidivism rates specifically for rapists. Two studies previously discussed in this report — Langan, Schmitt and Durose and Harris and Hanson — examined the recidivism of rapists using a relatively large sample size.

The Harris and Hanson analysis included a sample of 1, rapists. Recidivism estimates were reported for three distinct follow-up periods: five years, 10 years and 15 years. Sexual recidivism rates for rapists, based on new charges or convictions, were 14 percent at five years, 21 percent at 10 years and 24 percent at 15 years. The Langan, Schmitt and Durose study of male sex offenders released from state prisons in is arguably one of the largest individual recidivism studies of rapists undertaken to date. The study included a sample of 3, rapists.

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Of these 3, rapists, 78 2. The violent crime and overall recidivism rates found for rapists were Like sex offenders overall, rapists had a lower overall recidivism rate than non-sex offenders in the study 46 percent compared to 68 percent , but a higher sexual recidivism rate 5 percent compared to 1. One of the important findings that emerged from the study was that about half of the rapists with more than one prior arrest were rearrested within three years of their release, a rearrest rate nearly double Generalizing some of the study's findings to offenders engaged in rape behavior today is problematic because the study period began in and ended in and sex offender treatment and management practices were far different then than they are today.

In addition, the study sample consisted of individuals who were sexually dangerous and civilly committed, so the sample is not representative of all rapists or all sex offenders. Still, the year follow-up period employed in the research is arguably one of the longest used to examine the recidivism of rapists, 29 and certain findings concerning the variability of recidivism rates over time may have significance for the measurement and interpretation of recidivism rates today.

The study conducted by Prentky and colleagues examined both short- and long-term sexual and general recidivism within a population of rapists who had been committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons. The researchers found sexual recidivism rates based on a new charge of 9 percent after one year of follow-up, 19 percent after five years of follow-up and 31 percent after 15 years of follow-up. The overall recidivism rate for any charge by the end of the year follow-up period was 74 percent.

Prentky and colleagues , p. Thus, it is worth noting that despite the study's inherent limitations, some rapists remain at risk to reoffend long after their discharge and that conventional follow-up periods of three or five years would have missed roughly half of the first-time recidivists identified after 25 years of follow-up Prentky et al.

Using a sample of sex offenders similar to the one employed in the Prentky et al. As in the Prentky et al. But unlike in the Prentky et al. Still, generalizing findings from the analysis to rapists overall may be problematic given the high-risk nature of the sex offenders in the study and the length of time that has passed since these individuals committed their referral offense. Two broad findings are worth noting. First, based on a new charge for a serious sexual crime those involving physical contact with a victim , Knight and Thornton found that rapists in their study recidivated at a rate of 12 percent after three years of follow-up and 20 percent after 15 years of follow-up.

The long-term propensity for convicted rapists to sexually reoffend also has been examined by Doren His analysis, which aimed at estimating the true base rate for sexual recidivism among rapists, led him to conclude that the percent long-term sexual recidivism rate for rapists found by Prentky and colleagues was consistent with findings from other research.

Doren , p. The accuracy of Doren's estimate regarding the long-term propensity of rapists to reoffend and the contention that any nontrivial proportion of sex offenders may show first-time recidivism 20 years or more following release from incarceration or discharge from probation, both remain subject to debate. Harris and Hanson , p.

While the type of offender may matter, the data are too few and too conditional to arrive at a valid conclusion Doren, Findings regarding the relationship between age and sexual recidivism reported by Knight and Thornton , p. As Knight and Thornton stated —. The study referenced above by Olver et al.

In their Canadian study that examined how treatment outcomes for adult sex offenders released from prison might be moderated by factors such as the offender's age and risk level, the researchers found that older sex offenders had significantly lower sexual and violent recidivism rates than younger sex offenders. A relatively large body of research exists on the recidivism rates of child molesters. The study of sex offenders released from state prisons in by Langan, Schmitt and Durose included a large sample 4, of child molesters.

The researchers reported that 5. Similar to the pattern for rapists in the study, child molesters with more than one prior arrest had an overall recidivism rate nearly double As might be expected, child molesters were more likely than any other type of offender — sexual or nonsexual — to be arrested for a sex a crime against a child following release from prison.

During the three-year postrelease follow-up period, 3. Three other studies mentioned in the prior discussion about the recidivism of rapists also make contributions to the knowledge base about the recidivism patterns of child molesters. As part of their larger study designed to evaluate risk assessment schemes for sexual offenders, Knight and Thornton examined the recidivism rates of child molesters. Their analysis examined the recidivism of child molesters who had been referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center for evaluation between and Again, given the high-risk nature of these offenders and the length of time that has passed since these individuals committed their referral offense, findings from the analysis may have limited application to child molesters today.

Still, several findings from the analysis are worth noting. First, Knight and Thornton , p. However, they did find that child molesters recidivated at a slower pace than rapists for both non-sexual victim-involved and victimless crimes. Findings from Harris and Hanson's analysis are particularly compelling because they document differential rates of recidivism for different types of child molesters based on follow-up periods of five, 10 and 15 years. For all child molesters in the analysis, the researchers found five-, and year sexual recidivism rates based on new charges or convictions of 13 percent, 18 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Table 2 presents the study's recidivism estimates based on new charges or convictions for five-, and year follow-up periods for molesters of boys, molesters of girls and incest offenders. Recidivism estimates are based on new convictions and charges. Table 2 shows that molesters of boys had the highest rates of sexual recidivism.

Different patterns of reoffending within child molester populations have been found in other studies as well, with molesters of boys having higher recidivism rates than other types of child molesters see, e. It is important to keep in mind that the recidivism rates observed for child molesters, and for incest offenders particularly, are impacted by underreporting even more so than recidivism rates for other types of sex offenders, as research has shown that child victims who knew their perpetrator were the least likely to report their victimization Smith et al.

In a study that examined the recidivism of child molesters and non-sex offenders 15 to 30 years after their release from a Canadian prison, Hanson, Scott and Steffy found that child molesters had lower rates of overall recidivism based on reconviction than non-sex offenders 61 percent compared to Not all child molesters in the study, however, recidivated at the same rate. The highest rate of recidivism among child molesters in the study 77 percent was found for child molesters with previous sexual offenses, those who were never married and those who selected extrafamilial boy victims.

In contrast, the long-term recidivism rate for child molesters categorized as low risk was less than 20 percent. One study that did not find different rates of recidivism for child molesters based on victim gender was Prentky and colleagues' analysis of child molesters who were civilly committed in Massachusetts. The researchers cautioned, however, that this specific departure in their findings from other research may have been an artifact of the study sample's extensive prior criminal history for sexual offenses.

The sample consisted of child molesters who were discharged from civil commitment in Massachusetts between and Again, generalizing certain findings from the analysis to other samples of sex offenders could be problematic because the offenders in the study were very high risk and the study period ended more than 25 years ago. Nonetheless, the research is still important because of its lengthy follow-up period. Based on the year follow-up period, Prentky and his colleagues found a sexual recidivism rate of 52 percent defined as those charged with a subsequent sexual offense for the child molesters in the study.

The overall new crime recidivism rate found after 25 years of follow-up was 75 percent. While the difference between the sexual recidivism rates for child molesters found by Prentky and colleagues using a year follow-up period 52 percent and Harris and Hanson using a year follow-up period 23 percent is striking, the nature and substantive significance of the difference can be interpreted in fundamentally different ways.

One interpretation is that first-time recidivism may occur for some child molesters 20 or more years after criminal justice intervention and that recidivism estimates derived from shorter follow-up periods are likely to underestimate the lifetime risk of child molester reoffending Doren, Analyzing data from Prentky and colleagues and other studies, Doren , p.

While the rate at which child molesters are likely to sexually recidivate over the life course may be subject to further debate, current empirical evidence suggests that molesters of boys have higher short- and long-term recidivism rates than other types of sex offenders. It is important to keep in mind, however, that both gender-crossover and age-crossover offending are not uncommon and that far more research on the recidivism patterns of crossover offenders is needed Wilcox et al. A limited body of research exists on the recidivism rates of exhibitionists.

Marshall, Eccles, and Barbaree reported recidivism data from two studies that examined the effectiveness of specific treatment approaches for exhibitionists. Both studies were based on samples that were small in size. The researchers found that nine of the 23 The second study examined recidivism for 17 males charged with exhibitionism and treated between and Based on a follow-up period of almost four years, the researchers found that four of the 17 Sugarman and colleagues examined recidivism for exhibitionists with a larger sample exhibitionists and a follow-up period of 17 years.

The researchers reported a percent recidivism rate based on a conviction for a contact sexual offense during the follow-up period, and a percent recidivism rate based on a conviction for any type of crime other than exposing. More recently, Rabinowitz-Greenberg and colleagues examined the recidivism of exhibitionists assessed at the Royal Ottawa Hospital Sexual Behaviors Clinic between and Based on an average follow-up period of 6. Building upon the analysis, Firestone and colleagues examined recidivism for of the exhibitionists in the analysis conducted by Rabinowitz-Greenberg and colleagues, extending the follow-up period to an average of The researchers found that Sexual recidivists who were charged with or convicted of a hands-on sex crime during the Drawing firm conclusions about the extent of sex offender recidivism can be difficult due to a number of factors.

First, although there is universal agreement that the observed recidivism rates of sex offenders are underestimates of actual reoffending, the magnitude of the gap between observed and actual reoffending remains subject to debate. As a result, conclusions about the extent of sex offender recidivism and the propensity of sex offenders to reoffend over the life course inherently involve some uncertainty. Second, measurement variation across studies often produces disparate findings that can be difficult to interpret.

Comparing and corroborating findings can be difficult for the same reason. Third, short follow-up periods and small sample sizes limit the generalization of certain findings. Drawing firm conclusions about the propensity of specific subgroups of sex offenders to reoffend over the life course is particularly difficult, as sample sizes often fall to unrepresentative levels as follow-up periods grow longer. Still, recent research has produced several trustworthy findings concerning the recidivism rates of child molesters, rapists and sex offenders overall.

While a sound foundation of knowledge on the extent of sex offender recidivism has been produced in recent years, significant knowledge gaps and unresolved controversies remain. Variations across studies in the operational definition of recidivism, the length of the follow-up period employed and other measurement factors continue to make it difficult to make cross-study comparisons of observed recidivism rates.

Interpreting disparate findings and their implications for policy and practice also remains a challenge. Research documenting the recidivism patterns of crossover offenders and other specific sex offender subtypes is needed. While the operational definitions and follow-up periods employed in sex offender recidivism research will largely be dictated by the available data, studies that produce more readily comparable findings are greatly needed, as are those that employ follow-up periods longer than five years.

Analyses that standardize the time at risk for all offenders in a given study using survival analysis also are needed. A new law in New York state, the Child Victims Act allows those who were victims of sexual assault as a minor more time to report crimes — until age The law also allows more time for victims to sue alleged perpetrators or negligent institutions — until age Previously, the age limit for both types of cases was 23 with an exemption only for the most serious felonies. The law also opens up a one-year window for victims of any age to file civil law suits, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

This window opens on Aug. Some states have gone even further. Last month, my home state of Illinois became the eighth state to completely eliminate statutes of limitation for sex crimes. As a scholar of gender-based violence currently studying the legal needs of survivors of sexual assault , I believe that these reforms may help some victims find closure. However, without examining why someone might wait decades to report a sexual assault, why sexual offenders are often not held accountable, and why so few resources are devoted to rape prevention , I believe that increasing — but not eliminating — time limits will not help most victims heal or access justice.

There are many reasons victims choose not to report an attack immediately, or ever. In a recent study on sexual assault disclosure among college students , my co-author Noelle St. Victims were more likely to report if they were injured or their attacker was a stranger. This type of sexual assault is also the most likely to result in a conviction, but it is the least common type of assault. Recent events, like Dr. Statutes of limitations meant that most of those callers likely had no legal recourse open to them.

The new law in New York state addresses that for many victims. It will also likely mean that more civil law suits will be filed against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein who died in federal jail Aug. According to a investigative report that analyzed 1, sexual assault cases in Minnesota, of these cases were sent to prosecutors by law enforcement.

Charges were filed in cases and only 91 of the original 1, resulted in a conviction. It is more typical for cases to have little-to-no evidence, especially if it is years or decades after an attack.