Advertisement

The Criminal Activity of Sexual Offenders in Adulthood: Revisiting the Specialization Debate

  • Patrick LussierEmail author
Article
  • 368 Downloads

Abstract

Two major hypotheses have been put forward to describe the criminal activity of sexual offenders in adulthood. The first hypothesis states that sexual offenders are specialists who tend to repeat sexual crimes. The second hypothesis describes sexual offenders as generalists who do not restrict themselves to one particular type of crime. The current state of knowledge provides empirical support for both the specialization and the generality hypothesis. The presence of both generality and specialization in the offending behavior of sexual offenders is not as contradictory as it may first appear. However, methodological problems limit the possibility of drawing firm conclusions. Indeed, the specialization hypothesis is based on just one parameter of criminal activity, that is, recidivism, which only takes into account two consecutive crimes. The generality hypothesis is focused mainly on two criminal activity parameters, participation and variety, which do not take into account the dynamic nature of criminal activity over time. Developmental criminology provides a new paradigm to explore the issue of generality and specialization in the offending behavior of sexual offenders.

Key Words

criminal activity specialization versatility sex offenders 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abel, G. G., Osborn, C. A., & Twigg, D. A. (1993). Sexual assault through the life span: Adult offenders with juvenile histories. In H. E. Barbaree, W. L. Marshall, & S. M. Hudson (Eds.), The juvenile sex offender (pp. 104–117). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Adler, C. (1984). The convicted rapist: A sexual or a violent offender? Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 11, 157–177.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, M. A. (1999). Sexual offender treatment efficacy revisited. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11, 101–116.Google Scholar
  4. Amir, A. (1971). Patterns in forcible rape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bard, L. A., Carter, D. L., Cerce, D. D., Knight, R. A., Rosenberg, R., & Schneider, B. (1987). A descriptive study of rapists and child molesters: Developmental, clinical, and criminal characteristics. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 5, 203–220.Google Scholar
  6. Baxter, D. J., Marshall, W. L., Barbaree, H. E., Davidson, P. R., & Malcolm, P. B. (1984). Deviant sexual behaviour: Differentiating sex offenders by criminal and personal history, psychometric measures, and sexual response. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 11, 477–501.Google Scholar
  7. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Das, S., & Moitra, S. D. (1988). Specialization and seriousness during adult criminal careers. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 4, 303–345.Google Scholar
  8. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., & Visher, C. A. (1986). Criminal careers and career criminals. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  9. Boer, D. P., Hart, S. D., Kropp, P. R., & Webster, C. D. (1997). Manual for the sexual violence risk-20. Simon Fraser University: The Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Britt, C. L. (1996). The measurement of specialization and escalation in the criminal career: An alternative modeling strategy. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 12, 193–222.Google Scholar
  11. Cline, H. F. (1980). Criminal behaviour over the life span. In O. G. Brim & J. Kagan. (Eds.), Constancy and change in human development (pp. 641–674). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1986). Research on criminal careers: individuals frequency rates and offense seriousness. In A. Blumstein, J. Cohen, J. A. Roth, & C. A. Visher (Eds.), Criminal careers and career criminals (pp. 292–418). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  13. Davies, A., Wittebrood, K., & Jackson, J. L. (1997). Predicting the criminal antecedents of a stranger rapist from his offence behaviour. Scientific and Justice, 37, 161–170.Google Scholar
  14. DeLisi, M. (2001). Extreme career criminals. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 25, 239–252.Google Scholar
  15. Doren, D. M. (1998). Recidivism base rates, predictions of sex offender recidivism, and the “sexual predator” commitment laws. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 16, 97–114.Google Scholar
  16. Eggleston, E. P., & Laub, J. H. (2002). The onset of adult offending: A neglected dimension of the criminal career. Journal of Criminal Justice, 30, 603–622.Google Scholar
  17. Elliott, D. S. (1994). Serious violent offenders: onset, developmental course, and termination. The american society of criminology 1993 presidential address. Criminology, 32, 1–21.Google Scholar
  18. Farrington, D. P. (2001). Predicting adult official and self-reported violence. In G. F. Pinard & L. Pagani (Ed.), Clinical assessment of dangerousness: Empirical contributions (pp. 66–88). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Farrington, D. P. (2003). Advancing knowledge about the early prevention of adult antisocial behaviour. Early prevention of adult antisocial behaviour (pp. 1–31). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Farrington, D. P., Snyder, H. N., & Finnegan, T. A. (1988). Specialization in juvenile court careers. Criminology, 26, 461–487.Google Scholar
  21. Firestone, P., Bradford, J. M., McCoy, M., Greenberg, D. M., Larose, M. R., & Curry, S. (1999). Prediction of recidivism in incest offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 511–531.Google Scholar
  22. Furby L., Weinrott, M. R., & Blackshaw, L. (1989). Sex offender recidivism: A review.psychological Bulletin, 105, 3–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Gebhard, P. H., Gagnon, J. H., Pomeroy, W. B., & Christensen, C. V. (1964). Sex offenders: An analysis of types. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  24. Gibbens, T. C. N., Soothill, K. L., & Way, C. K. (1981). Sex offences against young girls: A long-term record study. Psychological Medecine, 11, 351–357.Google Scholar
  25. Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Greenberg, D. M. (1998). Sexual recidivism in sex offenders. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 459–465.Google Scholar
  27. Grubin, D., & Wingate, S. (1996). Sexual offence recidivism: prediction versus understanding. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 6, 349–359.Google Scholar
  28. Grunfeld, B., & Noreik, K. (1986). Recidivism among sex offenders: A follow-up study of 541 Norwegian sex offenders. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 9, 95–102.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Guttridge, P., Gabrielli, W. F., Mednick, S. A., & Van Dusen, K. T. (1983). Criminal violence in a birth cohort. In K. T. Van Dusen, & S. A. Mednick (Eds.), Prospective studies of crime and delinquency(pp. 211–224). Hingham: Kluwer-Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  30. Hall, G. C. N. (1988). Criminal behaviour as a function of clinical and actuarial variables in a sexual offender population. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 773–775.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Hall, G. C. N. (1995). Sexual offender recidivism revisited: A meta-analysis of recent treatment studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 802–809.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hanson, R. K. (1997). The Development of a Brief Actuarial Risk Scale for Sexual Recidivism. Ottawa: Department of the Solicitor General of Canada.Google Scholar
  33. Hanson, R. K. (2002). Recidivism and age: Follow-up data from 4673 sexual offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, 1046–1062.Google Scholar
  34. Hanson, R. K., & Bussière, M. T. (1998). Predicting relapse: A meta-analysis of sexual offender recidivism studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 646–652.Google Scholar
  35. Hanson, R. K., Gordon, A., Harris, A. J. R., Marques, J. K., Murphy, W., Quinsey, V. L., et al. (2002). First report of the collaborative outcome data project on the effectiveness of psychological treatment fro sex offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 14, 169–191.Google Scholar
  36. Hanson, R. K., Scott, H., & Steffy, R. A. (1995). A comparison of child molesters and non sexual criminals: Risk predictors and long-term recidivism. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 32, 325–337.Google Scholar
  37. Hanson, R. K., Steffy R. A., & Gauthier, R. (1993). Long-term recidivism of child molesters. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 646–652.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Hanson, R. K., & Thornton D. (1999). Improving risk assessments for sex offenders: A comparison of three actuarial scales. Law and Human Behaviour, 24, 119–136.Google Scholar
  39. Hildebrand, M., Ruiter, C., & Vogel, V. (2004). Psychopathy and sexual deviance in treated rapists: Association with sexual and nonsexual recidivism. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 16, 1–24.Google Scholar
  40. Jacobs, W., Kennedy, W. A., & Meyer, J. B. (1997). Juvenile delinquents: A between-group comparison study of sexual and nonsexual offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 9, 201–217.Google Scholar
  41. Junger-Tas, J., & Marshall, I. H. (1999). The self-report methodology in crime research. Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, 25, 291–367.Google Scholar
  42. Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (2002). Recidivism of prisoners released in 1994. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  43. Langan, P. A., Schmitt, E. L., & Durose, M. R. (2003). Recidivism of sex offenders released from prison in 1994. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  44. LeBlanc, M., & Bouthillier, C. (2003). A developmental test of the general deviance syndrome with adjudicated girls and boys using hierarchical confirmatory factor analysis. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 13, 81–105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. LeBlanc, M., & Fréchette, M. (1989). Male criminal activity from childhood through youth: Multilevel and developmental perspectives. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  46. LeBlanc, M., & Loeber, R. (1998). Developmental criminology updated. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, 23, 115–198.Google Scholar
  47. Lieb, R., Quinsey, V. L., & Berliner, L. (1998). Sexual predators and social policy. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, 23, 43–114.Google Scholar
  48. Loeber, R. (1990). Developmental and risk factors of juvenile antisocial behavior and delinquency. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 1–41.Google Scholar
  49. Loeber, R., & Leblanc, M. (1990). Toward a developmental criminology. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, 12, 375–473.Google Scholar
  50. Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1996). The development of offending. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 23, 12–24.Google Scholar
  51. Loeber, R., & Waller, D. (1988). Artefacts in delinquency specialisation and generalisation studies. British Journal of Criminology, 28, 461–477.Google Scholar
  52. Lussier, P., Beauregard, E., Proulx, J., & Nicole, A. (in press). Developmental factors linked to deviant sexual preferences in child molesters. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.Google Scholar
  53. Lussier, P., LeBlanc, M., & Proulx, J. (2005). The generality of criminal behavior: A confirmatory factor analysis of the criminal activity of sex offenders in adulthood. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33, 177–189.Google Scholar
  54. Lussier, P., & Proulx, J. (2001). Le traitement et l’évaluation des agresseurs sexuels: Perspectives nord-américaines et européennes. Revue Internationale de Criminologie et de Police Technique et Scientifique, 54, 69–87.Google Scholar
  55. Lussier, P., Proulx, J., & LeBlanc, M. (2005). Criminal propensity, deviant sexual interests and criminal activity of sexual aggressors against women: A comparison of explanatory models. Criminology, 43, 249–281.Google Scholar
  56. Marshall, W. L., Jones R., Ward T., Johnston P., & Barbaree H. E. (1991). Treatment outcome with sex offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 465–485.Google Scholar
  57. Marshall, W. L., & Pithers, W. L. (1994). A reconsideration of treatment outcome with sex offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 21, 10–27.Google Scholar
  58. McCaldron, R. J. (1967). Rape. Revue Canadienne de Criminologie, 9, 37–59.Google Scholar
  59. Moffitt, T. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Harrington, H., & Milne, B. (2002). Males on the life-course persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial pathways: Follow-up at age 26. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 179–206PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Pallone, N. (2003). Without plea bargaining, Megan Kanka would be alive today. Criminology and Public Policy, 3, 83–96.Google Scholar
  62. Parkinson, P. N., Brame, R., Piquero, A., & Dean, C. W. (1998). The forward specialization coefficient: distributional properties and subgroup differences. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 133–154.Google Scholar
  63. Paternoster, R., Brame, R., & Piquero, A., & Dean, C. W. (1998). The forward specialization coefficient: Distributional properties and subgroup differences. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14, 133–154.Google Scholar
  64. Petrunik, M. (2003). The hare and the tortoise: dangerousness and sex offender policy in the United States and Canada. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 45, 43–72.Google Scholar
  65. Pham, T. H., DeBruyne, I., & Kinappe, A. (1999). Évaluation statique des délits violents chez les délinquants sexuels incarcérés en Belgique francophone. Criminologie, 32, 117–125.Google Scholar
  66. Piquero, A., Farrington, D. P., & Blumstein, A. (2003). The criminal career paradigm. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A review of justice and research, (vol. 30, pp. 359–506). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  67. Piquero, A., Paternoster, R., Brame, R., Mazerolle, P., & Dean, C. (1999). Onset age and specialisation. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 36, 275–299.Google Scholar
  68. Prentky, R. A., Knight, R. A., & Lee, A. F. S. (1997). Risk factors associated with recidivism among extrafamilial child molesters. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 141–149.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Prentky, R. A., Lee, A. F. S., Knight, R. A., & Cerce, D. (1997). Recidivism rates among child molesters and rapists: A methodological analysis. Law and Human Behaviour, 21, 635–659.Google Scholar
  70. Proulx, J., & Lussier, P. (2001). La prédiction de la récidive chez les agresseurs sexuels. Criminologie, 34, 9–30.Google Scholar
  71. Proulx, J., Pellerin, B., Paradis, Y., McKibben, A., Aubut, J., & Ouimet, M. (1997). Static and dynamic predictors of recidivism in sexual aggressors. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment, 9, 7–27.Google Scholar
  72. Proulx, J., Ouimet, M., Boutin, S., & Lussier, P. (2004). Criminal career parameters in four types of sexual aggressors. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  73. Proulx, J., Tardif, M., Lamoureux, B., & Lussier, P. (2000). How Does Recidivism Risk Assessment Predict Survival? D. R. Laws, S. M. Hudson, & T. Ward (Eds.), Remaking relapse prevention with sex offender: A sourcebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  74. Quinsey, V. L., Harris, G. T., Rice, M. E., & Cormier, C. A. (1998). Violent offenders: Appraising and managing risk. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  75. Quinsey, V. L., Harris, G. T., Rice, M. E., & Lalumière, M. L. (1993). Assessing treatment efficacity in outcome studies of sex offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8, 512–523.Google Scholar
  76. Quinsey, V. L., Lalumière, M. L., Rice, M. E., & Harris, G. T. (1995). Predicting sexual offenses. In J. C. Campbell (Ed.), Assessing dangerousness: Violence by sexual offenders, batterers, and child abusers (pp. 114–137). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  77. Radzinowicz, L. (1957). Sexual offences: A report of the Cambridge department of criminal justice. London: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  78. Rice, M. E., & Harris, G. T. (1997). Cross-validation and extension of the violence risk appraisal guide for child molesters and rapists. Law and Human Behavior, 21, 231–241.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Rice, M. E., Harris, G. T., & Quinsey, V. L. (1990). A follow-up of rapists assessed in a maximum security psychiatric facility. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5, 435–448.Google Scholar
  80. Rice, M. E., Quinsey, V. L., & Harris, G. T. (1991). Sexual recidivism among child molesters released from a maximum security psychiatric institution. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 381–386.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Sample, L. L., & Bray, T. M. (2003). Are sex offenders dangerous? Criminology and Public Policy, 3, 59–82.Google Scholar
  82. Simon, J. (1998). Managing the monstrous: Sex offenders and the new penology. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 4, 452–467.Google Scholar
  83. Simon, L. M. J. (1997). Do offenders specialize in crime types? Applied and Preventive Psychology, 6, 35–53.Google Scholar
  84. Simon, L. M. J. (2000). An examination of the assumptions of specialization, mental disorder, and dangerousness in sex offenders. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 18, 275–308.Google Scholar
  85. Smallbone, S. W., Wheaton, J., & Hourigan, D. (2003). Trait empathy and criminal versatility in sexual offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal or Research and Treatment, 15, 49–60.Google Scholar
  86. Smith, W. (1988). Delinquency and abuse among juvenile sexual offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 3, 400–413.Google Scholar
  87. Soothill, K., Francis, B., Ackerley, E., & Fligelstone, R. (2002). Murder and serious sexual assault: What criminal histories can reveal about future serious offending. Police Research Series. Paper 144. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  88. Soothill, K., Francis, B., Sanderson, B., & Ackerley, E. (2000). Sex offenders: Specialists, generalists or both? British Journal of Criminology, 40, 56–67.Google Scholar
  89. Soothill, K. L., & Gibbens, T. C. N. (1978). Recidivism of sexual offenders: A re-appraisal. British Journal of Criminology, 18, 267–276.Google Scholar
  90. Stander, J., Farrington, D. P., Hill, G., & Altman, P. M. E. (1989). Markov chain analysis and specialization in criminal careers. British Journal of Criminology, 29, 317–335.Google Scholar
  91. Tracy, P. E., Wolfgang, M. E., & Figlio, R. M. (1990). Delinquency careers in two birth cohorts. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  92. Weinrott, M. R., & Saylor, M. (1991). Self-report of crimes committed by sex offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 6, 286–300.Google Scholar
  93. Weis, J. G. (1986). Issues in the measurement of criminal careers. In A. Blumstein, J. Cohen, J. A. Roth, & C. A. Visher (Eds.), Criminal careers and career criminals(pp. 1–51). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  94. Wolfgang, M. E., Figlio, R. M., & Sellin, T. (1972). Delinquency in a birth cohort. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  95. Zolondek, S. C., Abel, G. G., Northey, W. F., Jordan, A. D. (2001). The self-reported behaviors of juvenile sexual offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16, 73–85.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CriminologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

Personalised recommendations