Statistics on Violence & Recidivism


Saturday night I performed my revised show for the first time in front of a good sized audience. There were a couple of hiccups but I made it through and the response in general was positive. One question that came up in the talk back was in regards to the numbers I use in the show to depict the problem of violence and recidivism. I hope to clarify that here.

As for the recidivism of sex offenders the numbers are pretty much all over the board. Here are some key statistics that come from the Department of Justice’s SMART program.

  • offenders released from prison are arrested at rates 30 to 45 times higher than the general population
  • only 19 percent of women and 13 percent of men who were raped since their 18th birthday reported the rape to the police
  • only 2.5 percent of sexual assaults and 10 percent of serious sexual assaults resulted in an arrest
  • Langan, Schmitt, and Durose (2003) found a sexual recidivism rate of 5.3 percent during the 3-year followup period
  • Harris and Hanson (2004) found sexual recidivism rates for 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year followup periods of  14, 20, 24 and 27 % respectively.
  • Harris and Hanson (2004) also found that the 15-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)
  • recidivism rates of sex offenders increase as followup periods become longer
  • Langan, Schmitt, and Durose (2003) found that 49.6 percent of the rapists with more than one prior arrest were rearrested within 3 years of their release compared to 28.3 percent that of rapists with just one prior arrest
  • Harris and Hanson’s (2004) found that child molesters were more likely than any other type of offender—sexual or nonsexual—to be arrested for a sex crime against a child following release from prison
    Table 2. Sexual Recidivism Rates of Child Molesters
    Type of Offense Recidivism Rate, by Followup Period (%)
    5 years 10 years 15 years
    Molested boys 23.0
    Molested girls 9.2
    Committed incest 6.4
    Recidivism estimates are based on new convictions and charges.
    Source: Harris & Hanson (2004).

As for the costs of domestic violence. According to a study done by the Copenhagen Consensus Center violence perpetrated in the home appears to be the most prevalent form of violence. The study asserts that domestic abuse of women and children should no longer be regarded as a private matter but a public health concern. Here are some of the statistics by Anke Hoeffler, Research Officer at Oxford, and James Fearon, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

  • the costs of collective, interpersonal violence, harsh child discipline, intimate partner violence and sexual abuse represent 11% of worldwide GDP.
  • Violence in the home is 6.5 times more costly than homicide, and 50 times more costly than civil war.
  • for every civil war battlefield death, roughly nine people – 7% of whom are children – are killed in interpersonal disputes
  • Halving the current high level of intimate partner violence would dramatically improve the welfare of millions of women and help break ongoing cycles of violence
  • about a third of countries had a homicide rate of over 10 per 100,000, considered to be an epidemic level by WHO
  • 80% of all perpetrators of child abuse and neglect are the child’s parents
  • about 290 million children (15.5% of the total) are the recipients of severe physical punishment
  • 30% of women experience intimate partner violence
  • 43% of all female victims are killed by a current or former intimate partner

On the positive side.

  • Early response of trained social service and welfare officers appear to provide the best benefit to cost ratio – $13 of benefit for every $1 spent
  • Programs to improve parenting skills can provide a benefit to cost ratio of $8.74 benefit for every $1 spent.

The Missing and Exploited Kids website used to provide a state by state tracking of sex offenders. At one point in my search I found numbers for 2002 and numbers for 2016. For some reason I can no longer find those numbers for 2002. However, I was able to fine a report that indicates the number of offenders on the registry in February of 2001 was 386,000. According to NCMEC, as of 2016 there were 859,500 registered sex offenders in United States. That’s an increase of 122%.


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