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Washington State's Community Protection Act includes a provision allowing public officials to warn communities about potentially dangerous sex offenders when they are released from incarceration. The statute does not specify how dangerousness is to be assessed, nor does it establish methods for notification. Local jurisdictions, therefore, have implemented the law in a variety of ways. This paper describes how local jurisdictions determine, with assistance from the state, which sex offenders are dangerous, and how they notify the public. A sample of jurisdictions were contacted to ascertain their decision-making procedures and costs.
The 1994 Washington Legislature passed E2SHB 2319, a wide-ranging Act whose primary purpose is to reduce the rate of violence-particularly youth violence-and other at-risk behaviors in the state. To accomplish these reductions, the legislature adopted three policy approaches: public health, community health and safety networks, and increased criminal penalties. The legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to evaluate the effectiveness of these policies in reducing the rates of violence and the other at-risk behaviors. This report describes the Institute's evaluation plan.
In 1990, the legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to study the effectiveness of the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA). Legislators wanted to know if this treatment option, which allows judges to order community treatment for eligible sex offenders, compromised public safety. This publication reports on three studies regarding sex offenders that are designed to answer policymakers' questions. Each study addresses a particular aspect of recidivism.
This study is a preliminary estimate of the recidivism rates of sex offenders who have completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) at the Washington State Department of Corrections’ Twin Rivers Corrections Center. Estimated recidivism rates of these offenders are compared with the rates of a group of released sex offenders who did not receive sex offender treatment during incarceration.
Sex offenders may re-offend, even after they have been convicted and imprisoned. This conduct is known as recidivism. Research on sex offender recidivism can help the public and policymakers understand the risks posed by convicted sex offenders. This paper summarizes the major research findings related to sex offender recidivism.
Washington State's 1990 Community Protection Act requires released sex offenders to register with the sheriff in their county of residence within 24 hours of release. In addition, the Act expressly authorizes law enforcement agencies to notify the public when a sex offender with a high risk of reoffense settles in the community. This law, called "community notification," was the first of its kind in the country. In March 1993, the Institute surveyed sheriffs in all 39 counties and the chiefs of police in the ten largest cities regarding their use of the community notification law.
This report reviews the literature regarding female sex offenders, and examines the characteristics of convicted female sex offenders in Washington State. Research literature indicates that the prevalence of sex offenses committed by females is relatively low, partly because of underreporting.
The effect of prison or jail sentences on recidivism is an important issue to those concerned with public safety and the cost-effectiveness of putting convicted offenders in prison. This paper summarizes theories and empirical studies on the effect of sentencing on recidivism. Study findings indicate that for some offenders, incarceration and longer confinement seem to increase the risk of recidivism. For other offenders, the likelihood of re-offense will either be unaffected or reduced by longer terms of incarceration. Furthermore, early-release programs do not appear to affect overall recidivism rates.
Policy debates regarding sentencing for sex offenders frequently focus on recidivism rates and treatment techniques. This paper addresses the financial aspects of sentencing, comparing the costs of three sentencing options in Washington State.
This study identified demographic, offense, and criminal justice system factors that contribute to the decision to grant Washington State's Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) to certain eligible sex offenders and not to others who are eligible. Comparative rates of recidivism (rearrest and reconviction) for those who did and did not receive this sentence option were also analyzed.