The Maine Statistical Analysis Center, part of the University of Southern Maine’s Catherine Cutler Institute, published a report in July entitled “Recidivism Among Sex Offenders in Massachusetts & Maine.”
The report was funded by a Bureau of Justice Statistics grant, in order to provide policy makers with empirical data on a critical issue of public safety — sex crimes committed by reoffenders.
In Maine, recidivism is defined as the presence of an arrest that results in a conviction within a five year period from release.
Types of recidivism categorized by the report include sex offenses, violent offenses, registry violations, and any other type of offense.
The data analyzed in the report spanned a range from 2005 to 2019, and in order to be included in the study, offenders had to be committed to prison for a sex offense and then released within that 14-year period — a total of 905 records in Maine.
The study population was predominantly male, with only 2.1 percent of offenders identified as female. Ninety percent of the offender population was white, and 10 percent were persons of color.
In order to control for certain attributes, the report classified offenders by type and age, the severity and number of the sex offenses, commitment length, release type (supervision or discharge), and the security level of the facility the offender was released from.
Maine’s five-year recidivism rate was 43 percent, much higher than Massachusetts’ rate of 25 percent.
The report explains that the gap could be due to the two states having different criminal laws and procedures, and that an offense that resulted in a commitment to a state prison in Maine could result in a county jail commitment in Massachusetts.
Additionally, individuals whose most severe sex offense was a misdemeanor committed additional crimes at a rate 45 percent higher than those of a felony level offense, according to the report.
Offenders whose crimes fell short of rape and did not target children recidivate 45 percent more than offenders who committed crimes against children.
In Maine, the average age of a child predator at the time of their earliest sex offense was 35, compared to 30 years old for child rapists and 31.1 years old for rapists.
The study also found an association between age at release and recidivism rates, as well as with the release type.
For every 10-year increase in age at release, the recidivism rate decreased by 21 percent.
Furthermore, offenders who were released into supervision had a 38 percent decreased risk of recidivism for every 10-year increase of age at release.
Discharged offenders released without supervision are expected to recidivate at a rate 61 percent higher than offenders who were supervised following release, according to the report.
For the offenders released between 2005 and 2019 in Maine, the length of their prison sentence ranged from one to 22 years, for an average commitment length of 31 months — while 50 percent of offenders were committed for less than 20 months
The type of facility is also associated with recidivism rates, with offenders released from a maximum-security level facility recidivating at a rate 2.4 times higher than that of offenders released from a medium security level facility or lower.