Archive for March 30th, 2009


Monday, March 30th, 2009

Shortly after we began interviewing sex offenders it was evident to us that some of them committed the same offense over and over again in what seemed a compulsive repetitious pattern of behavior. Feeling that these individuals are of particular concern to society, we have in this chapter labeled them “patterned” offenders and compared them to other sex offenders who do not exhibit this repetitious pattern of offense behavior. The latter we labeled “incidental” offenders.

The separation of offenders into the patterned or incidental categories is based either on the record of criminal conviction or on the individual’s admission to a history of offense behavior for which he was not convicted. For example, a man with two convictions for exhibition was categorized as a patterned exhibitionist, and so was the man who had but one conviction but told us he had repeatedly exposed himself to women. The individual labeled incidental was the man with only one offense of a given type and no indication of additional activity of that same type.

Obviously only a few types of sex offenses lent themselves to this patterned as against incidental dichotomy; for example, virtually 100 per cent of our offenders vs. adults would by definition be patterned offenders. In other instances, as in the aggressors vs. children, the sample was already too small for further division. Consequently, we made the patterned vs. incidental analysis on but six groups: the heterosexual offenders vs. children, the incest offenders vs. children, the homosexual offenders vs. children, the aggressors vs. adults, the peepers, and the exhibitionists.


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Monday, March 30th, 2009

In general, it may be said that there are very few good studies of recidivism and that no study has examined the recidivism of a large sample of first offenders throughout their criminal careers. Most studies of offenders of any type have focused on what can be called “failure” populations. An extended analysis of the criminal records of a population that is currently institutionalized is the common technique. Thus, excluding the first offenders, all other persons are “failures” in terms of remaining outside institutions. The primary defect of these studies, and of ours also, is that there is not present (and cannot be) in the institutionalized population those first offenders who do not get convicted the second time, and those second offenders who do not get convicted the third time, and so on. What these studies do show is the profile of previous offenses committed by men currently in prison. The degree to which their criminal careers are similar to the careers of men who did not return the next time, whatever time that might have been, is at present moot.

Recidivism rates vary considerably for different types of offenders; this is partially a function of the offense and partially a function of the length of sentence. Certain types of offenders, primarily those with a traditional career of property offenses, serve relatively short sentences and have high rates of recidivism both when released on parole and on unconditional release. Part of this recidivism rate is due to years of exposure in the free community, but also part is due to an involvement in social groups with standards and values at variance with majority sentiments. The opposite picture, in terms of both exposure and criminal subculture involvement, is observed in the case of both homicide and sex offenders.7 Except for exhibitionists, peepers, and those convicted of statutory rape, most other sex offenders receive fairly long sentences, cutting down years of exposure. This is also practically inevitable in homicide cases. All the other offender groups show relatively low recidivism rates when parole-violation rates are computed, for in addition to the years spent in institutions away from objects of their offenses these sex offenders (as well as those noted above) are not supported by social groups or norms which perpetuate offense behavior.

Taking the total convictions, sexual and nonsexual in nature, it appears that half of the sex offenders have more convictions than the prison group and half have fewer. There were 3.5 convictions per capita for the prison group; at one extreme were the aggressors vs. children with 5.5 and at the other the incest offenders vs. adults with 2.4 convictions. We may equate number of convictions with recidivism despite the fact that in some cases what was one unit of behavior resulted in convictions on several charges.

In general, the aggressors are the most recidivistic group. In per capita convictions they rank first, fifth, and sixth (5.5 to 3.9 convictions). Of the four groups with the smallest proportions of first offenders, three are the aggressors with only 17, 11, and 8 per cent of the members having one conviction on their records. In the rank-order of those with seven or more convictions they rank first (28 per cent of the aggressors vs. children had seven or more, convictions), fourth, and fifth.

The second most recidivistic are those offenders who do not make physical contact: the peepers and the exhibitionists. In per capita convictions they are second and third (4.3 for the exhibitionists and 4.2 for the peepers). They again rank second and third in the proportion who had seven or more convictions, this being true for one fifth of the peepers and 16 per cent of the exhibitionists. The recidivism of these two groups is a product not only of their compulsivity but also of the tendency for the courts either to omit imprisonment or mete out short sentences for these nuisance offenses.

As a group the incest offenders are the least recidivistic, averaging 2.4 to 3.0 convictions per capita. Moreover, slightly more than two fifths of the incest offenders vs. minors and adults were first offenders, ranking first and second. In a rank-order of those with seven or more convictions the incest offenders occupy the lowest three positions, with only 2 to 4 per cent showing such extreme recidivism.

The heterosexual offenders also have few repeaters: compared to those in other groups many were first offenders (they rank fourth, fifth, and sixth) and the per capita numbers of convictions are also low (2.8 to 3.0). Except for the incest offenders, they had the fewest members with seven or more convictions.

Lastly, there is a definite correlation between recidivism and age of the sexual object. In all four of our tripartite groups the men whose offenses were against children have more per capita convictions than those (within the same tripartite group) whose objects were older. Similarly in a rank-order of first offenders those who offended against adults or minors include larger proportions of first offenders than those who offended against children or who used force against females of any age.

Thus far we have been speaking of recidivism in terms of crimes of all sorts, yet a study of sex-offense recidivism yields much the same picture. The exhibitionists and peepers again are the most recidivistic (3.1 and 2.5 sex offenses per capita, ranking first and second) and the aggressors come next, ranking fourth, fifth, and seventh with from 2.0 to 2.2 offenses. The incest offenders and heterosexual offenders once more are the least recidivistic of the tripartite groups, the incest offenders vs. adults again having the lowest rate: 1.2 sex offenses per capita.

If one looks at recidivism solely as repetition of the specific offense, rather than any sex offense, the picture becomes somewhat confused. The exhibitionists and peepers still monopolize the top ranks (2.1 and 1.6 specific sex offenses per capita), and the incest and heterosexual offenders vs. adults the bottom ranks (1.0 and 1.1), but all other offenders and aggressors are mixed in helter-skelter between these extremes. However, it is worth noting that ranking high in this specific sex-offense recidivism (third and fourth ranks) are the homosexual offenders vs. adults and minors: our two most homosexually oriented groups. Strong homosexual motivation and recidivism are, in our culture, necessarily linked. An incest offender can turn to unrelated females, an aggressor can learn to win cooperation, the pedophile can try to satisfy himself with older girls, but the homosexual offender is, in most states, trapped in a situation where his activity is apt to be punished regardless of the age, relationship, or cooperativeness of his male partner.


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Monday, March 30th, 2009

The frequency of sexual intercourse in marriage varies greatly among the different groups. This fact produces some drastic changes in the rank-orders of coital frequencies during various age-periods. The median frequencies are, naturally, more stable than the mean frequencies, but even in the median frequencies there are some cases of sudden variation—as, for instance, the rise of the exhibitionists from last place at age-period 21-25 (with a coital frequency of 2 per week) to fourth place at age-period 26-30 (with a frequency of 2.5). While rank-order changes, ordinarily one does not find increases in actual frequency—the picture is generally one of inexorable decrease in frequency with increasing age, and the range in variation of frequency correspondingly narrows.

In terms of median frequency, it appears that the most active groups are the aggressors vs. adults, the offenders vs. children, and homosexual offenders vs. minors. Interestingly enough, the latter two groups had only a moderate amount of coitus before marriage, and the aggressors vs. adults never rose above third rank in this activity. Clearly, when marriage makes coitus more easily available the whole picture changes; it is evident that the premarital frequencies reflect savoir faire, appearance, social milieu, and other factors as much as or more than they reflect what one may term “sex drive” or strength of motivation. The control group begins in second rank in age-period 16-20 and exhibits thereafter a rather uniform and gradual decline in frequencies resulting in the group occupying intermediate status in the rank-orders.

There is considerable variation in which groups exhibit low frequencies, but the homosexual offenders vs. children are more uniformly low than other groups. It is interesting that the offenders vs. adults, who were the most active sexually before marriage, always rank low in frequency of coitus within marriage. The prison group and the offenders vs. minors, both of whom distinguished themselves with high frequencies before marriage, lapse into moderate to low frequencies thereafter.

Examination of the frequencies suggests that in the great majority of cases actual protracted coital deprivation cannot be a major factor in sex offenses committed by men currently married. One sees that while a minority of the sex-offender groups exceeds the control group in frequency of marital coitus, the others do not lag far behind, and between ages twenty-six to thirty-five the majority of sex-offender groups exceeds the prison group. Even in those age-periods wherein the control or prison groups rank high, their absolute frequencies are not greatly above those of the sex offenders.

Mean frequencies of marital coitus are extremely erratic. About all one can say is that the aggressors vs. adults and the homosexual offenders vs. minors tend to have higher frequencies, while the incest offenders vs. adults and the offenders vs. minors (after age thirty) have very low frequencies. All incest offenders are to be found in the lower halves of the rank-orders, and the exhibitionists are usually to be found with them.

In both means and medians the occasional high ranking of homosexual offenders is noteworthy. This seeming inconsistency led us to examine in detail the case histories of the ever-married homosexual offenders vs. adults. Some of these men were more heterosexual than homosexual in orientation, and their homosexuality did not reduce their frequencies of marital coitus. However, some men were definitely more homosexual than heterosexual and often had markedly underdeveloped premarital histories, yet these men married (generally briefly and but once) and began marital coitus with high frequencies. It is true that since marital coitus tends to be more frequent in early marriage than in late, the coital frequencies of brief marriages will exceed those of long-time marriages, but this explanation alone does not suffice. We presently cannot explain why some predominantly homosexual males have a brief but intense (in terms of frequency) unheralded outburst of heterosexuality generally in marriage. The best explanation that occurs to us is based upon the strength of “sex drive.” The homosexual offenders seem to have the greatest “sex drive”; note that their total sexual outlet always exceeds that of other groups. Given individuals with a strong “drive” and with various degrees of heterosexual inclination, put them in a situation where coitus is available (marriage), and one may expect occasional high coital frequencies.


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Monday, March 30th, 2009

Whereas in many preliterate cultures the knowledge of coitus comes early and naturally, the acquisition of such knowledge is, in our culture, much more belated and more often traumatic. Belated though it may be, the great majority of our sample knew of coitus before reaching puberty. Taking thirteen as an arbitrary age approximating the onset of puberty, and studying the percentages of only those who learned of coitus at thirteen or older, we can see a few interesting facts emerge. Of our sexually most restrained group, the incest offenders vs. adults, a full 36 per cent learned of coitus at or after age thirteen; this is the greatest percentage recorded. The peepers, of whom also a substantial proportion are sexually inhibited, are in second place with 32 per cent, and the exhibitionists are third. Conversely, one of the most sexually active groups, the prison group, is next to last in rank-order with but 16 per cent who had not learned of coitus before thirteen. However, the inference is weakened by the fact that about one fourth of the heterosexual offenders vs. minors and adults, both also sexually active groups, were ignorant of coitus prior to age thirteen. This curious fact is probably the result of their reaching puberty relatively late;

22 per cent of the heterosexual offenders vs. minors did not reach puberty until age fifteen or later. Since an interest in sex is intensified at and near puberty, and since interest leads to acquiring knowledge, it is reasonable to suppose that deferred puberty correlates with belated knowledge. This is substantiated by the fact that the incest offenders vs. adults lead in delayed puberty, and, as pointed out above, 36 per cent learned of coitus at or after age thirteen.

All in all, the age at which a male gained his first knowledge of coitus does not correlate with the age at which he had his first coitus, and correlates with age at puberty only in extreme cases (i.e., late knowledge with very late puberty, early knowledge with very early puberty). Evidently numerous variables are involved in a complex fashion.


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Monday, March 30th, 2009

While there is nothing unusual in the proportion of exhibitionists who experienced nocturnal emissions, they began rather late in life: the median individual had his first emission at age 16.9 years.

The unmarried exhibitionists show a relative increase in the number who had nocturnal emissions during the successive age-periods. Beginning with a somewhat small number (29 per cent) in age-period puberty—15, they climb to intermediate rank until age-period 36—40 when they actually exceed the control group and rank second with 63 per cent. The married, however, show no such trend; their age-specific incidence figures are ordinarily moderate except between twenty-one and twenty-five when they rank second with 58 per cent, just below the control group.

The frequencies of the unmarried exhibitionists tend to be rather high. This tendency is not clear in median frequencies until the fourth decade of life when they essentially match those of the control group, but in mean frequency calculations it becomes much sharper: the exhibitionists rank second or third between sixteen and thirty with frequencies of 17 to 29 a year.

The unmarried exhibitionists derived a relatively large proportion of their total outlet from nocturnal emissions, usually ranking third or fourth in this respect. Beginning in their early teens with 2.5 per cent they reach their maximum figure (14 per cent) in age-period 26-30.

The married exhibitionists have a somewhat different pattern: between the ages of sixteen and twenty, they found a very small proportion (1 per cent) of the total outlet constituted by such emissions, but later they achieved first or second rank with percentages as high as 7. Similarly the separated, divorced, or widowed increased from 2.6 per cent (in age-period 21-25) to 7.1 per cent (age-period 41-45). Only one other group shows this as yet inexplicable tendency for the proportion of total outlet derived from nocturnal emissions to increase with age regardless of marital status.

The exhibitionist is also apt to have exotic dreams: he ranks second in sadomasochistic dreams (although only two men were involved), third in dreams of animal contact, and first (11 per cent) in bizarre dreams. The high rank in bizarre dreams comes largely from dreams of exposing genitalia—the same theme that made the exhibitionist also rank first in bizarre masturbatory fantasy.


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