Inevitable recidivism-The origin and centrality of an urban legend

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11 Scopus citations


This paper examines the pervasive conviction that sex offenders - particularly child molesters - will continue to re-offend. This belief in inevitable recidivism turns out to be absolutely essential to both the justification for, and the structure of, the sexually violent predator laws. When actual evidence of sex offender recidivism is examined, however, a huge gap exists between what is assumed and what the data actually show because most sex offenders do not in fact re-offend. Thus there is a galaxy of sexually violent predator laws and an entire branch of Supreme Court jurisprudence that is founded upon a demonstrable urban legend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-194
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Public perceptions
  • Recidivism
  • Sex offender
  • Socially constructed truth
  • U.S. Supreme Court

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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