Iowa Sex Offenders: Risk, Treatment, & Recidivism

by Aaron Lockwood and Lukas Probasko
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

Throughout the wide range of criminal sub-types, no other criminal evokes more fear and public outcry than that of the sexual offender. The commonly held belief is that every sex offender is a high-risk, no-hope-for-the-future “pedophile” who parents should fear. Although there are sex offenders who pose a legitimate threat to society, the vast majority of the sex offender population is low-risk and goes through extensive treatment. The purpose of this presentation is to detail the recent changes in Iowa law as it relates to sex offenders and to also provide a comprehensive look at the treatment process each offender is required to go through in order to comply with the terms of their probation or parole. Also provided are summaries of the risk assessment tools used to determine the likelihood of recidivism for each offender, demographic details of the participants in the program, and the financial costs of the programming as it relates to the average daily prison cost in Iowa. Empirical data shows the recidivism rates for sex crimes to be very low in comparison to most other types of crime (20% vs. 67%). This is contrary to the perceived “threat” a sex offender is believed to pose to the community. Sex offenders are not homogeneous, and through changes made in recent legislation they can be afforded new opportunities to reintegrate back into the community – helping them with a second chance at a normal life.