The recently-released report “Recidivism Among Sex Offenders in Massachusetts & Maine” shows how statistics can be slanted to make people believe whatever you want them to believe.

According to, “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.

But the report includes any arrest that resulted in a conviction within a five-year period from release.  This included arrests for sex offenses, violent offenses, registry violations, and any other type of offense.

Part of the problem is that release from a sex offense conviction triggers the criminalization of otherwise-ordinary behaviors, such as failure to timely update a temporary address, that have been shown to have nothing to do with sexual re-offending.  These behaviors are usually known as “failures to register.”

Among “Key Findings” on page 2:  Maine’s five-year recidivism rate was 43%.

Buried down on page 34 of the report is the statement: “Overall, only 5% of recidivating offenses included a sex offense” for sex offenders in Maine who were released from 2005 to 2019.  This is the same Maine study that showed a recidivism rate of 43% on page 2 of the report.  

For our math-minded people, 5% of the released inmates committed a new sex offense out of the group of 43% in Maine who committed any type of offense.  If you were to look at the entire group of people released in Maine (661) who had previously committed a sex offense (with some re-offending and some not), it would not be 5% of the entire 661 people used in the Maine study.

5% of 43% of 661 = 14 people leaving prison for a sex crime and committing a new sex offense.

What percent of the total people (661) in the study, with some committing an offense and some not, is 14 people?  Answer: 2%

Yes, 2% of the 661 people released from prison for a prior sex offense in this Maine study committed a new sex offense.

Is this made clear in the report?  Absolutely not!!!

The problem with this report is its use of the word recidivism – a word that is not defined with uniformity throughout various studies.  Even this report, “Recidivism Among Sex Offenders in Massachusetts & Maine,” acknowledges in the Executive Summary on page 1 that the “…recidivism definitions…can vary across local, state, and federal agencies.”

The raw data in this report is probably correct, but the conclusions being drawn are grossly misleading.

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