Individuals – Williams-Taylor (2009)

Study Reference:

Williams-Taylor, L. A. (2009). Measuring the impact of New York City’s Specially Targeted Offenders Project on sex offender recidivism. PhD dissertation, New York: City University of New York.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; Focused, Reactive; Moderately rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines an intensive supervision program for sex offenders known as the Specially Targeted Offenders Project (STOP) in New York City. STOP’s main components included (1) increased face-to-face contacts and intensive supervision; (2) enhanced prosecution such as expedited warrant procedures, maximum sentences sought for violations and a specifically designated Assistant District Attorney and Judge for STOP cases; and (3) daily information sharing between the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Sex Offender Monitoring Unit through an Executive Daily Detail Status Report.

How was the intervention evaluated?

This study used a quasi-experimental design to compare short-term recidivism rates and risk factors of sex offenders monitored (n=744) and not monitored (n=4,886) by the STOP program residing within the New York City jurisdiction as of July 2005.STOP participants were monitored with a two year follow-up period and recidivism was defined as an arrest for any crime.

What were the key findings?

There were no significant differences in rates of general recidivism, non-compliance recidivism, or violent or sexual recidivism between STOP participants and non-STOP offenders that should have been included in the STOP program. Lastly, when examining STOP offenders, analyses indicated that there were specific offender characteristics that significantly relate to and predict recidivism. An exploratory analysis did show that when age of the offender was coupled with number of past charges, both were significantly predictive of non-compliance recidivism. In terms of violent recidivism, having a violent past criminal history, number of past charges and use of a force (i.e. used a weapon) were significantly related to violent recidivism. The number of victims, number of arrests and types of crimes, namely number of misdemeanors and felonies were not related to violent recidivism. Results indicate that not all offenders who should have been monitored were included in the program.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The author recommends a continued assessment of STOP to determine its longer-term effects. However, the authors question whether the program should be continued given the lack of evidence for its effectiveness, poor return on investment, and risk of creating a false sense of security for the public.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?