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Abstract

The polygraph in postconviction sex offender testing is used to assist in the treatment and supervision of convicted sex offenders by more than 70% of the jurisdictions that supervise these offenders in the United States. Prior researchers have failed to convincingly demonstrate how the polygraph can be used to target risk behaviors and reduce recidivism. Consequently, the use of the sexual history polygraph examination (SHPE) has not been demonstrated to reduce recidivism. We sought answers as to how the SHPE influences the behaviors of sexual offenders required to undergo a SHPE, and whether or not there is a difference in recidivism between those offenders who undergo a SHPE as compared to those who do not. Within the group that took a polygraph, recidivists went longer before taking a SHPE, and there was a significant difference in recidivism between those who took a polygraph and those who did not. This information may be useful in assisting other jurisdictions both in the United States and internationally in making better choices in the implementation of supervision and getting the maximum return in the use of the polygraph. It is hoped that ultimately this would lead to more knowledgeable decisions to promote positive social change for the sex offender, which would ultimately lead to positive social change in the community by reducing recidivism of childhood sexual abuse among convicted sex offenders.

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