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Risk assessment instruments have been believed to serve a crucial role in managing sex offender populations because by providing estimates of offender’s risk levels, they also help legal services provide appropriate treatment directions. With rising recognition that pitfalls exist in current actuarial risk assessments, which are embedded in a variable-oriented perspective and based on the assumption that the risk of reoffending is linear, additive, and relatively stable overtime, researchers have begun to examine the sex offender population from a person-oriented approach by looking into offending trajectories, which attempt to account for the heterogeneity of individual development. However, current studies have primarily focused on Caucasian males in North America, which limits the generalizability of findings. The purpose of the current study was to fill this gap in the research by examining the heterogeneity of offending trajectories among Taiwanese sexual offenders using retrospective longitudinal data. Data for the current study included 1,607 adult male Taiwanese sex offenders who were released from prison and under community supervision between 2012 and 2016. Data analysis was separated into two phases. In the first phase, Growth Mixture Modeling (GMM) was used to identify groups of offenders with similar offending trajectories of 1) any offending 2) sexual offending. In the second phase, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the differences among groups with respect to demographic characteristics and offending risk. A five-trajectory model for all offending and a four-trajectory model for sexual offending were identified. In addition, the differences among the trajectory groups regarding demographic characteristics and offending risk were also revealed. These findings contribute to the existing trajectory research by confirming and adding to the generalizability of previous findings. Specifically, there were similarities between the trajectories identified in the current study and trajectories found in prior research, highlighting the potential cross-cultural universality among the heterogeneity of sex offender populations. Further implications and directions for future research are discussed.



Sexual offending, Trajectory analysis, Sex offenders, Growth Mixture Modeling, Recidivism, Cross-cultural comparison