Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Elizabeth L. Jeglic

Second Reader

Cynthia Calkins

Third Advisor

Rebecca Weiss


Research suggests that intellectual disabilities (ID) are prevalent among people who sexually offend. Those with ID may differ from their non-disabled counterparts with regard to risk factors associated with recidivism. Additionally, actuarial measures of risk, which are used to make determinations on sentencing and civil commitment, appear to differ in their predictive accuracy among individuals with and without ID. Despite this, little data exists on recidivism in this population, particularly among incarcerated individuals in the United States. The present study sought to compare individuals with and without ID on rates of re-offense, actuarial risk scores, and rates of civil commitment. Data were obtained via archival records for 3,066 individuals who were either released from one of New Jersey’s state prisons or selected for civil commitment as sexually violent predators between 1996 and 2007. Police records were used to examine overall recidivism as well as reincarceration for different types of offenses. Individuals with ID did not differ on rates of recidivism or reincarceration but received higher scores on actuarial risk assessments and were more likely to be placed under civil commitment. These results raise important ethical questions about the use of actuarial tools for this population and suggest that risk factors associated with recidivism may differ for those with and without ID.


This research was supported in part by Grant No. NIJ 2007-IJ-CX- 0037 from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.