Adverse childhood experiences, paraphilias, and serious criminal violence among federal sex offenders

Pages105-119
Publication Date02 May 2017
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-11-2016-0039
Date02 May 2017
AuthorAlan Drury,Tim Heinrichs,Michael Elbert,Katherine Tahja,Matt DeLisi,Daniel Caropreso
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
Adverse childhood experiences,
paraphilias, and serious criminal
violence among federal sex offenders
Alan Drury, Tim Heinrichs, Michael Elbert, Katherine Tahja, Matt DeLisi and Daniel Caropreso
Abstract
Purpose Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a broad conceptual framework in the social sciences
that have only recently been studied within criminology. The purpose of this paper is to utilizethis framework
by applying it to one of the most potentially dangerous forensic populations.
Design/methodology/approach Archival data from 225 federal sex offenders was used to perform
descriptive, correlational, and negative binomial regression models.
Findings There was substantial evidence of ACEs including father abandonment/neglect (36 percent),
physical abuse (nearly 28 percent), verbal/emotional abuse (more than 24 percent), and sexual abuse
(approximately 27 percent). The mean age of sexual victimization was 7.6 years with the youngest age of
victimization occurring at the age of 3. Offenders averaged nearly five paraphilias, the most common were
pedophilia (57 percent), pornography addiction (43 percent), paraphilia not otherwise specified (35 percent),
exhibitionism (26 percent), and voyeurism (21 percent). The offenders averaged 4.7 paraphilias and the range
was substantial (0 to 19). Negative binomial regression models indicated that sexual sadism was positively
and pornography addiction was negatively associated with serious criminal violence. Offenders with early age
of arrest onset and more total arrest charges were more likely to perpetrate kidnaping, rape, and murder.
Originality/value ACEs are common in the life history of federal sex offenders, but have differential
associations with the most serious forms of crime.
Keywords Pathological offending, Sex offenders, Adverse childhood experiences, Paraphilias,
Serious violence, Criminal career
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
The notion that negative experiences occurring in childhood can have deleterious effects on
behavioral development is axiomatic. A broad range of criminological theories, including social
conflict, anomie, social control, self-control, general strain, and social learning among others
implicate early-life forms of abuse, neglect, and material deprivation in the etiology of crime. And
although a smattering of studies have linked these adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to a
range of topics including psychopathy (Marshall and Cooke, 1999), dating violence (Miller et al.,
2011), and violent delinquency (Woodward an d Fergusson, 2000), the use of ACEs
as a conceptual framework has only recently occurred within criminology. The current study
utilizes this framework and extends it to forensic populations and the most serious forms of
criminal violence.
In their seminal survey of 9,508 adults in The ACEs Study, Felitti et al. (1998) introduced the
concept of ACEs to account for the negative health and behavioral consequences of various
forms of childhood abuse and exposure to household dysfunction. Among its many findings, the
original ACE study reported that a gradient of ACEs was associated with significant health
impairments in adulthood. Those who had experienced four or more ACEs including
psychological abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, exposure to substance abuse, exposure
Received 3 November 2016
Revised 1 December 2016
Accepted 3 December 2016
Alan Drury is based at United
States Probation Southern
District of Iowa, Des Moines,
Iowa, USA.
Tim Heinrichs is a Deputy Chief
United States Probation Officer
at the Department of United
States Probation, United
States Probation Southern
District of Iowa, Davenport,
Iowa, USA.
Michael Elbert is a Chief United
States Probation Officer at
United States Probation
Southern District of Iowa, Des
Moines, Iowa, USA.
Katherine Tahja is based at
United States Probation
Southern District of Iowa, Des
Moines, Iowa, USA.
Matt DeLisi is a Professor and
Coordinator of Criminal Justice
Studies at the Department of
Sociology, Iowa State
University, Ames, Iowa, USA.
Daniel Caropreso is an
Assistant Deputy Chief United
States Probation Officer at
United States Probation
Southern District of Iowa, Des
Moines, Iowa, USA.
DOI 10.1108/JCP-11-2016-0039 VOL. 7 NO. 2 2017, pp. 105-119, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
j
JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY
j
PAG E 10 5

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