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Pedophilia in the Correctional System

A study of pedophiles in the correctional system speaks to the significant population of child molesters who are ultimately convicted and incarcerated but, more importantly, to the substantial number of pedophiles who remain undetected or unreported in society. Although the most comprehensive examination of pedophilia in the correctional system was conducted several years ago, it can be assumed that the statistics have increased since that time in proportion to the increase in the methods of investigating pedophiles. By the end of the 1990s, almost 50,000 child molesters were held in state prisons and made up two-thirds of all inmates in state correctional systems nationwide.

It is important to note however that the number of pedophiles and the issue of pedophilia in American society are much larger than the statistics alone reveal because as much as 80% of convicted child molesters ultimately serve no prison time and are allowed to reside in the nation’s communities. Pedophiles who have been convicted of raping children receive and average sentence of 180 months while sexual offenders who rape adults receive and average sentence of 240 months. Convicted pedophiles who are incarcerated for sexual assault on a child receive an average sentence of 132 months while the sexual offender who is incarcerated for sexually assaulting an adult receives and average sentence of 185 months. 

Although one might suggest that these sentencing structures do not address the severity of the sexual offenses committed by pedophiles, experts maintain that the disparity in sentencing for sexual offenders who victimize adults and pedophiles who victimize children is attributed to the fact that pedophiles generally do not physically injure their victims, choosing instead to use bribery or seduction to gain the child’s trust and the opportunity to sexually assault or rape the child. 

Incarcerated pedophiles who were asked to report on specific aspects of their behavior and activities offer some surprising statistics. For example, as many as 80% of incarcerated pedophiles maintain that they began acting out their sexual interests in and obsessions with children as juveniles. This statistic supports the finding that 30% to 50% of child molestations are perpetrated by juveniles. At the same time, almost half of the incarcerated pedophiles examined report that they were also exposed to sexual abuse as children. Most of the pedophiles examined reported molesting as many as 30 children before they were arrested and convicted.

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