n Acta Criminologica : African Journal of Criminology & Victimology - 'The revolving door' : factors that contribute to the recidivism of incarcerated sex offenders in the Western Cape

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


Sexual crimes against women and children remain rampant in South Africa. As a consequence the high rate of sexual re-offending is a serious problem that not only affects the offender and his/her immediate family, but also other vulnerable groups in society. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the factors that contribute to the recidivism of incarcerated sexual offenders. A qualitative research approach was used to purposively select ten incarcerated recidivist sexual offenders. The findings of this study showed that most of the participants grew up in dysfunctional families and experienced challenges such as: substance abuse; violence; low socio-economic status; and unacceptable sexual activities. The challenges reported by the participants confirmed the conditions that contributed towards the chaotic lifestyles of disorganised individuals with inadequate support structures and a proclivity for continued sexual aggression. A stronger presence of prior criminal involvement, pro-offending behaviour, gang associations and substance abuse emerged as factors in their readmission to prison. The participants' adverse developmental experiences, as well as, the traumatic events that they had survived, were present during the initial sexual offence, while factors, such as substance abuse, pro-offending attitudes and deviant subculture involvement, were more prevalent in sexual recidivism. The main outcome of this study revealed that poor attitudes and treatment compliance were less significant as contributing factors to sexual recidivism.

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