Interviews yielded information on how the controversy has always dogged the treatment of sexual offenders. Most interviewees felt that the correctional facilities needed to offer treatment to sex offenders who were willing to reform. This they suggested because they felt that the long periods of incarceration do not help them to change. More often than not, the judicial system has been bent towards making them stay in the correctional facilities forever so that they can show the citizens that they are capable of protecting them against sexual offenses. Although the number of convicted sex offenders in the US grew from 2,780 in 1991 to 3,890 in 1996, there has been a decline in the rate of reported crimes in the recent past. In 1998, reported sexual crimes were 104 per 100,000 persons, a huge decline from 140 sexual offense crimes per 100,000 persons in 1994 (Hanson et al, p. 27). Furthermore, a lot of research is being done on ways that sex offenders can be treated and set free.
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Most of the interviewees suggested that when given the psychological treatment they can be able to live lives free of crime upon release. However, new studies have shown that others still risk committing the same old crimes. There is a great need to be a balance in the protection of the citizens versus the right to treat the sex offenders like human beings and not incarcerate them forever.
Treatment advocates have opposed longer sentences in prison and the tight restrictions that are imposed on the offenders after their release something that the states and the federal government and the states propose and support. Many psychologists and advocates of this policy state that the government approach is not correct. John Q. La Fond J.D, a Law Professor, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City wrote that statistics that have been studied over time show that most of them will not repeat their crimes (Kersting 52). He also said that with increased efficiency of treatment there has been a behavior change model of treatment that stresses the prevention of relapse by noting and helping them avoid the impulses to commit a crime. A study done by Canada across four countries used a Meta-analysis. In his article published in the Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Hanson defined a Meta-analysis as a tool in research where studies are conducted and data from multiple evaluations is used to show the program’s effectiveness (Hanson et al, p. 6). The analysis revealed that there was a big difference in rates of recidivism for those sex offenders who received treatment than those who did not get any treatment. The study exposed that the rates of sexual recidivism were about 10 percent for treated offenders while it was recorded at 16.7 percent for those offenders who were untreated. Though this was not so big a difference, it is encouraging for those psychologists treating the sex offenders. Law enforcers have a big misperception concerning this treatment. Also, the public is not convinced about recidivism. This gives psychologists a big challenge of convincing the community and the law enforcers on the efficiency of treatment (Hanson et al, p. 14).
Research has established that sexual recidivism in most sex offenders is very low with rates ranging from 11percent to 16 percent after being released. The study has shown that offenders can be classified into three groups since they tend to have different recidivism levels. Some are incest child molesters who victimize related children, rapists who victimize adult women, and non-incest child molesters who victimize unrelated children. Rapists are likely to recidivate at a rate of 16.9 percent, 23 percent for those who committed incest against children while those who do not molest children recidivate 20 percent.
A significant treatment is not likely to be found since the rates of sex offenders repeating a crime are low. An evaluation conducted by a community-based program in New Zealand showed that treated sex offenders diverted by 6 percent when compared with the 18 percent who did not recidivate sexually since they did not receive any treatment. In assessing the dangerousness of an offender, law enforcers ought to look at the reasons why they committed the crimes. This is because they are heterogeneous people and may be very few are at the risk of re-offending. According to Moss Aubrey, a psychologist who assesses male sex offenders at correctional facilities in New Mexico says that some of them commit sexual crimes because of their predatory characteristics, possession of sycophancy and the repetitiveness of the offenses makes them have the urge to commit the crimes once released.
Research that has been done in the past 10 years has shown that psychologists have progressed in identifying what exactly causes offenders to be at a very high risk of committing a crime after release. Some of the factors include sexual preoccupations, the number of offenses one has committed, and deficits in their intimate life. Professor La Fond says that one of the biggest hurdles psychologists face is to have the capability of determining the risk level of an offender to the community. They have to balance concerns of liberty of an individual with the risk that he carries with him which is a huge burden of responsibility for the therapists (Kersting, p. 52).
Research which was conducted in Australia shows that approximately 98% of the sexual offenders undergoing treatment may never disclose all their thoughts and the crimes that they have committed in comparison to the 2 percent who may bear all (Couture et al, p. 17). This is because they place themselves at a higher risk of being reconvicted making their chances of being released minimal. Also, they may face more strict regulations after being released. This is under the law of civil commitment. This can hinder treatment greatly. The fear to disclose this information is followed by statistics that showed that more than 90% of those who confessed “hidden” crimes were reconvicted and stayed in jail for longer periods. However, in the recent past rules have been written and spelled out concerning confidentiality. It is ethical for the counseling therapists to inform the clients about the rules before treatment. This involves telling them how to conceal and what information to give to avoid the risk of being sentenced again. Information disclosure during the early stages of treatment is a big problem since at this level; all offenders are expected to take responsibility for their behavior. But in the later phases, it is not a big deal since the treatment is subjected to increasing and refining the prevention of relapse said one of the interviewed therapists. Research which was conducted in the United States in 2007 showed that therapists should time the judge’s ruling when they want to treat a patient. La fond said that it is advisable to begin treatment as soon as one begins serving his sentence. This study showed that 70 percent of the convicted sexual offenders responded more positively to treatment in comparison with a paltry 10 percent of those who had stayed in prison for long (Hanson et al, p. 68). After staying in jail for a long, most sex offenders fail to see the severity of their actions. The prison environment can give them feelings and attitudes of being wrongfully accused and make them more rebellious. The studies also showed that about 80 percent of those who had stayed in jail longer responded negatively to treatment since they were already virulent and more resigned to their fate (Hanson et al, p. 78). They also tend to develop their thoughts and explanations which become strong over time and want to prove the world wrong. This shows why treatment should begin as fast as possible. In Australia and New Zealand, family involvement has been found out to be very necessary. This is important especially for adolescents who should feel that they belong somewhere while being treated. Family support greatly influences a positive reception of the treatment and encourages progress in behavior change. If isolated, a young person is at risk of not being able to properly address his problems and develop the ability to counter them. The Sexual Abuse and Prevention Program in Victoria treats counsels and supports the victims, offenders, and their respective families. An evaluation done in 2006 showed that 47 percent of adolescent offenders who did not get family support hurt themselves physically due to feelings of neglect in comparison to 11.6 percent of those who got family support (Lambie, p. 14). This is because most of the sexual cases were interfamilial.
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Cultural issues have to be addressed when treating juvenile offenders. A study conducted in Western Australia showed that when indigenous offenders are subjected to the normal way of treatment like the non-indigenous offenders, they are more likely to commit their crimes again (Lambie, p. 10). This is because they do not connect well with the therapists both verbally and culturally. The therapists themselves may not be of the Aborigine origin perhaps which made them feel castigated by society.
Evidence from research has shown that most Aborigines who have undergone the treatment system of Canada have more than 60 percent chances of re-offending than the offenders who come from non-Aboriginal communities. This is due to the current rehabilitation program that does not recognize cultural differences, language, and the present way of life of the Aborigines. This has made the facilitators of the program look for a holistic approach to treating the indigenous offenders (Couture et al, p. 70). At Hollow Water Community, they have begun using the healing circle model of the Aborigine. This brings together the families of the offender, the victims’ families, and counsels. The offenders are also told to take responsibility for their actions and the actions were given positive results.
A study done by Lambie in 2007 showed that only 7 percent of the treated sexual offenders of Aborigine origin did not re-offend. Discrepancies in this healing circle model could have had been brought about by lack of well the trained indigenous people who understand their own culture fully. The level of literacy of the indigenous people was also found to be another factor since more than 50 percent of the Aborigines do not have formal education. It has also been found to be hard to attract the indigenous people into the training (Lambie, p. 13). The community also is not willing to accept this kind of treatment for sexual offenders. Those working in the interior Aborigine communities cited that it is hard for them to attract non-Aborigine skilled therapists to treat the indigenous offenders.
An interview revealed that in some places in Texas, there are thosome were probation. This included being taken out of jail and placed under community supervision. They were also able to access the therapists and more treatment that they did not get while in prison. This helped them in reforming. Despite helping them to get treatment, there is a lot of stigmas that people face from the community due to lack of public understanding, said a former inmate. Some of the people who were interviewed expressed their fears about the offenders who they feel that they can never reform because of the atrocious acts they committed. Sources from the officials at the correctional facilities revealed that those who have refused to be treated have been left in jail and are not going to get any parole soon. The state feels that these kinds of people who do not want to change their character or show remorse should remain locked up away in jail.
A research carried out by Barry Maletzky, and Kevin McGovern, Ph.D. of The Sexual Abuse Clinic of Portland Oregon made follow-ups on sexual offenders who had been treated in their clinic and other clinics ( Sexual Abuse 140). This research had been conducted for 17 years that is between 1974 to1991 and it used methods that are behavior-oriented, about 3800 were pedophiles while 800 were exhibitionists and the remaining was for “other abusers”. The criterion for success was also involved in the study. This criterion included that for treatment to be called successful an offender should not be no arrested or report of having abusive sexual behavior in their latter lives. It also included reduction in maintaining the stubborn arousal which was recorded on a penile plethysymograph and other substantial ratings of patients’ behavior (Sexual Abuse, pp. 140-147).Using these strict measures, it showed that heterosexuals had 95% success and 84.6 % success for homosexual pedophiles. Rapists showed 74.5% success, those who masturbated in public and exhibitionists showed a success rate of 93%, while those referred to as other showed a success rate of about 90% (Sexual Abuse 170-180). This showed the effectiveness of the treatment of the sex offenders.
Another study conducted in Texas showed that the programs for treating sex offenders were effective in reducing chances of committing violent cases of sex. This study followed the victims after being released and it found out that the chance of committing violent sexual acts had reduced by 49%. The study also showed that only one out of the 250 cases or 0.004 percent recommitted the sexual offence crimes after a year while only five out of the 220 or 0.02 percent recommitted the crime after three years (Hanson and Bussiere 350). This data gives strong indication that the treatment can be very effective. All the research programs that have been conducted point at the improved rates of effectiveness of treating sex offenders. It shows that it is possible to rehabilitate these offenders and enable them to live lives that are free from violent sex offences. However, incarceration of these people in jail has shown that they become unremorseful and they may copy and develop other violent sexual acts from their fellow inmates. This will have had not solved the problem in the society.
Couture J., Parker, T. and Laboucane. “A cost benefit analysis of Hollow Water‘s community Holistic Circle Healing process”. Aboriginal People’s Collection. Canada.
This collection gives information about the culture and beliefs of the way the Aborigines have lived both in the present and in the past. This collection has a holistic approach of treating the Aborigine sexual offenders versus the modern way of treatment that is done by therapists. It is clearly indicated that Aborigines prefer to be treated by people who are indigenous like themselves sine they understand them better. This has led to the development of the Holistic Circle Healing process that is being used at the Hollow Water Community today.
Hanson,R.K.,Gordon,A.,Harris, A.J.R., Marques.K.,Murphy,W.,Quinsey,V.L.,and Set, M.C. “First Report on the Collaborative Outcome Of The Data Project On The Effectiveness Of Psychological Treatment”. Forum on Corrections Research 8, 2 10-14.
Hanson and other researchers embarked on the use of meta-analysis to evaluate the success of the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sex offenders. This report focused on what has been done in the field of therapy on the offenders.
Hanson, R. and Bussiere, M. (1998). “Predicting relapse: A meta-analysis of sexual offender recidivism studies”. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology,66.2, 348-362.
This article deals with the use of the results and studies that have been done on the meta analysis to predict relapse. These studies can be used to prevent the criminal impulses of the offenders. It can also be used to detect and stop the urge that offenders have before committing a crime.
Kersting Karen. “New hope for sex offender treatment: Research suggests psychological treatment helps reduces recividism among convicted sex offenders”. Monitor on Psychology. 34, 2003. 52
Kersting has given a big insight on how psychological treatment of sex offenders reduces recividism. She has also written on the misconceptions that the law enforcers and public have about the sex offenders. She has expounded on the challenges that therapists face in treating the offenders and convincing the courts and the law makers that truly therapy can reform these people.
Lambie,I. “Getting it right: an evaluation of new Zealand community treatment programs for adolescents who sexually offend”. Summary Report.Auckland: Ministry of social development.
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Lambie has carried out an evaluation about the inclusion of family in treatment and the role of culture in treating the young people who committed sex crimes. In his study, he found out that it is hard to attract the indigenous groups in New Zealand and Australia into a program that treats offenders due to illiteracy and negative perceptions that the local communities have. He further cites that the government has to tackle the local problems like illiteracy before training the indigenous people.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. 2002. 169-194.
This sexual abuse treatment article deals with the approaches that therapists can use to treat the sex offenders. It also has government views on how they want to incarcerate sex offenders, lock them up in jail forever. This journal looks at the theoretical and clinical aspects of sexual offenders. It also has scholarly articles on the causes, consequences and treatment strategies of the treating the offenders.