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The catch-22 of prison therapy.
July 28, 2002 4:38 PM   Subscribe

The catch-22 of prison therapy. The biggest criticism of sex offender justice is that imprisonment does not mean rehabilitation. In Massachusetts because of stringent anti-sex offender laws, lawyers are advising their clients to turn down prison therapy because it will be used against them. Even used against them after they're done with their sentence. These are serious violations of double jeopardy and doctor patient privilege.
posted by skallas (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Studies on the subject are divided, but few specialists believe a sex offender can be ''cured.''

[rant]
Divided? How are they divided? 1 to 1? 5 to 1? 10 to 1? 100 to 1? I hate this kind of mealy mouthed statement that intimates a psuedo balance. The reason few specialists believe an offender can be cured is because there is no credible evidence that any therapy can cure them. If there is division it is division by zero.
[/rant]
posted by srboisvert at 7:53 PM on July 28, 2002


Amazing he rants, then provides no credible evidence of his own. In fact no evidence at all.
posted by onegoodmove at 9:02 PM on July 28, 2002


Zero? How about some proof?

THe consensus seems to be that its effectiveness varies but it is real.

From a report on Alaskas sex offender treatment program:

• Those who were in treatment longer tended to live longer in the community without a rearrest. Those who completed all stages of treatment had a zero rearrest rate for sexual reoffenses. This observation also seems to be true of sexual assault offenders (rapists), who generally reoffend more quickly and at a higher frequency.

posted by skallas at 9:09 PM on July 28, 2002


Does anyone have any data on how the recidivism rate for sex offenders compares to the recidivism rate for other types of dangerous offenders? (Armed robbers for example.) If it's legally permissable to lock some one up for life after they've completed their sentence because you think they might commit another rape, then why not if you think they might commit another mugging or liquor store robbery or (non-sexual) assault?
posted by tdismukes at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2002


The biggest criticism of sex offender justice is that imprisonment does not mean rehabilitation.

Imprisonment has never meant rehabilitation. If you want to rehabilitate people the worst you could possibly do is put them in prison. We put people in prison for other reasons entirely.
posted by cx at 7:46 AM on July 29, 2002


Amazing he rants, then provides no credible evidence of his own. In fact no evidence at all.

I just wasn't in the mood to do a dissertation.

From a report on Alaskas sex offender treatment program:

They claim 100% effectiveness for those who complete all stages of their treatment. Perfection in psychology is dubious to say the least - unless the full treatment takes about 100 years, and is certainly not supported by the rest of the literature. If there really was a treatment with perfect results this would be huge news. Huge. In fact I believe what happened in this case is that the treatment was selecting for success. Patients were allowed to drop out at any point which resulted in a selection bias (and possibly a severly truncated sample) which produces an illusion of efficacy. Afterall, the public doesn't just want treatment for sex offenders who genuinely don't want to reoffend and seek treatment.

Unfortunately, the details of their study are not available online (as so few are - when will scientists get their sh** together and publish online?) so it isn't possible to see the actual numbers. Given that the study is based on one treatment center in Alaska and the apparent acceptance of treatment dropouts I am willing to hazard a guess that the number of offenders who completed the full course of treatment is so small that statistical inferences about the efficacy of treatment would be unfounded.

A quick web review of recidivism rates for sex offenders shows numbers between 6% to 80% with the higher numbers being for extra familial abusers.

But even with an optimistic short term drop to 8% do you want to release this kind of offender? Almost a 1 in 10 chance of re-offending. Plus these odds are averaged over types of offenses which are heterogeneous ranging from mostly harmless flashers to hunt and snatch predators. Extra-familial boy molesters have much higher baseline recidivism rates (77%) and thus likely have higher post-treatment rates. Further, there is no data for long term (10+ years) efficacy of treatments since the treatments themselves change but the data on long term recidivism is staggeringly high.

Does anyone have any data on how the recidivism rate for sex offenders compares to the recidivism rate for other types of dangerous offenders? (Armed robbers for example.) If it's legally permissible to lock some one up for life after they've completed their sentence because you think they might commit another rape, then why not if you think they might commit another mugging or liquor store robbery or (non-sexual) assault?

The numbers are lower for sexual assault recidivism than general criminal recidivism (61% overall versus 83.2% for any type of criminal conduct in Canada) but this is to be expected given the specificity and seriousness of the offense for sex offenders.

Can anybody here provide proof that there are cures for sexual predators?
posted by srboisvert at 8:11 AM on July 29, 2002


There's one... but most people are unwilling to consider it.
posted by UncleFes at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2002


Studies showing lower recidivism for sex offenders than other criminals are totally worthless, because they compare apples to oranges.

Most criminal offenses are vocations. Rape is a perversion. The calculi of, on the one hand, career risk versus reward, and, on the other hand, indulgence of one's tendency to rape, on the other hand, are utterly different.

Courts commit people every day simply on evidence that they might hurt themselves, even with no history of past serious self-destructive acts. Commiting someone who probably will hurt someone else, on good evidence of past conduct, is entirely consistent with good mental health practice.
posted by MattD at 8:54 AM on July 29, 2002


They claim 100% effectiveness for those who complete all stages of their treatment. Perfection in psychology is dubious to say the least

Its a study, so far all those who have completed the treatment have not relapsed. It is not a theory claiming that the treatment is 100% foolproof in all cases. You're attacking your own strawman.

If there really was a treatment with perfect results this would be huge news.

Again its a study, not a thesis.

Can anybody here provide proof that there are cures for sexual predators?

That's absolutely the wrong attitude to have. There is treatment with varying results, just because the treatment isn't perfect doesn't mean its a fraud or that prisoners shouldn't have fair access to it.
posted by skallas at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2002


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