Sex offenders have been a serious problem for our legal system at all levels, not to mention those who have been their victims. There are 43,000 inmates in prison for sexual offenses while each year in this country over 510,000 children are sexually assaulted(Oakes 99). The latter statistic, in its context, does not convey the severity of the situation. Each year 510,000 children have their childhood's destroyed, possibly on more than one occasion, and are faced with dealing with the assault for the rest of their lives. Sadly, many of those assaults are perpetrated by people who have already been through the correctional system only to victimize again. Sex offenders, as a class of criminals, are nine times more likely to repeat their crimes(Oakes 99). This presents a
problem for the public, as potential victims, and the legal system which is entrusted by the public for protection. It would be irresponsible for the legal system to ignore the criminal class of sex offenders, for they are subject to a recurring physiological urge that requires the use of effective restraints that would curb the habitual repetition of episodes producing the harmful consequences to the public(Schopf 95). In light of this realization, steps beyond treatment have been taken to reduce the recidivism rate of sex offenders. Notification laws, special supervising techniques by parole officers, and both surgical and chemical castration are techniques used in various forms in this country and abroad with success. However, notification laws and both forms of castrations
have not come about without criticism on constitutional grounds. Any criticism should take into account the extraordinary recidivism rates found only in the criminal class of the sex offender.
A study found in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence by Michael C. Seto and Howard E. Barbaree looked at 224 sex offenders. Of those men, 33 committed a new offense of some kind for a general recidivism rate of 14.7 percent. Even more interesting was the study did not support the idea that good treatment behavior, as in positive or appropriate behavior in group sessions, good homework assignments, and positive ratings of motivation, could be associated with a less of a chance for recidivism. They gave two possible reasons for this finding. Sex offenders, by the very nature of their criminal behavior, are masters of manipulation and exploitation. These individuals can exhibit behavior that contributes to favorable assessments. The second possible reason is these skills are learned, or enhanced, in the treatment setting. Data from a program
evaluation by Quinsey et al in 1998 is consistent with this interpretation. They hypothesized that it was due to exposure to sexually deviant material or by learning about others' modi operandi.
A more recent study, published in the same journal, by Looman et al in 2000 suggests the opposite. Of the released sex offenders they studied they found a...