The Rehablitation of Offenders Act 1974 has been put in place to ease offenders back into society and also make sure that offenders’, that are given under a 30 month prison sentence, convictions are spent. Therefore employers of the recent offender are not allowed to discriminate against that person, allowing the offender more opportunity to gain employment. This briefing note outlines the strengths and weaknesses of rehabilitating sex offenders. By analysing the literature and statistics surrounding rehabilitating sex offenders there is clear evidence that treatment programmes are effective. Punishment, Rehabilitation, Deterence and Incapacitation are the four main objectives for the Criminal Justice system.
In the past, sex offenders treatment programmes included surgical treatment, pharmacological treatment and psychological treatment. Nowadays, however, surgical and pharmacological are deemed unethical and the emphasis on psychological treatment are more prominent features in the criminal justice system. Although surgical procedures were deemed unethical, it was recorded as a 1% reoffending rate which can be portrayed as remarkable. However, as citied by D. Perkins et al (1998) there was a 33% increase, after surgical treatment, in non- sexual violent crime committed by previous sex offenders.
A growing number of sex offender treatment programmes are being put into place in the UK. The programmes aim to reduce relapse once entered back into society which in turn benefits society. However, the treatment of sex offenders is something which can be seen as a very controversial topic, as some believe that they should not be given the opportunity to go through treatment programmes in order to enhance their life after imprisonment. Although this is the case, there are also arguments to put sex offenders through rehabilitation programmes. According to Andrews and Dowden (2005), rehabilitation programmes are ‘extremely effective in reducing reoffending rates.’ According to Cullen and Gilbert (1982), “rehabilitation still receives considerable support as a major goal of the correctional system”. It is argued that the harshness of imprisonment is softened with the notion of rehabilitation.
- Statistics show in 2008/2009, there were a reported 51,488 sexual offences recored by police in England and Wales, which shows a 4% decrease on the previous year and the lowest figure for many years (Home Office, 2009). This suggests that rehabilitation programmes that are currently in place are having a positive impact on offenders, as the amount of offences taking place are decreasing, meaning that in the main, offenders are not reoffending.
The Home Office introduced a community based sex offender treatment programme called the STEP project. The outcome of the effectivenss of the treatment is determined by:
- length of treatment programme
- type of offence
- level of sexual deviance displayed in the induvidual
Beckett et al (1994) concluded...