|PREDATORS OR CITIZENS?|
November 19, 1997
in this forum:
Do we offer molesters necessary privacy or do we condemn offenders to life sentences? What are the statistics regarding effective therapy programs in keeping offenders from repeating their crimes? Is there leniency of sentences in the first instance by the criminal justice system? Why should someone who harms children not be denied the right to be out among potential victims undetected? What is an offender? And what is the purpose of the laws that make registered sex offenders addresses publicly available?
June 2, 1997
Should convicted sex offenders be freed after serving their sentences?
December 10, 1996
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over a Kansas man convicted of child molesting whose prison term is complete, but who the state does not want to release.
January 31, 1996:
In Washington state, there's a debate over whether sex-offenders should remain incarcerated even afterserving their sentences.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of law.
Frank Williams of Utica, NY asks: Of the sex offenders that would pose a moderate or high risk of re-offending (Class II & III), what are the statistics regarding effective therapy programs in keeping offenders from repeating their crimes?
I am specifically addressing sex offenders who have abducted and molested children.
Ms. Sarah Sappington responds:
I am not aware of any re-offense data specifically about persons who abduct and molest children. There is conflicting data regarding the effectiveness of treatment for sex offenders overall. Generally, however, the experts with whom I consulted on this question indicate that, in a variety of criminal behaviors, including sex offending, treatment is most effective in reducing recidivism in moderate to high-risk offenders (as opposed to low risk or extremely high-risk offenders). A recent study out of Canada showed that treatment reduced recidivism of sex offenders by more than 50%. Specifically, untreated offenders in the test sample re-offended at a rate of 33.4%, while those in the treatment sample re-offended at a rate of 14%. While this and other studies have demonstrated how effective treatment can be, the public needs to understand that, no matter how effective treatment is, there will always be some risk. This is yet another reason that prudent community knowledge about offenders--knowledge that can be made available through registration and notification--is an important tool in protecting the community's children.
Dr. Jerome Miller responds:
Clearly, those who have a history of abducting and molesting children present a high risk and will need to be closely monitored in treatment and in the community. Such offenders however, represent a very small percentage of those we label as sex offenders - including pedophiles. When one crosses the line to engage in coercive, forced sex upon children, one is dealing as well with an individual with other problems in addition to whatever sexual predilections might obtain. I want to stress however, that there is appropriate treatment available to many of these persons which could diminish the risk. It is something of a paradox that the two cases which spurred on the community notification laws, - the Polly Klaas case in California, and the Megan Kanka case in New Jersey - both involved released offenders who were not in treatment programs, but in fact had been handled virtually exclusively through the classic criminal justice system - serving set sentences for a given offense - with no significant treatment or follow-up - the so-called "mandatory sentence" approach which is so popular politically. The individuals did not represent a failure of treatment so much as a failure of the criminal justice model for dealing with dangerous paraphilias.