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July 1, 2017

UK study finds greater recidivism among sex offenders who received treatment in prison

As reported in this BBC article, the "main sex offender treatment programme for England and Wales has been scrapped after a report found it led to more reoffending." Here is more:

Researchers found prisoners completing the programme were slightly more likely to offend than a control group.  The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) replaced the scheme in March after research confirmed evidence of its weaknesses. The main programme to psychologically treat the highest-risk offenders has also been replaced, the ministry said.

The MOJ confirmed the change in treating sex offenders following publication on Friday of its own study which suggested the Core Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) could be making the situation worse. The scheme, designed to challenge the behaviour of male sex offenders with psychological techniques to change their thinking, was first approved in 1992.

Researchers followed what happened to 2,562 prisoners who took part in the 180 hours of group sessions before their later release from prison. They then compared their behaviour over the following years with more than 13,000 comparable offenders.

"More treated sex offenders committed at least one sexual re-offence [excluding breach of conditions of release] during the follow-up period when compared with the matched comparison offenders (10% compared with 8%)," said the study. "More treated sex offenders committed at least one child image re-offence when compared with the matched comparison offenders (4.4% compared with 2.9 %).

"The results suggest that while Core SOTP in prisons is generally associated with little or no changes in sexual and non-sexual reoffending ... the small changes in the sexual reoffending rate suggest that either Core SOTP does not reduce sexual reoffending as it intends to do, or that the true impact of the programme was not detected.

"Group treatment may 'normalise' individuals' behaviour. When stories are shared, their behaviour may not be seen as wrong or different; or at worst, contacts and sources associated with sexual offending may be shared." An earlier version of the scheme, in place in 2000, had appeared to reduce the offending of medium-risk men. But a study seven years later, after Core SOTP had been expanded, suggested the sessions had become too generic and based around a "detailed manual", rather than tailored to each offender.

The full Ministry of Justice study is available at this link.

July 1, 2017 at 10:54 PM | Permalink

Comments

See the prosecution of the seller of unproven potions below. Anyone providing these services should get the same, for quackery.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 2, 2017 8:37:46 AM

But why bury the lead? (well we all know why). Only 3% of child pornography downloaders reoffended. That's amazing. I wonder if it has anything to with the fact the UK does not put them in jail for 100 years? Hmmmm...I wonder.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 2, 2017 11:24:43 AM

The last paragraph of the article starts to get to the heart of the problem. A sex offender is more than a "perp". They are like pedophile priests and want God or someone on their side. They like to tell their story in a circle of similar dorks and have psychologists and doctors listening to their pride.
Male sex offenders need to be castrated. If they have raped a child then their parts need to be stuffed down their throats until they choke to death. This should be done on national tv to give fear to the other perps out there.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jul 2, 2017 11:42:32 PM

How does Liberty 1st feel about FEMALE sex offenders who commit such reprehensible crimes? Does he feel they should get off scott free? Does a child somehow suffer less when the adult perpetrator is a female adult instead of a male adult? Liberty 1st should ask a child victim of a female assailant whether the child felt less threatened when a female harmed him or her than when it was a male who did it to the child? Obviously, Liberty 1st is one of these typical misandrists (anti-male bigots) who assumes that only males are capable of committing sex offenses against children and that only females can be the victims of such crimes.

Read up and get a life, Liberty 1st!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Jul 3, 2017 9:17:57 AM

How does Liberty 1st feel about FEMALE sex offenders who commit such reprehensible crimes? Does he feel they should get off scott free? Does a child somehow suffer less when the adult perpetrator is a female adult instead of a male adult? Liberty 1st should ask a child victim of a female assailant whether the child felt less threatened when a female harmed him or her than when it was a male who did it to the child? Obviously, Liberty 1st is one of these typical misandrists (anti-male bigots) who assumes that only males are capable of committing sex offenses against children and that only females can be the victims of such crimes.

Read up and get a life, Liberty 1st!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Jul 3, 2017 9:18:02 AM

Another puzzling question: how does treatment increase rates of offending? If it does, then our "law and order", or is it "victims' rights" politicians have really blown it and sold the law-abiding public a bill of goods.

Is Liberty 1st one of these right-wing frauds?

Posted by: william r. delzell | Jul 3, 2017 9:21:01 AM

The concern seems to be that group therapy is normalizing behavior. That being said, I'd worry if it's just statistical error. They should make sure before they risk overcorrecting.

Posted by: Erik M | Jul 3, 2017 12:12:56 PM

I think we should be careful burying both lead and the lede. [sorry]

I think Erik M is likely correct. Just how much does treatment is particular cause any problems here? Also, does that flow into other areas? Group therapy is something done in various cases. Is there something specific about sex crimes that is a problem here? For instance, there is some concern that online support groups might encourage anorexia or cutting. I gather it might in some sense but support groups still seem helpful.

Treatment here might not work much but if the concern is normalizing by discussion, wouldn't they talk to each other in prison anyhow? What does the treatment itself add? Anyway, such nuances is hard to judge just from summaries, especially for those like myself who are in no way experts in the field of study.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 3, 2017 12:27:38 PM

I would also be interested in exactly how the program changed from the earlier model that is mentioned in passing. If that original program actually did demonstrate a beneficial effect (and not just statistical noise as might well be the case here) I would think it better to revert to that model rather than get rid of the program entirely.

Of course, given the very small difference in outcomes I would not rule out the idea that neither the original program or this new one had any effect whatsoever. And if that is the actual case I would say ditch both as a waste of time and money.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 3, 2017 3:21:53 PM

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