Danielle Arlanda Harris and Rebecca M. Cudmore
Although it has received comparatively little research attention, the phenomenon of desistance from sexual offending is just as inevitable as the process of desistance from general crime. This article reviews the current state of knowledge regarding how and why men convicted of sexual offenses come to deescalate or desist from such behaviors. Next, it describes the relevant theoretical explanations of desistance and behavioral change that have emerged from both criminology and psychology. Finally, desistance is discussed in light of the impact of current public policies and recently enacted sex offender–specific legislation. Areas for future empirical research and public policy are highlighted.
This essay focuses on the role of law and policy in sexual assault and offending. Comparing and contrasting U.S., Canadian, and European policy approaches, the review examines how various governments have prioritized their legal approaches to sexual offending prevention and response. These responses have included broad-based conviction-focused schemes, narrowly focused laws centered on high-risk repeat offenders, and prioritization with stranger-based assault. There has been great variance in terms of the emphasis placed on treatment and public notification. The essay analyses how these nations have learned from each other and how their sex offending policies have evolved, if and how they reflect the science of sexual offending and risk, and which demonstrate the most promise for sexual assault reduction with the fewest unintended consequences.
This article studies the development of punishment policies for sex offenders. It observes the difficulty of creating treatment and management strategies for the surveillance of sex offenders, especially when these define a broad group. It then reviews some relevant treatment literature, which determines that it is not very promising for more serious sex offenders, since the interventions that have been tried so far have not decreased reoffending. However, these interventions appear to reassure the public.
Jennifer McMahon, Cynthia Calkins, and Julia Mesler
The past two decades have been marked by increasing public concern about sex offenders in our community. Specific laws and policies focused on increasing the supervision of sex offenders have since been enacted in an effort to promote community safety and reduce sexual recidivism. However, the effectiveness and value of the techniques utilized to monitor and restrict sex offenders have been called into question. This chapter describes the development of legislation, including registration and community notification laws, residence and mobility restrictions, electronic monitoring, and sexually violent predator (SVP) statutes, as well as examines other community-based supervision methods such as polygraph testing and treatment approaches. Empirical data that sheds light on the success of these monitoring techniques is examined. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of this data for the prevention of sexual violence in our communities.
Patrick Lussier and Vicky Brassard
Sex offending has been considered an adultlike criminological phenomenon requiring adult-focused measures and interventions. Since the 1990s, growing concerns regarding youth involved in sexual offenses led to the importation of inappropriate repressive adult-focused policies to respond to the emerging issue of juvenile sexual offending. In fact, However, these repressive measures are based on misperceptions, myths, and unsubstantiated claims about sexual offending and have been shown to be ineffective in reducing sexual recidivism rates and Longitudinal studies on the development of crime and delinquency have enabled description of the sexual offending across life stages. This chapter reviews current knowledge of the development of sexual offending by using a criminal career approach while examining parameters such as prevalence, onset, frequency, continuity, and desistance from sexual offending. The criminal career perspective is a fruitful avenue to guide policy development for the prevention of sexual offending with evidence-based information that recognizes developmental differences between adolescents and adults.
Friedrich Lösel and Martin Schmucker
This essay discusses various treatments for sexual offenders and their success in reducing reoffending. Overall, research reveals a positive treatment effect that indicates up to 25 per cent less recidivism in treatment versus control groups. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, relapse prevention, and programs based on the Risk–Need–Responsivity model have the strongest evidence base, although the studies and findings are heterogeneous and outcomes vary depending on many factors. Most promising are programs that involve treatment in the community and in forensic hospitals, delivered in a partly individualized mode, implemented with sound integrity, targeting medium- to high-risk offenders, addressing young individuals, and being evaluated in well-documented small studies. In contrast, programs in prisons, delivered merely in a group format, including low-risk offenders, and evaluations in large samples show smaller or no effects. Recent developments aim to modernize and widen standard programs toward more differentiated interventions, but more sound evaluation research is needed.