The Intervention for convicted sex offenders and integration into the society has become an intensely studied criminal justice and correctional issue over the last two decades. The state has raised the intervention programme from purely correctional issue to a broad public wellbeing issue.
Different researchers in different states have revealed very crucial findings about sex offenders. According to Hanson and Harris (2012), the nature of sexual offenders’ transgressions and their rates of committing the sexual offence after their release have lead to the creation of new intervention plans and approaches in treating and integrating the sex offenders after their release.
The general objectives of these intervention plans are to ensure the safety of member of the society. These intervention programmes also help sex offenders integrate well in the community after their release from prison.
This paper seeks to discuss the best interventions for convicted sexual offenders and integration into the society. Tandem to this, this paper will also utilise the available literature to reinforce the most appropriate programmes that the state can use to enable sex offenders integrate into the society after their release from gaol.
The most relevant intervention programmes fall, broadly, into two large categories. These categories include internal modification of behaviour through therapy and medication, and external modification of behaviour through concentrated community supervision and surveillance.
Currently, the most common intervention policies used to monitor and help integrate sex offenders into the society include registration, community notifications, civil commitment, residence restrictions, and electronic surveillance. The policies were not only implemented to ensure public safety, but also to ensure that the offenders do not repeat sex offence.
Nevertheless, some of these interventions policies have not been tremendously effective in achieving their overall objectives of ensuring public safety. Intervention strategies such as community notifications has not been very effective because members of the community often feels victimised as they are not given a chance to cope with the situation.
Public notifications also interfere with the offender’s ability to readjust to the community. As a result of the limitations of these intervention policies, researchers have identified various intervention programmes that can help sex offenders integrate in to the society.
This paper will break down the most relevant interventions into three categories. These categories include institutional programmes, surveillance programmes and assistance based programmes. This paper will also highlight the sociological theories behind these three categories.
Institutional Based Programmes
The various institutional based programmes that can help sex offenders integrate into the society after their release from correctional institutions include social reintegration, treatment and mental healthcare, work training and counselling.
Institutional based programmes are based on Thomas sociological theory, which argues that the confidence individuals construct during social interaction has real significance for the future. Institutional based programmes often have confidence that sex offenders can integrate in the society once they are rehabilitated.
Social reintegration can be defined as the support given to sex offenders immediately they are released from correctional institutions. Social reintegration consists of policies and plans designated to help sex offenders to live decent and just lives once they are integrated into the society.
Many of the problems that sex offenders face are problems of gaining adequate access to the social support network that services disadvantaged group in the general community.
Traditionally, voluntary or charitable organisations have been key providers of these services to recently released prisoners. In the United Kingdom, groups such as National Association for the Care and Resettlement of offenders (NACRO) has been in the forefront in helping sex offenders integrate well in the society after their release from prisons.
Recently, sociological researchers have stressed the importance of designing and implementing a broad intervention that will help provide a long lasting support to sex offenders after their release from prison.
According to Kinner (2006), a range of issues often confronts sex offenders after their release. Kinner (2006) identifies issues such as social and personal challenges as the weighty issues that impede rehabilitation of sex offenders.
Quinsey (2006) also states that the offenders can end up being unemployed, or even physically and emotionally abused by other members of the society.
However, when sex offenders are oriented into the social reintegration programmes once they are released from correctional facilities, they can be able to overcome some of these challenges. According to Kinner (2006), Social reintegration programme provides approach oriented coping style, excellent social problem-solving skills and greater sociability.
Kinner also identified that most of the voluntary agencies offering social reintegration programmes are becoming involved in the delivery of treatment or support services to released prisoners who are under some form of post-release supervision.
Jeremy et al. (2001) argues that lack of access to mainstream social services can be a systematic problem for offenders.
A review of re-offending by released sex offenders carried out by Jeremy et al. (2001) found out that many sex offenders had been excluded from access to social services before they went to prison, and that imprison only worsened their social exclusion.
The state, therefore, should ensure that intervention programme such as social reintegration programmes are fully implemented.
Hanson and Harris (2012) acknowledged that the process of re-integration could take a long period. This is because prison lies at the end of a long pathway of social deprivation, stunted life options and emotional and physical abuse.
The process of building a new life after prison necessarily involves tackling issues that have been previously unresolved (Hanson and Harris, 2012). Nevertheless, the need to take along view of re-entry is extremely necessary when dealing with sex offenders who had long custodial histories.
Treatment and Counselling Programmes for the Sex Offenders
The field of sex offender treatment is an example of restorative justice.
Not only does the field seeks to restore the offender as a functioning member of the society, but does that by helping the offender acknowledge the pain of the victim, take responsibility for their actions and in some way, either materially or symbolically make reparations to that victim.
Recent researches have shown that psychological treatment is one of the best intervention programmes that can help rehabilitate the offenders once they are out of prisons. Quinsey (2006) argues that appropriate treatment techniques and refinements can help sex offenders integrate perfectly into the society.
The treatment programmes should aim at assisting each sex offender in identifying a unique set of positive goals that will meet his or her needs. This programme acknowledges that most sex offenders often come out of prison when they are more aggressive than before they went to prison.
Furthermore, sex offenders normally lack knowledge, self-confidence and attitudes when they come out of prison.
Therefore, the offenders should be encouraged to visit therapist who can then plan treatment around providing each offender with the knowledge, skills, self-confidence and attitudes necessary to meet his need in social ways.
According to Hanson and Harris (2001), the vast majority of incarcerated sexual offenders eventually return to society. Therefore, treatment remains the most effective component of an intervention strategy that can help reduce and manage risk.
As a matter of fact, the majority of sex offenders who refuse treatment agree that they would enter a treatment programme if it focused on giving them a better life, rather than simply addressing their offending.
It also pertinent to note that the behaviour of therapists plays a tremendously fundamental role in successful treatment programmes for sexual offenders.
In the study by Jeremy et al. (2001), the influence of the vital therapist features is quite dramatic and accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the variance in beneficial changes. Therapist for the sexual offenders, therefore, must have good motivational skills that include the display of empathy, sympathy and warmth.
Employability and Workforce Participation
Once out of prison, sex offenders are often confronted with a hard task of finding stable and adequate source of financial income. Jeremy et al. (2001) states that a stable income source is an extremely significant factor in an individual transition from the correctional institution back to the society.
Recent studies have revealed that participation in the workforce with stable income often result in lower rates of sexual reoffending.
Research by Jeremy et al (2001) indicates that low income among recently released sex offenders can result in frustrations or even disintegration of offenders self esteem. Therefore, sex offenders that have been recently released from correctional facilities have high chances of committing sex crimes again.
Jeremy et al. (2001) argue that job training and placement programmes can lead to employment and recidivism among recently released sex offenders (Jeremy et al., 2001). Once they are put in stable jobs, the offenders can integrate perfectly well in the society.
Support and Assistance Based Transition Programmes
Support and assistance based programmes are rooted in social exchange theory, which argues that interaction between members of society can result into those members gaining or losing. In the context of support and assistance based programme, both the society and sex offender gain.
While the programme allows sex offenders to be accepted into the society, it removes the psychological trauma experienced by the members of the society during the time of social offence (Jeremy et al., 2001).
In this programme, the sex offenders are encouraged to have a therapist who will be fully aware of the plans, as well as his support system, including his twelve-step sponsor, family members, and employers.
This team works together to provide assistance, encouragement and support to the offenders. Individuals from the society or offenders neighbourhood can also be part of the support team.
According to Hanson and Harris (2001), this intervention strategy has worked well in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the Community Sentencing Circle programme that offer assistance and support to offenders has lead to both the reconcilliation of the community as well as to the victims and offenders.
Therefore, working together with the sex offenders helps reinstate the offenders back into the community. Other countries such as the New Zealand have also adapted assistance and support programme called Family Group conference. This system has also encouraged the reconcilliation of both the society as well as to the victims and offenders (Jeremy et al., 2001).
Nevertheless, while it may be critical to provide exceptional, intensive social support in the period immediately after release, the ultimate goal of assistance and support programme is to engage sex offenders in mainstream support services. Engaging families and members of the society in the transition process are a fundamental element in this normalisation.
Surveillance Based Programmes
Surveillance based programmes can also provides fundamental intervention after sexual offenders are released from prisons. Research by Quinsey (2006) indicates that effective supervision of sex offenders can help reduce the chances of reoffending.
Upon their release on parole, the sex offenders will hand their parole officer a carefully prepared relapse prevention plans which outlines his particular high risk situations and what interventions he has developed and intend to use.
The effectiveness of supervision for sex offenders has been known for a long time. Different sociologists have stressed the importance of supervision for reducing the risk of released sexually dangerous persons.
Electronic control has also played an extremely significant role in enhancing surveillance-based programmes. Currently, the electronic technology has made it possible to monitor sexual offenders via telephone lines and computers.
Therefore, video screens can be used to ensure that the sex offenders are at home during the phone call. The probation officer simply calls the sex offender on the phone and then conducts the face-to-face interview without leaving the office.
Surveillance programme has its foundation on feminism theory, which argues that women are vulnerable to rape cases than men. Surveillance programmes limit the interaction between members of society and the sexual offenders to limits the chances of sexual offence.
Lastly, Implementation of intervention programmes aimed at securing better access to existing resources for ex-prisoners and improving the coordination between the social service agencies and criminal justice can play a significant role during integration of sex offenders in the society.
In the US, the United States Department of Justice has funded the re-entry partnership strategy in eight states. These programmes seeks to engage releases families, community based service providers, the faith community and other sources of supports into reinstating offenders into the society (Jeremy et al., 20001).
Most of these programmes involve direct service provision by the support agencies as well as the service brokerage. However, it is vital to note that successful integration into the society depends fundamentally on the commitment and perseverance of the sex offenders.
Sex offenders in post release programmes must see themselves as actively involved in their own integration rather than as passive recipients.
Conclusively, while working with other relevant bodies, the government must continue to develop and test sound interventional strategies and determines which of those strategies are most effective with which types of offenders.
The society can also play a critical role in defining, detecting, and punishing sexual defiance to help reduce the cases of sexual offence. As noted by Jeremy et al. (2001), the interventions must be demonstrably effective, and they must be selected for the unique needs posed by the individual.
Hanson, K. & Harris, A. (2001). A structured Approach to evaluating change among Sexual Offenders. A Journal of Research and Treatment, 13(1), 105-122.
Jeremy, T., Amy, L., and Michelle, W. (2001). From Prison to Home. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
Kinner, A. (2006). The Post-Release Experience of Prisoners in Queensland. Canberra: Australian institute of criminology.
Quinsey, V. (2006). Violent Offenders: Appraising and Managing Risk. Philadelphia: American Psychological Association.