Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders in Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

The sexual abuse of children is a serious social concern. Thus, sexual offenders must receive accurate assessments and effective treatment programming to minimise re-offence rates. There is ample evidence in the literature to support the assertion that treatment strategies need to be matched to an offender's level of risk for re-offence, and his or her specific risk factors for re-offence. In terms of males, extra-familial sexual offenders are reportedly more likely to re-offend than are intra-familial sexual offenders. If recidivism rates are indeed higher for extra-familial offenders it follows that the assessment and treatment protocols should be reflective of such. In addition, cultural specificity of assessment and treatment strategies is of great import, especially with respect to Canadian Aboriginal peoples given the rates of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian correctional institutions. Based on this preliminary review of the assessment and treatment of sexual offenders in the Saskatchewan correctional system, potential culture-specific assessment and treatment needs do not appear to be differentially addressed. Additionally, differences in assessment and treatment practices relevant to level of risk do not appear to be present at the provincial level in Saskatchewan. In this paper it is argued that these potential inconsistencies must be examined and empirically investigated in future research and, if indeed present, appropriately addressed in order to provide effective rehabilitation services and to ensure ongoing public safety.

According to Statistics Canada (1998) there were 30,735 sexual offences reported to the police in Canada in 1997. This figure represents a dramatic underestimation of the actual number of sexual offences committed given that, based on victimisation surveys, it appears as though 90% of sexual offences that occur are not reported (Statistics Canada, 1998). It is also estimated that fewer than 15% of reported sexual offences lead to conviction (Hanson, Steffy, & Gauthier, 1993; Marshall, Laws, & Barbaree, 1990). Given the mandate of the Correctional Service of Canada to reintegrate offenders into the community (Correctional Service of Canada [CSC], 1997), most perpetrators who are convicted will eventually be released from Correctional supervision (Blanchette, 1996). Thus, all possible steps must be taken in an effort to reduce the likelihood that offenders will re-offend. It is crucial that each offender receive a thorough assessment to isolate the dispositional and situational factors that predispose him (or her) to committing sexual offences. In addition, treatment programmes must be carefully devised and widely available so as to facilitate the amelioration of offenders' specific risk factors, and to reduce the likelihood of future victims (Blanchette, 1996).

In this paper we provide a brief review of 'best practices' standards for assessment and treatment of sexual offenders as well as a preliminary overview of the management of sexual offenders in a Canadian province. Based on this snapshot of the assessment and treatment practices of intra-familial and extra-familial sexual offenders in one Canadian provincial correctional system, it appears intra- and extra-familial offenders, who are understood to comprise different levels of risk, are not receiving assessments and treatments specific to their unique risk factors. In addition, potential cultural factors that may influence optimal assessment and treatment practices differently for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sexual offenders do not appear to be considered. These apparent deficits warrant further investigation.

MANAGEMENT OF SEXUAL OFFENDERS

Incarcerated sexual offenders are housed either at provincial or federal institutions. If an offender is sentenced to a term of two years (less a day) or less, he or she will most often be housed at a provincial correctional facility. If the sentence is two years or more in duration, the offender will typically serve her or his sentence at a federal institution. …