Personal Construct Perspectives on Forensic Psychology

By James Horley | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Psychological treatment of offenders in institutions

James Horley and Jody Bennett

Individuals who are charged and convicted of crimes generally enter the criminal justice system with a disposition involving probation. Contrary to common assumptions, the majority of adjudicated criminal offenders do not receive a custodial prison sentence. In addition, only a very small minority of individuals charged with a criminal offence are detained for any length of time in forensic psychiatric facilities after being found not criminally responsible for their actions, which, of course, means that they are not criminal offenders although they may well be dangerous individuals who require institutional confinement and treatment.

Incarceration of offenders can serve to control reoffending or recidivism temporarily through incapacitation. Supervision, too, can limit recidivism. Incarceration and supervision are intended as deterrence by punishment. Previous examination of the psychological literature regarding criminal conduct indicates that punishment without rehabilitation does not reduce reoffence rates (Andrews, Zinger, Hoge, Bonta, Gendreau & Cullen, 1990). In the United States, approximately two-thirds of offenders released from state prisons are rearrested within three years (Henning & Frueh, 1996), and only a small percentage have been provided with any form of therapy. Psychological change through some form of treatment appears necessary to reduce criminal reoffence. Appropriate psychological treatment of offenders in institutions has the potential to assist offenders and to reduce the number of victims of crime. This chapter will examine the use of psychological treatment within forensic institutions. Types of treatment, treatment efficacy, and special issues regarding treatment of offenders will be considered.

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