The Sorry Truth Is Many Sex Offenders CAN'T Be Rehabilitated

Article excerpt

Byline: by Dr LUDWIG LOWENSTEIN, one of Britain's leading experts on paedophiles

THE British justice system invests tremendous faith in the rehabilitation of criminals. A key principle of the modern approach to crime is that offenders should not just be punished but should also be reformed -- so that they are equipped to participate in society again and no longer represent a danger to the public.

But that belief has taken a severe knock in recent days. There has been the grim continuing saga of Jon Venables, killer of James Bulger, who is back in prison after breaching the terms of the licence he was given on his release in 2001.

Venables was given extensive support throughout the eight years he served in a young offenders' institution, including intensive therapy and education, yet none of this seems to have worked.

Though we cannot know exactly what he has done, even the Government admits that his most recent offences are serious. According to some reports he is guilty of viewing child pornography.


Venables was obviously a profoundly disturbed adolescent and -- if recent accounts have any credence -- he is now a dangerous young man.

Just as worrying as the Venables case has been the savage behaviour of serial offender Peter Chapman, who this week was jailed for life for the rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall. Sex-fixated and violent, Chapman was meant to be closely supervised by the Merseyside police after his conviction for previous serious crimes.

Yet so lax was this monitoring regime that he was able to pose as a teenage boy on the internet and entice a string of vulnerable girls into his online trap. When he was caught last October, he had amassed no fewer than 6,000 'friends' on ten different social networking sites.

That figure is not only rebuke to the inadequacy of the judicial system's surveillance of Chapman, but it is also testimony to his dangerous sexual obsession with young girls, which was not dented by attempts to reform him. His sick feelings were the driving force of his life, to the exclusion of all normal humane considerations.

His case illustrates a stark truth that society must face up to: some paedophiles and sex offenders are simply beyond rehabilitation. Their twisted desires are so much part of their personality that they cannot be eradicated by psychotherapy, counselling, education or support. No matter what the efforts of the state, they will always remain a danger to the public.

That is why the only realistic approach is to keep them locked up for their own good and for that of the public. If some of them are ever released, then they should be chemically castrated before they are allowed to live among us.

Moreover, they should be subjected to the most rigorous supervision -- for pharmaceutically-induced castration might lessen their ability physically to enact their fantasies, but it does nothing to reduce their psychological desires.

It should not be thought that every sex offender, paedophile and child molester is the same. Not all of them are beyond redemption, since they do not form one homogenous mass.

Some are aggressive rapists, others get their kicks just out of looking. Some are obsessed exclusively with children, partly because they revel in the sense of power they can exert -- petty tyrants locked in their own world of exploitation.

Other paedophiles also enjoy normal adult relationships, some of them even marrying and bringing up children of their own.

Some are homosexual, some straight, many indifferent to gender. Some have been abused as children themselves, and this is often given as the most common explanation for their behaviour -- though in truth, new research shows that certain aspects of paedophilia may also have a genetic component. …