Sex Offender Rehabilitation: Educating Correctional Cadre

By Heller, Michael L. | Corrections Today, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Sex Offender Rehabilitation: Educating Correctional Cadre


Heller, Michael L., Corrections Today


It is not uncommon to see a news report or read a headline about sexual assault. Sadly, reports like these are all too common and appear to be increasing in number. Also increasing during the past two decades is the number of inmates in prison for a sex offense. The increase of sex offenders in the prison population gives rise to a need to educate those working directly with these inmates on a daily basis.

If sex offenders are not given the opportunity to receive treatment while confined, it is not possible for correctional staff to say that they have done their job when the time comes for the offender to leave prison. Correctional facilities are specifically designed to provide safety to the public by confining and rehabilitating offenders. To reduce the rate of recidivism, correctional cadre must be better educated and willing to support treatment for the sex offender population. Methods being employed at the Regional Corrections Facility at Fort Sill, Okla., illustrate how one facility is doing its part to reduce recidivism and create a safer environment for society.

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By the Numbers

According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, there were approximately 116,979 arrests for sex-related offenses in 2004. (1) The majority of the individuals arrested were males ages 18 and older. It is cited that the estimates of incarcerated sex offenders reach upwards of 150,000 in federal and state prisons. What is alarming about this figure is that it does not fully express the magnitude of the problem.

First, many offenders are not found guilty as charged, and second, only 16 percent of offenses are actually disclosed. Recently, the number of offenders in the civilian population and the number of reported sexual assault cases within the Department of Defense (DOD) have increased. For example between 1980 and 1994, there was a 300 percent increase in incarcerated sex offenders in civilian correctional facilities. Since the year 2000, the reported cases of sexual assault have increased steadily within the military ranks. Dennis Ryan reported the latest increase in the June 2008 issue of Soldiers magazine. He wrote that the DOD investigated 2,688 sexual assault cases in 2007 and action was taken on about half of the reported cases.

The reason offenders are incarcerated is to get them off the streets for the safety of society. However, up to 97 percent of those incarcerated will eventually return to their respective communities (approximately 20,000 annually). When a sex offender has completed his or her sentence, or has been granted parole, he or she is required to register as a sex offender and undergo community supervision. In 1997, an estimated 60 percent of those incarcerated had completed or eventually would complete their sentence in community settings. (2) According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, there are currently an estimated 170,000 sex offenders under community supervision. This number represents only 10 percent of the sex offenders in communities because many have completed their mandatory supervision.

Characteristics of Sex Offenders

These statistics clearly point out the depth of the problem; however, what exactly is known about a sex offender? A sex offender can be described as anyone convicted of a crime involving any form of attempted or completed sexual acts against another person. a few examples are rape, molestation of a child and Internet solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes. One of the leading forms of Internet offenses is child pornography, which has increased rapidly in the U.S. and England. (3) For most people, it is difficult to understand why someone would carry out such an inhumane act.

Criminal justice researcher Andrew Harris points out that those individuals committing sex offenses typically exhibit two primary traits. The first is sexual deviancy, which is described as having an arousal to things or ideas that most individuals in society would find unhealthy or inappropriate. …

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