Thursday, March 22, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, March 22, 2007--Sex Offender Research


NCJ 217399
Karen Harrison
High-Risk Sex Offender Strategy in England and Wales: Is Chemical Castration an Option?
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume:46 Issue:1 Dated:February 2007 Pages:16 to 31

This article discusses whether chemical castration should be a sentencing option for high-risk, highly deviant sexual predators in England and Wales and reviews evaluation research concerning its effectiveness. Given the research findings, the author concludes that chemical castration using medroxyprogesterone (MPA) should be available in England and Wales on a voluntary-only basis and should be part of a treatment or supervision package once the offender leaves prison. The author also recommends a name change from “chemical castration” to some type of alternative name like “hormonal androgen depletion” or “anti-hormone treatment.” The main argument is that chemical castration can be an effective means of treating pedophiles who voluntarily submit to the procedure coupled with therapy. Research indicates that chemical castration can be an effective treatment, but only for certain classes of sex offenders. Most research shows that chemical castration is effective for pedophiles, and usually only for those pedophiles that are preferential pedophiles, meaning they only desire to have sexual relationships with children and not adults. In order to gain maximum effectiveness from chemical castration, it should be coupled with psychotherapy or other forms of counseling to address distorted perceptions, attitudes toward children, pro-criminal attitudes, and denial or minimization of the offending. This may mean that maximum effectiveness from chemical castration can only be achieved in sex offenders who are willing to work toward changing their perceptions and behaviors. Chemical castration and therapy should therefore only be offered on a voluntary basis as a package of treatment upon release from prison and should not be part of a punishment agenda. The selection of appropriate offenders should be a medical rather than a legal decision and should not be based on the nature of the crime but on the offender’s suitability and motivation to respond to treatment. Notes, references

NCJ 217400
Kevin Brown ; Jon Spencer ; Jo Deakin
Reintegration of Sex Offenders: Barriers and Opportunities for Employment
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume:46 Issue:1 Dated:February 2007 Pages:32 to 42

This study explored the barriers to, and opportunities for, employment for sex offenders in England. The findings suggest there are few employment opportunities for sex offenders and many barriers. Primary barriers included deficits in education and skills and the availability of only low-paying employment. Some sex offenders were released on the condition that they not return to their home communities upon release, further exacerbating their employment challenges. Data further indicated that sex offenders used contacts in the community, family support, and sheer determination to overcome these barriers. Other findings indicated that half of the employers interviewed would not consider hiring a sex offender due to perceived risk to staff and potential negative staff reaction. Current criminal justice policies are not adequate in assisting sex offenders with employment and some policies even exacerbate the problem. In order for sex offenders to successfully reintegrate into the community, government must promote a more positive and socially inclusive approach to the management of sex offenders in the community. Participants comprised three groups: (1) sex offenders in custody and sex offenders in the community; (2) employers of sex offenders; and (3) probation service case managers. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 sex offenders, all of whom had been or were currently serving a prison sentence for a sexual offense. Sex offenders in custody discussed their experiences prior to conviction and their plans for employment. Sex offenders in the community discussed their experiences of employment following their release. Employer’s attitudes regarding the employment of sex offenders were measured via telephone interviews (N=10) and self-administered mailed questionnaires (N=60). Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with 5 probation case managers and 17 other multi-agency professionals regarding their perceptions of sex offender employment opportunities and barriers as well as official policies and procedures. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed according to emerging themes. Notes, references

NCJ 217385
Calvin M. Langton ; Howard E. Barbaree ; Michael C. Seto ; Edward J. Peacock ; Leigh Harkins ; Kevin T. Hansen
Actuarial Assessment of Risk for Reoffense Among Adult Sex Offenders: Evaluating the Predictive Accuracy of the Static-2002 and Five Other Instruments
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume:34 Issue:1 Dated:January 2007 Pages:37 to 59

This study extended previous research by comparing a set of widely used actuarial risk assessment schemes as well as a new instrument (the Static-2002) in the risk assessment of 468 sex offenders who were monitored for an average of 5.9 years. All of the risk assessment instruments--Violence Risk Appraisal Guide [VRAG], Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide [SORAG], Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offense Recidivism [RRASOR], Static-99, Static-2002, and Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised [MnSOST-R]--predicted the reoffending (recidivism) outcomes for which they were designed. Although the prediction accuracies were significant, indexes of accuracy were generally lower than those reported by the developers of these instruments. This was the case even under conditions that had been shown to optimize predictive performance. For serious recidivism (other than sexual recidivism), the predictive accuracy of the Static-2002 and SORAG was significantly superior to that of the RRASOR; and the SORAG was significantly superior to the MnSOST-R. There were no significant differences among the instruments in their accuracy of predicting sexual recidivism. All data were coded from files at the Warkworth Sexual Behaviour Clinic (WSBC), the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The six actuarial risk assessment instruments were scored retrospectively from archived files. All of the assessment schemes were completed by using file data available prior to the offender's first release from custody for the index offense. Coders were unaware of recidivism outcomes for all cases, and recidivism was coded blind to instrument scores. 6 tables and 66 references

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