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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2009

Caitriona Higgins and Carol Ireland

This study explored the attitudes of prison officers, forensic staff and members of the public towards and male and female sex offenders. Participants were provided with a…

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Abstract

This study explored the attitudes of prison officers, forensic staff and members of the public towards and male and female sex offenders. Participants were provided with a vignette depicting a specific sexual offence committed against either an adult or a child, by either a male or a female perpetrator, and were then asked to complete a scale assessing attitudes to sex offenders based on the offender depicted in the vignette. Forensic staff emerged as having the most positive attitudes to sex offenders, viewing them as individuals who could be rehabilitated. Prison officers emerged as having the most negative attitudes, in that they were supportive of harsh and untrusting attitudes. Overall, females emerged as viewing sex offenders in more positive terms, whereas males were more supportive of harsh attitudes to sex offenders. Respondents did not have a more negative attitude to female sex offenders than to male sex offenders.

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The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2006

Eleni Theodosi and Mary McMurran

Sex offenders who refuse a place on a sex offender treatment programme are estimated to make up about half the prison sex offender population in England and Wales. It is…

Abstract

Sex offenders who refuse a place on a sex offender treatment programme are estimated to make up about half the prison sex offender population in England and Wales. It is important to motivate refusers to participate in treatment to reduce the likelihood of their re‐offending. In this pilot study we used the Personal Concerns Inventory‐Offender Adaptation (PCI‐OA), a semi‐structured motivational assessment, further adapting it for treatment refusers. We examined the effectiveness of the PCI‐OA (TR) with nine prisoners who had refused sex offender treatment (the treatment group) compared with nine refusers who received no intervention (the control group). The treatment group were at least 0.6 times as likely to show a positive motivational shift towards sex offender treatment as the untreated group. The practice implications of these results are discussed, and further evaluation of the PCI‐OA (TR) is recommended.

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The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Book part
Publication date: 4 July 2019

John C. Navarro

To explain the persistent abhorrent perspective society holds of sex offenders, the concept of sex offenders, the evolution of salient sex offender legislation, and the…

Abstract

To explain the persistent abhorrent perspective society holds of sex offenders, the concept of sex offenders, the evolution of salient sex offender legislation, and the relationships between sex offenders and social control with a focus on the current and emerging socio-legal issues are discussed. As one of the most vilified criminal offenders, sex offenders are inextricably related to social control as demonstrated by the disproportionately imposed legal restrictions they have experienced compared to offenders without a history of sex crimes. Public support of excessive punishments toward sex offenders has been bolstered by societal depictions that have induced perceptions of sex offenders as monstrous beings.

Aversions toward sex offenders unfold when it is perceived that the solidarity of society is dissolute and volatile. During these periods of perceived social disintegration, mass media emerges as a source that can contextualize the depraved actions of sex offenders, though the media have arguably perverted their role as an educator and contributed to misinformation. Education and revised evaluative assessments of sexual recidivism are suggested as approaches to redefine how sex offenders should be portrayed, as a heterogeneous group of individuals that vary in their amenability to rehabilitative treatment.

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Political Authority, Social Control and Public Policy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-049-9

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2011

Ryanne Colbert

Sex offenders and the laws concerning them represent a highly controversial and emotionally charged issue. Current efforts of legislation in the United States to manage…

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Abstract

Sex offenders and the laws concerning them represent a highly controversial and emotionally charged issue. Current efforts of legislation in the United States to manage the increasing number of sex offenders being arrested and eventually released back into communities are inadequate to manage such a large population of offenders, and the effects of registration and notification laws are more detrimental than beneficial to the communities they intend to protect. This paper discusses the notion that a significant cause of the problem relates to the overly broad standards that are used to define who is to be charged as a sex offender. The term “sex offender” needs to be reserved for those individuals who best represent the meaning of the term, and the resources available for this issue should be directed towards the effective management of those offenders instead of being spread so thin amongst so many offenders who do not pose a serious threat to society that none of them are sufficiently supervised after release from incarceration. Furthermore, laws and federal guidelines regarding sex offender legislation needs to be based on empirical research findings instead of uniformed public pressure.

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Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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Ethnographies of Law and Social Control
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-128-6

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Kerry Ferguson and Carol Ireland

The objective of this study was to investigate attitudes towards individuals who commit different types of sex offence, with subsidiary aims of exploring the influence of…

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1328

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate attitudes towards individuals who commit different types of sex offence, with subsidiary aims of exploring the influence of respondent sex and the influence of personal experience of sexual abuse. The sample comprised 139 participants (49 students and 90 forensic staff). All were provided with a vignette depicting a specific type of sex offence, and asked to complete a scale assessing attitudes towards sex offenders (Hogue, 1993). Forensic staff were more likely than students to view sex offenders in positive terms, viewing them as individuals who could be rehabilitated. Participants who reported being victims of sexual abuse, or that someone close to them had been abused, viewed sex offenders less negatively than non‐victims. Men demonstrated less positive attitudes towards child incest and child indecent assault offenders than to stranger rapists. Women held more positive views towards sex offenders than men, and this was consistent across offence type.

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The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Kendra Bowen, Erika Frenzel and Jason D. Spraitz

In the USA, sex offender policy research has focussed on demographic characteristics of registrants, recidivism rates of registrants, accuracy and completeness of listed…

Abstract

Purpose

In the USA, sex offender policy research has focussed on demographic characteristics of registrants, recidivism rates of registrants, accuracy and completeness of listed information, and the collateral consequences experienced by registrants. This growing body of research demonstrates the need to explore offender perceptions of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether registration related variables influenced sex offenders’ opinions about the registry, compliance with the registry, self-worth, and deterrence perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper utilized a sample of 286 male registered sex offenders (RSO) in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Four multivariate regression models were run to examine registration related variables impact on sex offender opinions of the registry, registry compliance, feelings of self-worth, and perceptions of deterrence.

Findings

The multivariate regression results suggest registration related variables have a significant impact on RSO opinion of the registry, compliance with the registry, and opinions of self. Specifically, the number of collateral consequences that one experienced, police contacts that RSOs had, and being recognized as a sex offender were significantly related to the dependent variables in the regression models.

Originality/value

This study adds to the body of research that indicates sex offenders experience a myriad of consequences that are outside the scope of the registered sex offender laws. Policy implications and societal consequences of these findings are discussed, as well as a future research agenda.

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Safer Communities, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2020

Kirpal Kaur Sahota

Transgender sex offenders are a small, complex and atypical group. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the issues in relationship to the assessment of gender…

Abstract

Purpose

Transgender sex offenders are a small, complex and atypical group. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the issues in relationship to the assessment of gender dysphoria in transgender sex offenders and approaches to risk management.

Design/methodology/approach

Clinical and research experience as a Gender Specialist and Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist who has managed sex offender populations has informed this publication.

Findings

Little is known about the relationship between gender dysphoria and criminality. More research is required to develop a typology of transgender sex offenders and develop actuarial risk instruments. Protective factors in relation to gender affirmative care are also important to understand.

Research limitations/implications

There is little empirical research to guide gender specialists and criminal justice professionals in the management of gender dysphoria and address risk and recidivism in transgender offender populations. The treatment of gender dysphoria could result in improved well-being and better psychosocial adjustment but cannot be relied to reduce future recidivism.

Practical implications

There is no evidence that treatment of gender dysphoria reduces risk and recidivism in transgender sex offenders and that research is required to identify specific gender related dynamic risk factors.

Social implications

Recommendations are directly relevant to the work of prison and probation staff, community supervisors and gender identity specialists.

Originality/value

As far as the author is aware it is the first paper on the assessment and management of gender diverse sex offenders integrating approaches to gender dysphoria assessment and treatment and risk management. It has implication for gender identity specialists, criminal justice professionals, research and policy.

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Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3841

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2008

Carol Ireland

This paper will discuss the potential impact of a range of cognitive impairments when working with sex offenders who present with them. It will begin by outlining the…

Abstract

This paper will discuss the potential impact of a range of cognitive impairments when working with sex offenders who present with them. It will begin by outlining the nature of cognitive impairment and the research examining the extent of such difficulties in sex offenders. It will then explore the impact of such impairments when engaging a sex offender in treatment, including the role that cognitive impairment might play in the function of their offence. Finally, some methods by which to manage and compensate for cognitive impairments will be presented. While the focus of this paper is on sex offenders, the issues presented in this paper are not exclusive to this group and may be applied to offenders in general.

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The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2018

Chris Patterson

For the 3.8 per cent of people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) who have offended sexually, the main form of treatment is the group-based, cognitive-behavioural…

Abstract

Purpose

For the 3.8 per cent of people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) who have offended sexually, the main form of treatment is the group-based, cognitive-behavioural, adapted sex offender treatment programme (ASOTP) that focusses on challenging cognitive distortions condoning sex offending. The purpose of this paper is to provide an evaluation of how effective the ASOTP is at reducing ID sex offenders’ cognitive distortions.

Design/methodology/approach

Three databases were searched systematically: PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Web of Science. Six studies met the inclusion criteria, yielding 118 participants. Using a random-effects model, effect sizes were calculated using pre- and post-treatment scores on a measure of cognitive distortions. The standardised mean difference (SMD) was 1.77 (95 per cent CI: 1.06, 2.46), which was statistically significant (p<0.001) and “large”. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that this SMD was robust, and a check for publication bias revealed that it was unlikely that the “file drawer problem” confounded the meta-analysis.

Findings

These results indicated that the ASOTP can significantly reduce ID sex offenders’ cognitive distortions, regardless of treatment length, IQ level, language abilities, or offence type. Consistent with earlier reports, longer treatment resulted in the greatest reductions: the optimum treatment length was 24 months.

Research limitations/implications

The ASOTP’s current evidence is comprised wholly of case and quasi-experimental studies, none of which employed control groups. This paper highlights how there is a dire need for high-quality experimental evaluation of the ASOTP.

Practical implications

Clinicians are advised to continue using the ASOTP as the main treatment for ID sex offenders until the effectiveness of the ASOTP is further examined using randomised controlled trials.

Originality/value

This is the first meta-analytic review of the effectiveness of the ASOTP.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8824

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