The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Treatment Programs

An article posted in the Daily Mail on June 24 caught my eye, why?, because it’s something that I have been saying for years and nobody has been listening to. So here is the link to the article:  and some of the basic information that is in the article,The scandal of the sex crime ‘cure’ hubs: How minister buried report into £100million prison programme to treat paedophiles and rapists that INCREASED reoffending rates”.

Sex Offender Treatment Programme is psychological group-therapy course
Believed to have cost taxpayers over £100 million since it was set up in 1991
Prisoners who take the rehabilitation courses are at least 25 per cent more likely to be convicted of further sex crimes than those who do not.
Paedophiles convicted of attacking children are especially likely to offend”

It should be noted that this is from a British newspaper, but the programs that are run in the United States are a mirror image of the program that was run in Britain, a program that has now been found to have such a devastating result on the people that participated in it, as well as the community. The article that follows is one that was posted on SOSEN in April of last year. I will include the links to a couple other articles about treatment providers and treatment that is forced by our government without any consideration to people’s constitutional rights upon people on the registry or any consideration if the programs are effective at reducing the re-offense rate Http:// , as well as Http://, also this one on how treatment providers have used their suppose it expertise to cause damage to disfavored groups that they have chosen to devalue: Http:// It is quite obvious that these supposed experts are not that and that their programs are causing damage not only to the people taking them and their family members as well future victims, but also to the community at large.

One of the things that everyone seems to be missing is these same experts in sex offender treatment are also the same ones that are treating the victims. If their theories are so wrong on how to treat the offenders how much damage have they been doing to the victims?  Especially when the crimes involve family members, perhaps it’s time to have some type of watchdog group that is not made up of therapists and psychiatrists and psychologists to oversee and look into if there is damage being done to the victims of these crimes by the therapists and treatment providers who are supposed to be helping these people. Or are the treatment providers just imposing their own viewpoints on to the victims to justify their mistreatment of the perpetrators of the crime.


The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Treatment Programs

In January of 1989, before the sex offender hysteria hit the legislative sector of our country, a study was conducted entitled ‘Sex Offender Recidivism a Review‘, by the noted researchers L. Furby, M.R.Weinroth, and L. Blackshaw. Although the primary purpose of this study was to try and determine the actual recidivism of people who are involved in sex crimes what it secondarily discovered was the effectiveness of treatment programs or lack thereof I should say in reducing recidivism. Realize that today most treatment programs that use behavior modification follow the same type of guidelines that were used during this time. They were basically drug and alcohol programs that were modified to treat people with what therapists perceived as sexual control problems.

Just exactly what is behavior modification treatment? It is the traditional term for the use of behavior altering techniques to increase or decrease the frequency of behaviors, such as altering an individual’s behaviors and reactions to stimuli through positive and negative reinforcement. Such as the reduction of deviant behavior by using various punishments like shame and guilt as reinforcers. Behavior modification is now known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and used in sex offender treatment programs it takes on a Clockwork Orange type of conditioning. Up to and including ammonium nitrate and electric shock, conditioning.  One important thing to note about the various behavioral therapies is that unlike some other types of therapy that are rooted in insight, such as psychoanalytic and humanistic therapies, behavioral therapy is action based. The problem is that Behavioral therapists focus on their perceptions of how a person should act. That is not based on any empirical data, and among other things uses aggressive confrontational therapy to force their viewpoints upon their clients. This is extremely true in cases where courts order treatment without knowing if the program is going to have a positive or negative consequences for the participants.

Although a lot of research has been done on the recidivism rates of sex offenders the Furby study was unique in that it sat down empirical guidelines. They looked at literally hundreds of other studies, most of which were thrown out because they did not follow proper scientific methodology. And as a result the Furby evaluation of these studies is considered as being the most extensive and meticulously analytical. One of the reasons for this being that they also included people who had received no treatment as a baseline for their other evaluations. What the Furby study found was that people placed on probation with no therapy were the least likely to re-offend, offenders sent to jail or prison also without therapy were rated second least likely to re-offend, and those who were mandated or forced to volunteer under threat of prison or jail time or were actually sentenced to behavior modification therapy were at least twice and as much as 10 times more likely to re-offend sexually and more likely to be involved in other types of violent crime at increased rates as well.

One thing should be pointed out at this time and that is the fact that all these studies are very limited they do not reflect the entire population of the registry. Looking at specific groups such as people in high-risk categories coming out of prison or in treatment programs. does not give an accurate example of the entire registry, it would be like trying to a valuate the safety of American cars and only looking at the Pinto and Corvair. The only accurate representation of the re-offense rate in a new sex crime by people on the registry is to look at the reconviction rate of entire registry. The numbers that came up in the Furby study are representative of high risk categories and not representative of the entire registry.

In the state funded study commissioned by the legislators of Oregon entitled, ‘Sex Offenders in Oregon‘ by T K Martin & J L Hutzler, the Furby study was quoted as stating, “there is as yet no evidence that clinical treatment reduces the rate of sexual offenses.” Furby and her colleagues other statement was omitted from the state report. It stated that, “the re-offense rate of treated offenders is not lower than that for untreated offenders, if anything it tends to be extremely higher.”

Irwin S. Dreiblatt, Phd. of Pacific Psychological Services of Seattle Washington stated in the book, ‘Retraining Adult Sex Offenders‘ – by Fay Honey Knopp, “I become concerned that we get carried away with the notion of treatment as the only response to sex offenders.  We get to far in viewing treatment as a universal response rather that a selected approach to appropriate individuals. One of the big changes in this big wave seems to be, ‘Well, now we can do something for the sex offenders, let us get everybody into treatment.’  I’m scared about that approach… there are a lot of sex offenders whom we do not know what to do… I think the mental health community often oversells its product, and I think everyone needs to be cautious not to oversell… I am discouraged about the prospect of trying to provide treatment for everyone who comes along with the problem of sexual aggression.”

Robyn M. Dawes in his book ‘House of Cards Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth‘, stated “A person who claims that a treatment is effective must demonstrate that it has an effect in comparison to a hypothetical counter-factual, obtained through construction of a randomly constituted control group.” Such randomized experiments are very necessary in evaluating treatments for emotional disorders and one of the best such experiments is what is called a ‘Wait List Control’.  This was used in the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative study from 1984. In this research it was discovered that the people who had completed treatment re-offended sexually at 13.6% and other crimes at 18.6%.  Those who did not complete treatment re-offended sexually at 6.5% and 12.9% for other crimes. And those that were on the list, but did not get into treatment re-offended sexually at 5% and in other crimes at 0%.  Essentially it shown that the more the treatment, the more the criminal activity!

Does this mean that all treatment programs increase recidivism rather than reduce it? Maybe, there are some that use a humanistic approach though which focuses on self-awareness and self-management rather than probe the traumas of the past or attempt to reduce deviant behavior through behavior modification.  One such program was the Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Program  (CSATP) from Santa Clara county, California. (It must be pointed out that the study’s from this program did not meet the strict requirements for the ‘Furby’ evaluation.) According to the (CSATP) data from 1971 to 1982 they treated over 12,000 individuals, both victims and offenders. More clients than any other single agency in its field.  Jean M. Goodwin in her book ‘Sexual Abuse‘ (1989), stated that, “the CSATP was rated the best program in the country with a maintained re-offense rate of less than 1%.”  This, without failing or removing people from the program. Only through a personal choice can a person change his or her direction in life not by being forced in to it by anyone else. This is and will remain the primary reason that mandated therapy, especially when it includes the threat of one being booted from the program and/or being forced to face additional years in prison unless they parrot back what the therapist thinks is the appropriate responses, is at the root of problem.

In the Romero & Williams publication, ‘A Ten-Year Follow-Up of Sex Offender Recidivism‘, the psychiatrist rated the members of the treatment group and then later their arrest records were looked into also. The ones rated best re-offended at 50%, those second best at 69.8%, and those that the psychiatrist rated as doing worst in their treatment group re-offended at 35%. quite obviously these trained professionals are more fixated on people parroting back what they believe to be the correct answers than actually helping people. The therapists over seeing treatment programs are in control of others lives and in order to gain even more control they continue to feed the Criminal Justice System and the public misleading information.  This type of thinking in anybody else the therapist would call diversion, justification and minimization.

As for non-treated offenders During September 1998, the Research Unit of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) completed an ‘analysis‘ of sex offenders released from ADC custody over the ten-year period from July 1988 through June 1998. 2,444 sex offenders were released from ADC custody over the ten-year period. The average period of follow-up (to June 30, 1998) for all sex offenders was 54.5 months. While sex offenders returned to prison for a variety of new crimes, 78 of the 2,444 or 3.2% returned for a new felony sex offense within ten years, that is 3/10 of 1 percent per year. The Jacks study in 1962 that looked into non-treated offenders showed the re-offense rate of 3.7% over 15 years, that’s 2/10 of 1% per year… This must be used as the base line as laid out by Robyn Dawes.  Any treatment program with a re-offense rate higher then 3.7% for a 15 year period must be consider a failure of the program not the individuals in it.

According to the US Supreme court in Vitck vs Jones, “While a conviction and sentence extinguish an individual’s right to freedom from confinement for the term of the sentence, they do not authorize the state to classify him as mentally ill and subject him to involuntary psychiatric treatment without affording additional due process protections.”  And in Ohlinger vs Watson, the court declared that the, “Appellants had a constitutional right to such individual treatment as would give each of them a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition.” and “rehabilitative rationale is not only desirable, but it is constitutionally required ” plus “adequate and effective treatment is constitutionally required”.  In ‘Griswold v. Connecticut‘ the court stated “Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendments one we have seen…. Fifth Amendment in its self-incrimination clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment.  The Ninth Amendment provides: the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The 4th and 5th Amendments were described in Boyd v. United States, as “Protection against all governmental invasions of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.”  And in Stanley v. Georgia, Mr. Justice Marshall delivered the opinion of the court which included this noteworthy remark, “Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government power to control men’s minds.” But all this case law and precedence goes out the window when it comes to sex offender legislation and the people it targets because sex offenders are not viewed as people and thus the common consensus is that they have no rights. Coercing and forcing sex offenders on probation into behavioral treatment programs in the community and in prison is showing total indifference to the  concept of the Bill of Rights and the Federal Constitution  as well as the needs and rights of offenders, victims and society as a whole.

It needs to be pointed out that the criminal justice authorities of a state have in their power the ability to curb or exacerbate the self destructive cycle of dysfunctional individuals. Reacting irrationally and with overly harsh punishments, restrictions and requirements only perpetuates the cycle of deviant behavior, and does nothing to stop it.  Richard Seely, director of the Intensive Treatment Program for Minnesota Security Hospital contends that punishment is a reinforcer for sex offenders and in this case the punishment used as a reinforcer is the offenders own shame, his own blame, and his own grief. While one should feel ashamed of their deviant behavior, accept the blame for their actions, and feel grief over their actions and the consequences, perpetually shaming, blaming and expecting the now former offender to live in grief is counterproductive and serves no purpose. Perpetuating shame, guilt, and blame only increases the risk of re-offense and likely played a role in the offending behavior in the first place… There is probably no more ashamed group of criminals than sex offenders, thus using the shame, blame, guilt model as punishment and in treatment just tends to exacerbate it and is unnecessary. Behavioral programs based on this shame and blame model force the offender to accept responsibility for all the problems everyone he has had contact with have or will have.  Everything that has happened or will happen, is the offender’s fault.  He is not even able to look to his past for answers without being accused of making excuses or not accepting responsibility for his actions.  No matter what, it’s his fault, and he is to blame for everything. Any one with reasonable intelligence can see that this in its self adds to the confusion, anger and frustration. The criminal justice system needs to stop forcing people into treatment programs that are doing more harm than good and are violating the basic concepts of individual freedom guaranteed to every American citizen by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

8 comments for “The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Treatment Programs

  1. Tim Lawver
    July 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Mr. you are making some important points in this piece. The Whetterling act as well as other Acts that expounded from the predator panic of the 90s has often been described as “a bone for trial lawyers.” You have made it clear in this piece that lawyers are not the only group to have benefitted by the expansion of these rehabilitative programs. I do not know the number of professions (shrinks) that have made a fine living from these programs yet the situation has only gotten worse. More “sexual assault occurs today than ever. Some will say its because more is being reported, others will say its because of moral decline of society. Still others will blame the increase of population.

    I tend to think it is because of the ease of taking the victim stance. Most anyone these days readily accepts themselves as victims while most will deny the role of perpetrator. Being a victim has become rather lucrative, thus making it more likely that some will claim to be a victim when the are not. All one has to do is watch a couple of episodes of Judge Judy and you will recognize the pattern. Being the perp on the other hand is often rejected by the individual in question.

    If we take Jared Fogle for instance. He was paying for sex with whores- underage whores to be precise and porn production. He was found out and charged. The “victims” were offered and took a settlement of 1million. What the heck does that say to future potential underage whores. It says be a whore and make money, but when you find the john is a rich guy, turn him in and get a check. I doubt that idea will change any minds but it is the general rule around the country these days. BE A VICTIM AND GET PAID. The payment can be in terms of cash or attention. Which is good for the lawyers and the Media but not good for the country in need of solidarity.

    The notion of prohibiting ex-post facto laws was debated by the founders. Ultimately they decided to include it because they knew what could happen if they left it out. The ex post facto clause was meant to protect perps from further punishment. Doing otherwise is VICTIMSTANCE that is useless in preventing future crimes and builds a sense of unfairness that will eventually lead to distrust of the government and especially the judicial system. In recent time we have seen several cases where the VICTIMITES have undermined the judicial system. Victims advocacy groups are now regularly eroding judicial authority concerning criminal cases.

    In Montana’s thirteenth judicial district a judge G. Todd Baugh after hearing all the facts made a ruling about the perpetrators punishment which victims advocates quickly jumped on as to lenient and filed complaints PR-0018(2014) with the Wyoming Supreme Court forcing the judge to attempt to change course and eventually retire. A short time later that court later refused to let the judge alter the judgment.

    In the state of Texas a district judge Jeanine Howard was forced to recuse herself after victim’s advocates claimed the punishment handed out for the crime was too lenient. Justice Howard sentenced an 18 year boy old to probation and community service at a rape prevention center. The rape prevention advocates refused to allow the sex offender onto it’s premises, saying it would be a slap in the face to the rape victims it counsels. After her recusal a different judge then sentenced the convict to a harsher penalty.

    In Dane County, Wisconsin during sentencing of a former police lieutenant for a sexual assaults of an adopted boy commented during the sentencing hearing “while she should be considering other factors, the sentencing is being driven by what a Federal prosecutor wanted from another unrelated child pornography case. The former cop got fifteen years in the Wisconsin prison system.

    The trend is showing itself in other state’s criminal cases too. In the last two weeks of April, 2014 drama in Oklahoma played out as executions were halted by the Oklahoma Supreme court. Jurisdictional questions concerning the secrecy of the drugs used to perform executions were an issue. The governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin (R) proclaimed the executive branch would not honor the stay, declaring, “I cannot give effect to the order by the honorable court.” The erosion of judicial authority by victimites manifested again as one lawmaker in the state’s house of representatives, Mike Christian(R) introduced impeachment papers against the five of nine justices who issued the stay on willful neglect and incompetence grounds. Under the pressure from the two political branches of government court’s five justices reversed course and ruled the executions could proceed despite their earlier formal written rulings.

    The latest episode involves the case of Brock Turner. The judge in that case is battling a recall effort since the victimites believe he made a bad call on the amount of time he gave Turner.

    I can not say for sure where this will all lead but it will not lend itself to a more perfect union. I think it will lead to the demise of this nation as no one will expect to be treaded fairly and openly.

  2. Robert Columbia
    July 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    You made an excellent point when you mentioned that courts are just ordering everyone convicted of a sexual offense into the programs. If you know anything about mental health and therapy in general, you know that not everyone needs (or even reacts well to) the same treatments. Some people need pills. Some people need a different pill. Some people need talk therapy. Some people need a staged intervention. Some people have dealt with their issues on their own and need to be left alone to thrive in peace.

    As you mentioned, the current crop of SOTP programs are based on an addiction model. Not all sexual offenses happen because the perpetrator has an addiction to deviant sexual behaviors. Some people commit offenses accidentally (e.g. tricked by an underage person with a fake ID). Some people commit them out of curiosity, to know what it is like (sort of how like 99% of college students try marijuana but 90-95% of them do not become long-term drug abusers). Some people are disgusted by the idea of committing offenses but they do so because of peer pressure and really need a supportive environment with non-offending friends.

    Are all people convicted of DUI necessarily alcoholics? Are all people who make false statements on government forms necessarily diagnosable with a pathological lying-related disorder? Do all people convicted of a traffic offense necessarily need intensive anti-road-rage therapy?

    Of course not! The government needs to stop playing armchair psychologist. SOTP programs should remain available for those persons to whom is likely to be useful – people with destructive sexual addictions.

    • Til L
      July 10, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Human sexuality norms are purely culture based. Natural law applies jurisdiction of reproduction so young humans are defenseless for a period.. If we are to take a hard to define “Normal” the conventions are forced upon dispute. WHO decides what is IS. What is sexual crime…. WHO made the “normal”…..who defined ” deviant”

      Deviant sex by definition IS outside the norm. LGBT communities fight the same fight. Yet that group too despises assaulters. Sexual aggression is normal in American males and as common as make up on American females. That Congress has acted to propolacticize against the apparent assault upon family values was popular political peradventure. An Act upon men who think with the wrong head signed into law by W. J. C. In 1994.

      Abortionists remove life of truly helpless humans and thrive, while humans who touch are hideous.

  3. July 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Are you folks aware that the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers collected a $1.5 Million grant from the SMART Office in FY2016? That’s a scary thought.

  4. Kayt
    July 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Derek: Where is that information about the $1.5 Million grant from SMART/2016? This is not only scary, but very usable information!

    July 26, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I’m not sure just how well any treatment(s) will or have helped any one offender. I think it should all be based on each individual person treated. I do know that, I believe that any and all people excused of ANY kind of sex offence it should be automatically mandatory to take lie detector test by everyone involved regardless of age. I have know several people convicted of sex offence that were set up but if they tried to fight it in court they would end up doing 25 yrs to life.

  6. Scott
    August 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    These programs are only as good as those who facilitate it. The individual needs to be honest with themselves first and use the information provided as life skills tools. Not any different than those who have drinking or drug addiction. But keep in mind that no program is a cure. it’s an individuals decision to stay clean or not.

    • Will Bassler
      August 12, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Scott while I totally agree with you that the decision to change is a personal one. your comment seems to make the assumption that all of these programs are good actually. Quite the opposite is true most of these programs do more damage than they help. Just because a person doesn’t reoffend doesn’t mean that the program hasn’t been mentally and emotionally damaged them. The majority of behavior modification programs are nothing more than a modified form of brainwashing. the same type of conditioning that is used by leaders of cults. the sex offender treatment programs were based on drug and alcohol treatment programs that deal with a chemical dependency and were failed programs at their offset with re-offense rates of people going through them as high as 75%. while I agree that there are treatment programs out there that are effective at helping people turn their lives around they are not sex offender treatment programs. sex offender treatment program start out with the assumption that you are a mentally ill evil person and that you must face up to your evil, while other self-help programs are based on the fact that you’re a good person that has made mistakes and attempts to give you directions to avoid making the same mistakes again, this distinction between the two types of programs shows the inherent flaws in the sex offender treatment programs. the other point that I would make is that the facilitators have already bought in to the effectiveness of the treatment program and as long as they follow the guidelines of the treatment program it is doomed to do damage to their client’s

      The other point that is annoying as you say that there is no program that is cure. that makes the assumption that an incurable mental illness is the reason for the transgression that brought them into the treatment program. it is common knowledge that most sex crimes are not actually brought about because of a mental illness but because of an emotional issue that once brought to light can easily be dealt with that is why people that have been caught in sex crimes have the lowest re-offense rate of any criminal class rather they have had treatment or not. Because in most cases these people are already ashamed of what they have been involved in and once it comes to light and they have to face that shame. that is the reason for the low reoccurrence not some nonexistent cure offered by a treatment program. the last thing is forcing a person and into any type of program that causes them to change their thinking patterns is a violation of the Constitution of the United States which is the moral code for this country it is one thing for a person to voluntarily choose a program and involve themselves in it it is another thing for the state local or federal government to force a person to change their thinking patterns. and I don’t even want to hear the comment about the common good or community safety because we are a constitutional republic and individual rights are more important by our constitutional code than the general public’s welfare this is especially true when you consider the fact that forcing a person into a treatment program makes them more likely to violate the safety of the public.

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