Can Sex Offenders Ever Be Re-Habilitated?
Maybe it is the wrong question.
Maybe I should ask if Sex Offenders can ever be “totally” re-habilitated?
Or maybe I should ask should we even try to re-habilitate Sex Offenders?
If we accept that at least one fifth of woman will be abused during their lifetime and while accepting that many men will be repeat offenders, it follows from unreported crime that a considerable number of men are unprosecuted or unconvicted sex offenders. Many men held in public esteem should be in jail.
Yesterday I made the point that everyone knows someone who has been abused. The balance of probability is that everyone (perhaps unknowingly) has or has had a sex offender in a social circle.
Of course “sex offender” is a open to a wide interpretation.
We may or may not like the notion of degrees of “sex offender” but the Law makes the definitions for us. The notion of a Sex Offenders Register is really only two decades old. Some offenders are designated as low risk and perhaps required to sign it for a period instead of a custodial sentence. Others are designated as high risk and might be ordered to sign it for the rest of their lives, even after a long custodial sentence.
People are NOT sent to prison TO BE punished. They are sent to prison AS a punishment.
It is not Victorian age.
The punishment is loss of liberty…nobody in Britain or Ireland is working on a chain gang and if you have actually “fought the law and the law won”, you will not be “breaking rocks in the hot sun”.
Most people hold the view that Prison should be civilised. Most Europeans are horrified at the documentaries we get to aee on prison life in the United States. The regime is too brutal for our European tastes. Only the most right-wing of British tabloids perpetuate the myth that prison is a long holiday.
We do however officially think that Prison is about Confinement, Reparation, Education and…Re-habilitation. Certainly there are success stories. There are stories of prisoners who can barely read or write, visit the prison library and emerge with a PhD and a best-selling novel. But these are exceptions. Realistically ….Rehabilitation is Lip Service.
It is all very well to say that “time has been served”. Or that the “debt to society has been paid”.
“Going Straight” is not easy. Certainly a jailed teacher, who has defrauded a local charity is unemployable …as a teacher. A taxi driver convicted of drunk driving is unemployable…as a taxi driver.
And just about everyone is unemployable…if a sex offence is involved.
And yet some sex offenders dont need rehabilitation. Take Jonathan King, pop star from the 1960s, entertainment guru, TV presenter from the 1980s. A convicted paedophile, he still protests his innocence. Not very convincingly. But he is too rich to need re-habilitated.
Likewise Gary Glitter, pop star from the 1970s and convicted sex offender in England and Vietnam. The BBC may never show a clip of him (or Jonathan King) in retro TV pop music programmes but he can live off his royalties for the rest of his life.
Likewise celebrities like Max Clifford, Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris….all recently jailed for historic sexual abuse going back to the 1960s will come out….their reputations in tatters of course….to resume a lifestyle of luxury. They need no Rehabilitaion.
But arguably rank and file sex offenders need re-habilitaion. After all an unsettled offender is a repeat offender. Unpopular as it is to say it, it is in the better interests of Society that sex offenders are monitored and re-habilitated.
I was recently talking to a Probation Officer who is in near despair about the inadequate resourcing of monitoring offenders. At high profile level, some offenders are given new identities and closely monitored. Probation Officers live in near dread of one of their clients going “off the grid. Necessarily the work opportunities available to convicted rapists are few. It helps that a man has a trade…plumber, electrician, who can actually set up a small business often with parental help, distant from home.
The tarrif for Sexual Offence …more so than any other offence…is potentially a lifetime of Unemployment. Is it deserved? Or is the Taxpayer willing to pay a lifetime of welfare benefit prrhaps in exchange for permenant tagging.
But part of the problem with sex offenders is that they grow old. The balance of probability is that in Old Peoples Homes, some of the (now) elderly residents were offenders or paedophiles in their youthful days. Is there a right to know?
Can we even go further? Would it be safer for Society if serious sex offenders lived in gated communities, with limited access to the “outside” world.