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Consumed with Sex: The Treatment of Sex Offenders in Risk Society

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 55-74
Dany Lacombe
Date Published
January 2008
20 pages
This paper examines the meaning of rehabilitation and treatment in relation to sex offenders in the age of risk society.
The age of risk society is a social order increasingly governed by the provision of security. Many criminologists have argued that changes in penal and crime policies since the 1980s indicate the arrival of a new punitiveness. The ‘new penology’ is managerial and less intent on transforming and rescuing individual offenders. However, what is being argued and illustrated in this paper with the case of Sex Offender School, is that the rehabilitative ideal of the modern prison has not abated. Treatment programs for offenders, particularly those posing a threat to the public, have grown since the 1980s, but they are qualitatively different from earlier attempts at reforming offenders. They have moved away from the optimism of earlier humanist/reformist penal philosophies grounded in the belief that humans can change, be rescued, and become better individuals. Today, rehabilitation/treatment is entirely entrenched in the language of risk and aimed mainly at targeting those factors seen as empirically proven to reduce recidivism and contribute to greater public safety. Rehabilitation has become risk management. The Sex Offender School is a therapeutic program and is radically different from earlier attempts to cure the sex offender. As long as the sex offender can convincingly demonstrate that he is carefully monitoring his risks, particularly his fantasies, he no longer needs to be excluded from the social body. References