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Not a Laughing Matter: Cognitive Training, not Excuses Is Needed for Sex Offenders

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 61 Issue: 1 Dated: February 1999 Pages: 34-37
N Howard; R Caslin
Date Published
4 pages
This article identifies some of the common thinking errors among sex offenders and discusses the components in treatment programs that deal with these thinking errors and other needs of sex offenders, including a description of Ohio's treatment program for sex offenders.
Rationalization, minimization, intellectualization, and denial are some of the defense mechanisms that sex offenders use to avoid truth and reality. Sex offenders seemingly rationalize and justify their behavior more than any other type of offender. Challenging an offender's thinking errors is an essential component of any program that intends to help the offender learn responsible, noncriminal behavior. Other treatment components help sex offenders understand the factors involved in their offending, the harm they have caused, and how better to manage their behavior in the future. Treatment should help sex offenders identify their personal risk factors and provide them with behavioral guidelines for avoiding placing themselves in situations where there is a high probability of reoffending. Risk factors should never be considered an excuse for committing a sexual offense, because individuals always have a choice. Predictors also are helpful in determining the amount, type, and sequence of programming. In Ohio, programming for sex offenders is offered in 10 out of 31 prisons. The assessment process includes a list of possible risk factors; an educational component; a recommendation for programming; and a social summary, which includes criminal record, family background, education and work history, and mental health information. Ohio operates two types of sex offender programming: residential and day. In residential programming, all participants live in the same housing unit. In day programming, the offenders live in the general prison population and attend programming during the week. This article lists predisposing (early) precursors, precipitating (immediate) precursors, and perpetuating (ongoing) risk factors. 8 references


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