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Public Attitudes Toward the Treatment of Sex Offenders

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: September 1999 Pages: 239-252
Sarah Brown
Mary McMurran, Sally Lloyd-Bostock
Date Published
14 pages
This study investigated public attitudes toward the treatment of sex offenders, particularly attitudes and anticipated behavior toward the placement of a sex offender treatment center in the local community and the acceptance into the community of known convicted sex offenders who have completed their sentences.
A mail questionnaire was sent to a sample (selected randomly from the electoral register) of 500 individuals in a British city in May and June 1995. Responses were received from 312 members of the original sample (response rate of 65 percent). Attitudes toward the treatment of sex offenders were often positive, although generally only if some form of punishment is involved; however, respondents were much less supportive of treatment occurring within their own communities and of accepting known sex offenders back into the community. Respondents tended to endorse the concept of sex offender treatment in custodial settings, but if treatment is only provided in prison, large numbers of offenders would not be able to receive treatment. Further, those sex offenders who did receive treatment in prison would not be able to continue treatment in the community after release. More research is needed to determine why some groups (younger respondents and those in the Registrar General's socioeconomic groups I and II) are more favorable toward treatment in the community. The findings of such research may then be used to expand support for such treatment to a larger proportion of the community. 1 figure and 27 references