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NCJ Number: 188750 Find in a Library
Title: Sex Crime Situation: Deterioration More Apparent Than Real?
Journal: European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research  Volume:8  Issue:4  Dated:December 2000  Pages:399-422
Author(s): D. J. West
Date Published: December 2000
Page Count: 24
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This paper analyzes the prevalence of sex offenses in England and Wales, considers the variety of behaviors encompassed under sex crimes, and critiques the criminal justice system's response to sex offenders.
Abstract: Public concern about an escalation of sex crime is unsupported by a critical analysis of official crime statistics in England and Wales. Further, assumptions about the chronic recidivism of sex offenders are unconfirmed by follow-up studies. A variety of behaviors are encompassed by sex offenses, from the severe to the trivial. To the traditional offenses of predatory aggressive sex offenders, violent rapists, and a small number of dangerous offenders driven by pathological emotions have now been added date rapes and sexual harassment rarely reported previously. All sex offenses against child victims are widely believed to cause lasting psychological damage to the victims, despite evidence to the contrary. Female offenders and boy victims are receiving more attention. Moreover, adolescent involvement is insufficiently distinguished from pedophile offenses, and male homosexuals are suspected of having inherent pedophile tendencies. The development of constructive therapeutic approaches to sex offenders has been impeded by doubts about the efficacy of treatment for sex offenders and by a punitive ethos. Extreme sexual aggression requires psychological treatment. The predatory criminal who is selfishly unrestrained in his sexual behavior, as in other aspects of life, must be controlled, but excessive punitiveness toward any behavior legally defined as sexual crime can be counterproductive. The long sentences of imprisonment currently applied to all offenders convicted of rape and the additional measures applied to all found guilty of involvement with minors make the securing of convictions more difficult and may contribute to the risk of victims being killed to avoid detection. The demonization of all offenders who have been involved with children is unrealistic. False assumptions that their behavior is uncontrollable and inevitably persistent, or that it must become violent, discourages more pragmatic and humane policies. A therapeutic approach to those for whom this would be the most beneficial response would in the long run provide better protection for potential future victims. 58 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Child molesters; Corrections in foreign countries; Crime in foreign countries; England; Juvenile Sex Offenders; Offense statistics; Political influences; Sentencing factors; Sentencing/Sanctions; Sex offender treatment; Sex offenders; Wales
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