skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 227969 Find in a Library
Title: Treaters or Punishers?: The Ethical Role of Mental Health Clinicians in Sex Offenders Programs
Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior  Volume:14  Issue:4  Dated:July/August 2009  Pages:248-255
Author(s): Bill Glaser
Date Published: July 2009
Page Count: 8
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This paper examines the ethical role of mental health clinicians in sex offender programs, with attention to principles that govern the justification for, and the use of, punishment.
Abstract: A code of ethics based on the justification of punishment should address a number of questions. In the context of this paper, three issues are significant. First, is it necessary to disclose to offenders and the community that treatment-as-punishment (especially sex offender treatment) is part of their punishment, even though this is the fact? Second, which of the traditional justifications for punishment is most applicable to the specific ethical challenges of treatment-as-punishment, and how? Third, what are the pitfalls of such a code? Regarding the first question, the author argues that for clinicians in sex offender programs, showing good faith means stating explicitly to the community, offenders, and themselves that what they are providing is not treatment, but rather a form of punishment (involuntary treatment, limitations on freedom, violations of confidentiality in reporting on risk assessments, and restrictions on autonomy). In addressing the second question, the paper argues that a “consequentialist” model of punishment is the best “fit” for what actually happens in sex offender treatment. The consequentiality model is based on the ideal that something is ethically justified if it furthers the common good, and especially if it provides the greatest happiness or satisfaction to the greatest number in the community. This is what occurs in treatment-as-punishment for sex offenders, since the aim is to ensure that the offender does not commit further offenses. The ethical commitment of therapists is to ensure that the measures adopted are not excessive in going beyond what is effective in preventing reoffending. The pitfalls of such a code are engaging in excessive punishment beyond what is needed to stop reoffending. 46 references
Main Term(s): Corrections psychological training
Index Term(s): Forensic psychology; Professional conduct and ethics; Psychologists role in corrections; Punishment; Sex offender treatment
Note: For other articles in this issues, see NCJ 227966-68 and NCJ 227970-71.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.