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Criminal Law Essay On Sex Offenders and Their Actions

Published by at January 22nd, 2024 , Revised On February 5, 2024

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Critical Report

Introduction

Sex offenders seem to be moving around different parts of the world openly and committing different criminal acts of individual predation randomly. Multiple reasons are present to rationalize their presence and reason their actions, while numerous approaches are also being taken to overcome the impact imposed by them.

A person who commits a sex offence is particularly a person who seeks out sexual contact with another individual in an abusive manner. Such people may or may not have committed sex crimes, including sexual harassment, rape, assault, and paedophilia. But they are observed to have some sort of inappropriate connection in one way or another.

The major reason for actions taken by sex offenders is not always to exploit others in terms of seeking sex. However, they perceive it as a form of control and dominance they want to emphasize. Sex offenders are seen to set different targets. Sometimes they attempt to exploit adult victims, while some target children.

Normally, sex offenders are observed to attack minors who are in the stage before puberty. They seem to develop a relationship with such children, build trust as a form of grooming and then attempt their mission.

This critical report is going to critically analyze the actions taken by sex offenders in terms of risks, needs and approaches taken by them. Also, the report will be covering the critical discussion of stigmas carried by sex offenders and how they are improved through assessment tools in different ways.

The approaches used to manage sex offenders will also be part of this report, which will help to understand models and assessment tools that improve the overall psychological health of sex offenders.

The rationale behind the actions of sex offenders

There is no simple and direct answer to the question of how people get to engage in the behaviour of sec offence. However, from the psychological perspective, different reasons can be acquired to justify the actions of sex offenders.

It is claimed that sexual abuse is a learned behaviour that is an expression of unresolved challenges experienced during the stages of early childhood of the individual’s development. According to the personality theories, it is suggested that early childhood patterns are the basic source of developed patterns of adults which lead them to different crimes.

People could commit sex offences due to their childhood relationships involving mistreatment or traumas which lead them to internalize negative attitudes and beliefs regarding self and relationships with others (Fry et al., 2017). These situations change the perceptions of children related to sex and their role in sexual relationships.

Moreover, deep engagement of individuals in cognitive distortions also let them be sex offenders. Another major reason behind committing sex offences is the regular exposure of an individual to sexually violent pornography, along with the issues with self-regulation and impulse control.

Atmosphere plays a major role in developing the personality of a person which also regulates the needs and interventions of personality. Thus, short-term relationships and negative attitudes towards women experienced by sex offenders can also contribute to making them worse in the case.

It is critically observed that multiple risk factors leading to offending the sex offenders include the history of sexual offending, sexual interest in children, age of first sexual offending behaviour and having committed different types of sexual offences.

It is suggested by Lambert et al., 2016 that sex offenders face difficulty in developing attachments with other people and end up engaging in distorted thinking like “courting” children and perceiving /her as a lover.

It is argued that juveniles who committed the sexual offence had the least rate of attachment to their fathers as compared to the ones who have committed the non-sexual offence. Another research has suggested that sex offenders often misinterpret the social cues and have challenges in identifying the emotional state of others.

They are unable to make better life choices on the basis of information they perceive and does not consider the perceptions of others while making decisions about their own behaviour. Certain factors of individual needs are also observed to be influencing sexual offensive behaviours.

The needs of sex offenders are regulated by their childhood traumas, their distress and other factors. Structured risk assessments are performed to assess the needs and risks of such people which are much more reliable and valid as compared to unstructured professional judgements.

Numerous interventions and approaches are also used to probate sex offenders, starting with gaining an understanding of their behaviours. Sex offending does not only take place in person but also involves actions taken through the internet.

Internet sex offenders are normally engaged in the distribution and production of child pornography, sexual solicitation of minors, and conspiracy crimes using online technologies. Principle characteristics leading people to perform internet sex offences include past official records, interest in adolescent girls and paedophiles’ actions.

Multiple interventions and approaches are being employed for the probation of internet sex offenders, and nations are developing strategies to manage internet sex offenders with the purpose of enhancing safety for communities and victims.

All the measures are still not acted upon but they are effective enough to put a remarkable influence (Awasthi, 2017). These interventions and strategies will be discussed later in the report but precisely these approaches include polygraphs, risk assessments, in-depth treatment with practitioners, supervision by trained probation teams, and advocacy on the behalf of victims.

The organizational and legislative context of the topic claims that catching sex offenders is challenging because of the certain hindrance. The major difficulty in the justice delivery to the victims of the sexual offence is because of the low rate of case reporting.

Information regarding sex offences is present in the police record, clinical setting, and non-governmental organizations. But that information is not given importance because of the nature of the offence, the cases are not appropriately reported to the police along with the reasons of illiteracy, ignorance, false allegations, and victim-blaming.

As per the legislation framework globally, the physical and medical examination of the victim is required because it is the starting point of investigation. This also helps to rule out the possibility of false allegations which take place due to many reasons.

Moreover, the conviction rate for sexual offences is also very low. The average rate of observed to 6.8% comprising of rape, molestation, sexual harassment, abduction of sexual purposes and kidnapping (Spoo et al., 2018).

Further sections of this critical report will address the perceptions of the public, needs and risks related to the actions of sex offenders, and will follow the discussion carried on above in the current section.

Public perceptions of sex offenders and stigma carried by them

The views and thoughts of people about sex offenders varies according to the intensity of their actions and these perceptions fluctuate on the basis of improvement sex offenders goes through. It can be claimed that not every sex offender is a bad person.

As discussed above, sex offenders are somehow the victims of previous life traumas and issues they have been facing. Still, their actions do not allow them to be victimized. It is evident by Rosselli et al., 2017 that sex offenders are perceived as the most shunned offenders present in the criminal justice system, who are used to elicit extreme negative emotional public reactions including disgust, fear, moral outrage etc. frequently.

However, the views of the public are also based on myths and misperceptions about sex offenders, like the concept that these people have a high rate of recidivism rate and that strangers are seen to be involved in sex crimes the most.

But the reality is the opposite as sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rates of all offending styles and most sex crimes are committed by someone closer to the victims. This is the major stigma carried on by the sex offenders following the views and beliefs of the public.

Moreover, numerous laws of sex offending have been influenced by emotional responses to major crimes that have been disregarding the process of community recidivism reduction. According to Duncan (2012), sex offenders along with their crimes have long evoked concern from the public due to the national panic for sex offences.

This caters for the public perceptions of sex offenders, which is almost the same for conventional (child abusers, rapists) and internet sex offenders. Due to the national panic for sex offences, governments and legislatures have to take notice of widespread public concerns towards the withdrawal of sex offenders.

As a consequence, no recurring offender endures many challenges as of the sex offenders because of the massive imposition of social sanctions targeted at this specific offender population.

It is evident that social and legal barriers are different according to the different offender types in terms of residence restrictions, negative community sentiments, and enhanced regulations related to registration and community notification guidelines (Lawrence et al., 2021).

All these aspects make the transfer of sex offenders from prisons to society very challenging. As suggested by Sandler et al., 2008, sex offences have generated major publicity through media because of the atrocious nature of actions, indisputable harm caused to the victims, and the summoned fear among different communities while living in a similar society.

Numerous highlighted cases of sex offences normally involve sexual abuse and rape of children, sexual assault, and internet sex offending by regulation of pornography, child abduction, and sexual abuse by men or women.

Many other types of sexual offences have continued to be publicized but regardless of their degree, they have stigmatized the common perceptions of the public along with their judgement, comprehension, and mindset of sex offenders in the massively negative limelight.

As this section is targeting the public perceptions of sex offenders and the stigma they have to carry due to them, it can be claimed that the public keeps on responding to the demands for multiple offender-specific policies and governmental restrictions for sex offenders.

However, regardless of the effectiveness or negative implication linked with new restrictive laws, the public continues to retain inaccurate beliefs, doubts and reservations regarding sex offenders, their recidivism rates and overall management.

Assessment of sex offender’s needs and risks

This section of the critical report aims to assess the research base and history regarding offending pathways for sex offenders, along with the ways through which their needs and risks are assessed.

Research given by Osbourne et al., 2020 claims that Ward and Siegert’s pathways models had been supported by numerous investigations regarding child sexual offending. This model is applicable in most scenarios and cases of sexual offence through which it is rationalized how sex offenders find their ways to catch their target inefficient manner.

Most of the time, the offending pathways for sex offenders towards children is very easy as compared to another age group. Sex offenders perform penetrative offences on children and most of them are male in their late thirties, single, and both employed and unemployed.

Moreover, it is evident that sex offenders find their ways to target victims easier when they have some sort of relationship with the victim. At the same time, more ration of victims is female with an average age of eleven.

According to the thematic analysis performed as per Ward and Siegert’s pathways, sub-groups of sex offenders have emerged within emotional dysregulation pathways where the offenders continuously struggle with impulsivity, sexualized coping and deteriorating mental health. At this stage, assessing their needs is easier, but assessing their risks is a challenging task.

Assessment of risks and needs of the sex offenders has to go through proper procedures, and certain tools are developed for this purpose. Accuracy of risk assessment is significant in decision-making regarding sex offenders which include the aspects of criminal sentencing, parole and probation decision, goals of sex offender management and treatment, civil commitment for extended treatment of identified sex offenders, and community notification.

Risk assessment (RA) on the whole is referred to as the process of identification of likelihood or probability of harm to be happening in future, for instance, an act of sex offence. Numerous risks can be identified before critically discussing the coping strategies and management approaches that might justify the needs of sex offenders.

Sex offender risk assessment takes place through a process catered by governments and police departments. Criminal justice professional at different places plays their role for different purposes.

They perform actions regarding sentencing and criminal adjudication, assignment of imprisonment levels, periods and community supervision, as well as determination of treatment procedures, timetables and modules. Numerous researchers in their investigations have identified numerous factors linked with sex offenders’ risk to re-offend at some stage of their lives.

The strongest assessment of risk done by past researchers identified the risks including the history of sexual offending of sex offenders, age of first act of sexual offending, sexual interest in children, and to be committed to different kinds of sexual offences.

Moreover, some other risk factors linked with sex offence recidivism include past criminal activities and a lifestyle of instability. However, all the above-mentioned risk factors are not enough to be predicting the risk of recidivism and to justify sexual offending actions.

Effectiveness of assessment tools

Numerous models of sex offending treatment have been developed and proposed for the past few years, including neurosurgery, physical castration, pharmacological interventions, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioural interventions, behavioural reconditioning, relapse prevention etc.

It is also evident that after assessing the needs and risk of any sex offenders through assessment tools is done, treatment approaches should be implemented to overcome present and future problems for offenders and the victims both.

This section of the critical report targets the evaluation of the effectiveness of assessment tools used to assess the risks and needs of sex offenders by related entities. The usage of offender assessment systems (OASys) plays a vital role in formulating theories and reasons of why sex offenders should be assessed in terms of needs and risk.

OASys is a set of assessment tools designed by the prison and probation services that target the “what works” approach in order to reduce re-offending risks among sex offenders utilizing evidence from previous experiences and research studies to shape interventions.

This approach of assessment tools is believed to be the most effective approach to reduce re-offending incidents. Before assessing certain assessment tools within OASys, their purpose of being designed can be assessed.

Firstly, it is designed to explore the likeliness of the offender to re-offend. Secondly, in order to classify offending-related needs and demands and to assess the risk of major harm to any individual.

This is also designed to connect the assessment to the sentence plan and to indicate the need for further specialist consulting assessments. This set of assessment tools is also proposed to measure the behavioural and psychological change in sex offenders during the sentence period.

According to Jung et al., 2013, the three most known risk assessment tools for sexual offenders are referred to as RRASOR, Static-2002R, and Static-99R. Each of these tools declares and estimates the risk of sexual recidivism with the help of the available criminal history of the underlying sex offender.

The assessment tool of RRASOR targets the specific aspects and items of sexual crime while the other two assessment tools comprise both histories of sexual crime and criminal but also the items measuring general criminality such as total prior convictions etc.

An effective tool of Static-99R is reported to be effective because it is based on unchanging (static) risk factors of sex offenders which assume or predict the probability for sexual re-offending. This tool is effective because it helps to assess the psychological views of sex offenders due to which it gets easier to identify if an offender has an aim to target any of his/her victims again or not.

Also, this risk assessment tool is needed by law to be utilized by the California department of correction and rehabilitation centres to assess possibly eligible sex offenders prior to the release through probation in order to assess each eligible sex offender at the stage of pre-sentencing and on the probation caseload (Phenix et al., 2016).

A major part of continued management of sex offenders is efficient risk assessment which plays a part to differentiate offenders by risk levels, letting the allocation of respective treatments and resources.

An Active Risk Management System (ARMS) was proposed in England and Wales in 2014 that provides the standard regarding risk management and assessment planning of sex offenders. This is referred as structured assessment process to assess dynamic risk factors known to be linked with reoffending practices of offenders and protective factors known to be linked with reduced offending (Kripalani et al., 2009).

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Management of sex offenders by police (benefits)

The term “Collaboration” has been defined by Chris Huxham as collaborative advantage therefore, collaboration could be used as a key to get benefits for both the participants. Collaboration approaches between the sex offenders and police could play an important role in treatment of the sex offenders.

Sex offense is a heinous crime and need to be suppressed at any cost. In order to address the roots of the problem, there is a need of thorough analysis of causes and effects of sex offence. Collaboration between police and sex offenders and police could help in better analyzing and understanding the root cause of the issue as well (Langevin, 1988).

There is a need of adopting a positive and collaborative attitude of the law and police in order to analyze the reasons and causes that encourage people to commit the severe crime like sex offense. In order to manage the sex offense smartly, there is a need of rigorous community supervision and specific treatment for sex offenders in law as well.

Police plays a central role in gathering and interpreting evidence of the crimes like sex offense and they should be provided with complete independence in this regard. Collaboration with the sex offenders could help to reduce recidivism risk as well.

In addition, better collaboration and thorough treatment of sex offenders would play an important role in public safety as well (Prendergast,1991). There is a need of extensive monitoring of sex offenders by especially trained probation officers in order to assure the betterment in their behavior and attitude (Marshal,1995).

Collaboration is a necessary aspect of management of sex offense because it would help in better understanding and analyzing the underlying facts and reasons behind the crime scene. Collaboration could therefore play a vital role in management of sex offences both after their occurrences and in order to prevent their occurrences as well.

Approaches used with the sex offenders

Sex offenders should be treated, and proper consultation could help them in living a better life. Research has proved the fact that if proper treatment and consultation is provided to the sex offenders, they are less likely to reoffend people as compared to other offenders (Prendergast,1991).

Sex offenders should be provided with the option to lead a productive life and contribute in the good of the society. There are any critical approaches that could be applied to sex offenders in order to make them a better human being(Lindsay, 2002).

To find the suitable approach for any sex offender, there is a need of thorough analysis of the reasons and aspects that are acting as a cause of sex offense. Sex offenders often thought that they are disintegrated from society, and it leads to further negativity in their attitude and behavior.

There is a need of adoption of well researched approaches to integrate them back in the society. Good Life Model is an important approach that could be used in the case of sex offenders and it has the basic perception that every human being needs certain things and qualities to live the life of their dreams and if they are provided with the “Good Life”, they are not going to act negative any further.

The theory is a rehabilitation based theory that is deeply rooted to provide a better lifestyle and tools to the sex offender so that he or she could live a more responsible and positive life in future (Qunisey,1998). Community based training and rehabilitation based models should be applied to the sex offenders in order to assure that they could integrate positively back to society and contribute instead of harming the society.

Motivational interviewing and RNR are other important theories that are being widely used in order to treat and rehabilitate the sex offenders and encourage them to be a better human being in future. All these approaches are applicable in different scenarios and should be selected according to suitability and applicability of the situation of sex offenders.

Community often provides hate and negativity to the sex offenders and there is a need of adopting attitude of empathy towards sex offenders. Sex offenders feel negative and more helpless if they lack the community support therefore, they have to struggle more in order to improvise themselves.

If the community and relevant experts develop the attitude of empathy towards sex offenders, they are more likely to develop positive feelings and positive changes in their habits and lifestyles. There is a need of development of pro-active relationship with sex offenders and increase their motivation to become a better person (Lindsay,2002).

Sex offenders could turn themselves into a productive person if they are able to receive a proper support system from the community and family. Motivation could play an important role in convincing people and changing them positively therefore sex offenders should not be hated rather they should be treated with empathy.

Sex offenders should be provided with proper training by experts and consultation to become a better human being. Adoption of a collaborative attitude towards sex offenders and providing them empathy and love could help to change the course of their lives positively.

Sex offenders should be provided with proper motivation and support to become a better version of themselves and it is only possible if society adopts positive attitude toward them (Blagden, 2016).

Various approaches that have been suggested to help sex offenders to turn into normal life again have few strengths and weaknesses as well. Sex offenders are very likely to harm others if they are left untreated and unguided.

Even guidance and treatment don’t assure that they would be able to heal themselves and become a better person in future (Marshall,1994). The strength of the approaches is that it could help them to cure from their mental difficulties and lead a normal life. There is a need of extensive monitoring and inspection of the sex offenders even after providing them therapies to assure that they could not again cause damage to someone.

Conclusion

Based on the above critical discussion, it can be evaluated that a person who commits a sex offence is particularly a person who seeks out sexual contact with another individual in an abusive manner. Such people may or may not have committed sex crimes, including sexual harassment, rape, assault, and paedophilia.

But they are observed to have some sort of inappropriate connection in one way or another. The major reason for actions taken by sex offenders is not always to exploit others in terms of seeking sex.

However, they perceive it as a form of control and dominance which they want to emphasize. Short-term relationships and negative attitudes towards women experienced by sex offenders can also contribute to making them worse in the case.

It is critically observed that multiple risk factors leading to offending the sex offenders include the history of sexual offending, sexual interest in children, age of first sexual offending behaviour and having committed different types of sexual offences.

References

Duncan, J., 2012. Public perceptions regarding sex offenders and sex offender management. Unpublished master’s thesis, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee.

Sandler, J.C., Freeman, N.J. and Socia, K.M., 2008. Does a watched pot boil? A time-series analysis of New York State’s sex offender registration and notification law. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14(4), p.284.

Osbourne, M.G. and Christensen, L.S., 2020. Pathways to child sexual offending: Applying Ward and Siegert’s pathways model on offenders convicted of penetrative offenses on children. Sexuality & Culture, 24(6), pp.1756-1773.

Jung, S., Pham, A. and Ennis, L., 2013. Measuring the disparity of categorical risk among various sex offender risk assessment measures. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 24(3), pp.353-370.

Phenix, A. and Epperson, D.L., 2016. Overview of the development, reliability, validity, scoring, and uses of the Static-99, Static-99R, Static-2002, and Static-2002R. In Sexual Offending (pp. 437-455). Springer, New York, NY.

Kripalani, S., Risser, J., Gatti, M.E. and Jacobson, T.A., 2009. Development and evaluation of the Adherence to Refills and Medications Scale (ARMS) among low-literacy patients with chronic disease. Value in Health, 12(1), pp.118-123.

Rosselli, M.K. and Jeglic, E.L., 2017. Factors impacting upon attitudes toward sex offenders: The role of conservatism and knowledge. Psychiatry, psychology and law, 24(4), pp.496-515.

Spoo, S., Kaylor, L.E., Schaaf, S., Rosselli, M., Laake, A., Johnson, C. and Jeglic, E.L., 2018. Victims’ attitudes toward sex offenders and sex offender legislation. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 62(11), pp.3385-3407.

Awasthi, B., 2017. From Attire to Assault: Clothing, Objectification, and De-humanization–A Possible Prelude to Sexual Violence?. Frontiers in psychology, 8, p.338.

Fry, D.A. and Elliott, S.P., 2017. Understanding the linkages between violence against women and violence against children. The Lancet Global Health, 5(5), pp.e472-e473.

Lawrence, A.L. and Willis, G.M., 2021. Understanding and challenging stigma associated with sexual interest in children: A systematic review. International Journal of Sexual Health, 33(2), pp.144-162.

Marshall, W.L., Hudson, S.M., Jones, R. and Fernandez, Y.M., 1995. Empathy in sex offenders. Clinical psychology review15(2), pp.99-113.

Blagden, N., Winder, B. and Hames, C., 2016. “They treat us like human beings”—Experiencing a therapeutic sex offenders prison: Impact on prisoners and staff and implications for treatment. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology60(4), pp.371-396.

Marshall, W.L. and Pithers, W.D., 1994. A reconsideration of treatment outcome with sex offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior21(1), pp.10-27.

Lindsay, W.R., 2002. Research and literature on sex offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of intellectual disability research: JIDR46, pp.74-85.

Quinsey, V.L., 1998. Treatment of sex offenders. The handbook of crime and punishment, pp.403-425.

McHugh, P. and Rider, M.C.C.M.M., 1981. Treatment of sex offenders with antiandrogenic medication: Conceptualization, review of treatment modalities, and preliminary findings. Am J Psychiatry138(5).

Langevin, R., Wright, P. and Handy, L., 1988. What treatment do sex offenders want? Annals of Sex Research1(3), pp.363-385.

Prendergast, W., 1991. Treating sex offenders. New York: Haworth Press.

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