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UC expert believes sex offenders can be rehabilitated

UC expert believes sex offenders can be effectively rehabilitated

August 15, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) expert believes sex offenders can be effectively rehabilitated.

UC research has found that psychological treatment for sexual offenders is effective and offenders who show more improvement in treatment are less likely to re-offend.

UC Professor Randolph Grace says demonstrating a causal link between prison-based treatment programmes and reductions in re-offending is challenging.

``Our research here has been the first in the world to demonstrate that specific treatment was linked to reductions in recidivism by sexual offenders.

``Offenders who had more treatment were less likely to re-offend. We compared criminal histories for New Zealand men who were treated at Rolleston Prison’s Kia Marama unit near Christchurch and results suggest that many of these offenders are less likely to re-offend.
``There’s a lot of debate about the efficacy of psychological treatment for sexual offenders and a lot of technical issues as to why it’s a difficult question to resolve.

``We have considered the post-release outcomes for 428 sexual offenders who were treated at Rolleston Prison’s Kia Marama unit. They were compared with a cohort of 1956 offenders who were also incarcerated for sexual offending but did not receive comparable treatment. 

``We found the Kia Marama psychological treatment programme was associated with a 29 percent reduction in sexual re-offending and the reduction was statistically significant. 

``There were also significant reductions in violent and general re-offending for the Kia Marama group.’’

The UC study has been published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and was important because it was the first to demonstrate that specific treatment gains were linked to reductions in recidivism by sexual offenders.

The Kia Marama Unit was founded in 1989 through the efforts of the late UC Associate Professor Steve Hudson, who previously taught in the clinical psychology programme.

Although results of some overseas studies on the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sex offenders have been contentious, the recent UC research at Kia Marama has provided some of the strongest evidence yet that treatment does work.

Professor Grace will give a public lecture on campus next week (August 21) about the issue of treatment and a reduction in offending. See here for details: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/.

ENDS

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