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'Due to the Heterogeneous Nature of Sex Offenders as an Offender Groups, the Punishment(s) Available are Inadequate'. Discuss This Statement.

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Introduction

'Due to the Heterogeneous Nature of Sex Offenders as an Offender Groups, the Punishment(s) Available are Inadequate'. Discuss This Statement. Research shows that sex offenders as an offender group are hugely varied and mixed in nature. Many different acts can be classified as sex offences, such as rape, paedophilia and unlawful exposure. Another way in, which sex offenders are varied, are by their more general classifiable traits such as age or gender. This essay will concentrate on the heterogeneous nature of sex offenders with regards to the huge variations in the recorded age's of those charged with sex offences. These ages are separated by those considered by the law as adults (17+) and those viewed as children (now-after 1998-10+). The essay will look specifically at whether the current forms of punishment are adequate and appropriate for children and examine whether the current process of punishment is any better suited for those considered adults. The huge variations in the recorded ages of those labelled as sex offenders has led to the suggestion that the current system of punishment is too largely based on the moral and mental maturity of adults, and is therefore inadequate for children. This issue is the basis behind the introduction of the 'Doli Incapax'. This act stated that 'Children from the age of 10, until their 14th birthday are presumed Doli Incapax, that is, incapable of crime' (Cv. DPP [1995]. AC1). The recent debates that led to the act of Doli Incapax being deemed void by the labour party were centred around the question of whether children still need protection from the law. Due to the disuse of the Doli Incapax, the consequent arguments supporting the protection of children (via the continuation of the act) ...read more.

Middle

In short by punishing a child for an act, which they do not understand to be wrong, can cause the child to internalise the label, consequently creating a sex offender. It is not only the process of being punished, which can be said to have a corrupting effect. The trial in particular can be highlighted as being an inadequate environment and way in, which to deal with a child sex offender. 'Trials can be long, complex and traumatising for a child'. A child being tried for a serious sex offence would miss a substantial amount of schooling due to the length of trials involving a serious sex offence. As the earlier argument for the importance of school suggested, missing a substantial amount could have a detrimental effect upon the child's concept of right and wrong. Childhood has often been designated the defining years in a person's life, and so to restrict a child at such an important point could be very damaging. Trials are also vastly complex, children are at an intellectual disadvantage to an adult and so to try a child in an adult court would be unfair and inadequate. For example 'In the Bulger case it was held by the European Court of Human Rights that the right to a fair trial had been breached'. Children are unlikely to have the concentration and intelligence to follow evidence properly and so may not be capable of giving clear and consistent instructions to their lawyers. Such reasons leave children at a huge disadvantage when being tried in an adult court. Thus such a process is an inadequate way of dealing with and punishing a young child being charged with a sex offence. ...read more.

Conclusion

This training is not readily available in prisons, thus accentuating the idea that imprisonment is not an adequate punishment for sex offenders. Conversely there is evidence to suggest that sex offender treatment programmes are not as effective as the preceding evidence proposes. The evidence for the success of sex offender treatment programmes comes, in large part from recidivism studies. These look at the rates of re-offending amongst sexual offenders without treatment, and compares the figures to those offenders who have received a form of treatment. It has however been suggested that recidivism rates are likely to underestimate the actual amount of re-offending. Nancy Lquicks found that in her 'interviews with people convicted of rape or child molestation, that the majority had been convicted more than once and admitted to have committed other sexual offences which had not been detected'. This implies that a significant number of re-offences are not detected and therefore the recorded recidivism rates portray sex offender treatment programmes in too positive a light. There is also evidence to suggest that sexual re-offending increases over a longer period of time. Longuein, 1983 stated that, 'there is evidence that treatment results in only a temporary suppression of deviant arousal'. Many of the recidivism studies only look at the short-term re-offending, but evidence suggests that many more sex offenders re-offend further into their release. For example 'A long-term follow-up study of sex offenders in Canada found that 42% were re-convicted of a sexual or violent crime during the 15-30 year follow-up period'. This can be compared to Alexanders 'comprehensive review of 356 short-term studies of sex offender treatment', which found the average rate of re-offending to be 10.9%. Showing a vast increase in re-offending over a longer time period. This evidence also suggests that recidivism rates portray sex offender treatment programmes as more effective than they truly are. 1 ...read more.

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