Offending Identities: Sex Offenders’ Perspectives
on Their Treatment and Management
Edited by Kirsty Hudson
London, UK: Willan Publishing, 2005
Offending Identities: Sex offenders’ perspectives on their treatment and management examines the controversial topic of sex offender treatment. This book follows a group of 32 male sex offenders through one of three treatment programs. It focuses on the offenders’ perceptions and thoughts throughout the process. It explores their reasons for entering and remaining in treatment, their offence and whether they have come to terms with the pain and harm they have caused.
This book is divided into three parts. An introduction is given prior to each part introducing the reader to the author and the nature of the study. Additionally, a brief overview is given regarding the various types of sex offenders who participated in the study.
Part 1, Setting the Scene, introduces the reader to the treatment of sex offenders. Chapter 1 examines many legal aspects pertaining to the management of sex offenders both in the UK and North America. The reader is given a brief synopsis of the ever changing laws and responses regarding sex offenders. Chapter 2 tackles the widely debated topic of sex offender treatment and “what works.” Kirsty Hudson provides the reader with an overview of the various treatment options within corrections and the community.
Part 2, Sex Offenders’ Perspectives, draws attention to an area commonly left unexplored. This section takes up the bulk of the book and explores sex offenders’ thoughts and reasons for attending treatment programs, along with their attitudes throughout treatment. Personal accounts are given throughout the chapters, thus providing the reader with insight into an area commonly overlooked.
Additionally, the author does a tremendous job at reintroducing the reader to previously discussed topics. Thus, the reader is enabled to follow with ease, allowing him/her to fully comprehend the subject matter.
Part 3, Conclusions, re-examines the various methods used to treat sex offenders. The discussion finishes with a metaphor which fits quite well, “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic, once a sex offender always a sex offender” (p.184). This is an ideology being adopted in sex offender treatment. It involves the belief that sex offenders cannot be “cured,” rather they can learn to “control” their behaviour. Cognitive behavioral treatment programs are growing in number and appear to be the most effective in dealing with sex offenders.
Kirsty Hudson explores theoretical perspectives of sex offender treatment along with case studies. Although the sample of sex offenders was limited, valuable insight was provided. Treatment of sex offenders has been widely debated and argued as to whether rehabilitation is possible. This book provides insight into the minds of offenders and enables us to understand their thought process a little better.
This book is a welcomed addition to the literature on the management of sex offenders. There are few books looking directly at sex offenders’ perceptions of their treatment. This book provides a brief overview of the many available treatment options, along with a breakdown of the laws surrounding sex offenders. This book may be of use to those interested in working in the area of sex offender treatment or those conducting research in the area. However, this book is only seen as a brief overview since it does not fully explore the subject matter. It does, however, open the door for further research in the area.
Jennifer L. Chapman
Simon Fraser University