Desistance from Sex Offending: Alternatives to Throwing Away the Keys

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This book offers a fresh perspective on treating a population that is often demonized by policymakers, the public, and even clinicians. The authors argue that most sex offenders are 'people like us,' with the potential to lead meaningful, law-abiding lives - if given a chance and appropriate support. They present an empirically and theoretically grounded rehabilitation approach, the Good Lives Model, which can be integrated with the assessment and intervention approaches that clinicians already use. Drawing on ...

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This book offers a fresh perspective on treating a population that is often demonized by policymakers, the public, and even clinicians. The authors argue that most sex offenders are 'people like us,' with the potential to lead meaningful, law-abiding lives - if given a chance and appropriate support. They present an empirically and theoretically grounded rehabilitation approach, the Good Lives Model, which can be integrated with the assessment and intervention approaches that clinicians already use. Drawing on the latest knowledge about factors promoting desistance from crime, the book describes how encouraging naturally occurring desistance processes, and directly addressing barriers to community reintegration, can make treatment more effective and long lasting.

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Editorial Reviews

Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology

"Provides an excellent, readable survey of the criminological literature on desistance, the age-crime curve, and offender reintegration research....This is a trailblazing book, and essential reading for clinicians, researchers, academicians, attorneys, and anyone interested in the application of desistance theory to sex-offender rehabilitation."--Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology

"A well-written text that advances the discussion of what we, as a society, can and should do with sex offenders....In their present work, Laws and Ward have accelerated the pace of our exploration into the study of desistance from sex offending."--PsycCRITIQUES
California Lawyer

"Provides an accessible introduction to cutting-edge efforts to rehabilitate sex offenders."--California Lawyer
Probation Journal

"Practitioners will welcome the more applied nature of the second half of this work with its focus on what the interview and interventions skills and approaches might look like if they adopted a more integrated GLM and desistance approach. The bringing together of theory and practice relies heavily on the work related to the use of life course interviews. Readers will find clear and specific links back to the underpinning theory that informs what is being put forward. They will also find three short case studies used to illustrate how the model might work....Makes an important contribution to theory and policy and should help promote much needed debate about what works with such offenders and what harm some current approaches may be causing offenders and wider society."--Probation Journal
From the Publisher

"The term 'sex offender' has become a demonizing pejorative, depriving those who have been so labeled of even a modicum of humanity. While fully appreciating the importance of maintaining public safety, Laws and Ward rightfully and courageously remind us of the decency that is still inherent in many who have committed such an offense. The book reviews a wealth of theories and data about how best to assist such persons in their efforts to remain safe and productive citizens."--Fred S. Berlin, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"Researchers and treatment specialists have long been waiting for a book on desistance from sexual offending. Laws and Ward's book is well worth the wait. From two of the most respected practitioner/researchers in the field, Desistance from Sex Offending is a paradigm changer in sex offender treatment and reintegration."--Shadd Maruna, PhD, Professor and Director, Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

"In an era of harsher sentences and stricter punishments, especially for sex offenders, this book is a breath of fresh air. Drawing on extensive clinical expertise and wisdom that comes from years of working with sex offenders, Laws and Ward provide an excellent guide to what needs to be done to help sex offenders change their lives and decrease recidivism. The Good Lives model is the future of sex offender treatment, and its concepts need to be incorporated into correctional programming. This book is an essential resource for clinicians, researchers, and policymakers. It would serve as a great text for courses on offender rehabilitation from a psychological or criminological perspective. Students would benefit from the excellent integration of research and theory into clinical practice, and would find the fresh perspective on rehabilitation to be eye opening."--Elizabeth L. Jeglic, PhD, Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

"It is rare to find a book that integrates the psychological and criminological literature, particularly in the area of sex offender treatment. This important work offers a unique analysis of current treatment methods and proposes a promising model of offender rehabilitation. The authors acknowledge the complexity of factors that lead to offending and that motivate an individual to desist from offending. Their holistic, strengths-based approach, grounded in positive psychology, addresses the needs of both the offender and the community. This book will enhance the current practice of professionals who treat sex offenders, and holds promise for shifting the focus of the field."--Pamela M. Yates, PhD, Cabot Consulting and Research Services, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606239353
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/27/2010
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

D. Richard Laws, PhD, is Codirector of the Pacific Psychological Assessment Corporation (PPAC) and Director of Pacific Design Research, which serves as a development arm of PPAC. Dr. Laws holds appointments at Simon Fraser University (Canada) and the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). His research interests center primarily on development of assessment procedures for offenders. He is the author of numerous journal articles, book chapters, and scholarly essays, and coeditor/coauthor of a number of books and manuals.
Tony Ward, PhD, is Head of School and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His research interests include cognition in offenders, rehabilitation and reintegration processes, and ethical issues in forensic psychology. He has published extensively in these areas and has over 280 academic publications.

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Table of Contents

I. General Issues

Chapter 1 Introduction 3

II. The Criminological Perspective

Chapter 2 Defining and Measuring Desistance 15

Chapter 3 The Age Crime Curve: A Brief Overview 27

Chapter 4 Theoretical Perspectives on Desistance 36

Chapter 5 Factors Influencing Desistance 53

Chapter 6 Two Major Theories of Desistance 61

III. The Forensic Psychological Perspective

Chapter 7 Do Sex Offenders Desist? 89

Chapter 8 Sex Offender Treatment and Desistance 96

IV. Reentry and Reintegration

Chapter 9 Barriers to Reentry and Reintegration 113

Chapter 10 Overcoming Barriers to Reentry and Reintegration 135

V. Recruitment

Chapter 11 The Unknown Sex Offenders: Bringing Them in from the Cold 151

Chapter 12 Blending Theory and Practice: A Criminological Perspective 162

VI. Desistance-Focused Intervention

Chapter 13 The Good Lives Model of Offender Rehabilitation: Basic Assumptions, Etiological Commitments, and Practice Implications 175

Chapter 14 The Good Lives Model and Desistance Theory and Research: Points of Convergence 203

Chapter 15 The Good Lives Desistance Model: Assessment and Treatment 231

VII. Where to from Here?

Chapter 16 Dignity, Punishment, and Human Rights: The Ethics of Desistance 261

Chapter 17 Moral Strangers or One of Us?: Concluding Thoughts 280

References 285

Index 299

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2013

    This book is a mixed bag. It contains a good review and collecti

    This book is a mixed bag. It contains a good review and collection of the empirical literature on various approaches to rehabilitative theories, but the "Good Lives Model" is a spectacular failure of logic and basic reasoning.

    The GLM begins with the unremarkable claims that humans have similar biological needs and that criminal behavior is sometimes an attempt to those needs. That is where its good sense ends. It first rejects the idea of consciousness being meaningful in favor of "a unified conception of the mind and body and a rejection of dualism." There is no attempt to explain morality. Instead, it seems to reject the concept entirely in favor of some vague notion that it is merely a social construct. In place of real, coherent differences between right and wrong, the GLM teaches that all actions and decisions must be evaluated for whether or not they are "personally meaningful and socially acceptable." This is an utterly useless "standard." Every goal-directed action is necessarily "personally meaningful" on at least some level; and whether an action is "socially acceptable" is not a simple question. The GLM "standard" leaves unanswered the critical questions, among others: "Socially acceptable to whom?," "Under what circumstances?," "In what context?," and "By what measure?" It also ignores the fact that societies can accept morally wrong actions which can only be righted by individuals engaging in socially unacceptable actions and thus promotes the arrest and stagnation of human progress. For example, under the GLM's "standard," a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur who uses her wealth to fund a network of domestic violence shelters is morally equal to a Taliban savage that beats his wife in the name of Allah, because both behaviors are "personally meaningful" to the individual actor and "socially acceptable" in their respective cultures. On an individual scale, the GLM leaves adherents without a real, meaningful standard of morality. On a societal scale, this "standard" would lead to tautological moral anarchy, with every member of society looking to everyone else for a standard of what is right and wrong but nobody actually having anything to provide.

    Its claims about "basic goods" are equally absurd. It claims that "excellence in play and work," "knowledge," "spirituality" and "creativity" are the core of human nature and the ends of all human action; and that an inability to obtain them in a "pro-social way" is the cause of all crime. It claims that knowledge is not sought in order to be applied, but that it is sought simply to attain it because it is "intrinsically valuable." It also claims that attainment of love, affection, spirituality, social connectedness, etc. are prerequisites to psychological functioning; but these all depend on a complex chain of mental events that cannot take place unless an individual is already psychologically functioning. Operating on its false assumptions, the GLM claims that offenders should be told to build a sense of self-worth from employment, friends, hobbies, and other externalities rather than from within themselves. It does not teach that committing crimes is self-defeating in the first place; it teaches offenders to get their enjoyment from non-criminal activities instead. This leaves self-worth and desistance dependent upon uncontrollable externalities that could vanish at any time, destroying or severely damaging self-worth and potentially increasing the risk of reoffense.

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