IPT Book Reviews

Title: The Sex Offender: Corrections, Treatment, and Legal Practice
Editors: Barbara K. Schwartz and Henry R. Cellini
Publisher: Civic Research Institute, 1995

Civic Research Institute
4490 US Route 27
P.O. Box 585
Kingston, NJ 08528
(609) 683-4011
$95.95 (c)

Title: The Sex Offender: New Insights, Treatment Innovations and Legal Developments
Editors: Barbara K. Schwartz and Henry R. Cellini
Publisher: Civic Research Institute, 1997

$89.00 (c)

Title:          The Sex Offender, Two Volume Set

$154 (c)

These two volumes together give a complete and thorough overview of the relevant scientific and professional literature on dealing with those who commit sexual offenses. The books are organized in the manner of legal reference volumes. This gives a tightly organized and comprehensive structure to the material included and makes it easily and readily available. It is possible to find quickly a short section dealing with most any issue or question that might come up involving sexual offenders.

The balanced and scientifically responsible approach of the editors and authors is succinctly described in the opening paragraph of the Introduction to Volume II:

Americans are scared! They are scared of muggers, stalkers, robbers, and murderers, but they are particularly scared of sex offenders . . . Unfortunately, crime, and particularly sexual assault, has become a political issue. And unfortunately, when something becomes a political issue, a rational response is replaced by the "quick fix." Currently Americans are spending $3 billion on new prisons and the 1995 crime bill allocated another $9 billion. Parole boards are refusing to parole offenders who need to make a supervised transition back into the community. Fewer individuals are receiving probation or alternative sanctions. Sex offenders are being registered, identified, and involuntarily committed. However, there is no evidence that any of these measures improves public safety" (p. xv).

These two volumes give competent and by and large accurate summaries of the theories, concepts, and ideas that are a part of the societal response to sex offenses. These are followed by summaries of relevant research that, while not exhaustive, present the range of research concerning specific issues. Very handy tables summarize applicable research studies with a sentence or two of description of the major findings of each study. To be sure, there may be much missed in each study, but the summaries guide selection of those that may be read more thoroughly and carefully.

The coverage of topics is wide ranging and broad enough to make these two volumes an indispensable starting point for all professionals who are a part of the systems dealing with sexual offenses and sexual offenders. Volume I chapters address theories and types of offenders, assessment of offenders, treatment and administration of treatment programs, costs of treatment, planning treatment programs, and the research on outcomes of treatment modalities. Aftercare, recidivism, and community management issues are discussed. The legal issues analyzed include ruling on constitutional issues of due process and equal protection, right to treatment, the sexual predator laws, consent and confidentiality, duty to protect, and registration of offenders.

Volume II chapters focus on treatment and include treating empathy deficits, attachment deficits resistance, denial, cognitive distortions, and fantasies. The special populations, i.e., adolescents, females, juvenile, and geriatric offenders, are covered. Cultural differences and the implications for treatment are described for Hispanic and American Indian offenders. The treatments covered include therapeutic communities, drama, and the use of animals to facilitate treatment. The legal section contains good summaries of sexual predator laws, supervised release, and Megan's laws.

Together, these two volumes comprise the best and most balanced overview of the entire area of sexual offenses and sexual offenders yet available. The information given is reliable, objective, and accurate. There is no evidence of touting a party line or repeating much of the ideology that clutters up discussion of sexual crimes and criminals. There are suggestions for reforms and improvements that are cogent and well supported. However, there is a major flaw in that there is no discussion of false convictions or how to deal with individuals are are innocent but have been imprisoned. That issue may have to be reserved for another entire book. These two volumes assume that a person convicted is guilty which is a defensible assumption and for the purposes may be necessary. Nevertheless, these volumes should be purchased and read by all professionals. They also serve most admirably as reference resources and give good information on almost every issue that might arise.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies.

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