Rehabilitation of sexual offenders: clearing the stage for neuroscience


  • Nina Ferreira



With respect to the grave implications of sexual delinquency, much focus of research and the public is therefore on the issue of assessing the risk of recidivism among the group of sexual offenders. It is however challenging to find strategies that are most likely to achieve the goals of prevention of relapse (Levenson, 2009). Taking into account the significance to provide the community and more importantly victims of sexual offences a life without fear and to protect them from future assaults, rehabilitation systems could draw great benefit from a deeper engagement within the uprising neuroscientific dimension. The rapidly growing field of neurosciences and the technological and medical development offer new opportunities to understand the brain, and the correlation between damaged brain structures and misbehaviour of criminals. Sexual deviance and violence are increasingly being associated with anomalies in the brain structure of the offenders. A better understanding of a sexual delinquent’s brain and the rise of new different neuroscientific techniques provide new prospects for the rehabilitation of these delinquents. In light of the new insights neuroscience can provide, the question arises how neuroscience could be used for the rehabilitation of sexual offenders in order to reduce the possibility for recidivism. This paper will thus analyse the possible use of neuroscience in treatment of sexual offenders before release and reintegration to community. Therefore, the study intends to provide insight into the deficiencies of contemporary rehabilitation methods. Furthermore, it attempts to propose possible innovative approaches to safe reintegration of sexual offenders by using neuroscience and to examine in how far it would be possible with regards to ethical issues. The overall claim of the paper is that neuroscience could provide complementation to rehabilitation methods aiming at the reduction of recidivism among sexual offenders, though in limitation of the respect of certain rights of the delinquent.


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