Volume 97 Issue 1 (February) 2014

Special Issue

[all Articles in English language]

Developing Sexual Offender Laws and Treatment in Europe
Legal trends and new paths in treatment strategies for sexual offenders



by Gunda Wößner

The question of how to handle sexual offenders has become a crucial issue for almost every Western country. Policy makers have drafted a plethora of legal provisions that have been, for the most part, of a more or less restrictive and punitive nature. In contrast, treatment practitioners have sought to find effective approaches that focus less on retribution and more on rehabilitation. In turn, the public has demanded the use of straightforward measures to incapacitate sexual offenders. Yet, even though dealing with sexual offenders poses a ubiquitous challenge, academic research on treatment and control is largely restricted to North America, the UK, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, with the policies and approaches taken in North America and the UK receiving the most attention. In developing treatment approaches for sexual offenders, individual countries – especially those across Europe – have also profited from the experiences and the knowledge of one another. For example, besides British know-how, Dutch and Danish experiences have been a driving force on developments in Germany.

Over the years, numerous treatment methods for sexual offenders have been established, with reductions in relapse rates being at least partially witnessed as a result. However, the effectiveness of such methods has not been recorded in all European countries and it is increasingly apparent that in terms of evaluative research on sexual offender treatment, many questions remain unanswered. At the same time, a push for more punitive punishments can be observed, with rational voices often drowned-out by media-fuelled coverage dominated by morals and emotionality. In public debates on sexual offenders, ideas of increased control – often through technological developments – have come to the fore; this has often been at the expense of rehabilitative ideals.

The dilemma of how to handle and/or treat sexual offenders is dealt with very differently across Europe. While some countries have embarked on the use of alternative, perhaps more sustainable concepts for the humanitarian treatment of dangerous offenders (e.g., the Longstay concept in the Netherlands) other countries have drifted towards control-orientated approaches. Others have sought to develop and expand a concept of correctional prisons based on a modern, resocialisation-orientated rationale. As such, in deciding how to handle sexual offenders, countries can either fall back on recognised approaches or seek out new ones (and the uncertainties they may bring). Even here, it is not easy to rely on what has already been tested: Despite internationally recognised findings on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural treatment of sexual offenders, it has often been applied in different ways with equally different results.

Moreover, innovative treatment measures are sometimes hampered by a lack of knowledge concerning their theoretical foundation. For example, a common goal of electronic surveillance is the increased control of released sexual offenders and the better protection of the general public, with the strengthening of offender self-control also being postulated as a possible aim. However, a theoretical and empirical review of how electronic monitoring can affect such mechanisms has yet to be properly conducted.

As already mentioned, individual European countries differ greatly in their treatment of sexual offenders. From afar, the legal situation in Europe resembles a patchwork quilt, but upon closer appraisal many innovative approaches can be seen to exist. That said, a dearth of literature on these different European approaches makes the exchange of information on how to treat sexual offenders and prevent sexual (re)offences difficult. In countries where sexual offenders are at the centre of criminal policy, they are perceived as a specific group of delinquents who deserve special attention in the form of distinct laws and treatment, even if such approaches are often applied without empirical substantiation concerning their need and effectiveness. But why is this so and what can different countries learn from each other? This thought led to the organisation of the expert meeting »Developing sexual offender laws and treatment in Europe – Legal trends and new paths in treatment strategies for sexual offenders« that was held on 16 and 17 May 2013 at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i.Br., Germany, in cooperation with the National Institute of Criminology (NIC), Budapest, Hungary. This issue of the Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform benefits from the contributions made at this expert meeting and offers a unique, overarching reflection of many diverse perspectives. Within its pages, authors from across Europe examine recent legislative developments and treatment options and introduce a range of new ideas on the topic of sexual offenders.

pp. 1-2

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Sexual Offender Laws and Treatment in Europe
An introduction

by Hans-Jörg Albrecht

pp. 3-6 

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What are we talking about when we are talking about sexuality?
Some preliminary considerations

by György Virág

pp. 7-9


I. Sexual Offender Legislation and Treatment in Selected European Countries

Governing Serious Offenders
Recent developments in legislation in England and Wales

by Karen Harrison

The study and management of those offenders classified as dangerous has been at the forefront of political concern for many years. In search for the »perfect« public protection solution many countries around the globe have tried a variety of risk management and sentencing ideas. Looking at the most recent developments in legislation in relation to adult dangerous offenders in England and Wales, this article maps out what these changes are and makes some comments on their suitability and efficacy. In short, it questions whether the changes in dangerousness laws in England and Wales are satisfactory. 

Keywords: Dangerous offenders, dangerousness laws, England and Wales, mandatory life sentence

pp. 10-18

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Some New Penal and Therapeutic Tendencies in France in the Trade-off
Between Treating
Sexual Offenders and Protecting Society

by Astrid Hirschelmann

Over the past 15 years sex offenders have become a central issue for French policy, and the French Law of 17 June 1998 was passed as a result of this. Risk prevention and protecting society have become major issues due to media and political pressure, as have victim protection and compensation. Measures introduced by the justice system over recent years have resulted in ever greater waiting periods in psychiatric assessment and treatment, leading in turn to the adoption of increasingly radical positions by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Violence is not necessarily associated to psychiatric abnormality or disease, and does not systematically require therapy. Treatment provided in the name of risk prevention distorts the original goal of therapy, which is to relieve patient suffering, not to relieve social concern. This article presents an overview of the various measures used in the fields of justice, psychiatry, probation, and social work, suggesting that these measures are often insufficiently coordinated. It thus illustrates how the French justice system handles sex offenders, or the phantom of dangerousness.

Keywords: Sexual offenders, dangerousness, French public safety measures, therapy, electronic tracking/tagging

pp. 19-30

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New Responses to Sexual Offenders
Recent developments in legislation and treatment in Germany

by Rita Haverkamp and Gunda Wößner

In the last decades, governing sexual offenders has emerged as a crucial issue of German criminal policy. Public protection has more than ever become the first priority. Based upon this development, Germany has sought to find a solid sentencing and treatment solution in order to prevent sexual reoffending. This article looks at recent developments in legislation and correctional treatment in Germany, describes the changes, and concludes with comments on their appropriateness.

Keywords: Sexual offenders, Germany, electronic tracking, therapeutic placement, social therapy, preventive detention

pp. 31-39

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Physical (Surgical) Castration as Treatment of Male Sex Offenders? 
Recent developments in legislation in the Czech Republic

by Petr Škvain

In February 2009, the Czech Republic was strongly criticized by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) for continuing to castrate male sex offenders. Despite this criticism, the Czech Republic has continued to carry out the procedure of physical (surgical) castration. According to the CPT, this procedure is a mutilating, irreversible intervention which cannot be considered as a medical necessity in the context of treating sex offenders. Reflecting on some of the aspects of the CPT’s criticism, the Czech Parliament passed new legislation in 2011 (Act no. 373/2011 Coll.) to set up stricter rules for the procedure of physical (surgical) castration. Czech authorities nevertheless remain convinced that this procedure remains useful for the treatment of sex offenders.

Keywords: Sex offenders, treatment of sex offenders, Czech Republic, castration

pp. 40-47

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Therapeutic and Legislative Approaches to Sex Offenders in Poland

by Wojciech Zalewski

In the last decade, governing sexual offenders has emerged as a crucial issue of Polish criminal policy. Based upon this development, Poland has sought to find a solid sentencing and treatment solution in order to prevent sexual reoffending. This article looks at recent developments in legislation and correctional treatment in Poland, describes the changes and concludes with comments on their suitability and efficacy. In short, it questions whether the recent reforms in Poland are adequate.

Keywords: Sexual offenders, Poland, chemical castration, penal populism, preventive detention

pp. 48-56

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Sex Offenders in Hungary
Law, treatment and statistics

by Katalin Parti, Judit Szabó and György Virág

The conditions and practices of tertiary prevention in Hungarian prisons do not meet the desired standards regarding treatment requirements for sexual offenders. In line with the criminal law reform in Hungary, a new criminal code has been introduced in the summer of 2013. As a result, the chapter of sexual offenses has been modernized and an improved protection of the underage has been mediated. According to the European and international standards, sex offenders have more rights than in the past and member states must fulfill the requirements by the end of the 2013. The practice however, does not predict a smooth way to do that. Financial and attitude-based obstacles can be detected – both among prison staff and the society as well. In a world where politicians collect votes by supporting punitive measures, criminal policy does not advocate for treatment ideology. The overview is based on the Statistics of the National Headquarters of Penalty Enforcement and the findings of an exploratory study carried out in 2011 by the Hungarian National Institute of Criminology (NIC).

Keywords: Rehabilitation, recidivism, sexual offending, prison staff, attitude

pp. 57-69

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Treatment of Sexual Offenders in Russia
Recent developments in legislation and implementation of practices

by Rustem Safin and Alexander Salagaev

With the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Federation started to reform its legal system, gradually incorporating contemporary standards concerning the treatment of offenders within its penitentiary system. This process is still ongoing and so far there are only a few advances concerning sexual offenders. The treatment of sexual offenders is not only an issue for the legal system however, as they also face extrajudicial sanctions inside Russian prisons. A dualism of ideas and practices is also revealed in the particular case of penitentiary system reform, including the introduction of rehabilitation and resocialization programmes for offenders, including those who have committed sexual crimes. On the one hand, a need for the humanization of the penitentiary system is acknowledged but, on the other hand, this process is resisted by certain obstacles. So, will the reform of Russian penitentiary system succeed? All of these issues will be discussed in this article.

Keywords: Sexual offenders, treatment of sexual offenders, extrajudicial sanctions, rehabilitation, reforms to the penitentiary system

pp. 70-77


II. Modern Approaches to Sexual Crimes

The Understanding and Treatment of Sexual Offenders in the 21st Century
A neurobiological perspective

by Anthony R. Beech and Steven M. Gillespie

The aim of this paper is to review the evidence for the effectiveness of treatment for sexual offenders and to present an overview of the neurobiological substrates of emotion regulation. It is suggested here that sexual offenders may present with functional abnormalities in the neuroanatomical structures that underpin successful emotion control. In the second half of this paper we discuss recent advances in the understanding of potential therapeutic practices that may address problems in emotion regulation that have been noted among sexual offenders.

Keywords: Sex offenders, insecure attachment, self-regulation, mindfulness, breathing techniques

pp. 78-84

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The Electronic Monitoring of Serious Offenders
Is there a rehabilitative potential

by Richard Jones

Many countries around the world now electronically monitor some convicted offenders to check the offenders’ compliance with court orders of different kinds. Although regarded as an intermediate penalty, to date electronic monitoring has not generally been employed for rehabilitative purposes. Electronic monitoring systems have evolved over time, however, and there is the possibility that future technologies and practices could embrace more rehabilitative goals. This article sketches out various currents of change within criminal justice and suggests how future electronic monitoring schemes might instantiate an emergent »new rehabilitation«.

Keywords: Electronic monitoring, offenders, new rehabilitation, elective self-monitoring, desistance

pp. 85-92

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Restorative Justice and Sexual Offences
Can »changing lenses« be appropriate in this case too?

by Marie Keenan and Estelle Zinsstag

The use of Restorative Justice (RJ) for sexual violence has been the subject of on-going debate among RJ advocates, victim rights movement and feminist activists, for some time. This article will examine existing theories on RJ with a specific focus on the appropriateness of RJ for sexual violence. Theories surrounding the benefits of RJ in cases of sexual violence will be explored and comparisons will be drawn between the approaches taken by RJ and the traditional criminal justice system to address sexual violence. Concerns about the use of RJ for sexual violence will also be discussed, including concerns about re-victimisation, power imbalances, due process rights of offenders and the relationship between RJ and the criminal justice system. Theoretical considerations of practical challenges such as the establishment of appropriate points of referral to RJ programmes and decisions regarding the types of sexual offences suitable for RJ will be examined in detail. The paper will conclude by offering some reflections as to possible ways forward.

Keywords: Sexual offences, restorative justice, criminal justice

pp. 93-106


Coming Events

Surveillance: Ambiguities & Assymmetries
6th International Surveillance & Society Conference, 24-26 April 2014 in Barcelona

Norddeutscher Kriminologischer Gesprächskreis
Fachtagung 2014, 9.-12. Mai 2014 in Bielefeld

Critical Criminology and Post-Crash Capitalism
National Deviancy Conference 2014, 25-27 June 2014 in Middlesbrough/UK

Crime, Justice, Welfare: Can the Metropole Listen?
BSC – The British Society of Criminology Conference, 10-12 July 2014 in Liverpool/UK

Gangs, Trafficking and Insecurity: Empowering the Community
17. World Congress of Criminology, 10-15 August 2014 in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexiko

Reviewer 2013
Wir bedanken uns an dieser Stelle bei folgenden Damen und Herren, die sich während des Kalenderjahres 2013 freundlicherweise im Rahmen des Peer Review Verfahrens der Monatsschrift für Kriminologie zur Begutachtung der eingereichten Manuskripte zur Verfügung gestellt haben:

Dipl.-Soz. Dr. Dirk Baier, KFN Hannover
Prof. Dr. Baldo Blinkert, Universität Freiburg i.Br.
Prof. Dr. Lorenz Böllinger, Universität Bremen
Prof. Dr. Kirstin Drenkhahn, Freie Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Frieder Dünkel, Universität Greifswald
Univ. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Eher, Wien/Österreich
Dr. Beate Ehret, Universität Tübingen
Prof. Dr. Thomas Feltes, Universität Bochum
Prof. Dr. Isolde Geissler-Frank, Evangelische Hochschule Freiburg i.Br.
Prof. Dr. Rita Haverkamp, Universität Tübingen
Assoc.-Prof. PD Dr. Helmut Hirtenlehner, Universität Linz/Österreich
Dipl.-Soz. [Dr.] Franziska Kunz, ehem. Max-Planck-Institut für Strafrecht, Freiburg, Dresden
Prof. Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kunz, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. Helmut Kury, ehem. Max-Planck-Institut für Strafrecht, Freiburg i.Br.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Naplava, Fachhochschule für Öffentliche Verwaltung NRW, Duisburg
Prof. Dr. Norbert Nedopil, Universität München
Prof. Dr. Frank Neubacher, Universität Köln
Dr. Joachim Obergfell-Fuchs, Justizvollzugsschule Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart
PD Dr. Dietrich Oberwittler, Max-Planck-Institut für Strafrecht, Freiburg i.Br.
Prof. Dr. Heinz Schöch, Universität München
Prof. Dr. Klaus Sessar, Universität Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Franz Streng, Universität Erlangen
Prof. Dirk van Zyl Smit, University of Nottingham/UK
Peter Zoche, Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung, Karlsruhe

pp. 107-108

Book Reviews

Endrass, Jérôme / Rossegger, Astrid / Urbaniok, Frank / Borchard, Bernd (Hrsg.) 

Interventionen bei Gewalt- und Sexualstraftätern
Risk-Management, Methoden und Konzepte der forensischen Therapie
Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Berlin 2012, 494 Seiten

by Helmut Kury, Freiburg im Breisgau

[in German language]

pp. 109-112

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Keyzer, Patrick (ed.) 

Preventive Detention
Asking the Fundamental Questions
Intersentia, Cambridge 2013, 307 Seiten

by Axel Dessecker, Wiesbaden

[in German language]

pp. 112-114

Editorial Board

Professor Dr. iur. Dr. h.c. Hans-Jörg Albrecht, Director, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i.Br., Germany

Professor Dr. med. Dr. phil. Helmut Remschmidt, Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany

Professor Dr. iur. Stephan Quensel, Emeritus, Institute of Sociology, University of Bremen, Co-Director of the Institute for Drug Research Bremen (BISDRO), Germany

Editorial Office

Ulrike Auerbach, Psychologist

Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law
Günterstalstr. 73
D-79100 Freiburg i.Br. / Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 761-7081-0