1st Edition

Desistance from Sex Offending
Alternatives to Throwing Away the Keys

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ISBN 9781606239353
Published November 23, 2010 by Guilford Press
306 Pages

USD $49.00

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Book Description

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 describe 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 discusses how encouraging naturally occurring desistance processes, and directly addressing barriers to community reintegration, can make treatment more effective and long lasting.


Table of Contents

I. General Issues
1. Introduction
II. The Criminological Perspective
2. Defining and Measuring Desistance
3. The Age–Crime Curve: A Brief Overview
4. Theoretical Perspectives on Desistance
5. Factors Influencing Desistance
6. Two Major Theories of Desistance
III. The Forensic Psychological Perspective
7. Do Sex Offenders Desist?
8. Sex Offender Treatment and Desistance
IV. Reentry and Reintegration
9. Barriers to Reentry and Reintegration
10. Overcoming Barriers to Reentry and Reintegration
V. Recruitment
11. The Unknown Sex Offenders: Bringing Them in from the Cold
12. Blending Theory and Practice: A Criminological Perspective
VI. Desistance-Focused Intervention
13. The Good Lives Model of Offender Rehabilitation: Basic Assumptions, Etiological Commitments, and Practice Implications
14. The Good Lives Model and Desistance Theory and Research: Points of Convergence
15. The Good Lives–Desistance Model: Assessment and Treatment
VII. Where to from Here?
16. Dignity, Punishment, and Human Rights: The Ethics of Desistance
17. Moral Strangers or One of Us?: Concluding Thoughts


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D. Richard Laws, PhD, is Director of Pacific Behavioural Assessment in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He is past president of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. He has held adjunct faculty positions at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and is currently Honourary Professor at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Dr. Laws is known in the field of sexual deviation as a developer of assessment procedures and behavior therapies.

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.


"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