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In some penal institutions, education for preventing repeat sexual offenses has already been conducted, but there have been no unified standard programs. Characteristically, newly established sex offender treatment programs are based on Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment as mentioned above and are going to be carried out on a nationwide basis, requiring necessary inmates to take them as special rehabilitation guidance specified by the Act on Treatment of Sentenced Inmates (see Part 2, Chapter 4, Section 2, 3 (1)). At present, the system is being developed to implement the programs for 500 inmates annually.
Fig. 6-4-4-1 shows the outline of sex offender treatment programs at penal institutions.
(1) Selection of program participants
Sex offender treatment programs are to be preferentially implemented for persons in urgent need for securing the safeness of society, instead of limiting them to those convicted for sexual offenses such as rape. The priority shall be determined based on (1) the contents of the case such as the type of offense and motives, (2) whether he/she has habitual criminal tendency or not, and (3) the seriousness of problems that may lead to sexual offenses.
The decision is primarily made by each penal institution. Inmates judged as urgently needed to take programs are transferred to examination centers established in eight penal institutions nationwide (such as Sapporo Prison, Miyagi Prison, etc.).
(2) Examination, etc. at examination centers
At examination centers, detailed examination is conducted by psychology technicians.
Through such examination, the risk of repeat offenses (problematic aspects apt to lead to repeat offenses, such as having multiple criminal records or having targeted a victim with no acquaintance, that statistics have shown to lead to repeat offenses) and treatment needs (problematic aspects of inmates that can be improved through encouragement during treatment, and their improvement can be a treatment goal) are investigated and identified. Based on the results, treatment plans are established by determining courses of programs to be carried out for respective program participants (courses are divided into three (high-intensity, mid-intensity, and low-intensity) according to their risk of repeat offenses and treatment needs).
Furthermore, before transferring program participants to the designated 20 penal institutions nationwide for sex offender treatment programs, orientation is carried out to prompt them to understand the significance of such programs and heighten their motivation.
(3) Regular program classes, etc.
a. Regular program classes
Regular classes are carried out mainly through group work, consisting of around two instructors and eight inmates. In all three courses, subjects for acquiring self-control power to prevent sexual offenses are set as compulsory. Furthermore, participants of the mid-intensity and high-intensity courses are, according to their personal problems, required to take subjects for correcting their distorted perception, subjects for acquiring skills to build smooth human relations, subjects for deepening sympathy toward others and understanding of crime victims, etc., all of which are underlying problems that are likely to lead them to commit sexual offenses.
Group work, which lasts for 100 minutes, in principle, is implemented 64 times for high-intensity courses, around 50 times for mid-intensity courses (varies by selected subjects), and 14 times for low-intensity courses.
b. Maintenance program
The maintenance program is prepared prior to release, aiming to lead inmates back to social life smoothly by making them review self-control and knowledge and skills on human relations acquired through the programs and reaffirm their resolution to rehabilitate themselves. The program is also carried out mainly through group work just like regular program classes.
Fig. 6-4-4-1 Outline of sex offender treatment programs at penal institutions
Treatment programs for sex offenders at penal institutions are generally carried out as follows.
After reviewing the contents they have gone through so far, a new topic is explained.
2) Psychological education
Psychological knowledge and wisdom concerning problematic aspects that may lead to sexual offenses and how to prevent repeat offenses are explained in an easy manner. Textbooks are used as needed. This education aims to prompt program participants to understand and acquire such knowledge and wisdom so that they could fully utilize them.
3) Group work
Using situations described in textbooks as examples, program participants are encouraged to talk about how they would react when they encounter each of such situations (such as when they have trouble in human relations).
Participant A: "I would get upset."
Participant B: "I would suspect that the person is ignoring me on purpose."
Participant C: "I would feel rather worried."
Then, they are encouraged to talk about whether they have had any similar experience.
Participant D: "I once got obsessed with an idea that I was hated and had an argument at work, but it turned out to be a mere misunderstanding."
Participant E: "I think we are apt to get more irritated with what was done by a person we don't like."
Through such talks, program participants are supposed to notice various perspectives and ways to understand things and learn to take preferable actions.
In addition to this, program participants are prompted to present their own experience and opinions individually and to do role-play to acquire skills to deal with difficult situations they may encounter in their daily life (e.g. setting a situation such as having an argument with a family member or a lover, and actually experiencing the way to deal with the situation through learning such as how to apologize them).
The instructor summarizes the contents of the group work and explains the assignment each participant should do by the next session. Assignments are given so that participants should review what they have learned through psychological education and group work and fully acquire such knowledge and skills.
The merits of adopting group work are such that those who would not listen to advice by instructors obediently sometimes can smoothly accept advice with feeling by other participants, and that those who would not admit their responsibilities sometimes come to be aware of their responsibilities by seeing other participants confessing to a mistake.
Group work at a penal institution
Each person perceives even the same experience in a different way from others, which reflects his/her emotions and actions. For example, a person who always perceives things in a hostile manner may see somebody smiling and feel being despised. Such a person may be apt to get angry at the person who smiled at him/her. Hostile action against others like this can be attributable to the distortion of perception.
It is considered that sex offenders often have distorted perception, such as considering their sexual misconduct as insignificant and thinking their victims also have something to be blamed for. Therefore, it will be helpful for preventing repeat offenses to make them aware of the patterns of their distorted perception and correct them.
Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment is based on the idea that distorted perception is closely related to problems in action (see "Distorted perception" of the "Explanation of terms"). This treatment aims to make persons aware of the distortion of their perception and correct it, teach them how to appropriately deal with various concrete situations where they are apt to resort to problematic behavior, gradually expand their repertoire of desirable actions, and thereby make them feel confident in being able to conquer difficult situations. Group work (see "Group work" of the "Explanation of terms") is considered to be an effective method for that purpose.
Group work, which is carried out by making a group usually consisting of two instructors and around eight participants, is one of the group treatment methods. The merits of adopting group work are as follows: (1) making participants experience cooperative relations with each other; (2) making them work on problems together with others and thereby heightening their motivation; (3) making them aware of various perspectives and ways to understand things; (4) making them realize that they are helpful for others; and (5) increasing opportunities to learn desirable actions.
When the release date of program participants comes close, the maintenance program is carried out at penal institutions where those participants are accommodated. The program is mainly implemented through group work and participants are supposed to review what they have learned and reaffirm their resolution to continue life without repeating offenses.