Sexual Arousal Reconditioning and Evaluating 'Success' in Prison Sex OffenderTreatment Programs

Bill Fletcher, Vanderbilt University

This study examines the effectiveness of sexual arousal reconditioning in prison sex offender treatment programs. We begin by examining varying concepts of success in evaluating such programs, focusing on the ways in which success (and failure) can and should be measured. This study proposes to examine both re-incarceration trends and changes in phallometric data of sex offenders released from Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) jurisdiction between 1998 and the present. We compare recidivism for inmates convicted of sex offenses who have enrolled in the sex offender treatment program to those who have not. Our analysis includes 180 offenders who have enrolled in treatment and a matched sample of offenders who have not. Preliminary analyses suggest a small, but significant, decrease in the rate of re-incarceration over time for offenders who have some exposure to the treatment program. Phallometric measures for those in the program, however, show marked decreases in aberrant arousal, suggesting that 'success' may need to be redefined to include more than just re-incarceration.

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Updated 05/20/2006