Effectiveness of sexual offender treatment and reintegration programs: Does program composition and sequencing matter?

DOI10.1177/26338076221079046
Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Effectiveness of sexual offender
treatment and reintegration
programs: Does program
composition and sequencing
matter?
Nadine McKillop
Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, Australia; School of Law &
Society, USC, Australia
Lorelei Hine
Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, USC, Australia
Susan Rayment-McHugh
Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, Australia; School of Law &
Society, USC, Australia
Tim Prenzler
School of Law & Society, USC, Australia
Larissa S Christensen
Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, Australia; School of Law &
Society, USC, Australia
Emma Belton
Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, USC, Australia
Abstract
Using administrative data obtained from Queensland Corrective Services, we investigated the
composition and sequencing of sex offender treatment and reintegration programs on recid-
ivism outcomes. Outcomes were compared over an average of 4.8 years (SD=29.20 months;
Corresponding author:
Nadine McKillop, Sexual Violence Research & Prevention Unit, School of Law & Society, University of the Sunshine
Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia.
Email: nmckillo@usc.edu.au
Article
Journal of Criminology
2022, Vol. 55(2) 180201
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/26338076221079046
journals.sagepub.com/home/anj
range =15 days to 9.25 years) on 2,407 adult males convicted of sexual offences and dis-
charged from custody between 2010 and 2017. Controlling for risk, age, treatment location,
and cultural heritage, those who completed a combination of preparatory programs, rehabili-
tation and reintegration programs were less likely to reoffend and had signif‌icantly better sur-
vival rates when they did reoffend, compared to those who did not complete or partially
completedprograms. However, reintegration programs, regardless of involvement with
other correctional programming, also demonstrated success in reducing short-term recidiv-
ism. Combined, these f‌indings indicate that the composition and sequencing of correctional
programming likely plays an important role in enhancing outcomes and that engagement in
reintegration programs post-incarceration may be pivotal to improving the outcomes for
men convicted of sexual offences. Such sequencing, and program composition, warrants fur-
ther investigation.
Keywords
Sexual offending, reintegration, correctional outcomes, recidivism, sexual offender treatment
Date received: 31 August 2021; accepted: 13 January 2022
Introduction
Several published evaluations (e.g., Hanson et al., 2002, 2009; Olver et al., 2019), including
meta-analytic reviews (e.g., Gannon et al., 2019; Lösel & Schmucker, 2005; Schmucker &
Lösel, 2015, 2017), have investigated the effectiveness of sexual offender treatment programs
(SOTPs). Notwithstanding known constraints associated with such evaluations (e.g., research
design, sampling, and variability in outcome criteria; Långström et al., 2013; Lösel et al.,
2020), f‌indings generally indicate that engagement in SOTPs produces at least some appre-
ciable reductions in non-sexual, and albeit less so, sexual recidivism (Tyler et al., 2021).
Regarding what worksfor males convicted of sexual offences, much of the evidence suggests
that cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) combined with relapse prevention, and adherence to
the principles of effective correctional programming (Andrews et al., 1990, Andrews & Bonta,
2010), produce better outcomes overall (Lösel & Schmucker, 2005; Schmucker & Lösel,
2015). However, debates on what workscontinueperhaps because the more nuanced ques-
tions of “…for whom, in what circumstances, and how?remain largely unanswered (Pawson
& Tilley, 1997). Indeed, such ref‌lections have sparked calls (e.g., Schmucker & Lösel, 2017;
Tyler et al., 2021) for more differentiation to occur in evaluation research, to inform programs
and practices designed to reduce sexual reoffending.
Importantly, with the focus of SOTP effectiveness foremost on recidivism, less is currently
known about the key ingredientsthat contribute to successful outcomes. In this context, there
has been discussion and debate on process issues such as therapist qualities (Marshall et al.,
2003; Marshall et al., 2002), treatment dosage and timing (Day et al., 2019; Simourd &
Olver, 2019; Duwe, 2018) and treatment completion (Hanson & Bussière, 1998; McMurran
& Theodosi, 2007), but extant literature has paid less attention to program composition or
sequencing. Indeed, recent research has brought attention to the possibility that differences
in outcomes may be attributed to factors such as the number of programs that offenders
engage with, rather than dosage (i.e., hours) per se (Day et al., 2019). On the basis of his
McKillop et al. 181

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