Sexual offenders, violent offenders, and community reentry: Challenges and treatment considerations [2017]

• Sexual and violent ex-offenders must reenter and reintegrate into the community.

• Successful reintegration is defined by lack of recidivism and good quality of life.

• Social stigma and specific legal policies are barriers to successful reintegration.

• Identifying appropriate housing, employment, and treatment are major challenges.

• Reforms in policy and practice are necessary for facilitating reintegration.

Sexual offenders and violent offenders compose two diverse subgroups of the United States’ offender population, and individuals in these groups face unique challenges with respect to reentry and reintegration into the community upon release from controlled settings. Successful reintegration is typically defined by a lack of recidivism; however, an offender’s quality of life may also be considered a critical consideration when defining success. Of the major challenges faced by sexual offenders and violent offenders, social stigma and barriers to housing and employment are among the most notable. These factors are often interrelated, such that difficulty in one domain may contribute to difficulties in other domains. As public perception of such offenders is largely driven by the media, stereotypes, and public policy, and less by research, offenders also face distinctive social barriers to successful community reentry and reintegration. Moreover, there is limited support for established policies and programs intended to maximize a violent/sexual offender’s reentry success, in part due to the low base rate of reoffense. The present study reviews the literature examining factors associated with successful and unsuccessful community reintegration for sexual offenders and violent offenders released from controlled settings. Treatment of sexual offenders and violent offenders, and community-based support programs designed to facilitate reentry and reintegration, are also discussed.

Laura M. Grossi

Aggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 34, May 2017