Sexual Predators: Diversion, Civil Commitment, Community Reintegration, Challenges, and Opportunities

  • Karen Terry

The reality is that sex offenders constitute a heterogeneous population of individuals and there is neither a single theory to explain their behavior nor one universal system of managing them. Most sex offenders do not live in prisons or hospitals. Those who are convicted are often sentenced to probation; almost all of those who are incarcerated are eventually released to live in the community; and, most importantly, many will never come to the attention of authorities. Because of this, it is important to understand the best ways in which the public can be educated about this population of individuals, hypotheses about why some individuals begin to commit sexually deviant behavior, how to best treat that behavior, which offenders should be incapacitated, and how to manage offenders once they are released to the community. Research on sexual offenses and offenders is generally discussed in the fields of criminal justice, law, sociology, and psychology, not in the arena of public health. However, as Gene Abel and his colleagues have noted (Abel, Lawry, Karlstrom, Osborn, & Gillespie, 1994; Abel & Osborn, 1992), sexual offenders, particularly those who abuse children, constitute a public health problem. They describe it as such because of the high rate of sexual victimization among adult males and females, and because of the high rate of victimization in organizations that supervise or are charged with working with children (e.g., schools, places of worship, youth organizations) (Abel et al., 1994). The effects of sexual victimization are often long-term and traumatic, and may put the victim at a higher risk of suicide, depression, and sexually transmitted diseases (“Perceptions,” 1995).


Child Sexual Abuse Sexual Offense Child Pornography Civil Commitment Sexual Abuser 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Terry
    • 1
  1. 1.Criminal Justice Doctoral Program, CUNYJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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