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Coerced offender rehabilitation - a defensible practice?

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The use of the criminal justice system to force offenders to receive psychological treatment is one of the most controversial aspects of service provision for offenders. Coerced treatment needs to be distinguished from pressured treatment, both having objective and subjective dimensions. In this paper some arguments for and against coerced offender rehabilitation are discussed. We suggest that coercing offenders into attending rehabilitation programmes (or placing legal pressure on them to attend) is unlikely by itself to lead to poorer outcomes. Rather, the individual's perception of coercion will be more influential in determining how an offender approaches treatment. Even when offenders perceive they are being coerced, it is likely that pre-treatment anti-therapeutic attitudes can change over the course of a programme, such that therapeutic gains (risk reduction) can occur. Coercion and its effects on treatment engagement and rehabilitation outcomes require further empirical research and conceptual analysis.
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Keywords: Coercion; Offender; Pressure; Rehabilitation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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