Rehabilitation for sex offenders has varying success rates

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - In the wake of Jeffrey Shelton abducting a 5-year-old Poplar Bluff girl, in addition to his extensive sex offender background, Region 8 News looked into whether or not a sex offender can be rehabilitated.
Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Phil Hestand told Region 8 News results vary.
"Probably about half of the people who receive adequate treatment do not re-offend," Hestand said. He explained that pedophilia isn't comparable to addiction.
"For whatever reason, they're focused on children for sexual gratification," Hestand said. "In some ways it's a sexual orientation."
But, he told Region 8 News, many treatment programs offered for pedophiles are similar to that of a drug or alcohol treatment program. Programs  like relapse prevention and cognitive behavioral therapy have proven to be somewhat effective.
"Because frankly, most people believe that you can't take that sexual attraction away," Dr. Hestand said.
However, Dr. Hestand said even adequate relapse prevention programs have only shown to be effective about half of the time. 
These programs are in comparison to punishment related programs, which Dr. Hestand said are less effective.
"Things like that have been tried. You know, punishment, shaming, shock therapies," he explained. "It just hasn't worked. They've tried castration."
Dr. Hestand said they have to be realistic about what kind of treatment will keep pedophiles from relapsing. But, since there's no set rehabilitative program for pedophiles, knowing if someone will re-offend after participating in a program is difficult to predict.
"What's available for treatment is just very variable in different parts of the country. Sometimes people may get fairly adequate treatment and sometimes people may get very little."
Dr. Hestand also mentioned that there are some medications out now that will lower testosterone levels to a very low level... and have shown some effectiveness as long as the pedophile takes the medication.
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