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Current treatment of sexual offenders has failed, says ministry

The current legal situation makes it near to impossible for those who could benefit from the treatment to actually get it.
The current legal situation makes it near to impossible for those who could benefit from the treatment to actually get it. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

According to an analysis of the Ministry of Justice, the current approach to treating sexual offenders has failed, as the conditions for participation and actual treatment practice are far from one another.

As daily Eesti Päevaleht wrote on Monday, partial replacement of jail time with therapy has not achieved the set aim to reduce the number of repeat offences. The new direction taken by the legislator in 2013 included offering convicted offenders an alternative to jail time and making it possible for them to take up therapy, consisting of psychological work as well as hormonal treatment.

So far only two convicts chose to undergo this form of therapy, one of which actually finished the program.

According to the ministry's analysis, the problems of arranging this form of treatment begin with its basis. Following current law, this kind of treatment is available only to those convicts who committed less serious offenses and have been sentenced to two years in jail or less.

As the analysis points out, this is a flaw in the current concept, as the treatment is originally aimed at more serious offenders and would produce better results there.

Currently the combination of therapy and hormonal treatment is available to offenders convicted for things like collecting child porn, or sexually threatening minors online.

Senior prosecutor for serious crimes, Saskia Kask, also pointed out that the courts' established practice is to follow a hard line when it comes to serious sexual crimes, which in most cases means jail time of more than two years. Also, a condition for getting the treatment was up to two years of actual jail time, which meant that anyone on a conditional sentence wasn't eligible.

In the case of an offender on a conditional sentence committing another sexually motivated crime, sentences would then quickly go beyond two years, which again meant that the combined treatment of psychotherapy and hormonal doses was not available. The combined treatment doesn't achieve its aims because there is only a very slim chance that it is ever applied where it could actually make a difference.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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