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Rehabilitation of Child Molesters: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1990
10 pages
Using program and reoffense data from the Massachusetts Treatment Center and costs derived from average figures obtained from State agencies, this study examines the cost effectiveness of rehabilitating child molesters. One hundred twenty-nine released child molesters were used to estimate reoffense rates of treated offenders by conducting follow-up studies after their releases from the center between 1960 and 1985.
The costs were figured using apprehension and pretrial investigations, trial costs, incarceration, and parole supervision as offender-related expenses and social services, hospital and medical expenses, victim evaluation, witness services, and treatment as victim-related costs. The recidivism rate for treated offenders is estimated at 25 percent and the rate for nonoffenders at 40 percent. By accounting for the costs of reoffense of single victims, multiple victims, and multiple offenders, the model indicates that, even using conservative cost estimates, rehabilitation can result in large savings to the State. In addition, the findings suggest that rehabilitation can reduce the likelihood of offenders committing new sexual offenses. Although costs will vary largely among various jurisdictions, this framework for the cost-benefit model will remain valid. Despite a societal aversion to treating child molesters as too humane, the reduction in victimization rates and the costs of victimization should override this concern. 2 tables, 48 references.

Date Published: January 1, 1990