The responsiveness of sexual offenders to a therapeutic group work programme at Westville medium B prison.
Sexual offences are one of the most serious threats to South Africa's democracy. We hear again and again cries like: "Hang them!", "Prisons are a waste of taxpayers money", "We need to get more tough on criminals", and many others. On the other hand, the Correctional Services Department is mandated by parliament, by courts and by the public to render rehabilitation services to sexual offenders in their care. These outcries and mandates call for responsible and accountable service delivery to sexual offenders by social workers. This research investigated the responsiveness of sexual offenders to a therapeutic group work program. It entailed the development, implementation and evaluation of a sexual offender programme. Adapting specific modules of existing programmes, a cognitive-behavioural sexual offender programme for sentenced Juveniles was developed. The process of data collection was a comprehensive, intensive process. Data was obtained from a sample of eighteen adolescent sexual offenders that was divided into nine experimental group and nine control group. Using the group work method, the programme was implemented to the experimental group. The programme was evaluated in terms of its content, methods of implementation and outcome. The use of triangulated methodology of data collection and analysis enabled the researcher-practitioner to validate information derived from different sources. The outcome of this study revealed that the juvenile sex offenders responded positively to the cognitive-behavioural programme. This study is based on the premise that by working with the perpetrators of sexual crimes, you are protecting hundreds of lives from further harm. The positive improvement was in their self-concepts, attitude towards women, and cognitions. The programme is viewed as one module of the broader rehabilitation initiatives in the area of sentenced sexual offenders. The need for correctional services, communities and other stakeholders to join efforts in offender rehabilitation was emphasised. The provision of a supportive environment from which rehabilitation to take place was identified as one of positive influences of change. Based on the outcome of the evaluation, recommendations were made with regard to further adaptation of the programme, future programme development and implementation components, and the need for staff training in this field. Recommendations for further research are detailed.