Any criminal justice system has two purposes: The first is to punish those who have broken the law; the second is to bring about rehabilitation in the lawbreaker, so that he or she will turn his back on a life of crime and embrace a law-abiding life in society.
The first is accomplished largely within the closed ranks of the legal system, through courts, convictions, punishments, and time served, either behind bars or under community supervision.
The second can only take place within the broader system of society and the community.
When it comes to those whose convictions have been for a sexual crime, why are we so good at accomplishing the former and so lacking in bringing about the later?
Our society has been conditioned to regard those who have committed a sexual crime as irredeemable. This is largely, if not totally, due to the proliferation of public sex offender registries. There is something about putting one’s name on such a registry that sets them aside and marks them as belonging outside – outside of redemption, outside of consideration, outside of civilized society.