A University of Utah social work professor and therapist disagrees with the state’s top federal law enforcement officials’ assessment that treatment for child sex offenders doesn’t work.
Rob Butters, who has also worked as a probation officer, said it’s unfortunate they made the statement in a public forum because “it’s simply not true.”
“We know that treatment works a lot better than incarceration,” he said. “Prison doesn’t make people better. It just keeps them incapacitated.”
U.S. Attorney John Huber and FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart said in a discussion with reporters Thursday that they are skeptical about the effectiveness of treatment for those who sexually exploit children.
Federal prosecutors have filed 54 cases of child pornography possession, distribution or production this year, 10 more than last year. Some had previous convictions in state court.
“In our career and our experience, rehabilitation — although a laudable goal — is unrealistic in dealing with these types of offenders,” Huber said. “Stiff justice is an appropriate remedy, first and foremost, for keeping people safe.”
Barnhart said he has not seen data to back up that treatment works.
“The compassionate part of us always wants to say a second chance should be given, but my experience is these people will victimize again,” he said.