In dealing with sex offenders with mental illness, the best solution may not be rehabilitation, says the writer.
Assistant Professor Benjamin Joshua Ong’s idea of imposing suspended sentences on voyeurs is a good one (“NUS case: Suspended sentence in place of police warning will have added benefit of judicial oversight”; May 9).
These include jail sentences passed by a court that do not take effect if offenders comply with conditions, such as refraining from re-offending, attending counselling sessions, or staying away from certain areas or persons.
The question is whether judges have the expertise to assess cases involving sex offenders.
Some offenders may have been carried away by youthful impulsivity and thoughtlessness, and limited disciplinary action may be appropriate.
Some may have more serious anti-social behaviours and incarceration to protect society may be necessary.
Others, however, may have a diagnosable mental illness, such as depression, social anxiety and compulsive sexual behaviour disorder.
The best solution for them may not be simply expressing remorse and proceeding to criminal rehabilitation. It may necessitate psychological treatment.
Perhaps all such offenders should undergo mandatory psychological evaluation and a court’s decision to suspend a custodial sentence should be made conditional on receiving treatment.