Family members often wonder: what are the options in Queensland, when it comes to pre sentence treatment in prison?
If you have a family member in prison, it can be very distressing.
Often the family in the community are just as affected by the incarceration, as the person in prison.
The incarceration is often unexpected and swift; the family can be left to fund legal fees, organise the affairs of the person in prison, and pick up the pieces following such a huge upheaval.
When a man has been charged with a sexual offence there is also the added stigma of this type of offending. The family are embarrassed, socially isolated and often have limited people with whom they are able to share their grief and confusion.
There is an excellent treatment program in prisons for sexual offenders in Queensland, however it is only available following conviction and sentencing.
For the man who has been remanded in custody awaiting sentencing there are no in-house treatment options available; men can sit in prison for many months, even years, awaiting a sentencing date.
When first charged with an offence, this can be a great shock to both the individual and his family. Often this is the first time he has found himself in trouble with the law; he is scared, confused and bewildered about what has motivated the sexual offending behaviour. Often men sit in this negative emotional space until they are sentenced, and eventually treated.
Why Treatment before Sentencing?
It is the writer’s opinion that a window of opportunity has been missed by the time sentencing occurs.
The man has become used to his circumstances and somewhat desensitised to his environment. He has resigned himself to the outcome, or has justified his behaviour to himself sufficiently and sometimes even convinced himself that he is the victim. He can return to his pre-arrest coping strategy of avoidance and feel the need to ‘sweep it under the carpet’, telling himself and others that ‘it will never happen again’.
However this thinking is high risk as he has not treated the underlying issues which have led to his offending. It is not to say that a man cannot engage in meaningful treatment once sentenced, he can, however it seems that his motivation to search for answers is never higher than it is immediately following arrest.
Additionally at arrest he is often close in time to his offending behaviour, which can be very helpful when working to determine its genesis.
Whilst there are no in-house treatment programs for men who are remanded in custody, there is the possibility of private psychology treatment.
There are inherent issues relating to the provision of this treatment; the main ones being that it is expensive and difficult to obtain due to the time lost in the psychologist’s day attending the prison.
Treatment for Sex Offenders
However there are psychologists who are willing to provide treatment for sex offenders in prison, and obtaining this treatment can be life-changing for the man in custody and his family.
Additionally a treatment report provided to the sentencing judge can also give the court an understanding of the man’s motivation, insight, remorse and willingness to continue treatment or comply with community based order conditions – my article on the value of a pre sentence report may be of interest.
Author: Shelley Jacks, B Psych (Hons), AMAPS.
Shelley Jacks is a registered psychologist with many years of experience in treating men who have committed sexual offences. For a confidential discussion about your individual circumstances, she can be contacted at M1 Psychology.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129