“Mr S, you do have sexual fantasies?” The Parole Hearing and Treatment of a Sex Offender at the Turn of the 21st Century

Dany Lacombe


How does the Parole Board decide a sex offender is rehabilitated and can be released into the community? This case study of a parole hearing reveals the significance the Parole Board gives to a sex offender’s management of his arousal as a clear sign of his rehabilitation. To explain the Board’s preoccupation with a sex offender’s sexual fantasies and arousal, I draw on a prison ethnography of a sex offender treatment program. Rehabilitation as risk management relies on the development of a crime cycle and relapse prevention plan designed to grasp the connection between fantasies, arousal and offending. I argue the parole hearing and treatment program exist in a symbiotic relationship that fabricates the sex offender into a species larger than life, one at risk of offending all the time.

Key words: rehabilitation, sex offenders, parole, sexual fantasies, ethnography, prison.

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