The Local reported a man convicted of molesting a five-year-old girl has been given permission to adopt a ten-year-old boy by Sweden’s municipality social affairs committee.
By Melissa S. Gresham
It is impossible to believe that any government agency would allow a pedophile to adopt a child on the basis that his relapse into criminal behavior seemed low. The Local reported a man convicted of molesting a five-year-old girl has been given permission to adopt a ten-year-old boy by Sweden’s municipality social affairs committee. An assessment was not given to back up the decision; but based on research of criminal recidivism in Sweden, an overview of the criminal justice process, and the liberal attitude on prison treatment and rehabilitation, Sweden needs ethical policy makers.
Studies show the child sex offender recidivism rate in Sweden is as high as 35 percent compared to other types of sexual crimes at 13 percent. Among the reoffended adult males, the study showed “that incarceration had almost not preventive impact on sexual and violent recidivism” (Carlstedt, 2012). Additionally, recent statistics from Brå show overall recidivism among men is 44 percent and 92 percent relapsed into crime if they have had nine previous adjudications. The man approved to adopt has had 90 guilty convictions in his life. From these statistics, how is it concluded that Swedish authorities do not fear he will relapse?
Sweden’s lenient imprisonment policy has evolved from the New Penal Code and the Prison Treatment Act, which aims to re-socialize or transform prisoners. The goal is to “empty the prisons” seeing incarceration as rehabilitation rather than punitive. A life sentence in Sweden can be shortened to 14 to16 years based on good behavior.
Upon studying the Swedish criminal justice system, the most concerning aspect is the attitude behind the policy decisions. Qualitative studies show punishment decisions are based on minimizing the loss of individual freedom from being incarcerated, protecting liberty, and repairing social conditions from which their crime originated. By understanding mental and social factors to the criminal activity, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service can determine what individual hardships led to the crime in the first place. It is hard to justify absence of punishment for child sex crimes, much less understand placing the offender’s civil rights above the liberties of an innocent child.
Children are the true victims in any crime, especially molestation. The liberal Swedish approach to imprisonment and rehabilitation is heinous and unethical to society. Ethically policy making includes obligations, consequences, and ultimate ends. Accepted moral behavior from social class, religion, community, and family would protest the release of a sex offender with such high recidivism rates, much less allowing him to be responsible for a young child.
Melissa S. Gresham is an Adjunct Instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a former helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army. She is also completing her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace. Follow her on twitter @melissa_gresham
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