Rehab programmes for child sex offenders not doable, says criminologist

Reuters pic.

PETALING JAYA: A criminologist has poured cold water on calls for the government to draw up programmes to rehabilitate individuals convicted of sexual crimes against children during their time in prison, saying this will not be viable in Malaysia.

P Sundramoorthy of Universiti Sains Malaysia told FMT that rehabilitating child sex offenders was a tedious and challenging task.

He added that Malaysia did not have the manpower or resources to run such programmes.

“Many advanced countries have spent millions on such programmes, yet the outcome is mostly negative,” he said.

Lawyer Kitson Fong previously suggested that the home ministry and Welfare Department come up with rehabilitation programmes, saying prisons should be a “correctional facility” to help sexual offenders turn over a new leaf.

However, Sundramoorthy warned that generic programmes would not work as there were various types of offenders in prison.

“While some offenders act on the spur of the moment without any premeditated plan, others are downright sociopaths,” he said.

“Even if we devised the best programme, it would not work without professionals who are responsible for ensuring that the objectives of the programme are met.”

But because Malaysia lacked such experts, he said, foreign specialists would have to be brought in.

“This begs the question of how the government is going to carry out such programmes without allocating a colossal amount of money.”

Dismissing the suggestion as impractical and a waste of resources, he proposed that the money instead be used to build more prisons if necessary to keep such offenders behind bars.

It would be better to allocate funds to reform those convicted of cyber or criminal-related crimes, he said.

“Allocating taxpayers’ dollars to fine-tune existing substance abuse rehabilitation and treatment programmes is obviously more cost-worthy and necessary.”

He also suggested that the money be invested in programmes to treat and counsel victims of child sex offenders, saying they should be the top priority.

“The public, especially children, are entitled to be safeguarded from sexual predators.

“It is generally accepted that the person who commits violence on others has waived his rights. So if sexual offenders are going to spend their natural lives in prison due to lengthy sentences, so be it.”