Pre-Sentence Treatment In Prison

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Can you obtain treatment for Sexual Offences in Queensland Prison’s?

Having a family member in prison 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 members 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 this treatment is received 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 a man is first charged with an offence this can be a great shock to both himself and his family. He and the family have many questions about his behaviour. Often this is the first time he has found himself in trouble with the law and is generally a law abiding citizen. 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.

It is the writer’s opinion that a window of opportunity has been missed by this time. 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 has sometimes 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 not 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 issues being that it is expensive and difficult to obtain due to the time lost in the psychologist’s day attending the prison. However there are psychologists who are willing to provide treatment 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.

Shelley Jacks is a psychologist with many years of experience treating men who have committed sexual offences. For a confidential discussion about your individual circumstances she can be contacted at M1 Psychology.

About the author:

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Shelley Jacks

Shelley has been a psychologist for many years and was employed for ten years by Queensland Corrective Services. She has provided treatment and assessment to the highest risk prisoners in Queensland and has experience treating men and women in prison, many of whom had a mental health condition or a cognitive disability. Shelley has also worked as a psychologist for Queensland Health working in the Acute Young Adult Ward at Robina hospital and at the Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation unit at the Gold Coast Hospital. For the past seven years Shelley has been running her own psychology private practice and won a tender to Queensland Corrective Services. She has treated clients with many different mental health conditions including ASD and Intellectual Disability. Over this time Shelley has provided a number of assessments, as a psychologist, for clients which have enabled them to access NDIS funding which has improved their lives immensely. Her interest, over time, in the NDIS grew and she researched this service, its processes and what it was offering to clients in great detail. Shelley’s awareness of the support NDIS was able to offer clients and the enormous benefits it could bring to their lives led her to create Magnus Heath. A business where she could, along with a great team, significantly improve the lives of people living with a disability.

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