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February 20, 1987

Motivations Studied and Treatments Devised in Attempt to Change Rapists' Behavior

JAMA. 1987;257(7):899-900. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390070019005

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NEWS ITEM: "In an opinion by Justice William Rehnquist, the [Supreme] court ruled 5-4 that persons accused of being 'sexuallly dangerous' in Illinois do not enjoy all the same constitutional protections as criminal defendants.... The state's chief interest in these cases is the treatment rather than the punishment of sex offenders."—Chicago Tribune, July 2,1986, p. 3.

Should rapists receive treatment at taxpayers' expense? Although there may exist some negative reaction to the idea, it is gaining favor among experts in the field.

Richard A. Maier, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Loyola University of Chicago, writes that, "since individuals convicted of violent sex crimes almost invariably return to society at one time or another, it seems that therapy should be attempted" (Human Sexuality in Perspective. Chicago, Nelson Hall Publishers, 1984, p 424). He notes that more is being learned about the motivations of rapists and that, increasingly, there are