Rehab Can Save Steubenville Rapists
Irin Carmon: It usually works with juvenile sex offenders
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2013 1:54 PM CDT
Ma'Lik Richmond covers his eyes and cries as his attorney Walter Madison, standing, asks the court for leniency. Co-defendant Trent Mays is in the white shirt.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool)

(Newser) – When the Steubenville verdict came in, one of the two convicted teens said in the courtroom that his life was over, notes the New Yorker. Many of his critics would agree, using the conventional wisdom that sex offenders can't be rehabilitated. But at Salon, Irin Carmon makes the case that conventional wisdom is wrong in this instance: "Juvenile sex offenders often can and do get better," she writes. Carmon talks to medical experts on the subject and finds that consensus has shifted dramatically. "We've done a complete about-face," says one at Johns Hopkins.

Hold teens accountable, of course, but also acknowledge that their brains, specifically their ability to suss out the long-term consequences of their actions, haven't fully developed. This matters, writes Carmon, "because the main reason researchers argue that juveniles found guilty of sex crimes don’t belong on the sex offender list is the copious evidence that they’re susceptible to treatment—and are unlikely to reoffend." It also raises the hope that if rehabilitation after a crime is possible, so is better prevention in the first place. Click for the full column.