The Icelandic prison system has a great shortage of therapists for sex offenders, with paedophiles given a top priority for treatment and still waiting far too long for help, says a psychologist for the Icelandic Prison Service.
Iceland’s prison system, at least in theory, is both punitive and rehabilitative. However, a lack of available therapists within the prison system has made the latter aspect a difficult one to realise, Vísir reports. Þórarinn Hjaltason, a psychologist for the Icelandic Prison Service, told reporters that there are currently only two therapists for all of Iceland’s prisons.
Paedophiles are given top priority when it comes to treatment, but Þórarinn says, “We haven’t done a good job in coming to grips with that. We need to hire psychologists who first and foremost have the task of working within this area.”
The Lanzarote Agreement, a pan-European treaty regarding sex offences against children and the treatment of the accused, is the subject of a parliamentary resolution which, if passed, would mean Iceland’s full agreement to comply. But director of the Government Agency for Child Protection Bragi Guðbrandsson – who sat on the committee that helped draft the Lanzarote Agreement – says that Iceland does not yet meet the requirements of the agreement. He agrees with Þórarinn, saying that it would be “very desirable” to have more professionals working with sex offenders.
Sex offenders are not obliged to undergo therapy, adds Þórarinn, and there are a number who deny any wrongdoing. But for those who do seek treatment, either as a part of their probation or parole, or as prisoners, there still exists a shortage of therapists.
“And of course you don’t want to have a system like they do in the United States,” he added. “Where a person ends up on a registry for the slightest offence and never leaves it. People who believe they are forever trapped in a particular situation are more likely to commit these crimes again.”
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