BOOK REVIEW: ‘SO’ The New Scarlett Letters: Sex Offenders, Their Treatment, and Our Challenge

SO: The New Scarlett Letters: Sex Offenders, Their Treatment, and Our Challenge, published in 2018, would benefit from person first language. It was coauthored by Marilyn Callahan and Tim Buckley. They have both volunteered in prisons and re-entry programs. Marilyn is a Social worker who has done extensive work with people accused of a sex offense. The people written about are all convicted of a contact offense. At the end of each chapter they give a brief client story. 

The book first describes different offenses and lists some qualities that may lead people to commit a sex offense. They cover differences between men and women who are accused of a sex offense. They also write about specific treatment of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. 

Many different types of therapy and treatment are discussed in the book. It does make a connection between sex offenses and addiction or addictive behaviors. They are very hopeful and encourage positive reinforcement, along with a lot of hard work by the individuals in treatment. 

The authors write about how the registry and restrictions on people forced to register make it harder to get help and become a productive person in society. This book makes it clear that in order to reduce sex crimes and offenses, it’s much better to help the people accused of the crimes. Punishment without helpful treatment is not beneficial, and the registry only continues the harm to everyone.

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