Cite as: 536 U. S. 24 (2002)
Opinion of Kennedy, J.
sex offenders said their victims were 12 or younger. Id., at iii.
When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new rape or sexual assault. See id., at 27; U. S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983, p. 6 (1997). States thus have a vital interest in rehabilitating convicted sex offenders.
Therapists and correctional officers widely agree that clinical rehabilitative programs can enable sex offenders to manage their impulses and in this way reduce recidivism. See U. S. Dept. of Justice, Nat. Institute of Corrections, A Practitioner's Guide to Treating the Incarcerated Male Sex Offender xiii (1988) ("[T]he rate of recidivism of treated sex offenders is fairly consistently estimated to be around 15%," whereas the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80%. "Even if both of these figures are exaggerated, there would still be a significant difference between treated and untreated individuals"). An important component of those rehabilitation programs requires participants to confront their past and accept responsibility for their misconduct. Id., at 73. "Denial is generally regarded as a main impediment to successful therapy," and "[t]herapists depend on offenders' truthful descriptions of events leading to past offences in order to determine which behaviours need to be targeted in therapy." H. Barbaree, Denial and Minimization Among Sex Offenders: Assessment and Treatment Outcome, 3 Forum on Corrections Research, No. 4, p. 30 (1991). Research indicates that offenders who deny all allegations of sexual abuse are three times more likely to fail in treatment than those who admit even partial complicity. See B. Maletzky & K. McGovern, Treating the Sexual Offender 253-255 (1991).
The critical first step in the Kansas SATP, therefore, is acceptance of responsibility for past offenses. This gives inmates a basis to understand why they are being punished
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