On the occasion of the latest exposure of John Lewthwaite’s place of residence, which inevitably puts him in breach of his parole conditions and back into custody of some sort, Ninglun has linked to some of my earlier posts about knee-jerk reactions to pedophilia and court orders made about serious sex offenders. 

Lewthwaite, who is on parole, is as rehabilitated, on all available objective indicators, as it is possible to be.  Only the nature of his crime could blind people to this.

Though not found insane, Lewthwaite was clearly psychologically disturbed at the time he committed his crimes. This state of psychological disturbance must have been related to or at least exacerbated by his inability to cope with his sexuality in the face of socially prevalent homophobia.  The moment I begin to try to imagine the psychological circumstances of Lewthwaite’s crime, just in terms of what could possibly have motivated him to act as he did,  I see a crazy concatenation of youth, guilt, fear and loneliness.

It is not necessary to go into questions of whether those circumstances lessen Lewthwaite’s guilt and therefore the punishment which he should receive.  He has already served that time.

The key point is rehabilitation and risk of reoffending.

As part of this, we would normally ask: what has changed?  Why won’t he do it again?

Social conditions have changed, if not as much as one would like.  So that is one reason to think it might be plausible that Lewthwaite also has changed.

Just measured functionally: Lewthwaite’s ability to cope with his homosexuality has changed.  He has been living in a relationship with an adult man for several years. He has shown no signs of breaking into homes to have sex with young boys and incidentally murdering their sisters.  It is eminently plausible (in the non-snarky sense) that he has changed psychologically from the young man he was when he committed his terrible crime. 


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