LOS ANGELES – David Westerfield, the man recently convicted of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, may never walk the streets again, but thousands of others who victimized children are released from prison when their sentences are up.
The fact that they've done their time does not mean that they won't assault again.
"Once they’ve offended, we’re always going to have a heightened concern," said Dr. Wesley Maram, a psychologist at Sex Offender Solutions, a California-based treatment program that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of sexual offenders.
Maram treats hundreds of paroled pedophiles a year. He acknowledges they pose a high risk of hurting another child, and says his job is to protect the community as much as help his patients.
"They're never going to be cured, this is not about cure," Maram said. "This is about a person learning how to manage his life in such a way that he avoids high-risk situations that does not allow him to place himself back into a situation where he could hurt a person once again."
Studies show that more than 17 percent of convicted sex offenders strike again. And while treatment may help, victim advocates are not satisfied.
"I know about repeat offender criminals, the longer you keep them in jail, the less crimes they commit," said John Walsh, host of the TV show, America’s Most Wanted.
Walsh, whose son Adam was kidnapped and murdered in 1981, says treatment programs are bogus and pedophiles should never get a second chance.
"I don't have the answer. I don't think the medical community has the answer. I don't think the psychiatric community has the answer," he said. "But I do know that there's a huge body of evidence in the psychiatric community that pedophiles cannot be cured."
And even though treatment is out there, many offenders don’t go to get it, even when they’re still in jail.
Only 14 percent of imprisoned sex offenders report that their sentence includes special court condition that they receive psychological or specialized sex-offender treatments, according to the Department of Justice. More than 75 percent of jailed sex offenders get no help at all.
So what do we do with pedophiles that have served their sentences but are still dangerous?
It's a question many states are struggling with. Human rights activists say you can't throw away the key, yet the medical world can't unlock a solution.
So until a solution is found, pedophiles continue to roam the streets.