Engaging Advocates and Other Victim Service Providers in the Community Management of Sex Offenders
Supervision agencies, treatment providers, and others who manage sex
offenders in the community traditionally have been offender-focused in
their work. They utilize a variety of methods, which include monitoring,
use of sanctions, and treatment, to minimize the possibility of reoffense
by offenders. Yet, they must also work to ensure that these methods do
not re-traumatize victims of sexual assault or inadvertently jeopardize
the safety of others. The most comprehensive and responsible approaches
to community management of sex offenders are those which place paramount
importance on addressing the needs and safety of past and potential victims
of sexual assault.1 With this in mind,
justice system agencies and sex offender treatment providers in several
jurisdictions have begun to join with victim advocacy programs and other
victim service organizations to ensure that victim safety and support are
the primary goals of their interventions with sex offenders.
Victim advocates are eminently qualified to assist in managing sex offenders
from a victim-focused perspective, due to their history of working with
and on behalf of sexual assault survivors. Their knowledge of the needs
of victims can enhance sex offender management policy development, professional
training initiatives, day-to-day practices, and community notification
and education efforts. In addition, advocates and other victim service
providers offer services to survivors to respond to issues that may arise
when their perpetrators are released on probation or parole.
Anecdotal data (as cited throughout this paper) suggest that involving
advocates and other victim service providers in the community management
of sex offenders can facilitate more informed case supervision and treatment
decisions, a greater degree of protection for victims and the public, and
aid for victims in recovery.2 Yet, this
practice is far from mainstream. Many jurisdictions are struggling to implement
basic policies and practices related to sex offender management and have
not considered how to, or why they should, incorporate victim advocacy
and support into this work. Conversely, advocates and other victim service
providers often do not view collaboration with sex offender management
programs as a priority. Despite the limited implementation of this practice,
however, it is worthy of consideration by practitioners because of the
promise it offers in enhancing the effectiveness of sex offender management
in order to increase victim and public safety.
The purpose of this paper is to provide information, ideas, and resources
that will encourage agencies managing sex offenders in the community to
consider the benefits and feasibility of involving victim advocates and
other victim service providers in their work. It is also meant to encourage
advocates and other victim service providers to assess whether gaps in
victim safety and support exist in their local sex offender management
programs and to consider ways to address these gaps.
Promoting Responses that Protect and Support
Sexual assault victim advocacy represents a philosophy of working with
individuals and institutions to ensure that victims receive appropriate
services based on their articulated needs. This philosophy also assures
that community and governmental bodies are responsive to victims’ needs
and establish policies that condemn and prevent sexual assault.3
Advocates help ensure that interventions that affect victims focus on promoting
victim safety and well-being. In conjunction with other victim service
providers, they give individual survivors access to and provide a wide
range of services. On a systemic level, advocates encourage the justice
system and community agencies to improve effectiveness of coordinated responses
to sexual assault. They challenge practices that could harm victims and
work to institutionalize change that supports survivors in making their
own decisions about their protection and recovery.4
Provision of Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy and
Community-based sexual assault victim advocacy programs
(often called sexual assault or rape crisis centers) typically are the
primary local providers of advocacy services for victims of sexual assault.
They generally are nonprofit, non-governmental organizations5
that work to combat sexual victimization through provision of services,
advocacy on behalf of victims, and training, education, and public awareness
These programs usually offer free, confidential6
services to victims and others who have been affected by sexual assault.
Victims can utilize these services from the time of disclosure of the assault
to the time they decide they no longer need assistance. They can access
services regardless of whether they report their assault to the justice
system. Services may include, but are not limited to:
24-hour crisis intervention, support, and safety planning, including phone
hotline counseling and accompaniment through emergency medical and legal
provision of information and community referrals;
advocacy on behalf of victims with various systems (e.g., criminal and
civil justice systems, healthcare, social services, child protection, employers,
and schools), including accompaniment (e.g., to investigative interviews,
court, and other justice proceedings), and coordination and collaboration
with system personnel;
support groups and education programs;
ongoing contact and assistance as needed to promote recovery; and
mental health counseling.7
To improve community response or a particular institution’s response to
victims of sexual assault, these programs may coordinate or participate
in activities such as the following:
specialized professional training and technical assistance;
prevention education and outreach targeted at specific groups;
partnering with local organizations;
community organizing and public awareness initiatives; and
public policy development.8
There is usually one community-based sexual assault victim advocacy program
in a particular jurisdiction or region. However, some areas do not have
such a program or have a program that provides limited services. In larger
jurisdictions or regions, there may be more than one community-based sexual
assault advocacy program. These organizations often (but not always) work
collaboratively to ensure adequate service delivery to all local geographic
areas and victim populations.
State coalitions of local sexual assault advocacy programs
currently exist in 48 states.9 Coalition
staff members usually advocate for public policy changes that benefit victims,
promote public awareness about victimization, and provide training and
technical assistance to member programs and other organizations. They also
may seek and administer state and federal funding for their member programs.
A number of other groups may offer services that can supplement the
work of community-based sexual assault advocacy programs. These entities
include, but are not limited to, government-based victim-witness offices,
child advocacy centers, sexual assault nurse examiner programs, and sexual
assault response teams and other multi-disciplinary groups. Victim service
delivery can be optimized if these entities and advocacy programs coordinate
Criminal justice system victim-witness specialists10
can help ease victims’ entry into and journey through the criminal justice
system, due to their ready access to case information, their relationships
with other criminal justice personnel, and their in-depth knowledge of
the system. While their roles vary from one jurisdiction to the next, they
are often responsible for tasks such as orienting victims to the criminal
court process; informing victims of their rights, court dates, case status,
and disposition; making community referrals; assisting victims with filing
victim compensation applications; accompanying victims to court proceedings;
and providing assistance with preparation of victim impact statements.
Because they offer assistance to all crime victims during their involvement
in the criminal justice system,11 victim-witness
specialists often are extremely busy and can spend only limited time on
individual cases. They also may lack expertise on sexual victimization
An important distinction between the support offered by victim-witness
specialists and community-based sexual assault victim advocates is the
degree of confidentiality afforded to communications with victims.12
Victim-witness specialists are usually obligated to provide information
about victims to criminal justice personnel that may facilitate the investigation
and prosecution of their cases. In contrast, community-based sexual assault
advocates are obligated to focus solely on the needs of victims. To this
end, most community-based sexual assault advocacy programs have confidentiality
policies that prohibit advocates from disclosing information about victims
to a third party without their consent (a protection that may be based
on state statute).13
Child advocacy centers typically provide services to assist
abused and neglected children and their families. The establishment of
these centers in over 300 localities has helped improve the investigative
process in child sexual abuse cases. Agencies responsible for the protection
of children can coordinate their efforts through these centers, in order
to prevent further trauma to victims. While services vary across jurisdictions,
the centers usually provide a child-friendly atmosphere to conduct investigative
interviews; medically examine children suspected of being abused or neglected;
provide support, education, and community referrals; and prepare children
and their families for court. They also may provide counseling, community
education, and professional training on child abuse issues.
Hundreds of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs
have emerged over the last decade to improve the emergency medical-legal
response to sexual assault victims. SANEs are registered nurses who have
education and clinical preparation in the forensic examination of these
victims. SANEs strive to collect forensic evidence from victims in a timely,
compassionate, and respectful manner and ensure that proper emergency medical
care is provided.14 They also collect forensic
evidence from suspects in sex crime cases.
Sexual Assault Response or Resource Teams (SARTs) or similar
multi-disciplinary teams have been developed in many communities to coordinate
immediate medical, legal, and victim service responses to sexual assaults.
SARTs can work to ensure that each aspect of coordinated response protects
and supports victims, facilitates optimal evidence collection, and streamlines
the service delivery process.15 As SARTs
evolve, they could expand to address more comprehensive responses to both
victims and offenders.
Some communities have established multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional
investigative initiatives. These initiatives typically are grounded
in a belief that law enforcement’s response to sexual assault cases can
be enhanced by coordination and collaboration among advocates, health care
providers, prosecutors, judges, child protection workers, probation and
parole officers, and others.
Benefits of Advocate and Victim Service Provider
Engaging advocates and other victim service providers in managing sex
offenders in the community can support the missions of agencies that supervise
and treat these offenders, as well as those that provide assistance to
sexual assault survivors. Potential benefits for these agencies may include:
the needs of victims (whose offenders are supervised in the community)
could be addressed more consistently and thoroughly;
new victims identified in the course of offender supervision, as well as
family and friends of sex offenders who disclose victimization, routinely
could be offered assistance;
gaps in services to sexual assault victims can be readily identified and
case management and policy decisions related to managing sex offenders
in the community could be enhanced by sharing information and expertise
among advocates, other victim service providers, supervision officers,
and sex offender treatment providers;
more comprehensive and streamlined responses to sexual assault could be
collaboration among agencies on education initiatives could help increase
public perception that community supervision of sex offenders is an appropriate
and effective vehicle to prevent future victimization;
agency staff may feel more professionally satisfied because they believe
their collaborative efforts are truly helping to reduce sexual violence;
more systematic evaluations of the effectiveness of sex offender management
and victim services could be facilitated.
When advocates and other victim service providers are involved in developing
policies related to the community management of sex offenders, protecting
victims and the public more readily can become major goals of sentencing,
supervision and treatment plans, conditions of supervision, and the ongoing
process of offender monitoring in the community. On a day-to-day management
level, they can collaborate with the courts, supervision officers, sex
treatment providers, and others to implement victim-sensitive practices
and enhance the capacity of community supervision programs to hold perpetrators
accountable for their actions and deter future victimization.
Possible Roles for Advocates and Other Victim
A 1997 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of
Justice, reported that approximately 265,000 sex offenders were under the
care, custody, or control of correctional agencies in the United States.
Of these, almost 60 percent were under some form of community supervision.
Most offenders who are convicted of sex crimes will be released into the
community at some point—either immediately following sentencing or after
a period of incarceration in jail or prison. Effective community management
of these offenders is critical in reducing the possibility that sex offenders
will repeat their crimes; protecting past and potential victims; and educating
the public about prevention strategies. Although there are variations in
each locality, basic components of community management of sex offenders
include rigorous supervision16 and sex
offender-specific treatment.17 (See "Resource
List" for selected publications related to sex offender management.)
At a minimum, advocates from community-based sexual assault advocacy
programs should be familiar with sex offender management initiatives in
their jurisdictions, in order to advocate on behalf of victims. Beyond
that, there are a variety of ways that advocates and other victim service
providers can address victim and community needs in sex offender management,
as discussed below.
Jurisdictions should develop community-wide and agency-specific policies
to facilitate effective and consistent management of sex offenders. Advocates
and other victim service providers can collaborate with criminal justice
system professionals, sex offender treatment providers, and other stakeholders
to assess whether the policies and practices of the sex offender management
system adequately address victim issues, and assist in exploring and implementing
strategies that improve systemic responses to victims. They can evaluate
proposed policy additions or revisions to ensure that changes do not compromise
the safety and interests of victims.18
They can promote legislation that protects victims and communities and
holds offenders more accountable (e.g., when necessary, advocate for changes
in state registry and notification laws). They can help craft policies
that broaden coordination among agencies and the continuum of streamlined,
coordinated services related to sexual assault.
Advocates and other victim service providers also can involve practitioners
from the sex offender management field in developing policies and practices
related to victim services. They can help validate the need for services
for victims with whom they interact; consider how best to promote use of
these services; encourage coordination among various community victim service
providers; and explore innovative ways to work towards ending sexual violence.
The passing of community notification in
Connecticut was the impetus for collaboration between the Connecticut Sexual
Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) and the State Office of Adult
Probation (OAP). OAP invited CONNSACS to sit on the board that developed
the state standards for sex offender registration and community notification.
Because CONNSACS was involved in the implementation of the law, its staff
were able to advocate for legislative amendments when they began hearing
about unintended consequences on victims and others (e.g., a child being
harassed at school because it was public knowledge that his father was
a sex offender).
The director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
is a member of the state Board for the Treatment of Sex Offenders.
(In addition, there are representatives from local victim services and
intra-familial victim services, and a survivor of sexual abuse).
The board has developed treatment standards and a provider accreditation
process. It is currently conducting accreditation visits. The
coalition director finds it useful to participate in visits to treatment
programs—it allows her to recommend how providers can maintain a focus
on victim safety. She also sits on a state board that is developing
a civil commitment process for sex offenders and is working with the Corrections
Department to develop policies and practices related to community notification.
In Jefferson County, Colorado, a policy-oriented group
that addresses management of juvenile sex offenders includes the victim-witness
specialist from the District Attorney’s Office and a representative of
the state Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Community Notification and Education about Prevention
The program administrator for the Colorado
Sex Offender Management Board volunteers her time as co-chair of the board
of directors for the state Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
In Connecticut, the director of the Center for the Treatment
of Problem Sexual Behavior, with whom the state contracts to provide sex
offender treatment services, is a member of the board of directors for
the state Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS). In turn,
the director of CONNSACS is a member of the state Association for the Treatment
of Sex Offenders (CATSO). A trusting relationship between the two
directors led to joint presentations to the media and state Legislature
in which they supported each other’s work and the priority of developing
laws and services that address victim safety. Together, they serve
as a powerful voice for victims.
Community notification legislation enacted around the nation mandates
that law enforcement and other officials notify various community members
when a convicted offender is living in their neighborhood.19
A few states invited advocacy groups to help plan and implement this legislation,
and several jurisdictions are involving advocates in the process of door-to-door
notification and community education on the issue. Probation or law enforcement
officers can dispense information to community members about registration20
and notification laws, convicted offenders living in their neighborhood,
patterns of sex offending behavior, and whom to contact if they notice
suspicious behavior. Advocates can offer the community a wealth of experience
in prevention education. They can increase residents’ understanding of
this crime; provide them with facts concerning who is at risk for victimization
and by whom (given that convicted perpetrators represent only a portion
of the actual population of sex offenders); and discuss practical strategies
to reduce their risk of being sexually assaulted. They also can assist
justice system officials in addressing resident concerns while helping
to allay fears and reduce the possibility of vigilantism against offenders.
Professional Training, Information Sharing, and Networking
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services,
Inc. (CONNSACS) works with the state Adult Probation Office to present
community notification forums. Advocates help shift the focus of
notification laws from merely informing the public about known offenders
in their neighborhoods to preventing future sexual victimization.
Such forums offer new captive audiences for advocates to educate about
sexual assault and offer help to victims.
Advocates in Maricopa County, Arizona, and New Haven,
Connecticut, have assisted justice agencies with door-to-door community
Victim advocates, along with other victim service providers, can be
valuable resources on sexual victimization issues to those involved in
sex offender management. They can provide training and information that
enhances the ability of justice system agencies and treatment providers
to create effective policies; identify victim concerns or potential problems
in individual cases; and assist victims in addressing their needs. Training
topics can include:
introduction of local sexual assault advocacy program (role and services);
local and state resources for victims;
the nature and scope of sexual victimization;
the impact of sexual violence on victims, their family and friends, and
the range of victim reactions to sexual assault, including post-traumatic
the needs of specific victim populations, including secondary victims;
intra-familial sexual abuse dynamics and family reunification issues;
prevention of sexual re-victimization in individual offender cases;
facilitation of victim involvement/cooperation in the offender management
process (e.g., offering victims access to information and encouraging their
input about the offender’s incarceration, release, supervision, and treatment);
restorative versus retributive justice for victims and the community.21
In addition, state coalitions, local advocacy programs, and other victim
service agencies can involve sex offender supervision and treatment professionals
in educating their respective staff on topics such as basic sex offender
issues, the components of sex offender management, and the latest research
in the field. Such information can provide advocates and other victim service
providers with a clearer picture of how the criminal justice system handles
convicted sex offenders and areas where victims of these offenders and
the public could benefit from their assistance. It also can support or
oppose specific legislation related to sex crimes.
The Probation Department of Tarrant County,
Texas, in conjunction with the Sexual Assault Advisory Council and the
County Junior College, Northwest Child Abuse Training Project, developed
a videotape featuring a group interview with several sex offenders under
community supervision. The local Women’s Center and other agencies
utilized the videotape in their training programs. The interviewing
officers used questions developed by Women’s Center staff and other members
of the advisory council.
Advocates and other victim service providers can also collaborate with
supervision officers and treatment providers to educate other professionals
(e.g., law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, child protection workers,
legislators, and the news media) about sexual assault victim and offender
issues, so that they are better equipped to make well-informed decisions
about these cases.
In Fredericksburg, Virginia, a sex offender
treatment provider, a victim therapist, and the Rappahannock Council Against
Sexual Assault collaborated to offer regional professional training on
sexual victimization and sex offender treatment. The training was
well attended and provided an opportunity for networking among participants
from various disciplines
Victim Input on Improving Sex Offender Management
Community-based sexual assault advocacy programs typically rely on
their experiences working with victims and victim feedback about programs
and services to guide their agency policies and practices. Victim feedback
obtained by advocates and other victim service providers also is an invaluable
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services,
Inc. created adult and teen victim advisory groups to help ensure that
their policies and practices are victim-centered. The adult victim
advisory group has provided the advocate in the New Haven Sex Offender
Intensive Supervision Unit (see description in next section) with feedback
on developing correspondence to victims and ideas for connecting victims
with services. Also, one member of the adult advisory group agreed
to be interviewed by a sex offender treatment provider about the impact
of victimization on his life. A videotape of the interview is used
in the empathy component of sex offender treatment around the state.
By involving advocates and other victim service providers in the day-to-day
management of sex offenders, victims whose offenders have been convicted
of sex crimes can receive more comprehensive assistance and advocacy than
they currently are offered in most jurisdictions. If offenders disclose
crimes with new victims during supervision or treatment, advocates and
other victim service providers can work with supervision officers and treatment
providers to consider ways to offer assistance to these victims.
Advocates also can help acknowledge and address victimization
issues of family and friends of offenders. Since most sexual assault victims
do not report their victimization or seek victim services, it makes sense
to take advantage of the opportunity to offer help to this underserved
victim population. This assistance can be instrumental in halting intergenerational
violence and other dysfunctional behavior.
Advocates can help victims achieve their personal goals with the criminal
justice system, instead of goals defined by prosecutors, judges, probation
and parole officers, and sex offender treatment providers.22
The advocate’s role is to provide support and information, work to ensure
that victims’ wishes are heard, and act as a liaison for victims with criminal
justice system professionals and other service providers. For example,
advocates can encourage prosecutors to incorporate victim concerns in plea-bargaining.
They can work with victim-witness specialists to assist victims in developing
victim impact statements for pre-sentence investigation reports and in
obtaining state victims’ compensation.
Advocate and victim service provider involvement in the criminal justice
component of sexual assault cases traditionally has tapered off after sentencing.
However, victim safety and well-being must continue to be a priority when
convicted offenders are released on probation or parole. Advocates and
other victim service providers can assist victims in many ways at this
explaining the community supervision and treatment program to victims and
clarifying that it is designed to protect them, rather than coddle offenders;
making sure that victims are informed of changes in offenders’ status in
the criminal justice system and conditions of supervision;
helping victims address their concerns and plan for safety;
providing victims with ongoing support, information, and referrals;
communicating with justice system agencies, treatment providers, and other
stakeholders (e.g., those conducting physiological tests, schools, social
services, and employers) on behalf of victims;
facilitating victim input regarding supervision and treatment plans (e.g.,
assisting them in sharing concerns with supervision officers and making
recommendations about probation conditions, victim empathy education, and
ensuring that offender assessment is routinely repeated to identify risks
and that appropriate changes are made to supervision and treatment plans;
accompanying supervision officers on field visits to assess the danger
offenders may pose to victims or potential victims;
ensuring that treatment providers view their responsibility to the victim
as equal to their responsibility to the offender with whom they are working—interventions
they utilize must be in the best interest of the victim and the community
(recognizing that what is in the best interest of victims and the community
is also in the best interests of offenders);
helping treatment providers develop victim empathy programs;
participating in case review meetings and sharing information (with victims’
consent) to promote informed case decisions that promote victim protection;
assisting victims in intra-familial sexual abuse cases to assess the risks
involved in family reunification and, if reunification is to occur, monitoring
the process to ensure safety.
A few jurisdictions (New Haven, Connecticut, and Maricopa County, Arizona)
are utilizing a full-time victim advocate as part of a team that manages
sex offenders in their community. Several other jurisdictions are considering
creating similar positions. It is important to note that community-based
advocacy programs typically supervise these advocates. A community-based
advocate can be fully responsive to victims’ needs, instead of being influenced
or limited by the goals of the justice system. For example, the advocate
in the Intensive Sex Offender Supervision Unit of New Haven, Connecticut
(see description above), indicates that victims react better to her once
they know that she does not work for the justice system and that her parent
organization’s goals are supporting victims in recovery and preventing
Advocates may be concerned that getting involved in the operational aspects
of sex offender management could impede their ability to provide victims
with confidential services. In order to deal with this issue in Connecticut,
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) oversees the
advocate who works in the New Haven Sex Offender Intensive Supervision
Unit. CONNSACS developed procedures to request that victims whose offenders
are being supervised by the unit allow this advocate to share information
with supervision officers and treatment providers, as appropriate. By supervising
the advocate through the state coalition and developing clear protocols
that apply to these limited cases, local sexual assault crisis centers
avoid problems related to what the courts may require to be revealed about
victims in other cases.
Full-Time Advocate Position Within a Sex Offender
In 1998, a full-time advocate position was added to the
Intensive Sex Offender Supervision Unit in New Haven, Connecticut, to systemically
include the victim’s perspective in decision-making and to provide regular
contact with victims and their families. The addition of the advocate was
the result of collaboration among the state Court Support Services Division
(which houses probation), treatment providers from the Center for the Treatment
of Problem Sexual Behavior, and Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services,
Inc. (CONNSACS). The advocate was hired with Court Support Services funds,
but is an employee of and supervised by CONNSACS. While she is based in
the probation office, she works one day a week in the CONNSACS office.
Other unit staff include two therapists (average caseloads
of 50 to 60 offenders each); three probation officers who do intensive
supervision (average caseload of 25 offenders each); and one relapse prevention
probation officer (average caseload of 50 offenders). The advocate has
an average caseload of 100 cases, with about 25 being active at any one
The advocate’s primary role is to initiate and maintain
contact with victims and their families. She makes initial contact with
victims by letter to provide information about their offenders’ release.
Each letter is followed up with a phone call, at which time the advocate:
explains the work of the supervision unit, its emphasis on victim safety,
her role as liaison and advocate for victims and their families, and her
status as a CONNSACS employee; offers ongoing direct services; discusses
victim concerns and ways to address these issues; and provides referrals
to community resources. She estimated that she reaches about 35 percent
of victims she attempts to contact by phone—they are willing to talk with
her and want to utilize the ongoing services she offers. If she is not
able to contact victims by phone, she sends additional letters as needed
(e.g., to inform a victim that her offender has requested the state to
shorten his probation/parole). The advocate also serves in several other
functions, including those listed below.
She works with offenders’ families to help them understand
the dynamics of sex offending and offenders’ manipulative behavior. Through
these interactions, the advocate has found that many offenders’ partners
have themselves been victims of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse,
either by the convicted offender or other perpetrators. The advocate offers
these individuals assistance in their healing and in dealing with the offenders’
re-entry in their lives.
She accompanies probation officers and treatment providers
on unannounced field visits at offenders’ homes. Each team member typically
notices different potential problems or offender violations. The visits
may also provide the advocate with an additional opportunity to meet family
members of offenders.
She assists treatment providers on the empathy portion of
treatment groups, helping them to present information in a more comprehensive
and effective way.
Probation officers, treatment providers, and the advocate
participate in weekly case review meetings. Team members share information,
discuss concerns and potential problems, and make decisions in each case.
The advocate works to maintain the team’s focus on victim and community
safety and support. Team members frequently are able to make more informed
decisions because victims and/or the offenders’ family and friends disclose
useful information (e.g., about offenders’ violations of special conditions).
The director of the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior
credits this increase in information to the advocate’s efforts to establish
trusting relationships with victims and family and friends of the offenders.
On occasion, the advocate assists law enforcement officers
with door-to-door community notification and education forums. She has
found that by being involved in door-to-door notification, she is better
able to assess the possible impact of the offenders’ presence in the neighborhood
on victims and potential victims, and subsequently make more informed case
The advocate indicated it took about a year and a half to
incorporate her role into the unit’s work of managing sex offenders in
the community. While it took time to build trust and respect among team
members and shift to a more victim-centered perspective, probation officers
and treatment providers now are more often posing the question, "How would
this team decision impact victims?" The team has started to meet routinely
to discuss how to optimize their collaborative efforts. Due to the success
of the New Haven team approach, two new advocate positions are being developed
for sex offender supervision units in Hartford and New London, Connecticut.
Other localities involve advocates and other victim service providers
in day-to-day operations in more limited capacities.
In Jefferson County, Colorado, the victim-witness
specialist from the District Attorney’s Office is part of a team that works
with county school officials to deal with problems posed by the presence
of juvenile sex offenders in schools and address victim safety issues.
The victim-witness specialist and child advocacy center staff (who interview
victims for child abuse and neglect investigations) also participate in
monthly meetings to review juvenile offender cases.
The Women’s Center in Tarrant County, Texas, collaborates
with the Sex Offender Unit of the county Probation Department, through
the department’s Chaperone Education Program. The Probation Department
requires an approved chaperone when an offender may come into contact with
children or in other high-risk situations. Chaperones are usually
the offenders’ family members or friends. In addition to other requirements,
chaperones must attend classes to prepare for their role. The Women’s
Center works with program staff to educate chaperones on victim issues
and resources, and offers counseling and support for chaperones who identify
themselves as victims. The Women’s Center works with the county Parole
Office on a similar initiative, mainly focusing on education on victim
issues rather than counseling.
The director of the Women’s Center, a therapist by background,
also collaborates with a local sex offender treatment program to conduct
several individual victim empathy sessions a year for offenders who are
close to completing treatment. The offender pays a fee to the center
for each session. The director views this activity as a way to attempt
to reduce sexual violence in individual cases. While she continually
evaluates how these sessions affect offender progress, as well as the comfort
level for victims and staff in holding sessions at the center, treatment
providers indicated that the sessions have made a positive impact on offenders’
progress in treatment.
Strategies to Engage Advocates and Other Victim
Service Providers in Sex Offender Management
Establish Dialogue Among Agencies
The first step in exploring the feasibility of involving advocates
and other victim service providers in sex offender management is facilitating
discussion among relevant stakeholders. The difficulty of this task will
depend on whether there is a history of collaboration to build upon. If
partnering activities are already underway, agencies may be more amenable
to talking about how to better address victim and community needs in sex
A sexual abuse advisory council has been
in place in Tarrant County, Texas, for 17 years. It has addressed
victim and offender issues and involves the advocacy program as well as
agencies that manage sex offenders. The participation of these agencies
in the council has helped ease the way for advocate involvement in sex
offender management practices.
Initiating discussions about collaboration usually is the work of
a small group of agencies or individuals who have identified a need for
change, determined how to interest others, and encouraged action. The agencies
or individuals driving change will vary across communities. Those initiating
contact should articulate the benefits of involving advocates and other
victim service providers in managing sex offenders; identify their potential
roles; work with each agency to identify problems or conflicts of interest
that would impede progress in this area; and develop strategies to adequately
resolve these issues. Examples of roadblocks to establishing dialogue may
include those listed below.
Functional working relationships may not exist among agencies of various
disciplines. They may hold misperceptions or assumptions about each other
that create barriers to partnerships.
If there are multiple community-based advocacy agencies, supervision officers
and treatment providers may be confused about which agencies to involve
or believe that it is too overwhelming to involve all of them. They may
assume all victim services are the same and believe it is sufficient to
coordinate with just one agency to assist victims.
Differences in language that each field uses to talk about sexual assault
issues may hamper practitioners’ ability to communicate.
.It may be helpful for individuals initiating contact to first informally
interact with staff from supervision agencies, treatment programs, advocacy
programs, and other victim services to gauge interest and concerns, assess
agency power dynamics, and determine the formality required to facilitate
dialogue. Meetings between staff from these agencies can be encouraged
so they can become familiar with one another’s work, be comfortable making
referrals, and begin talking about collaboration.
The Iowa Corrections Department saw a need
to improve the quality and consistency of sex offender treatment and invited
the state Coalition Against Sexual Assault, among others, to participate
in a board formed in the early 1990s to develop treatment standards and
an accreditation process.
In Colorado, early efforts to develop legislation, policies,
and practices that standardized sex offender management were spearheaded
by the state Division of Criminal Justice, in conjunction with the Department
of Corrections, the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of
Youth Corrections, the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and the Judicial
Department. Input for the standards was sought from the state Coalition
Against Sexual Assault and victim service programs, as well as many other
agencies, individuals, and the public. The first standards were published
in 1996 and revisions to the standards were made in 1998 and 1999
In Jackson County, Oregon, the Community
Corrections Office is planning to hold a meeting of victim service providers
to identify gaps in services for victims of offenders they supervise and
to better coordinate resources. The office wants to clarify roles
of each victim service provider and reduce duplication in order to make
more appropriate referrals.
Individuals initiating contact also should facilitate communication
among sexual assault victim advocacy programs and other victim service
providers to discuss how best to coordinate victim support in sex offender
management. If identification of community-based sexual assault victim
advocacy agencies is problematic, state coalitions may help identify programs
that are members of their associations, follow standards for service provision
(if standards exist), and identify potential sources of government funding.
If a community is just starting to develop or revamp its sex offender
management program, it serves the interest of victims to involve advocates
and other victim service providers right from the beginning.
Since the formation of the Colorado Sex
Offender Management Board in 1993, two member positions have been filled
by victim service representatives from the state coalition and a rural
sexual assault crisis center. The board also includes representatives
from other victim service agencies. The board administrator indicated
that one of the board’s first tasks was to educate members about victim
issues, so they all operated from the premise that the primary function
of sex offender management is victim safety.
Dialogue among agencies also may be impeded by resistance to the idea
of involving advocates and other victim service providers in the community
management of sex offenders. Reasons for resistance may include those listed
Many current mainstream approaches to sex offender management do not promote
collaboration with victim advocates.
Agencies may be reluctant to collaborate due to concerns such as protecting
their funding or maintaining their reputations in the community. Individual
professionals may think that collaboration will only make their jobs more
Supervision officers and treatment providers may lack accurate information
and training on victim issues and roles of local advocacy and victim assistance
programs. Similarly, advocates may lack accurate information and training
on sex offending behavior, adjudication and recidivism rates of arrested
offenders in their jurisdiction, and how convicted offenders are managed
by the local criminal justice system.
Supervision officers and treatment providers may believe that involvement
of advocates will not increase the effectiveness of their work. They may
point to the void of research in this area.
Advocates may be cynical about the efficacy of community management of
sex offenders and lack information on promising trends in the field. For
example, they may perceive that the main focus of offender supervision
and treatment is offender rehabilitation rather than managing risks posed
by offenders. Advocates may believe it is preferable (and feasible) to
"lock sex offenders up and throw away the key."
Advocates may not see working on sex offender management issues as part
of their mission or a priority. Advocates who do this work may face disapproval
and even hostility from other advocates who think they have crossed boundaries
and are "sympathetic" to offenders. And while some may find it useful to
be involved in making policy decisions on the issue, they may be more reluctant
about working on offender issues on the day-to-day case management level.
Supervision officers and treatment providers may find it difficult to deal
with victims or may hold misperceptions about victims or offenders that
prevent them from viewing their work from a victim-centered perspective.
For example, they may think that they need not be concerned about the safety
of adult victims who were not physically injured by their perpetrators.
Treatment providers may worry that they are crossing boundaries when they
address victim issues or fear that a victim-centered perspective will hinder
their ability to effectively treat offenders.
Much opposition can be overcome by stressing that: 1) rigorous community
management of convicted sex offenders is vital to victim and public safety;
and 2) involving advocates and other victim service providers in the process
of establishing these community management strategies potentially can improve
the quality of responses to victims, offenders, and the public. Useful
tactics for reducing resistance can include identifying common interests,
frustrations and shared goals, and clarifying roles of each agency and
ways they can contribute to the prevention of future victimization. Agencies
and individuals should be encouraged to share their concerns and deal with
misconceptions and unrealistic expectations. In order to promote exploration
of new approaches responding to victims and offenders, agency staff should
be provided with up-to-date research findings related to sex offender management
and victim assistance. It is also critical to build agency capacity to
do this work, which may entail ensuring that each involved agency is financially
able to collaborate.
Identifying common interests and frustrations may help advocates, other
victim service providers, and those already involved in sex offender management
to overcome tendencies to merely complain about what is wrong with community
responses to victims and offenders, rather than take action. Commonalties
a desire to make case decisions based on the most comprehensive information
an interest in obtaining additional funding, resources, and personnel;
frustration with the lack of appropriate responses to sexual assault cases
by some agencies or professionals within the criminal justice system or
frustration that the range of victim services offered when victims enter
the criminal justice system are not available or easily accessible after
offenders are sentenced;
an interest in more consistent and appropriate referrals to local victim
an interest in more streamlined and collaborative approaches to victim
an interest in addressing victimization issues of the family and friends
of sex offenders;
an interest in ensuring that victims are notified of their offenders’ status
in the criminal justice system;
a desire to address problems related to offender registration and community
notification laws; and
an interest in educating the public about sexual victimization, offending
behavior, and prevention.
While agencies do not need to agree on every issue, they usually can agree
on numerous interests and frustrations and, in the process, identify shared
visions and goals. Subsequently, agencies can make priorities among areas
where improvements are needed and work jointly toward positive change.
A variety of networking and training forums (e.g. cross- and multi-disciplinary
training, routine meetings, and discussions via the Internet) can prepare
practitioners from various disciplines to work together on this issue.
Such forums can help to establish a foundation of trust and respect among
agencies; clarify each agency’s roles in responding to sexual assault;
build competence in addressing victim and public safety and support issues;
encourage openness to new ways of working with offenders; provide information
on emerging issues, trends, and research in each field; and explore partnering
possibilities and resources.
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services,
Inc. partnered with the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior
to present trainings for staff from their agencies and sexual assault crisis
centers in the state.
Moving from a theoretical discussion to planning and implementing strategies
to involve advocates and other victim service providers in sex offender
management is the next challenge. Decisions about what approaches to utilize
will depend on the strengths and gaps of the sex offender management program,
advocacy agencies, and other victim services; available resources; the
level of existing collaboration among agencies; and the level of readiness
for change. Strategies could range from relatively simple tasks such as
inviting input about sex offender management from advocates, to more complicated
endeavors such as developing a team approach that involves advocates in
the day-to-day management of sex offenders. While it is critical that collaborators
acknowledge the validity of all stakeholder concerns about specific approaches
and work to resolve problems, they should also avoid becoming immobilized
details of implementation and impeding action.
Agencies may be more inclined to continue collaborating if they start with
tasks that are relatively easy to accomplish and subsequently find their
efforts successful. For example, a planning group could begin by identifying
policies needed to facilitate consistent referrals by supervision officers
and treatment providers to advocacy programs and other victim services.
Then they can work to develop interagency agreements and seek endorsement
from involved agency leadership.
Orange County, California, a CSOM Resource
Site, is beginning to involve advocates and other victim service providers
in sex offender management. While the Resource Site team eventually
would like to place an advocate within the Probation Department, they are
currently focusing on three smaller-scale initiatives:
to develop procedures within the Community Service Program,
Victim Assistance Program (which houses both the victim-witness program
and the rape crisis center) to ensure that staff help sexual assault victims
file the proper paperwork to be notified of their offender release into
to develop procedures that facilitate advocate collaboration
with probation officers to encourage victims to provide information for
the pre-sentence investigation report; and
to develop procedures for the police to inform the Victim
Assistance Program when they will be distributing flyers on notification
of sex offenders living in neighborhoods and involve advocates in community
Shifting the focus of sex offender management programs from offender rehabilitation
and risk management to a more comprehensive victim-centered approach will
not happen overnight, nor will it necessarily be easy. Those involved must
recognize that collaboration is a long-term process of building upon successes,
failures, and growing relationships among collaborators.
In Iowa, some sexual assault crisis centers
were invited to monitor their local sex offender treatment programs.
This activity led treatment providers to make more victim referrals to
the crisis centers.
Paving the Way for the Creation of an Advocate
Several factors played a role in the establishment of
an advocate position to work on sex offender management issues in Maricopa
County, Arizona. The county’s status as a Center for Sex Offender Management
Resource Site was critical to building interest and commitment to engaging
advocates in sex offender management. The Maricopa County Resource Site
team includes probation officers, sex offender treatment providers, judges,
prosecutors, police, and representatives from the Center Against Sexual
Assault (CASA). In the process of considering areas for improvement in
the supervision of offenders, the team identified the need for better support
for victims of offenders on probation. The team looked to the Intensive
Sex Offender Unit in New Haven, CT, as a model of collaboration among probation
officers, treatment providers, and advocates in managing sex offenders
in the community.
Another factor that supported the creation of an advocate
position was the history of successful collaboration between CASA and the
criminal justice system. For example, the Mesa Center Against Family Violence,
established in 1996 by the Mesa Police Department as a multi-disciplinary
investigative initiative, is built upon partnerships. The center strives
to provide comprehensive immediate responses to sexually assaulted and
battered women and children. From the start, a CASA counselor has been
a member of the team housed at the center that works collaboratively as
needed on each case. Other team members include detectives, two child protection
workers, a sexual assault nurse examiner, a county attorney, and government-based
victim service staff.
With the support of the county Probation Department and
the Mesa Police Department, CASA received a grant for this position. The
advocate, who is employed and supervised by CASA, is currently housed in
the Center Against Family Violence. CASA plans to move her position to
the Probation Department in the future. Involved stakeholders still face
the challenges of clarifying the advocate’s role, identifying priorities
among her tasks, and overcoming operational barriers to incorporating the
advocate into the sex offender management team. However, practitioners
are beginning to see that the advocate is meeting victim needs that have
very seldom been met in the past. The overall consensus is that the advocate
can help create a more comprehensive system to manage sex offenders in
the community. The commitment of those involved to serve victims and their
willingness to discuss their concerns likely will contribute to the jurisdiction’s
success in dealing with these challenges.
Seeking resources to involve advocates and other victim service providers
in the community management of sex offenders may seem like a daunting task,
particularly to agencies that receive their funding through one or two
primary sources. Like many sexual assault crisis centers, those interested
in collaboration in this area most likely will need to seek out a variety
of resources. However, the jurisdictions that already involve advocates
and other victim service providers in sex offender management demonstrate
that it is possible to obtain needed resources with a sufficient commitment
of time, research, and creativity. Resources are available in both the
public and private sectors and can include volunteers, donations of in-kind
support and supplies, technical assistance, training, peer support, access
to information, and grant support.24
Support of Agency Leadership
Gaining the support of agency leadership to do this work is critical
to long-term success. Those interested in initiating more victim-centered
approaches to sex offender management can explain to agency leaders the
benefits of involving advocates and other victim service providers in this
work. Endorsement by leadership can allow funding, staff time, and other
resources to be sought and allotted to this initiative.
Commitment of Agency Personnel
The director of the Iowa Coalition Against
Sexual Assault views addressing victim issues in sex offender management
as part of her job. She pursues collaboration in this area because
she has the support of her board, which realizes the importance of having
someone with a victim-centered perspective at policy meetings concerning
sex offender management.
The advocate in the Sex Offender Intensive Supervision
Unit in New Haven, Connecticut, identified support of leadership from all
involved agencies as one of the main reasons she is able to be effective
in her position.
Many professionals who work with sexual assault victims and sex offenders
contribute significant time to collaborative initiatives because they believe
their efforts contribute to a safer community, more rapid victim healing,
and more successful offender reintegration into the community. They also
may view collaboration as a vehicle to be more effective in carrying out
their agencies’ goals. Much can be achieved through professional commitment
to the issue. For example, the majority of advocates, victim service providers,
justice system personnel, and treatment providers who participate on policy-making
entities that address sex offender management do not receive compensation
for their involvement beyond travel, food, and accommodation reimbursements.
However, their presence can have a profound impact on the sex offender
management system to make decisions that protect and support victims.
Agency Capacity Building
Sex Offender Management in Tribal Communities
The Fort Peck Tribes of Montana, recently selected as
a CSOM Resource Site, are working to establish a more comprehensive sex
offender management team. The tribes have collaborative structures in place
that are strengthened by a culturally sensitive, victim-centered approach
to services. For example, the Child Protection Team (CPT) meets once a
week to discuss juvenile cases. The director of the Crisis Center, which
provides tribal victim services, coordinates team activities. It includes
representatives from Tribal Criminal Investigations, the courts, the FBI,
Social Services, Juvenile Services, the Crisis Center, Indian Heath Services,
Tribal Mental Health, schools, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Seven CPT members, along with a judge, form the CSOM Resource
Site team. While the Resource Site team is committed to improving community
and justice system responses to sexual assault, they recognize there is
a substantial amount of difficult work ahead of them. Not only do they
have to determine how best to coordinate tribal, state, and federal cases,
but the community lacks adequate resources to provide for basic supervision
and treatment of sex offenders, particularly juvenile offenders. Given
the enormity of the tasks at hand, there is some reluctance among individual
team members to take responsibility for day-to-day coordination tasks.
To better share the work, they are hoping to expand the team to include
broader representation from federal, state, and tribal agencies and the
community. While it will take time and creativity on the part of those
involved, the tribes’ history of victim-centered collaboration are assets
in the process of developing an improved sex offender management system.
While agency personnel may be committed to advancing a victim-centered
approach to sex offender management, it is important to recognize that
there are limits to individual and agency ability to devote existing resources
to new tasks. Efforts to better address victim issues in sex offender management
and prevent future victimization should include strategizing about how
to build the capacity of supervision agencies, treatment programs, and
advocacy and other victim service programs to do this work. Rather than
competing for funds, agencies can assist one another in building overall
jurisdictional capacity to do this work (e.g., by jointly applying for
grants to support positions and projects). It is particularly important
that involved stakeholders understand that community-based advocacy programs
in many localities are significantly under-funded and thus challenged to
devote existing resources to this work. These programs can benefit from
the support of justice system agencies in maintaining and increasing resources
to serve victims.
In Tarrant County, Texas, the Probation
Department applied for funding through the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Crisis Services Division of the State Attorney General’s Office to expand
its Chaperone Education Program. Recognizing that chaperones may
have their own victimization issues, the State Attorney General’s Office
recommended that the Probation Department collaborate with the local sexual
assault crisis center, the Women’s Center, to enhance their project.
The Probation Department subsequently negotiated a contract with the Women’s
Center to involve them in several aspects of the program
Those interested in obtaining funding to involve victim advocates and
other victim service providers in sex offender management should take advantage
of one another’s expertise and access to resources. For example, directors
of community-based sexual assault advocacy programs typically have considerable
grant writing and fundraising experience because their agencies’ survival
depends on funding from multiple private and public sources. Directors
and supervisors of probation, corrections, law enforcement, and prosecution
offices may be aware of state and federal resources and how to go about
obtaining them. They also may be able to access justice system statistical
information and utilize departmental equipment, supplies, and support staff
to develop grant proposals and fundraising materials.
By working collaboratively, jurisdictions are best positioned to access
the many grants designated for victim outreach and services, management
of sex offenders, sexual assault education and prevention, as well as undesignated
public and private funding. As a result, agencies may obtain funding from
what they perceive to be an unlikely source.
Funding may be available through U.S. Department of Justice grant projects.
A few examples include:
The Connecticut Court Support Services Division
provided the state Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) with
funding to hire an advocate to work in the New Haven Sex Offender Intensive
The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault is working with
the state Corrections Department to identify funding for an advocate position
which would assist with statewide community notification education.
state victim assistance grants of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)—many
sexual assault crisis centers receive VOCA funding for direct victim service
provision (visit the website of the Office of Victims of Crime, at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/
or call (800) 627-6872);
the STOP grant of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which promotes
a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach to improving the criminal justice
system’s response to violence against women (visit the website of the Violence
Against Women Office, at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo
or call (202) 616-8894); and
the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program,
which works to improve criminal justice system functioning, with emphasis
on drug-related crime, violent crime and serious offenders (visit the website
of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja
or call (800) 688-4252).
Beyond the U.S. Department of Justice, there is potential funding from
other federal and state agencies, local governments, private and community
foundations, grant making public charities, individual donors, and fundraising
campaigns. Information about foundations can be obtained in The Foundation
Directory, available as a book or CD-ROM through libraries (visit the
Foundation Center at their website at www.fdncenter.org).
Information and Technical Assistance
Several national and state organizations (e.g., CSOM, the National
Alliance of Sexual Assault Coalitions, state sexual assault coalitions,
and state sex offender management boards) may be able to provide information
and technical assistance to jurisdictions interested in involving advocates
and other victim service providers in sex offender management. And while
there is little literature on this specific topic, resources are available
to help readers build their understanding of sexual victimization, advocacy
and other victim services, community and justice system responses to sexual
assault, the dynamics of sex offending, and the sex offender management
process. (See "Resource List.") In addition, jurisdictions and programs
highlighted in this document may be willing to share their experiences
with others. (Call CSOM for further information about these jurisdictions.)
Conclusion and Future Implications
The concept and practice of involving advocates and other victim service
providers in sex offender management is in its infancy. The practice may
become more widely accepted and implemented as sex offender management
programs shift the focus of their work to better address the needs and
safety of victims and the community through interventions with offenders.
However, there is general lack of awareness of the benefits of involving
advocates and other victim service providers in this work on the part of
supervision agencies, sex offender treatment providers, as well as advocacy
programs and other victim service organizations. Strategies that may promote
a more comprehensive victim-centered approach to this work and help overcome
roadblocks to further developing this concept and practice include:
educating stakeholders about the benefits of this approach;
developing partnerships among organizations working to advance the field
of sex offender management and state sexual assault coalitions and other
policy-making organizations that address sexual assault victim issues,
in order to mobilize advocate support;
continuously identifying promising practices in this area and sharing this
information with professionals in the field;
promoting national, state, and local discussions about collaboration among
supervision officers, treatment providers, advocates, victim service providers
and other stakeholders;
encouraging sexual assault crisis centers to take a leadership role in
advocating for the needs of victims of sex offenders supervised in the
community and new victims identified in the process of sex offender management;
encouraging jurisdictions to access technical assistance to address victim
issues in sex offender management;
promoting the inclusion of advocates and other victim service providers
on policy-making bodies that deal with sex offender management;
encouraging cross- and multi-disciplinary training among supervision agencies,
sex offender treatment programs, advocacy agencies, and other victim services;
encouraging supervision agencies and sex offender treatment providers to
involve advocates and other victim service providers in the day-to-day
management of sex offenders;
promoting the implementation of sex offender registration and notification
laws, in conjunction with community education sessions presented by advocates;
encouraging collaboration among agencies and legislators to improve laws
that address sex offenders and victim safety issues;
supporting research on the impact of collaboration among supervision officers,
treatment providers, advocates, and other victim service providers; and
helping agencies build their capacity to collaborate in this area (e.g.,
by supporting the development of sexual assault crisis centers where they
do not exist; promoting coordination among advocacy programs and victim
service agencies; and supporting the establishment of specialized sex offender
supervision units that utilize a community supervision model and include
a role for advocates).
Kristin Littel authored this brief. CSOM would like to thank the individuals
listed below for contributing information to this document.
Elizabeth Barnhill, Executive Director, Iowa Coalition
Against Sexual Assault, Des Moines, IA
Gail Burns Smith, Executive Director, Connecticut Sexual Assault
Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS), East Hartford, CT
Deborah Caddy, Director, Rape Crisis and Victim Services Program
of the Women’s Center, Fort Worth, TX
Cindy Carroll, Adult Parole and Probation Officer, Jackson County
Community Corrections, Medford, OR
David D’Amora, Center Director, Center for the Treatment of
Problem Sexual Behavior, Middletown, CT
Christine Edes Kling, Director of Advocacy, Center Against Sexual
Abuse, Phoenix, AZ
Jean McAllister, Program Administrator, State of Colorado Sex
Offender Management Board, Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department
of Public Safety, Denver, CO
Patty McGeshick, Program Director, Crisis Center, Wolf Point,
Susan Perdue, Assistant Director, Community Service Program,
Victim Assistance Program, Irvine, CA
Leah Wicks, Probation Supervisor, Jefferson County Probation
Department, Golden, CO
Joe Yanes, Director of Field Services, Tarrant County Probation
Department, Fort Worth, TX
Carrie Zimmerman, Victim Advocate, CONNSACS, East Hartford,
Center for Sex Offender Management
8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 720
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 589-9383
Fax: (301) 589-3505
Office of Justice Programs
810 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc (CONNSACS)
110 Connecticut Blvd.
East Hartford, CT 06108
Spanish Speaking Hotline: 888-568-8332
National Center for Victims of Crime
2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: (703) 276-2880
Fax: (703) 276-2889
National Coalition Against Sexual Assault
125 N. Enola Dr.
Enola, PA 17025
Phone: (717) 728-9764
National Resource Center on Sexual Assault
c/o Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
125 N. Enola Dr.
Enola, PA 17025
Phone: (717) 728-9740
Fax: (717) 728-9781
Services offered by this new center are estimated to be available in
Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Phone: (800) 627-6872
State Sexual Assault Coalitions
Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault (508 Dale Ave., Suite B,
Charlottesville, VA 22903-4547, Phone: (804) 979-9004) annually updates
and publishes a listing of state sexual assault coalitions and local sexual
assault crisis centers.
Violence Against Women Office
810 Seventh St., NW
Washington, DC 20531
Phone: (202) 616-8894
Fax: (202) 307-3911
Selected Publications and Internet Links
Sex Offender Management
English, Kim, Susan Pullen, and Linda Jones, eds. Managing
Adult Sex Offenders on Probation and Parole: A Containment Approach.
Lexington, KY: American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), 1996.
Copies (cost $30) can be ordered by calling the APPA at (606) 244-8207.
The Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) produces publications on
sex offender management, including:
An Overview of Sex Offender Community Notification Practices: Policy
implications and Promising Approaches;
Case Studies on the Center for Sex Offender Management National Resource
Compendium of OJP-Sponsored Projects Relating to Sex Offenders;
Glossary of Terms Used in the Management and Treatment of Sexual Offenders;
Identifying Resources for Managing Sex Offenders;
Sex Offender Registration: Policy Overview and Comprehensive Practices;
The Community Management of the Sex Offender: An Overview of Current
and Promising Practice; and
Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending Behavior: Emerging Research,
Treatment Approaches and Management Practices.
Through its website at www.csom.org,
CSOM offers many of these publications as well as a reference library on
related organizations and documents.
Bachman, Ronet, and Linda Saltzman. "Violence Against Women:
Estimates from the Redesigned Survey," Bureau of Justice Statistics
Special Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau
of Justice Statistics (BJS), 1995. This document can be obtained at no
cost through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (P.O. Box
6000, Rockville, MD 20849, Phone: (800) 851-3420, Fax: (301) 519-5212,
E-mail: email@example.com, Internet:
It is also available on BJS’s website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pubalp2.htm.
The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, through its website at http://dreamingdesigns.com/other/indexncasa.html,
offers information, articles, and fact sheets on sexual assault. The National
Center for Victims of Crime also offers fact sheets on sexual assault topics
through the Infolink section of its website at www.ncvc.org.
Kilpatrick, D.G., C.N. Edmunds, and A. Seymour. Rape in America:
A Report to the Nation. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Victims
of Crime and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992. To obtain
a copy (cost $10), call the National Center for Victims of Crime at (703)
Tjaden, Patricia and Nancy Thoennes. "Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence,
and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence
Against Women Survey." Research in Brief. Washington, D.C.: National Institute
of Justice (NIJ), 2000. This document can be obtained at no cost through
the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (see above contact information).
It is also available on NIJ’s website at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/183781.htm.
Responses to Sexual Assault Victims
Brakeman-Colbath, Beverly, and Grace Yeh (Connecticut Sexual
Assault Crisis Services, Inc). "The Central Role of Victims in Managing
Sex Offenders."This document is one of a number of curriculum materials
under development by the Center for Sex Offender Management.
D’Amora, David, and Gail Burns-Smith. "Partnering in Response to Sexual
Violence: How Offender Treatment and Victim Advocacy Can Work Together
in Response to Sexual Violence," Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research
and Treatment, The Official Journal of the Association for the Treatment
of Sexual Abusers 11 (October 1999): 295-306.
Littel, Kristin, Mary Malefyt, and Alexandra Walker. Promising Practices:
Improving the Criminal Justice System’s Response to Violence Against Women.
Washington, D.C.: STOP Violence Against Women Grants Technical Assistance
Project, 1998. Copies (cost $29) can be purchased from the National Criminal
Justice Reference Service (see above contact information). Internet: www.ncjrs.org.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Guidebook for Communities Responding
to Sexual Assault. Arlington, VA: National Center for Victims of Crime,
1993. To obtain a copy (cost $40), call the center at (703) 276-2880.
1 Center for Sex Offender
Management, The Community Management of the Sex Offender: An Overview of
Current and Promising Practice (Silver Spring, MD, 2000) p. 1.
2 The majority of practitioners
who contributed information for this paper are members of the Center for
Sex Offender Management’s (CSOM) Resources Site teams. Currently, 16 jurisdictions
are CSOM Resource Sites. They were selected because they have shown innovation
in their management of sex offenders. For more information about these
sites, contact CSOM to obtain a copy of Case Studies on the Center for
Sex Offender Management’s National Resource Sites. Beyond those jurisdictions
mentioned in this brief, there may be other communities that involve advocates
and other victim service providers in sex offender management. These communities
are invited to contact CSOM to share information about their collaborative
3 Kristin Littel, Mary
Malefyt, and Alexandra Walker, Promising Practices: Improving the Criminal
Justice System’s Response to Violence Against Women (Washington, D.C.:
STOP Violence Against Women Grants Technical Assistance Project, 1998)
4 Littel, Malefyt, and
Walker, p. 9.
5 There are exceptions—a
few sexual assault victim advocacy programs are branches of local government
6 Some typical exceptions
to confidentiality include cases that involve victims who are children
or dependent adults, and clients who indicate that they are in imminent
danger of serious harm to themselves or others.
7 Some sexual assault
advocacy programs offer victims and their significant others professional
mental health counseling services on a free or sliding scale fee basis.
However, many programs refer victims to local mental health providers for
8 For a further discussion
of advocacy services for victims of violence against women, see Littel,
Malefyt, and Walker, Ch. 5.
9 Nevada and Rhode Island
do not have state sexual assault coalitions as of this writing. Due to
its small size, Rhode Island has only one sexual assault advocacy program.
Similarly, the District of Columbia also has just one sexual assault advocacy
10 "Victim-witness specialist"
is a generic term used by the author to refer to staff from victim-witness
programs based in criminal and juvenile justice systems. Terminology describing
victim-witness staff varies across jurisdictions (e.g., some localities
refer to their victim-witness specialists as victim advocates).
11 In a few cases, victim-witness
specialists may work solely with sexual assault, domestic violence and/or
12 Littel, Malefyt, and
Walker, p. 156.
13 Littel, Malefyt, and
Walker, p. 156. If victims are opposed to sharing requested information,
advocates typically will contest attempts to obtain their records. If a
subpoena is upheld despite challenges, however, an advocate must disclose
the requested information or risk being held in contempt of court.
14 Kristin Littel, "Sexual
Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs: Improving Community Response to
Sexual Assault Victims," OVC Bulletin
(Washington, D.C.: Office
for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, forthcoming).
15 For further information
on SARTs, see Littel, Malefyt, and Walker, pp. 246-250.
16 Standard conditions
and methods of supervision are not sufficient to manage sex offender cases
and protect the public. Instead, supervision officers must be educated
about sexual offending behavior, sexual victimization issues, and the history
and patterns of offenders they supervise. They must be especially observant
and vigilant in enforcing supervision conditions and acting upon violations.
The following is a sampling of special conditions for sex offenders that
may be routinely added to standard conditions of supervision: active participation
in treatment; no contact with victims or their families; payment for victim
treatment; no contact with children; no sexual contact or unchaperoned
contact with anyone under 18 years of age; restrictions on driving and
travel; disclosure of offender history to landlords, employers, police
departments and school authorities, as applicable; residences must be approved
by the supervision agency; no unapproved visits with family; curfew may
be imposed; no purchase, possession or consumption of alcohol or drugs,
and testing as required; must agree to submit to physiological tests as
directed by supervising officers; and computer/Internet/technology restrictions.
17 Because sex offenders
are unlike other types of criminals, standard mental health treatment practices
are not adequate. Therapists who are not trained to work with this population
are ill prepared to deal with the complexity of these cases, the offender’s
seemingly paradoxical behavior, their highly manipulative personalities,
and their secretive lifestyles. Current research indicates that only with
sex offender-specific treatment, provided by professionals offering services
that conform to the most recent literature about effective therapeutic
interventions with this population, can patterns of behavior that lead
to reoffense be disrupted. Therapists must let go of traditional codes
of confidentiality and be willing to work as a team with supervision officers
and others to reduce the likelihood of reoffense, while acting in the best
interests of victims and the community. The most effective sex offender
treatment approaches play a pivotal role in preventing victimization because
offenders are held accountable for their actions; are required to confront
their thinking errors, acknowledging their crimes and the harm that they
have caused; and are required to develop specific skills and adopt new
18 Littel, Malefyt, and
Walker, p. 251.
19 The scope of community
members who are notified typically varies based on sex offenders’ perceived
levels of risk to reoffend. See CSOM’s
An Overview of Sex Offender Community
Notification Practices for a more thorough discussion of this topic.
20 Registration laws require
convicted sex offenders, upon their release, to provide local law enforcement
agencies in the community with their names, descriptions of their conviction
crimes, new addresses, and other information specified by state law. (Information
drawn from Kim English, Suzanne Pullen, and Linda Jones, eds., Managing
Adult Sex Offenders on Probation and Parole: A Containment Approach,
Lexington, KY: American Probation and Parole Association, 1996) pp. 5-3.)
21 Drawn from Beverly
Brakeman-Colbath and Grace Yeh, The Central Role of Victims in Managing
Sex Offenders. This document is one of a number of curriculum materials
under development by the Center for Sex Offender Management.
22 Drawn from Littel,
Malefyt, and Walker, p. 167.
23 For further discussion
on overcoming resistance to collaboration in this area, see David D’Amora
and Gail Burns-Smith, "Partnering in Response to Sexual Violence: How Offender
Treatment and Victim Advocacy Can Work Together in Response to Sexual Violence,"
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, The Official
Journal of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers 11 (October
1999): pp. 295-306.
for Sex Offender Management, Identifying Resources for Managing Sex
Offenders (Silver Spring: MD, 1999) p. 1. This publication provides
descriptions/contact information for CSOM’s partnership organizations,
U.S. Department of Justice offices, national associations and organizations,
and public and private organizations, as well as resource development tips.
Contact CSOM for a copy of this document.
Established in June 1997, CSOM’s goal is to enhance
public safety by preventing further victimization through improving the
management of adult and juvenile sex offenders who are in the community.
A collaborative effort of the Office of Justice Programs, the National
Institute of Corrections, and the State Justice Institute, CSOM is administered
by the Center for Effective Public Policy and the American Probation and
This project was supported by Grant No. 97-WT-VX-K007,
awarded by the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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