Ensure Comprehensiveness in the Transition Phase

The short– and long–term success of community reintegration is, in large part, a function of careful and informed transition and release planning that takes into account the resources and supports necessary to facilitate reductions in recidivism and positive outcomes for sex offenders (Bumby et al., in press; Marshall et al., 2006).
During the transition phase, several elements require dedicated attention in order to maximize the potential for adult and juvenile sex offenders to reintegrate successfully, including the following (see, e.g., Bumby et al., in press; CSOM, 2007; Cumming & McGrath, 2000, 2005; Marshall et al., 2006; Spencer, 1999):

Ideally, the formal transition phase begins three to six months in advance of the anticipated release date (Cumming & McGrath, 2000). Oftentimes, the transition process is coordinated by an institutional caseworker or facility case manager whose responsibilities include working closely with the offender and collaborating with various stakeholders within and outside of the facility (e.g., institutional sex offender treatment providers, mental health/medical staff members, community supervision officers) as the individual approaches release.

To the extent possible, the caseworkers responsible for managing the transition phase should be matched with sex offenders shortly after their arrival at the correctional or juvenile justice facility, so that they are familiar with the offenders, the family circumstances, other sources of community support, program participation/refusals, intervention needs, and overall adjustment. As such, they are less likely to encounter potential reentry barriers at the “last minute.” And under even more ideal circumstances, the supervision officer who will be responsible for post–release management of the offender is assigned to the case prior to the offender’s release.

Utilize the Transition Phase to Ensure Continuity of Care

A seamless transition by adult and juvenile sex offenders from institutions/facilities to the community is contingent upon ensuring that interventions to address critical needs continue post–release without unnecessary interruptions. Again, research indicates that reentry efforts are most successful when facility–based programs and services are linked to parallel programs and services in the community (see, e.g., Altschuler & Armstrong, 1996; Petersilia, 2003; Seiter & Kadela, 2003). Included among the specific needs that should be taken into account specifically with respect to continuity of care are the following:

In some circumstances, legislation or school board policies prohibit the return of certain justice–involved youth (e.g., juvenile sex offenders) to public schools. Furthermore, community notification procedures may be applicable to some youth which require that the school is made aware of juveniles’ sex offense histories. This has the potential to fuel negative sentiment among teachers, peers, and parents of other students if not managed carefully (e.g., on a “need to know” basis). Therefore, during the transition phase, practitioners should remain acutely aware of these types of barriers to the transition back to school, such that alternative educational plans (e.g., day treatment, alternative schools, GED) can be put into place prior to release and disruptions in attendance are prevented. (For more information about working with schools, see the Supervision section of this protocol.)

A key to ensuring a seamless transition of sex offenders to the community is the identification of local resources that can be used to address the various needs that may exist. However, it is unlikely that any single case manager or supervision officer will be fully aware of each of the programs and services in a given community. In an attempt to address this issue, many jurisdictions have developed resource inventories that describe briefly the programs and services that are available locally to address the rehabilitative and other needs of sex offenders and their family members. When comprehensive and up–to–date, resource directories can be invaluable to adult and juvenile sex offenders and their families, case managers both within and outside of facilities, and community supervision officers as a means of facilitating continuity of services, which ultimately increases the likelihood of successful reentry.

Discharge Summary

In the final days approaching release, the institutional/facility caseworker should assume responsibility for the development of a discharge report that summarizes and provides final documentation of the following key issues:

In addition to maintaining the discharge summary in the released offender’s file, the caseworker should be responsible for ensuring that the summary, along with other critical documentation, is shared with the professionals involved in the reentry process and community management.

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