The Collaborative Approach to Sex Offender Management
Most convicted sex offenders are released from the custody of the criminal
justice system into the community at some point following sentencing or
after a term of incarceration. Given time and opportunity, many of these
offenders will continue to sexually reoffend. Therefore, a comprehensive
and cohesive network of interventions must be in place to control their
manipulative and sexually deviant behaviors. Only through collaborative
approaches can those responsible for sex offender management contain these
offenders and minimize the risk of future sexual victimization.
Collaboration in sex offender management is not a new concept. Practitioners
and researchers have long recognized that only by venturing beyond traditional
reactive, adversarial approaches to criminal justice can we address the
complex nature of sex offending and the impact that sexual assault has
on victims and society. In numerous jurisdictions, criminal justice agencies
and community organizations have successfully forged partnerships, recognizing
the enormous potential for impacting crime and reducing costs when agencies
share information, develop common goals, create compatible internal policies
to support those goals, and join forces to analyze problems and create
Yet, collaboration in managing sex offenders is far from universal.
Many localities, struggling to implement basic policies and practices related
to sex offender management, may not consider collaborative approaches attainable.
Even when agencies are committed to working together, they may be entrenched
in organizational structures and philosophical perspectives that threaten
collaborative thinking or activities.
This brief explores why collaboration is essential in managing sex offenders
in the community and discusses the challenges of such an approach. It also
addresses how jurisdictions can promote shared responsibility among key
policymakers and practitioners for decision-making on offender management
Why is Collaboration Essential to Managing Sex Offenders
in the Community?
In "Partnering in Response to Sexual Violence," David D’Amora and Gail
"Professionals in the treatment, victim advocacy, and criminal justice
fields have struggled with the enormous scope of sexual violence for years.
Each of these systems has worked to develop more effective approaches to
address the individual and societal issues involved. A variety of successes
have been achieved in each of these fields, including better treatment
outcomes, changing social views, and more successful prosecution and accountability.
At the same time, we have not been able to eliminate the problem. Despite
our best efforts, sexual violence remains a pervasive societal problem,
and, when the system responds inadequately to offender behavior, victims
can be further hurt by system-induced trauma."
Collaboration among stakeholders working with sexual assault victims
and sex offenders is vital to confront continuously the secrecy, manipulation,
and deception that characterize sexual offending behavior. However, justice
system and community agencies have historically worked independently and
sometimes at odds with each other in their efforts to manage offenders
and protect victims. A collaborative approach requires that involved agencies
operate interdependently, working in concert to minimize the ability of
offenders to circumvent the goals of community management and maximize
victim safety and support.
The sex offender management field is fairly united in the belief that
the responsible management of sex offenders requires rigorous community
supervision and sex offender-specific treatment. While collaboration among
supervision officers and treatment providers is essential to managing this
population, a host of other justice system and community agencies should
be involved. For instance, victim advocates and service providers can speak
to victim safety needs at all stages of offender management. Law enforcement
officers are critical in gathering and interpreting evidence. Prosecutors
make charging decisions and can refuse to accept pleas that downgrade charges
to non-sexual assault cases. Judges are empowered to order offenders to
receive the supervision and treatment that is paramount to reducing recidivism
risk and enhancing public safety. Defense attorneys counsel offenders on
probation and parole, explaining the expectations of the court (e.g., that
their compliance with community supervision restrictions may reduce their
risk of recidivism and incarceration). Those conducting physiological tests
(e.g., polygraph or plethysmograph examinations) assist the courts, supervision
officers, and treatment providers in monitoring offenders by encouraging
them to disclose sexually deviant and criminal behavior committed while
under community supervision. Criminal justice officials oversee registration
and community notification of sex offenders, and may work with victim advocates
to educate residents about convicted offenders living in their neighborhoods
and about preventing future victimization. A network of others, including
families and significant others, and in juvenile cases, school staff and
social services workers, may also assist in monitoring offenders in the
Collaboration at the case management and policy levels is the key to
a comprehensive and cohesive response to victims and offenders. These entities
must not only share information about each offender, but should also work
together continually to evaluate the offender’s progress and discuss whether
modifications should be made in the offender’s treatment contract and supervision
plan, based on information they might learn from one another. Community
management of sex offenders in some ways resembles a puzzle. Small pieces
of information taken alone have little significance. However, when the
pieces are put together, the picture that emerges often provides important
information regarding the offender’s activities.
What is Collaboration?
In daily use, the word "collaboration" is commonly interchanged with
terms such as "networking," "cooperation," and "coordination." Chris Huxham,
in Collaborative Advantage, provides definitions of these terms
in an effort to distinguish collaboration.
Networking is the exchange of information for mutual benefit.
Coordination is the exchange of information and the altering of
activities for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose.
Cooperation is the exchange of information, the altering of activities,
and the sharing of resources for mutual benefit and to achieve a common
Collaboration is the exchange of information, the altering
of activities, the sharing of resources, and the enhancement of the capacity
of another for the mutual benefit of all and to achieve a common purpose.
Collaboration thrives on divergent insights, offering a process through
which parties can see various aspects of a problem, can explore their differences,
and search for solutions (Gray, 1989). Collaborations involve formal and
sustained commitment and rely on the conviction that, while retaining uniqueness
and autonomy, organizations that share values and goals can often accomplish
more by working together than on their own (Raley, 1993).
It is the effort to enhance the capacity of another that makes
collaboration different. Blank et al. (1992) differentiates among cooperation,
coordination, and collaboration (see Table 1). They emphasize that collaboration
is characterized by:
mutual beneficial and well-defined relationships;
common goals decided by all those involved;
jointly developed structure, shared responsibility, and many levels of
mutual authority and accountability for success; and
sharing of resources and rewards.
Jurisdictions and agencies should assess whether they are truly collaborating
in their efforts to manage sex offenders. While all kinds of partnerships
can be helpful in managing sex offenders, collaboration is the only approach
with the highest potential to create comprehensive and cohesive responses
to sex offenders that promotes public safety and reduces victimization.
Forming Collaboratives in an Adversarial System
The historically adversarial nature of relationships among some practitioners
involved in sex offender management complicates fostering and maintaining
collaboration. The "rules" of the criminal justice system often position
parties as adversaries who seek to defend the interests of their individual
disciplines. Criminal justice professionals also may not be inclined to
support efforts of those working on sex offender issues outside the legal
system. Likewise, community-based agencies sometimes do not want to be
involved in justice system initiatives. Many at the collaboration table
also compete for shares of the same limited funding—such competition makes
it hard for them to adopt an "all for one, for the greater good" attitude.
Similarly, policymakers who face competitive election may find it difficult
to have an "all for one" attitude with their non-elected colleagues, or
colleagues who may be potential competitors for their positions.
Table 1: Distinguishing Features: Cooperation, Coordination,
||Based on individual
relationships that may be mandated by a third party.
are supported by the organizations they represent.
||Commitment of organizations
and their leaders is fully behind their representatives.
and goals are not taken into account.
||Mission and goals
of the individual organizations are reviewed for compatibility.
||Common mission and
goals are created.
as needed and may last indefinitely.
||Interaction is usually
around one specific project or task of definable length.
||One or more projects
are undertaken for longer-term results.
Responsibility, and Communication
informal; each organization functions separately.
take on needed roles, but function relatively independently of each other.
structure and/or clearly defined and interrelated roles that constitute
a formal division of labor are created.
|No joint planning
planning is required.
is required that includes developing joint strategies and measuring success
in terms of impact on the needs of those served.
|Information is conveyed
are established and definite channels are created to facilitate interaction.
||Many levels of communication
are created beyond those needed to merely promote interaction, as clear
information is a keystone of success.
||Resources are separate,
serving the individual organization’s needs.
||Resources are acknowledged
and can be made available to others for a specific project.
||Resources are pooled
or jointly secured for a longer-term effort that is managed by the collaborative
|Rewards are mutually
||Rewards are mutually
in the products; more is accomplished jointly than could have been individually.
||Authority rests solely
with individual organizations.
||Authority rests with
the individual organizations, but there is coordination among participants.
||Authority is determined
by the need to balance ownership by individual organizations with expediency
to accomplish purpose.
|Leadership is unilateral
and control is central.
||Some sharing of leadership
||Leadership is dispersed
and control is shared and mutual.
|All authority and
accountability rests with the individual organizations, which act independently.
||There is some shared
risk, but most of the authority and accountability falls to the individual
||Equal risk is shared
by all organizations in the collaboration.
Collaboration requires players to step out of adversarial roles
in their pursuit of common goals. Despite obstacles, many agencies that
are positioned as adversaries have established collaboratives to address
specific issues in sex offender management (see Table 2 for a comparison
of adversarial versus collaborative approaches (Gray, 1989)). For example,
in the past, supervision agents and treatment providers restricted their
face-to-face contacts. Now, many jurisdictions expect these practitioners
to have ongoing face-to-face interactions to facilitate information sharing
and case related decisions. In the past, probation administrators, treatment
providers, and directors of state advocacy organizations typically sought
support from their state legislators solely for their own interests. Now,
in some states, these policymakers jointly seek legislative support for
initiatives related to sex offender management and victim recovery. In
the past, it was unheard of for private defense attorneys or public defenders
to be part of collaborative solutions to sex offender management. Now,
a few jurisdictions have successfully involved these practitioners on collaborative
teams. In the past, judges and court administrators were hesitant to get
involved in collaborative efforts because they viewed them as a threat
to their judicial neutrality. Now, more judges and court administrators
have found ways to preserve the decisional independence of the judiciary
while participating in collaboratives.
Table 2: Comparison of Adversarial and Collaborative Approaches
|Rules position parties
as joint problem solvers.
|Third parties intervene before
issues are mature.
||Issues identified before positions
|Characterized by positional bargaining.
||Characterized by interest-based
|Facts used to buttress positions.
||Joint search used to determine
|Characterized by polarization
of parties and issues.
||Characterized by search for underlying
|Face-to-face contact restricted
among contending parties.
||Face-to-face discussions encouraged
|Seeks winning arguments.
||Seek workable options.
|Yields all-or-nothing resolution
||Yields resolution by integrating
|Narrows options quickly.
||Broadens field of options.
|Authority for decision rests with
||Authority for decision rests with
|Characterized by suspicion and
||Characterized by respect and application
|Parties often dissatisfied with
||Outcome must be satisfactory to
|Often fosters bitterness and long-term
||Promotes trust and positive relationships.
Nevertheless, moving beyond adversarial roles with some agencies
or individuals may seem impossible. Rather than just giving up, however,
many jurisdictions continue to struggle with how to involve all relevant
disciplines in collaborative efforts, no matter how unwilling some entities
seem to shift from their adversarial positions. Some jurisdictions have
made an effort to facilitate communications with these agencies or individuals
and seek their pledge to not subvert or undercut the collaborative team’s
work. In cases where an individual on the team is undermining collaborative
efforts, several jurisdictions have sought the involvement of more supportive
practitioners from the same disciplines to counter or reconcile disagreements.
Catalysts for Collaboration
Collaboration changes the way we work and requires a profound shift
in our conception about how change is created. What drives agencies and
individuals involved in the management of sex offenders in the community
to make such monumental changes in the way they work? Criminal justice
agencies may begin working together in order to carry out mandated requirements
of sex offender legislation. Frustration with the ineffectiveness of sex
offender management policies may result in a push for more appropriate
responses and subsequent collaboration. Locality-wide teams may form to
deal with public outrage about a particularly heinous crime. Grant funding
requirements may serve as the impetus for agencies to collaborate. These
are but a few examples of scenarios that could prompt the establishment
Different Approaches to Team Work
Registration and Community Notification Laws Serve
as the Impetus for Collaboration
The emergence of registration and notification laws has
facilitated the formation of new partnerships, as these laws have required
certain agencies to forge working relationships where none existed previously—particularly
among law enforcement and supervision agencies. These agencies are often
required to share responsibility for notifying sex offenders of their duty
to register, carrying out registration, and informing the community of
the offender’s presence. Many agencies quickly learned that conducting
notification about the presence of sex offenders in the community stirred
tremendous emotional responses among citizens. The act of notification
itself—the distribution of a letter, the use of Internet websites, the
hanging of a poster or even door-to-door visits—brought forth a rush of
public fear, anxiety, and questions. Increasingly, collaboration efforts
among law enforcement, the victim advocacy community, treatment providers,
and supervision officers have emerged to understand and deal with these
community fears and needs. These “community notification teams” address
the public’s broad needs—to understand how to protect themselves and their
families; to understand the authority of the criminal justice system and
its limits; to understand the nature of sexual offending behavior; and
to understand the resources available to respond to victimization.
To build a collaborative team, jurisdictions must identify and include
those individuals and agencies that affect or are affected by sex offender
management. The inclusion of these agencies and individuals is essential
to developing sound policies, delivering effective offender management,
and responding to the needs of victims and the community. Collaboration
in the management of sex offenders is needed on at least three levels,
case management, local policy, and statewide policy.
Case management teams are the essential first level of collaboration,
with the primary purpose of sharing information about specific cases. Information
is shared among those most closely involved with monitoring sex offenders
under community supervision—supervision officers and treatment providers.
In some communities, the case management team may also include polygraph
examiners, victim advocates and other service providers, prosecutors, and
law enforcement officers. Teams that manage juvenile sex offenders commonly
include school counselors, staff, administrators, and child protection
Local policy teams address policies and practices that guide how
the system manages offenders—from the investigation of a sexual assault
to the supervision of the offender post-conviction. These teams benefit
from involving officials representing every aspect of the system, including
law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys, the judiciary, corrections,
supervision agencies, treatment providers, victim advocates, child protective
services, and other service providers. These teams sometimes form as a
component of an umbrella group designed to improve community response to
The Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Unit of New Haven,
Connecticut, supervises high-risk adult sex offenders (age 16 and older)
identified through risk assessment by probation and treatment staff.
The supervision team consists of probation officers, three treatment providers,
and a victim advocate. The addition of the advocate in 1998 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 the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services,
Inc. (CONNSACS). The advocate’s role is to include systemically the
victim’s perspective in decision-making and to provide regular contact
with victims and their families.
Statewide policy teams are generally formed to address policies
and procedures at a state level, including the establishment standards
that apply to all localities, setting standards for the selection of contract
treatment providers, establishing protocols for the conduct of community
notification meetings, or creating guidelines for the supervision of sex
offenders. These teams mirror local policy teams, representing all components
of the criminal justice system and including strong participation of the
community, and in particular, victim advocacy organizations.
The Fort Peck Tribes of Montana are working to establish
a more comprehensive sex offender case 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.
It includes representatives from Tribal Criminal Investigations, courts,
FBI, Social Services, Juvenile Services, 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
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 to best coordinate tribal, state, and federal cases, but the community
lacks adequate resources to provide for basic supervision and treatment
of sex offenders, particularly juveniles. To share responsibility
for day-to-day coordination tasks, they are hoping to expand the team to
include broader representation from federal, state, and tribal agencies
and the community.
In Oregon in 1990, participants at a conference for probation
and parole officers conceived the idea of a statewide “sex offender supervision
network” and subsequently obtained support from the state Department of
Corrections. The network has since expanded to include treatment
professionals, prison counselors, prosecutors, victim representatives,
police, and members of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.
The network works on development of consistent sex offender case supervision,
evaluation and treatment, and training and skill enhancement opportunities
for officers supervising sex offenders. The network provides a forum
for discussion of departmental policies, interdepartmental collaboration,
legislative initiatives, and resources for public education efforts.
It also provides statewide training, promotes research, and is working
on the development of statewide standards for community supervision of
Issues to Consider in Developing Collaborative
As agencies and individuals within a jurisdiction begin working as a
team to create more effective sex offender management strategies, they
Team composition—Agency representatives with decision-making authority
are essential to the team’s ability to collaborate on issues that impact
policy and practice. Team membership should also extend to those who carry
out critical day-to-day activities, as they often provide valuable and
creative solutions to problems.
Stakeholder incentives—Successful engagement of stakeholders requires
an assessment of what each person brings to the effort and, in turn, what
they have to gain from it. Their continual involvement requires the constant
monitoring of goals and outcomes to ensure that individual and group needs
are being met.
Explicit mission and goals—One essential first task is the definition
of team mission and goals. Because the team is multi-disciplinary with
members who serve a variety of interests, the mission is central to identifying
the common ground that all perspectives can support. Once the mission is
clear, the team can develop long- and short-term goals. The work of defining
a mission and goals typically does not happen at one meeting. Rather, it
emerges over time and through discussions among group members.
Vision—A vision statement guides short- and long-term collaborative
work and goes hand-in-hand with the creation of a mission and goals. A
vision statement asks team members to consider what a more effective system
of sex offender management would look like in their jurisdiction. When
a team gets bogged down in their work and loses focus, a vision statement
can help remind team members of what they are seeking to accomplish.
Operating norms—As with any group, it is important at the outset
to agree upon a set of operating norms. These can be as simple as how often,
when, and where the group will meet, and as complex as how team discussions
will be managed to ensure that all members have an equal opportunity for
input. Issues such as whether designees can attend these meeting should
be discussed, as well as the expectation that members have of one another.
Team structure—There are a variety of structures that teams create
to accomplish their work. These can take the form of an oversight group,
a subcommittee structure, or working groups. As larger teams develop more
complicated substructures, they must also develop methods to communicate
Communication—Constant and open communication among team members
provides an opportunity for members to understand the goals and activities
of others’ agencies. It also facilitates the sharing of knowledge and can
serve as an avenue for creative problem solving and support. Communication
often leads to cross-training and greater integration of activities among
the personnel of the involved agencies.
Consensus—In collaborative processes, decision making by consensus
of participants is essential. Consensus builds both internal and external
support, maintains the cohesion of the collaboration, explicitly provides
for conflict resolution, and offers the greatest promise for consistency
in policy development and program implementation (Gray, 1989). Some collaborative
teams use the "thumbs" process for coming to consensus. In this process,
team members first share their opinions about a particular issue. "Thumbs
up" means they are in favor of the proposal, "thumbs down" indicates they
are opposed, and "thumbs sideways" means they don’t feel strongly either
way. Team members then discuss the issue until they come to a solution
agreeable to all.
Strategic planning—Having defined the mission and goals, collaborators
must develop a workplan made up of activities with concrete deliverables
and timelines that assign individual responsibility for carrying out those
activities. Workplans are vital documents that change constantly as work
is accomplished, plans evolve, and new issues emerge.
Leadership and staffing—The collaborative team needs a leader or
a "champion"—a person with the time, resources, position, skills, and energy
to propel the progress of the team. Without effective leadership, the best
of intentions will succumb to competing demands and interests. Collaborative
teams also need staffing support for activities such as planning meeting
agendas, reminding members of meeting dates, and preparing meeting records
to serve as institutional memory. Staffing can be provided by a single
person or shared by several members of the team.
Institutionalized collaboration—To ensure the continued commitment
by the agencies represented within the team, signed agreements which highlight
joint decision making, articulate agreement of the team’s mission, and
outline specific roles and contributed resources are recommended.
Evaluation—Successful collaborations are evolutionary in nature
and should adapt to the changing environments and cultures in which they
operate. Circumstances may change because of unforeseeable events or by
virtue of the progress of the collaborative effort itself. Process and
outcome measures should be instituted to evaluate the effectiveness of
the effort, so teams can institute changes to their approach as needed.
Tracking outcomes gives team members a sense of their accomplishments along
Jefferson County, Colorado, has established several mechanisms
through which system wide actors and advocates can work together to ensure
the most effective management of juvenile sex offenders.
A sex offender working group, known as SAFE—Jeff Co. (Sexual
Abuse Free Environment—Jefferson County) represents probation, law enforcement,
schools, the Division of Youth Corrections, victim advocates, the county
Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), human services, and treatment providers.
The deputy district attorney responsible for juvenile sex crimes chairs
this group. SAFE Jeff Co. addresses broad system issues and capitalizes
on the strength of the collaborative to address identified problems and
needs. It meets monthly and has several active subcommittees that
meet with greater frequency.
The Sex Assault Review Team meets monthly for the purpose
of reviewing in depth each juvenile offender who is under pretrial supervision
at the JAC. The meetings include issue identification and active
problem solving on a variety of treatment, school, and supervision issues.
Team members include JAC supervision staff, school personnel, the supervisor
of the specialized probation unit, the director of the victim advocacy
center, staff from the county Probation Department’s Pretrial Services
Unit, the victim-witness coordinator from the county District Attorney’s
office, staff from the Division of Youth Corrections, treatment providers,
social services personnel, and the juvenile sexual assault prosecutor.
The Jefferson County Probation Juvenile Supervision Team,
a specialized unit within the probation department, meets regularly to
coordinate their activities, review cases under post-trial supervision,
and provide guidance and support in the management of cases.
The Colorado’s Sex Offender Management Board
was legislatively established in 1992. The board includes representatives
from the Judicial Department, the Department of Corrections, Human Services,
the Department of Public Safety, as well as district attorneys, public
defenders, treatment providers, police, polygraph examiners, community
corrections staff, and victim advocates. Its mission is to advance
the management of sex offenders in the state and ensure the effectiveness
of sex offender programs and services. In 1998, the Board published
statewide standards for systematic management and treatment of sex offenders.
In 1999, it expanded its standards to include lifetime supervision and
the management of developmentally disabled sex offenders.
Challenges to Overcome
The process of facilitating collaboration rarely is without difficulties.
The recruitment and retention of stakeholders presents challenges, especially
considering the time demands on participants at the early stages of team
development. Maintaining commitment can also be problematic when deliverables
are slow and sometimes go without notice. Power disparities, differing
perceptions of risk, and changing political and institutional cultures
present some of the most challenging impediments to collaborative efforts
(Gray, 1989). D’Amora and Burns-Smith (1999) point to several additional
factors which can impede collaborative initiatives, including turf fears
and ideological differences, uncertainty about how to effectively utilize
shared information, secondary trauma among team members, system conflicts,
and insufficient resources to support the effort.
Involved parties must recognize that shifting from a fragmented response
to a more collaborative approach is a long-term process of building upon
successes, failures, and growing relationships among collaborators. It
is critical that collaborators develop strategies to address challenges.
Some strategies may include:
promoting local and state level discussions to explore how collaboration
can help improve responses to both victims and offenders;
encouraging cross- and multi-disciplinary training among involved justice
system and community agencies;
promoting the establishment of information sharing and networking forums
for professionals across disciplines;
building an appreciation and respect for the work of professionals from
other involved disciplines;
supporting research and evaluation on the impact of collaboration in this
helping agencies build their capacity to collaborate in this area; and
encouraging jurisdictions to access available resources and technical assistance
to promote collaboration on sex offender management.
Laboratories for Collaboration
A number of jurisdictions that have developed innovative practices in
the field of collaborative sex offender management have been identified
by the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) as resource sites. They
represent a diverse demographic mix of urban, rural, and tribal communities.
While each jurisdiction approaches sex offender management in a unique
way, common elements of the project’s resource sites include:
goals that are directed toward public safety and offender accountability—this
involves a deliberate, comprehensive approach to sex offender management;
progress on enhancing collaborative efforts—the ideal sex offender management
team includes representatives from probation and parole, victim advocacy,
treatment, the judiciary, prosecution, law enforcement, the defense bar,
polygraph examiners, and legislators (juvenile focused teams should also
include representatives from schools and social services);
continual assessment and improvement of their sex offender management practices;
a workplan that reflects an articulated mission, as well as the team’s
values, and goals;
a data collection effort that is outcome based and directed toward identifying
policies and practices which help prevent future victimization; and
plans to institutionalize efforts to ensure that the work outlives current
CSOM is assisting its resource sites in advancing their collaborative
practices through the exploration of new initiatives, information sharing,
training, and technical assistance. CSOM is also inventorying, documenting,
and analyzing the accomplishments of the sites and making available these
lessons to others in the field.
The Jackson County, Oregon, sex offender
management team includes probation and parole officers, community-based
treatment providers, polygraph examiners, deputy district attorneys (who
prosecute all of the sex crimes), police representatives, victim treatment
providers, the juvenile offender treatment team, and a representative from
the state’s Child Protective Service agency.
The team holds monthly meetings. Until recently,
these meetings had been facilitated by probation officers. The team
subsequently decided to elect a moderator for a six-month term, and then
rotate this position. Network meetings focus on policy, collaborative
procedural issues, individual cases, and strategies to meet local needs.
Although judges are not formal members of the team, they are kept informed
by team members. The judges’ understanding of issues and offender
dynamics are regarded as central to the team’s effectiveness.
The Jackson County team collaborates at the policy level
and in daily activities. Daily activities are carried out by a “core
team,” which consists of parole or probation officers, private treatment
providers and private polygraph examiners (who have been formally recognized
as approved treatment providers and polygraph examiners). The core
team maintains frequent telephone and memo contact with one another.
In addition, the treatment providers and probation and parole staff hold
monthly meetings to review individual cases.
The specialized probation officers have also formed their
own informal “team within a team.” They meet weekly to review problems,
generate ideas, provide emotional support, and offer informal peer supervision.
Developing a collaborative approach to sex offender management is a
daunting but essential undertaking. Building relationships among individuals
representing different agencies and interests—many of whom have traditionally
played adversarial roles—is a key challenge. However, agencies charged
with the management of sex offenders are compelled today more than ever
to cross traditional lines in their work toward a common mission—to end
further sexual victimization.
Contact CSOM for further information on how the project can support
state and local collaborative efforts in your jurisdiction to more effectively
manage sex offenders under criminal justice supervision in the community.
Blank, Martin, et al. (1992). Collaboration: What Makes it Work?
A Review of Research Literature on Factors Influencing Successful Collaboration.
Minnesota: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. The citation and table was drawn
from audio-visual material developed by David D’Amora for trainings on
collaboration in sex offender management.
D’Amora, David and Burns-Smith, Gail (1999). 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), 296-297.
Gray, Barbara (1989). Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multi-Party
Problems. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. The second citation and table
on "adversial versus collaborative relationships" was drawn from audio-visual
material David D’Amora developed for trainings on collaboration in sex
Huxham, Christopher (Ed.) (1996). Creating Collaborative Advantage.
Raley, Gordon (1993). The Community Collaboration Manual. Washington,
DC: The National Assembly of National Voluntary Health and Social Welfare
Madeline M. Carter, Project Director, Center for Sex Offender Management,
was the principal author of this brief. CSOM would like to thank Margaret
Griffin and Kristin Littel for their contributions to this brief.
Center for Sex Offender Management
8403 Colesville Road, Suite 720
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 589-9383
Fax: (301) 589-3505
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 author and do not necessarily
represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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