Section 3: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Managing Sex Offenders in the Community
|TOPIC: VICTIM-CENTERED APPROACH|
A fundamental guiding principle of a comprehensive approach to managing sex offenders is making it what we call "victim-centered." Because of the devastating impact of sexual assault upon victims, focusing on and prioritizing victim safety and privacy as a critical element of community supervision has become an urgent challenge for those responsible for sex offender management. Concerns for the recovery of the victim and for the well being of the community guide the development of policy, the implementation of programs, and the actions of criminal justice practitioners and other professionals working with sexual assault victims and supervising perpetrators. These policies and programs must be sensitive to specific needs of victims and must not increase victim trauma.
Defining a Victim-Centered Approach
A victim-centered approach to the management of sex offenders in communities:
- Values public safety, victim protection, and reparation.
- Is designed to aid victims and control offenders.
- Strives to empower victims of sexual assault.
- Requires a commitment by and coordination of victim advocates and key professionals involved in investigating, prosecuting, and managing offenders in the community.
- Attempts to optimize the likelihood that victims will report their sexual assault and receive support in the form of advocacy with the medical and legal systems and/or medical treatment. Recent research indicates that these victims are better able to overcome the trauma of sexual assault and/or minimally begin to integrate the trauma into their lives.
Examples of a victim-centered approach to the management of sex offenders in communities include:
- Child victims being interviewed in child-friendly settings involving professionals who coordinate their efforts to avoid repetitive interviewing and increased trauma to the victim.
- In cases of intra-familial sexual abuse, the offender, rather than the victim, is removed from the home. This not only protects the victim but also validates his/her suffering by holding the offender responsible for his behavior and forcing him to experience the consequences of his behavior.
- Giving adult victims access to information about the perpetrator's status within the criminal justice system.
- Victim notification of significant changes in the offender's status so they can take whatever steps necessary to feel safe.
- No contact orders for the victim whenever requested or appropriate.
A victim-centered approach to the management of sex offenders in the community is also a community-centered approach. As we can see by the national and local statistics, not only are there many unidentified sex offenders already living in our communities, there are at least as many unidentified victims living in our communities.