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Long Version
Section 3: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Components of Supervision: Specialized Approaches to Managing Sex Offenders

6 hours, 50 minutes

(30 minutes, including Learning Activity)


Note: Refer back to the PSI section as appropriate. Using the questions that are listed, the trainer may want to poll participants. As they respond, the trainer (or a designated recorder) may want to capture the responses on newsprint so that the participants can develop a more complete understanding of the experiences and perspectives of their colleagues.
Probation/parole agencies have varied policies and practices on the topic of case planning:

  • How many agencies require a case plan? On sex offenders?
  • What type of guidance or direction do you have about what should be in the case plan and what you have to do to complete one?
  • Does the supervising officer prepare the case plan if there is one?
  • How long do you have to do it?
  • How closely does practice follow policy?

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #43: Developing a Case Plan
[Click to Enlarge]

According to Cumming and Buell, "the case planning process forms the basis for sex offender supervision. ... [It should be] updated when changes occur and created in a format that any staff person involved in the offender's supervision can use."42 Probation/parole agencies have a range of policies about when case plans should be completed and exactly what they should include. For purposes of this training we will focus upon the specific aspects of case planning that support and enhance the ability of the probation/parole officer to supervise sex offenders effectively.


Note: The trainer should note that in Section 5 (covering supervision strategies), participants will be learning about and working with techniques to encourage open communication with sex offenders.
In these types of cases, perhaps more than others, it is extremely important to involve offenders in the process of case planning. Although they are not in control of the process, it is important that offenders be involved and informed, and acknowledge the agreements made regarding supervision conditions and expectations. The case plan should include a place for the probation/parole officer and offender's signatures and the date to indicate formally that the offender has agreed to abide by the conditions outlined in the plan.


Note: The trainer should remind the participants that probation/parole officers often build upon the conditions set out by the court by providing offenders with specific instructions that are related to the court-ordered conditions of supervision. In other words, there are a variety of ways that probation/parole officers and agencies develop and use standard and special conditions of supervision. Regardless of the ways in which the agencies represented in the training mobilize the authority of the court for supervision, the substantive orders provided to the offender by the probation/parole officer need to address controlling the environment and successfully managing the risk factors that have been identified.
All aspects of the case plan must be clear and up to date. Should a change in the probation/parole officer take place, it is imperative that the new supervising officer (whether temporary or permanent) understands the restrictions and supervision conditions placed on the offender. The plan also provides an effective vehicle for communication with other members of the supervision team (e.g., the treatment provider, polygraph examiner, victim representative).


In instances in which a PSI has been completed, the case plan should draw heavily on that information, updating where necessary. It should have information about the offender, the type of offense, the offender's risk level (as determined by a validated risk assessment tool), the offender's classification status (if such a tool is used), relevant risk factors, and specific requirements/instructions for the offender. Court or parole board-imposed conditions should be included and clarified with the offender if necessary. Resources—especially treatment resources—that are available to assist in the supervision of the offender should also be identified and specified.

It is very important that the probation/parole officer be informed as to the statutory requirements in his or her jurisdiction that are imposed on sex offenders (e.g., sex offender registration, DNA testing, notification). It is also important for the probation/parole officer to update himself or herself on these issues, as statutes change frequently. Part of the supervision plan will include completing these requirements and documenting them as part of the permanent case file.


One helpful way to think about the case plan is to break it down into two major elements: controlling the offender's environment and ensuring his participation in sex offender-specific treatment.

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #44: The Case Plan: Two Major Elements
[Click to Enlarge]

The probation or parole officer should consider what changes should be made in the offender's present environment to decrease the risk of re-offending. Using the information gleaned from relevant documents, a review of the risky elements in the offender's environment (including information from field visits to the offender's home and place of employment) and changes in the offender's life that influence his emotional stability (e.g., relationship problems, financial hardship, loss of a loved one, etc.), the probation/parole officer should continually revisit the conditions of supervision to determine whether changes are necessary in the case plan. If changes are deemed necessary, the probation/parole officer should ask himself or herself if they will reduce the offender's access to past and potential victims and his ability to engage in decisions or actions that put others at risk. In addition, he or she should ask if the changes anticipate and address high-risk situations that relate to the offender's time outside of work, his recreational activities, his access to pornographic materials, his ability to groom potential victims, his substance abuse problem, and other high-risk situations.

(10-15 minutes)

Reconsider the case study and address question 12:

Refer to Handout Symbol Refer to handout: Section 3, Exercise 1 Case Study Questions

  1. Can you identify any additional risk factors in the case that you think are significant? If you were Mike's probation officer, how would you address them? Given all of the risk factors that you have identified, what special conditions do you think would be appropriate for Mike's case?


The important thing to keep in mind is that the second major element of the case plan is assuring that the offender participates in an appropriate treatment intervention.

An Appropriate Referral

It is particularly important to assure that sex offenders are referred to an appropriate treatment provider. When making a referral for treatment, probation/parole officers should keep the following issues in mind:

  • Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #45: An Appropriate Treatment Referral-Issues to Consider
    [Click to Enlarge]

    Substance abuse may need to be addressed to stabilize the offender before offense-specific treatment occurs.

  • Is there a recommendation in the sex offender-specific evaluation for pharmacological interventions? This is not a recommendation that a probation/parole officer would make on his or her own.

  • If it appears that family reunification may occur, the treatment provider should have the capacity to work with all family members. Very few treatment providers work with family reunification issues. A strict protocol on family reunification should exist in any jurisdiction to guide the case management team in preparing for reunification if there is a possibility that it may occur. This protocol should be shared with all family members at the beginning of the offender's supervision.43

  • The treatment plan should be amended as new information becomes available through the polygraph examination (if this tool is employed in the jurisdiction).

Keep in mind that you may have offenders with special needs. Offenders with organic brain syndrome or developmental disabilities will require very straightforward, concrete plans. For more information on working with special needs offenders, refer to Treating Intellectually Disabled Sex Offenders: A Model Residential Program, by Haaven, Little, and Petre-Miller.44 Not all mental health professionals or therapists are appropriate for this kind of work. The treatment provider you select must be willing to work with the issues and concerns of this population.


As with any other offender population, problems with alcohol and drug abuse can be major factors to be considered during the course of supervision. Although the research is limited on the effectiveness of alcohol and drug screening as an element of sex offender supervision and treatment, common sense suggests that this is an important aspect of offender behavior to consider in drafting a supervision plan and a treatment plan. We do know that alcohol and such drugs as methamphetamines often act as disinhibiting factors in an offender's abusive behavior. Preliminary results of research into the nature of violation behavior among sex offenders under supervision suggest that more than half of all violations are related to alcohol and substance abuse behaviors. It would be extremely important to understand, for each offender, the role that alcohol and drug use plays in his offense cycle. Is it an element in grooming the victim, in reducing the offender's own inhibitions, or in contributing to the offender's ability to continue denial of responsibility for his actions?

Where alcohol and/or drug abuse are factors in the offender's offense cycle, the use of drug and alcohol screening is another tool to be considered in crafting the supervision and treatment plan. Such screening should be implemented in conjunction with specialized sex offender treatment.

The effectiveness of electronic monitoring for sex offenders under supervision is not well-documented in the research. Current practice suggests that electronic monitoring should also be applied within the context of specialized sex offender treatment.

(10 minutes)

Reconsider the case study and answer questions 13 and 14:
Refer to Handout Symbol Refer to handout: Section 3, Exercise 1 Case Study Questions

  1. Do you think that the treatment program in which Mike was involved was appropriate? If not, what other kinds of treatment interventions were necessary? Do you think that residential or outpatient treatment would be more appropriate for Mike? How do you make treatment referrals in your own work with sex offenders?

  2. Do you currently (or have you ever) supervised a sex offender with PTSD or another defined mental health condition? If so, what was the affliction and how did it impact your approach to case management?