Section 1: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community: An Overview
2 hours, 15 minutes
TOPIC: THE NEED FOR A TRAINING CURRICULUM ON THE MANAGEMENT OF SEX OFFENDERS IN THE COMMUNITY
|THE PRESENCE OF SEX OFFENDERS IN THE COMMUNITY|
Despite legislative changes and sentencing practices that increase the likelihood and length of incarceration for those convicted of sex offenses, many offenders are supervised in the community. A recent U.S. Department of Justice study reports that approximately 265,000 sex offenders are under the care, custody, or control of correctional agencies in the United States. Of those, almost 60 percent were under some form of community supervision.1 In fact, most sex offenders will be released into the community at some pointeither directly following sentencing, or after a term of incarceration in jail or prison. These offenders present myriad challenges to probation/parole agencies that are primarily responsible for supervising them on a daily basis.
|CONSEQUENCES OF RE-OFFENSE TO THE VICTIM AND THE COMMUNITY|
Because of the often volatile community response to sex offenses and the irrefutable harm that a re-offense would cause potential victims, the many issues surrounding the community supervision of sex offenders and how best to ensure public safety are of critical importance to both criminal justice agencies and the public.
|GOALS OF THIS CURRICULUM|
Responding to its legislative mandate and the request of numerous agencies in the field, the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice sponsored CSOM's development of this curriculum. The curriculum has been developed to achieve several goals:
Note: Trainers may want to take this opportunity to quickly walk through the participant materials with the audience.
There is little empirical evidence to establish the efficacy of the emerging set of supervision practices explained and described herein. However, the experiences of numerous agencies and the practical lessons emerging lend credence to such approaches. Significant evaluation research is currently underway to document more thoroughly the implementation and impact of the supervision practices which we will be covering.2
- It articulates the variety of challenges involved in supervising sex offenders in the community, particularly the ways in which they differ from other populations under supervision.
- It synthesizes the experiences of and lessons learned by many agencies that have developed innovative approaches to sex offender supervision.
- It provides guidance for probation/parole officers, supervisors and policymakers, treatment providers, polygraph examiners, and others who work with supervision agencies to assure the safe and effective supervision of sex offenders in the community.
The training is organized into three major sections (two in addition to this overview section):
- Section 1: Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community: An Overview. This section provides insight into the need for a specialized approach to the supervision of sex offenders in the community, details the goals of the curriculum, and previews its content. It also introduces participants to the conceptual basis and some of the emerging thinking that supports a specialized approach to supervising sex offenders in the community. It focuses, for instance, on the importance of having a clearly articulated, shared philosophy of supervision to guide all practitioners and stakeholders in their work. It also articulates some of the most prominent themes emerging from practice, including the importance of a victim-centered approach to supervision and the need for collaboration across traditional boundaries of agency and discipline.
- Section 2: Innovative Approaches to Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community. This section covers some of the current strategic thinking regarding how best to use existing resources to ensure the successful supervision of offenders in the community. How can the components of supervision be arrayed into an effective strategy? This section addresses, for example, what it means to conduct victim-centered supervision; the necessity and benefits of collaboration beyond agency boundaries; the use of a Containment Approach to supervision, including the use of the polygraph; supervision networks; and the use of a sanction/reward approach to supervision.
Note: The use of the polygraph will be addressed only briefly in this curriculum. CSOM is developing a curriculum that focuses on the use of polygraphy in the supervision of sex offenders.
- Section 3: Components of Supervision: Specialized Approaches to Managing Sex Offenders. This section outlines and describes the specific componentstools, activities, and methodsof sex offender supervision. They include caseload specialization, the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding supervision, the pre-sentence investigation, assessment, the case plan, classification, the case file, conditions of supervision, surveillance, victim impact/safety considerations, and monitoring compliance. The section focuses in particular on how and why the components of supervision necessary to supervise sex offenders safely and effectively in the community differ from those often applied to other types of criminal offenders. This section also provides a brief overview of sex offender specific treatmentits effectiveness and how it differs from other types of mental health treatment.