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

3 hours

(10 minutes)


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 #28: Developing a Case Plan
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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."28 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.


Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #29: The Case Plan: Two Major Elements
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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.

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.


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:

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

  • Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #30: Appropriate Treatment Referral—Issues to Consider
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    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.29

  • 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.30 Not all mental health professionals or therapists are appropriate for this kind of work. Treatment providers must be willing to work with the issues and concerns of this population.