Deterrance methods for released sex offenders

The overarching goal of creating centralized registries of convicted sex offenders is to enhance public safety through multiple processes. For example, because these registries contain identifying information and offense summary data about sex offenders residing in a particular jurisdiction, the investigation of sex crimes can be facilitated and enhanced. Law enforcement officials and other criminal justice agents can utilize registry data to narrow the focus of investigations, compare forensic evidence, and identify potential suspects with similar crime patterns.

In addition, registries are designed to make sex offenders more visible to community members who, when they access or receive information about registered sex offenders living in their communities, may take increased protective steps. Sex offender registration is also believed to play a role in deterrence, as sex offenders are acutely aware of the increased visibility and scrutiny by the criminal justice system and the public at large.

Finally, for individuals who have either not engaged in sex offending behaviors, or who have thus far gone undetected, the idea of being placed on a public registry may also have a deterrent effect. In order to meet these and other goals, jurisdictions must ensure that the following elements are in place:.

The Complexity of Public Attitudes Toward Sex Crimes: Victims & Offenders: Vol 12, No 1

Unlike the considerable latitude that agencies and entities have with respect to implementing core sex offender management strategies such as treatment and supervision, the approach to sex offender registration is firmly established by statutes at the federal and state levels. Therefore, the key to effective implementation and utilization of sex offender registries is ensuring that the associated policies are clear, comprehensive in scope, and well understood by those with a role and a stake in the process.

This requires that staff are well—trained in the specific statutory requirements, agency policies, and specific procedures regarding the registration process, and that quality assurance or other monitoring practices are in place to ensure adherence to these procedures. Of primary importance is the intended applicability of sex offender registration policies. Some state statutes expressly indicate that registration is intended only for adult sex offenders, while other laws explicitly include juveniles adjudicated within the juvenile courts, waived to adult courts, or both CSOM, ; Garfinkle, ; Szymanski, b.

Still other statutes are silent on the applicability of registration to juveniles CSOM, ; Garfinkle, ; Szymanski, b. In addition, the specific types of crimes that qualify for registration must be defined, whether limited only to sex offenses as defined within criminal codes or including other crimes that may have an underlying sexual component or similar motivation e.

It is also important that policies outline the respective responsibilities of the various agencies or individuals that have a role in sex offender registration. The five studies included close to participants.


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Two studies were published in a journal. The other studies were government reports or unpublished evaluations. The mean difference effect size was calculated for each program. Once effect sizes were calculated for each program effect, the individual measures were added together to produce a weighted average effect size for a program or practice area.

The inverse variance weight was calculated for each program effect, and those weights were used to compute the average. The fixed-effects model was used for the analysis. The authors conducted their literatures search by compiling references from previous meta-analysis reviews and individual studies, using electronic databases such as PsycINFO and MEDLINE , hand-searching journals directly related to the topic, contacting researchers in the sex-offender treatment field for additional suggestions or for unpublished reports, and using a basic Internet search of relevant institutions and corrections departments for pertinent materials.

This method resulted in the identification of 2, possible citations. Further analysis resulted in a final 66 reports meeting the authors criteria. Several of the reports contained more than one eligible study, so the authors used each eligible individual study as a separate unit of analysis. Other studies presented results of different subgroups, such as type of offense. The authors chose to use those subgroups as individual units of analysis as well.

This resulted in 80 eligible comparisons from a total of 69 studies. An adapted version of the Maryland Scale of Scientific Rigor was used to evaluate overall methodological quality of the 69 individual studies. Only studies that received a rating of 2 or higher on the scale were included in the analysis. A large majority of the studies About half of the studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, and the other half were book chapters or unpublished studies. Treatment material differed greatly, with half using cognitive—behavioral therapy CBT programs and 14 comparisons using physical therapy programs 8 of these were surgical castration.

Sample size varied from 15 to 2,, with about one third of comparisons containing fewer than 50 offenders. Almost all of the studies had a follow-up period longer than 5 years.

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Participants in the studies were mostly adults Participation in the treatment program was usually voluntary Child molestation The meta-analysis used odds ratios OR to measure effect sizes. Meta-Analysis 3 Hanson and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis on whether principles associated with effective interventions for general offenders risk—need—responsivity would also apply to psychological treatments of sexual offenders. The basis for this research was formed from earlier data that shows that the most effective types of programs for general offenders are those that follow the risk—need—responsivity RNR model.

They found additional materials using the reference lists of collected articles, program materials from conferences, and a general review of articles on the topic. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to examine treatment effectiveness by comparing recidivism rates using a sex-offender population with a matching comparison group of sex offenders.

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For the studies to meet the need principle of the RNR model, at least 51 percent of the treatment had to target criminogenic needs, such as antisocial lifestyle, impulsivity, or negative peer associations. Services in the treatment program met the responsivity aspect of RNR when the treatment was provided in such a way as to match the needs and learning style of the client. Only studies categorized as weak, good, and strong were included.


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This resulted in a total of 23 studies included in the analysis. Of these, 14 were published and 9 were unpublished. The monitoring center then provides the supervising parole agent with information in two basic forms: daily summary reports DSRs and immediate alert IA notifications.

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The agent receives an emailed DSR for each parolee every morning detailing all activity recorded by the GPS unit, including charging activity, zone violations, strap tampers and other violations. The agent must review all recorded activity and note any follow-up actions. The DSR also includes a direct link to a Web-based data system, which allows an agent to review an offender's movement patterns. When the GPS unit records specific types of violations, an IA notification is generated automatically and transmitted via text message to the supervising agent.

The supervising agent must then analyze and respond appropriately to the information. The intensive supervision component involves more traditional, recurrent physical contact: The agent meets face to face with the parolee and other collateral contacts on a regular basis. It also includes a drug-testing element if applicable.

Several critical differences exist between the two programs, however, and these differences likely drive the divergent outcomes. The first difference is that the sex offender program includes a treatment component, which requires parolees to attend weekly sex offender treatment classes in which clinicians provide psychological evaluations, assessments and individual and group therapy.

Notably, the gang offender program does not include a treatment requirement. The reason for its absence is simple and offers the second major difference between the programs: The operational goals of the two programs differ markedly. The goal of the sex offender program is to use GPS technology to gather information that can enhance supervision, heighten the certainty of treatment and discourage future crime; the goal of the California gang program — as for many other gang programs — is to remove individual gang members from the community by quickly identifying violations, enforcing strict revocation rules and returning the offenders to prison.

GPS has garnered an increasing amount of attention in recent years. The use of GPS technology as a supervision tool is in vogue in contemporary criminal justice systems and still growing in popularity. In fact, most jurisdictions throughout the Western world have some form of electronic monitoring to supervise offenders. The findings from the California studies are important because they suggest that GPS technology might serve multiple crime prevention purposes, depending on a program's goals and structural design.

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Specifically, GPS can be used as a traditional deterrent mechanism, a focused deterrent tactic or a treatment enhancement provision. Traditional deterrence: Deterrence is based on the notion that all behavior results from rational calculations of cost versus reward and that to prevent crime, the costs must outweigh the expected rewards. GPS's intensified supervision likely enhances the probability that law enforcement will detect parole violations and criminal behavior, and the location data obtained by GPS systems presumably increase the speed in apprehension, which in turn might result in more rapid punishment.

The use of GPS also might increase the severity of punishment: It can strengthen confidence in evidence that points to an offender's guilt of a post-release violation or crime, resulting in stricter penalties. Moreover, GPS monitoring has an advantage over other deterrence-based programs in that it offers much broader supervision. Unlike traditional intensive supervision programs that simply increase contact between the parole agent and the offender, GPS technology offers continuous monitoring, creating an almost omniscient supervision presence that hinders all criminal activity.

This type of unyielding supervision, further enhanced by a digital record of the offender's whereabouts, might tip the scale in a criminal's decision of whether to commit an illegal act. Focused deterrence: Deterrence suggests that we could prevent crime if an offender perceives that the costs of committing the crime outweigh the benefits. Focused deterrence is a similar threat sanction approach used by criminal justice officials, but it differs in that it specifically warns high-risk offenders about the sanctions for re-offense — that is, that police, prosecutors or probation officers will "pull every available lever" to maximize punishment.

Moreover, parole agents, in conjunction with law enforcement, can use GPS to disrupt gang activity by holding in violation two or more monitored offenders who come within close proximity of one another and by investigating crimes via crime scene correlation software, which can intersect GPS tracks with location-based crime data and help identify potential suspects or observers. The latter tends to dissuade non-monitored offenders from associating with monitored gang members to avoid being exposed as an associate. Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation focuses on reintegrating an offender back into society.

A central component of the sex offender program is mandated treatment. Numerous treatment options are available for sex offenders, and although research on their effectiveness has produced mixed results, the majority point to positive benefits.

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