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Current criminal law offers stiff penalties against individuals manifesting behavior of an increased social danger level, especially those people qualified to be sex offenders. Simultaneously, the criminal law regulates a variety of measures to reinforce leniency and exemption from further punishment of those sex offender clients whose correction is achieved before the expiry of the sentence term, as proclaimed by the court. Thus, probation/parole programs for sex offenders were created for those criminals who have realized the harmfulness of their criminal behavior and are therefore not subject to full serving of their sentences. In other words, the parole/probation programs are aimed at further correction of sex offender clients without isolation from society. Ordinarily, probation/parole programs for sex offenders comprise of two major methods: persuasion and coercion; nonetheless, the new generation programs are to be focused on the principles of targeting the criminogenic needs, along with intensive lifetime supervision and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
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Existing Probation/Parole Programs for Sex Offenders
The Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) for inmates after their release on parole is followed by the Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR) (U.S. Department of Justice, 2013). The latter is a sex offender client program of a moderate intensity that continues to proclaim the correctional philosophy of the Resident Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R), but fails to be efficient due to the minor frequency of treatment groups. The duration of four to six hours of programming per week is simply insufficient to contribute to a major behavioral and especially psychological change in such clients. In addition, the duration of the program (from 9 to 12 months) does not allow for decreased probability of misconduct and recidivism. The absence of a modified therapeutic community converts SOTP-NR into a formality that cannot efficiently affect the number of sex offenders in a given area. Nevertheless, SOTP-R successfully evaluates the low, moderate or high-risk sex offenders using the Static-99R standardized tool (U.S. Department of Justice, 2013). Risk evaluation of parole/probation sex offenders is vital in terms of being the initial phase of correct criminological classification of the analyzed clients. In addition, it is essential to highlight two more probation programs for sex offenders: Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program (SOISP) and Sex Offender Electronic
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Monitoring Programs (SOEMP). SOISP permits providing effective supervision of parole/probation sex offender clients by introducing restrained activities and compulsory everyday interaction with the probation/parole officer, including curfew abidance supervision. Besides, the program implies systematic, but unexpected by the client, home and work visits of the probation officer (Lockley, 2011). The program successfully monitors the outward behavior of the sex offender client on parole and performs a consistent alcohol and substance intake screening (Lockley, 2011). Nonetheless, it evidently lacks profound psycho-educational or psychotherapeutic components that are the key element in stimulating not only external but also internal changes. It does work for decreasing the danger of the client for the public, but it does not contribute to the qualitative change of the client’s communication and cognitive skills. Sex Offender Electronic Monitoring Program (SOEMP) uses the GPS technology in order to maintain the track of the physical location of the sex offender clients on parole. This program is to be viewed as an intervention measure, taken to restrain the harmful sexual behavior of the clients, and to make the client’s community safe. The program does provide evidence of reducing recidivism as long as it lasts, as the sex offender client of parole/probation will find himself or herself under the fear of going to a closed correctional establishment or jail (Gies et al., 2012). Thus, rearrest, conviction and return to prison custody are the top three results of failure to follow the rules of the electronic GPS monitoring program. The major weakness of the program consists of the government spending $35.96 per day per parolee, while conventional supervision costs $27.45 per parolee (Gies et al., 2012). In addition, the program focuses solely on externally fitting the client’s behavior into social norms, and not on the elimination of the psychological motivations of the parolee.
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Suggestions for New Generation Probation Programs for Sex Offenders
Evidently, each probation program has its strength and weaknesses, but the new generation probation program is to integrate all of the strengths in performing efficient management of sex offenders. The core of the present situation in the sphere of parole/probation programs for sex offenders is that they indeed successfully function on the territory of the United States, minimizing the risks of the clients’ misconduct and recidivism. Still, it seems that the programs are dealing with the “symptoms” and not the cause of the manifested sexual offences. An efficient probation/parole program for sex offenders is to comprise of the following elements:
- Integration of a minimum of 10 hours cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions (6 of which will be done during weekdays and 4 hours during the weekend). Such intensive interrelation with the parolee will precisely target his or her criminogenic need.
- Criminogenic need identification is to intervene with the individual’s offense-supporting beliefs.
- Performing intensive supervision during the first 3 years and consequently shifting to a scheme of every 3-month check, evolving into so-called lifetime supervision.
- Mandatory involvement in social community service, with the aim of improving the parolee’s social skills.
- Drug and alcohol abuse tests every 2 weeks for the first three months, every four weeks for the next 3 months, and every two months for the following three years.
- Systematic sex offense risk assessment, revealing any changes in the individual’s personal recidivism risk level. The progress is to be monitored every 6 months.
- Application of modern tracking technologies during the first six months of probation.
The presented program scheme is to be analyzed as a treatment model, with the goal of changing both the external behavior and the internal psychodynamics of the sex offender client. Communication and cognitive skills training may lead to a breakthrough in the sphere of criminal intervention of sex offenders. The latter is possible only under the condition of proper anger management and elimination of criminal thinking. Failure to demonstrate positive progress should be a matter of the parolee’s case review, in terms of his or her return to prison custody. In other words, the parolee is expected not only to do no harm to society members, but also to manifest positive psychodynamics and change of the overall thinking pattern.
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The development of the system of criminal justice during the last decades has provided the society with a set of programs targeted to deal with sex offender clients and protect the community from offences. Such programs as the Non-residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR), the Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program (SOISP), and the Sex Offender Electronic Monitoring Program (SOEMP) have made a difference in terms of community safety and dealing with sex offenders on parole. Nonetheless, their main target is the control over the external behavior of the parolees and not the psychological education of such individuals. The creation of the new generation probation program for sex offenders, founded on the principles of targeting the criminogenic needs, managing intensive cognitive behavioral therapy, and performing lifetime supervision will undoubtedly make a difference in terms of sex offence correction.