Treating sex offenders in the community
97% of offenders currently serving time for sexual offense will return to our communities. Most offenders spend 2 years in prison and 67% have sentences of 18 months of less, although sentences for sex offenders tend to be longer than the typical sentence for other crimes.
As of September, 2006, approximately 3,330 of the 18,000 offenders in Washington prisons had sex crimes as their most serious convictions or were serving time for a sexual offense.
The statistics mean that a large number of sex offenders return to their communities within a few years of their crimes--making community treatment a key element of their rehabilitation.
Like the prison-based programs, community-based treatment relies on comprehensive assessments that include psychological tests, clinical interviews and other techniques designed to define treatment goals and strategies for each offender. Counselors study what has sparked past offenses and then help to continue to define the attitudes, thinking and behavior skills that are needed to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.
The treatment programs continue to offer participants individual counseling and group therapy.
Evaluating Our Results – Redefining Our Goals
Studies for Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Government Management, Accountability and Performance (GMAP) program found that greater efforts need to be made to provide treatment to more offenders in the community after prison. DOC’s GMAP analysis identified a lack of treatment opportunities in the community. DOC is developing action plans designed to close this treatment gap.
The GMAP study showed that of 1,768 offenders leaving prison, only 276, or 16 percent, received sex offender treatment within 36 months of leaving prison. DOC is developing strategies to provide more information about available treatment programs to offenders and encourage more of them to volunteer for it.
The GMAP study has found offenders living in the community face several barriers to obtaining the treatment they need, including:
- Courts haven’t made treatment a condition of community supervision for 40 percent of the offenders
- DOC has the authority to require only 5 percent of the offenders to undergo treatment
- 19 percent refused treatment or weren’t amenable to treatment
- 15 percent were indigent
- 9 percent had outstanding arrest warrants
Nevertheless, the GMAP study also showed that of 3,570 sex offenders studied between July and December of 2005, 92 percent (3,281 people) committed no offenses after leaving prison for the community. Of the 289 who did re-offend, only eight committed sex offenses. Other offenses included:
- Failure to register as a sex offender – 152
- Property crimes – 74
- Drug crimes – 31
- Non-sex crimes against people - 24