Skip to main content

Sex Offense Treatment and Assessment

The Department of Corrections (DOC) and its state agency partners have a comprehensive system of managing those who perpetrate sexual harm consisting of confinement, treatment, supervision, notification and civil commitment whose ultimate goal is public safety.


The Department of Corrections (DOC) provides treatment services for those individuals who have committed sex-related crimes. Their management and treatment is a major priority for the Department and community.

The Sex Offense Treatment and Assessment Programs (SOTAP) started in 1989 at the Twin Rivers Unit (TRU) in the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) as part of DOC's mission to improve public safety. In 2004, the program was expanded to the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC) in 2009, and again at the Sky River Treatment Center (SRTC) at the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2016.

The three primary goals for the Sex Offense Treatment and Assessment Programs (SOTAP) are:

  1. Assist individuals in learning how to reduce and manage offense-related risks.
  2. Provide information to assist the Department and community with managing and monitoring an individual’s risk to sexually reoffend.
  3. Routinely evaluate and align SOTAP with evidence-based practices.

Admission to Sex Offense Treatment

Treatment priority is given to higher risk incarcerated individuals. Sentence structure, court ordered treatment, and release date dictate additional prioritization practices. The program is 12 months in duration and typically occurs in the last 12-18 months of the participant's incarceration. Upon release, individuals are required to participate in 12 months of treatment in SOTAP’s community treatment program to be considered to have completed treatment and met court ordered treatment. Individuals admitted into the sex offense treatment program, are referred to as clients.

An incarcerated individual admitted to the sex offense treatment programs must meet the following criteria:

  • The incarcerated individual must have been convicted of a sex offense for the current or a previous term of confinement, or convicted of a current or past offense which contains sexual elements or sexually abusive behaviors.
  • They must be eligible for release at some future date.
  • They must have at least 24 months to their Earned Release Date (ERD) to complete treatment requirements.
  • They must be willing to engage in ongoing conversation and exploration regarding their inappropriate/illegal behaviors.
  • They must agree to attend SOTAP, both in prison and in the community, and follow treatment rules and expectations.

Incarcerated individuals can be unsuccessfully discharged from treatment for assaults and fighting, sexual behavior that cannot be managed through formal interventions, intentionally violating confidentiality, failing to make progress in treatment, being placed in a higher security classification than that allowable by the treatment facility such as maximum, engaging in behaviors that are disruptive to the operation of the program and/or institution, or using illicit substances.

Many individuals who are higher risk to reoffend do not volunteer to participate in treatment on their own. SOTAP believes it is important to meet with potential clients to discuss the benefit and process of treatment and assess each client’s willingness to participate in the change process. As such, SOTAP meets with all individuals either in person or virtually to determine participation willingness. Through the use of motivational interviewing techniques and the development of therapeutic rapport, the SOTAP has seen a dramatic increase in the rates of higher risk sex offenders volunteering to participate in the treatment program. Given current resources, not all clients with court ordered treatment will be admitted into SOTAP’s treatment program. Clients are prioritized into treatment based on RCW 72.09.335.

Prison Treatment

The SOTAP has a policy (pdf) and procedure to assess, screen, and engage higher risk incarcerated individuals with a goal of increasing admission and retention in treatment. This is in accordance with best practices in the field and adheres to the Risk, Need, and Responsivity (RNR) principles. The RNR principles provide guidance on:

  • Who to Treat: Those who are most likely to reoffend as assessed on an internationally validated risk tool.
  • What to Treat: The individual’s specific risk factors making them more likely to reoffend if not mitigated.
  • How to Treat: Delivering treatment to the individual client’s cognitive and emotional needs.

The greatest number of those individuals incarcerated with a sex-related crime will eventually return to the community.. Therefore, it is important to track and report recidivism rates (pdf). The Department of Corrections defines recidivism as "any felony offense committed within 36 months of release from prison which results in a readmission to prison." Recidivism data obtained for those releasing from DOC in 2019 (with a prior sexual offense) who participated successfully in the prison-portion of treatment had a recidivism rate of 3%. This is compared to a 10% recidivism rate for those who did not participate or did not successfully participate in SOTAP’s treatment program. This rate removes the technical violation of Failure to Register (FTR).

Treatment begins in SOTAP with a comprehensive assessment including, clinical interviews designed to identify and define treatment goals, the development of treatment strategies for each incarcerated individual, and psychological testing when necessary, to identify specific responsivity needs of the client. SOTAP provides evidence-based, sex offense specific treatment utilizing a cognitive behavioral approach. While in treatment, clients will learn what risk factors (referred to dynamic risk factors) contribute to the harmful behaviors they have engaged in and develop interventions addressing each risk factor. Working collaboratively with their therapist, incarcerated individuals learn what led to past offenses and then work to develop pro-social attitudes, thinking, and skills needed to reduce the likelihood of re-offending and increase pro-social living. This work, when committed to, will assist the client in living responsibly and successfully in the community upon reentry.

SOTAP treatment is primarily delivered in the group setting. Group sessions generally have 12 to 14 members and meet six (6) hours per week during the institutional phase of treatment. Clients are provided a minimum of one monthly individual session with their therapist, with additional individual sessions as needed. Additional required specialty groups will be assigned to clients to address their specific risk factors. These specialty groups, for example, focus on improving one’s ability to manage their emotional reactions, improving relationship skills, and managing sexual arousal.

Participants who complete the institutional phase are expected to participate in the SOTAP community portion of treatment upon release. Community treatment is 12 months in duration meeting weekly for group therapy and clients receive individual sessions as needed.

The goals of group therapy include:

  • Help the incarcerated individual gain insight and understanding of their individual pathway which led to sexually offending.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor both cognitive and behavioral interventions to recognize and intervene on their specific dynamic risk factors.
  • Help the incarcerated individual learn the attitudes, thinking skills, and behaviors necessary to live pro-socially.
  • Help the incarcerated individual prepare to use their new skills and knowledge in the community.

The SOTAP program has the capacity to treat the following number of individuals at time:

  • AHCC — 150
  • MCC Sky River Treatment Center (SRTC) — 12 to 16
  • MCC-TRU — 150
  • WCCW — 8 to 12

Community Treatment

The greatest majority of those individuals currently serving time for sexual offenses will eventually return to our communities. Over a quarter of those individuals on community supervision through the Community Corrections Division have sexually related offenses.

The statistics mean that a large number of of individuals with sexually related offenses return to their communities within a few years of their crimes making community treatment and risk/needs based management key elements of their rehabilitation and subsequently in the best interest of community safety. As such, continued treatment services to ensure clients are refining and putting their developed interventions to use while living in the community is necessary.

Individuals who are successful in the prison portion of SOTAP will receive treatment services in the community upon their release from prison. If they have successfully transitioned from the prison treatment program to community, treatment will be provided at no cost and will meet any court ordered treatment requirements. Treatment services, in the majority of instances, are provided by clinicians employed by the Department within the Sex Offense Treatment and Assessment Programs. Clients are expected to participate in 12 months of treatment upon release unless otherwise notified by their treatment team. Clients failing to meet the expectations of community treatment or not willing to participate in community treatment upon release will be unsuccessfully discharged from the program. This may result in revocation and/or having to find a Department of Health certified Sex Offense Treatment Provider in the community and pay for their court ordered treatment.

Like the prison-based sex offense treatment programs, community-based treatment relies on comprehensive risk and needs assessments, clinical interviews and other techniques designed to define treatment goals and strategies individualized for each client. Community treatment will continue to assist the willing participant to further refine their risk interventions, develop protective factors appropriate to their individual identified risk factors, and assess the client’s ability to generalize and internalize the skills of treatment.

Community sex offense specific treatment is delivered in a group setting with approximately 12 to 15 clients in a group.

The goals of group therapy include:

  • Help keep the individual focused and attentive to their specific risk and ensure they are utilizing their identified interventions.
  • Continue to refine, develop, implement, and monitor cognitive and behavioral interventions in order to recognize and intervene on their specific dynamic risk factors.
  • Assist in developing protective factors to ensure that the individual can safely achieve a quality of life that is fulfilling and expansive versus restrictive which can increase individual risk.
  • Assist in practicing and improving attitudes, thinking skills, and behaviors necessary to maintain a pro-social lifestyle.
  • Work collaboratively with the client and their identified support network to ensure the client has positive supports in the community who are aware of the client’s individualized risk, interventions, and how to seek help when needed.

While in treatment and on community supervision, each individual is provided with opportunities to continue to put the knowledge and skills as identified above into practice. SOTAP treatment providers and community corrections officers work collaboratively; sharing risk relevant information to tailor an individualized and comprehensive management strategy for community safety. Communication and education is key to ensure a safe transition for clients from prison to the community.



Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies that apply to the management and treatment of those with sexually related offenses:


Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) publications that apply to the sex offense treatment and assessments:

Laws & Regulations

Below are state laws (RCWs) that apply to sex offense treatment and assessments.

Resource Links