What are Sex Offender Programs/Strategies?
Sex offender programs/strategies represent various approaches used to prevent convicted sex offenders from committing future sex offenses. These approaches include different types of therapy, community notification, and standardized assessments. Sex offender programs/strategies are administered in prison and/or in the community to manage sex offenders. Three common therapeutic approaches to treating sex offenders are:
- The cognitive-behavioral approach, which focuses on changing thinking patterns related to sexual offending and changing deviant patterns of sexual behavior.
- The psycho-educational approach, which focuses on increasing offenders' empathy for the victim while also teaching them to take responsibility for their sexual offenses.
- The pharmacological approach, which uses medication to reduce sexual response.
Besides treatment, there are several types of sex offender laws that are intended to deter sex offenders from reoffending. These include laws that increase the level of supervision or incapacitation imposed on sex offenders. The most common types of sex offender laws are:
- Community Notification. This strategy involves making a sex offender's personal information, including such factors as location of residence and offense, available to the community in which the offender lives.
- Sex Offender Registration. Following their release from prison, sex offenders provide police with information such as their residence and employment for tracking/monitoring purposes. This type of registration typically accompanies community notification.
- Sentencing Enhancements. Sex offenders may be subject to longer prison terms.
- Sexual Predator Laws. Sexual predator laws target certain classes of sexual offenders for additional prison time, special notification practices, etc.
With all of these approaches and laws, it is important to include all partners who may be involved in the management of sex offenders such as law enforcement, corrections, victims organizations/advocates, treatment programs, courts, prosecutors and other stakeholders. These partners can provide valuable information in assessing the effectiveness and efficacy of sex offender programs and strategies.
Standardized assessment tools are often used to increase the likelihood of treatment efficacy and/or to identify individuals at high risk of reoffending. Standardized tools have been tested to ensure that they are valid and reliable mechanisms to inform decision-making related to the management or treatment of offenders.
BJA-Supported Resources Related to Sex Offender Programs/Strategies
Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management
Other Sex Offender Program Resources
American Probation and Parole Association (APPA)
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)
Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM)
Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute
International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO)
National Sex Offender Public Registry
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The Safer Society Foundation
Sexual Abuse Treatment, Referral, Resource, and Research Page
Sex Offender, Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, & Tracking (SMART)
State and Local Sex Offender Programs/Strategies Resources
California Coalition on Sexual Offending
Colorado Department of Corrections Sex Offender Treatment and Monitoring Program (SOTMP)
San Diego County Sex Offender Management Council
Utah Department of Corrections, Sex Offender Treatment
Vermont Treatment Program for Sexual Aggressors
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