Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lawmakers briefed on sex offender management

Rep. Blake Oshiro, the Dept. of Public Safety's Sex Offender Management Team and the U.S. Dept. of Justice's Bureaus of Justice Assistance yesterday briefed legislators and policymakers on effective sex offender management. Dr. Kurt Bumby of the Center for Effective Public Policy, an expert on sex offender management, discussed the facts and myths of sex offenders, as well as common trends and characteristics in rehabilitation and recidivism rates. He also reviewed specialized strategies for risk assessment, community supervision, and treatment.

One of the main points discussed during the training and presentation is the variation in sex offenders. The term "sex offender" suggests a homogeneous group of sexual predators, assuming similar re-offending patterns regardless of the nature of the offense, age of victim, motivations, criminal history, etc. These assumptions underlie many of our federal and state laws. However, research shows that all sex offenders can't be placed under the same umbrella. Because of the diverse nature of sex offenders, implementing public policy strategies that address a heterogeneous group of offenders would be more effective in maximizing resources and enhancing public safety. Understanding the etiological or explanatory theories of sex offending, and the facts, myths and trends of sex offenders is imperative to considering the implications of contemporary sex offender management strategies.

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety recently received a $249,426 federal grant to create the Hawaii Academy for Sex Offender Management (HATSOM), the nation's first site for ongoing sex offender management training. According to the Dept. of Public Safety, state professionals who work with sex offenders will receive training in the areas of investigation, prosecution, sentencing, assessment, treatment, reentry, supervision, registration and notification.

Dr. Bumby concluded his presentation with a "what works" summary of sex offender treatment and correction. (You can view the entire PowerPoint presentation here):

1.) Longer sentences, punishment-driven strategies unlikely to reduce recidivism
2.) Strategies pairing surveillance/monitoring with rehabilitative services have better outcomes
3.) Prison-based and community-based cognitive interventions (including sex offender treatment) reduce recidivism
- Costs-benefits analyses generally support investment
4.) Targeting higher risk offenders for more intensive interventions yields better outcomes
5.) Empirically-validated risk assessments provide best estimates of risk
Photo ( L-R): Dr. Kurt Bumby, Center for Effective Public Policy; Rep. Angus McKelvey; Tom Read, Dept. of Public Safety; and Leanne Gillespie, Dept. of Public Safety, Sex Offender Management Team.
Photo from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: As of July 17, 2008, Hawaii had a total of 2, 525 registered sex offenders.

1 comment:

Alejandro said...

A very interesant initiative...now hope it works, right?