In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

What Risk are Sex Offenders in Community - And What Support Have We?

What Risk are Sex Offenders in Community - And What Support Have We?

Public safety is a priority when prisoners are released into society. And yet, more than 90 percent of people in prison get out. 

Sex offenders are particularly worrisome to those who fear further victimization of the community. Even though sex offenders are less likely to reoffend than others, those who wish to build security into our reeentry system offer advice and support to help manage sex offenders after they are released. Here's a list from The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, of things needed in place to increase chances for success.

  • Actuarial risk-assessments
  • Polygraphs
  • In-depth treatment provided by qualified practitioners, paid for in whole or in part by the offenders themselves
  • Intensive supervision and monitoring by specially trained probation and parole officers
  • Community prevention and education, including social messaging campaigns on respectful interaction
  • Advocacy on behalf of victims

About that list, here are some observations I have. The risk assessments are important, and the risk changes over time, based on the changes in the individual. Thus, risk assessments are done shortly before the release of sex offenders, to determine whether they are "high risk" or not.

Polygraphs are not foolproof, but they are important tools. After release, a "full disclosure" polygraph is given. My advice is that the offender be given some time in the community to settle in before that polygraph is given. The first few months in transition are almost always stressful and stress will skew the polygraph. It is best if the offender has a treatment provider who can work for some time to build the person's trust, confidence, hope and accountability before the first polygraph. That's not always possible, as offenders must pay for treatment and many cannot afford it. I was very lenient about payment, as I saw that treatment was an important factor in public safety.

In terms of public information, I agree wholeheartedly. There is a lot of information available online, and there is a big gap between what's available and what is understood. 

Here is another website with information about how communities can become more self-sufficient in regards to living with convicted sex offenders in your midst. www.csc-scc.gc.ca/chaplaincy/092/circle-support-manual_e.rtf

Prison Follows some Sex Offenders Home

Prison Follows some Sex Offenders Home

Ending Sexual Violence Against Others

Ending Sexual Violence Against Others