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.

Some Thoughts on Sex Offender Treatment Providers

Some Thoughts on Sex Offender Treatment Providers

An hourglass effect, that's how I see parts of the criminal justice system. When it comes to sex offender treatment, here are some things that keep the cost of treatment high and the compliance with the law less than ideal.

Treatment providers must have extensive college education and then years of supervised practice before they can be certified by a state to be licensed. Licensing is generally a good thing. It aims to provide quality control, making sure that whoever gets a license is acting honestly and ethically on behalf of justice and the growth of their client. In addition to standards of professionalism being enforced at the state level, national and state associations also provide continuing education and professional accountability.

But the requirements for being a treatment provider create a scarcity, and thus the supply of licensed providers is low compared to the number of those being required to receive treatment. People coming out of prison often are burdened with financial hardship, and expecting them to pay treatment fees of $500 a month on top of rent, food, transportation and finding employment is unrealistic.

Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) do not replace the role of treatment provider, but they could conceivably lower the overall cost. CoSA groups address this gap between supply of treatment providers and the need of offenders needing community support. They help to hasten normalcy for ex-offenders, sort of like 12-step groups do - providing social connection as well as support to avoid further unlawful acts. 

While professional standards are important to uphold, there may be room for volunteer organizations, like CoSA, to broaden the pool of trained community members and thus be seen as viable partners to treatment providers and community corrections officials.


Ex offender Talks about TED (Treatment, Education and Determination)

Ex offender Talks about TED (Treatment, Education and Determination)

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