Increasing numbers of sex offenders are sentenced to incarceration and, after serving their sentences, are often released to the community, with many under community supervision.  Current research and trends indicate that the effective management of sex offenders is contingent upon a number of factors, including recognizing the diversity of the population, ensuring collaboration among system actors, the evidence-based application of specialized assessment tools to inform case management decisions, and well-designed and implemented treatment programs and supervision strategies within the context of the "what works" literature.  Paroling authorities can incorporate many of these considerations into their routine decisionmaking practices and work collaboratively with other stakeholders to promote implementation of these elements systemwide.

What Parole Boards Should Know about Sex Offenders and Sex Offender Management

  • There is no "typical" sex offender; individuals who commit sex offenses are a diverse population.
  • Sexual recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than commonly believed – generally less than 25% over – and recidivism is more likely to be non-sexual in nature.
  • Recidivism risk varies considerably among sex offenders, from low to high, and is influenced by specific research-identified risk factors.
  • Specialized sex offender-specific risk assessment tools can differentiate higher from lower risk sex offenders and guide decisionmaking systemwide.
  • The combination of supervision and treatment is more effective than restrictions, surveillance, and sanctions alone.
  • Reentry is particularly challenging for sex offenders and, in particular, addressing housing and employment barriers well in advance is necessary.
  • Sex offender management strategies are most effective when implemented based on the specific risk level and intervention needs of a given individual.
  • A comprehensive, collaborative approach is needed to support successful outcomes for victims, offenders, and communities.
  • Parole boards can leverage evidence-based practices with sex offenders through discretionary release decisionmaking practices and collaboration with other agencies.

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