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Supervision of Convicted Sexual Offenders/Predators (Research Paper Sample)


This paper explores sex offender/predator supervision, tools used in the management process, and some of the barriers that may interfere with such management.


Supervision of Convicted Sexual Offenders/Predators
Student Name
Supervision of Convicted Sexual Offenders/Predators
In spite of longer sentences and a higher probability of incarceration, most sex offenders spend time under community supervision. They normally provide various challenges to the probation/parole agencies. During this period, freedom is limited, and offenders are supposed to comply with certain conditions such as attending a compulsory treatment program, not to take part in various leisure activities or employment, and not visiting a child or receive visits from a child without permission. Failure to adhere to such conditions can result in imprisonment. This paper explores sex offender/predator supervision, tools used in the management process, and some of the barriers that may interfere with such management.
The term "sexual predator" refers to any person who is trying or has committed a sexual crime, usually by pursuing or hunting the victim in some way. The crime can be sexual in nature or it may involve physical violence. Predatory acts may be directed toward a casual acquaintance or a stranger. In most cases, sexual predators establish a relationship with the victim based on trust. However, the thrill of violating this trust comes from the predator’s power and control, or the preparation of the victim for the act. On the other hand, a sexual offender is any person who has committed or attempted an illegal/nonconsensual sexual act. Although sexual offenders execute illegal sexual acts, sexual predators have the propensity to commit acts of sexual violence repeatedly (Kemshall & McIvor, 2004).
In the United States, most states have sanctioned laws that place all convicted sexual predators and offenders on a watch list. According to various public opinion polls, sex offender supervision/management should be a priority for lawmakers. Moreover, most communities advocate for tighter controls for sex offenders and longer sentences in order to pave the way for safer societies. Policy makers across various states continually adopt, and implement policies and programs that are geared to curtailing the myriad issues associated with sex offenders (Craig, Lindsay & Browne, 2010).
Most sex offenders are not in prison, and approximately 60% of convicted sex offenders normally are put under conditional supervision in the community. As a result, it is imperative to maintain a continuous tracking of all the released sex offenders in order to ensure safety across different communities. Sex offender registration lists normally are posted on the internet. Hence, anyone can visit a city or state sex-offender list at any given moment to view a picture of the offender, and his conviction record. These lists are delineated by zip codes, enabling community members to identify some of their neighbors who might be convicted sex offenders. In addition, the sanctioned laws also dictate that convicted sexual offenders/predators should report their new addresses in case of relocation (Prentky & Burgess, 2000).
When a sexual predator/offender is arrested, and convicted, of any sexual crime with a minor, his picture, name, and other important characteristics usually are posted on the internet. This public exposure might make the offender relocate to another place. If this convicted sex predator/offender is under the supervision of a parole officer, he will seek permission from the parole officer to relocate, and he must submit his new address. The offender cannot relocate without the correction-officer’s permission. Failure to seek permission is considered a violation of the set conditions of parole, and can result in loss of the sexual offender’s conditional freedom. Imprisonment will ensue. However, if the sexual predator/offender is not under supervision of the Department of Corrections, he can relocate to another county, state, or city without seeking permission. The passed laws require that the sex offender should report his new address for the remainder of his life (Houston & Galloway, 2008).
It is ridiculous to believe that a sex offender can report his residence to the law enforcement agency. Actually, a convicted sex offender will always look forward for the day when his supervision is terminated, so that he can relocate and regain his freedom. He will move as soon as his supervision period is over, and he will not report his new address. Consequently, he renews his anonymity. This makes the mechanisms used by the correction department to track sex offenders ineffective. Additionally, when the supervision period of a convicted sex offender lapses, and he changes residence without the knowledge of the law enforcement agency, the new community in which he lives is endangered. Unless the community scrutinizes its strangers or the sex offender is arrested on another charge, he can live in the new community unnoticed (McSherry & Keyzer, 2009).
Supervision and management tools
Across different states, a number of tools and strategies have been adopted to supervise convicted sex offenders/predators. According to research, these tools/strategies work best when they are integrated. Moreover, studies also reveal that prolonged use of these tools on the convicted sex offenders reduces recidivism. However, these tools require well-trained personnel to produce the desired results. Although, these tools have been in use for quite some time, research on their effectiveness is not yet definitive. The commonly used tools include GPS monitoring, risk assessment, registries and notification, polygraph testing, civil commitment, penalty enhancers, lifetime supervision, restrictive residency perimeters, and restrictions on internet use by sex offenders.
1 Restrictive Residency Perimeters
More than 14 states and various municipalities have enacted laws that restrict sex-offenders from residing close to schools or other places where children might congregate like parks or public pools. Typically, the restriction ranges from 1000-2500 feet and it can include exceptions for those who had residency within the restricted area prior to their conviction.
2 Polygraph Testing
Polygraph testing is widely used because it enables monitoring of progress in certain treatments and conformance with supervision conditions. Polygraph tests may be given at scheduled appointments or at random. Polygraph tests are conducted for a number of reasons. First, they are administered at the start of post-release supervision in order to record a complete offender’s history. Second, they are administered during supervision to enable investigation of certain incidents. Third, they are administered during supervision to ascertain an offender’s conformance with treatment/supervision. Polygraph examiners are required to be a member of the American Polygraph Association, to have completed a minimum of forty-hour training program, and should work as a team member with a probation officer or therapist (Prentky & Burgess, 2000).
3 Registries and Notification
Every state is required to maintain a record of all sex offenders. Some states have passed laws that dictate that sex offenders should register for life, while others only require high-risk offenders to register for life. Due to killings of some convicted sex-offenders, various states do not disclose detailed information such as photos or physical descriptions to the public. In order to link information from different states, the U.S. Department of Justice has designed a national sex-offender registry, where the public can search for information regarding sex offenders. The registry has tools that enable the public to search where sex offenders are living or search for information on a certain sex offender.
4 GPS Monitoring
Law enforcement agencies have adopted the use of GPS technology to keep track of convicted sex offenders. GPS monitoring differs from traditional electroni c-monitoring in that it shows the exact location of an individual to within 10-15 feet. An ankle bracelet, which is one of the traditional types of electronic monitoring equipment, only shows whether the convicted person is at home. On the contrary, GPS tracking is more advanced, and has two forms: passive and active. In both forms, exclusion zones are identified, and are off limits to the convicted offender. An active system alerts the parole officer if the offender is at an exclusion area, while passive systems keeps record of this information without alerting the official at that particular moment.
When the convicted person is under passive tracking system, he/she wears a device that gathers information on his/her location on a daily basis. This information is then downloaded at specific intervals, when the offender is near a transmission device. On the other hand, active monitoring relays information on regular intervals to a specific monitor such as a probation officer. Research has shown that GPS monitoring is an effective tool to use on high risk offenders, together with treatment. However, due to technological drawbacks, GPS tracking cannot by itself assure public safety. This is because an offender can lure victims to the non-exclusion zones. There are also areas where GPS devices may not function well due to poor signal reception (Selman & Leighton, 2010).
5 Civil Commitment
Across different states, civil commitments allow the states to hold sex offenders in mental health institutions after their incarceration. Civil commitments dictate that anyone convicted of any sexual offense, should be institutionalized in a mental health institution, until they are proven risk-free to the society. Although there have been court challenges on civil commitments, none have succeeded. Despite the fact that it is a worthwhile method of eradicating se...
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