September 28, 2010

Sex Offender Treatment Programs

9-28-2010 California:

For the first time, the country got a closer look at a case that gripped San Diegans this year. Dateline debuted its season premiere Friday night with the case of John Gardner -- the sex offender who raped and killed Amber Dubois and Chelsea King.

We learned chilling details about the investigation that we hadn't heard before, including what happened the day Gardner was arrested, the jailhouse interview Amber's mom had with Gardner and the day he was let out to show detectives where he buried Amber's body.

In the days following Gardner’s arrest, details of his criminal history were talked about statewide. State parole agents were heavily criticized for not doing enough to stop him from striking again.

Sweeping changes were made, but a critic says parole agents still refuse to cooperate in the treatment of domestic violence and sex.

Gardner will spend the rest of his life behind bars. But every year, thousands of sex criminals and domestic violence offenders leave prison. They remain on parole, and must attend intensive therapy sessions, to help keep them from hurting new victims.

"If you're going to reduce his risk, you have to know what his baseline risk is, and you cannot do that without the offense report," sex offender treatment expert James Reavis, Psy.D. said.

Reavis treats sex offenders and spousal abusers. He says intensive counseling can help violent offenders acknowledge their crimes, learn compassion for victims and stop the cycle of violence. But he says state parole agents refuse to provide important information about the offender's crime and his criminal history.

"It's a huge problem," Reavis said.

He says those documents include details about family history and drug and alcohol addictions, which helps the therapist build an effective treatment program.

"So instead of treating him here and also treating him at a substance abuse rehabilitation to make him sober during the time he's in treatment, we would miss that aspect and theoretically miss a major aspect of the case," Reavis said.

And miss the opportunity to keep violent offenders from hurting others.

Reavis also says, when parole officers don't cooperate, public money and resources are wasted because violent, high-risk offenders like John Gardner need more supervision, more counseling and more drug screening, compared to low-risk, non-violent molesters.

“If you get someone who's low-risk, you could communicate that to parole and parole could then spend less resources on that offender than they would on a high-risk offender. But we get no collaboration from parole on that," he said.

In contrast, Reavis and his colleagues get complete cooperation from the county probation department, and the state courts.

The state parole department told NBC San Diego that some of the information in its reports is confidential and cannot be disclosed, even for treatment. But as a result of our questions, the parole department says it will discuss this issue with Reavis in detail. ..Source.. PAUL KRUEGER and MICHELLE WAYLAND

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