October 27, 2014

Sex offender program gets funding for rest of fiscal year

10-26-2014 Nebraska:

The state will step in to keep the Lincoln-based outpatient treatment program for sex offenders running until next summer.

The STOP program, run by Lincoln psychologist Dr. Mary Paine, has been successful in reducing recidivism of people with sexually deviant behavior who are living in the Lincoln area.

The program, once under the umbrella of the Lancaster County Mental Health Center, lost funding for about half its clients this spring when the county privatized mental health services. The contract with Lutheran Family Services did not include the sex offender program.

The county funded the program during the summer for 26 clients, at a cost of no more than $37,500.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to continue funding for the outpatient treatment program costs, said Kerry Eagan, chief administrative officer for the Lancaster County Board.

That temporary state funding, which totals $166,000 for 10 months, lasts through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

By then, local leaders hope a permanent funding solution will be found.

HHS decided to use one-time funding to maintain the program while state senators decide what is the best policy for the state, said Scot Adams, director of the DHHS Behavioral Health Division.

"We didn't want to lose this resource" during that year, he said.

DHHS already pays for about half of the 50-plus people who participate in the program because they have been released from the Lincoln Regional Center sex offender program.

There are others who come to the program in different ways and the state has some obligation to support them, Adams said.

The new governor's administration and state senators will make the decisions next year about what to do about this group, according to Adams.

Some of the clients come from the prison system and are required to participate in outpatient programs as a condition of release.

“We hope they (state leaders) see the wisdom in providing treatment for sex offenders who get out of jails and prisons," said Gwen Thorpe, deputy chief administrative officer for the County Board.

“We know she (Mary Paine) has a premier program,” Thorpe said.

The program is a mix of group and individual therapy, based on individual clients' needs. The program helps people adapt after being in prison or at the Lincoln Regional Center, and helps them avoid deviant behavior.

The county picked up the costs for the summer after probation and parole offices raised concerns about what would happen if the program closed, Thorpe said. Some people would be returned to prison or the Regional Center, both more expensive options.

Others would not have the support that reduces deviant behavior. ..Source.. by NANCY HICKS

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