Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Mullen, Sex Offender Vigilante

A Better Strategy?

So how can America stay safe from sex fiends?

No law or law enforcement strategy will end sex offenses, although that category of crimelike every otherhas declined markedly in the United States in the past 10 years. The fact is that heinous acts are certain to occur somewhere every single day in a nation of 300 million people.

The best we can hope do is minimize the number of re-offenses by sexual predators. LaFond said a newly developing strategy of intense supervision seems to work best.

This "containment" strategy is used in Colorado, which also has a sex offender registry. But the state's Bureau of Investigation emphasizes the essential facts about sex offenses on the registry Web site, including this one: "Most sex offenders (80-95%) assault people they know."

The state has resolved that sex offenders can't be "cured," but their problem can be managed through comprehensive treatment and carefully structured and monitored behavioral supervision.

Colorado Bureau of Investigation logo
Colorado Bureau of Investigation logo

Under the containment approach, sex offenders are intensely managed by community supervision teams that include probation and parole officers, community corrections staffers, polygraph examiners and those who provide treatment.

Supervising officers set conditions, monitor behavior and impose sanctions for infractions. Treatment-providers gather information about the offender and administer long-term therapy designed to alter behavior and negate sexually abusive thoughts. The polygraph examiner serves as a backup, monitoring compliance and behavior. The program also invites participation by friends, relatives and employers.

Offenders who behave are gradually granted further freedom. Those who misbehave are reined in.

"What I see in this program is really a strategy that tries to identify the more likely re-offender," said LaFond. "It is an intensive, hands-on approach, rather than one that just announces to the community, 'He's living among you; you're on your own.'"

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