At a time when sex offenders are in the news for committing
serious crimes, many people question why sex offenders are allowed the
privilege of community supervision. Media reports often equate the placement
of sex offenders on community supervision as a failure of the criminal
Some offenders are indeed not appropriate for community supervision.
For offenders with extensive histories of sexual abuse or violence, those
who indicate high risk and/or those who show no interest in changing their
behaviors or thinking, prison may be the only way to adequately protect
the public. But for those deemed appropriate by the courts, community
supervision can benefit the public.
If all sex offenders were sentenced to prison terms,
one of two things would happen -- either prison sentences actually served
would become shorter to make room for those coming into prison, or the
State would have to build more than 25,000 additional prison beds immediately.
The cost of prison construction is high and there is currently a shortage
in correctional officer staffing of crisis proportions. These and other
factors make the possibility of ending community supervision for sex offenders
Placing sex offenders on community supervision is sometimes supported
by victims or their families. In recent years Texas has increased victims'
participation in court processes. Many victims realize that sex offender
supervision is not a "slap on the wrist," but rather is aimed
at holding offenders accountable and protecting the public. Also, offenders
placed on supervision are much more likely to pay restitution for treatment
costs of victims.
Council on Sex Offender Treatment states that
sex offender treatment in the community is cost effective. They report
that a reduction of just 1% in recidivism pays for the treatment of all
treated sex offenders by reducing costs related to investigations, prosecutions,
and incarcerations (Research shows sex offender treatment to be more effective
in its rate of recidivism reduction.)
Collin County CSCD believes that the progress witnessed by the SOC and
similar programs across the nation demonstrates the possibility of properly
supervising offenders in the community without sacrificing public safety.