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The Containment Approach

An important aspect of the Sex Offender Accountability Program is the belief that three are more effective than one. Treatment teams consisting of three people, each with specific roles and strengths, work closely together to manage offenders’ risks of re-offending and to reduce their abilities to manipulate the system. Members of the treatment teams are:

Community Supervision Officers: CSO’s monitor offenders’ behaviors in the field and assess compliance with court orders. Through regular contacts with offenders and communication with therapists, CSO’s learn offenders’ offense cycles and use that information to recognize high-risk situations. CSO’s are also the eyes and ears of the courts, and as such, are responsible for initiating court action when they detect violations of supervision terms.

Sex Offender Therapists: Sex offender therapists typically see offenders once each week in group settings. The State of Texas maintains a registry for therapists who meet stringent requirements as sex offender treatment providers. Therapists must have extensive experience in working with sex offenders before they qualify as registered providers. By maintaining contact with CSO’s, therapists often learn about offenders’ environments or "red flags" observed by CSO’s. This information prevents offenders from hiding information from their therapists or treatment groups.

Polygraph Examiners: Sex offenders are generally very manipulative and superficially compliant. Secrets are the best friends of sex offenders. The expertise of polygraph examiners is very useful in detecting sex offender deception. Information gained from polygraph examinations is forwarded to therapists and CSO’s, and is very important to the effectiveness of treatment teams.

These three entities work together to "contain" offenders’ risks to the community. More information about the containment approach can be found in Managing the Adult Sex Offender: A Containment Approach (ISBN: 0-87292-908-C). This book is published by the American Probation and Parole Association.