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Why Sex Offenders are on Supervision

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 justice system.

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 quite prohibitive.

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.

The Texas 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.