Making Sure Sexual Offenders Are Compliant Is On Parole and Probation’s Halloween Weekend To-Do List

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Towson, MD (October 28, 2010)--- Once again this year, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) will be monitoring certain sexual offenders and reminding them to stay away from children’s Halloween activities. Selected offenders have been sent letters and window signs indicating that they have no candy. In addition, Parole and Probation agents will be conducting hundreds of home visits and working with local law enforcement in some regions across the state to ensure that certain offenders are compliant.

“The Division of Parole and Probation takes very seriously the business of protecting our communities,” says DPP Director Patrick McGee. “Parole and Probation will establish a reinforcing presence across the state during Halloween. We will concentrate our efforts on Sunday, and will visit the homes of those offenders for whom this intervention is determined to be most appropriate.”

Offenders are asked to keep their porch lights out, place “NO CANDY” signs in their windows, and stay away from children’s activities. Those found to be noncompliant could face sanctions for violating the terms of their supervision.

Statewide, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation supervises approximately 71,000 men and women. These include more than 2,300 sexual offenders statewide. DPP is also responsible for the more than 1,000 sexual offenders who have been sentenced but not yet released to supervision. Sexual offenders present specific challenges. Legislation passed during the 2006 Emergency Legislative Session mandated collaborative containment (“COMET”) teams for the management of sexual offenders, and authorized conditions allowing the use of polygraph examinations, computer monitoring, and electronic tracking for sexual offenders. Within months of this mandate, COMET teams with offender-to-agent reduced caseloads of 30-to-one had been intensively trained throughout Maryland; their training included sex offender laws and relevant agency policies, sexual abuse incidence and prevalence, victimology, treatment domains, relapse prevention, and many other subject areas.

Under the O’Malley Administration, DPP has been at the forefront in the development and implementation of effective strategies for the management and treatment of sexual offenders.

The O’Malley Administration secured the passage of lifetime registration legislation, and assisted DPP in greatly enhancing enforcement and supervision measures, including polygraph exams, electronic monitoring, and other tools critical to sex offender management. The Administration provided funding for DPP to intensively train agents to handle sex offender cases; these agents have a reduced caseload and specialize in this vital supervision specialty.

DPP uses a special risk instrument specifically designed to assess sexual offenders to examine every single sexual offender in its system, and initially places all offenders under the highest level of supervision, which includes daily telephone contacts, weekly face-to-face meetings, mandatory treatment referrals based upon risk assessment, and at least monthly verification of compliance with all terms of supervision and Registry requirements. Offenders are moved to lower supervision levels only on the basis of consistent successful compliance and satisfactory risk assessment scores.

The management of sexual offenders in Maryland includes:

Clinical Polygraph Exams
These increase the accountability of sexual offenders for past behaviors, ensure compliance with current supervision, and serve as a deterrent.

Computer Monitoring
Software may be installed on an offender’s computer allowing an agent to monitor or restrict access to particular activities and locations. This allows more accurate risk assessment and potentially prevents victimization. Agency policy requires computer monitoring for any sexual offender release from the Division of Correction who is a child sexual offender required to register with the Md. Sex Offender Registry.

Electronic Tracking
GPS tracking may be used around-the-clock by DPP as required. Curfews may be established and monitored; agents may set geographic exclusions and boundaries; alerts are generated when an offender violates the rules.