Sex Offenders Returning Home: Variation in Services and Parole Practices on Sex Offender Caseloads

Darcy J. Purvis, University of California, Irvine

Parole agents face the daunting task of balancing a two-pronged approach of community safety and successful reintegration. This reentry process becomes even more difficult for agents assigned to supervise sex offender parolees. Sex offenders evoke more media attention and public concern than any other criminal offender. Although the Federal Bureau of Investigations reported in 1998 that sexual offense arrests were decreasing, the number of sex offenders held in state prisons has risen sharply in the past several years in the United States; it rose from 20,500 in 1980, then more than quadrupled to 88,100 in 1994. Most of these sex offenders will eventually return to our neighborhoods with only a small minority escaping some type of parole or community supervision. As of September 30, 2000, California Department of Correction's Parole and Community Services Division was supervising 8,872 sex offender parolees in the community. This paper will describe the variation in services provided to sex offenders returning home, and it will describe the variation in parole supervision practices. Data were obtained from interviews conducted in 2001 and 2002 with parole agents, treatment personnel and sex offender parolees in California. Some additional discussion will address policies in other states and countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006