Sex Offender Services

David Berenson


Sex Offender Services provides a system of evidence-based sex offender-specific assessment and programming in an effort to reduce the risk that high risk sex offenders will commit offenses in the future.  The highest priorities of Sex Offender Services are public safety and victim protection.

Sex Offender Services embraces the principles of effective correctional intervention, as manifested in the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Model.  The first principle of the model, the Risk Principle, directs us to provide our most intensive and comprehensive services to those sex offenders who pose the higher to highest levels of risk to reoffend.  The Sex Offender Risk Reduction Center (SORRC) is a unit at the Correctional Reception Center that serves as the department’s sex offender-specific assessment center.  All male sex offenders go through SORRC as part of the reception process.  An evidence-based, internationally utilized sex offender risk instrument is completed and assigns one of five levels of risk.  Those who score in the higher to highest levels are scheduled for forensic evaluations, which concentrate on each offender’s patterns of risk.

Sex offenders who score in the higher levels of risk are mandated to complete the Comprehensive Sex Offender Program.  These offenders are identified for the program when they are within three years of release.

The second principle of the RNR model is the Need Principle.  Criminogenic needs are dynamic (changeable) risk factors that are most closely associated with the risk to reoffend.  These risk factors become treatment needs to be addressed in programming.  Thus they are the major program targets of the Comprehensive Sex Offender Program.  Examples of these needs or targets in the sex offender program are:  antisocial cognitions, attitudes and beliefs, antisocial personality pattern, hostility toward women, lack of concern for others, emotional identification with children (for preferential child molesters) and sexual preoccupation.

The third principle of the RNR model is the Responsivity Principle, which addresses how these criminogenic needs are addressed, i.e., what is the program model.  The Comprehensive Sex Offender Program is a cognitive-behavioral program, tailored as much as possible, to the learning styles, motivation, abilities and strengths of the offenders.  All components and elements of the program are designed to eventuate in the development of an individualized Risk Management Plan for each offender, addressing internal and external risk factors in each offender’s life.