Group Said Recommendations Most Effective When Implemented Together
SACRAMENTO – A multi-agency task force, created to assist the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in developing a comprehensive approach to sex offender supervision, released its report today that included nine interrelated recommendations to improve the department’s supervision of sex offender parolees.
“I directed the task force to review and evaluate all relevant policies and procedures, reports and recommendations from the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) and the Office of the Inspector General, to ensure CDCR is using best practices in supervising its sex offenders in order to improve public safety and reduce future victimization,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate.
“This Task Force took a comprehensive approach to sex offender management and the effective use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology,” said CDCR Division of Adult Parole Operations Director Robert Ambroselli. “We’ve created a team to review the recommendations.”
The Sex Offender Supervision and GPS Monitoring Task Force was a multi-disciplinary collaboration composed of CDCR staff including representatives from adult and juvenile parole and the Board of Parole Hearings; law enforcement representatives; victim advocates; the Office of the Inspector General; the National Institute of Justice; treatment providers; probation representatives; and industry experts.
The Task Force said its nine interrelated recommendations should be viewed as a package because they would be most effective if implemented together.
The Task Force recommends that CDCR:
Implement a Containment Model — It includes supervision, treatment, polygraphy and victim advocacy. All the recommendations in the report fit within the framework of this philosophy, which calls for collaboration, victim focus, containment tools, informed policy and quality control. (Note: This was part of the recently passed Chelsea’s Law.)
Add dynamic- and violence-risk assessments to static-risk assessment — Static-risk assessment relies primarily on factors from a parolee’s past. Dynamic-risk assessment takes into account a parolee’s life circumstances and a violence-risk assessment will more accurately determine an offender’s current risk.
Implement tiered supervision — CDCR has a two-tiered system: high-risk sex offenders and all others. Since risk of re-offense is greatest during the first year of release, supervision of all sex offenders should be most intensive during that time. Subsequent levels of supervision should be determined by static- and dynamic-risk factors, as well as the parolee’s behavior. An improved ability to determine risk will allow use of a three- or four-tiered system of supervision, enabling parole agents to focus resources where the need is greatest.
Discontinue “passive” GPS monitoring — Since the inception of the department’s GPS program, more than 20,000 sex offenders have been monitored on an “active” or “passive” level. At the active level, parole agents review all location data. At the passive level, parole agents review select location data. The Task Force recommends discontinuing passive monitoring and use active GPS monitoring for all sex offenders.
Create a Monitoring Center — GPS devices trigger alerts when a potential problem is detected, ranging from a low battery on a GPS device to an offender cutting the strap of a GPS unit. An alert does not mean a parole violation; however, thousands of alerts daily require a significant amount of parole agents’ time. California should follow the practices of Texas, Florida and Michigan and use a Monitoring Center to screen alerts, enabling parole agents to spend less time in front of a computer and more time focusing on serious alerts and direct supervision of paroled sex offenders.
Limit assignment of sex offender cases — Due to the added responsibilities and unique challenges faced by parole agents with a sex offender caseload, the Task Force recommends that parole agents in their probationary period or without prior experience not carry sex offender caseloads.
Implement a sex offender-to-agent ratio no greater than 20:1 — New laws and policies and GPS technology mandates have increased the duties and responsibilities of parole agents. Task Force recommendations, if adopted, would add to them. The 20:1 ratio would allow more effective supervision of sex-offender parolees.
Develop and implement improved accountability measures — CDCR has developed a 5-year plan to increase the presence of frontline supervisors and field training officers and automated reports. The Task Force — noting that public confidence in CDCR’s ability to effectively supervise sex offender parolees depends on strong internal accountability measures — recommends the department assess the quantity and quality of supervision contacts.
Require approval of each parolee’s residence — In 2007, only 88 paroled sex offenders were transient or homeless. Today, more than 2,100 sex offenders are homeless, compromising effective monitoring and supervision and increasing the likelihood offenders abscond supervision. The Task Force noted that blanket residence restrictions have not improved public safety and recommends targeted residence restrictions. GPS technology allows the creation of exclusion zones, which can aid parole agents in monitoring the targeted restrictions for each parolee.
“The supervision of sex offender parolees is an evolving process as new laws and policies are recommended and enacted,” Ambroselli said. “Some of the recommendations in this report are in the early stages of implementation. I look forward to reviewing and collaborating with Secretary Cate, my staff, the Legislature and the Governor’s Office to help create a safer California.”
View the report at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/docs/Sex_Offender_and_GPSTask_Force_Report.pdf
For more information about parole operations and sex offender supervision, visit http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/index.html
For Immediate Release
Contact: Terry Thornton