Sex offender probation is arguably one of the harshest probation sentences a person can receive in Maricopa County. For those of you that are unfamiliar with sex offender probation, it’s not the same as other types of probation, where a probationer is required to follow guidelines, such as, be home by curfew and abstain from drugs and/or alcohol. Sex offender probation monitors, not only a probationer’s daily whereabouts, relationships, employment and residence, but also his/her thoughts and ideas. Researchers in this field refer to this as the “containment approach.” The “containment approach” includes regular polygraphs, treatment and interrogative weekly interviews with probation and surveillance officers in hopes of tracking the probationer’s mental capacity for recidivism. The “containment approach” has many downfalls, rooted in the fact that probationers are blanketed under the term “sex offender” and are not treated based on their individual needs. These downfalls, for the probationer, their family, and the community, will be outlined in the following articles.
Unrealistic Goals for Sex Offender Probation and the Right Way to Prevent Recidivism
First, it is important to note that the premise of these articles is not to suggest that probationers with sex terms do not need to be monitored when they return to the community. Further, these articles are not intended to suggest that a probationer with sex terms shouldn’t be on probation. Rather, they are intended to outline the ways in which sex offender probation, under the containment method, in Maricopa County, misses the mark in terms of truly rehabilitating a person on sex offender probation, protecting the community, and preventing recidivism.
To some, the idea that controlling one’s thoughts and ideas is a wild and Orwell-esque notion. Anyone can agree that the task of controlling the inappropriate thoughts of an individual is impossible. Yet, Maricopa County Superior Court’s sex offender probation description on their website unapologetically claims that their model for sex offender probation can do just that. As defense attorneys, we see a behind the scenes glance at what this unrealistic probation model really means for our clients, and we’re here to outline many of Maricopa County’s practices, which make probationer’s day to day life nearly impossible, and what some would say is “worse than prison.”
Good Intentions with Crippling Effects
As we’ve outlined in past articles, Arizona may be one of the toughest states for individuals convicted of a sex crime(s), which range widely from public urination to harsh crimes like child prostitution or child pornography. The “containment approach” is formulated with good intentions, to help probationers with sex terms address sexual deviancy through polygraphs and treatment. Many sex offenders are dealing with mental issues, traumatic past experiences, and often being victims of sex abuse themselves, and they need treatment and behavior modification to resolve these mental issues. But, the way in which the sex offender probation department goes about facilitating this rehabilitation is questionable as to its effectiveness for the individual offender. According to Maricopa County Adult Probation’s website, the “internal control” is monitored through group and/or individual therapy (depending on the individual), regular interviews with probation officers (often consists of disclosing intrusive, sexual, and private information), and routine polygraph testing.
The “internal control” is formulated to help sex offenders deal with “issues of basic human sexuality, societal role models, social stereotyping, development of sexual deviancy, and impact on victims,” according to MCSC’s website. From our experience with clients, this is something that could be helpful in realizing their offense, taking responsibility of their actions, and understanding the impact on victims, however, it very seldom works that way because of how degrading probation officers are, how many limitations there are on the life of a person on sex offender probation, and how the system is set up for individuals to fail. Really, the problem with sex offender probation, and the reason it is typically referred to as “worse than prison,” is a two part problem revolving around the polygraph and the way the therapy is executed, which limits the possibility for anyone to come out of sex offender probation, employed, rehabilitated, and ready to rejoin the community.
In our next article, we will delve into the specific ways polygraph testing and treatment negatively affects the probationer and those around them. Stay tuned, and, if you believe you need an attorney, call Castillo Law PLLC today. Cindy Castillo is available 24/7 at 480-206-5204.