In our Sex Offender Probation Series (Part One, Part Two), we’ve talked about the flaws in sex offender probation and what makes sex offender probation unfair. We’ve highlighted the problems that sex offender probation provides to everyone involved in the rehabilitation process, the inherent flaws in polygraphs, and now we will outline what’s wrong with the therapy required of probationers on sex offender probation. Probationers on sex offender probation are required to partake in group therapy, and in some scenarios, individual therapy, along with regularly scheduled polygraphs. As noted in part two of this series, the polygraphs directly affect how the probationer proceeds through the steps of probation. The probationer’s level of therapy is dependent on how the probationer performs on the polygraph.
Most probationers are required to attend weekly group therapy. If the probationer fails his/her sexual history polygraph, he/she is normally prevented from advancing in his/her respective probation program. On some occasions, if the probationer is determined to have failed their polygraph, he/she is sent back to the primary level of sex offender probation. At which point, the probationer may be required to attend group/individual therapy for two or more years, depending on the probationer.
Regardless of how much therapy is required and/or if the probationer is forced to revert back to a primary level of probation, the probationer is 100% responsible for paying for therapy. In some scenarios, probationers can qualify for financial assistance. Probationers pay upwards of $200 a month for treatment/therapy and probation fees. Probationers often work very demeaning jobs, due to the offender’s record, and they are likely given minimum wage. As a result, most probationers find themselves working only to pay probation. If requested, individual treatment is much more expensive, but most of the time better for the probationer.
Many probationers find group therapy incredibly demeaning, intrusive, and degrading. During group therapy, probationers have to share their innermost sexual thoughts, ideas and experiences with a group because they cannot afford individual therapy or are not allowed to attend individual therapy. For those who are experiencing traumatic psychological events as part of their offenses, a group setting hardly paves the way for these probationers to reach rehabilitation.
To better understand how treatment prevents rehabilitation, consider this: because of the number of probationers in treatment, a subject may be required to pay $45.00 for each session, but get less than one minute of actual participation. Times and days vary for the probationer and employers are expected to work around the therapy schedule. Sometimes probationers are unable to pay for one-on-one therapy and probation fees and are forced to attend group therapy. However, most employers, especially ones that pay minimum wage, will not work around a group therapy schedule. Thus, probationers have an even harder time succeeding and becoming gainfully employed. If the probationer does not have a good support system, the conditions of probation can be catastrophic for their livelihood. All of these factors limit the ability for probationers to become rehabilitated.
There are a number of other ways that sex offender probation does more harm than good for probationers, their family and the community. For instance, probationers are required to submit activity requests for almost all activities outside of home and work. Included in the activity request is a requirement to submit a list of “what ifs,” which are then presented to the group who will then discuss the probationer’s request. This means, a request to go to the mall or a hike might take a month or more to be reviewed and/or considered.
Holidays are also complicated for the probationer. For Halloween, as we have stated in previous articles, probationers are not allowed to decorate, answer the door, or give out candy. Any requests for Christmas and Thanksgiving activities must be made at least one month in advance, otherwise, the activity will not be considered. It is important to note how hard it is to obtain employment after going to prison for a sex crime and remaining on sex offender terms, which includes lack of access to the internet, prohibitions on the use of smartphones, curfew, regular home inspections, interviews of potential sexual partners, and much more inhibiting circumstances.
The intent of probation is that the probationer needs to be supervised during rehabilitation. Most probationers suffer from a mental illness and their crimes are a result of said illness, which affects everyone in our community. Simply put, sex offender probation needs an overhaul in the manner in which it is administered. Probation officers are ill-equipped to truly handle the needs of the probationer. Instead, probation officers apply unreasonable restrictions on probationers and their families. In sum, the main focus on probation should be rehabilitation and less on attempting to control the thoughts of probationers through draconian restrictions and demeaning group sessions.
 – It should be noted that many probationers remain unemployed.