- Report Published -
|The Study of the Feasibility of Mandatory Monitoring of Juvenile Sex Offenders for Ten Years|
|Virginia Commission on Youth|
|HJR 467 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|House Joint Resolution 467 was enacted during the 1993 General Assembly session as part of the recommendations made by the Commission on the Reduction of Sexual Assault Victimization in Virginia.|
House Joint Resolution 467 requested the Commission on Youth, with the assistance of the Departments of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Service, Youth and Family Services, and Criminal Justice Services, and the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia, to study the feasibility of a mandatory ten year follow-up program for juveniles convicted of sexual offenses. The Offender Subcommittee of the Commission on the Reduction of Sexual Assault Victimization in Virginia made this recommendation based on its findings that on-going support, aftercare, and monitoring are essential to maintaining treatment gains after successful completion of an offender-specific treatment program. However, most juvenile offenders are reluctant to participate in treatment and monitoring once they are beyond the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and there is no threat of sanctions. This study mandated the examination of the legal, policy and fiscal impact of establishing a ten year, court-based follow-up for juvenile sex offenders.
Nationally, approximately 20% of rapes are perpetrated by juveniles (Uniform Crime Report, United States Department of Justice, 1985). Data from Virginia indicates that juveniles are responsible for 10-13% of sexual assaults. The scope of the problem becomes more apparent when the number of adjudicated juvenile sex offenders is examined. In Fiscal Year 1992, 370 juveniles were adjudicated for sexual offenses. It is projected that by the year 2000 there will be approximately 892 newly-adjudicated sex offenders.
Research on treatment for juvenile sex offenders is a relatively new field and still in a developmental stage. Advances in treatment for sex offenders which have occurred in the last ten years are just now beginning to be evaluated. As with any new field, these advances are more likely to produce results than earlier, less sophisticated efforts. At this point, however, there is little research on the efficacy of treatment, and much less is known about intensive supervision (monitoring). There is, however, a hint of optimism, especially for adolescent sex offenders who are diagnosed and treated in the early phases of sexual offending. Communication between service providers at all stages of the juvenile sex offender's involvement with the justice system is critical to effective dispositions.
Research clearly indicates the importance of psychological assessments, especially with techniques used to assess sex offender behavior and cognition. An assessment can differentiate between normal sexual behavior and sexually deviant/offensive behavior. In addition, psychological assessments can aid in the determination of an appropriate setting based on the offender's risk to the public, as well as in determining the treatment needs of the juvenile.
Sex offender-specific treatment, coupled with intensive monitoring and gradual reintegration of the youth into the community, holds promise for reducing recidivism rates. Communities can facilitate the juvenile's reentry and public safety at the same time through the provision of services such as treatment programs for juvenile sex offenders. Increased community efforts and treatment options, as well as further clinical research on treatment and intensive supervision, may aid in the development of more effective treatment strategies. In addition, such information may help in the development of prevention strategies for reducing or eliminating sexually offending behavior from society.