SD20 - Sex Offender Treatment Services in Virginia

Executive Summary:
During the 1995 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Senator Ed Robb of Charlottesville successfully patroned Senate Joint Resolution 284, which directed the Virginia State Crime Commission to study sex offender treatment services. At the April 27, 1995 meeting of the Crime Commission, Chairman Elmo G. Cross, Jr., selected Rev. George F. Ricketts, Sr., to serve as Chairman of the Corrections Subcommittee, which was directed to conduct the study.

At the May 23, 1995 meeting of the subcommittee, Staff Attorney Dana Schrad presented an overview of five key study issues to be addressed in the study. Dr. Isaac Van Patten, Director of Community Corrections of Virginia, based in Roanoke, spoke on how sex offender treatment can work to reduce criminal recidivism. Dr. Van Patten suggested several ways to improve the way sex offenders are supervised and rehabilitated: 1.) Law enforcement and child protective service workers need better training; 2.) Juvenile and circuit court judges should receive educational information about sex offenders; 3.) Sex offenders should receive longer periods of probationary supervision; 4.) The Department of Corrections should use community corrections officers who are specially trained to supervise sex offenders, and 5.) More community treatment resources must be developed. Department of Corrections Director Ron Angelone also fielded questions from the subcommittee about the effectiveness of sex offender treatment.

On July II, staff presented a research update, and proposed a study framework for the subcommittee's consideration. On August 29, Ms. Carolyn Cadasco, a treatment provider from Raleigh, North Carolina, described how community-based treatment programs and self-help support groups help recovering sex offenders to keep from re-offending. Dr. Dennis Waite, chief psychologist for the Department of Youth and Family Services, described how juvenile sex offender treatment programs operate in Virginia. Staff presented a status report on adult sex offender treatment programs that the Department of Corrections had provided to the subcommittee. At the October 3rd meeting, staff reviewed the draft report and recommendations prepared for the subcommittee. The subcommittee approved the recommendations and adopted the report to be forwarded to the full Commission for final approval. On November 14, 1995, the Commission adopted the study recommendations and approved the final report for publication as a Senate document.