Community-Based Programs Yield Treatment Success for Sex Offenders

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Sexual Health News
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BOSTON, Aug. 12 A recent analysis conducted by the Associated Press revealed that the 20 states with civil commitment laws will spend nearly $500 million in 2010 to incarcerate only 5,000 offenders. According to experts at the Boston-based Institute for Sexual Wellness (ISW), states concerned with how to pay for these programs over the long term should investigate community-based programs. Not only are such programs available at a fraction of the cost of civil commitment, but they are demonstrating high success in preventing recidivism.

The Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) defines treatment as "the delivery of prescribed interventions as a means of managing crime-producing factors and promoting positive and meaningful goal attainment for participants, all in the interest of enhancing public safety." At ISW, offenders typically receive evidence-based treatment that includes cognitive behavioral therapies focused on relapse prevention.

While the Associated Press article noted ongoing debate questioning the efficacy of psychological treatment in making predators less threatening, current medical research supports that the approach does reduce recidivism. Renee Sorrentino, M.D., medical director of ISW, cites recent studies showing that recidivism rates for treated sexual offenders are indeed lower than those for untreated offenders.

"The key step in deciding the most appropriate treatment for an offender is an extensive initial evaluation that clearly identifies the individual's risk factors. While no two treatment plans are the same, most utilize a mix of psychological and pharmacological aspects. Both are effective means for reducing an offender's risk of committing further sexual crimes," said Sara Moore, a psychologist at ISW.

Community-based treatment is usually offered through probation to individuals registered as level 2 and 3 sex offenders. Individuals referred to community clinics such as ISW have outgoing supervision by probation; patients not adhering to the treatment elements prescribed are considered in violation of probation and subsequently re-incarcerated.

Dr. Sorrentino estimates that the total monthly cost of typical treatment provided by ISW is approximately $225, much of which is covered by health insurance. Beyond serving as an effective means for the reduction of offender recidivism, another benefit of community-based programs is an opportunity to reintegrate offenders into the community under extremely close supervision on multiple levels.

"A long jail sentence may seem like the best approach to public safety when dealing with sex offenders, but without appropriate, ongoing treatment, the risk of re-offense upon release is significant," said Dr. Sorrentino.

About ISW

Founded in 2006, the Institute for Sexual Wellness (ISW) provides evidence-based comprehensive assessment, psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment to individuals whose behaviors pose a high risk to themselves and/or others. ISW is led by Renee Sorrentino, M.D., a board-certified forensic psychiatrist and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. ISW's clinical team is uniquely qualified to address the needs of individuals with sexually abusive and related behaviors to ensure personal well-being and community safety. For more, visit

This press release was issued through eReleases(R). For more information, visit eReleases Press Release Distribution at

For ISW: Anja Mitrovic p. 617-479-4501

SOURCE Institute for Sexual Wellness

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