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Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative

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Executive Summary

Policymakers, practitioners, and the public have come to view sex offenders as a unique group of offenders in need of special management. As a result, numerous laws, policies, and programs focusing specifically on sex offenders have been implemented across the country, most without the support of research. The criminal justice community, however, has recognized that crime control efforts, prevention strategies, and treatment methods based on scientific evidence are far more likely to be effective and cost-beneficial.

In 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) authorized the establishment of the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office) within the U.S. Department of Justice—the first federal office devoted solely to sex offender management-related activities—to implement the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Title I of AWA).

In 2011, the SMART Office began work on the Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI) to assess the state of research and practice in the field and inform OJP's research and grant-making efforts. As part of this effort, the office gathered information and enlisted practitioners to (1) provide details about sex offender management programs and practices that are promising or effective and (2) identify the needs of the various disciplines involved in managing this population.

The SMART Office contracted with the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and a team of subject-matter experts to review and summarize the scholarly literature on sex offending and sex offender management. To gain insight into emerging issues, promising practices, and pressing needs at the state and local levels, NCJA conducted an informal national inventory of sex offender management professionals in 2011. Thereafter, the SMART Office hosted the Sex Offender Management Research and Practice Discussion Forum (SOMAPI forum) in February 2012, where researchers and practitioners discussed the research summaries and inventory results to refine what is known about sex offender management, identify gaps in research and practice, and assess the needs of the disciplines involved in this work. Recommendations from the SOMAPI forum informed this report, which reviews the literature on adult sex offenders and juveniles who commit sex offenses. Given their fundamental differences, it is critical to distinguish between these populations when describing their characteristics or discussing research on etiology, recidivism, risk, and the effectiveness of interventions.

Date Created: February 28, 2020