OR: Retired social worker writes about pioneering work with sex offenders


Conversations at the dinner table were different growing up in the Callahan home.

When your mother is best known for her work with sex offenders, that’s to be expected.

“Some of my earliest memories were of dropping her off at a prison and picking her up,” said Barbara Baer, the oldest of Marilyn Callahan’s three grown children. “I didn’t know anything different. That was her profession, just like other families had parents who were attorneys and doctors.”

Callahan is a retired licensed clinical social worker, renowned locally as a pioneer in sex-offender treatment during a 50-plus-year career. The Oregon chapter of the National Association of Social Workers presented her a Lifetime Recognition Award in 2006.

She’s worked in adult prisons, at juvenile corrections facilities and the Oregon State Hospital, as well as in private practice. She’s counseled and cajoled clients in just about every imaginable setting.

Even now, at the age of 83, Callahan facilitates regular group sessions inside Oregon State Correctional Institution as a volunteer. Records at the medium-security facility show she’s been doing that since at least 2010.

Only a broken hip recently kept her from her weekly visits to the prison east of Salem.

Talking taboo

Callahan is on the mend now, promoting a book she co-authored with Tim Buckley. It’s called “S.O. The New Scarlet Letters: Sex Offenders, Their Treatment and Our Challenge.”


She was in the news in her early 70s when one of her clients wound up homeless in Polk County and she expressed outrage at county officials for not doing more to provide transitional housing for offenders.

“I don’t want you to think I’m a weeping heart,” she’s quoted in a Jan. 5, 2006 article in the Statesman Journal. “I’m not a do-gooder. If I didn’t believe people could change, I would give up and stop doing this.”

Read more


Related posts

Notify of

We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...


  1. Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  2. Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  3. Swear words should be starred out such as f*k and s*t and a**
  4. Please avoid the use of derogatory labels.  Use person-first language.
  5. Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  6. Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  7. Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  8. We will not publish any comments advocating for violent or any illegal action.
  9. We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address that are not personally identifiable.
  10. Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  11. Please do not post in all Caps.
  12. If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links. Posts that include a URL may take considerably longer to be approved.
  13. We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  14. We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  15. Please choose a short user name that does not contain links to other web sites or identify real people.  Do not use your real name.
  16. Please do not solicit funds
  17. No discussions about weapons
  18. If you use any abbreviation such as Failure To Register (FTR), Person Forced to Register (PFR) or any others, the first time you use it in a thread, please expand it for new people to better understand.
  19. All commenters are required to provide a real email address where we can contact them.  It will not be displayed on the site.
  20. Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues via email to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
  21. We no longer post articles about arrests or accusations, only selected convictions. If your comment contains a link to an arrest or accusation article we will not approve your comment.
  22. If addressing another commenter, please address them by exactly their full display name, do not modify their name. 
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Very inspiring person and her story………