We hear a lot of talk about the “unfairness” of the registry, how everyone on it is “treated the same” no matter what their offense. Lumping all registrants under the “sex offender” label is wrong, especially when there’s so many offenses under the umbrella, high risk, low risk and even no risk offenses that may be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Released from incarceration, many registrants are mandated to attend one-size-fits-all “sex offender” treatment groups. There they are continuously reminded of their “sex offender” label and the need for continuous “sex offender therapy” because they are all at “future risk” despite the fact that they and their past offenses are all different.
“Shoe-horning” all registrants into one-size-fits-all treatment seems to label them all a “future risk”.
Case in point, as part of their progress in one particular offender treatment group, registrants are asked to present “future risk plans”.
That seems reasonable, as long as we remember that everyone’s level of risk is different.
Registrants are asked to base their “future risk plan” on the person they were when they committed their offense, which may have been 5, 10, or 20 years ago.
Are any of us the same people we were that many years ago?
In one particular situation a therapist asked registrants to define the “deep, dark defect” in their personality that would “always” cause them to be a “future risk”.
Always? Does every mistake someone makes put them at future risk for the same mistake again? Or, do people grow and change and learn from their past mistakes and get to the point of zero future risk?
Shouldn’t plans and risk factors for the future reflect personal growth made over the years in treatment and not be based on who you were or what you may have done decades ago?
While our personal history will always be a part of who we are, surely there are some registrants who, depending on their offense, will probably never be a “future risk.”
Believe it or not, I hear tell that some registrants were never actually a RISK at all.
With so many “sex offenses” under the label, skinny dipping, public urination, sexting. etc. that may have been one-time, non-violent, non-contact offenses, are therapists wanting us to believe that all registrants will always be a risk in the future, that they all have some deep-seated personality glitch that will forever make them a risk to themselves or the public?
I have to remind myself that in the state of TN, the mission statement of the Sex Offender Treatment Board states that” the treatment board is an advocate for the victims, not for the offenders.” It also states that “sex offenders can never be cured”. Maybe I’m just expecting a bit too much from those folks involved in the treatment of registrants. They aren’t advocates for registrants despite the fact that they are the Sex Offender Treatment Board and they don’t believe that registrants can ever “be cured”. It seems that no matter the offense, the amount of treatment, or the number of years gone by, registrants in some places will always be labeled a “future risk”.