UT: Convicted sex offender says change is possible, but more treatments needed

Source: ksl.com 5/30/23

SALT LAKE CITY — Isaac knows that he served time in the Utah State Prison for a reason. He understands the public expects there to be consequences for his actions.

But what Isaac would like the public, including policymakers, to also recognize is that there are many inmates who want to turn their lives around. However, unless more resources and support are provided — particularly for mental health counseling — some inmates will fall right back into their old habits once they are released.

“Ultimately, (prison) is a punishment. But if you take advantage of what’s there … it really can change your life. And I feel it did that for me and continues to do that for me,” he said, while also noting, “If we had better mental health services in prison, and even in the county jails, what an impact that would make. And I honestly believe a lot of people wouldn’t reoffend because they would actually really be addressing what’s really going on up there.

“There are good inmates in prison that genuinely do want to change that are trying,” he continued. “And I’m like, ‘Just help us. Yeah, we screwed up. Yeah, we are being punished, prison is not supposed to be a joyous experience. But for those of us who want to change, let it happen.'”

Isaac, who agreed to speak about his experience if his last name was not used for this story, is a registered sex offender in Utah. He has been convicted of sexual solicitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor. Isaac was sent to the Utah State Prison in June of 2018, released in 2022 and terminated from his parole earlier this year. He agreed to share his story in an effort to raise awareness about what he believes is the need for more one-on-one mental health counseling for inmates and continued affordable services once they are released from prison.

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Interesting that the State official is citing the data, showing the current system to targeting those with a 2.2% recidivism rate; yet, those in the comments are more than eager to ignore that and demand retribution for life.

I fully support what the fellow who was interviewed in this story said and I applaud him for the work he’s done to get the psychological help he needed to understand his sex offense and do the work to prevent him from committing another sex offense again.

My experience, unfortunately, was different from his. I did my time in California state prisons, and there is no help for sex offenders there until you parole. Once I did parole I was required to see a therapist employed by CDCR once a month, a gruff, old bird who treated me with uncommon harshness that I might even say bordered on unprofessionalism. I realize now that he was trying to quickly break down any kind of denial I was in. Once he realized that I was not in denial about my crime and that I wanted his help, his attitude toward me softened greatly and he and I worked together splendidly. In fact, I asked to see him more than once a month and let him know that if he got a cancellation, something that happened (at least at that time) with frightening regularity because parole agents looked for any excuse to put sex offenders back in prison for parole violations, to call me and I’d immediately come in and see him again. He and I got some good work done, including breaking the ice on some buried sexual trauma but he ended up retiring prematurely due to some serious medical issues and I was not reassigned to a new therapist for a long time.

Fortunately, I was also seeing another therapist on my own dime at that time who specialized in sex offenders (and children, a strange mix) and he helped me a lot as well. I learned a great deal about the psychological principles that had guided my behavior all these years. I came to understand myself a great deal. Another thing that helped me was getting involved in the Sex Addicts Anonymous Twelve Step program, which helped me develop a new way of living my life. I’ve been clean and sober from pornography, legal and otherwise, the main bogeyman in my life, for more than fourteen years now and I’m very grateful for this recovery.

It is a pity that in California prisons, unlike in Utah state prisons and in other states and in some Federal prisons as well, sex offenders are not given these opportunities. If they did provide some treatment to offenders while incarcerated, it would give them the opportunity of using their copious spare time to treat these sex offenders and obviate the need to wait to treat them while they’re on parole, which interferes far too often with the work schedules of parolees.

“Two days after speaking to KSL.com, Isaac says he was fired from his job without reason.”

Of course.