Traditionally, American people have a very negative attitude to sex offenders and they tend to protect themselves as well as their children from possible cases of sex offenses. It should be pointed out that the apprehension of the public concerning sex offenders naturally stimulates legislators and law enforcement agencies to implement legislative acts, regulations, develop new programs, which target at the protection of American people from sex offenses and at the minimization of the risk of recidivism among sex offenders.
At the present moment, specialists work on the problem of the development of an effective system of prevention of sex crimes and recidivism (Ryan, 1997). Historically, American legislative system and law enforcement agencies developed a variety of methods and approaches to the prevention of such kind of crimes. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that traditionally American legislative and justice system developed very strict regulations in order to establish total control over the actions, life and movement of sex offenders within the country (Witt, 2006).
One of the most widely spread beliefs concerning sex offenders is the idea that they are more likely to commit their crimes repeatedly and the strict control is essential to prevent cases of recidivism.
In such a context, it seems to be quite natural that, in the past, American justice system and law enforcement agencies tended to isolate sex offenders for a long period of time. Basically, supporters of such a repressive approaches to sex offenders believed that the isolation of sex offenders for a long term can minimize their threat to the rest of society or, what is more, it could even totally eliminate such a threat (Miller et al, 1996). However, the recent findings and researches prove the contrary (Center for Effective Public Policy, 1996). In this respect, the analysis of statistics and the growing recidivism that could be traced in the US among sex offenders also indicates to the fact that the restrictive measures based on the isolation of sex offenders from the normal social life for a long period of time do not have such a positive effects, they were supposed to have.
In stark contrast, the growth of recidivism among sex offenders revealed the fact that their isolation is practically ineffective in the context of the prevention of recidivism and new sex crimes (CSOM, 2000). As a result, the development of the absolutely new approach to the prevention of recidivism among sex offenders was necessary. In fact, it was obvious that the isolation of sex offenders rather deteriorates the situation and makes them even more socially dangerous because, in the result of their isolation, they felt excluded from the society and viewed other people as hostile people that are the main source of personal problems of sex offenders and their oppressed position.
At this point it should be said that the isolation of sex offenders for a long period of time and their further exclusion from the normal social life resulted in their inability to get integrated into the life of the community they settled in (CSOM, 2000). In other words, they became outcasts and lost important social skills, which they probably lacked in the past and lost totally because of their exclusion. Consequently, they faced a serious problem with their socialization and, being excluded, they were in a really desperate position that forced them to commit crimes either to improve their socio-economic position or simply because such anti-social behavior became a norm for them. In such a situation, many specialists arrived to the logical conclusion that exclusive policies in relation to sex offenders did not lead to the prevention of recidivism and correction of sex offenders, but, on the contrary, became a powerful tool that simply forced them to commit crimes again (Doren, 2004).
As a result, the current situation is characterized by the absolutely different approach to the problem of sex offenders and prevention of recidivism. To put it more precisely, instead of exclusive measures, inclusive policies are being developed. In fact, one of the major directions in the development of the contemporary policy targeting at the prevention of sex crimes and decrease the cases of recidivism is the involvement of sex offenders in the community life (Witt, 2006). Naturally, such a strategy provoked a negative reaction from the part of the public, which was unwilling to accept sex offenders in the community (CSOM, 2000). In other words, people were unwilling to have sex offenders next door.
However, specialists (Ryan, 1997) prove the fact that the most effective way to manage sex offenders safely is the community management. What is meant here is the fact that, at the present moment, the management of sex offenders occurs in the community at different levels. In fact, this system implies that sex offender lives in the community and is controlled by the community. Naturally, it does not mean that a sex offender is absolutely uncontrolled after the release from prison, but this control occurs in the community environment and unites efforts of specialists, such as law enforcement officers, and the community itself.
On analyzing the current strategy of the prevention of recidivism among sex offenders, it should be pointed out that the community control and management occurs at different levels.
In this respect, it should be said that at the basic level effective sex offender management begins at the individual case management stage (CSOM, 2000). Basically, such sex offender management involves a case team that includes a treatment provider, a probation or parole officer, local law enforcement officers and, as a rule, representatives of victim’s organizations. In such a way, the sex offender is controlled not only by law enforcement professionals but also by the public through the involvement in the sex offender management representatives of victim’s organizations, who naturally attempt to protect rights of victims of sex offenders and prevent the repetition of similar crimes in the future. At this level, it is important that the team could work as a team. Otherwise, it would be not very effective. It is also worth mentioning the fact that the community has to be educated about sex offenders and about taking care of their own and their children’s safety.
Furthermore, the work of the team happens in the context of the city, town, or county’s criminal justice system, etc.
In other words, the work happens in the communitarian context that implies the effective cooperation between all the services involved, including law enforcement agencies, justice system, social services, health care services, local government, public organizations, etc. (Marques, 2003). Naturally, the cooperation and work of all these services and agencies should be prepared that makes education of professionals as well as public focused on the sex offenders’ management.
At the same time, the sex offenders’ management and their life in the community occurs under the control of the established laws, policies, regulations and rules which function on the state level. In such a way, the control over sex offenders and the prevention of their recidivism on the local level heavily relies on the state laws, policies and funding decisions (Doren, 2004). This means that the effective prevention of recidivism and the normal integration of sex offenders into the life of the community occurs only on the condition of the support of such programs on the state level and, what is more, the implementation of such programs directly depends on the position of the state in this regard.
Finally, the upper level of the sex offenders’ management is the national level. In this respect, it should be said that the national organizations basically develop the strategic program and shape the national policy in relation to sex offenders and prevention of recidivism among this category of offenders (Durant, 2004). National organizations, associations and coalitions should be educated about sex offenders and their effective management. It is important to underline that the major goal of all these organizations at all levels, from the community level to the national level, is to create such conditions which could provide ample opportunities for the normal integration of sex offenders in social life of the community and, in the mean time, increase the safety of the community through the higher control over sex offenders from the part of community, which is aware of the potential danger and it is educated to manage sex offenders correctly.