The Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment approved new offender assessment rules on Friday that will more accurately predict and prevent recidivism. I wrote about the proposed changes last week, and Allison Taylor, the Council's executive director, this morning forwarded me a copy of what the Council adopted.
The new rules assess offenders risk level, needs, and learning styles to identify an appropriate treatment package. The change is based on a perhaps counterintuitive research finding that excessive supervision and programming requirements for low-risk sex offenders actually ENCOURAGES recidivism. According to the Council:
Effective rehabilitation programming is based upon the principle that the intensity of the rehabilitation intervention is matched to the risk of the offender. Higher risk offenders respond better to more intense services whereas low risk offenders respond better to less intense services. In fact, the research shows that providing intensive interventions to low risk offenders actually increases the risk for reoffense.The linked document goes into greater detail, for those who're interested, in what assessment tools are used to categorize offenders under the new regimen, and also includes an interesting looking bibliography on the topic at the end of the short overview.
The new assessment tools will only affect future releasees; offenders already on supervision won't be re-assessed under current plans, mainly because of logistics and cost. But the success of the new measures should be tracked closely, and if the new tools live up to research-based predictions of reduced recidivism, IMO the 81st Legislature in 2009 should pony up to re-assess everybody.
UPDATE: More from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.