Sex Offender Management

There are currently over 480 registered sex offenders living and/or working in Montgomery County. These offenders represent unique challenges for probation and parole agencies who are responsible for supervising them. Because of heightened community apprehension about sex offenders and the potential, often devastating, harm to victims as a result of a re-offense, it is imperative that all available resources are utilized to provide a comprehensive approach to sex offender management.

Collaboration among all community partners is essential as is the need to develop explicit policies for offender re-entry that address the shared goals of community safety and offender success.

Explained below are corrections, state, adult and juvenile system roles in sex offender management. For more information, contact a specific organization directly.

County Correction Role
The Montgomery County Correctional Facility provides incarceration for convicted offenders and for alleged offenders awaiting trial. The re-entry process for convicted offenders begins immediately in the correctional facility. Polygraphs, treatment programs and evaluations are completed for individuals prior to their release into the community. It is the goal of the correctional facility to ensure that the safety of the victims and the community are first and foremost.

Correctional staff, including correctional officers and caseworkers, work in coordination with county and state parole authorities to ensure appropriate release plans are in place. Correctional staff work collaboratively with the Adult Probation and Parole department to provide information pertinent to the offenders re-entry into the community. Megan’s law registrations are completed before discharge to provide authorities with accurate information to maintain the safety of the community. Correctional staff collaborates with several agencies within the county, specifically the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Unit and the Victim Service’s Center to provide information regarding offenders. The correctional facility also provides specific details to agencies regarding work release and bail to notify victims enrolled in Vinelink/SAVIN.

County Adult Probation Role
Sex offenders under the jurisdiction of Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department’s Sex Offender Unit are supervised intensively by a team of specially trained officers utilizing current best practices for supervision. The officers work closely with agencies and individuals including law enforcement, children and youth, treatment providers, polygraph examiners, victim advocates, family members, and employers in order to effectively monitor offenders in the community. To enhance protection of the community, the majority of the contacts with sex offenders are conducted in the field during non-traditional hours, and are a combination of scheduled and unscheduled contacts.

The officers utilize specialized rules and regulations, specialized treatment providers, and individualized case plans tailored to the offender and his / her offense. Polygraphs (lie detectors), urinalysis, breathalyzers, computer monitoring, and house arrest with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) assist officers and help offenders to manage behavior in the community.

Victim and community input and assistance are paramount to the success of the department. Victims and citizens are encouraged to call assigned probation officers to discuss their concerns about specific offenders. Victims are also offered an opportunity to meet with Probation officials and an advocate from the Victim Services Center to provide input into the offender’s supervision.

State Parole Board Role
Offenders under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole who have been convicted of an overt sexual act or behavior are designated as sex offenders for parole supervision purposes.

Paroled sex offenders are subject to the highest level of parole supervision upon their release and until they have demonstrated a long period of successful adjustment. Field supervision staff have discretionary power to impose special conditions of parole on sex offenders—in addition to conditions imposed by the Board—to limit high risk situations and control behaviors by not allowing the offender access to victims, circumstances and places that support the offender’s re- offense cycle. Sex offenders may be restricted from residential and work situations according to Megan’s Law guidelines and are refused access to the Internet or to possess computers, cameras, pornography or alcohol.

Ongoing therapy and treatment, usually verified by polygraph, is required. Supervision strategies utilized by parole staff include: face- to-face contacts, periodic surveillance of the offender’s residence or place of employment, periodic residential searches, polygraphs, case staffing, relapse management groups, random urinalysis and electronic monitoring.

Parole staff works with sex offender treatment providers to monitor attendance and maintains collateral contacts with local law enforcement, employers, victim advocates, and families to ensure compliance by offenders.

County Juvenile Probation Role
The Montgomery County Juvenile Probation Department supervises juvenile sexual offenders in the community, residential placement facilities, and specialized foster care settings. The Juvenile Court utilizes risk prediction and management assessments such as the J-SOAP (Juvenile Sexual Offender Assessment Protocol), psycho- sexual evaluations, and the YLS (Youth Level of Service). The Juvenile Probation Department also conducts home and school investigations,
examines police reports, uses polygraph reports, and assesses all available information in order to respond appropriately and successfully manage the varying levels of risk posed by offenders.

The Montgomery County Juvenile Court follows BARJ (Balanced and Restorative Justice) principles. Therefore, the community must be protected, the offender afforded rehabilitation, and the victim restored to the fullest extent possible. This requires collaboration with various agencies in order to prevent further victimization, successful treatment of the offender, and victim advocacy. Specialized Juvenile Sexual Offender Supervision is essential to address the unique challenges juvenile offenders present. The Juvenile Probation Department utilizes the most current research based and peer reviewed empirical treatment techniques available. The Department offers on-going training for probation officers who work with this population such as computer monitoring and sexual offender registration requirements.

Adolescent sexual offenders present a unique challenge to Juvenile Court. At some point during the juvenile justice process, the offender will reside back in the community. Therefore, the Montgomery County Juvenile Probation Department utilizes a comprehensive and collaborative approach to manage this population to provide specialized supervision and treatment for the offender, community, and victim.

County Children and Youth Role
The Montgomery County Office of Children & Youth, under Pennsylvania law, is mandated to investigate all reports of suspected abuse, neglect or dependency of children from birth to age 18 residing in Montgomery County.

Our professional staff investigate reports made to our office and support families, when appropriate, to address conditions which adversely affect a child’s care. Our staff work with families directly and also coordinate services with community resources to improve family conditions. Family Engagement, In-home Supportive Services, Placement Services and Adoption Services are integral to our focus on child safety and well-being.

Maintaining natural family connections for children and involving family and the family’s support system is a priority in Children & Youth casework services.

If you suspect a child is abused or neglected, call
ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.

Mission Kids Role
Mission Kids is our County’s child advocacy center offering a comprehensive, centrally located, multidisciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting to achieve justice for child victims and promote their physical and emotional well-being.

Mission Kids provides neutral, fact-finding forensic interviews which are coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing and supports Montgomery County’s multidisciplinary team approach to child abuse investigation and intervention.

Requests for interviews by Mission Kids are made through the law enforcement or the Office of Children & Youth.

Community Role
The active involvement of community members in sex offender management can lead to the development of safer communities. Communities can be informed of successful sex offender management techniques, public education and awareness activities, community tasks, town watch groups, local regulations and state and federal laws regarding sex offenders living in their communities.

Knowledge is power...for example, are all sex offenders (or just those released from incarceration) required to register under Megan’s Law? Are background checks required for school system employees, coaches of sports leagues, church/synagogue/mosque youth groups and teachers in after school programs? Communities should have ongoing education on current research and an understanding of what is a myth and what
is a fact. Citizens also need to know the resources and limitations of the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Raising the public’s awareness is an important resource in prevention. Because of the often close relationship between victims and offenders, community members and parents should be aware of relatives, friends, neighbors, educators, youth leaders and coaches when considering child safety.