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Florida prison system may lack in counseling services

According to a study, sex offenders who participate in group theory might have a better chance of staying clean. Yet convicted offenders serving prison time might not be receiving the treatment they need, based on a change in Florida law.

State law now requires registered sex offenders to pay for the expense of their own treatment while on probation or parole. What’s more, offenders who fail to receive this treatment may face a penalty. Yet many released sex offenders encounter difficulty in obtaining employment, possibly due in part to the restrictions some employers impose on employees with a criminal record.

It’s unclear what type of therapy is even available to sex offenders in Florida prisons. An official form the Florida Department of Corrections recently responded to an inquiry by stating that inmate mental health treatment records cannot be disclosed due to federal health privacy laws.

It’s possible that some convicted offenders might not be receiving counseling treatment during their incarceration. The state DOC official acknowledged that not all of the state’s prisons offer therapy programs. Even in those facilities that do offer programs, attendance is often optional. That may discourage some inmates from attending the programs, as the stigma against sex offenders may even be present among other inmates.

In the context of criminal defense law, a sex crimes lawyer might point to the lack of therapy programs in negotiating with prosecutors for a reduced or alternative sentence to prison time. If the goals of the criminal justice system truly are rehabilitation and public safety, recidivism statistics suggest that incarceration should not be the sole penalty. If sex offenders are ever to reenter society, more multi-faceted approaches to sentencing must be employed.

Source: staugustine.com, “Sex offenders often don't get enough treatment in prison,” Kate Howard Perry, July 12, 2013

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