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They number 3,000 in state prisons, but a treatment program has room for just 55.
Sex offenders are likely being released from Oklahoma prisons without any treatment to curb their criminal behavior, a state Corrections Department official said.
Oklahoma has space for only 55 inmates in the treatment program for sex offenders, who number more than 3,000 in state prisons.
"I was not prepared to hear that," said an Oklahoma City attorney, Robert Sisson. "It's appalling."
That figure came to light recently when Gilbert D. Smith, 20, unsuccessfully sought to have an Oklahoma County judge reduce his 15-year prison sentence for rape.
Sisson said the Corrections Department needs to ensure that those offenders aren't released without receiving treatment to control their sexual urges.
A Corrections Department spokesman, Jerry Massie, said resources such as bed space and manpower limit the size of the sex offender treatment program. It is not likely to expand.
Inmates who are closest to completing their prison terms are given priority when slots open, Massie said, citing research that indicates that such programs are more effective then.
"You've just got to maximize the resources that you have," he said.
Another Oklahoma City attorney, Jack Dempsey Pointer, said he plans to ask an Oklahoma County judge to release one of his clients from prison so he can continue sex offender treatment at his own expense.
The man — whom Pointer declined to name because nothing has been filed in the case — is not getting treatment
"This is a tremendous waste of resources," Pointer said. "Plus my guy's not getting any help."
Pointer unsuccessfully lobbied the judge last year to sentence his client to probation, citing his progress in sessions with Dr. Richard Kishur.
Kishur, who created the Corrections Department's sex offender treatment program, offers similar treatment in his private practice.
Pointer said releasing his client would relieve the burden on the prison system, while allowing him to get the treatment he needs.
He said sex offenders who are amenable to treatment should be allowed to get it, even if that means not putting them behind bars.
Randy Lopp, the chairman of the Oklahoma Coalition for Sex Offender Management, said community-based treatment is a cheaper alternative than prison.
"Punishment and treatment are two different things," he said.
Lopp said recidivism rates are low for sex offenders, which makes them good candidates for treatment instead of incarceration.
Studies show that 13 percent to 15 percent of sex offenders are re-arrested, Lopp said.
An Oklahoma County prosecutor, Suzanne Lister, favors treating sex offenders while they're in prison.
"They're a captive audience," she said. "They need to be getting some kind of treatment."
The Corrections Department does not provide treatment for sex offenders in the community.
However, Massie said, it likely would be required for anyone who is being supervised by a probation officer.
By the numbers
Oklahoma prisons can offer sex offender treatment to only 55 inmates at a time, but more offenders enter the Corrections Department each year.
Officials acknowledged some of them likely will be released without getting help to curb criminal sexual urges.
The state has more than 6,100 registered sex offenders, according to Corrections Department records.
Sex offender program
The state Corrections Department’s sex offender treatment program lasts up to 16 months, depending on the risk of the offender.
It takes a minimum of a year.
There is room for 55 inmates in the program, with more than 200 on a waiting list.
Sex offender treatment is designed to help offenders understand the effect that sexual deviancy has on victims and society, officials said.
offenders learn and discuss many different intervention strategies that they can incorporate into their lives to disrupt their sexually deviant cycle.
Psychological and psychosexual testing is used to plan treatment. Polygraph examinations help determine each offender’s progress in the program.
Tags: sex, sexual, offender, issues, sex offender, sexual offender, treatment, therapy, prison, prisons, oklahoma,
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