Auditors issue damning report on prison sex offender treatment program

Contact: Chris Dornin, CCJR spokesperson, at or 603-228-9610.

The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant released a scathing six-month study Nov. 18 about the prison sex offender program. Their report to the Legislative Fiscal Committee noted a huge backlog of prisoners who pass their minimum parole dates before completing this mandatory treatment. Only 14 percent of sex offenders make timely parole, and that’s an improvement over previous years.

The Department of Corrections has tried hard to cover up this problem. Prison spokesman Jeff Lyons a year ago told the Concord Monitor that the prison reviews all sex offenders at least two years before their minimum parole date. 

“We put them on a waiting list at that time,” Lyons said. “As beds free up, they move into the treatment program. There is no backlog.” 

We now know that statement was false. The report says 200 people were in that nonexistent backlog as of last May. The delay was costing the state an extra $7 million a year, based on the average cost of $35,000 per year for inmates going past their minimum sentences. The study used only $5,006 per year, which is the added operating cost for one extra inmate. Even this lower figure comes to $1 million per year.

Prison officials shortened the sex offender program during the audit from 18 months to six if a prisoner is progressing without a hitch. Nothing in the clinical literature supports suddenly cutting the length of a crucial treatment program this way. The report said the Vermont sex offender program lasts 12 to 24 months. The one in Maine lasts three years, the one in Rhode Island four years, the one in Massachusetts 18 to 42 months.

The study said the prison had just released 40 sex offenders to the street who had never started a program long deemed mandatory. Another 28 sex offenders suddenly required no treatment, which is another new class. An additional 37 had refused treatment even though it would double the length of their sentences. 

Unaudited Information on Sexual Offenders within 24 Months of, or Exceeding, Their  Minimum Parole Date; May 31, 2016

                                                         Male                 Female             Total

Sexual Offenders                           303                   1                         304

Intensive SO Treatment                 176                  0                         176

Enrolled                                           113                  0                         113

Completed Successfully                  12                  0                          12

Removed from Program'                 17                  0                           17

Other                                                 34                  0                          34

Community Treatment                     40                  0                          40

Declined Treatment                          37                  0                         37

No Treatment Needed                      28                  0                          28

Not Yet Assessed                             22                  1                          23

Scores of sex offenders have told Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform they are furious the prison makes them pass their minimum parole dates. They also lose the chance to leave hard time at two thirds of their minimum sentences. And they miss serving some of their sentence at a halfway house. Instead, most finish the sex offender program inside the walls well after their minimum sentences expire.

The report said sex offenders have a special parole board called the Administrative Review Committee, which has never been approved by the legislature as required. The Administrative Review Committee tells the Parole Board when to parole a sex offender or keep him back, not the other way around. 

During the period of the audit, prisoner officials posted a new sex offender policy to make it seem as if the Administrative Review Committee possessed some legal standing. In fact, it violates state law, much the same way inmates have done. If the department ever tries to adopt administrative rules legitimizing the ARC, prisoner families will speak against it at the public hearing. 

According to the report, the Parole Board, almost incredibly, never receives “the sex offender’s assessment scores, treatment progress, level of participation in treatment, and whether they showed signs of accepting responsibility for their crimes.” Similarly, the Parole Board gets little information on prisoners the Administrative Review Committee okays to leave prison without taking any sex offender treatment.

Here is a website link to the 40-page report. DOC_Sex_Offender_Treatment_2016.pdf

Below is a link to a similar damning study on the New Hampshire sex offender program in 2012. The key section is on pages 27 to 29. DoC_Nonsecuirtyp_2012_full.pdf