Sex offenders released in SF may soon have more programs offered to them

Sex offenders released in The City face increased supervision with requirements such as polygraph testing every six months and weekly group therapy sessions for at least a year — and those who are homeless may be sheltered in units run by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.

The Adult Probation Department has begun implementing a so-called containment model as required after the 2010 passage of Assembly Bill 1844, or Chelsea’s Law, which also increased punishment for sexually related crimes. The law mandates that sex offenders released beginning July 2012 undergo risk assessment, therapy sessions and polygraph tests.

Chief Adult Probation Officer Wendy Still said the approach will build on existing efforts to reduce recidivism in San Francisco, where top law enforcement leaders such as the sheriff and district attorney have increasingly emphasized special programs to rehabilitate and end the cycle of crime.

Last year, 77 percent of felony probationers did not reoffend while on probation, while 23 percent did. The story is quite different for San Francisco parolees, who have the highest recidivism rate in the state at 78 percent.

The probation department has entered into a $188,403 one-year contract with the San Francisco Forensics Institute to provide assessment and psychotherapy services. Based on a risk-assessment model required under state law, 27 registered sex offenders on probation must be enrolled in the containment program. The number is expected to grow to 47 by June. Between May and June, the effort is expected to cost $457,056.

The cost associated with the program includes rental subsidies so that high-risk sexual offenders can stay in units overseen by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. The department will also place offenders in so-called stabilization beds in single-room occupancy hotels.

The City has 572 registered sex offenders, according to the Megan’s Law database, with large numbers in the Tenderloin and South of Market areas. Statewide there are 74,982 people in the database. Adult Probation is currently overseeing 120 on probation or parole, of which between 15 percent to 25 percent are homeless, Still said.

While housing the offenders isn’t part of the state mandate, Still said a stable living situation improves their chances for rehabilitation.

Still said that the “improved supervision” called for under the containment model is “going to improve public safety.”

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to vote today on whether to release funding for the effort.Assembly Bill 1844Bay Area NewsChelsea’s LawTenderloin Housing Clinic

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