Fifth Judicial District - Department of Correctional Services


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TITLE: Sotp Philosophy And Definition


In 1988, the Iowa Legislature mandated development of community based treatment program for sex offender and provided funding for programming in the Fifth Judicial District. The Department chose to provide for assessment and treatment for offenders by contracting with area providers.

In 1993, the Department formally adopted the Iowa Sex Offender Treatment Program Standards, as developed by the Iowa Board for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse, including the philosophy of treatment and definitions that follow:


It is generally recognized that progress toward dealing with sexual assault must proceed along three fronts: 1)prevention; 2)treatment of victims; and 3)evaluation and treatment of offenders. Although all three aspects of the approach to the problem are crucial, standards for the treatment of victims will not be addressed in this document. This does not imply a belief that treatment of the offender is more important.

Sex offender treatment is only one part of intervention in this crime. Others include providing safety and assistance for victims, prompt and effective responses by law enforcement, appropriate adjudication, close monitoring by probation, and sentences which reflect the seriousness of this crime against the community. Coordinated efforts should include assessing the impact of offender treatment on the victim. In addition, input from child and adult victim advocacy groups should be specifically solicited in the treatment of sexual offenders.

The prevention of sexual assault has three simultaneous targets: 1)potential victims; 2)potential offenders; and 3)those aspects of the societal norms which tolerate and encourage abusive behaviors. Women and children are the primary targets of sexual abuse and assault because of their lack of power in comparison to adult males. In a society which emphasizes individual freedom, there is a reluctance to articulate in clear and unambiguous language the inappropriateness of certain sexual behaviors, such as the use of children for sexual purposes. Cultural support for attitudes which tolerate the sexual assault of adults and children as "normal" legitimizes sexual offending. Preventive efforts should include challenging societal support for abuses of power.

Treatment of sex offenders requires a high degree of cooperation between the Criminal justice and mental health systems, among others. Sexual offenders are not consistently reliable informants regarding their own behavior. The cooperation of a collateral network is necessary to destroy the secrecy necessary for the commitment of sexual aggression. Appropriate release of information should be obtained to ensure effective communication between those collateral contacts able to serve this function.

Clinical evaluation of the cognitive, behavioral, biological, and socio-cultural features of the individual offers assistance to the management of sexual offenders. A systematic assessment to classify risk to the community and amenability to treatment will allow for more efficient use of available resources. A variety of factors influence whether or not a sexual offenders will avoid committing another abusive act and evaluations should be comprehensive in nature. No single form of assessment should be considered adequate. Extensive training in the current knowledge, and thinking in the area of sexual assault, is mandatory for evaluators and treatment providers.

The philosophy of treatment of the sex offender arises from the nature of the offense. It is often a traumatizing act of aggression, coercion, and control. It victimizes not only the individual, but also his/her family, the community, and society. The priorities of intervention are the safety of the community and the victim, prevention of further victimization, and restoration of the physical and emotional integrity of victims and families. Sexual offending is not a mental disorder. Treatment includes training and education and, although it is not counted as a cure which will eliminate all future probability of offending, individuals do have the capacity to make internal changes which have an impact of their behavior.

Treatment providers must recognize that therapy for sexual offenders is often coerced. The offenders is seen as continuing at some risk after treatment, the aim of treatment being to reduce that risk and make self-management possible. Formal treatment (intervention) should include options for long-term follow-up.

One cannot assume that a sexual offenders has any reliable internal motivation for change. External motivation must, therefore, be provided. Sexual offenders cannot be treated unless their behavior is controlled. They must be held accountable for their behavior. Legal sanctions and careful, sustained supervision (e.g., probation, incarceration, and parole) are the most appropriate sources of external motivation.


Aberrant - departing from what is normal or typical.

Affected Offenders - are the offenders who have been found guilty of the commission of a serious sex offense and ordered by the Court or Board of Parole to participate in Hormonal Intervention Therapy as a condition of release.

Antiandrogen - androgens are the hormones most important in stimulation sexual desire for both men and women. At the central nervous system level, androgens promote many behavioral traits connected with sexuality (e.g., sexual aggressiveness, libido, and sexual drive). Testosterone is the most important of the sex hormones influencing sexual behavior in human males. Antiandrogen agents are hormonal drugs which reduce male circulating blood testosterone levels for as long as they are taken.

Appropriate Adjudication - Criminal justice systems response that requires offenders to be held to answer criminally for all sexual offenses.

Appropriate Consensual Sexual Activity - anything sexual that occurs between two consenting adult parties that is not harmful or objectionable to either physically, mentally, or morally. The current age of consent in Iowa is fourteen (14) for the mentally competent. The exception is when the victim is 14 or 15 and the partner is more than six (6) years older, or is in a position of authority over the victim and uses the authority to coerce submission.

Coerced Treatment - invariably the sex offender is not a voluntary client, nor has the sex offender defined problems or needs. Almost all sex offenders are seeking help and evaluation because they are in trouble. The offender is on an adversarial footing with the authorities, and to some degree, with the examiner. Lying and deception on the part of the offender as typical.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy - emphasizes changing thought patterns that underlie emotional or behavioral problems. It's goals are to correct distorted thinking and/or teach improved coping skills.

Collateral Network - all parties significantly involved with the offender including the victim and family.

Deviant Sexual Interests - where offenders are aroused by deviant acts (e.g. sadism), or by other than consenting adult partners (e.g. children), these deviant interests can be assessed by a combination of self-report, behavioral and psychophysiological assessment; any behavior that violates the current Iowa Code Section 709.

Etiology - the assignment of a cause or origin.

Presentence Investigation - a written report submitted to the Court prior to imposition of sentence after a plea of guilty or a verdict of guilty has been entered by the defendant in a Criminal matter. The report is a complete social and Criminal history that aids the Court in determining the sentence that best serves the interests of each victim, the community, and the offender.

Recidivisim - a return to Criminal behavior.

Relapse Prevention - devised as a method of enhancing maintenance of change in substance abusers. Relapse prevention was designed to strengthen self-control by providing offenders with methods for identifying problematic situations, analyzing decisions that set up situations enabling resumption of substance abuse, and developing strategies to avoid, or cope more effectively with these situations. Thus, as originally proposed, relapse prevention presented a method of enhancing self-management skills. Pithers, Margues, Gibat, and Marlatt (1983) modified the self-management model of relapse prevention for application with sex offenders.

Serious Sex Offense - for the purposes of hormonal intervention therapy, a "serious sex offense" means any of the following offenses in which the victim was a child who, at the time the offense was committed, was twelve (12) years of age or younger.

  1. Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, in violation of Section 709.2
  2. Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, in violation of Section 709.3
  3. Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, in violation of Section 709.4
  4. Lascivious Acts with a Child, in violation of Section 709.8
  5. Assault with Intent, in violation of Section 709.11
  6. Indecent Contact with a Minor, in violation of Section 709.12
  7. Lascivious Conduct with a Minor, in violation of Section 709.14
  8. Sexual Exploitation by a Counselor, in violation of Section 709.15
  9. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, in violation of Section 728.12, subsections 1&2

Sexual Assault - a violent crime, primarily an aggressive rather than a sexual act. Sexual assault involves physical force, psychological pressure and/or exploitation. The violence of sexual assault includes the psychological and emotional harm experienced, regardless of whether or not the experience involved the use of physical force. Sexual assault occurs whenever a person is forced to submit to another person against her or her will, and/or lacks the ability to freely consent.

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