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By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer For Family Reunification – Email the Author at email@example.com
A Denver Colorado Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Explains How A Sex Offender Reunifies With His Family As Part Of Mandated Treatment – Terms such as “Victim/Family Member Readiness for Contact, Clarification, or Reunification” arise out of Colorado’s SOMB (Sex Offender Management Board) guidelines..
I am often asked by my clients – after sentencing – when they can be reunited with their children and their families. This article is intended to help them understand the kinds of policies they must overcome before such a unification is made possible. I take no position as to the wisdom and effectiveness of the guidelines. Parents have a right to see their children – understanding the restraints placed on them, those children and other participants in Colorado Sex Offender “Treatment” is the first step in that process.
You have to know the rules before you can play the game… H. Michael Steinberg
When a Community Safety Team (CST) is assigned to a particular Colorado sex offender case, if the convicted offender has children – inevitably he asks to see his children. Most often his children want contact with him. Certain SOMB guidelines apply in this situation. Known as contact, clarification and or reunification apply to this situation. The guidelines provide for a process known as “readiness’ that applies to the offender – non-offending parents and guidelines and the children in the home.
The following is the key excerpts of the SOMB guideline that applies to this circumstance:
As Of The Time Of Sentencing – No Contact Means No Contact
SOMB Guideline – 5.710 Sex offenders shall have no contact with any child under the age of 18 or adult/ child victims of the offender’s sex offenses until the Community Supervision Team unanimously agrees that the offender has met the corresponding [SOMB] criteria…
Contact is intended to refer to any form of interaction including:
A. Whenever possible, collaborate with an adult victim’s therapist or advocate, or a child victim’s therapist, guardian, custodial parent, foster parent, and/or guardian ad litem, in making decisions regarding communication, visits, and reunification;
B. Support the victim’s wishes when the victim does not wish to have contact with the offender;
C. Arrange contact in a manner that places child and/or victim safety first. When assessing safety, both psychological and physical well-being shall be considered;
D. Ensure consultation with custodial parents or guardians of a child victim and the child’s guardian ad litem and treatment provider prior to authorizing contact and that contact is in accordance with court directives;
E. Before recommending contact with a child victim or any potential victims, assess the offender’s readiness and ability to refrain from re-victimizing, i.e. to avoid coercive and grooming statements and behaviors, to respect the child’s personal space, and to recognize and respect the child’s indication of comfort or discomfort.
In addition, the following criteria must be met before visitation can be initiated:
1. Sexually deviant impulses are at a manageable level and the offender can utilize cognitive and behavioral interventions to interrupt deviant fantasies;
2. The offender is willing to plan for visits, to develop and utilize a safety plan for all visits and to accept supervision during visits;
3. The offender accepts responsibility for the abuse;
4. Any significant differences between the offender’s statements, the victim’s statements and corroborating information about the abuse have been resolved;
5. The offender has a cognitive understanding of the impact of the abuse on the victim and the family;
6. The offender is willing to accept limits on visits by family members and the victim and puts the victim’s needs first;
7. The offender has willingly disclosed all relevant information related to risk to all necessary others;
8. The clarification process is complete
9. Both the offender and the potential visitation supervisor have completed training addressing sexual offending and how to participate in visitation safely;
10. The offender and the potential supervisor understand the deviant cycle and accept the possibility of re-offense. The offender should also be able to recognize thinking errors;
11. The offender has completed a non-deceptive sexual history disclosure polygraph and at least one non-deceptive maintenance polygraph. Any exception to the requirement for a non-deceptive sexual history disclosure polygraph must be made by a consensus of the community supervision team;
12. The offender understands and is willing to respect the victim’s verbal and non-verbal boundaries and need for privacy;
13. The offender accepts that others will decide about visitation, including the victim, the spouse and the community supervision team.
F. If contact is approved, the treatment provider and the supervising officer shall closely supervise and monitor the process:
1. There must be provisions for monitoring behavior and reporting rule violations to the supervising officer;
2. Victims’ and potential victims’ emotional and physical safety shall be assessed on a continuing basis and visits shall be terminated immediately if any aspect of safety is jeopardized;
3. Supervision is critical when any sex offender visits with any child; supervision is especially critical for those whose crimes are known to have been against children, and most of all during visitation with any child previously victimized by the offender. Any behavior indicating risk shall result in visits being terminated immediately;
4. Special consideration should be given when selecting visitation supervisors. The visitation supervisor shall have some relationship with the child, be fully aware of the offense history including patterns associated with grooming, coercion, and sexual behaviors and be capable and willing to report any infractions and risk behaviors to the community supervision team members. If the supervisor is not known to the child, then the child’s current care giver should be available. The potential supervisor must complete training addressing sexual offending and safe and effective visitation supervision.
The goal of family reunification shall never take precedence over the safety of any former or potential victim. If reunification is indicated, after careful consideration of all the potential risks, supervising officers and providers shall closely supervise and monitor the process.
Even when indicated, family reunification is a process that is potentially dangerous and should be pproached with great consideration and over an extended period of time.
Any move toward family reunification should be avoided until after disposition of the criminal case.
Child sexual abusers who are convicted will not be allowed to live in the home with the victim (or any other home where children reside) without approval in advance, in writing, from the community supervision team. …
“A process designed for the primary benefit of the victim, by which the offender clarifies that the responsibility for the assault/abuse resides with the offender. The process will clarify that the victim has no responsibility for the offender’s behavior. It also addresses the damage done to the victim and the family.
This is a lengthy process that occurs over time, including both verbal and written work on the part of the offender. Although victim participation is never required and is sometimes contraindicated, should the process proceed to an actual clarification meeting with the victim, all contact is victim centered and based on victim need.”
Before any contact is allowed – a process called “clarification” takes place. The process applies to both the defendant and the victim and turns on a number of sub-factors.
Clarification to the victim as regards contact, clarification and/or reunification means the victim:
Often there is another parent – caregiver – or legal guardian in the home. Other SOMB guidelines apply to these people.
Clarification as to the “Non-Offending” Parent and/or Guardian as regards contact, clarification and/or reunification means the Non-Offending Parent or Guardian:
Clarification as to “Secondary Victims” Such As Siblings or Other Children in the Home as regards contact, clarification means this person:
Summary – The complexity of the SOMB guidelines when they are applied to Family Unification – Readiness and Clarification are only summarily reviewed in this brief article. This area requires a thorough understanding of the SOMB Guidelines and the Critical Audits that have been done on those guidelines.
In 2014 – the Colorado State legislature commissioned a study of the Colorado SOMB Sex Offender Management Board’s Guidelines for the treatment of Colorado Sex Offenders. It is critical that anyone affected by the Guidelines read it – here is a link to the study –SOMBEvaluationReport-Final
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
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