Based upon the growing body of research about the effectiveness of treatment for adults and juveniles who commit sex offenses, and in accordance with SORNA requirements, this solicitation supports the development and implementation of standards for the treatment of adult and juvenile sex offenders.
Program-Specific Information The primary mission of the SMART Office is to assist jurisdictions in the implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA); a secondary mission is to support innovation and best practices in the field of sex offender management.
SORNA requires, among other things, that eligible sex offenders register for specific durations.
42 U. S. Code § 16915 (b) of SORNA states that registration periods may be reduced for certain sex offenders, if the individual has maintained a clean record; that is:
1. no subsequent conviction that resulted in imprisonment for more than one year; 2. no subsequent conviction of any sex offense; 3. successful completion of any probation or parole sentence (with no revocation); and 4. successful completion of an appropriate sex offender treatment program certified by a jurisdiction or by the Attorney General.
While confirming the first three requirements of this provision are fairly straightforward, in order to certify whether an individual has successfully completed “an appropriate sex offender treatment program” necessitates identifying the components of “best practice” in the treatment of adults and adolescents who have sexually abused.
Defining “best practice” must be based upon a body or research that continues to evolve.
While researchers agree that the evidence concerning the effectiveness of treatment for sex offenders is far from definitive, findings from systematic reviews and meta-analyses conducted in recent years suggest that certain sex offender treatment approaches can and do work.
Specifically, cognitive-behavioral/relapse prevention approaches appear to be effective in reducing recidivism, whether delivered in an institutional or community-based setting.
The empirical evidence also demonstrates, however, that differential treatment impacts are likely to occur for different individuals.
Adhering to the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) principles of effective intervention appears to be important.
Matching treatment to the risk levels and criminogenic needs of sex offenders may help maximize treatment effectiveness and the return on investment of treatment resources.
Sex offenders differ in terms of their demographics, risk, and needs.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that treatment may have a differential impact, depending on the characteristics of the treatment participant and other factors.
This means that rather than following a one-size-fits-all approach, sex offender treatment is likely to be most effective when it is tailored to the risks, needs, and offense dynamics of individual sex offenders.
The differential impact of treatment, and the need for tailored rather than uniform treatment approaches, was acknowledged by the national experts—both researchers and practitioners—at the SOMAPI forum.
Treatment approaches across the United States vary widely in terms of availability, eligibility, modality, intensity, and even provider qualifications.
Based upon findings from the latest Safer Society Foundation survey (2008) of sex offender treatment programs operating in the United States, programs serving adolescents primarily utilized a trauma-informed approach to treatment; programs serving adults often utilized a RNR approach.
Therapists most frequently identified cognitive-behavioral therapy as one of the top three theoretical models that best described their treatment approach.
Relapse prevention therapy was the second most frequently identified model, but the number of programs endorsing relapse prevention has fallen since 200 2. The Safer Society Foundation survey also drew conclusions regarding effectiveness of treatment programs.
The results suggests that a large percentage of programs in the United States are following practices known to be effective in reducing the reoffense of sexual offending behaviors.
The criteria used in assessing the effectiveness of these programs included:
• Training and education of staff • Treatment program model • Assessment methods • Treatment targets • Treatment dosage • Specialized services • Aftercare and support services • Collaboration with other professionals • Monitoring and evaluation These criteria are not dissimilar to the Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI-2000), a widely used tool designed to measure the effectiveness of offender intervention programming and adherence to the principles of RNR.
The SMART Office is soliciting a set of standards to help jurisdictions design programs and/or assess the effectiveness of existing programs or providers who can competently satisfy the requirements set forth within SORNA.
To develop these guidelines, an objective process must be articulated to evaluate the research relating to the assessment, treatment and management of adult and juvenile sex offenders.
And once the standards are established, they should be easily accessible to practitioners and jurisdictions and provide a self-evaluation process that can be tailored to different environments and populations.
Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables The SMART Office is seeking applications for the creation of treatment standards for adult and adolescent sex offenders.
The goal of the project is to promote evidence-based knowledge and use that information to create benchmarks for federal and state agencies that make decisions regarding the reduction of registration periods for certain sex offenders, based upon a “clean record”.
SMART seeks to achieve this goal through the creation of such standards.
An applicant will be selected for SMART Office funding based upon their responses to the Selection Criteria listed in the section, “What an Application Should Include” on page 1 1. The application should clearly describe and demonstrate how the project will:
• Collect new data about existing treatment programs and modalities within the United States.
• Develop standards for the treatment of sex offenders, adult and juvenile, that can be tailored to the individual needs of the offender.
• Identify up to five jurisdictions to implement the standards.
• Collect data on sex offenders within each jurisdiction, consistently across the five jurisdictions.
• Work collaboratively with the selected sites to incorporate the standards into sex offender management practices and train providers on its use.
• Document the process of implementation.
• Evaluate the efficacy of the standards using criteria similar to those used in the Safer Society Survey or the CPAI-200 0. • Develop and provide an easily accessible online referral mechanism for sex offender treatment programs utilizing these standards for practitioners and jurisdiction.
• Work collaboratively with the SMART Office.
• Participate in any external research or evaluations at a later date (should funds become available).
A comprehensive report will be the final deliverable for this project.
The report should contain, but not be limited to the following:
• The final guidelines and standards for the treatment of adult and juvenile sex offenders.
• A detailed description of the theoretical and evidence-base for these guidelines and standards.
• Documentation of the process for implementing the initiative.
• An evaluation of the effectiveness of the standards.
• Descriptive information on the number of individuals affected within each of the selected jurisdictions.
• A national review of existing programs for both adults and adolescents in the United States.
• Any outcome information available from the above-mentioned outcomes of interest.
Site Selection The treatment standards should be implemented in up to five jurisdictions that are geographically and demographically diverse.
The applicant should provide evidence of the jurisdictions’ adult and juvenile sex offender population, case flow and treatment referral process, treatment provider qualifications, assessment processes, probation and/or parole practices, and any treatment and/or recidivism outcome information.
Applicants may include financial incentives in their proposed project budgets to encourage jurisdiction participation.
The jurisdictions selected to participate in the project will not receive external funding from the SMART Office.
Applicants are encouraged to include a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Letter of Intent from each jurisdiction detailing their commitment to participate in the project in their submitted application.
This document should be provided to SMART before an award is made.
A special condition will be attached to the award stipulating that the grantee may not obligate, expend, or drawdown any project funds until SMART has received an MOU or Letter of Intent from the participating sites.
The selected grantee will be responsible for the following activities:
• Work collaboratively with the selected jurisdictions to incorporate the standards developed for this project into the jurisdictions’ sex offender management practices and train providers on its use.
• Work with the selected sites to track the implementation of the standards.
• Work with the sites to evaluate the efficacy of the standards.
• Report and disseminate interim and final project results.
Additionally, the grantee will be responsible for assisting the jurisdictions in implementing the standards with fidelity.
This may be accomplished by ensuring:
• That jurisdictions and their staff/providers are trained in a theoretical model of change.
• Staff/providers are trained and support validated risk assessment tools and processes.
• Staff/providers are trained in cognitive behavior therapy and programming and have processes in place to ensure skill development.
• That jurisdictions have resource support in place for implementation, training, ongoing quality control, and evaluation.
• That jurisdictions have the staff resources and expertise to ensure quality management and integrity.