Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell
For immediate release: Monday, March 9, 2009

Effective management, treatment of juvenile sex offenders is topic of training
Four sessions scheduled across the state in March

Mental health providers and probation officers from across the state will have the opportunity this month to attend day-long trainings designed enhance community safety by providing professionals with effective strategies to supervise and treat juveniles who commit sex crimes.

The Office of Sex Offender Management at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is sponsoring trainings at four locations across the state in March, beginning today in Owego, Tioga County.

“The management of sex offenders is one of the most vexing issues that local communities face, and when those offenders are juveniles, the issue becomes more complex as communities seek to balance issues of safety and security with the need for treatment,” said Denise E. O’Donnell, Governor Paterson’s Deputy Secretary for Public Safety.

“These trainings – and others sponsored by DCJS’ Office of Sex Offender Management statewide – are designed to provide stakeholders with the information they need to develop effective strategies that will keep the community safe, protect victims’ rights, prevent new sex crimes and ensure that offenders receive appropriate treatment and supervision,” Deputy Secretary O’Donnell added.

Established in 2007, the Office of Sex Offender Management at DCJS oversees the state’s Sex Offender Registry, advises the Governor and Legislature on sex offender issues, establishes standards and guidelines concerning how best to supervise and manage these individuals and better protect the public, trains law enforcement and other professionals and creates community prevention and education campaigns.

“The mission of the Office of Sex Offender Management is to protect our communities and families from sex offenders,” said Luke Martland, director of the office. “As part of this mission, we conduct training for law enforcement, mental health professionals, judges and other groups all across the state. These trainings focus on an important area for mental health professionals and probation officers: how are juveniles different from adult sex offenders and what are the best ways to treat and supervise them.”

Last year, the office sponsored approximately 70 trainings across the state that were attended by more than 3,000 individuals, including police, parole and probation officers, attorneys, treatment providers, social services professionals, elected representatives and court officials.

“DCJS, through its Office of Sex Offender Management, is committed to providing anyone involved in the management and treatment of sex offenders with training and education to enhance their knowledge and skills so they can better serve their communities,” Deputy Secretary O’Donnell added.

The training target mental health and probation officials who work with juveniles and cover a variety of topics, including a discussion of approaches best suited to the treatment and management of juveniles who commit sex offenses and research that drives best practices in treatment and management.

According to the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act, a juvenile whose case has been adjudicated as a youthful offender or juvenile delinquent is not required to register as a sex offender in New York State because the records are not publicly available. However, a juvenile offender is required to register; state law defines 14- and 15-year olds charged with certain crimes, including some sex crimes, as juvenile offenders.

The trainings are being conducted by David Prescott and Steven Bengis, two licensed clinical social workers who are nationally recognized authorities on sex offender treatment and management. Prescott is the clinical director at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in Moose Lake and Bengis is the founder and executive director of the New England Adolescent Research Institute in Holyoke, Mass.

In addition to today’s training in Tioga County, Prescott will lead the training on Tuesday, March 10 in Niagara County. Bengis will lead the trainings on Tuesday, March 17 in New York City, and Wednesday, March 18 in Dutchess County.

DCJS is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; and support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state.