Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Oversight of Sex Offenders Subject to Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment


Issued: December 17, 2015
Link to full audit report 2014-S-50
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (Department) is adequately monitoring and enforcing conditions of Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment for sex offenders placed in the community. Our audit covered the period April 1, 2012 through June 16, 2015.

Background
The Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (Act) was enacted by the New York State Legislature in 2007 to deal with the civil management, including confinement and post-release supervision, for certain sex offenders who are at or near their anticipated release from parole or confinement. The Act applies to offenders who have been legally determined to suffer from a mental abnormality that predisposes them to committing a sex offense and that results in their difficulty in controlling this behavior. The goals of civil management are to protect the public, help reduce recidivism, and provide access to treatment. The most dangerous of these sex offenders are denied release and are confined to a secure treatment facility operated by the Office of Mental Health. Others who are judged less dangerous as a result of a jury trial or subsequent hearing can be released to the community, but remain subject to the Department’s Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment (SIST) supervision regimen, and are referred to as respondents. Under SIST, Parole Officers closely monitor respondents’ compliance with court-ordered conditions of their release. The Act requires Parole Officers to have a minimum number of face-to-face contacts with respondents in their caseload, as well as contacts with others involved in respondents’ treatment and oversight. Additional requirements are established by the Department and often include electronic monitoring using ankle bracelets equipped with GPS technology. There were 156 respondents subject to SIST between April 1, 2012 and September 10, 2014.

Key Findings

  • We examined supervision records for 99 respondents overseen by staff at eight Area Offices located in five regions of the State. In general, while our tests showed the Department is monitoring and enforcing SIST conditions for respondents placed in the community, we also identified areas needing improvement. For example, in certain instances, Parole Officers did not complete all the required monthly activities, and compliance varied significantly among the locations.
  • Parole Officers made virtually all of the two required home visits each month for the respondents we tested. However, more than 20 percent of the time, they did not make the minimum total of six monthly face-to-face contacts. Exception rates at two Offices exceeded 50 percent.
  • Photographic records of SIST offenders are supposed to be updated at least every 90 days, but only 38 percent were done on time while 15 percent were more than a month late. At the time of our test, one respondent’s photo had not been updated in almost a year.
  • The Department also lacked some records related to respondents’ interviews at initial entry to SIST, and its record of responses to certain electronic alerts of potentially high-risk respondent behavior was at times overly general and vague.

Key Recommendation

  • Determine the reasons for variances in meeting certain requirements of the Act and other
    requirements and improve the oversight and documenting of supervision in these areas.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

Office of Mental Health: Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act Program (2013-S-21)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236