State cuts sex offender rehab

Date: 2010-03-11
Source: KFOR

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State prisons are eliminating treatment programs for sex offenders, forcing convicted criminals to seek treatment on their own. Specifically, 20-year-old Ashton Tyler, who pleaded "no contest," Wednesday in Major County to rape by instrumentation of his 9-year-old adopted sister. The judge gave him two years in prison and ordered Tyler to complete a treatment program.

Last month, Tyler's family was given suspended sentences for child abuse and assault and battery.

Ashton admitted to investigators he raped one of five young girls the family adopted from Liberia.

Department of Corrections officials say with only a two-year prison sentence, there's a chance Tyler would not have received sex offender treatment behind bars.

However, he may have at least been prepared for therapy through a prison education program.

But even that's now impossible; the Dept. of Corrections announced last month they're canceling the sex offender rehab program due to budget cuts.

Dr. Richard Kishur helped design the original sex offender treatment program for DOC two decades ago.

"We're (now) letting people out of prison, basically, that don't have the skills to function," he says.

Did the program really help reduce the number of repeat offenders? Kishur says according to district attorneys across the state, the answer is yes.

"One of the questions I typically ask is how many guys who have been convicted, who have had high quality treatment and finished treatment, have re-offended?" Kishur says. "Have you prosecuted for a new offense? The answer is usually zero."

DOC spokesman Jerry Massie says within this fiscal year, they've had to take in 800 additional inmates while slashing their budget $48 million.

So the odds are against Tyler receiving any reinstated treatment during his incarceration.

"If he has a two-year sentence, I don't see our budget improving in the next two years to any great degree," Massie says.

Tyler and his probation officer will have to eventually find treatment for him, which he'll pay for himself.

Dr. Kishur says the state could save money if they only used rehab resources for inmates who are "especially dangerous."

That could be accomplished, he says, if better risk assessment was used in the court system.

Massie says many of the programs DOC kept were funded by grant money.

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