Prison officials are standing by Vermont's sex offender treatment despite one of its graduate's suspected involvement in the murder of a 12-year-old girl. Officials say the program comes with no guarantees, but they say it dramatically reduces the risk of re-offense. And the Vermont Corrections Department says its programs have become a model for other states because they are so successful.
"It makes us safer than not doing it. It doesn't guarantee total safety," says Vt. Corrections Commissioner Rob Hofmann.
Hofmann says studies show that sex offenders are less likely to re-offend if they complete the state's sex offender treatment program.
About 400 of Vermont's 2,000 convicts-- about 20 percent-- are doing time for a sex crime conviction. Most will complete sex offender treatment. The great majority of the graduates will not re-offend, unlike Michael Jacques.
He completed the treatment program and was called a model prisoner by the department and released from probation in 2006 after the department categorized him as a model prisoner.
Until 12-year-old niece Brooke Bennett was kidnapped and murdered last month-- and he's the prime suspect. The commissioner says the program should not be judged by this one failure.
"Does it succeed in all cases? And make all of these people who come to us impaired and violent and criminal and make them all model citizens? No, and I think that's unrealistic," says Hofmann.
The commissioner says there have been three major changes in the treatment since Jacques completed the program in 2000.
In the late 1990s the program was re-designed to match length and intensity of treatment to the severity of the offense.
Second, the department adopted what it calls state-of-the-science testing methods to better assess the risk of re-offense.
Third, convicted sex offenders are now subject to random lie detector testing to determine if they are engaging in high-risk behavior such as viewing pornography or hanging around kids.
"The program is effective at reducing the risk to re-offend and it is effective at helping to make our community safer. It is not a total assurance that some deviant will not relapse. That's just one of the terrible realities of the criminals that we deal with," says Hofmann.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
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Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>