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.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:55 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:55:09 GMT
An award winning journalist from Vermont has died.Michael Hastings was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident in Los Angeles.Hastings was best known for his Rolling Stones article on General StanleyMore >>
Michael Hastings was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident in Los Angeles.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:54 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:54:26 GMT
Bennington Rural Fire Station was packed with people and support for the 15 members recently suspended over their part in an annual stunt. "Do you realize these are the real heroes of America?" askedMore >>
Bennington Rural Fire Station was packed with people and support for the 15 members recently suspended over their part in an annual stunt.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:53 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:53:55 GMT
Glen Goodall served in the South Pacific during World War II, now the Williamstown vet is in Washington D.C. for two very special honors.Tuesday marked the 94-year-old's first trip to the nation's capitalMore >>
Glen Goodall served in the South Pacific during World War II, now the Williamstown vet is in Washington DC for two very special honors.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:41 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:41:56 GMT
Former Bennington Rural Fire Department chief Joseph Hayes pleaded not guilty Monday to embezzlement charges stemming from a department-sponsored raffle when he was chief. Participants told police theyMore >>
A former chief at the Bennington Rural Fire Department faces embezzlement charges and 16 volunteers are in hot water over another incident. As allegations of misconduct stack up, some residents are worried about their safety.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:54:27 GMT
Court documents indicate New York's Chinese mafia may be involved in prostitution at a Chittenden County spa. Tuesday morning, landlord Thomas Booska pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge. A tenantMore >>
A landlord has denied charges related to prostitution at an alleged sex spa in Williston. And court documents indicate New York's Chinese Mafia may be involved in prostitution in Vermont.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:13 PM EDT2013-06-18 16:13:18 GMT
A Hopkinton, New York man is behind bars, accused of promoting prostitution. Police say Monday, they searched 60-year-old Dean Lamphere's house and business -- Lamphere's General Trucking and Repair.More >>
A Hopkinton, N.Y., man is behind bars, accused of promoting prostitution.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 10:00 AM EDT2013-06-18 14:00:51 GMT
A New Haven man says he was trying to stop another man from cutting down his neighbor's trees, but police say firing shots wasn't the way to do it. Police say on Sunday, 72-year-old David Milson firedMore >>
A New Haven man says he was trying to stop another man from cutting down his neighbor's trees, but police say firing shots wasn't the way to do it.More >>