This brief explores why collaboration is essential in managing sex offenders in the community and discusses the challenges of such an approach; it also addresses how jurisdictions can promote shared responsibility among key policymakers and practitioners for decision making on offender management issues.
"Collaboration," as defined by Chris Huxham in "Collaborative Advantage," is "the exchange of information, the altering of activities, the sharing of resources, and the enhancement of the capacity of another for the mutual benefit of all and to achieve a common purpose." It is "the effort to enhance the capacity of another" that distinguishes collaboration from "networking," "coordination," and "cooperation." The sex offender management field is united in the belief that the responsible management of sex offenders requires rigorous community supervision and sex offender-specific treatment. Although collaboration among supervision officers and treatment providers is essential to managing this population, a host of other justice system and community agencies should be involved. For instance, victim advocates and service providers can speak to victim safety needs at all stages of offender management. Law enforcement officers are critical in gathering and interpreting evidence. Prosecutors make charging decisions and can refuse to accept pleas that downgrade charges to non-sexual assault cases. Judges are empowered to order offenders to receive the supervision and treatment that is paramount to reducing recidivism risk and enhancing public safety. Defense attorneys counsel offenders on probation and parole. This paper discusses the formation of collaboration among these various agencies in an adversarial system. Also discussed are catalysts for collaboration, different approaches to team work, issues to consider in developing collaborative approaches, challenges to overcome, and laboratories for collaboration. 2 tables and 5 references