Lifetime probation as a sentence for sex offenders is discussed with respect to Arizona's program, its philosophy, and its use in Maricopa County.
The consensus among many sex offender therapists and probation and parole officers is that deviant sexual arousal is often a compulsive, ongoing problem that will require lifelong management by a sex offender. Data from field interviews conducted in NIJ-sponsored research indicate that most sex offender treatment providers strongly believe that the potential of criminal justice system consequences for violations of treatment conditions are important external controls and are necessary to reinforce the management of deviant behavior. The Arizona legislature codified this belief in 1988 by enacting lifetime probation terms for offenders convicted of certain classes of sex offenses. The implications of lifetime probation are not yet clear. Maricopa County is only now developing plans for how to manager offenders for the rest of their natural lives. One judge believes that lifetime may come to be defined as 10-15 years, depending on resource constraints. Meanwhile, lifetime probation has the potential to contain and retrain many sex offenders while research validates risk factors to enable more precise resource allocations. Footnotes and 6 references
Date Published: January 1, 1996