Though this blog is was originally intended as a resource for offenders in Massachusetts, much of what I write about is applicable to sex offenders in every other state and many countries around the world, especially in Western Europe. Even other non-sex offenders trying to navigate prison, probation and parole, or employment and education opportunities can glean relevant information from this blog and apply it to help overcome their own struggles.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Less Than 6 Months of Probation Left: Some Things You Should Be Doing

As I enter the last months of my 10 years on probation, I thought it important to mention some of the things you should do to ensure a smooth, trouble free transition away from any type of supervision. A little bit of planning and proactivity can save you from trouble and receiving extra time on probation.

Recently, I spoke with an attorney in Boston who said an all too common reason a probationer is not released from probation is because he hasn't paid money owed.  This debt may include probation supervision fees, court fees, DNA fees, vicitim restitution, paying for victim counseling, etc...  You name it.  Whatever probation believe you owe, you owe.  Come your release day, if you owe money you won't be set free from probation until it's all paid off.  Even if you think you aren't in arrears, ask the probation office to do an audit on your account around 6 months before release to give you time to pay up, perform community service in lieu of cash payments, or dispute charges if need be.

Another suggestion is to scour your probation contract for what conditions you are required to complete or satisfy.  Besides paying many fees, you could be required to "complete" sex offender therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, Anger Management, and other programs.  Be sure to know what "completing" means to the probation department.  Probation (and the courts) idea of of having completed a program may not be the same as what the particular program considers to be "completed" or "graduated".  In fact, these days here in Middlesex County a sex offender on probation who graduated from all phases of treatment cannot simply stop going to treatment.  One has to be in "maintenance" treatment while on probation.  Furthermore, what maintenance treatment is varies between providers.  Unfortunately, not much is standardized in the treatment provider community.  It wouldn't hurt to go over your probation contract with your probation officer so you are both on the same page.

And if you think you can and/or should stop attending treatment after you are released from probation, you might want to reconsider.  For example, if at any point in the future you plan on appealing your dangerousness level to the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), it behooves you to continue maintenance treatment after release from any supervision. Significant gaps of time where your well being and behavior cannot be accounted for could work against you since the SORB has no recent information or testimonials from treatment providers to take into account.  At the same time, seeing a therapist several times a year might be good insurance and good for you in the event you encounter problems or if you know you function and live better under a therapists supervision.