The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County’s Sex Offender Accountability Program (SOAP)
The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County’s Sex Offender Accountability Program (SOAP) works to improve accountability for convicted sex offenders and help prevent them from offending again. Sex offender treatment has decades of research and best practice behind it. All providers must be approved by the PA Sex Offender Accountability Board and adhere to rigid standards. Within this framework, providers believe the treatment can be effective for many sex offenders. Experience and research has shown that providing support for sex offenders while holding them accountable is an effective way to create safer communities.
Since 2012, an interdisciplinary team of the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, the District Attorney, Adult Probation, the local PA State Parole Office, Clover Psychological Associates (the Lawrence County sex offender treatment provider), Children’s Advocacy Center and Children & Youth Services have been working together to improve accountability for sex offenders and to prevent reoffending. Specifically, SOAP’s interdisciplinary team has worked to enhance sex offender treatment programs, reducing the number of offenders suspended from treatment and/or sent back to jail for not paying required fees for polygraphs, and reducing the likelihood sex offenders will offend again. Sex offender treatment is considered mental health therapy and is covered by insurance, but offenders need to pay out of pocket for polygraph exams several times during treatment. When offenders are unable to pay the lump sum for the polygraph, treatment is put on hold until they can save the money. Today, all convicted sex offenders in Lawrence County who have served jail time and are on probation now pay for polygraphs through a monthly fee rather than a lump sum. The new financial arrangements, along with other system improvements have been successful in reducing sex offender recidivism.
Since the SOAP model was introduced in 2012, no sex offenders have been suspended from treatment for failure to pay polygraph fees, and no sex offenders in treatment or on probation have been arrested for committed additional sex crimes.