Forensics: Sex Offender Commitment Program (SOCP)

Due to concerns regarding the risk to public safety resulting from violent, mentally disordered sex offenders being released from prison, the Legislature enacted the provisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 6600 et seq. This statute, created by Chapter 793, Statutes of 1995, went into effect on January 1, 1996. It established a new category of civil commitment for persons found, upon release from prison, to be sexually violent predators (SVP). The initial term of commitment is indeterminate and SVPs are evaluated annually until the individual’s diagnosed mental disorder has so changed that he or she is not likely to commit an act of sexual violence. The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) has designated this program the Sexual Offender Commitment Program (SOCP).

Evaluation Program

The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) statute calls for the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to designate two evaluators (licensed psychiatrists and/or psychologists) to determine if an identified inmate has a diagnosed mental disorder such that he or she is likely to engage in acts of sexual predatory violence without appropriate treatment and custody.

Inpatient Program

The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) statute specifies that the Department of State Hospitals ( DSH) provide a treatment program for persons committed as SVPs. This program shall be consistent with current institutional standards for the treatment of sex offenders and shall be based on a structured treatment protocol developed by the DMH. To this end, the treatment orientation of the Sex Offender Commitment Program (SOCP) is cognitive-behavioral with a Relapse Prevention (RP) component.

The institutional program is organized around this RP framework, and focuses on "offense specific" treatment components. When indicated, treatment plans also include individual therapy sessions, couples/family counseling, and behavioral reconditioning (for modifying deviant arousal patterns). Finally, the program also provides a limited number of educational and vocational training activities.

Outpatient Program

When patients committed under the SVP statutes are granted conditional release by the court they will enter community treatment and supervision under the Conditional Release Program (CONREP). This program is based upon the Containment Model of sex offender treatment that seeks to hold patients accountable by the combined use of the patient’s own internal controls, developed during inpatient treatment, and the use of external tools such as polygraphy, surveillance, and electronic monitoring. It is a victim-centered approach that focuses on the safety of the community as its primary goal. It emphasizes close collaboration and communication by all parties participating in the patient’s community treatment and supervision.

The Containment Model also includes sex offender specific treatment that involves the application of treatment, assessment, and clinical practice tools. It recognizes that a cure for sex offending is not available. Rather, as a relapse prevention model, it seeks to identify high-risk situations, thoughts and behaviors that are precursors to sex offending which are specific to that patient and assist him/her to establish alternate thinking and behavioral patterns.

Successful implementation of the Containment Model protects the public and allows the patient to remain safely in the community.