With lifetime supervision, the sex offender caseload continues to grow with no relief in sight. In New Jersey, the State Parole Board’s supervision caseload is becoming dominated by the community supervision for life (CSL) cases. In 2011, there were 5,067 CSL cases, representing 32.3% of the total supervision caseload. By 2014, the CSL cases number 7,031 or 46% of the caseload. (NJSPB Annual Report) That is an increase of 39% in just three years.
Even where the law may provide for discharge from lifetime supervision, it is typically only after many years. In New Jersey, an offender on CSL must wait 15 years after discharge from incarceration before seeking release from supervision. With the heightened perception of risk and the overall risk aversion that affects decision-making with sex offenders, it is unlikely that many courts or supervision agencies will be removing very many sex offenders from lifetime supervision.
I have long felt that many of the provisions of Megan’s Law provide a false sense of security because the sex offender complies with all of the requirements of the law. Additional examination and research is essential to determine which elements of sex offender policy are effective.
Those which are effective should be supported and continued. Those elements which are not effective or cause additional harm (think of the sex offender encampments under the highway bridge in Florida) should be carefully and courageously reviewed.