Friday, March 2, 2007

Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes (Audio)

Around the country, public awareness grows regarding registered sex offenders’ whereabouts, including the fact that many live in or work as staff among vulnerable nursing home populations. Because their presence there can lead to dangerous consequences, this is a serious problem that must be addressed to provide security for staff, residents and visitors.

The 2006 “U. S. Government Accountability Office (GAO-06-326 Highlights) Report” identifies about 700 registered sex offenders living in nursing homes across the country. Keep in mind this is an underreported crime, and numbers continue to increase. States have broad discretion on how to implement notification of sex offenders. Nursing home administrators are not always aware of sex offenders’ previous convictions. Even when they are, due to the Privacy Rule, they are not sure if they can share that information with others. Known sex offenders are usually evaluated on their demonstrated behavior and not separated from other residents.

A 2007 news article titled “Sex Offenders Fill Geriatric Wards of U.S. Prisons” by Laura Sullivan, refutes a common belief that elderly sex offenders are not as threatening as young offenders. In actuality, sex offenses are more likely to be repeated as offenders age. Although the geriatric sex offender population discussed in the article is in a prison, the information has important implications for nursing homes. The following are definitely worthy of mention:

1) Offenders typically sexually abuse children because they are the easiest targets (similar to many nursing home residents).

2) Susan King, the prison psychologist at Laurel Highlands and director of the sex-offender program, says that some older men become sex offenders as they age. One man said he started when he was in his 50’s. Another man was first arrested at age 74.

3) Some sex offenders refuse to admit their crimes or receive counseling. Statistically, sex offenders in this category have a higher rate of repeating sexual offenses. Whether counseling will keep sex offenders from repeating their offenses is still controversial.

4) Two studies conclude that sex offenders are more likely to start committing crimes or keep repeating them in their old age.

You can read the entire news article and listen to the related “All Things Considered” podcast at the Web site.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment