Friday, November 03, 2006

Sex Offender Overview

Being a Woman who keeps her word, I will give you a general idea of how I was trained to deal with the sex offender caseload.
I started as a Parole Officer in 1987. In the Spring of 1988, the Board decided to create some new specialized caseloads in some offices. These were voluntary caseloads, no Officer was forced to take on the stress of handling just "Mentally Challenged" offenders, or Sex Offenders. There wasn't any extra money involved, just a challenge. Like an idiot, I volunteered.
I've always been something of an over-achiever, so I was up for a challenge. I thought it would be interesting. I should have remembered the Chinese curse: "May You Live in Interesting Times."
I drove down to Austin with a fellow female officer from the neighboring county for the week of training. We had 8 hours every day, Monday through Thursday. Friday we got out at noon so we could make it back to our district offices by 5. Goddess Forbid we should get any comp time on the drive home! What we learned in those 36 hours of classroom training was eye-opening, but it turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. I learned a lot more from the counselors I talked to over lunches and articles and research papers I read on my own than I did in that classroom in Austin.
We had two day refresher classes now and then over the next couple of years. The other S.O. Parole Officers and I had been burning up the phone lines building support networks. And we needed it. The Board and Administrative Chain had not forseen the need for Officer support. As a result, of the approximately 40 Officers who started in the program, half dropped out at the end of the first year.
During these refresher courses, we brought the material we had found on our own. The articles and research, and notes we'd taken during meeting with counselors and whoever. Turned out WE gave a lot of information to the people who were supposed to be educating US! So the second year, a survey was sent out. They asked us what we wanted to learn, what we wanted to share with new officers, and what we thought was unnecessary in the current curriculum. One of the few SMART things the traing section ever did.
Six months later, we had a kick-a$$ seminar on Padre, in December! It was a week-long, experts out the wazoo, full-on, LEARNING experience. Really great. But, it was also full of some of the most disgusting, soul-searing descriptions of debased abuse I have ever had the misfortune to have to hear.
The supervisors of most of the Sex Offender P.O.s had been sent to this seminar along with their officers. The rationale for this was that the sups needed to know WHY their officers were getting a little "bent" on occasion. In order to fully understand why their officers were disgusted, appalled, beleagured,and otherwise crispy around the edges, they needed to be exposed to some of the same information, at least briefly, that the officers were exposed to daily.
During one slide show of pediatric female patients' gentalia injured by sexual abuse, several sups, including mine, got up and ran for the restrooms to throw up. We looked at one another and shook our heads, as if to say, "Woosies, we see this stuff all the time. Bullets bounce off us. They need to Butch Up!" Nah, we weren't burnin' out, not us.

During Happy Hour, my sup, Randa, looked at me and asked, "How do you deal with that crap? That slide show really got to me!" I took a sip of my frozen 'Rita, shrugged, and nonchalantly tossed off, "You get used to it. You either Cowboy Up, or you get out." I take another drink and continue, "If I'm not doing it, somebody else, who's NOT as good as I am, will take over. They will miss things I wouldn't miss and some child will get hurt. So I stick with it. And I make sure these perverts are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and try to keep them away from anymore kids." Then I shrugged again, like it was nothing.
But it was something.


John Shirley said...

Wow, Holly! "Cowboy up," huh? :-)

Seriously, though, that's deadly serious stuff. I don't know if I could have dealt with it.

I'm glad you were there, though I'm sorry you had to be subjected to that...sordidness. Contradictory, huh?

Hope you're well. Thanks for taking such good care of Johnny.


HollyB said...

See next blog for my reply

Flo said...

And the next blog and the next and the next, since I've been given little tidbits about them. Hurry up and post them! (Not that I'll be able to read them any time soon.)

phlegmfatale said...

THAT must be a really stressful thing to do, but it sounds like it's a calling, too. Thank heaven for tough broads like you who get in there and make sure the job is done right - no telling how many kids you have saved over the years, bless you!

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