Myers cites new law as critical to enhancing public safety
Attorney General Hardy Myers today applauded the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kulongoski for passing and signing into law House Bill 3233 which creates the Sex Offender Treatment Board (SOTB) overseen by the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA). "Passage of House Bill 3233 creates a process by which qualified mental health professionals can be readily identified as having the expertise and training necessary to effectively treat sex offenders," said Myers. "This process will improve community safety and prevent future victimization by reinforcing a critical component of the response to sex offenders in Oregon."
Until the passage of HB 3233, Oregon was among a minority of states that did not have minimum professional requirements for sex offender treatment providers. Sex offender treatment is a standard condition of probation and post-prison supervision or parole for offenders who have committed a sexual crime.
HB 3233 was sponsored by state Representative Greg Macpherson (D-Lake Oswego), and Representatives Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), Vicki Berger (R-Salem), and Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), at the request of the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force and the Oregon Sex Offender Supervision Network. The sex offender treatment and certification board created by passage of HB 3233 will establish standards of practice and professional responsibility and adopt training and continuing education requirements for certification. The new law also creates the professional titles of Clinical Sex Offender Therapist and Associate Sex Offender Therapist. The Sex Offender Treatment Board will be administered by Oregon Health Licensing Agency, a state consumer protection agency that provides regulatory oversight for health and related professions.
"We look forward to collaborating with the wide range of stakeholders involved in sex offender treatment to establish an effective and responsive regulatory program," said Susan K. Wilson, OHLA Director. "It is an extensive and complex task, but the benefits to the public are substantial."
The SOTB will consist of seven experts in the field of sex offender treatment and management, including licensed mental health professionals. The bill provides that the Governor nominate and state Senate confirm members' appointments to three-year terms.
The Oregon Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the Oregon Adolescent Sex Offender Treatment Network, the Oregon Association of Community Corrections Directors and the Oregon Juvenile Department Directors Association will recommend appointments to the Governor.
House Bill 3233 recognizes that a majority of convicted sex offenders ultimately return to the community upon completion of their sentences. Sex offender treatment providers assume a vital role in protecting the public from offenders who return and remain in the community.
"It is critical that the treatment providers who work with sex offenders have the specific skills, knowledge and training necessary to reduce recidivism, prevent future victimization and work collaboratively with management professionals to protect the community," said Heather J. Huhtanen, Program Director for the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force.
Myers hailed the passage of HB 3233 as "key component of the comprehensive response necessary to ensure community and victim safety."
House Bill 3233 is scheduled to be signed by Governor Kulongoski on Friday, July 27, 2007, at 12:00 pm in the Governor's Ceremonial Office of the State Capitol.
Copies of House Bill 3233 can be found at www.leg.state.or.us. Once initial members of the board are appointed and confirmed, more information on the establishment of the new sex offender treatment regulatory program will be at www.oregon.gov/OHLA/SOTB.
Stephanie Soden, (503) 378-6002
Heather J. Huhtanen, AG's Sexual Assault Task Force Program Director, 541-284-8275, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kraig Bohot, OHLA Communications Officer, 503-373-1939, email@example.com