The programming hub for incarcerated sex offenders is at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility. The medium security prison houses men and women, and specializes in treating male offenders with substance abuse problems and sex offenses. It always is filled to capacity, which caps at 250 for inmates in sex offender treatment, corrections officials said.
All of Iowa’s prisons offer more generalized programs for inmates, including basic education, vocational and social skill building and work force development. Once a year, many of them hold a three-day program called the Alternatives to Violence Project, a non-profit aimed at providing non-violence training. Victims also speak during the program about offenders’ impact on their lives.
Greg Ort, deputy warden at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, said inmates are housed in other prisons and placed on waiting lists because high demand for sex offender treatment at Mount Pleasant. Prisoners are transferred to Mount Pleasant for specialized programming roughly a year before their discharge date.
Sean Crawford, associate superintendent of treatment at Mount Pleasant, said the sex offender program has a three-track model ranging from six to 15 months long. He said the tracks are based on offender risk assessments.
All tracks share the same foundational model of helping the offender deal with deviant thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The program is based on workbooks from the Safer Society Foundation, a group that works with survivors, offenders, treatment professionals and family members to find ways to prevent sex abuse. The treatment in Iowa consists of group therapy and individualized counseling.
Crawford said Mount Pleasant has an additional model for sex offenders with special needs, which is typically full and treats offenders with developmental and reading comprehension disabilities.