Lynn professors team up with Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office to manage local sex offenders

Graduate psychology students collecting data for the project

Published Oct. 19, 2010

Jill Levenson, an associate professor of psychology and human services at Lynn University with an academic focus on sexual abuse and how offenders are categorized and treated, and Debra Ainbinder, an associate professor of psychology at Lynn, are partnering with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) on a community safety implementation project to help prevent sexual assault.

According to the PBSO, the Sex Predator and Offender Tracking Unit (SPOT) is currently managing 890 sexual offenders and predators - almost double the county's population of 400 registered sex offenders in 2000. This increase is due in part to the county’s overall population growth as well as newly adopted legislative requirements.

Levenson and Ainbinder will conduct risk assessments on all registered sex offenders in Palm Beach County and classify them according to risk of reoffending. This will help PBSO design supervision and risk management plans for the prevention of reoffending by registered sexual offenders and predators. In addition, Lynn graduate psychology students will assist by collecting data for the project.

As Lisa Rab pointed out in her New Times blog, “Now, instead of just making sure an offender sleeps at the correct address, far from the nearest church or school, police officers will have more information about which ex-cons are most likely to commit another crime.”

This two-year project is funded by a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

More on Levenson:

Levenson is an associate professor of psychology at Lynn University and a licensed clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience treating sexual abuse victims, survivors, perpetrators and non-offending parents. She is frequently quoted in the national media. Last summer (July 2009), Levenson was referenced in a Newsweek article and a BBC story that focused on a group of sexual offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway as a result of the housing restrictions imposed on them. She is considered a national expert on sexual violence and has published over 60 articles about sex crime policy and offender treatment.

More on Ainbinder:

Ainbinder is an associate professor of psychology at Lynn University. Her research is vast, including a published a journal article entitled “Solution-focused treatment of migraine headaches” and, most recently, in 2008, she and Lynn faculty member Robert Riedel, completed a three-year study surrounding ways that parents can make an impact on their child's alcohol use and consumption. In this role, Ainbinder regularly speaks to the media regarding a parents’ role in preventing alcohol abuse by their children, the treatment of migraine headaches and family counseling.