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Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP)

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Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP)

In 2010, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) contracted with the Center for Effective Public Policy (CEPP) to review assessment and treatment practices provided in the Sexual Offender Program (SOP). The CEPP reviewed MDOC’s SOP policies and practices regarding the delivery of institutionally based treatment for individuals at risk of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors.  Following their review, CEPP provided numerous recommendations for enhancing MDOC’s policies and programming for individuals with a history of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors.  The primary recommendation was centered around MDOC shifting to principles of evidence-based practice.  A workgroup translated the recommendations into a strategic action plan.

The workgroup, which consisted of MDOC psychologists and Central Office staff, operationalized the strategic action plan, resulting in the Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP). MSAPP is an evidence-based treatment program that incorporates a residential treatment unit (RTU) model in the delivery of treatment services. The goal of this new program is to increase public safety by reducing sexually motivated recidivism among the current prison population.

Six prisons are designated as MSAPP hubs: IBC, DRF, STF, LRF, JCS, SMT

Special Population MSAPP programs are facilitated at MTU, SLF, and WHV.


In maintaining our goal of increasing community safety, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) is committed to providing effective, efficient, research-driven treatment to offenders with a history of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors. Of central importance is decreasing the risk of sexually motivated criminal re-offense.   The Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP) employs the following methods to reduce sexually motivated criminal recidivism:

1) Utilize empirically-based and validated assessment tools developed specifically for those who have engaged in sexually abusive behaviors. 

2) Implement treatment techniques grounded in evidence-based principles and delivered by well-trained staff. 

3) Maintain rigorous quality assurance practices of therapy operations and documentation of clinical activities. 

4) Ensure continuity of care from point of incarceration through release to community setting. 


Prisoners who enter the Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP) will have the opportunity to learn and internalize a variety of techniques to alter thinking and behaviors.  The long-term goal of the MSAPP program is to provide tools for individuals to live a healthy, offense free life upon reentry into society.

MSAPP focuses on five specific areas. 

Changing thoughts -- Learn how to identify and change anti-social thinking and replace it with more pro-social thinking. 

Developing healthy attitudes -- Create new beliefs and attitudes about sexuality, sexual interests, preferences, and emotional intimacy.

Regulating feelings -- Learn how to identify and express emotions in more appropriate ways, including managing anger.

Developing appropriate behaviors -- Identify old problematic behaviors and create healthy new behaviors which will lower the risk of sexual motivated recidivism, anti-social thinking, and interpersonal and family/marital conflicts.

Creating a plan for a healthy lifestyle -- Increase confidence to make healthier choices, review strategies targeting criminogenic needs, increase healthy supports, and develop a personalized plan with pro-social goals for a good life with no more victims.

The Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (MSAPP) matches sexually motivated criminal recidivism risk to treatment dosage.  Offenders will be assessed by validated actuarial risk assessment tools and then placed in the appropriate treatment program according to their security classification and earliest release date. Offenders will receive 6 to 18 months of therapy based on their risk level and responsivity to treatment.

Phase I: Treatment begins with “TRY: Treatment Readiness for You” which is facilitated by Officers, Prison Counselors, or Clinicians. This is an 8 week didactic program geared to help the offender begin to identify treatment issues and concerns prior to starting the therapeutic phase of MSAPP. RTU staff are encouraged to facilitate and engage with the offenders in this role and training is provided to those staff who are interested.

Phase II-V: Following TRY, offenders are screened by clinicians and placed into group with licensed therapists.  Treatment follows “The Good Life Model” which is characterized by the following attributes: Build on the goals of the individual, identify their motivations, encourage their strengths, and respect their capacity to make choices. The program anticipates offenders who complete treatment will be better equipped for healthier functioning to meet their own basic needs, thus less likely to reoffend and create new victims.  

Phase VI: Therapy continues for offenders once they are released into the community by contracted sexual offender therapists who follow the same treatment framework and positive psychology model.


Risk Assessment tools are utilized by the Department to identify the risks and needs of every prisoner.  Assessment results are utilized to determine program eligibility, generate program referrals and to inform parole and supervision determinations.  For those with a history of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors, the Stable-2007 and Static-99R are used together to assess the likelihood of sexual recidivism.

Static-99R – Designed to estimate the probability of sexual and violent recidivism among males, 18 years or over, (exception: prisoners 17 years old with an “Adult Like” crime) who have a current offense involving sexual behavior or history of sexual offending behavior.  The assessment is to be completed by staff trained and sanctioned as assessors.

Stable-2007 –  Designed to measure dynamic risk factors for sexual recidivism that can change over time.  Stable-2007 helps to formulate a treatment plan and identify treatment/supervision targets for a sex offender.  The Stable-2007 provides information on whether a person with a history of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors being treated/assessed is getting more or less dangerous over time.

Sex Offender Risk Assessment (SORA) -- A report completed by a trained, qualified mental health professional as part of the assessment process incorporating the risk level from the Static-99R and the Stable-2007 to determine an Overall Priority Risk Level.  The SORA determines the relative statistical probability of an offender committing another sexually motivated offense.  Prisoners needing a SORA assessment are placed on the assessment waitlist according to Earliest Release Date (ERD) with the earliest ERDs placed at the top of the waitlist and given priority.  Prisoners with a Very Low, Below Average and Average risk on the Static-99R are placed on the waitlist to have a SORA completed to determine if the prisoner is recommended for MSAPP.

Decisions for MSAPP placement are made as follows:
 Level I, II and III Psychological Evaluation is completed to assess Risk
 Level IVa 6 to 12 months of MSAPP Therapist led Sex Offender Therapy
 Level IVb 12 to 18 months of MSAPP Therapist led Sex Offender Therapy

Residential Treatment Units (RTU) house offenders who have a history of sexual misbehavior (these can include convictions, charges, sexual misconducts, parole violations, etc.).  Each RTU is comprised of housing and clinical staff that operate as a treatment team.  In addition, a self-help library and self-help group facilitators within the unit are encouraged, as these added elements greatly enhance the therapeutic experience.

  • Self-Help Library: The Self-help Library is managed by the RTU Staff with the assistance of offenders who are hired to be librarians and self-help facilitators. Offenders are offered the opportunity to attend Self-Help groups and are encouraged to utilize the RTU Self-Help Library.  The self-help library serves two functions: 
    • 1. It provides readily accessible material to inmates who want to reform and prevent further instances of negative behavior and the consequences that result.  The library also offers resource guides on various subjects including information on furthering one’s education, preparing for release into the community, understanding parole procedures and sex-offender responsibilities, community contact for drug, alcohol and sexual addictions and other behavioral struggles.
    • 2. The self-help library involves clerical work for the self-help groups that operate in the unit.  The clerks collaborate with the clinicians and the self-help facilitators to coordinate a program that affords inmates the opportunity to improve themselves.

  • Self-Help Groups: These groups are offender led and cover numerous self-help topics.  They are held in the RTU dayroom/quiet room.
  • Self-Help Facilitators/Tutors/Librarians: Offenders are hired to facilitate self-help groups within the RTU, as well as provide tutoring to those who need extra help with the group material.  Self-Help Librarians are hired to help manage the self-help library and to assist the RTU staff with organizing unit programming.  These individuals submit resumes to the clinical staff and are interviewed.  They are expected to behave in a manner that is pro-social and demonstrate MSAPP skills that model such behaviors.
  • RTU Treatment Team: The treatment team meets the treatment needs of each prisoner in various ways:
    • ARUS/PC/Officers   
      • Co- facilitate the orientation of offenders to the RTU
      • Volunteer to facilitate TRY

    • Clinicians / Qualified Mental Health Professionals (QMHP):
      • Typically have offices in the RTUs.  By having a presence in the units, QMHP’s are better able to modify their treatment and target specific strengths and problems in “real time”
      • Offenders are interviewed by QMHP’s prior to beginning TRY and Phase II of the MSAPP program
      • Provide treatment via group and individual sessions

    • MSOP Senior Psychologist/QMHP:
      • Help oversee clinical staff and ensure programming is facilitated consistently and per the MSAPP model
      • Complete audits and reviews of evaluations, group processes, and RTU programming

    • All RTU Staff:       
      • Enforce RTU rules at all times
      • Make sure self-help groups are operated appropriately and monitor the dayrooms
      • Confiscate all sexual explicit and fantasy role playing materials.
      • Monitor self-help groups and self-help library

      *Note: these are just partial duties of treatment team members, as a general overview

After being released to the community, parolees (and once sentenced, probationers) meeting defined criteria are referred to outpatient programming via contracted community providers.  Programming placement is based on assessed risk for sexual re-offense (Static-99R and Stable-2007 combined risk level) and includes the following:

Level I & II - receive 9 didactic sessions
Level III - receive 26 group therapy sessions with 1 monthly individual session
Level IVa & Level IVb - receive 52 group therapy sessions with 1 monthly individual session

Community-based programming utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the Good Lives Models (GLM) for treatment.  Community-based interventions are seen as a handoff from prison-based programming for those who completed MSAPP while in prison, as continuity of care is important to the rehabilitation process.  For those individuals who did not receive programming while incarcerated, community-based programming is the principal stage in the treatment process.

Residential Sexual Abuse Prevention Programming (RSAPP). This program is reserved for those who have engaged in high risk (offense-like behaviors/progression towards offending behaviors) where community safety is a concern.  This program can also be recommended by the parole board.  RSAPP is an intense treatment program, lasting between 90-180 days by utilizing a CBT and GLM approach to treatment.  Participants are housed at the facility while attending the program.

Quality assurance processes are essential to providing evidence-based programming.  MDOC’s community-based programming for those with a history of engaging in sexually abusive behaviors includes a 10% audit of all entrance, discharge and treatment plan reports submitted to the MDOC. Annually, MDOC completes audits of files from each contracted vendor, spanning review of clinical work completed by each clinician, review of supervision practices, collaboration with parole/probation staff, as well as auditing group sessions. Reports are generated from these audits and corrective action plans are put into place if contracted vendors do not meet established standards.

Email the MDOC's Administrative Manager of Sexual Abuse Prevention Services, James Kissinger MA LLP, by clicking here

You can also reach the Michigan Sexual Abuse Prevention Program staff by calling 517-335-1426.

Updated: 06/09/24