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Handling high-stress police work: Treating male sex offenders

Callahan works with mental health professionals to create treatment programs for felons in hopes of eliminating their need to act out on their thoughts


By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety

Throughout her 25-year career, Kelli Callahan has always sought out new challenges in law enforcement. She started her career in a sheriff’s department working to pay for a double college degree in biology and chemistry, with the hopes of becoming a marine biologist. Her science background led her to forensic science, while her law enforcement experience included working in death investigations as well as probation and parole. Her current career involves working with what many would consider an undesirable population: convicted male sex offenders.

Callahan works for a forensic mental health and treatment unit within a correctional facility in the state of Washington. She is also a professor at American Military University, teaching courses in forensic sciences including fingerprinting, DNA, and criminalistics.

​In addition to a full-time job and part-time teaching career, Callahan is pursuing her Ph.D. in psychology, which fosters her interest in this population of prisoners. “Working with sex offenders in a prison setting is a new challenge for me. I’ve spent my entire career in investigations and now I’m focused on helping to treat the people who have committed crimes,” she said. “The reality is that the overwhelming majority of offenders will one day be released. We’re treating them to lower their risk of recidivism, so we’re simultaneously working to protect the community as well as giving these individuals an opportunity for parole.”
 

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