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Old 07-31-2004, 11:49 AM
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Kathy Kathy is offline
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Effectively supervising parolees requires parole agents to have a balance of skills
Most agents now working in parole were hired and trained when the department’s focus was on surveillance and detection of criminal behavior. This focus was reinforced by department training, which included arrest procedures and use of force. The department provides no training in casework issues, such as patterns of recovery from drug addiction or mental illness and its impact on relapse.

Furthermore, hiring practices and requirements impede hiring individuals with social services background. Agents are rarely hired from social service disciplines, such as child protection agencies, treatment programs, or even probation, largely because of the lengthy background investigations required of applicants not already employed as peace officers by the department. It can take up to a year to hire an individual from other disciplines such as social services or probation, whereas current department correctional officers can be hired almost immediately. This is because correctional officers seeking parole agent positions have already gone through a Department of Corrections background investigation, so the investigator need only examine the period in the applicant’s career subsequent to the original background investigation. To hire an applicant from outside the department, conversely, the investigation must start from scratch—a time-consuming process. Consequently, most new agents are chosen from the prison correctional officer ranks. To develop a more balanced force of parole agents who bring a combination of law enforcement and social work skills to parole operations, the new Department of Correctional Services should remedy these hiring barriers and provide on-going training in social service skills to its parole agents.

Recommendations
To improve parole operations the new Department of Correctional Services should take the following actions:


Continue implementation of the Department of Corrections new parole model.
Consider the use of private contractors to provide specific kinds of treatment in secure facilities designed to maintain the parolee in the community.
Begin preparation for re-entry when the offender enters prison.
Increase the number of substance abuse treatment beds in prison.
Increase the number of substance abuse treatment beds in the community by increasing funding for programs that are proven successful. This could include halfway back, Substance Abuse Treatment Control Unit, or other communitybased facilities.
Use the needs and risk assessment tool when the inmate first enters prison and design a programming plan that addresses those needs.
Discharge parolees who are determined to be very low risk from parole three months after they are released from prison.
Consider the use of global positioning satellite tracking for certain high-risk offenders.
Allow both high- and low-risk parolees to participate in treatment and training programs.
Add a quality control feature to the new parole model programs to measure effectiveness.
Increase focus on casework skills when recruiting new agents and in agent training.
Develop a comprehensive data collection and analysis system that measures the effectiveness of the department’s parole programs. This system must also link with other department data analysis systems.

Fiscal Impact

The Little Hoover Commission estimated that changes outlined in the commission’s November 2003 report on parole could save the department $151 million by reducing the percentage of parole violators returned to prison. The commission further estimated that an additional $300 million could be saved by reducing the length of revocation sentences for “low end” offenders from an average of 140 days to 100 days.[72] The Department of Corrections has estimated that the new model will reduce the parolee return to prison rate by 5 percent in 2004.[73] Already, as agents seek alternatives to incarceration, there has been a decrease of 5,765 parolees in prison for violations from January 2003 to January 2004 as compared to the same period a year earlier.

Many of the recommendations of the Corrections Independent Review Panel require an initial investment, but are designed to save money in the future as they increase inmates’ chances for success on parole.

The Corrections Independent Review Panel estimates the following savings would occur from implementation of the recommendations presented in this report:

• Early discharge from parole – after 3 months of successful parole

Fiscal Year 2004-05 - $10 million
Fiscal Year 2005-06 - $39 million
Fiscal Year 2006-07 - $44 million
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