Legislative Updates 2021


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Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance Announce the Release of Probation Revocation Reports from 10 Jurisdictions to Guide Reform

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Arnold Ventures on 07/01/2021 by Arnold Ventures

Today, Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) announced the release of action research reports from the 10 jurisdictions selected to participate in the Reducing Revocations Challenge: Cook County, IL; Denver, CO; Harris County, TX; Monroe County; IN; Niagara County, NY; Pima County, AZ; Pulaski County, AK; Ramsey County, MN; Santa Cruz County, CA; and Spokane, WA. The Challenge is a national initiative dedicated to transforming probation supervision to improve client outcomes and reduce unnecessary incarceration. The Challenge was launched in response to the growing recognition that revocations from supervision are a major contributor to mass incarceration, responsible for almost half of state prison admissions nationwide, and reform is urgently needed.

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The Vaccine and Its Impact on Court Operations

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Indiana Court Times on 06/28/2021 by Heather Falks

We finally made it to 2021…and COVID-19 is still here. We all hoped it would feel more familiar—but not in the sense that we are getting used to stockpiling sanitizer and masks. Unfortunately, the concerns of 2020 have not fully dissipated, but the widespread availability of a vaccine gives us hope that our old normal is on the horizon, and many are eager to receive the shot. Although, the vaccine does not immediately eliminate the threat of the virus; it provides a glimpse into what is to come. We must remain diligent in protecting ourselves and our coworkers from COVID-19.

The vaccine has received emergency-use-only authorization. Emergency authorization requires that anyone receiving the vaccine acknowledges they are doing so voluntarily. Vaccines with this kind of authorization cannot be mandated by employers, which includes courts.

$12M OK’d For Design Work On Rebuild Of NW Indiana Prison

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Indiana Public Media on 06/27/2021 by Associated Press

The State Budget Committee has approved spending $12 million for engineering and design work on a planned $400 million rebuild of a deteriorating state prison in northwest Indiana.

The budget committee approved the funding Wednesday for the Indiana Department of Correction to begin architectural and engineering design work at the Westville Correctional Facility, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

DOC officials said nearly all of the 76-year-old prison will be demolished and rebuilt on the 117-acre property, including inmate housing, administration, programming and treatment facilities.

He Lost Nearly Everything To Addiction. Then An Arrest Changed His Life

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NPR on 06/19/2021 by Martha Bebinger

Heroin started rewiring and taking control of Will’s brain in the early 2000s, as he turned 40.

“Back then, if you used drugs people didn’t want anything to do with you,” Will recalls. “People gave up on me.”

Will lost almost everything: jobs, his driver’s license, his car, his marriage and his home. He found enough temporary work to pay rent on a room, ate at soup kitchens, and stole and resold goods for cash.

“Feeding that addiction,” he says. “Feeding that monster.”

We’re only using Will’s first name because future landlords or employers might not take him based on his record.

The game changer

One morning almost three years ago, with no heroin and no money to buy any, Will went into withdrawal. This former basketball player, once in top shape, dragged himself down the street searching for a deal. He had some crack that he could sell. The buyer was an undercover cop.

“That was the game changer,” Will says.

Instead of prison, Will was sent to a daily probation program in Massachusetts called Community Corrections.

Post-Pandemic, There’s No Excuse: America Must Modernize Its Justice System

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CEO World Magazine on 5/6/2021 by Michael Hirschman

In the midst of a pandemic that has undoubtedly unleashed trauma and tragedy across our nation, we have seen our fellow citizens meet this tremendous challenge head-on — responding with courage, resilience and a particular type of ingenuity that is truly American.

With the help of technology, we’ve rapidly changed our habits, and businesses have swiftly transformed their operations. From remote working to grocery delivery, we’ve realized that we may never go back to doing it the old way.

For too many counties in America, our community supervision system is still operating as if it’s 1995. Nowhere should the “old way” be reexamined more than how we manage corrections and community supervision in America.

It’s an industry that has an enormous opportunity to modernize while buffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – at a time when people are looking for an apolitical, common sense approach to criminal justice reform. By adopting technology-enabled solutions, agencies can dramatically improve millions of lives and save billions of tax dollars.

Feeling reentry anxiety? Expert advice on navigating COVID-19 reopenings

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Lake County News on 5/25/2021 by Brandon R. Reynolds

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue, and cities and states move toward full reopening, many people are feeling reentry anxiety — an uneasiness about returning to the old normal of schools and offices, hugs and handshakes, and social gatherings large and small.

The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are experiencing the highest levels of stress since April 2020, and that half of surveyed adults are uneasy about returning to in-person interactions. It’s as if each of us, having spent the last year adrift in space, alone or in our small pods, now has to navigate a reentry into coexistence.

“Reentering the busy world will be a new type of stress, because we’re not used to it anymore,” said Elissa Epel, PhD, professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry. “It simply has a lot of challenges embedded into it: being in traffic, getting to work on time, parking, managing family schedules, and having social interactions all day. Those are the small things that can add up to leave you feeling overstimulated or exhausted, making it an unpleasant transition.”

There’s no right or wrong way to handle reentry, but mental health experts offer some advice: communicate your needs, go at your own pace, and think of the changes as a way to build resilience.

The Role of Probation and Parole in Making Housing a Priority for People with Behavioral Health Needs

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Justice Canter

Safe, affordable, and permanent housing is widely recognized as one of the most crucial components of successful reentry. But finding permanent housing is often a challenge for people leaving prison or jail, particularly people with behavioral health needs who experience higher rates of homelessness compared to the general population and often cycle between shelters, jails, and psychiatric institutions. Parole and probation officers are well positioned to help people with behavioral health needs obtain safe and affordable housing as they reenter the community. But these officers cannot do it alone; by collaborating with homelessness system providers, they can help their clients achieve positive outcomes and make housing a reentry priority.

‘End Mass Supervision’: Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Moves to Reduce Reliance on Probation, Parole

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NBC Philadelphia by 3/21/2021

The new policy directs assistant district attorneys to seek community supervision terms averaging 18 months, with a cap of three years, for people who have already been sentenced to prison for a felony

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is focusing on a new set of priorities heading into his second year in office — ending the number of people on probation and parole.

His new guidelines, unveiled Thursday, echoed similar changes enacted during Krasner’s first year. His office is already seeking shorter sentences and moving away from cash bail for low-level offenses.

“When people are supervised for too long, they tend to fail,” Krasner said. “They lose their jobs, they commit new crimes and we don’t need new crimes.”



To End The HIV Epidemic, Implement Proven HIV Prevention Strategies In The Criminal Justice System

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Health Affairs Blog on 5/26/2021 by Daniel Teixeira da Silva, Chethan Bachireddy

Criminal justice-involved populations are disproportionately affected by HIV. In the US, one in seven people living with HIV leaves a correctional facility each year. Marginalized populations are at increased risk of both HIV infection and incarceration, and this dual risk is amplified among communities of color.

The 2021–2025 HIV National Strategic Plan—released in January 2021 by the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—recognizes the overarching impact of the criminal justice system on the HIV epidemic and includes objectives to increase the capacity of correctional settings to diagnose and treat HIV. However, the plan overlooks the role of HIV prevention strategies within correctional settings. Two such evidence-based strategies—medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—are the focus of this blog post.

When Will Virtual Reality Be a Reality for Community Corrections? Part 2

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APPA Connect on 6/3/2021 by Joe Russo

In a previous blog we outlined a brief history of virtual reality (VR) and its origins in the gaming and entertainment industries. In this blog we will describe several “real world” applications of VR including military, corporate, therapeutic, law enforcement, and institutional corrections settings. In the next blog we will explore specific ways that VR can be leveraged to support the community corrections mission.
As VR technology has advanced and become more accessible, its use has expanded well beyond the entertainment and high-end gaming sectors into a wide variety of fields such as education, healthcare, communications, and engineering. As we’ll discuss, VR is also making in-roads into the justice system. Many applications are related to training and skill development, and VR offers significant advantages. For example, VR powered scenarios allow the participant to learn and practice skills that are not easily accomplished in the “real-world” because of safety or logistical issues (e.g., surgery, flight simulation, emergency response). VR can also reduce costs associated with gathering a group of people together for in-person training; VR training can occur anywhere.  Further, VR allows the opportunity to repeat exercises at the participant’s own pace, and scenarios can be developed with increasing difficulty to challenge the participant. Finally, VR offers the unique ability for the participant to take on the role of another person in a scenario, which can help develop empathy and lead to achievement of desired outcomes.

A Case for Better Funding of California’s Community Alternatives to Juvenile Detention and Probation

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Juvenile Justice Information Exchange on 6/1/2021 by Emma Knight


Supporters of the juvenile justice status quo wrongly claim that community-based organizations are not yet strong enough to serve all youth who may otherwise cycle through juvenile courts, detention centers and on and off parole rosters. Ideally, opponents to reform say, youth would be served by nonprofits close to home, but that cannot happen until enough suitable nonprofits are available. This line of thinking ignores the community-based direct services already offered in many areas, from life coaching in Oakland to legal support in Los Angeles. Failing to adequately support these existing community services keeps us stuck in a cycle of waiting.

Instead of waiting for community-based organizations to grow above and beyond their present capacities, how about we actually do the work required for their growth?

In California, the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act began in 2000 to provide counties with flexible grant funding for community-based youth services, with the overall goal of reducing youth involvement in the juvenile justice system. Since that act’s implementation, counties have generally received more than $100 million each year toward meeting its mandates. In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the allotment amounted to a whopping $167 million. Nevertheless, these mounting funds have primarily been used to fund law enforcement, specifically probation departments, with comparatively little spent on community-based organizations.

Colorado Job Opportunity: Chief US Probation Officer

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The United States Probation Office for the District of Colorado is accepting applications for the position of Chief U.S. Probation Officer to succeed the incumbent who is retiring on December 31, 2021. This is a full-time permanent, highly visible executive position. The selected candidate will be expected to provide strong leadership to the hard-working Probation staff.

Open until filled; Preference given to those who apply by June 30, 2021.

More information in a PDF document


Justice Partners Addictions Response Grants Available

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Indiana Office of Court Services on 06/16/2021 by Diane Haver

Don’t miss out on $60,000 grant! In partnership with the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, IOCS is offering a $60,000 grant to every county for the opportunity to enhance collaborative partnerships between the local criminal justice system and behavioral health care providers to address Opioid Use Disorders/Substance Use Disorders. Applications for grant funds are now available for all 92 counties and are open through July 12. Contact Diane Haver with questions.

See the Possibilities & Inspire Change: We See More Than

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U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office by U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office

As part of our efforts to encourage healing and build trust within our respective communities, the U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office, for the Districts of Minnesota, Northern Ohio and Western Michigan joined to highlight how equity, diversity, and inclusion are engrained in our organizational cultures.  Collectively and with the assistance of outstanding staff, we produced this local video presentation, entitled “We See More Than,” to showcase who we are and our respective organizational values which include equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“We See More Than” represents a small fraction of how the U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office can help change the narrative with respect to embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion both from within and for persons under supervision.  It remains our commitment to expound upon this critical conversation, as we are equally responsible for how the community envision our efforts towards the fair administration of justice.  We hope you find some use of our video, with respect to encouraging equity, diversity, and inclusion.

 U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Office

(Also see this similar video: https://youtu.be/lL9ggG-mYoY)