Division of Criminal Justice Services

Welcome to eFocus, an electronic newsletter produced by the NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA). As part of DPCA's goal to promote public safety through probation services and other community corrections programs, it publishes this newsletter. We welcome your suggestions.

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eFocus, Issue Number 18, November 17, 2003

NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives

Sara Tullar Fasoldt, State Director

Robert Maccarone, Executive Deputy Director


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October 2003 marked the one-year anniversary of eFocus, DPCA's electronic monthly newsletter. eFocus has facilitated regular communication between DPCA, probation and community correction professionals throughout the state. I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on the important work that you do.

This year, in the face of sobering state and local budget deficits, we need to stay true to our community corrections vision. Probation and other community correction programs do wonderful community based cost-effective work in crime prevention, victim protection and restitution, and assistance to courts and releasing authorities in determining appropriate dispositions and sanctions.

The expertise of probation and other community corrections workers adds great value to the other important criminal justice functions: investigation, arrest, prosecution and punishment. The community correction role has been difficult to articulate in the past because the courts depend heavily upon your services in myriad ways. The services you deliver are very important to community safety and strengthening and utilizing community corrections. As resources become leaner, we are compelled to re-examine the many competing roles expected of Probation and community corrections.

In order for our mission to be clear, we must assess juveniles and adults for community based services and sanctions according to risk, need, amenability to, and availability of, services designed to require certain behavioral changes, through the leverage granted to us by the Courts, other releasing authorities, and state law. As you know, risk and needs are very much inter-related, yet not the same. As community correction professionals, we know that when the needs of the individual are not identified, and dynamic risk factors not reduced, the risk to the community increases. Both must be considered to safeguard public safety.

During the past year, we have moved closer to our objectives. Over the past eight years, we have continued to strive to provide an automated case management system to every county which collects required information in a similar way, so that legally authorized information can be readily shared from county to county and to guarantee that statistical data is accurately transmitted to the state. We want to enable community corrections personnel to assess risk, identify both criminogenic and protective factors in juvenile and adult offenders; to bring the evidence-based approaches to the highest priority population, and to advise courts and other releasing authorities on the appropriateness and specific scope of community based services. We believe that our state role is to support localities in making the best use of all of their staff and programmatic services, to clearly articulate the role of various community corrections agencies and to assist in the development of the expertise of each provider under our regulation and oversight.

During the past year, we have secured federal funding to develop a case management and information system for large county probation departments and have identified two pilot counties to implement the new system. We have also continued our support of PROBER and will pay for user departments to upgrade their software this year. DPCA has continued its plan to implement the use of juvenile and adult risk and needs instruments and to train probation officers and other appropriate community corrections personnel. We intend to integrate both systems into our case management systems so that assessments can drive the production of both pre-dispositional and pre-sentence reports and identify needed supervision and surveillance, as well as services.

Working collaboratively with DCJS and probation professionals, we have designed a new Probation Client Data System that will become operational during May of 2004. Every probation officer with access to eJusticeNY will be able to enter through the Probation Services suite, to update cases and in general manage data more effectively. The new eJusticeNY system will also be built to accommodate batch file input from counties that have automated systems.

These are challenging times for probation and community corrections personnel. We must work smarter and prioritize resources to the most risky and those with the greatest criminogenic needs. Public safety demands that we measure risk and need and apportion our resources to achieve the best outcomes.

DPCA thanks you for your hard work and collaboration in sharing and actualizing our mission: to assess the problem, to provide the tools, to train to the tools, and to measure the results. Only by working together can we clearly articulate our value to public safety through offender accountability, supervision, and services.

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eFocus is the property of the NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. Articles may be reprinted with attribution to the Division. For more information on any of the topics mentioned above, to report any difficulties you may have experienced receiving this email, or, if you have information you would like posted in the next issue of DPCA's eFocus, please contact Yvonne Behan at (518) 457-5275 or at yvonne.behan@dpca.state.ny.us.

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The eFocus is now distributed to well over 3000 community corrections professionals across New York State. You may receive more than one copy if your name and email address appear on different criminal justice and community corrections mailing lists. If so, please e-mail Yvonne Behan the name you would like removed from distribution.

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