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 36, June 6, 2005
NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives
Sara Tullar Fasoldt, State Director
Robert Maccarone, Executive Deputy Director
Yvonne J. Behan, Editor
Visit the DPCA website at http://www.dpca.state.ny.us

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In this Issue…Farewell!

As many of you know, I have retired from New York State, and am currently driving across the country, with my geriatric dog in the back seat, for a move to the west coast. There I will overlook the ocean, be within a few hours drive of my children and five grandchildren and begin a new chapter in my criminal justice career as the Corrections Director in Clatsop County, Oregon.

My last eFocus communication to you from DPCA is a bittersweet event. Thanks to all of you for your gestures of kindness and affirmation. For the many lunches, dinners, plaques, flowers, calls, cards and emails, I thank you. For your continued work in our field, in agencies across New York State -- which feels thankless much of the time --please remember that you are touching and changing many lives. I commend you.

Over the last 6 six years, we have worked very hard together to achieve and surpass our goals. We have supported the State’s criminal justice mission toward making New York the safest state in the nation. Your contributions are dramatic, measurable and provide immediate results. I have so many examples of the successes reached by probation and community corrections over the last few years. These successes have been both challenging and rewarding. I attempt to remind and commend you here with mention of just a few.

Sharing accurate, up-to-date information among criminal justice agencies is a priority and a necessity for public safety. Through our collaborative efforts we continue 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 data is accurately transmitted to the state.

Working collaboratively with DCJS and probation professionals, we designed a new Integrated Probation Registrant System (IPRS). Every probation officer with access to eJustice will be able to enter through the Probation Services portal, to update cases and manage the information more effectively. And the newly updated and redesigned Probation Services Suite of eJusticeNY provides access to documents, forms, reports and other information of interest to probation practitioners across New York State. This Suite represents the value of collaboration which is necessary to enhance public safety.

As you know, risk management and risk reduction are two very important components of public safety. To this end, we sought to move toward the use of risk/needs assessment instruments. With your help and determination we implemented uniform assessment instruments such as the Youth Assessment Screening Instrument (YASI) in 48 counties and the adult assessment, COMPAS, in 26 counties in New York State. As a result, today probation officers are better equipped to measure the progress of offenders in meeting their supervision goals and holding offenders accountable for their behavior. Thank you for your contribution to this effort.

We acknowledge that Probation is the most frequently used disposition for sex offenders in New York State. In 2004, DPCA implemented the Sex Offender Address Confirmation initiative. We worked intensively with the State’s 58 probation departments in ensuring that the addresses of the 3300 sex offender probationers listed on the State’s Sex Offender Registry (SOR) were correct. As reported, time and time again to you in our eFocus newsletter, this initiative has been very successful and perhaps life saving as well. I thank you for your commitment.

Probation and Community Corrections programs in New York State should be commended for their creative and effective use of federal TANF dollars. Last year, the state dedicated $4 million for alternative to incarceration programs enabling us to reach out to hard to serve criminal justice involved populations on important issues concerning employment, family reunification and fatherhood programs with the goal of increasing self-sufficiency and decreasing dependence on government support. This year, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Project for Community Corrections Programs will present awards totaling up to $3.7 million. TANF for Community Corrections Programs are helping to improve the lives of a population most difficult to serve. Most of all, recidivism rates will be affected and so will the lives of children and families in New York State. I applaud you.

Together, we have also worked on behalf of the victims of domestic violence. In accordance with the Governor’s commitment to eradicate domestic violence in New York State, we worked collaboratively with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) and the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) to implement the federally funded Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies Grant Program (GTEAP). Last year, DPCA issued two specialized practice guides for probation professionals—the Domestic Violence Investigation and Supervision Packages. Through the GTEAP, DPCA and probation departments developed specialized domestic violence probation officers or probation domestic violence liaisons (PDVL’s) in each county who are specially trained in the use of these specialized probation practice guides. In addition, DPCA with its partners has developed a specialized Domestic Violence Curriculum that will be made available to all probation departments in New York State. Thank you for your dedication and assistance in this matter.

Also, with your help, DPCA partnered with state and local agencies to develop and fund specialized programs for those individuals involved in the criminal justice system who have serious and persistent mental illnesses. As we strive to promote public safety first and foremost, we support this type of programming which assists in reducing recidivism compassionately. The programs created as Shared Services: Alternatives to Incarceration Program for Defendants and Offenders with Mental Illnesses are a strong example of our work that demonstrates progress and addresses current public demands. I am sure you are as proud of this effort as I am.

And DPCA joins with you in regarding training as one of the fundamental cornerstones of the probation profession. The importance of comprehensive and effective training for community corrections practitioners cannot be overemphasized. I came to DPCA in 1999 after many years of public service in three county probation departments, at a time when the Probation academy had been discontinued, budget cuts had reduced the agency size significantly, and many senior staff had taken advantage of an early retirement incentive and/or faced lay-offs. However, with your cooperation and support we have shared the responsibility of providing Fundamentals training and DPCA is committed, as are you, to provide continuous improvement.

The June 2005 delivery of Fundamentals of Probation Practice, is a result and example of that shared commitment. We worked collaboratively with representatives of the Council of Probation Administrators (COPA), the Probation Officer’s Association (POA) and the NYS Probation Training Committee to provide a new Fundamentals training program that is evidence-based, timely and in keeping with the best thinking in the field of community corrections today. I ask that you remain committed and continue with this process of providing a training that is current and addresses the forever changing and important needs of Probation.

During the five years that I have been State Director of DPCA, I have been dedicated to providing as much training and professional development as possible. We have explored and initiated many new methods including the creation and distribution of this eFocus newsletter which is published every 3 weeks to well over 3500 criminal justice professionals. We have held numerous audio and visual teleconferences and you have been provided with subject specific educational CDs on various probation and community corrections related topics.

While these have been challenging times for probation and community corrections personnel, they have also been very responsive times. I truly thank you for your hard work and dedication. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked in New York in this field that provides us challenges to face and conquer every day.

Probation agencies and the world of the alternatives programs continue to be a vibrant, vital workplace. Both are saving lives, protecting lives and restoring lives. I also want to salute and thank the small band of consummate professionals working at DPCA. I have worked in many organizations in my nearly 34 year community corrections career, and I have been mentored, encouraged, and affirmed by many people and I am very proud of our Profession.

So I bid you farewell. Godspeed! Keep in touch! Barb Flanigan has all of my contact information, if you want to reach me.

Sara

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eFocus is the property of DPCA. 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) 485-5157 or at yvonne.behan@dpca.state.ny.us. 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 at Yvonne.behan@dpca.state.ny.us the name you would like removed from distribution.

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