Good intentions are only the starting place for good legislation.
Congress is currently considering the Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act of 2014, in which an estimated 34,000 federal prisoners could see a substantial reduction in their sentences. According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the bill would double the time off a sentence an inmate can earn for behaving and participating in certain programs.
The legislation is careful to exclude the worst inmates — sex offenders, violent-crime offenders, repeat offenders, organized-crime members and major fraud convicts. That leaves nonviolent, first-time offenders who have passed an assessment showing they are less likely to reoffend.
read the full article at union-bulletin.com
A felon desperate to be thrown back in prison got two knives into Detroitï's federal courthouse as part of a plan to kill his probation officer and a judge before changing his mind, according to a criminal complaint filed today.
Timothy Daniels, who has been charged in the incident, was released from state prison on Feb. 11 after spending the majority of the past 40 years in prison, according to the complaint.
Daniels said “that it was not going well and he wanted to go back to prison,” according to the complaint.
His plan to make that happen: Kill his probation officer and U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurie Michelson. Read the full article at Detroit Free Press
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the Center for Effective Public Policy are pleased to announce the release of NIC’s publication, Dosage Probation: Rethinking the Structure of Probation Sentences
This is a great introduction to a new probation strategy which links “the duration of probation supervision to the optimal amount of intervention an offender needs in order to reduce risk of reoffense”. This monograph “provides a policy and practice framework upon which this new model of supervision can be constructed. It offers a review of evidence-based approaches to reducing recidivism in our communities, the most recent research on dosage, and its applicability to sentencing and community supervision practices. It describes the model’s promise for increasing community safety through recidivism reduction, as well as achieving fiscal savings by reducing periods of supervision. Finally, the monograph offers a summary of the work of Milwaukee County’s criminal justice stakeholders as they design and conduct the nation’s first dosage probation experiment.” Sections of this publication include: introduction to the dosage model of probation; the principles of effective intervention—who we target of intervention matters (the risk principle), what we target for intervention matters (the need principle), how we intervene and interact matters (the responsivity principle), how well interventions are implemented matters, fidelity and integrity of corrections professionals’ interventions, and the relationship between early termination of supervision and recidivism; adding dosage to the equation—how much dosage is delivered matters, and further study needed; implications—the dosage probation model of supervision; and dosage probation in Milwaukee County.The document is authored by Madeline M. Carter, Principal, Center for Effective Public Policy and the Honorable Richard J. Sankovitz, Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Please click here for the full press release. The referenced document is attached.
Healthcare Not Handcuffs, Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform.
For the last 40 years, we have largely relegated health problems like substance abuse and mental health disorders to the criminal justice system. As a result, millions of people are burdened by felony convictions due to drug use, and those who cannot afford to pay for treatment have had to be locked in cells in order to get access to necessary care.
Now, we have a chance to do something new. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts to enact policy changes that promote safe and healthy communities, without excessively relying on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the War on Drugs, and which fall so disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color. Even with its challenges, the ACA sets the stage for a new health-oriented policy framework to address problems such as substance use and mental health disorders by more appropriately and effectively casting substance use and mental health disorders as matters of public health and not of criminal justice. Our task is to make the most of it.
By Ian MacDougall
Full Article at Newsweek.com
In November 2010, Steven Vargas, a federal probation officer in New York, received a call from a detective in Minnesota. Police in St. Paul had arrested 24-year-old Douglas Luke Robinette, who had confessed to producing child pornography and distributing it via email. He had shared some of that porn (Robinette's computer contained more than 18,000 images and 900 videos) with someone he knew only by an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Eight months earlier, the man with that address, Anthony Brooks, had walked out of a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan to begin a 10-year probation sentence for possessing child pornography.
The judiciary employs nearly 6,000 probation and pretrial services officers. Unlike most law enforcement officers, they police an already-identified population of accused or convicted felons. While most of them are no danger to society, a subset - like Anthony Brooks or violent offenders - pose a significant threat. And their numbers are rising. A steady wave of convicts released from federal prison has flooded the probation system in recent years - with more than 6,000 probationers added between 2010 and 2012 - and court officials expect that trend to continue in the foreseeable future. At the same time, policymakers on Capitol Hill have left federal probation offices with less and less money each year to pay for staff and programs needed to monitor this swelling population.
"I think we're at the bare bone," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick, the Southern District of New York's chief probation officer. "I'm going to have to take any resources I have next year and start trying to replace officers."
The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails - a 500% increase over the last forty years. Changes in sentencing law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and fiscal burdens on states to accommodate a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety.