The Evidence-Based Human Services Organization

Interview with Kim Scorza, CEO, Seasons Center for Behavioral Health

1. Can you summarize the work of your agency, in terms of the target population served, geographic area, and types of services provided

Seasons Center is a comprehensive behavioral health center offering a broad range of services to the people and communities in Northwest Iowa since 1959. The primary service area for Seasons is nine counties in rural northwest Iowa:  Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, and Sioux. In July 2016, Seasons was awarded a new contract to provide services for victims of crime, expanding the service area to include an additional ten counties: Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Crawford, Ida, Monona, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, and Woodbury. In August 2016, Seasons opened an office in Sioux City (Woodbury County).  At the beginning of 2016-2017, Seasons began providing school-based services at the Cherokee School District.

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The Evidence-Based Justice Services Organization

Prioritizing Untested Sexual Assault Kits

Interview with John Keene, Chief Probation Officer, San Mateo County Probation Department 

1. Can you summarize the work of your agency, in terms of the target population served, geographic area, and types of services provided

The San Mateo County Probation Department has the honor of serving the citizens of San Mateo County, California by providing services to individuals placed on supervision by the Superior Court of San Mateo County. Our mission is to enhance community safety, reduce crime, and assist the victims of crime through offender accountability and rehabilitation. To achieve our mission we provide a variety of direct services to offenders as well as through contracts with community based organizations and other governmental agencies.

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What’s Promising in Prisoner Reentry?

Meredith Emigh, University of New Haven

Approximately 90-95% of prisoners eventually will be released to return to the community; this equates to more than 700,000 released prisoners each year in the United States (Morani, Wiloff, Linhorst, & Bratton, 2011). Due to shifting priorities in the criminal justice system since the 1970s, not only has there been a six-fold increase in released prisoners, but they also have more and different needs than the ex-prisoners of the past (Petersilia, 2004). Prisoners of the last few decades have served longer sentences, with fewer rehabilitation programs, and are less likely to receive parole services while transitioning to the community (Petersilia, 2004).

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The Tale of 2 Healthcare Pros

Mass shootings inevitably generate the usual process reviews to determine why, and how to prevent it in the future. Then, there's of course the finger pointing and blaming. It reminds me of this tale of the 2 pros which I will now tell to you with the utmost appreciation for the challenges of your work. I also tell it with the utmost humility in hopes to encourage you.

The 2 pros went off to work. The one, a surgeon and, the other, a counselor. I will tell you the tale of the surgeon first and then the counselor’s.

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Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE): Further Evaluation of Swift and Certain Sanctions

Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement

David L. Myers, PhD, University of New Haven

In recent decades, concerns over rising prison populations, high monetary costs of secure corrections, persistent recidivism rates, and adverse impacts of incarceration strategies on families and communities have fueled efforts to develop alternative sanctions that do not compromise community safety. Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) is a community supervision program for substance abusing probationers, particularly those with longer histories of drug use and extensive involvement with the criminal justice system (Hawken, 2010; Hawken et al., 2016; Hawken & Kleiman, 2009). In contrast to many contemporary criminal justice strategies, rather than focusing on the severity of punishment as a deterrent, HOPE seeks to increase the swiftness and certainty of relatively modest sanctions. Evaluation results from HOPE research have been supportive, leading to similar approaches spreading throughout the country.

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Family Relationships and the Incarcerated Individual

Family Relationships and the Incarcerated Individual

Timothy Daty, University of New Haven

Following rising levels of incarceration in the United States, new methods to reduce recidivism within the justice system need to be developed by researchers and practitioners. When examining recidivism, the study of family relationships is often a key component in predicting repeat criminal behavior among formerly incarcerated individuals. Research suggests that strong family ties produce lasting impacts among this population and often deter future incidents of crime (Bales and Mears, 2008). 

The study of family relationships on imprisoned men and women is centralized on the premise that strong family support will be beneficial in societal reintegration, while lack of family support puts these individuals at greater risk for criminal relapse. Families provide a support that formerly incarcerated individuals are unlikely to find through other means. In addition to financial support, strong family ties can encourage men as they reenter the workforce and can have a direct impact on their future behavior.  As such, recognizing the importance of family among incarcerated people is important to the advancement of criminal justice policy and practice.  

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A Critical Review of the “Reverse Racism Effect”

A Critical Review of the “Reverse Racism Effect”

Joseph Dule, University of New Haven

A substantial body of research extending from the 1970s until present suggests that discrimination based on racial cues remains a principal cause of the disproportionate number of minorities killed by police.  Recent shootings of Black Americans have inflamed the debate over whether police officers’ racial biases affect how likely they are to use lethal force against Black suspects.   Such debates tend to assume that police officers’ implicit bias associating Black people as a probable threat will increase the chances of an officer discharging his/her weapon against them.  

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Drug Markets in Amsterdam

Drug Markets in Amsterdam

Kevin Earl, University of New Haven

The issue of what to do about the legality of drug manufacturing, trade, and use has been subjected to long-standing debate. During the 1900s, nations worldwide supported the idea of prohibition, or at least inhibition, of drugs (Bewley-Taylor, 2003; Brownstein, 2016; Inciardi, 2007; Musto, 1991, 1999; Room and Reuter, 2011). There was much discussion, however, about whether drugs should be viewed as a criminal issue or a medical issue. The United States, as well as many nations around the world, had settled on the criminalization of drugs.

On April 4, 2016, the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy wrote to Congress, calling for the rescheduling of marijuana down from a schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, in order to provide greater availability for research (Brownstein, 2016). This has not occurred, and the DEA has maintained its long-standing stance that marijuana should be a schedule 1 substance. However, this debate continues as different organizations, like the American Legion veterans group, continues to push for the removal of marijuana from its schedule 1 classification (Ingraham, 2016). The issue of drug status regarding legality, availability, manufacturing, sales, and use continues to be a contested because there is much fear associated with the use of drugs. Fear of addiction and violence continue to drive the debate (Jacques et al., 2016; MacCoun and Reuter, 2001). Jacques, Rosenfield, Wright, and van Gemert (2016) utilize empirical research to shed some light on the issue from a safety point of view.

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Prioritizing Untested Sexual Assault Kits by Victim–Offender Relationship

Prioritizing Untested Sexual Assault Kits

Jiaqi Lu, University of New Haven

Large amounts of untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) have troubled jurisdictions across the country, and debates regarding processing untested SAKs have continued for decades. SAKs are containers of biological specimens and related physical evidence collected from sexual assault crimes for DNA profiling. After collection, SAKs usually are submitted to government forensic laboratories for extraction, quantification, amplification, separation, and interpretation. As soon as a DNA profile is identified, it may be eligible for uploading to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and compared to the Convicted Offender Index and the Forensic Index. The occurrence of DNA evidence backlog has directly led to thousands of SAKs being unexamined and untested nationwide. 

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Justice Reinvestment: What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Justice Reinvestment: What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Dennis Giever, PhD, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

In 2004, Connecticut became the first state to enact justice reinvestment legislation. At that time, Connecticut had seen a 7% increase in its prison population over the prior four years. As a result of this pilot effort, the state was able to cancel a contract to build a new prison, saving the state about $30 million. Connecticut was also able to return inmates housed out of state, due to overcrowding, while reducing the recidivism rate by two percentage points. The state then reinvested $14 million of that savings into community-based crime prevention programs. These programs include mental health and addiction services, neighborhood programs, and a retooling of probation and parole services, with a focus on reducing technical violations. One million dollars also was allocated for transitional housing for people released back into the communities of New Haven and Hartford. One major goal in Connecticut was to decrease the number of probation and parole violators who were reincarcerated. To accomplish this, the state reinvested monies to increase the number of probation and parole officers working with these individuals. Justice reinvestment is a data driven, evidence-based approach to improving public safety by examining criminal justice spending and reallocating savings in a more cost effective manner to help communities and reduce crime. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) provides technical assistance to states, localities and tribal communities. The JRI is a public-private partnership between the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Pew Charitable Trust.

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