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Joseph Carroll

DAY REPORTING CENTER: A LAS VEGAS SUCCESS STORY

By | Blog, Day Reporting Center, Reentry, Uncategorized | No Comments

Just a few blocks from the glitz and glamor of the Las Vegas strip sits a nondescript building. Every week hundreds of Nevadans on probation and parole come through the doors to prepare themselves to successfully re-enter the community as productive citizens.

For the past two years, the Las Vegas Day Reporting Center has operated in partnership between the Nevada Department of Public Safety Parole and Probation Division and Sentinel Offender Services. Since inception over 700 participants have participated in programs at the DRC. At any given time as many as 200 men and women are active.

Day Reporting Centers (DRC) are an important tool for community corrections.  As an alternative to incarceration and traditional parole and probation (P&P), the primary objective is to reduce recidivism; that is, to help offenders who are returning to society to stay out of jail. Probationers, referred to as ‘participants’ and not ‘offenders,’ benefit from programs that offer tools to become responsible, law-abiding citizens. The environment is more relaxed than a typical P&P office. This helps to promote personal development. What follows is a deeper relationship between the Probation and Parole Officer (PO) and the participant.

 One-stop shop

Rather than trying to juggle a schedule of meetings all across town and on different days, participants can complete nearly all ongoing requirements in one location. Centralizing the delivery of services is perhaps the most pragmatic feature of the DRC. This makes it easier to meet requirements and avoid technical violations. Technical violations can occur for a missed drug test or not attending a meeting. Just keeping track of appointments and getting around town can be a challenge for many. In a single visit, one can meet with their PO, take a drug test and attend required courses. If transportation is an issue, vouchers are available to pay for public transit.

Wrap-around services extend the value of the DRC. These are services that go a long way in helping participants stay on the path to success. Job coaching, housing assistance and securing support from the Department of Health and Human Services are available. Community partners offer 1-1 counseling onsite and a computer lab helps participants prepare for their GED. One can even acquire a new set of clothes from the onsite clothes pantry to dress for success during a job interview.

Changing behavior from the inside out

Every participant must complete Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT is a cognitive skills course that seeks to decrease recidivism with improved reasoning around criminogenic needs. Studies have shown that addressing criminogenic needs can reduce recidivism. This evidence-based program combines elements from a variety of psychological models to address moral, social, and positive behavioral topics.  Each week, more than 20 sessions of the course are offered.

Other courses that cover a wide range of topics are also available. Anger management, family and parenting, employment and education, and avoiding substance abuse are among the life skills which are taught. Participants set a custom curriculum to meet their unique needs.

Getting out of it what you put into it

Many graduates have turned their lives around. A few share their stories:

  • 2018 DRC Graduate

This program has changed my entire life. When I came here, I was homeless, I was broke, I didn’t have a job, I was sleeping in my car. I went through it all. But I was blessed to have a program to help me realize that I am somebody at the end of the day. Today I stand here in front of you as a restaurant manager. When I came here, I was nobody. If I can do it, you can do it.

“Every day, one day, one step; one day, one step; I get further and further toward my goals. It works. If you really want to change your life this is the place to come.”

  • March 2019 DRC Graduate

“I had an excuse for everything. I had to learn how to grow up…  I decided to do exactly what they tell me to do. It wasn’t always easy… Everything was a challenge… I started volunteering and ended up getting a job. I have been maintaining it and staying consistent. Consistency paid off for me.

“Be positive, keep a positive mind, speaking your world into existence… Keep believing in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything… Do what you have to do right now so you can get where you want to be. It may sound hard but take it one step at a time.”

  • September 2019 DRC Graduate

“I’m given the opportunity to show that I can shine and be the person I’m not on paper. I was skeptical and hesitant when I started the MRT program. I realized that even though we have different stories, we have the same goal in the end: to better ourselves, be someone different or go back to be the person we once were.”

Producing measurable results

Everyone who completes MRT graduates. This is a big deal. The accomplishment is celebrated with peers, PO’s, family and friends.  Individual success stories are inspiring, yet as with most government programs, anecdotal success is not enough to ensure continued funding. The overall impact of the DRC must be quantified and documented. Fortunately, the Las Vegas DRC has generated positive results in multiple ways.

An independent research study by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas concluded that the DRC can reduce recidivism among at-risk parolees and probations. According to the study, DRC participants:

  • Were less likely to abscond (than those in general probation and parole)
  • Tended to have lower new charges and violations
  • Were significantly more likely to be successfully discharged
  • Were more likely to attain and maintain employment and a residence

Bottom-line impact:   Using the DRC as an alternative to incarceration saves taxpayer money. According to officials with the Nevada Department of Public Service, the DRC has saved the state approximately $3.8 million in the first 15 months of operation.

Commitment to personal success

On September 19, 2019 the DRC celebrated the largest graduation to date. At the event, Sergeant Shaira Chandler of Nevada Probation and Parole, the sergeant over the P&P unit at the DRC, shared insight into the unique relationship the program creates with participants.

“We just witnessed participants go from down and out to become productive citizens,” said Sgt. Chandler. She continued, “I want to see success in our participants. I want to see them thriving. I want to see them be the best they can be for themselves…  Participants come in after being done with the program and say ‘I want you to know I’m doing great. I want you to know you helped me.”

 

Good for the participant, good for the taxpayer, good for the community.

The Day Reporting Center is another Las Vegas winning story.

Criminogenic Risk and Reducing Recidivism

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The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)  recently posted a description of recidivism. This included recidivism rates. The update summarizes statistics and provides useful insight. According to the report, 68% of offenders return to prison within three years. Within nine years, over 80% return to prison.

 According to Pew, twice as many people are in community corrections -4.5 million- as are in prisons and jails. Most of these folks will soon be part of the “rest” of society, about 9 out of 10 of them.  This general population of probation and parole is a revolving door of offenders going in and out of jail.  The recidivism rate is essentially flat over time, but many offenders go back to jail multiple times. This is happening while the number of people in community corrections programs has grown significantly.  The overall trend is going no where but slowly down.

Corrections agencies recognize that simply tracking and trying to keep probationers out of trouble is not enough. It is critical to help increase the chances that they will stay out of jail once they return to society.

Criminogenic Needs and Programs that Address Them

Beginning in the 1980s, research was done on how best to help offenders avoid returning to prison. Out of this research, a set of Criminogenic Needs emerged. These are risk factors or problem areas that can negatively impact the chance of reoffending.

According to several authorities in this field, including the National Institute of Health and National Council on Crime and Delinquency, there are an established “Big 8” criminogenic needs or factors:

  1. Antisocial beliefs; criminal orientation and thinking
  2. Antisocial associates or peer relationships
  3. Antisocial personality disorders and anger management
  4. Conviction history
  5. Family dysfunction, parenting and family relationships
  6. Education and employment
  7. Leisure and recreation
  8. Substance and alcohol abuse

Many organizations have successfully implemented evidence-based programs that address these risk factors head-on.  The objective of these programs is to reduce recidivism, improve reentry rates, and lower the cost of offender program management.

Sentinel Offender Services offers cognitive skills programs based on methodology proven to reduce recidivism. We have assisted several community corrections agencies in this effort. Together, we develop a custom curriculum designed to meet the needs of their specific offender population. Sentinel employees deliver end-to-end in-community programs.  Each course we deliver is built with evidence-based practices. Courses include anger management, thinking for good, parenting skills and similar.

 

NIJ Update 

Download the document or read it online below

NIJ Recidivism update.2018

 

 

The Risk:

 

Criminogenic Needs: The Risk of Returning to Prison

Getting Closer to Customers in 2019: Here we grow Again

By | Blog, Day Reporting Center, ELECTRONIC MONITORING, Reentry, Uncategorized | No Comments

Getting closer to customers is a strategic initiative for Sentinel Offender Services. We are doing this by opening new branch offices in communities across the country.  Since January we have opened three new offices. Each location allows us to deliver products, services. and community-based programs and get to know our customers on a more personalized basis.

Every Sentinel office is both identical and unique.
  • Identical because of our commitment to quality management processes that are ISO 9001:2015 Certified. Following this global standard ensures that customers will receive consistent service quality no matter where they do business with us.
  • Unique because the products, services, and programs that are delivered at each location are customized to meet the needs of the local population. Some offices only offer GPS, others installation and retrieval services, while some operate full-service Day Reporting Centers. Whatever the requirement, Sentinel customizes the offering to meet the needs of our customer.

The Riverside County office opened its doors this January in the heart of downtown Riverside, California. From this location, we serve the courts, adult probation, and the Sheriff’s Department with alcohol monitoring, GPS, RF and case management services.  The staff makes weekly visits to local county probation offices to help with any front-line issues.

In April, Fairfield, Ohio office went live! As is often the case at our customer’s request, we are co-located with our customer at the county jail. Supporting Municipal Court, Juvenile Probation and the Court of Common Pleas the Sentinel team delivers GPS tracking, installation and removal and alcohol monitoring services.

Monday, May 6, 2019 marked the grand opening of the Meriden, Connecticut office. Working with several departments in the judicial branch of the state, the office provides dispatch, inventory control services and coordinates the field service team.

Sentinel has had a business relationship with the state of Connecticut for more than 20 years. Investing in a local office allows us to build on that solid foundation. Meriden was the perfect fit, as it is centrally located with easy access to the entire state and has a good business environment.

The Sentinel team welcomed staff from several groups within the judicial branch.  At the ribbon cutting commemorating the occasion, the program director expressed his appreciation for the long-standing relationship with Sentinel and the new investment in a Connecticut office. He stated that this will help Sentinel to better understand nuances associated with traffic and locations that are likely to experience more crime.

 

Many thanks to all who attended this special event. Below are a few candid snapshots of the reception.

Sentinel Celebrates Second Chance Month 2019

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The US SenateHouse of Representatives, and the White House have all officially proclaimed April 2019 as Second Chance Month in the US.  From the White House proclamation:

“…(we call on) all Americans to commemorate this month with events and activities that raise public awareness about preventing crime and providing those who have completed their sentences an opportunity for an honest second chance.”

Partnering with the National Reentry Resource Center * and other like-minded national organizations, Sentinel Offender Services is helping to bring awareness to the importance of successful offender reentry. Second Chance Month is a time when organizations and individuals focus on the importance of helping convicted criminals to successfully reenter society. This was first observed in the United States in 2017.


 

The world of offender management has changed since we began this business over 25 years ago. Sentinel Offender Services has changed and evolved as well.  We continue to help court systems, law enforcement, and corrections agencies to serve and protect local communities and help offenders get on the path to a better life.

 

Many of our most effective programs and tools are delivered every day through local offices, Day Reporting Centers (DRC) and Community Based programs across the US.

Throughout the month of April we look forward to celebrating Second Chance Month. We will share personal successes and new tools and technologies that help offenders stay on a path to a better life.

#ReentryMatters

Second Chance Act Grant Program

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The Second Chance Act (SCA) supports state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations in their work to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people returning from state and federal prisons, local jails, and juvenile facilities. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law on April 9, 2008, SCA legislation authorizes federal grants for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) funds and administers the Second Chance Act grants. Within OJP, the Bureau of Justice Assistance awards SCA grants serving adults, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awards grants serving youth. Since 2009, more than 800 awards have been made to grantees across 49 states.

Learn about the application process here.

Research on Offender Programs and Promising Practices

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In case you missed it,  the story linked below includes excellent data on the importance of investing in community-based programs for offenders.


In remarks from June 2018, NIJ Director David B. Muhlhausen emphasizes both the importance of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) and continuing to improve results. He references several studies from the past 10 years or so.

Here is the link to the article.

Three useful takeaways:

  1. Reentry programs that reduce recidivism are more important than ever.  The federal government has invested more than $1 billion in these over the past ten years and has committed another billion over the next ten years.
  2. Program content and delivery should continually improve.  Early programs that support this initiative show some positive results, but not enough.
  3. Programs must track and report results as objectively and scientifically as possible.  This takes time but is essential to have the greatest long-term positive impact on the professional community.

Read about a current Randomized Control Trial for a Day Reporting Center program designed to reduce recidivism in this research brief completed by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in February 2019.

Research study validates early success of Day Reporting Center program from Sentinel 

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The Nevada Division of Parole and Probation, in partnership with Sentinel Offender Services, opened the first Day Reporting Center (DRC) on October 31, 2017.  Subsequently, a second DRC opened in Reno. These include classes on anger management, family values, employment preparation, GED preparation, substance abuse, and related topics.  The first class of 19 participants graduated from the DRC on May 23, 2018 (click to see an inspiring video of this event). Through March 2019, more than 155 people have graduated.

In February 2019, the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, led by Director Willam H Sousa, Ph.D., published a research brief on the DRC program operated by Sentinel. This was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted among approximately 400 program participants. The group was selected from Nevada’s probation and parole program.  The study is ongoing.

According to the brief, the primary objectives of a DRC are to:

  • Reduce recidivism among at-risk parolees and probationers
  • Provide an alternative to incarceration
  • Reduce the cost of offender management

The results of this RCT after 12 months suggest that DRCs can achieve these objectives.  Overall, DRC participants (as compared to those who did not go through the DRC):

  • Exhibited better outcomes
  • Were significantly less likely to abscond
  • Tended to have lower proportions of new charges and violations
  • Were significantly more likely to be successfully discharged
  • Were more likely to attain and maintain employment and a stable residence

The positive results of these programs thus far are driven by many factors. Many DRC graduates comment on the importance of personal interactions and personalized services and programs they receive.

State Officials are Optimistic

According to Natalie Wood, Chief of Nevada’s Department of Public Safety, Parole and Probation Division, if even one person completed the DRC and committed one less crime with one less victim it would be a success. Thus far more than 150 people have graduated. Chief Wood estimates the DRC has saved the state well over $3 million already.

 


Melissa Starr has been heavily involved with the Nevada DRC program since the very start. As Sentinel’s Vice President of Field Operations, she has seen the program evolve. She has also seen how individuals have progressed. She shares her perspective:

 “The use of progressive methods as an alternative to traditional incarceration is highly effective with stakeholders who are invested in positive outcomes. When community corrections agencies pivot from a reactive to a proactive approach, data support the idea that providing positive cognitive skills training will reduce recidivism.”

 

Sentinel Offender Services has been a leader in community-based offender management solutions for more than 25 years. We support all stakeholders – the local community, the authorities responsible for programs and the offenders who are working diligently to reenter society as positive, law-abiding citizens.

New Law Reinforces Value of Reentry Programs

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Extends benefits of 2008 law which had excellent results 

The First Step Act offers significant changes to federal sentencing laws and improvements to programs. The aim is to reduce recidivism and support the criminal justice system.

The new law builds on the Second Chance Act.  Each year, $100 million will be available through grants for programs to promote successful reentry for people returning to the community after incarceration. Programs can take many forms. Skills to support reentry and reintegration which can reduce recidivism include:

  • Personal growth programs for substance abuse, anger management, and problem resolution
  • Practical matters like budgeting, money management, and GED preparation
  • Relationship development through better parenting skills and family values
  • Employment services

Most local and state agencies are eligible to apply for funding through this federal grant program.  The National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map has information on where grantees of the Second Chance Act and other federal grant programs are located.

The  Second Chance Act has been in place for over 10 years. It has been deemed very successful.  Reentry Matters: Second Chance Act 10th Anniversary Edition recounts several success stories of programs and individuals supported by the Second Chance Act. From the introduction:

“After years of developments in thinking about the purpose and impact of incarceration, the concept of successful reentry has become a critical aspect of correctional missions to improve public safety and is now deeply entrenched in criminal justice policy and practice.

Enacted with bipartisan support, SCA helps state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations in their work to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes among people who have been in the criminal justice system. Since its passage 10 years ago, SCA has supported more than 900 grants for adult and youth reentry programs, as well as systemwide improvements to help jurisdictions better address the needs of people who are incarcerated.”

For more information about this and related topics visit The National Reentry Resource Center.

 

 

To learn about the Cognitive Skills Programs from Sentinel please visit our webpage.