Chile: Sename invierte $3 mil millones para especializar a funcionarios de justicia juvenil

El Servicio Nacional de Menores (Sename) invertirá durante este año más de 812 millones de pesos en la especialización de los funcionarios que trabajan en los centros para jóvenes infractores de ley, con el objetivo de mejorar las intervenciones socioeducativas que reciben los adolescentes en su proceso de reinserción.

Durante el primer año serán beneficiados 273 funcionarios que pertenecen a diez cargos que trabajan directamente en los procesos de intervención con los adolescentes, desde los directores de los centros hasta los educadores. También se capacitará a los encargados regionales de justicia juvenil y a los supervisores de los centros, quienes controlan y asesoran técnicamente el funcionamiento adecuado de los recintos.

Para ejecutar este proceso el Sename abrió una licitación. Las instituciones que se adjudicaron los diplomados son: Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de Santiago y Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, mientras que los cursos los ejecutará la consultora Ciclos.

La directora nacional del Sename, Marcela Labraña, explicó que “además de las horas teóricas, las instituciones capacitadoras deberán asesorar y verificar en terreno la aplicación de estos conocimientos en el trabajo cotidiano que se desarrolla en los centros” y destacó que “esta especialización tiene como uno de sus principales objetivos mejorar la reinserción social y la rehabilitación de los jóvenes que han infringido la ley”.

Sename proyecta continuar con este plan de especialización durante los años 2015 y 2016, lo que significará una inversión cercana a los tres mil millones de pesos y la capacitación total de más de 1300 funcionarios del área de justicia juvenil.

Sename invierte $3 mil millones para especializar a funcionarios de justicia juvenil | Nacional | LA TERCERA.

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CSG Justice Center Editorial: Correcting Corrections

As if school funding and mental health care didn’t generate enough concerns for next year’s Legislature, now there are dire reports about Washington’s prison system. According to the Justice Reinvestment Task Force, providing adequate prison space over the next 10 years could cost between $387 million and $481 million, which just might be the legislative equivalent of squeezing blood from a turnip.

Let’s start with what has been well-documented. In the wake of the state Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in McCleary v. Washington, lawmakers are tasked with adding roughly $3 billion in state funding for K-12 education by 2018. They spent the past two legislative sessions making a down payment on that total, but justices indicated last week that they were less than impressed with the effort thus far.

Then there is mental health care. Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled against the practice of “boarding” mental patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds. In other words, patients with mental issues no longer can be placed in regular hospital wards — often strapped in place — that don’t offer appropriate care and treatment. Last week, justices granted a 120-day stay on that ruling, allowing the state time to find alternatives rather than release patients who might be a danger to the public or to themselves. But the gist is that officials must add 145 new psychiatric beds across the state by the end of the year, and Gov. Jay Inslee already has freed up $30 million for the effort.

With those two large tasks facing the Legislature when it convenes in January, it will be understandable if the state’s prison system does not jump to the top of the priority list. And yet that system does present an issue that is likely to grow and must be addressed. The problem: As of the end of June, Washington’s Department of Corrections was housing 16,779 inmates — or 102 percent of capacity. As department secretary Bernard Warner noted, “We’ve had people sleeping on the floor in the past year,” and the department has recently been renting space in other facilities for 686 prisoners.

Part of this space crunch is a result of belt-tightening during the Great Recession; Washington closed three prisons in recent years amid budget constraints and a then-declining prison population. But whether talking about re-opening prisons or building new ones, any possible solution must consider a philosophical question: How many people do we, as a society, wish to have locked up? “I think that the state, as it tries to manage the prison population, is going to have to wrestle with whether or not building the next prison is the best way to improve public safety, or if there are some strategies out there that could be more cost-effective,” Marshall Clement, of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, told Crosscut.com.

Without a doubt, the overriding goal must be public safety. Studies have shown that felons in Washington are more likely than in most states to receive jail time rather than probation-style supervision, and the consequences must remain harsh for the most serious crimes. At the same time, there is some logic behind a national push to provide more reasonable sentencing for some crimes, particularly low-level drug offenders. As Russ Hauge, Kitsap County’s prosecuting attorney, said: “We’re really proud of Washington’s sentencing system. The people in prison have earned their way there.”

It is inevitable, however, that as the population grows, so will the number of people who earn prison time. Washington must start planning now for the future of its corrections system.

 

Editorial: Correcting Corrections – CSG Justice Center.

EEUU: North Carolina Cuts Prison Time for Probation Violators, and Costs

André Duckett, 43, had an unpleasant surprise when he came in to see his probation officer. After missing some previous appointments, he had just failed a drug test, the officer told him, and he was going to spend the next three days in jail.

He was dismayed that day in March, Mr. Duckett said. But in the end he was grateful that his violations had provoked only this sharp jolt.

A few years back, they might well have led to formal revocation of his probation, stemming from an assault conviction, and sent him to prison for months. Instead, after experiencing what officials call a “quick dip,” Mr. Duckett was able to keep his job as an electrician and, so far at least, to avoid more violations.

“It was a wake-up call that this is serious business,” Mr. Duckett said in an interview here in rural Halifax County, near the border with Virginia.

The quick dip is one of a battery of new policies, adopted in the name of “justice reinvestment,” that have helped North Carolina reverse the costly increase in prisoners, and that officials hope will help curb crime and recidivism as well.

Criminal justice officials knew that something had to give. The number of prison inmates had climbed to 41,000 by 2011, with further increases projected, even though crime was declining. The adult corrections budget had climbed to more than $1.3 billion.

As they considered their next steps, officials made a startling discovery: More than half of all prison admissions involved offenders whose probation had been revoked. And in a large majority of those cases, the offenders had not committed any serious new crime but rather had committed so-called technical violations: missed appointments, failed drug tests, failure to attend drug treatment.

“We were filling very expensive prison beds with low-level felons for technical probation violations,” said W. David Guice, the commissioner of adult corrections and juvenile justice.

As a legislator, Mr. Guice was the primary sponsor of a 2011 law that set the state in a new direction. In addition to the quick dips and a related decline in probation revocations, the new approach includes the use of 90-day jail stays, still without formal revocation, for probationers with more serious crimes; efforts to focus probation and parole supervision on offenders judged at highest risk of trouble while easing the monitoring of others; and at least some oversight and services for those re-entering society after serving prison time.

Prison admissions have declined by 21 percent in three years, to 23,000 in the year that ended June 30, 2014, down from 29,000 in 2011, according to state data. The overall prison population shrank over the same three years to 38,000, and 10 prisons have closed, although significant further declines in prisoner numbers do not appear likely. The adult corrections budget, instead of rising as once projected, has dropped by $50 million per year, officials say.

 

“North Carolina demonstrates that there are ways to increase public safety while also saving a lot of money by shrinking the prison system,” said Michael Thompson, director of the Justice Center of the nonpartisan Council of State Governments. His group helped North Carolina devise the new approach and has promoted similar measures in several states, many of which have achieved modest reductions in prison populations.

Some of the savings here are being used to hire 175 more probation and parole officers to reduce caseloads. Their jobs have been redefined to focus less on catching miscreants and more on helping probationers break the pattern of crime by mandating services like behavior therapy, while imposing brief jail stints on those who drift.

Probation and parole oversight is being focused most intensely on offenders considered most likely to commit new crimes, such as those with chronic drug addiction, mental illness or a serious criminal history. Contacts with low-risk offenders are held to a minimum, in part because research shows that intensive oversight can be counterproductive.

New efforts also aim to fight recidivism by those who do spend months or years in prison. Under “truth in sentencing” laws, most prisoners were serving out their full terms, but then going home with no parole supervision. If combined with needed treatment or other assistance, supervision can reduce the chance of new crimes, research suggests.

North Carolina’s answer has not been to shorten sentences, which seemed politically impossible, but to add at least nine months of mandatory parole to existing sentences for some felonies, ensuring that every departing convict has some time under supervision.

Compromises like that have led to criticism from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sentencing Project as well as from some independent criminal justice experts. The policy changes here and in other states that are pursuing justice reinvestment, while mostly useful, do not go nearly far enough to curb the toll that high incarceration is inflicting on society, these critics say.

In this view, more politically contentious steps to curb lengthy drug and other mandatory sentences will also be essential to achieve a large drop in prisoners. The critics also lament that more of the funds saved by closing prisons are not being redirected to poor and minority populations for social programs.

“There’s a consensus among criminologists that our exceptionally high incarceration rates have become problems in and of themselves,” said Todd R. Clear, an expert on criminal justice and provost of Rutgers University-Newark, who calls himself a “friendly critic” of justice reinvestment programs so far. While reducing probation revocations can provide quick gains, he said, they are limited and “low compared to what we could achieve with changes in sentencing.”

But officials in North Carolina may have pushed to the edges of the politically possible.

The new system, while not easing criminal penalties, does allow probation officers to give offenders a second chance, and even a third.

Kourtnie James served time on felony firearms, drug and credit-card-theft charges, and he is now at his home in rural Enfield, under three years of supervision.

Twice since his release, after failing drug tests, missing required therapy and failing to pay restitution, he was reimprisoned for 90-day periods under the new “confinement in response to violation” policy, or C.R.V., as ordered by a judge.

He knows he is now on very thin ice.

At the house among soybean fields he shares with his stepfather, Mr. James recently admitted that “I wasn’t thinking” when he courted revocation by using drugs, but he said he was now determined to attend welding school.

“I’m 23, and I’ve been in prison three times, around guys who’ve been in there for 20 or 30 years,” he said. “I don’t want to end up like that.”

A major weakness of the C.R.V. program, colloquially known as “the dunk” among corrections officials, is that offenders usually spend their 90 days sitting idly in cells.

As a next step in reinvesting its savings, the state plans to create two residential facilities for those receiving 90-day warning stints, said Anne L. Precythe, the director of community corrections.

The facilities will have probation officers on site and provide cognitive therapy and other services, Ms. Precythe said. “That will help show the value of C.R.V.,” she said.

North Carolina Cuts Prison Time for Probation Violators, and Costs – CSG Justice Center.

EEUU: Pennsylvania Works to Improve Parole Supervision for People with Mental Disorders

Approximately 45 percent of the parole population for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is estimated to have a current or past mental disorder, ranging from depression to schizophrenia. Effective supervision of individuals with mental disorders requires parole agents respond to the unique needs of this population, yet few parole agents receive training intended to teach these skills. In order to address this gap, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole brought together parole agents from across the state for a daylong workshop intended to improve the supervision of individuals with mental disorders.

In Pennsylvania, many district offices now have specialized parole caseloads made up exclusively of individuals with mental disorders (known as mental health caseloads). The level of knowledge and experience the Board’s parole agents have regarding mental disorders varies by district and by agent. Although many of the agents who supervise individuals with mental disorders were not hired specifically to work with this population, the Board has been providing support to agents to address these individuals’ distinct needs.

Along with an up-to-date primer on mental health issues that is provided during the Board’s Basic Training Academy, the Board and the state Department of Corrections work closely on cases that involve individuals with mental disorders. Director of Special Services and Community Outreach Melissa Repsher—who has experience providing reentry services for individuals with mental disorders and was a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness/Forensic Interagency Task Force—emphasized the need to provide uniform training for all parole agents who carry mental health caseloads.

“Like any profession, parole agents need tools to be successful,” she said. “They need to build their skills to have a fuller understanding of behavioral health disorders, and be knowledgeable of changes to mental health laws that impact law enforcement.”

At the Board’s request, in December 2013, the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center)—which spearheaded Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative—prepared a one-day workshop for parole agents and supervisors who work with parolees with mental disorders. The six-hour workshop, presented by CSG Justice Center Senior Policy Analyst Bree Derrick and Program Director Beth Skinner, provided education on common mental health diagnoses and behaviors, effective supervision and intervention strategies, de-escalation techniques, and the risks of vicarious trauma for staff.

Prior to the workshop, parole agents were surveyed on their knowledge and experience regarding mental health issues. The survey found that only 12 percent of agents were specifically hired to supervise individuals with mental health needs, but almost two-thirds had some prior work experience with people with chronic mental disorders involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, 40 percent of respondents reported they had been provided introductory training around mental health prior to carrying a mental health caseload, 30 percent had received additional training by the Board, and 41 percent received outside training. Only 35 percent had some exposure to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

“I was expecting the results [we received],” said Ms. Repsher. “We have no policy, no limit on caseload size, we don’t calculate the workload at a higher level, and we need more training.” The workshop provided a venue, she said, for agents across the state to come together to discuss their experiences, challenges, and needs. “[It] validated them and provided valuable guidance to know what to do.”

The workshop also explained Pennsylvania’s behavioral health system. Agents gained more knowledge about different types of mental disorders and when symptoms such as anxiety, emotional highs and lows, or difficulty processing and recalling information cross a threshold to become classified as a “disorder.” They were also instructed on diagnoses and behaviors based on the APA’s DSM-5, received extensive information on the risk-needs-responsivity (RNR) model, and the principles of effective case planning and understanding behavioral change.

Participants also received guidance on how to protect themselves from trauma caused by exposure to the trauma of others. Awareness of the need for self-care is critical in these situations, as vicarious trauma is not just work-related stress or burnout. Participants learned how each agent’s personal history of trauma, coping skills, support network, and other protective factors determines how repeated exposure to trauma could impact him or her.

As a result of the workshop, recommendations were developed to enhance public safety and assist the Board with adhering to evidence-based practices, which include developing a specialized mental health caseload in each district and recruiting agents who have an interest in working with this special population; providing regular training for working a mental health caseload; establishing clear criteria for referring an individual to a specialized mental health caseload; creating mechanisms for agents to work with community-based clinical treatment staff; and improving information sharing.

Pennsylvania Works to Improve Parole Supervision for People with Mental Disorders – CSG Justice Center.

EEUU: AG Eric Holder’s Keynote for Shifting Law Enforcement Goals to ​Reduce Mass Incarceration

 

NEW YORK—U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised the Justice Reinvestment Initiative on Tuesday for encouraging a science- and data-driven approach to criminal justice and announced new funding that will further those efforts in select states.

“Thanks to bipartisan support from Congress, funding for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative has more than quadrupled this year,” Holder said during a speech to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “That, on its own, is an extraordinary indication of the power and importance of this work.”

Holder noted recent studies showing how Justice Reinvestment saves states money and reduces recidivism, and he announced three sets of grants “designed to incentivize states to take the next major step in their reform efforts.”

Five states—Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Oregon—will receive Justice Department grants to “expand pre-trial reforms, to scale up swift and certain sanctions,” and to put in place “evidence-based parole practices.” In addition, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Vermont will receive $1 million each under the Second Chance Act to put toward reducing recidivism (states that make progress will be eligible to receive $2 million more over the next two years).

Holder also announced the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will provide $7 million in Second Chance Act funds to bolster reentry programs for juveniles. An additional $1.8 million will go to a new Juvenile Reentry Legal Assistance Program managed jointly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The CSG Justice Center has launched Justice Reinvestment projects in 21 states to date, helping each state design and implement its own reforms. Through the National Reentry Resource Center, the CSG Justice Center also provides technical assistance to states to help them implement their Second Chance Act-funded programs.

AG Eric Holder’s Keynote for Shifting Law Enforcement Goals to ​Reduce Mass Incarceration – YouTube.

EEUU: Alabama State Senator indicates “Strengthen Alternative Sentencing, Fight Drug Epidemic to Reduce Prison Overcrowding”

State Sen. Cam Ward, the chairman of the Prison Reform Task Force, said the state needs to strengthen its alternative sentencing and fight a “drug epidemic” to reduce prison overcrowding, the Shelby County Reporter reported.

According to the report, Ward made the remarks following the Council of State Governments Justice Center board of directors meeting earlier this month in Memphis, Tenn.

Ward, R-Alabastar, worked with the group to discuss lowering recidivism rates, improving police response to people with mental illness, and reducing school suspension as a form of discipline. Additionally, board members examined issues related to hiring people with criminal records and improving data gathering in juvenile justice systems.

“The CSG Justice Center remains at the forefront of advancing data-driven, consensus-based approaches to increasing public safety,” Ward said. “Because of their research and analysis, Alabama was able to launch a dialogue about the criminal justice system in our state with a true eye toward justice reinvestment legislation.”

Alabama State Senator: Strengthen Alternative Sentencing, Fight Drug epidemic to Reduce Prison Overcrowding – CSG Justice Center.

EEUU: Idaho’s Justice Reinvestment Approach

Faced with one of the fastest-growing state prison populations in the nation, Idaho leaders pursued justice reinvestment. After extensive analyses identified key challenges in the state’s criminal justice system, policymakers developed a policy framework designed to strengthen probation and parole, structure parole decision making, and measure recidivism-reduction efforts. Justice reinvestment legislation was enacted in March 2014 and the state is projected to avert between $221 and $288 million in construction and operating costs by FY2019.

To download the report, click here.

Idaho’s Justice Reinvestment Approach – CSG Justice Center.