Welcome to eFocus, an electronic newsletter produced by the NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA). DPCA publishes this newsletter to further its goal of promoting public safety through probation services and other community corrections programs. We welcome your suggestions.
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eFocus, Issue Number 71, November 20, 2008
NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives
Robert M. Maccarone, State Director
Thomas H. Slater, Executive Deputy Director
William M. Schaefer, Jr., Editor
http://dpca.state.ny.us

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In this Issue:

1. Probation Directors Convene at Fifth Annual Symposium
2. DPCA Sponsors Regional NIC Training –“Thinking for a Change”
3. YASI E-Learning Provides New Tool to Juvenile Probation Officers
4. NYCOMPAS Reclassification Instrument Now Available
5. Draft Emergency Rule on Sex Offender Housing Developed with Local Probation
6. Supervisor Orientation to Fundamentals of Probation Practice held in November
7. Regional Focus Groups on NYS Model Policy for Sex Offender Management
8. Awards, Events and News
9. Quick Facts

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1. Probation Directors Convene at Fifth Annual Symposium –“Meeting the Challenges of Managing Special Populations”. State Director Robert Maccarone welcomed New York’s 58 Probation Directors to the Fifth Annual Probation Directors Symposium held October 29-31, 2008 in Queensbury, New York. This year’s program included in-depth examinations of the challenges presented in meeting the needs of victims of domestic violence, victims of all crimes and the unique issues facing persons with mental illness. Domestic Violence expert Andrew Klein presented the latest research demonstrating the effectiveness of probation intervention with domestic violence batterers, and Commissioner Michael Hogan of the State’s Office of Mental Health presented an overview of the need for collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health service agencies. The State Director presented this year’s “A Shared Vision—Safer Communities and a Safer New York State” and informed Probation Directors that New York State had become the fourth safest state and the safest of all large states in the nation. The Shared Vision included an overview of probation’s progress in implementing skill-based training for new probation officers, based on an award-winning and certified curriculum that was accredited by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) earlier this year. The Shared Vision also recounted probation’s progress in implementing standardized risk and need actuarial assessment instruments for all juvenile and adult probationers, as well as the development of Caseload Explorer—a fully automated probation case management system for probation departments. Included in the presentation, was an update on the development of the new Fundamentals of Community Corrections Curriculum, the status of the probationer/offender employment initiative—the NIC Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) Program and DPCA Rule Changes and new laws that strengthen the authority of probation officers in New York State. Deputy Secretary for Public Safety, Michael Balboni attended the Symposium on Thursday and addressed Directors at the Awards Luncheon.

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2. DPCA Sponsors Regional NIC Training in Cognitive Skills Curriculum --“Thinking for a Change” – DPCA sponsored its first regional NIC Training in the cognitive-behavioral curriculum “Thinking for a Change”. Thirty-six (36) professionals from probation, parole, community corrections, jails, and US Probation participated in this training where they were taught the skills to assist offenders change their criminal attitudes and thinking and thereby reduce recidivism. This facilitators’ training provides participants with an opportunity to take a major step forward in implementing evidence-based practices. Two of the three authors of the “Thinking for a Change” Curriculum, Drs. Juliana Taymans and John Bush provided the training, along with Peter Coffey. This 32-hour, advanced level training program prepares participants to facilitate offender groups utilizing the “Thinking for a Change (T4C)” program model. It includes cognitive-restructuring and the development of social and problem-solving skills and over 22 basic lessons with the capacity for continuing lessons to meet the particular needs of each group of participants. DPCA received 86 applications for this coveted training opportunity and selected candidates based upon the commitments of departments and agencies to implement the program.

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3. YASI E-Learning Provides New Tool to Juvenile Probation Officers – DPCA launched a new learning tool to support the statewide implementation of the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) in New York State – YASI E-Learning. This exciting new web-based training application will help quickly orient new probation officers to the methods for administering YASI. DPCA collaborated with Orbis Partners to design and host the web-based application for New York juvenile probation officers. YASI E-Learning features a variety of tools to enhance the learning experience including video, voice clips, visual tools and interactive modules. This program introduces new probation professionals to the basics of the YASI model, terminology, the “What Works” research, conducting interviews, scoring YASI, case planning concepts and guidance. This tool is easy to navigate and the content is substantive. YASI E-learning can also provide an excellent review of YASI assessment and case planning for staff that has already completed YASI training. For additional information, please contact Patricia Donohue at (518) 485-5160 or Patricia.Donohue@dpca.state.ny.us

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4. NYCOMPAS Reclassification Instrument Now Available – The NYCOMPAS Case Review Instrument was made available to all probation officers this month through the statewide web-based platform incorporated into the Integrated Justice Portal that is operated by DCJS. The web-based portal known as the NY Offender Assessment and Data Sharing Initiative (NYOADS) is now home to probation’s suite of risk and need instruments. The reclassification instrument joins the NYCOMPAS Risk and Need Instrument that is now available to probation officers. It is expected that the specialized risk and need instrument for the sex offender population (Static 99), as well as the NIC Gender Assessment, will also be added to the Suite in the coming months. Access to the reclassification or case review instrument is the same as NYCOMPAS. A navigation guide was developed that provides a step-by-step illustration of how to access and work through the new function. This helpful guide is posted on the Probation Service Suite of eJusticeNY. The new release should not change the way in which users access COMPAS through the Portal or any previous functionality of COMPAS. As always, if you experience any problems with the new Case Review feature, or any other COMPAS functions, please contact the Portal Help Desk at 1-888-462-8003 or portalhelpdesk@ejusticeny.state.ny.us.

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5. Draft Emergency Rule on Sex Offender Housing Developed with Local Probation – CHAPTER 568 of the Laws of 2008, requiring the State Director of Probation and Correctional Alternatives to promulgate rules and regulations to provide guidelines and procedures on the placement of certain sex offenders becomes effective January 23, 2009. DPCA is working with probation departments in developing our emergency regulations in this area to ensure that they are fair, reasonable and consistent with the law’s intended goal. Due to the short timeframe, DPCA quickly convened a meeting with a small working group of state and local probation professionals, including probation department representatives from Ulster, Westchester, and New York City to solicit their professional input. The draft was sent to all Probation Directors and Commissioners for review and comment in early November and will be followed by a meeting with the Council of Probation Administrators (COPA) to work towards a final emergency rule in this area. For additional information, please visit the Legal Advisories tab of the Probation Service Suite on eJusticeNY.

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6. Twenty-Five Probation Professionals Attend Supervisor Orientation to Fundamentals of Probation Practice Held in November – DPCA, along with representatives from the Council of Probation Administrators (COPA), the NYS Probation Officer’s Association (POA) and Orbis Partners have worked together to change the paradigm of probation through training, specifically the evidence-based Fundamentals of Probation Practice (FPP) training. The FPP training curriculum was accredited by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) in February of 2008. Probation Supervisors, staff development officers, senior probation officers and probation officers who serve in a mentoring role from across New York State attended the two-day orientation workshop held in Albany. This workshop has been designed to provide staff with the information and tools necessary to support and reinforce key concepts and skills learned by probation officers graduating from the FPP.

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7. Regional Focus Groups on NYS Model Policy on Sex Offender Management – The first two of ten regional focus groups held to design a model policy for sex offender management in New York State Probation were held in Ontario and Warren Counties. This development is being undertaken as part of New York State’s Comprehensive Approach to Sex Offender Management (CASOM) Grant received through the US Department of Justice. Eight more regional focus groups will be held through March of 2009. The regional forums have provided participants with in-depth information reflecting some of the excellent practices employed by probation professionals across New York State. For additional information, please contact Laura.Zeliger@dpca.state.ny.us or at (518) 457-5275.
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8. Awards, Events and News

~ Caseload Explorer Version 3.11 Financial Module Training – DPCA is sponsoring a series of Financial Module Trainings across the State over the next three months. These one-day trainings are being conducted by New York Probation professionals who have been heavily involved in the development of Caseload Explorer. Two to three individuals of each department, who have as their primary responsibilities the development and maintenance of all financial records and functions, are being trained. Due to the small number of available trainers, several departments will need to be trained at each site. Thus far, training has been scheduled in the following areas: Tioga and Jefferson Counties (Completed); Dutchess County (Completed); Herkimer County – December 1st; Ontario County – January 12; and, Warren County – January 12 or 13. Details are being forwarded to Probation Directors. Should you have any questions, please contact Walter Cogswell at (518) 485-5168 or Walter.Cogswell@dpca.state.ny.us

~ DPCA Staffer Attends NIJ Corrections Technology Institute – Ron Bergstrom, DPCA Community Corrections Representative I, was selected as one of 25 corrections professionals nationwide to participate in this year’s U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice Corrections Technology Institute presented by the Office of Science and Technology. This technology institute was held October 19th-24th in Washington, D.C. Attendees received information and assistance about existing and developing technologies and problem-solving relating to technology implementation, and exchanged technology lessons learned. Participants provided presentations on technology initiatives currently being utilized in their own work domains. For further information on the Technology Institute for Corrections, please contact Ron Bergstrom at (518) 485-9941 or Ron.Bergstrom@dpca.state.ny.us.

~ New York City Probation Launches New Case Management System – The New York City Department of Probation has just launched the Reusable Case Management System (RCMS) for the collection, processing and sharing of offender information for over 87,000 adults and 25,000 juveniles and families that pass through the department each year. The new system will allow Pre-Sentence Investigation reports to be sent electronically to the courts, city and state correctional facilities. RCMS will help the department meet its public safety goal by working smarter and faster. For a full overview of this new system, see the Special Edition of Probation Today on the NYC Probation Department website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/downloads/pdf/prob_today_spec_edition_112008.pdf

~ Livingston County Probation Collaborates with Incarcerated Education Program – Probation Supervisor Karen S. Weidman has worked with the Association of Incarcerated Education Programs for several years. Many agencies are involved with providing mandated educational services to incarcerated youth under Chapter 683 of the Laws of New York State and Part 118 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Probation coordination with these efforts is especially important in cases where the probationer is serving a split sentence. Educators/transition counselors are establishing educational programs for GEDs, college programs or vocational programs, as well as various counseling programs including anger management, health and sexuality education. One innovative effort, known as the “Toastmaster's International Club”, encourages public speaking, self confidence and research by inmates. Supervisor Weidman reports that the collaboration between probation and educators/counselors in these programs facilitates the development of better case plans that carries through to supervision in the community. For additional information, please visit the NYSAIEP website: http://www.nysaiep.org/

~ Albany County Probation Officer Facilitates First Known Arrest Under New York State’s E-Stop Legislation – In April, 2008 Governor David Paterson signed into law the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, referred to as E-Stop. Certain sex offenders must now register all internet access providers and screen names. Albany County Probation Officers have been trained in the use of Linux computer search by the New York State Police Computer Crime Unit and The National White Collar Crime Center. On August 27, 2008 PO Kristin McCabe conducted a home visit on a level 2 sex offender, who had been convicted of Sex Abuse 1st Degree, PL 130.65, D/Felony in Albany County Supreme Court and sentenced to 10 years Probation. While conducting the home visit, Officer McCabe, along with other Albany County Probation Officers, did conduct a computer search using sound forensic techniques and discovered that a evidence deleting program had been installed. The search revealed a peer sharing network called “Bear Share”, which the probationer failed to report. The investigation revealed that the offender was using the peer-to-peer file sharing network to communicate with others on the internet as recent as the day prior to the search. The offender was arrested and was charged with a Violation of E-Stop Legislation and further a Violation of Probation was filed.

~ Ulster County Probation Director Robert Sudlow Appointed to JISP Board of Directors – Robert Sudlow, Director of the Ulster County Probation Department, was just appointed to the National Criminal Justice Association, Justice Information Sharing Practitioners (JISP) Board of Directors. JISP is a national network of state and local justice and public safety integration practitioners committed to increasing the local, regional and national sharing of justice information through peer collaboration and facilitation. JISP provides a forum for centralizing and standardizing issues and solutions for integrated justice information systems embracing an enterprise-wide and national view. The JISP board of directors is comprised of ten experienced program leaders of local and state criminal justice information sharing initiatives in the United States. Together, the board shapes a forum for centralizing and standardizing issues and solutions for justice information sharing systems embracing an enterprise-wide and national view. For additional information, please visit the National Criminal Justice Association website: www.ncja.org

~ NYC Probation Commissioner Martin Horn Invited to Address the International Corrections and Prisons Association in Prague – Martin F. Horn, Commissioner of New York City Department of Probation, was invited to address the International Corrections and Prisons Association in Prague, the Czech Republic, during the 10th Annual Meeting of the organization. During his presentation, “A Decade of Lessons Learned--The Challenge of Reducing Prisoner Numbers,” Commissioner Horn highlighted the size and scope of the corrections population in the United States as well as the recent “New York Miracle” of significantly reduced crime and lower rates of incarceration. He attributed this to outcome-based initiatives that focused on developing and closely tracking new measures of success. He also reported on dramatically lowered rates of violence within the NYC Department of Corrections, which the Commissioner oversees.

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9. Quick Facts: Probation Officers solved 44 crimes through DNA collected through NYS “Subject Index”, including 6 homicides. To date, probation officers have collected nearly 80,000 samples of DNA from probationers, resulting in the resolution of over 600 crimes, including 58 homicides.

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eFocus is the property of the NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. 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 Bill Schaefer at (518) 485-5158 or Bill.Schaefer@dpca.state.ny.us.

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The eFocus is now distributed to thousands of 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 Bill Schaefer the name you would like removed from distribution.