THE VISION OF OPCA

The Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) works to advance public safety through the vital work of public and private agencies that comprise community corrections in New York State. OPCA is working to create a new vision for community corrections that identifies and emphasizes best practices while ensuring that community corrections professionals have the tools to implement new and more effective standards that continue New York's commitment to public safety.

OPCA is dedicated to continuing its role advising and coaching on new issues, research and tools. By responding to the events of today and planning for the needs of tomorrow, OPCA works to enhance public safety by improving data management and sharing through electronic methods, and by expanding available resources through collaboration and asset allocation. OPCA will ensure success through the following current and future priorities:

  • Integrating automated case management with risk, need and asset assessment
  • Standardizing the assessment of probationer risks and needs to ensure that community corrections services are directed to the population that poses the greatest risk to public safety
  • Improving probation case management and reporting
  • Providing technology-based technical assistance
  • Achieving a data harvest through a state-local automation effort to achieve real-time information
  • Enhancing communication among community corrections professionals and agencies
  • Promoting the use of alternatives to incarceration when consistent with public safety
  • Deploying mandated and requested training developed through research
  • Providing specialized training to address current demands:
    • Custodial/non-custodial parents involved in the criminal justice system
    • Job readiness and employment for probationers
    • Mental health services
  • Strengthening the screening and management of sex offenders
  • Promoting the coordinated criminal justice response to domestic violence
  • Providing assistance in managing DWI offenders
  • Regulatory Reform

Automation

Specific descriptions of specialized projects and programs that OPCA has initiated on behalf of probation and community corrections are well represented throughout this website.

For example, OPCA has made great strides in a decade-long, statewide effort to engineer the automation of case record management and to integrate both juvenile and adult assessment instruments. OPCA's intent is to assist probation and other community corrections professionals by ensuring that risk/needs instruments are fully integrated into management information systems that can automatically produce pre-dispositional and pre-sentence reports as well as identify services to effectuate behavioral change. When fully implemented, this automated system will enable every county to collect and report required information, share this information with other counties and transmit accurate and timely statistical data to the state so it can be analyzed and shared to influence policy development.

OPCA works to provide new technologies to practitioners. A new Integrated Probation Registrant System (IPRS) is being developed to replace the current Probation Client Data System (CDS), which provides notification to supervising probation officers of the re-arrest of probationers. Similarly, a new probation record management information system is being developed to assist large county probation departments manage their information and update vital statewide criminal justice databases. It is envisioned that this information will be accessible to probation professionals through the Probation Services Suite of New York State's central portal for criminal justice information, eJusticeNY.

Risk and Needs and the Role of Probation and ATI

Probation and community corrections professionals must assess juveniles and adults for community based services and sanctions according to risk, need, amenability to, and availability of, services designed to require certain behavioral changes, through the leverage granted to them by the Courts, other releasing authorities, and state law. Risk and needs are very much inter-related, yet not the same. Community corrections professionals know that when the needs of the individual are not identified, and dynamic risk factors not reduced, the risk to the community increases. Both must be considered to safeguard public safety.

OPCA has continued its plan to implement the use of juvenile (YASI) and adult risk and needs (COMPAS) instruments and to train probation officers and other appropriate community corrections personnel. DPCA fully intends to integrate both systems into its statewide case management systems so that assessments can assist probation officers in producing both pre-dispositional and pre-sentence reports and identify

OPCA will continue to equip community corrections personnel to assess risk and identify static and dynamic criminogenic and protective factors in juvenile and adult offenders; to apply evidence-based approaches to the highest priority population, and to advise courts and other releasing authorities on the appropriateness and specific scope of community based offender management.

The Vital Role of Probation and Community Corrections

The expertise of probation and other community corrections workers adds great value to the other important criminal justice functions: investigation, arrest, prosecution and punishment. The services delivered by probation and other alternative to incarceration programs are essential to community safety, strengthening and utilizing community corrections. The programs funded by OPCA enhance New York's criminal justice policies and offer specialized services that are supported by research including employment, training, and treatment--all of which substantially contribute to successful and longstanding outcomes. The criminal justice research and literature are clear; supervision and punishment without treatment and employment do not address the criminogenic needs that so greatly influence criminal behavior.

Probation and other community corrections programs do outstanding community-based work in crime prevention, victim protection and restitution, and in providing assistance to the courts and releasing authorities in determining appropriate dispositions and sanctions. Traditionally, the role of community corrections has been difficult to articulate because staff resources are stretched thin. As resources become leaner, community based corrections are less able to fulfill prevention roles as they must concentrate their scarce slice of the criminal justice pie on youths and adults who pose the greatest risk to public safety.

Together, OPCA, probation and alternatives to incarceration programs, as well as alternatives to placement services, will stay true to a clear community corrections vision--to improve practices that promote public safety, ensure offender accountability, provide restitution to victims and reduce recidivism.