Printer Friendly

Local/State Correctional Partnerships That Work.

It has been said that the world is getting smaller, more linked and more interdependent. In the field of corrections, our budgets are tighter and we are challenged to do more with less. Many agencies have formed partnerships to work together and share resources to their mutual benefit. American Correctional Association (ACA) President Richard Stalder has challenged us to identify correctional partnerships that work. The following presents three examples of the many successful current partnerships from various regions and levels of government.

A Jail and Prison Industrial Partnership Revisited

In 1995, Peter Terranova, warden of the Sussex County Department of Corrections (DOC), was working to develop a small jail industry program for his facility. His goal was to provide meaningful and productive work for some of his inmates at little or no expense to the county. While exploring state resources, he contacted Leonard S. Black DEPTCOR's (New Jersey's prison industry program) bureau chief in the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and this developed into an industries partnership between the two agencies.

Sussex County had inmates and was able to dedicate a small area for an industry program. What it did not have was the start-up capital for the raw materials and production machinery, a sales force, the personnel and experience for developing an industries program and overseeing production, or the many other pieces that make a program profitable and successful. The state, through DEPTCOR, had a successful industries program with more product demand than it could meet. It had extra sewing machines raw materials and the expertise to help the local jail start up and run the program.

The partnership, summarized in the 1998 ACA book, Best Practices in Corrections, has been very successful. DEPTCOR pays the Sussex County DOC on a piecework basis for its production and then sells the products through the state system. Sussex County uses the money it receives to pay for the costs of production, the salaries of the officer/instructor who runs the program and the

inmate workers.

The Sussex County jail industry partnership started in March 1996 and grossed $28,000 in its first 10 months of operation. It earned $32,700 in 1997, $49,800 in 1998 and $48,000 for the first nine months of 1999. The items produced include boxer shorts, bibs, aprons, laundry bags, coffee strainers and shower slippers, which are sold through DEPTCOR to state, county and municipal agencies. Inmates are paid between 28 cents to 58 cents per hour. Additional bonus pay is possible based on performance, perfect attendance and other factors. The number of inmates employed in the program ranges from 12 to 15.

Terranova credits the success of the program to several factors. Most important is the positive relationship between DEPTCOR and the Sussex County Jail. The program could not have succeeded without the help and support of DEPTCOR's Black. Another factor has been the management of the jail industry program at the Sussex County Jail. Many jail and prison industries programs have officers who oversee security and separate civilians who manage production. However, many of the smaller programs can not afford to pay for two staff positions. Terranova found an officer on his staff who has both excellent security and managerial abilities. This officer oversees the inmates, teaches them to sew and use the machinery and gets them to work together as a productive group, while maintaining a high level of security for the inmates and the area. This individual's ability to handle production and security have been a major factor in the success of the program.

Two other important factors are the selection and the motivation of the inmates. Because these programs often are the only paying work program in the jail, there is competition for the slots. This must be considered and used to the advantage of both the jail industries program and the jail classification and management system. Inmates must be productive to remain in the program and any disciplinary problems result in dismissal.

Sussex County's jail industries partnership with DEPTCOR is no longer unique. DEPTCOR currently is working in partnerships with Camden County, Gloucester County and Monmouth County to develop and run similar partnership programs there. Clearly, this local/state program has been successful and is expanding and growing stronger. It is an excellent example of a lowcost correctional partnership that is easy to develop and that also brings real benefits to both sides of the partnership.

North Carolina's Criminal Justice Partnership Program

Another example of a working correctional partnership is the North Carolina Criminal Justice Partnership Program. This partnership between the state and counties has brought much-needed funding to local community corrections programs while maintaining local control.

The North Carolina Department of Correction's (DOC) Division of Community Corrections is developing and implementing cutting-edge programs for offenders who are given intermediate sanctions. These programs allow counties to be autonomous; their programs are varied and depend on local needs. This new wave of community corrections programs has been funded by state grants in North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly passed the Criminal Justice Partnership Act as a companion measure to the state's Structured Sentencing Act. The Criminal Justice Partnership Act established a $12 million grant program and a system to increase dialogue about crime and punishment between the state and various local jurisdictions and agencies.

Some counties in North Carolina have chosen to establish day reporting centers, in which offenders are required to report daily and are provided a structured day of activities, including substance abuse treatment, education services, job skills training and other needed services. Day reporting center programs are by law deemed an intermediate sanction, as are intensive probation, electronic house arrest, split sentences and boot camp programs.

Nine months ago, "Mary," a female offender and mother of three children in North Carolina, received a fourth criminal conviction. The court sentenced her to a day reporting center in her county of residence as part of her probation supervision. This meant Mary had to report every day to the center for eight hours. Her day was structured with substance abuse treatment, education services, job skills training and anger management. In her words, "I either had to finish this program successfully or go to prison for 24 months. At first, I thought I couldn't do it for several reasons. However, in five months, I have completed both my GED and HRD programs ... I'm currently taking the official GED tests and I'm hoping to receive my diploma in May. I have attended substance abuse treatment and am still going to AA/NA meetings at the day reporting center, which really have assisted in my recovery program. I truly believe my life has changed for the better ... I will not leave the center exactly as I came."

As a result of these innovative programs, offenders such as Mary are provided with an opportunity to restructure their lives. Offenders are diverted from incarceration and into community corrections programs that address problems such as substance abuse, job skill development, and financial and family issues. From the community corrections perspective, offering a continuum of controls and services for selected offenders is cost-effective and promotes positive life changes. Many offenders and communities are surrounded by despair, pessimism and indifference, and most community corrections professionals recognize intermediate sanctions as the most feasible option available to offer hope for offenders and the community. Intermediate sanctions work because they address the individual needs of the offender and the collective needs of the community.

Other county programs funded by the Criminal Justice Partnership Act include satellite substance abuse treatment programs with either public or private providers, work programs, resource and education centers and beds for residential placements. These programs are treatment-oriented and are intended to enhance and supplement the supervision and control provided by probation officers.

Under the state's Structured Sentencing Law, prison is mandatory for serious, violent and repeat offenders, but nonviolent offenders with little or no prior records are channeled into intermediate sanctions on supervised probation. This has resulted in a significant shift in the number and type of offenders who are placed on supervised probation in communities. Community corrections is more important than ever. Nonprison sentences must be supported by meaningful community-based punishments that provide accountability and control, and offer treatment to offenders who are not being sent to prison but instead remain in communities.

Historically, in North Carolina, as is the case in most states, few resources have existed in the community to meet various offender needs. Under the Criminal Justice Partnership Program, counties establish advisory boards to study crime in their communities, weigh the best use of available punishment resources, and develop programs that will provide an equal balance of control and treatment for offenders released to communities on supervised probation. Judges, sheriffs, district attorneys, probation officers, community leaders and local treatment providers are now sitting down and discussing how they can work together to make the best use of correctional resources in the community. Partnerships within the DOC and with other agencies enable community corrections professionals to better work with offenders and to demonstrate the value of balancing rehabilitation, punishment and public safety. The Division of Community Corrections is working hard to initiate and promote positive changes in public sentiment tow ard the criminal justice system.

State and Local Partnerships: A Step Further

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, the state Office of Emergency Preparedness, various sheriffs' offices and local police departments have built partnerships that serve the state and its citizens in times of special need. These partnerships began in 1994, when Secretary Richard Stalder designated the Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) with primary and secondary responsibilities for the state's overall emergency plan in a partnership with Louisiana's Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Stalder started his administration in 1992 with partnerships as a vital part of his overall plan. His plan began with fostering the existing partnership with sheriffs for housing the 5,454 state inmates who were still being housed at the local level. The department's partnerships with other agencies grew as each secretary of the various executive branches of government was tasked with primary and secondary functions to implement Louisiana's Emergency Operations Plan. With DPS&C's experience and expertise in the area of culinary operations (it serves approximately 80,000 meals per day), it was logical for its primary role to be mass feeding in the event of emergencies. In addition, the Office of Corrections Services accepted secondary functions for communications and warning, emergency direction and control, information management, law enforcement/security, public information, search and rescue, shelter operation and control, traffic control/evacuation routes and transportation.

Preparation, planning and scenarios are conducted months in advance to train for mass feeding procedures. This includes procedure for alerting, stand-by and activation for 24-hour operations. Once a decision has been made to activate the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) Statewide Command Center, DPS&C immediately contacts all of its facilities to advise them of the activation and to prepare to provide the necessary resources to affected areas as requested. DPS&C then provides trained personnel to staff a desk at the OEP Command Center to coordinate and assist in fulfilling its role. The primary responsibility is mass feeding. Simply put, the objective is to provide meals to all shelters and other housing areas that may require emergency assistance for prepared food. The American Red Cross, Volunteers of America and other volunteer agencies provide support to achieve this function.

The most recent large-scale event supported through this partnership was Hurricane George in September 1998. DPS&C activated its support at 9 a.m. on Sept. 26, 1998. During the first day, staff made arrangements to provide mattresses and security from various DPS&C facilities to local shelters and provided the first 100 meals to a local school shelter. On Sept. 27, 2,000 meals were prepared and provided by the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (EHCC) and sent to a high school shelter at 7 a.m. At 11 a.m., EHCC continued to fulfill requests to serve 1,500 evacuees. That afternoon, without prior notice, the department accepted the unenviable task of feeding 10,000 evacuees housed at the New Orleans Superdome, as well as 2,610 evacuees in surrounding shelters. Seventeen correctional officers and 58 inmates were sent with state police escorts to the New Orleans area to prepare meals. Citizens who had been evacuated from their homes and were facing unknown circumstances at least had a warm meal.

At 8:49 p.m., DPS&C sent four additional staff and eight inmates from EHCC to two other shelters in the New Orleans area to prepare and provide meals. All inmates and staff assigned to these functions were housed on-site in the evacuation areas for efficiency. On Sept. 28, the department continued its role, providing sandwiches, canned fruit and drinks to 1,100 additional evacuees at Southern University in New Orleans, hot plate lunches to 1,000 evacuees in Baton Rouge, and sandwich lunches to 815 evacuees in the Bogalusa area By 2:30 that afternoon, staff were preparing to feed 17,000 supper and breakfast meals to evacuees then located in the New Orleans Superdome. However, the mandatory evacuation was lifted prior to the preparation of these meals and evacuees were allowed to return to their homes. On Sept. 29, DPS&C served its last 750 meals to shelters prior to the deactivation of the OEP Command Center. The DPS&C provided more than 96,250 meals during the course of this emergency and the teamwork betwee n the various institutions and agencies made this effort successful.

In addition to food, DPS&C provides any assistance that is requested involving the evacuation and housing of inmates from affected areas. This includes support with transportation to the department's facilities and housing of the inmates until they can be safely moved back to their original locations. During Hurricane George, the department housed and assisted with transportation for approximately 700 inmates from Plaquemines Parish, St. Tammany Parish and Bridge City Correctional Center for Youth. Additionally, DPS&C assists local communities with sandbagging as requested through the OEP Command Center.

The ability to respond quickly in an emergency is critical to the provision of necessary support and safety to the citizens of Louisiana. This ability is built on a foundation of specialized units and an excellent training program for specialized functions. Correctional employees are required to do more than normal correctional duties. The ability to adapt and successfully complete these tasks begins with DPS&C officers being cross-trained in various aspects of prison management to allow them to fulfill specialized roles outside their own departments. For example, to successfully complete mass feeding, officers are trained in culinary operations so they can be assigned to the function without pulling all culinary staff from the facilities (which must also continue to operate). Among other things, officers must become bus drivers, transportation specialists, crowd control officers and reporters.


Success in these partnerships begins with strong mutual respect and cooperation among state and local agencies. Planning is the most vital task. As a result of working and planning together, agencies within the state are ready for an event and know their partners. They understand and support one another's role and do not feel like they are working with strangers when serious needs arise. Good partnerships can make our jobs easier when unusual circumstances obstruct normal operations.

Walter R. Smith is a division chief for the Denver Sheriff's Department. He also i chair of the ACA Local/State Correctional Partnerships Committee. Teresa S. Cummings is a correctional planner II for the North Carolina Department of Corrections. C.M. Lensing is warden of the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, La.
COPYRIGHT 2000 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Previous Article:Correctional Health Care Problems Increase.
Next Article:Writing Our Stories.

Related Articles
New York program succeeding in today's competitive climate.
Forging a major NIJ-corrections partnership.
Implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act for inmates.
In Louisiana: state regains control of prison system.
Partnerships: A Better Way.
Partnerships: From Building Walls to Building Bridges.
Connection the Dots to Increase Inmate Labor.
The Easiest Day Was Yesterday: CERT Operations Airborne Ranger Style.
Home for good in Oregon: a community, faith and state re-entry partnership to increase restorative justice.
Georgia reentry: a transformation in correctional philosophy.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters