There are now approximately 1.2 million people in federal and state prisons in America, compared to 320,000 in 1980. In 1998, 545,000 offenders came back from state and federal prisons; in 1999, 565,000; in the year 2000, 585,000 were anticipated to return to communities, and a slight increase is projected for each year beyond. Offenders come to prison with significant problems, including drug abuse and mental illness. They also come to prison as dropouts or illiterate, without life skills or work skills. Upon release from prison, ex-offenders often go with little supervision and return to the same environment from which they came. With problems like these, it is not surprising that, nationwide, two-thirds of the offenders are rearrested within three years of release.
ENSURING COMMUNITY SAFETY WHEN OFFENDERS RETURN About one in five prisoners leaves prison without any post-release supervision. This poses a serious public safety issue for our communities - To address this problem, OJP has been working to ensure offenders receive the supervision and services they need to successfully transition back into the community.
In partnership with state and local jurisdictions, OJP continues to work towards developing a seamless system of offender accountability, supervision, and support. This system should begin before incarceration and continue as the offender leaves prison and re-enters the community. Over the past year, OJP has worked to develop several different approaches to help communities address the re-entry problem.
In FY 1999, OJP invited state and local jurisdictions around the country to submit proposals to become pilot reentry courts. To help promote the reentry court concept, OJP has been working with a small number of jurisdictions to explore the model, to provide technical assistance, and to support information sharing across the sites. In FY 2000, OJP provided assistance to reentry courts in nine states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, and West Virginia. Each of the nine jurisdictions participating in the OJP reentry court initiative have a reentry court that is customized to its local needs.
All of the pilot programs contain certain core elements, which include:
OJP did not fund these courts in FY 2000, however, through its technical assistance, OJP continues to work closely with each jurisdiction to explore how existing federal, state, and local resources can be used to support these programs.
The reentry partnership is another approach pioneered by OJP. This partnership initiative seeks to:
Patterned after successful police/corrections partnerships, reentry partnerships establish new key resources through institutional corrections, community corrections, community policing, local businesses, and faith-based institutions. In FY 1998, OJP began working with eight pilot sites in Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington. Partners in these sites come together to work with offenders before and after their release. In July 2000, the National Institute of Justice released four new reports describing innovative ways for increasing an offender's chance for successfully reintegrating back into society. These reports, But They All Come Back: Rethinking Prisoner Reentry, The Rebirth of Rehabilitation: Promise and Perils of Drug Courts; Correcting Corrections: Missouri's Parallel Universe; and "Technocorrections": The Promises, the Uncertain Threats, provide insight into the current thinking about balancing offender rehabilitation without compromising public safety.
But They All Come Back: Rethinking Prisoner Reentry examines the concept of "prisoner reentry." The report discusses three aspects of reentry:
The Rebirth of Rehabilitation: Promise and Perils of Drug Courts presents an overview of the drug court movement and uses Delaware's experience to illustrate the development of drug courts. Drug courts are specialized courts that offer treatment-based alternatives to drug offenders, combined with mandated judicially supervised sanctions. Preliminary positive evaluation results are summarized. The report also discusses the philosophical differences in treatment options and the lack of resources in some localities.
Correcting Corrections: Missouri's Parallel Universe highlights a new strategy undertaken by the Missouri Department of Corrections to help prepare inmates for life after release from prison. The strategy, "parallel universe," is based on the theory that life inside prison should resemble life outside prison and that inmates can acquire values, habits, and skills that will help them become productive, law-abiding citizens. The parallel universe has four distinct expectations:
As a result of this program, the Missouri Department of Corrections has seen a decrease in recidivism rates, an increase in the number of inmates earning GEDs, and an increase in the number of inmates receiving substance abuse treatment.
"Technocorrections": The Promises, the Uncertain Threats describes how technologies are converging with the forces of law and order to create "technocorrections." The emerging technologies that can be used in technocorrections are discussed in three areas - tracking and location systems, pharmacological treatment, and neurobiologic risk assessment.
BUILDING KNOWLEDGE ABOUT OFFENDERS
General Prison Population
According to the BJS bulletin, Prisoners in 1999, released in August 2000, during 1999 the nation's prison population rose at the lowest rate since 1979 and recorded the smallest absolute increase since 1988. The prison population growth slowed to 3.4 percent last year - less than the average annual amount of 6.5 percent during the 1990-1999 period.
At the end of the year, there were more than 2 million people held in some type of incarceration. The 2,026,596 people behind bars were held as follows:
Since 1990, the prison population has increased by 77 percent, an increase of almost 600,000 inmates. Factors contributing to the 1990-1998 growth in the state prison population included:
The National Symposium on Women Offenders, held in December 1999, was a landmark event for the Department of Justice - the first major discussion of women offender issues in the Department's history. Panelists, including representatives from state and local corrections, pointed out that, although the number of women offenders in the United States has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, criminal justice programming has not kept pace. They also emphasized that programs need to be tailored to the special needs of women offenders, needs involving dependent children, drug use, domestic violence, and other issues. Symposium participants were urged to work towards developing a systemwide response and plan of action - from arrest through adjudication through aftercare - for women offenders.
A BJS study prepared for the symposium, Women Offenders, examined existing data on women offenders.
This data points to some of the issues offenders raise for the criminal and juvenile justice systems:
In addition, a BJA grant to the National Clearinghouse on Women Offenders provided assistance on a range of complex issues surrounding incarcerated women, including detention, re -entry into families and society, and keeping children in closer contact with their mothers.
INCARCERATING VIOLENT CRIMINALS
In FY 2000, OJP's Corrections Program Office awarded a total of $428,830,679 to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories under its Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth in Sentencing (VOI/TIS) Grant Program. All eligible applicants have received a grant award each year since the VOI/TIS Formula Grant Program was established in FY 1996. Funding from this program can be used to build permanent or temporary prison facilities for offenders convicted of Part 1 violent crimes or for juvenile offenders.
As of July 2000, over 15,000 adult prison beds had been completed with VOI/TIS funds. An additional 23,000 beds were under construction. More than half of the states had used VOI/TIS funds to add a total of over 6,500 juvenile corrections and detention center beds in 139 separate projects. Several states allocated all or a large portion of their funds to juvenile projects. Thirteen states had used VOI/TIS funds to add a total of approximately 9,200 beds in local facilities; these beds represented 141 separate projects. Eleven states had used VOI/TIS funds to lease a total of almost 2,500 beds in private facilities. In all categories, additional projects were planned, but not yet implemented.
Beginning in FY 1999, up to 10 percent of VOI/TIS funds may be used for costs associated with the state's program of substance abuse testing, sanctions, and treatment for incarcerated inmates or offenders on post-release supervision. Twenty-two states indicated an intent to use funds for this purpose in FY 2000. To ensure program fiscal integrity, OJP's Office of the Comptroller presented a financial management training module as a part of the Correction Program Office's workshop, which was attended by approximately 85 grant recipients.
Beginning March 1, 2000, states and territories were required to submit an annual report on progress toward a drug-free prison environment along with their application for VOI/TIS Tier 1 funds. The report required them to provide data on all drug tests conducted in calendar 1999. A total of 885,140 drug test specimens were reported, resulting in an average drug-free rate of 96.4 percent. This represents an improvement of .9 percent - or almost 10 additional drug-free inmates per 1,000 specimens tested over the baseline statistics established in 1999. In addition, 18 states reported drug-free rates of over 98 percent.
The National Institute of Justice is overseeing a national evaluation of VOI/TIS to assess the cumulative impacts and effectiveness of the sentencing initiatives and legislative strategies encouraged by the program. The RAND Corporation was selected by the National Institute of Justice as the national evaluator and has since submitted the trial evaluation for peer review.
The preliminary report was issued in April 2000, which showed the following key findings:
INCARCERATING CRIMINAL ALIENS
For the first time, the FY 2000 State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) was administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) on-line via the Internet. Nearly 100 new jurisdictions applied for payments, representing an increase of more than 25 percent from FY 1999. Much of the increase is attributed to the implementation of the on-line application. Thus, the same amount of funds were distributed among a substantially larger pool. All 50 states, more than 360 localities, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, received FY 2000 SCAAP funds totaling more than $573 million to assist with the costs of incarcerating criminal illegal aliens.
MANAGING SEX OFFENDERS
The Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), is a project sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), and the State Justice Institute (SJI). CSOM was created in June of 1997 as a result of recommendations that emerged from the first OJP-sponsored summit, "Promoting Public Safety through the Effective Management of Sex Offenders in the Community." CSOM initially focused its efforts in four primary areas that were identified during the first summit:
The project has also undertaken work with 40 grant sites that are building their capacity to manage these offenders through strategic planning and data collection and sites that are working to refine or enhance their existing sex offender management practices.
In December 2000 CSOM, on behalf of OJP, convened the Second National Summit on Sex Offender Management in Washington, DC. The summit brought together approximately 200 practitioners, including judges, legislators, parole and probation agencies, treatment providers, victim advocates, and others. Participants were drawn from nationally recognized experts, researchers, resource site teams, training and technical assistance event participants, and other participants recommended by federal agencies and the CSOM National Resource Group.
This summit was designed to revisit the significant strides that have been made in sex offender management in recent years, to examine which practices constitute the current state-of-the-art in working with sex offenders, and to seek guidance from participants about future directions the field should take to continue to advance its efforts.
As was the case during the first summit, participants spent considerable time in small, multi-disciplinary work groups developing recommendations to OJP about how federal level justice and health agencies could better serve the needs of the field as they work to contain - and ultimately prevent - sexual violence. The goals of second summit were to:
The agenda featured a mix of plenary and small work group sessions. Plenary sessions focused on a number of substantive areas, including:
For the second year, OJP awarded funding to state and local jurisdictions to develop, implement, or expand comprehensive strategies to manage sex offenders under community supervision. Twelve communities in nine states received a total of $1.3 million in FY 2000.
To receive funds under the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Grant program, communities must develop multidisciplinary teams, which include probation and parole officers, other criminal justice personnel, treatment providers, and victim advocates.
Eight of the awards are planning grants to assist jurisdictions in developing comprehensive, collaborative approaches to managing sex offenders. The grantees are:
The other four grantees - Minnesota Department of Corrections, Fort Belknap Community Council in Harlem, Montana, Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin, Texas, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services in Richmond, Virginia - are helping these communities to implement these strategies or to enhance current programs.
Grantees used OJP funds to establish teams of representatives from law enforcement, prosecution, courts, corrections, probation, social services, and victim organizations to identify strengths and weaknesses in sex offender management systems and assess the staff and equipment necessary to identify, track, and treat sex offenders. Planning funds were also used to gauge the need for training probation officers and other criminal justice personnel, treatment providers, and victim advocates about sex offender management.
Congress appropriated $5 million for sex offender management initiatives in FY 2000, $2 million of which was set aside for the grants. Training and technical assistance was provided to grantees and other interested jurisdictions through a grant to CSOM.
BJA continued to encourage compliance with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, which conditions 10 percent of states' Byrne formula funding on establishing effective systems for registering and tracking convicted sex offenders. The Wetterling Act was amended in 1996 and 1998 to require lifetime registration for certain offenders; heighten registration of sexually violent predators, federal and military offenders, and nonresident workers and students; and increase jurisdictions' participation in the National Sex Offender Registry.
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