Kim M. Lowry, Director
Office of Communications
National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board Meeting
October 29, 2007
Thank you, Reggie.
I’m pleased to be here representing OJP as Director of its Office of Communications. My thanks to Reggie, Morris, and Jim.
I’d like to touch on just a few of the highlights from our report.
BJS continues its data gathering responsibilities under PREA.
In August, we released the latest report on sexual violence in correctional facilities.
BJS’s Deputy Director, Allan Beck, will be here tomorrow to talk about that.
HIV in Prisons:
Last month, BJS released its report on HIV in prisons.
For the sixth consecutive year, the number of inmates infected with HIV or with confirmed AIDS cases decreased.
Also noteworthy is the drastic decline in AIDS-related deaths in state prisons. AIDS deaths reached a peak of more than 1,000 in 1995. In 2005, the year covered by this report, an estimated 176 state inmates died from AIDS-related causes.
Soon after your last meeting, BJS released the results of its latest count of prison and jail inmates.
The survey found that, as of mid-year 2006, almost two-and-a-quarter million inmates were housed in the nation’s prisons and jails. That’s up by almost three percent from the last count.
An interesting subset is the number of inmates in custody in state and federal prisons, as opposed to local jails. That number of state and federal inmates increased by almost 43,000, which is the largest increase in that category in 6 years.
Also, releases from state prisons did not keep pace with prison admissions, which were up more than 17 percent between 2000 and 2005.
Of particular interest to jail administrators is that the number of unconvicted inmates in local jails has been increasing since 2000. Sixty-two percent of jail inmates were awaiting court action.
BJS’s report on the number of prisoners at year-end 2006 is due out in November, as is its newest report on the probation and parole population.
BJS added a section to its Web site dedicated to death in custody statistics.
It also released a report on arrest-related deaths a couple of weeks ago. Figures from that report haven’t yet been incorporated on this new section of the Web site.
In the area of reentry, BJA recently awarded its latest round of grants under the President’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative.
Twenty-four states received about $10.3 million to provide pre- and post-release services and supervision.
BJA is also working with the APPA [American Probation and Parole Association], ASCA [Association of State Correctional Administrators], and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research on a reentry program for gang members.
This program will develop training materials to help corrections and law enforcement agencies work with gang members returning from jails and prisons.
The October issue of the NIJ Journal carried an article about NIJ’s study of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative.
Researchers from RTI International and the Urban Institute have interviewed prisoners from 16 sites – some 900-plus men who received SVORI services, and about the same number who didn’t.
The article summarized some of the demographic feedback from the survey. For example, 60 percent of the interviewees who received SVORI services are fathers of minor children, and nearly half reported having primary child care responsibilities.
The survey also identified education as the biggest reentry need – 94 percent of those in the SVORI group cited the need for more education.
Most interviewees recognized some aspect of their own behavior that they needed to change, and more than half said they needed spiritual or religious assistance – an obvious plug for the involvement of faith-based organizations in reentry.
NIJ will continue to release findings from the study over the next two years. Researchers will interview members from both the SVORI group and the comparison group at 3 months, 9 months, and 15 months post-release. That will include drug testing at the 3- and 15-month marks.
Researchers will also examine recidivism and other outcomes at 12 and 24 months post-release.
Our Community Capacity Development Office is working to promote promising reentry practices in Weed and Seed sites.
During the summer, CCDO sponsored four reentry seminars to train designated Weed and Seed sites on various reentry models, best practices, and training opportunities.
Next month, CCDO is scheduled to release a guide for ex-offenders on housing.
And in December, it plans to publish case studies of four reentry programs, showing the strengths and weaknesses of various reentry approaches.
I know Greg Harris mentioned at the last meeting that we released proposed national guidelines for sex offender registration and notification.
The comment period for the guidelines closed on August 1st, and we received well over 200 comments.
Our SMART Office has reviewed the feedback and is writing the final guidelines, which we hope to release in early 2008.
These guidelines will provide a comprehensive set of minimum standards to strengthen our ability to track and monitor sex offenders.
In the meantime, the SMART Office is helping jurisdictions develop tiering systems for their registries in accordance with the Adam Walsh Act.
Right now, registration officials have trouble classifying sex offenders from other jurisdictions because tiering systems don’t always translate easily across jurisdictions.
Eventually, we’ll have a database with the tiered statutes from each jurisdiction. This will be available to all registration officials, including corrections professionals, who assign sex offenders registration and notification obligations. It will help officials identify what registration and notification obligations a sex offender has under Adam Walsh.
We also held our National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability in July. Several sessions were devoted to corrections and community corrections activities.
In terms of training, we had a nice complement of OJP staff at the APPA [American Probation and Parole] Annual Training Institute in July, as well as the ACA [American Correctional Association] Summer Institute and the ASCA [Association of State Correctional Administrators] Summer Meeting in Kansas City.
BJA sponsored the “Crime Scene Investigation in a Correctional Institution” training. The National Forensic Academy provided that training to 30 corrections and security investigators from Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
And NIJ hosted the Technology Institute for Corrections last month. Thirty-two corrections professionals heard about existing and developing technologies.
We’ve also been working with tribes.
At the Tribal Crime Data and Information Sharing Conference in August, BJS discussed jails and other detention centers in Indian country.
We’ve been holding regular tribal training and technical assistance sessions throughout the country, where we’ve been discussing corrections issues in Indian country, particularly the survey of Indian country jails.
We attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs Correctional Manager’s meeting in September, where BJS staff discussed the 2007 jails survey, which is currently under way.
We put out a couple of tribal solicitations. In June, BJA issued one for a training and technical assistance provider to help tribes plan incarceration and rehabilitation facilities.
And in July, BJA issued the Renovation of Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands solicitation. Awards will go directly to tribes.
These are just a few of the highlights.
Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today, and I look forward to our work together.