Last month I attended the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) 40th Annual Summer Institute in conjunction with the World Congress of Correction in Los Angeles. APPA conducts the largest national training institute for community corrections. The IJIS Institute is an APPA Affiliate and, therefore, has a seat on its Board of Directors. One of the many notable events at the 40th Annual Institute occurred at the Board of Directors meeting where APPA Executive Director Carl Wicklund announced he would be stepping down as APPA Executive Director effective 31 July 2015 after nearly 20 years at APPA. Carl stated that it is time to turn the reins of APPA over to new leadership.
The APPA Training Institute provided an opportunity for discussions on the latest theories and examine the newest technologies. One of the sessions most relevant to IJIS involved a presentation titled
Improve Offender Management in the Cloud with Big Data and discussed how making use of big data residing in the cloud holds great potential to provide valuable information for use in conjunction with more traditional data sources to improve management outcomes. Presenters talked about the kinds of information that can be harvested as a new tool in the challenging world of probation and parole and an overview of what the technology is, how it is being used, and in what ways it can be used to support the specific business objectives. Two IJIS members – Iveta Topalova from Microsoft and John Beck from Esri – presented this session along with APPA Executive Director Carl Wicklund. The session focused on the use of geospatial mapping and various use cases of how 44% of big data applications will be used for offender risk management.
The Second World Congress on Community Corrections immediately followed the APPA Institute. Highlights included:
- Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University who talked about the Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence.
- Jennifer L. Skeem, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean of Research, School of Social Welfare at University of California, Berkeley, spoke about What Works for Justice-involved People with Mental Illness.
- Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology and Social Work, University of Glasgow, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research Glasgow, Scotland, spoke about Desistance and International Offender Case Management and the Impact on Supervision Strategies.
Japan hosted a session on Juvenile and Family Justice Innovations in Japanese Community Corrections. I found one of the most interesting sessions to be one by the United Kingdom on the Transformation of the Delivery of Probation Services in England and Wales. Jim Barton, Deputy Director of Development and Business Change at the UK National Probation Services, National Offender Management Service, England, talked about the process they have undertaken to radically restructure probation services. Before the transformation, 35 organizations were doing a good job and on budget providing probation services across England and Wales. The initiative only involves adult supervision and 170k are under community supervision and 70k are on prerelease. Another 86k are in 106 public prisons and 14 private prisons. The transformation of contracting with 21 community rehabilitation companies was done to save money and the reoffending rates were too high. The new effort privatizes probation services with a different firm in each jurisdiction and uses payment by results to incentivize the providers to use evidence-informed practices. Ten quality criteria are used to assess needs and responsivity. The priorities of the transformation are to enhance public safety and support the offender using a balanced approach of enforcement and offender support. A key to this new approach is a shift away from telling providers what to do and instead allowing the various providers to decide in order to allow for innovation. Prisoners were moved around the country to get them into facilities closer to home. A portal was created to replicate and share offender information.
I could not end this blog post without saying something about Carl’s contributions to the field of corrections over the past 20 years. On behalf of the IJIS Institute, I want to thank Carl for his steadfast friendship and support and his significant contributions to the field of corrections, community corrections, law enforcement on so many levels, and through so very many projects and initiatives. His contributions to the Global Advisory Committee, the N-DEx working group, and so many other work groups have truly helped shape criminal justice in this country. Thanks so much for all you have done and all you will do. I know you have plenty of contributions yet to come in the next phase of your career.