State of Nebraska
BOARD OF PAROLE
Lincoln Parole Volunteers at Saratoga Elementary Fun Night
The Lincoln Parole Office continues to be a partner in the Saratoga Community Advisory Group (CAG). The CAG consists of various community groups that partner with Saratoga Elementary School in an effort to continue to provide positive community growth and involvement with the students and families of Saratoga Elementary School. Some of the other community participants of this group include: Saratoga Elementary teachers and administration; churches; area small businesses, neighborhood residents; and the local High School Student Council Club.
On May 11, 2018, the CAG sponsored the Annual Saratoga Fun Night. This event provided an evening of fun, games, and food for Saratoga Elementary students and families at a minimal cost to the families. Money raised from this event goes back into the school to provide resources for needy families. CAG members volunteered their time to serve food and run raffles, outdoor games, and other activities for students and their families. Approximately six parole officers, support staff, and supervisors volunteered at this year’s Fun Night.
Mental Health Awareness Month
Understanding the impact of mental health within our community, as well as individuals involved in post-supervision and parole is important. How mental health is treated and viewed has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. This is evident by the increased dialogue pertaining to mental health, recent advancements in psychotropic medications, as well as the shift from institutionalized care to an increase in community based services. With the additional and continued studies of mood and personality disorders, society has acquired a greater awareness of some of the diagnoses that have existed for quite a while.
The more we increase our awareness of what the “presentation” of a mood disorder, or personality disorder looks like, we increase our ability to interact with someone, and decrease the potential for escalation during that encounter. For example, gaining a greater understanding of the symptomology of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), can empower someone with additional options when attempting to de-escalate, or grounding an individual during a triggered flashback. These are important insights to possess, as they allows us an opportunity to foster the best possible outcome available to us.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental illnesses are common in the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year. Estimates suggest that only half of people with mental illnesses receive treatment. The Washington Post also published an article stating “American prisons and jails housed an estimated 356,268 inmates with severe mental illness in 2012.” These were inmates that at some point were or will be released, either because of a mandatory release date or a parole eligibility date. This number is not representative of the state of Nebraska, but puts the overall number into a national context.
The more we improve our understanding of mental health disorders, the better prepared we can be when working with some parolees. Additionally, we may encounter people beyond our employment settings that are balancing the challenges associated with a mental health diagnosis. More understanding opens the door for more empathy, which can go a long way when establishing trust and rapport with people.
David E. Carter PLADC, BSW
Every April, we remember victims of crime knowing that trauma informed care for victims helps our communities. With that in mind, the Division of Parole Supervision has two Victim Assistance Representatives and is in partnership with the Lincoln Police Department, Adult Probation Administration, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, and other providers to help those who have been victimized in our communities.
In Parole, we utilize Evidence-Based Practices to change behaviors of justice-involved individuals to help reduce recidivism thereby helping to not create new victims. Victim Assistance Representatives are a resource to community members, parole clients, staff, and their families for issues of victimization, such as domestic violence, assault, and property crimes. They are also available to attend with and support community victims at parole hearings, take phone calls from victims of paroled individuals, and participate in Victim Offender Dialogues.
Please contact the following Victim Assistance Representatives for assistance: Andrea Wever, Specialized Parole Officer, 402-480-2744 (Cell), or Rachel Prescher, Omaha Parole Supervisor, 402-595-1831 (Office Phone) or 402-672-3900 (Cell).
The Nebraska Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) held its annual conference in North Platte in October 2017. Senior Parole Officer Jake Hunter attended and provided a presentation of how the Division of Parole Supervision works with NCSEA, parole clients, and various other stakeholders in the community to best address needs and responsibilities involved in the child support enforcement process. The conference invites child support professionals from all phases of the enforcement system including Judges, Clerks of the Court, Attorneys, Enforcement Officers, and Policymakers. The NCSEA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing training and support to Child Support Enforcement professionals throughout the State of Nebraska. The conference brought various community providers and stakeholders together to discuss and better understand the roles different entities play in the enforcement and collection of child support funds in the State of Nebraska.
Article shared courtesy of Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
Parole Staff Achieve Yellow Belt Certification in Lean Six Sigma
In the fall of 2017, the Leadership Team within the Nebraska Board of Parole/Division of Parole Supervision attended Yellow Belt Training for Certification of Lean Six Sigma as a continuation of Governor Ricketts’ Training Initiative. The training, presented by the State of Nebraska’s Center of Operational Excellence, helped attendees understand more about this style of process improvement in which the goal is to reduce waste and improve efficiencies. Participants learned how to engage and assist in developing process improvement within the Agency so they are prepared to help lead such initiatives into the future.
The Agency completed its first project in cooperation with the Center of Operational Excellence in which the focus was the contracts/agreements process. The Agency is currently exploring ideas to identify further projects that can benefit by the use of Lean Six Sigma methodology to effect reduced costs and achieve savings.
Congratulations, goes out to Rachel Prescher for receiving the Nebraska State Government Leadership Certificate awarded at the State Graduation Ceremony March 20, 2018. Rachel is a Supervisor for the Division of Parole Supervision Omaha Regional Office. We acknowledge Rachel’s hard work in achieving this achievement.
The Division of Parole Supervision recognizes Licensed Clinical Social Worker Katie Bloom as having accepted a commission as a First Lieutenant in a Licensed Clinical Social Worker capacity with the National Guard. Bloom will be completing a month long Officer Training in Texas and has committed to working one weekend a month in Lincoln for the National Guard, all while maintaining her position with the Division of Parole Supervision in Omaha. Bloom states, “I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new adventure and serve the citizens of Nebraska and my country.” Bloom has been with Parole as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the State of Nebraska since August 2014. The Division of Parole Supervision supports the engagement of their staff who have committed themselves to serve our citizens. Director Julie Micek, speaking on behalf of Bloom’s peers in Parole, has expressed her support and pride in Katie.
The Division of Parole Supervision has adopted the Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) model from the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI). EPICS offers a number of advantages to our agency, our officers, and our clients. In a big picture sense, EPICS is attractive because it is based on well accepted social science research. EPICS draws heavily from 2 well established Evidence Based Practices (EBP): The 8 Principles of Effective Intervention and Core Correctional Practices (CCP). CCP is a system developed by Dr. Edward Latessa and Dr. Christopher Lowenkamp to instruct corrections professionals in the use of cognitive behavioral interventions with their clients. The effectiveness of CCP is supported by dozens of studies. This research laid the foundation for the development of EPICS. EPICS takes the tried and true methods from CCP and applies them specifically to a community setting. The 8 Principles of Effective Intervention were published by the National Institute of Corrections. They are a set of principles that, when reflected in policy, procedure, and day-to-day work, best position an agency to reduce recidivism and change client behavior. EPICS reflects 6 of the 8 principles: Enhance Intrinsic Motivation; Target Interventions; Skill Train with Directed Practice; Increase Positive Reinforcement; Measure Relevant Processes; and Provide Measurement Feedback.
In a more practical sense, EPICS is exciting for us because it fills a need that has existed for many years. EPICS provides our officers with a systematic, structured way to conduct one-on-one meetings with our moderate and high risk clients. An EPICS session is divided into 4 parts: a check-in on how things have been going since the last meeting; a review of the last session and any homework or treatment progress; an intervention; and homework to complete for the next meeting. Even more importantly, EPICS provides our officers with proven tools to address client situations and improve the outcome of similar situations in the future. Most often, the root cause of criminal behavior, or even just general noncompliance can be traced to either a lack of motivation, problematic thinking, a skill deficit, or poor problem solving. The EPICS model has 4 basic interventions: The Cost Benefit Analysis; the Behavior Chain; Structured Skill Building; and Problem Solving. Officers are also trained to use Effective Authority, Effective Disapproval, and Effective Reinforcement. These skills are helpful in addressing noncompliance and highlighting success.
Our officers received their initial training in EPICS in January of 2017 and subsequently completed 6 months of follow on coaching with a master instructor from UCCI. Parallel to this, all of our supervisors were trained as EPICS coaches and they picked up where UCCI left off. We started off small and gradually built up our officers’ skill level before requiring that EPICS be used with all moderate and high risk clients in August of 2017. This was a massive change in how we conduct our day-to-day business and the road to full implementation was a long one. In September of 2017, 9 staff were selected to receive additional training to become EPICS trainers. This is a challenging process, requiring a week of training, observation by a master instructor from UCCI, and demonstrations of coding and coaching ability. Once the trainers complete their certification process in May of 2018, our agency will be fully self-sustaining on this critical piece of our goal to become an evidence-based agency. This puts us right on track with the normal timeline for an agency to fully implement Evidence Based Practices