State of Nebraska
BOARD OF PAROLE
Update on Parole Administration’s Transition to
Nebraska Board of Parole
July 1, 2017, marked the one year anniversary of the Division of Parole Supervision being placed under the Nebraska Board of Parole’s authority, Parole having historically been a program within the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. This change was a result of the passage of LB 598 in 2015 and is attributed to the work of many, including the Council of State Governments, the Legislature, and Criminal Justice stakeholders across the state. LB 605 was also passed in 2015 which paved the way for major changes in Parole. Another bill, LB 1094, was passed in 2016 which clarified some of the language in LB 605, in particular the provisions relating to custodial sanctions.
As part of the transition, the new Mission and Vision Statement for the agency are as follows:
It is the mission of the Nebraska Board of Parole and the Division of Parole Supervision to continue its research, understanding and implementation of evidence-based approaches as it pertains to the release of clients who have appropriately been prepared for community supervision. The Board and the Division of Parole Supervision are dedicated to maintaining public safety, reducing recidivism and addressing the need of victims, while integrating clients into society through a balance of best practice supervision and treatment strategies.
The Nebraska Board of Parole and Division of Parole Supervision are committed to serving and protecting the public. The Board will strive to make informed and appropriate parole decisions by giving due consideration to and utilizing the resources of the Division of Parole Supervision, including innovative case management, for the successful re-entry of clients back into the community to become productive and responsible citizens.
Significant strides have been made in implementing provisions contained in the legislation during the first year under the Board’s authority, including changes required due to the transition to a new agency. These include:
- Implementation of the Strong-R, a risk and needs assessment tool, for offenders paroled by the Board which assesses risk of reoffending and criminogenic needs as well as a Quality Assurance process to ensure fidelity to the instrument;
- Implementation of Payport, a website feature which allows clients to pay programming fees online—the Division also assumed accountability regarding collection of fees;
- Development of new and existing policies into Protocols;
- Implementation of EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision), a case management model that is based on effective intervention and use of core correctional practices;
- New Drug Testing Service/Process;
- Incentive/Sanctions Matrix and implementation of Behavior Management System (BMS) to track—the agency is in the process of contracting with counties regarding custodial sanctions with a target date of August 1, 2017, for implementation;
- Streamlined processes relating to placement investigations and travel permits and elimination of certain reports in which information was documented elsewhere;
- Programmer for Parole Information Management System (PIMS) which has allowed us to make needed changes within the system and to focus on data driven case management;
- Reorganization of Parole to meet the needs of the new agency;
- Town Hall meetings across the state to address pay issues and Parole Officer structure;
- New office location for the Lincoln Regional Parole Office and Parole Administration staff in Heritage Square, 421 South 9th Street Ste. 220, Box 25, Lincoln, NE 68508;
- In process of adding additional services statewide and meeting with providers; and
- Nearing finalization of Memorandum of Understanding between the agency and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska to allow clients to parole there.
Development of the agency’s own training program, another provision of the legislation, has been a priority this past year, which includes preservice and inservice training for Parole staff. In addition to training that was conducted earlier this year on the EPICS model for case management, ongoing training is being provided on EPICS case management. There has also been training for Parole staff on Evidence-Based Practices in Community Supervision and Motivational Interviewing. The most recent training conducted for staff has been the new Behavior Management System to track response to non-compliance with conditions of supervision.
Parole staff successfully completed Certification Lean Six Sigma – White Belt, Governor Rickett’s Training Initiative. All State government employees were required to be White Belt certified by the first of the year. This training introduced State employees to this process improvement methodology. By the work that has been done and continues to be done, we are working toward a more effective, more efficient, more customer-focused way of doing business.
The transition from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to the Board could not be accomplished without staff from both agencies working together and therefore appreciation is extended to everyone who has been and continues to be involved in this process. Although much has been accomplished this past year, there is still much to do. As Julie Micek, LIMHP, Director of the Division of Parole Supervision, shared some months ago in a presentation of the 2017 Strategic Plan, with change comes endless possibilities.
WESTERN OFFICER RECEIVES QUARTERLY EMPLOYEE AWARD
The State of Nebraska Craft Office Building in North Platte has selected Senior Parole Officer Christina Bivens as its Employee of the Quarter for 2017. Criteria used in selecting an employee include the professional and dedication demonstrated by the employee on a daily basis. Incentives for the selection include a personal parking spot identifying the employee as such. Recipients of the Quarterly Employee Award are nominated by their peers. Bivens has been a Senior Parole Officer for 4 years. Prior to that assignment, she was a Unit Caseworker at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York. During her 2 years at York, Bivens received a “Challenge” coin from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) for her efforts in helping to save an inmates life. She also received a “Team” award in 2012 for her participation in the Inclusion and Diversity Council for NDCS. Director of Parole Supervision and Services Julie Micek applauded the recognition expressing her gratitude for Bivens stating “these types of awards serve to let our employee’s know they are truly valued and appreciated.” Bivens and her husband of 18 years, Scott, reside in North Platte.
Victory Boxing Club Awards Night
Nebraska Board of Parole member Virgil Patlan, accompanied by several Omaha Parole Officers and a district supervisor, attended the Victory Boxing Club Awards Night event in Omaha. Victory Boxing Club and Community Center has been working with the youth of South Omaha for over 10 years in its commitment to provide a safe place for the youth of the community to pursue principles of faith, excellence, and discipline inside the ring and in their everyday lives. A silent auction, guest speakers, and the Mayor were all part of this event to benefit a great program for the youth of Omaha and to recognize the achievements of the youth involved in the program. Congressman Don Bacon was scheduled to make an appearance, but was unable to attend in person, so he appeared via video and made a great speech to honor the award recipients.
Division of Parole Supervision’s Community Involvement
with Saratoga Elementary School
The Division of Parole Supervision is dedicated to becoming involved in community groups that allow us to build and maintain positive relationships with our community. The Lincoln Regional Parole Office in Lincoln, Nebraska, has had the privilege to be a member of the Saratoga Elementary School Community Advisory Group (CAG) for many years. The Saratoga CAG was started in 2001. The purpose of the Community Advisory Group is to connect Saratoga Elementary School with the surrounding community and to support the school while helping the surrounding community to grow and become a better place for families to live and for businesses to thrive. In addition to the Lincoln Parole office, other members of the CAG include Saratoga Elementary School teachers and administrators, student council members from nearby Lincoln Southeast High School, church members from area churches, neighborhood residents and other local business representatives. The CAG group meets monthly during the school year to plan organize and volunteer with a number of activities that benefit the students, families and other residents of the surrounding community. Some of these activities include: a pancake feed, a trunk and treat event, an annual clothing and mitten drive, an adopt a family for holiday gift giving event, a school bike rodeo and a School Fun Night which was recently held for students and families. The CAG group has also organized and volunteered with events to assist neighborhood residents with miscellaneous yard and exterior house maintenance. The Saratoga CAG continues to strive in connecting the school to the community and making positive changes in the lives of students, families and community members in the Saratoga Elementary neighborhood. We look forward to our continued involvement with the CAG in the years to come.
Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
New Rule Amendment Effective June 1, 2017
During the Annual Business Meeting of the Interstate Commission on Adult Offender Supervision held in Cleveland, Ohio, in September 2016, an amendment to the Rules of the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision was adopted which supports Evidence-Based Practices and behavioral change.
The Rule Amendment, which becomes effective June 1, 2017, removes the provision that has allowed for three significant violations to be committed by an offender in the receiving state before the sending state would be required to mandatorily retake or return the offender to the sending state. Under the Rule Amendment the new language that replaces significant violation is “behavior requiring retaking” and can be a single act or a pattern of behavior exhibited by the offender in the receiving state that requires mandatory retaking by the sending state.
The intent of the Rule Amendment is that it will promote a single standard of supervision amongst the Compact member states. The Rules provide that Compact offenders are to be supervised consistent with the manner in which offenders sentenced in the receiving state are supervised. This includes the use of incentives, corrective actions, graduated responses, and other supervision techniques to address offender non-compliance with conditions of supervision.
Although the Rule Amendment includes other revisions to the Rules, this is deemed to be the most significant for Compact member states. Other Rules that require mandatory retaking will not be affected by this Rule Amendment.
The week of April 2-8, 2017, was a time for communities across the country to remember victims in observance of the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. In furtherance of the Nebraska Board of Parole’s mission and vision, we want to increase community awareness of the mechanisms that are available to victims and other concerned citizens to help keep them safe.
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services/Board of Parole Victim Notification
For inmates incarcerated in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, victims may request to be notified in specific circumstances. Please refer to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services’ website which provides information on the circumstances for which victims can request notification (http://www.corrections.nebraska.gov/victimnotification.html).
The Nebraska Board of Parole also provides information regarding Victim Rights in connection with parole decisions and parole administration on this website under “Victim Information” as well as Frequently Asked Questions to assist victims and other concerned citizens (https://parole.nebraska.gov/victim-rights).
For more information on how to register for victim notification through the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services/Board of Parole, please contact the Central Records Office (402) 471-2654.
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday
VINE provides another avenue for victims to anonymously check on an offender’s custody status. Victims can call a toll-free number, visit the VINE website (www.vinelink.com) or utilize the VINEmobile™ app. They can also register for automated notification regarding changes in status in a format of their choice—phone, email, text, or TTY (hearing impaired service). A link to VINE can also be found under the “Victim Information” section of this website under the Victim Information Notification Everyday tab. The VINE service number is (877) 634-8463.
Interstate Compact Offender Tracking System (ICOTS) VINEWatch Notification System ICOTS VINEWatch was launched by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision and is an automated victim notification system for victims to obtain information regarding the status of offenders who relocate from one state to another. The alerts provide interested victims notifications that correlate to various processes for offenders managed in ICOTS. These notifications are communicated via email, text, and telephone. For text messages, standard text message rates apply and are the recipient’s responsibility. The notifications can be tailored by the victim to receive the notifications they want to receive. For more information regarding ICOTS VINEWatch, please contact Tom Verplank, Administrative Parole Officer, in the Nebraska Interstate Compact Office, (402) 479-5650.
The Nebraska Board of Parole and Director of Parole Supervision, Julie Micek are pleased to recognize Parole Staff for attending the 9th Annual UNO School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Scholarship & Awards Luncheon held at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha, on March 3, 2017. The ceremony recognized those individuals in our communities who exemplify their commitment to serve within the criminal justice communities to better serve our constituents. Award recipients included Joe Jeannette – US Attorney’s Office, Mary Newman – Deputy Chief, Omaha Police Department, Chris Sweney – Douglas County Corrections Center, Derek Vaughn – Judge, Fourth Judicial District and Paul Yakel – Coordinator, Douglas County Adult Drug Court. The Master of Ceremonies was Bill Wakefield, Ph.D. In attendance from the Office of Parole Supervision included Director of Parole Supervision and Services Julie Micek, Program and Fiscal Analyst Dr. Jennifer Miller, Omaha Supervisor Rachel Prescher, Master Social Worker Katie Bloom, Senior Parole Officers Ben Hohnstein, Jeff Beran, Michelle Goodman, Stacy Brickey and Terry Ricketts. The Office of Parole Supervision continues to encourage attendance and participation in such events recognizing the challenging efforts of all who dedicate themselves to making our communities safe.
PENNER RECOGNIZED FOR COMPLETING NEBRASKA STATE GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP CERTIFICATE PROGRAM
On February 6, 2017, Parole Supervisor Quintin Penner was one of 32 state employees honored for completing the Nebraska State Government Leadership Certificate program. It is a yearlong leadership development curriculum that involves a huge commitment of time and energy from the candidates. The Leadership Certificate program was created by the Department of Administrative Services in an effort to better prepare aspiring leaders for the unique challenges of leading in the public sector. The group meets at least once a month for formal training, but also stays connected through online learning and community of practice activities in-between the formal events. Certificate candidates receive training in such topics as effective communication for leaders, Personnel rules and labor issues, ethics in government, motivating Generation Y, and project management for the unofficial project manager. Quintin said the final seminar, customer centered government through process improvement, had the greatest impact on him personally. He said that the focus on how many steps and/or people are involved in any given process represents the single biggest opportunity to improve our agency. Time saved benefits all stakeholders by reducing both tangible costs and personnel hours. Congratulations, Quintin, on this important accomplishment.
Don't Let the Events of the Past Define Your Future........
Several months ago the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility (NCYF) hosted what the facility referred to as the NCYF Summer Event. It was during this event that a parole client, Orlando Neal, was one of the featured speakers. He shared his personal story with the audience, youthful offenders currently serving a sentence with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. In fact, he was at one point during his incarceration an offender at this facility. His message was one of hope and of not letting the events of the past define their futures. One of our Nebraska Parole Board members attended this event. Not only was he impressed by the parole clients's accomplishments but also his aspirations and his desire to help the youthful offenders present to realize that they have the ability to change the direction of their lives - it's up to them. In speaking with Mr. Neal afterward, the Board member shared that he spoke highly of his Parole Officer. We do not always hear about the positive impact a Parole Officer has made in the life of a parole client so we want to take this opportunity to recognize not only this parole client's Parole Officer Vicki Austin, but all our Parole Officers for their commitment to the clients we serve. We also want to wish Mr. Neal much success as he continues to work toward his goals for the future. He is not letting the events of his past define his future.