Supervision/Services New & Noteworthy

Parole Embarks on Mental Health First Aid Initiative

In the fall of 2019, the Division of Parole Supervision took steps to focus on the mental health of our teammates by delivering HeartMath training and devices to everyone in the Agency.  That winter, individuals applied and were selected to attend instructor training for Mental Health First Aid.  After our trainers were certified and ready to teach, COVID-19 hit.  The world, including our training, was put on pause.  Fast forward a few months and the world began to adapt—we settled into working from home, social distancing, wearing masks, and learning to do almost everything through virtual meetings. 

Meetings and trainings that had formally been delivered in-person suddenly had to be adapted to meet the needs of trainers and participants.  Fortunately, in 2019, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing had begun working on developing a new, expanded, curriculum with updated content on trauma, addiction, and an extra emphasis on self-care.  This new curriculum was able to be adapted to a virtual format and once again, we were able to deliver Mental Health First Aid to our Agency.  For this virtual format, participants earned their certificate by completing an online, 2-hour, self-paced class then participating in 5.5-hours of virtual, instructor-led training.

As we cautiously return to normal operations, it is our goal to continue to have an open conversation about mental health, supporting one another by providing ongoing encouragement and resources to those who need it while taking time to prioritize self-care.  To date, the Division of Parole Supervision has trained over 80 percent of our staff in Mental Health First Aid and looks forward to training all Parole staff by summer 2021.

We are reminded that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  We send our sincerest gratitude to our leadership for supporting and encouraging this training and daily self-care.  Furthermore, we commend our staff – administrative aids, assistant parole officers, parole officers, and leadership – for actively participating in Mental Health First Aid training and taking strides to break the stigma of mental health. 

Board of Parole Chair, Rosalyn Cotton, Recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award

Rosalyn Cotton, Chair of the Nebraska Board of Parole, was recently named a 2021 recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Public Service by the College of Public Affairs and Community Service.  She was nominated for this award by the University of Nebraska Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  The award was presented to Ms. Cotton for outstanding achievements in the field. 

Chair Cotton was recently reappointed by Governor Pete Ricketts to the Nebraska Board of Parole for another six-year term and confirmed by the Nebraska State Legislature. 

 

Parole's Transition nearing its Five Year Anniversary

July 1, 2021, will mark the five-year anniversary of Parole being placed under the Nebraska Board of Parole’s authority.  The Division of Parole Supervision has continued to undergo significant change since it began transitioning to the new agency in 2016 even amidst challenges during the Pandemic.  Though the Pandemic created a number of challenges this past year, it also brought about an opportunity for growth as the agency continued to move Parole forward into the future, including the expanded use of technology in our daily work.  Highlights follow of how Parole has grown during the Pandemic:

At the outset of the Pandemic, the agency obtained the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funds grant which allowed the agency to purchase tablets for all staff as well as devices to allow for work from home arrangements (printers).  Funding was also used to support increased Electronic Monitoring needs within the agency.

The agency obtained the 2019 Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant for two programs to be piloted for the first time in the state and Nation -- CBI4NE1, an open Cognitive Behavioral Interventions (CBI) group, and Violence Reduction Programming, community-based programming for our parole clients.

The agency was also successful in obtaining the 2020 BJA grant to further engagement and information-sharing regarding victim services and to create a full-time position to work with parole staff and victims to build supports for those who identify as victims and survivors.

Virtual hearing options were piloted with three Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) institutions and a new virtual participation space was created at the Heritage Square Office.  Throughout COVID-19, the Board has maintained hearing and review schedules while following NDCS protocol and continuing to release individuals to the community in a safe and effective fashion.  Although there were challenges, the Board of Parole conducted offender reviews/parole hearings unless cancellations were necessary due to weather conditions.  Utilizing technology, parole hearings were conducted via video-teleconference/audio-telephonic with the assistance of the Division of Parole Supervision staff/team.  Visitors were only allowed for parole hearings if approved by NDCS.  Nevertheless, the Board has conducted business as usual since the Pandemic began. 

Revitalization of the agency’s website was undertaken in the last year to provide more information to the public, clients, families, and a wide variety of stakeholders regarding the Nebraska Board of Parole, Division of Parole Supervision, and parole processes.

The agency has focused on developing and building diversity amongst our staff by hiring individuals from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of experiences. 

The network of available services to clients in both urban and rural environments via transition to online modes of program delivery has also been expanded (pretreatment and relapse drug treatment, cognitive-behavioral programming, etc.). 

We look forward to seeing what the future holds in store for the agency but believe we are better positioned today to meet the challenges of tomorrow.  With change comes endless possibilities.

 

 

Parole Hosts "Wear Blue Day" and Fundraiser/Drive to Benefit the Child Advocacy Centers Across Nebraska

Parole Hosts Wear Blue Day and Fundraiser/Drive to Benefit CACs

The Nebraska Board of Parole and Division of Parole Supervision was proud to observe Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout April.  The agency hosted its Wear Blue Day on April 9, 2021, to show its support of child abuse awareness and prevention.  A fundraiser/drive to benefit the Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across the state was conducted in the Omaha and Lincoln Regional Parole Office locations and freewill donations of money and much needed items were accepted during the planned events.  The donations will be dispersed to the CACs, which are community based child abuse prevention programs, in Gering, Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte, and Omaha. 

Since 1983, this Nation has observed April as a time to remember that we can all take a role in preventing children from being harmed.  In the state of Nebraska, everyone is a mandatory reporter.  This means that if you know a child is being harmed either physically, mentally, or sexually you must report it.  You can do so by calling the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 652-1999.

Victim Crime Rights Week

Victim Awareness Week

Highlighting Resources Available to Victims

 

Once again, the Nebraska Board of Parole and the Division of Parole Supervision are getting ready to participate in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.  Since 1981, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) is a time to renew our commitment to serving all victims of crime, to acknowledge the achievements in victim services and allied professions, to honor those who have gone above and beyond in their service to others, and to remember crime victims and survivors.

This year NCVRW will be celebrated April 18-24, 2021, across the nation. The Division of Parole Supervision would like to remind others that we are committed to victims’ rights.  On the Parole website we have a page of information for victims.  This page includes their rights and frequently asked questions.  We would also like to share that we have a Victim Assistance Representative available for different services to victims.  You may call Andrea Remaklus (402-480-2744) with questions about victims’ rights, questions about parole policies and procedures, and questions about resources and referrals.  She can also walk you through the parole process and is available to attend parole hearings with victims at their request (once in-person hearings become available again). 

The Nebraska Interstate Compact Office-Parole, within the Division of Parole Supervision, also wants to bring to victims’ attention a new email resource that is now available.  The Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) partnered with the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) to promote victims’ rights and safety when offenders transfer supervision across state lines.  A result of the partnership was the development of a resource for victims of crime and their family members seeking support and advocacy when offenders transfer under the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision.  To utilize this resource, email ICAOS-help@trynova.org; a NOVA representative will respond within one business day. 

UPDATE: Nebraska Limited Restrictions Continue for Interstate Adult Offenders

Nebraska Limited Restrictions Continue

Effective Date: 1-15-2021

Adopting Authority: Nebraska Board of Parole

Operations Affected: Management of transportation for returns

Notice:

Limited restrictions for Nebraska Parole will continue until 2-14-2021:

Management of transportation for returns is being addressed on a case-by-case basis.  Alternatives to retaking of both outgoing and incoming Compact offenders will be addressed cooperatively with the affected states on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the safety of staff, offenders, and the public.

Contact Information:

For further questions, contact Sally Reinhardt-Stewart, Deputy Compact Administrator, at 402-479-5768 or via e-mail sally.reinhardt-stewart@nebraska.gov.      

UPDATE: Nebraska Limited Restrictions Continue for Interstate Adult Offenders

Nebraska Limited Restrictions Continue

Effective Date: 12-15-2020

Adopting Authority: Nebraska Board of Parole

Operations Affected: Management of transportation for returns

Notice:

Limited restrictions for Nebraska Parole will continue until 1-15-2021:

Management of transportation for returns is being addressed on a case-by-case basis.  Alternatives to retaking of both outgoing and incoming Compact offenders will be addressed cooperatively with the affected states on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the safety of staff, offenders, and the public.

Contact Information:

For further questions, contact Sally Reinhardt-Stewart, Deputy Compact Administrator, at 402-479-5768 or via e-mail sally.reinhardt-stewart@nebraska.gov.