Saturday, January 16, 2010

Governor Perdue to Introduce Legislation to Improve Community Supervision of Parolees and Probationers

Governor Sonny Perdue announced Friday that State Representative Jim Cole, the Governor’s senior floor leader in the House, will introduce legislation to improve community supervision of parolees and probationers.

“We can improve the state’s supervision of parolees and probationers and produce a more effective and efficient government,” said Governor Perdue. “This legislation will result in more officers in the field with more training. By utilizing the best practices of each division the state will better perform its community supervision role.”

Under the proposal the state’s parole and probation functions would be under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. The Governor will recommend a Director of Community Supervision who will be approved by the Board of Corrections and be a Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Corrections. In addition, the Parole Board chair would serve as member of the Board of Corrections. The Parole Board would continue its current clemency duties.

The legislation will encourage better policy outcomes and a more strategic vision for community supervision across the state. It will enhance public safety by allowing for consistent sanctioning for violations of conditions across all of community corrections. There will be a seamless transition for offenders within the criminal justice system which will provide a full continuum of re-entry and community services. For example, 40 percent of offenders have a split sentence, meaning they have probation to follow their parole supervision, causing disruptions in case planning and supervision for offenders. The legislation will allow for a continuum of services resulting in lower recidivism.

In addition to providing better outcomes and enhancing public safety, the legislation will also allow for operational and internal management efficiencies. In the two departments there are currently a combined 1046 officers in field supervisory roles. Streamlining administrative functions would create an opportunity to add an additional 461 field officers. The new officers would result from flattening the organizational structure of community supervision and converting administrative positions to officer field positions. The legislation also could allow for an opportunity to reduce the number of offices needed by pardons and parole officers. Currently, officers work out of 181 locations, with the combining of functions the number of offices could be reduced in half.

“This legislation will produce better outcomes and result in 50 percent more officers in the field,” said Representative Cole.

Additionally, the legislation will encourage swift and certain sanctions for offenders. It will allow for parolee and probation violators to face a range of sentences including detention, boot camp, and day reporting centers.

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