Problematic Behavior or Activity
Over the past several years, Klamath County Community Corrections identified a number of offenders who are involved in multigenerational criminality (i.e., successive generations engage in criminal behavior). Many of these offenders have children (either biological or through a relationship with someone who has children). The Department of Human Services (DHS), Child Welfare, is often involved with these cases, though DHS is often not involved. In these cases, parole and probation officers (PPO) recognize that the family could be at risk or identify barriers that interfere with the offender’s ability to provide pro-social parenting. Klamath County Community Corrections also recognized that as an office it did not engage victims in the supervision process or provide information to crime victims. Families of offenders and victims both needed better service.
Impact on the Community
Multigenerational criminality affects our entire community by compromising public safety. Crime victims are often left out of the post-conviction process; this creates additional trauma for the victims, their families, or both.
Klamath County Community Corrections created the Victim Family Justice Coordinator (VFJC) position. The mandate for the VFJC was to develop relationships with social service agencies throughout the county, such as schools, the Youth Attendance Team (YAT), DHS, and other agencies that provide services—such as mentoring, substance use treatment, mental health services, and housing—to youth in the community.
At intake, the VFJC meets with the offender and determines whether there are children in the home. The coordinator conducts an interview with the offender and identifies issues in the family. This may include the parent having trouble with a child not attending school or a child’s behavioral problems. The VFJC can then make a referral to agencies that are able to assist the parent and child and begin the process of intervening with the family. This intervention may help divert the family from DHS and/or future criminal involvement, as well as assist the family in engaging in pro-social behavior.
The VFJC also participates on the Youth Attendance Team, a program that aims to improve school attendance. If children of the supervised offenders are identified by the Youth Attendance Team because they are not attending school, the coordinator notifies the PPO. The officer then contacts the child’s parent and works with the offender to identify ways to remove barriers to improved behavior and ensure that the child returns to school and attends consistently.
The VFJC is also responsible for making contact with victims of the supervised offenders to explain the supervision process and provide information about resources in the community. The VFJC is the primary point of contact for victims, such as addressing questions about the status of the offender’s probation or post-prison supervision or about restitution.
The VFJC works closely with Marta’s House, the Women’s Crisis Center, and the victim advocate from the District Attorney’s Office.
Based on Research
The VFJC position is not based on research. Klamath County Community Corrections was aware that other community corrections offices employed victim advocates.
This program is funded with state Grant in Aid dollars and supports 1 FTE.
This is a new program, so it is too early to assess its impact. However, Klamath County Community Corrections is tracking the number of victims it has contact with and the services to which they are referred; and it is tracking how many children and families are referred to services and what services. The office will also track whether the child encounters the juvenile system.
Critical Success Factors
Reach out to every agency that provides victim or family services and build collaborative relationships with those agencies.
Think outside the box about services in the community. Talk with other agencies and ask them to help you identify organizations, including faith-based and home care agencies that can assist with providing parent and child services.