Problematic Behavior Or Activity
This program was developed as part of a statewide effort to reduce prison utilization following a nearly 50% increase in Oregon’s prison rate between 2000 and 2010. Without the resources to supervise higher-risk property and drug offenders safely in the community, as well as a process for communication between the District Attorney’s office and Parole and Probation, Deschutes County was sending a greater number of offenders to prison each year. In addition, they were unable to accept as many Short Term Trans Leave applicants due to a lack of resources, particularly housing.
The increase in spending necessary to accommodate Oregon’s growing prison population threatened to have a serious impact on the state’s public safety budget and overall spending. According to a 2012 report by the Oregon Commission on Public Safety, prison population growth was anticipated to cost taxpayers up to an additional $600 million.
This program creates a specialized caseload of Alternative Incarceration Program, Short Term Trans Leave, and Downward Departure offenders. Three parole officers supervise a population of up to 100-130 offenders. Once in the program, offenders are placed under intensive supervision and receive programming that may include cognitive behavioral therapy, weekend drug testing, alcohol and drug treatment, and transitional housing. The goal of the program is a balance of sanctions and services, as well as a high frequency of contact.
Offenders enter the program in two primary ways. First, they are accepted through the Short Term Transitional Leave program. Second, they receive a downward departure sentence following a screening assessment and the sharing of information between the District Attorney’s office and Parole and Probation. Offenders who are determined to be appropriate for a downward departure are required to enter the intensive supervision program for six months at the beginning of their normal supervision plan, based on their sentence.
Based On Research
This program is funded by a $1,517,273 grant through the 2015-17 Justice Reinvestment Grant Program. This grant supports program staff including two of the three parole officers, a records technician, a parole specialist trained in MRT, and a community service worker, as well as drug testing, transitional housing, and program supplies, training and equipment.
Portions of the Short Term Trans Leave program were implemented in 2013 with the first round of Justice Reinvestment funds. As a result of this investment, Deschutes County’s STTL acceptance rate rose to 54%, saving the Department of Corrections approximately 3,883 prison bed-days. With the expansion of the program, it is anticipated that these numbers will increase, maximizing the number of STTL applicants Deschutes County can accept.
The Downward Departure portion of the program is currently being implemented and has no outcomes to report as of yet. However, of the 302 offenders who were sent to prison on a first sentence from January 2013 through December 2014, more than 200 would have been qualified to be considered for the program if it had existed. By instituting a presentence screening process and increasing available supervision and services, it is estimated that this program will substantially increase the number of downward departures granted in the county.