Prison overpopulation and the exploding costs of incarceration are a major issue for most States. In California, which has the nation’s second-largest prison population after Texas, the State passed legislation to ease that burden by shifting responsibility for non-serious, non-violent, non-high risk sex offenders from the State to the Counties. Dubbed Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109), the bill took effect in October 2011, calling on counties to house additional prisoners, as well as take on supervision responsibility for prisoners that qualify under the legislation for their reintegration in local communities upon release from state prison.
Seven years later, Los Angeles County Probation Department, the largest in the nation, is at the center of this realignment of the State prison population. It is currently supervising nearly 10,000 participants who were released from State prison as part of AB 109, of nearly 44,000 participants since the implementation of the legislation. It faces the enormous task of dealing with the complexities of recidivism on a now larger scale – across the State more than two-thirds of probationers return to prison within three years. Recidivism generates significant financial and human costs, both for the State and local communities. The Probation Department is committed to ensuring that supervised persons successfully re-enter the community and its leadership is focused on developing an innovative and comprehensive in and out-of-custody reentry model. The approach to supervision is multidisciplinary and cross-departmental lines, involving the coordination of a wide variety of programs designed to foster positive behavioral change and help the client make a successful transition back into society.
These efforts must not only be comprehensive but also highly efficient. AB 109 mandates the discharge of clients within 30-days of completing 12-months of supervision with no custodial sanctions. Given the limits of that timeframe, the Probation Department is seeking a more tightly coordinated and customized deployment of its services, one that hits the ground running to maximize efficiency and motivate client participation. To support this work, the County will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one-year who will identify ways to make the Department’s wraparound services work more effectively across agencies; examine the possibility of a mentoring program that starts during supervision and continues beyond the mandated year to maintain client support; improve deployment of staff time and resources, in keeping with evidence-based best practices; and select and implement pilot solutions. The Probation Department seeks to empower its clients to successfully and expeditiously reenter the community, become private citizens, and sustain crime-free lives. Success in this project will significantly advance progress toward these goals for the betterment of not only those individuals but society as a whole.
Project Summary & Potential Deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will conduct an overview of Department operations by meeting with management, staff, and clients across all stakeholder agencies to understand perspectives from both sides of the services transaction. As part of this process, the fellow will analyze the structure and delivery of services with an eye towards simplifying the process to improve efficiency and client engagement. This will include intra-agency information sharing to identify the gaps that cause inefficiency and find ways to fill them (within the limitations of confidentiality agreements). The fellow will also examine possible models to provide oversight of the client’s transition from supervision to community support systems, which currently do not exist. After ongoing communication with stakeholders and analysis, the fellow will identify key solutions to strengthen the Department’s wraparound service model. In the final few months, and in consultation with the department’s management, pilot projects will be chosen and implemented to test those solutions.
The fellow’s success in this endeavor will be evaluated based on several factors. The fellow will apply a strong project management background to the complexities of probation services delivery, utilizing an awareness of best practices in corrections, locally, nationally and internationally, and experience tackling challenges at a similar scale. This background, combined with creative thinking; high-level skills in convening and listening to service providers and clients, as well as consensus-building, will provide the fellow with the required tools to help the Probation Department reach a higher level of competency in discharging its mission.
- Conduct a landscape assessment: Get up to speed with functions of the Department and multi-agency partners. Conduct interviews with service providers and clients to understand what works and what doesn’t from both sides. Analyze the structure and implementation of services, prioritizing areas of concern.
- Engage and align stakeholders: Establish ongoing lines of communication with stakeholders to establish a shared vision that supports systematic change efforts. Ensure all perspectives are heard and incorporated in any future recommendations. Drawing on knowledge of best practices in probation, begin to compare approaches to common challenges, including possible models to provide oversight of client transition from supervision to community support systems. Get stakeholder input to prepare informative collateral, or a “road map” for clients that spells out exactly what is available, how it works and how it can help them.
- Prioritize goals, select pilot project and begin implementation: Based on the outcome of the landscape assessment, along with outreach with management and stakeholders, identify those elements of system delivery that are ideal candidates for improvement. As solutions begin to coalesce, seek out feedback from management and stakeholders to test their validity. In conjunction with management, define the pilot project to streamline Department operations and encourage stakeholder buy-in. Initiate implementation, ideally with enough time to gauge its efficacy. Finally, based on an evidence-based assessment of alternatives, make a recommendation for a model to provide oversight of client transition from supervision to community support systems.
- Reaver Bingham, Deputy Chief, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Howard Wong, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Darlyne Pettinicchio, Bureau Chief AB 109, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- At least 15-years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in project management or management consulting.
- Relevant experience in criminal justice or corrections desirable, but not required.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially resistant
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.