European Prison Officer Career Guidance Survey Launched

To improve the career guidance given to front line prison officers, the European Union funded and launched the Corrections Careers project, of which the International Corrections and Prison Association is a partner. The project is taking place with prisons in six European member states.

The survey asks prison officers, their managers, their families, and decision makers what could be implemented to better support their careers in prison. The first activity in this project is a questionnaire to be followed with a stakeholder workshop in November to take a deeper look at the opportunities and the challenges. To learn more, go to https://icpa.org/.

Scottish Prisons Launch Video Visits

A Scottish Prison Service (SPS) initiative is allowing all prisoners in Scotland to keep in touch with friends and family via video visits during the Covid-19 crisis. During the lockdown, all social visits to prisons in the United Kingdom have been suspended to protect the residents in care and the community from the Covid-19 threat. SPS management said they initiated the service because they understand how important it is for prisoners’ mental health and rehabilitation to stay connected with their family.

SPS partnered with Unilink to provide the service ensuring that prisoners can stay connected to their loved ones, free of charge during these challenging times and after the ease of the lockdown as a safer alternative to the face-to-face visits, especially for families unable to travel to sites.

The service is available for family visits and one-to-one meetings. Slots are available daily from 10am and 30-minute sessions are allowed. The Video Visits can be booked via www.emailaprisoner.com. Since the introduction of the service, a few weeks ago, over 4000 successful Video Visits were carried out.

New Webinars on Family Trauma and Behavioral Management

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is offering the first in a series of three webinars entitled, The Effects of Trauma on Children, Youth and Families at the end of September. The webinar, slated for September 29, 2020, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Eastern, will focus on the effects of trauma on children and a trauma-informed approach to caring for children and families that have experienced trauma. To register and learn more, go here: https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/events/effects-trauma-children-youth-and-families

In addition, the American Jail Association is providing a free virtual training entitled, Behavioral Management Unit: Policies, Procedures, and Pitfalls, on September 30, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM (EDT). Instructor Lieutenant Tyrone J. Shaw Jr., will examine how the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center Behavioral Management Unit has enhanced the effectiveness of facilities using the direct-supervision model. To learn more and register, go here: https://www.americanjail.org/ev_calendar_day.asp?eventid=124

Funding to Promote Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Unveiled

The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) recently announced $4.5 million in grants for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Program.  These program funds are used to improve the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement through training and technical assistance, demonstration projects, implementation of promising practices related to peer mentoring mental health and wellness, and suicide prevention programs.

As part of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, Congress authorized the COPS Office to establish peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies. The 41 awards meet the goals of the 2017 Act and support the Department of Justice and the Administration’s commitment to law enforcement, said the COPS Office.

In addition to the grants announced, the COPS Office recently published two reports regarding officer mental health and wellness. Those reports include the following:

  • Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Report to Congress
  • Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Programs: Eleven Case Studies

For more information, go to cops.usdoj.gov.

Tool Helps Uncover National Prison Statistics

The Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT) is a comprehensive analysis tool providing national prisoner statistics on inmates under the jurisdiction of both federal and state correctional authorities.

CSAT can generate tables of numbers and rates of national and jurisdictional statistics, from 1978 to the most recent year that NPS data are available. The web tool includes state-level prisoner data from the 50 state departments of corrections, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and the District of Columbia (until 2001, when sentenced felons from the District became the responsibility of the BOP).

The pre-set quick tables provide trends in prisoner statistics and link to key tables in the most recent BJS publication on the U.S. prisoner population. In addition, users can create custom tables of year-end populations by the number of inmates in custody or under legal jurisdiction, those held in the custody of private facilities and local jails, the imprisonment rate of prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year, and noncitizens and juveniles in prison. To learn more, click here. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps

2019 National Crime Victimization Survey Results Released

After rising from 1.1 million in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2018, the number of persons who were victims of violent crime excluding simple assault dropped to 1.2 million in 2019, the Bureau of Justice Statistics recently announced. Statistics on crimes that have occurred in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, are being collected now and will be reported next year.

These statistics are based on data from the 2019 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS is the nation’s largest crime survey and collects data on nonfatal crimes both reported and not reported to police. The rate of violent crime excluding simple assault declined 15% from 2018 to 2019, from 8.6 to 7.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. Among females, the rate of violent victimization excluding simple assault fell 27% from 2018 to 2019, from 9.6 to 7.0 victimizations per 1,000 females age 12 or older. Violent crimes other than simple assault are those generally prosecuted as a felony.

This year, BJS provides new classifications of urban, suburban, and rural areas, with the goal of presenting a more accurate picture of where criminal victimizations occur. Based on the NCVS’s new classifications, the rate of violent victimization in urban areas declined from 26.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2018 to 21.1 per 1,000 in 2019, a 20% decrease from 2018 to 2019.

Based on the 2019 survey, less than half (41%) of violent victimizations were reported to police. The percentage of violent victimizations reported to police was lower for white victims (37%) than for black (49%) or Hispanic victims (49%). To see the full report and statistics, click here: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv18.pdf

Research Supports Effective Interventions for Adolescent Sex Offenders

Research suggests that youth commit more than one-quarter (25.8 percent) of all sex offenses and more than one-third (35.6 percent) of sex offenses against juvenile victims. These behaviors can include aggressive or coerced sexual contact, sexual contact that causes harm to a child or others, and sexual contact between children and youth of different ages, sizes, and developmental levels.

Adolescent sex offenders and children with sexual behavior problems can successfully respond to evidence-based treatments such as multisystemic therapy, problematic sexual behavior-cognitive behavioral therapy, and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, said OJJDP in a recent report.

Interventions actively involve the youth’s caregivers and support the caregivers in effectively managing the behavior. Recidivism rates are quite low, demonstrating that with appropriate and effective interventions, most youth can learn to make better choices and be contributing members of society. OJJDP’s Supporting Effective Interventions for Adolescent Sex Offenders and Children With Sexual Behavior Problems program provides funding to communities to develop intervention and supervision services for adolescent sex offenders and children with sexual behavior problems, and to provide treatment services for their victims and families/caregivers.

The program’s primary goal is to prevent sexual reoffending. Each program site engages a multidisciplinary team that can respond to these cases to ensure offenders are held accountable within the legal system and treatment services are available for victims and offenders.

The Connection between Juvenile Justice and Disabilities

The rates of emotional, behavioral, learning, and developmental disabilities are much higher in juvenile offenders than their incidence in the rest of the population, claims a recent Pacers Center article. Pacers is an organization dedicated to the needs of children with disabilities.

According to the site, between 60 to 75 percent of the youth in the juvenile justice system are estimated to have one or more diagnosable disabilities. These can include emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The most common diagnoses include attention deficit hyperactive disorder, learning disabilities, depression, developmental disabilities, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

Most youth with disabilities will not become involved in delinquent or criminal behavior. The risk factors for delinquency and criminal behavior are complex and interconnected, and can include lack of attachment to school, chronic school failure, criminal behavior in the family, family history of mental illness, drug use, experiencing violence or trauma or other issues.

BJS Releases Annual U.S. Correctional Populations Report

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) recently released Correctional Populations in the United States, 2017-2018. This report is the 23rd in a series that began in 1985. It provides statistics on populations supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States, including persons held in prisons or jails and those supervised in the community on probation or parole. It provides statistics on the size of the correctional populations at year-end 2017 and year-end 2018, and changes in populations over time. To see the report, click here.

A Study of COVID-19 and the Work of Correctional Officers Launched

To better understand how COVID-19 is affecting correctional officers and how they carry out their duties, Dr Thomas Akoensi (University of Kent) and Dr Justice Tankebe (University of Cambridge) are conducting a research project. The goal, said the article, is to provide crucial information to support the ongoing efforts by various correctional facilities to control the wider impact of the virus.

The study will involve officers completing a short online questionnaire on how the virus is affecting them and their interactions with prisoners. Given the nature of their work, officers are also likely to be anxious about the risk of becoming infected. Consequently, the researchers will also investigate the potential impact on the mental health of officers and how they are coping with the challenges.

Physical access to correctional facilities is not required. Officers are sent a link to an online questionnaire to complete. For more information regarding participation in the survey, email jt340@cam.ac.uk.