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Community Corrections in Oregon
History
In 1976, the Governor´s Task Force on Corrections proposed a new system of community-based corrections based on a Minnesota model. They recommended legislation to create a partnership between the state and the counties to provide supervision and sanctioning of offenders. Based on this recommendation, the 1977 Legislature passed the Community Corrections Act. The act funded existing community programs and developed alternatives to prison incarceration. The act gave counties the option of managing all, part, or none of the services for offenders under supervision.
 
The original Community Corrections Act has been subject to many debates over the years. A variety of changes have been proposed, ranging from abolishing the act to mandating county participation. The most recent reform occurred in the 1995 Legislative session. That change mandated full participation of all counties in the community corrections act, including supervision of all felony offenders on probation or post-prison supervision/parole. In addition, the law required counties to keep those offenders who previously served 12 months or less in a state institution. Over 90% of these individuals were serving short prison sentences as the result of a revocation of community supervision. Some other effects of the 1995 law change include:

  • Local public safety coordinating councils were formed in each county to develop and recommend plans for use of state resources to serve adult offenders and to serve as planning and implementation forums for the coordination of local criminal justice policies.
  • Funds were allocated for projects to construct, renovate, acquire or remodel local correctional facilities. The new beds were for the offenders who will remain in the community rather than being returned to Department of Corrections prisons. Operational dollars are included in the biennial grants made to counties for community corrections activities.
  • Counties were given the ability to design and deliver a continuum of sanctions and services to fit the community and the offender. Locally appointed supervisory authorities move offenders serving 12-month or less sentences between incarceration and community sanction alternatives.

Oregon's Community Corrections Program
Community Population (December 1, 2009)
Community Population (April 25, 2011)
In Oregon, community corrections is a function of state government operated in partnership with local, county-operated community corrections agencies.  Community corrections activities include supervision, community-based sanctions, and services directed at offenders who have committed felony crimes and have been placed under supervision by the courts (probation),  the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, or the local supervisory authority (parole/post -prison supervision).
  
 
 
There are approximately 32,300 felons under supervision in the community, compared with 14,000 felons in prison. The majority of felons managed in the community are not convicted of a new felony after supervision. The definition of recidivism in Oregon is conviction of a new felony within three years of beginning supervision (probation or post-prison supervision).  Approximately 70 percent of those on supervision do notrecidivate.
 
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Community corrections provides a cost-effective means to hold offenders accountable, while at the same time addressing the causes of criminal behavior and reducing the risk of future criminal behavior.  Each aspect of community corrections - supervision, sanctions, and services - is important to this approach.  County community corrections departments develop sanctions such as electronic surveillance, community work crews, day reporting centers, residential work centers, and intensive supervision programs.  Development of other services such as alcohol/drug treatment, sex offender treatment, employment, and mental health services are important for long-term behavior change.

Evidence Based Practices in Oregon
The face of community corrections in the State of Oregon has gone through a significant makeover the last several years as we continue to incorporate evidence-based principles into the practice and language of community corrections. This makeover has been both challenging and rewarding.  These principles include those of risk, need, and responsivity and will be discussed briefly in terms of how they have been incorporated in to the daily practices of community corrections.
 
The principle of risk dictates that services are delivered to offenders with a higher risk to recidivate, while minimal services are provided to offenders who present a low risk to recidivate. Risk assessment is accomplished through the use of the standardized and validated Oregon Case Management System Risk Assessment Tool. In the State of Oregon, offenders who are assessed as a limited risk, re-offend at a rate of one-in-ten, while those assessed as a high risk, re-offend at a rate of six-in-ten. Thus, it is important to target high risk offenders in order to have the most impact.
 
The principle of need determines what factors to target that are specifically related to criminal behavior. Treatment and supervision services must focus on addressing criminogenic needs and behaviors. The top criminogenic needs identified that lead directly to criminal behavior include anti-social attitudes, values, and beliefs; substance abuse; and anti-social peer associations. In order to identify specific criminogenic factors, most community corrections agency statewide have implemented the use of the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI). Keeping in mind the risk principle, the LS/CMI is conducted on all offenders, who score at a high or medium risk to re-offend. Parole and Probation Officers have received training in the scoring of this tool, as well as in motivational interviewing skills, in order to better move an offender through the stages of change.
 
The principle of responsivity determines how services are best delivered and that programs are using treatment models that have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing recidivism. These models include cognitive, which focus on how a person thinks; behavioral, which focus on how a person behaves; and social learning theory approach, which use techniques of role modeling, practice, and reinforcement to teach new behaviors.
In order to determine if programs are being delivered in an effective manner and adhere to the principles of evidence based practices, all programs that receive community corrections funding must undergo an evaluation based upon the Correctional Program Checklist (CPC) a tool, developed by Dr. Edward Latessa at the University of Cincinnati. 
 
Thus, Parole and Probation Officers manage felony offenders who are in the community by concentrating the greatest efforts on offenders who are most likely to commit new crimes. These offenders have often been in prison and have four or more previous felony convictions.  Offenders considered the highest risk are given the greatest amount of attention, in the form of closer supervision and also in the level of services and sanctions employed in their management. The contacts include home visits, office visits, employment checks, and checks with other agencies including law enforcement and social service agencies. Contact is progressively less frequent as risk decreases.  Additionally, offenders are often subject to unannounced home visits, searches, random testing for drug use, or polygraph testing to monitor compliance with conditions of supervision.
 
Parole and Probation Officers can respond quickly to the violation behavior of offenders through a system called Structured Sanctions. This system allows the officer to hold the offender accountable for behavior in a consistent manner through imposition of a swift sanction commensurate with that behavior.