Webinar presenter Doug Jaye answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Differentiating by Risk and Enhancing Skill Building Techniques to Motivate Positive Change. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Can we get a copy of the problem-solving worksheets and the worksheets you all talked about during your presentation?
Doug Jaye: Unfortunately, we cannot. They are copyrighted through the Carey Group Publishing and would have to be purchased through Carey Group Publishing so I can’t share those.
Audience Question: What was the most important or the most insightful findings from your experience in working with the Carey Group?
Doug Jaye: They were able to provide a total overview on effectively implementing evidence-based practices and the advantage would be they shed all that research and evidence with the staff and that’s how we were able to also obtain the staff buy-in. They guided us through evidence-based practices and then we were able to purchase tools to implement those evidence-based practices. So it’s an overall continuum that they provided us.
Audience Question: I think you mentioned that you could refer to services such as substance abuse treatment. People identify it as the need on the assessment. How did you add these conditions and did the judges buy into this?
Doug Jaye: We don’t technically add conditions of probation. We provide voluntary referrals if it’s not part of the audit. So if we identify a substance abuse issue, a mental health issue, we would refer them to those agencies within the community. They would be voluntary referrals. There was recently a change in the Florida state statute that allowed for alternative sanctions to be implemented if there was a violation and under that that statute in the future, then we could actually add conditions of probation if the defendant agreed to take that route rather than a formal violation.
Audience Question: How long did it take to build this program that you just presented to us from the identification of all the issues to the research, to getting these incredible results. What did that arc of time look like?
Doug Jaye: I would say 4 to 5 years. We started gathering our information in 2014 with a proxy risk instrument to get a snapshot of our case log, see what we’re dealing with as far as our risk levels, we set up a staff-driven committee which was a great committee. Started gathering data and then once we implemented it, we slowly implemented it with just some new cases that came in and supervise the old cases the way we used to. It was definitely a process. I’ve learned over the years if you implement things too quick, haste makes waste. It was a long journey but I think if you take your time, do your due diligence, you come up with better results in the long run.
Audience Question: You mentioned that you had written a grant to be able to get the services of Carey group. Can you talk a little bit about writing that grant? Did you have staff? Did you have a contractor? What was that process like?
Doug Jaye: Executive management at the time wrote that grant and it went to BJA, I believe. And we’re able to get a grant for the Carey group to come in and provide some training and we also had another grant I believe through SAMHSA which brought us the motivational interviewing consultant and subsequently we had to find dollars within our budget to bring back the consultant on evidence-based practices.
Audience Question: You talked about criminogenic needs etc. Is mental health considered to be a criminogenic need and do you know the rationality behind that decision?
Doug Jaye: The secondary criminogenic need to substance abuse, employment, school leisure, and recommendation. This is actually a non-criminogenic need and that came as a surprise to us when we undergo this journey because some of the first comments that everyone would think that would be the major one but it is not a factor that causes a probationer to recidivate. It’s not that it shouldn’t be addressed but we do address it based on the needs assessment, we’ll make referrals and then we definitely address it but it’s not one of those traits that can drive recidivism and the whole premise behind this is to work on those primary criminogenic needs that are going to reduce recidivists.
Audience Question: What is the SSS in Florida that allows a referral to treatment in lieu of a violation. Did you know that statute or that sect code?
Doug Jaye: I believe it’s 907041. I can look that up, it’s an alternative sanctions statute. It’s a new statute. 948.06. I have a lot of statutes in my head but I believe it’s 94806 but the main statute on probation is 948 in the state of Florida. I can definitely look up the specific site and provide that to you. And there was a question the judges definitely buy into alternative sanctions. They’re onboard with that.
Audience Question: You talked about the benefits of using motivational interviewing, a popular topic here at Justice Clearinghouse audiences. How hard was it to get probation officers to embrace this new skillset and did you have to overcome any particular challenges in teaching these skills in getting staff to buy into it?
Doug Jaye: I’m going to have Bridget to address that question.
Bridget: First was it wasn’t that difficult to start incorporating a lot of motivational interviewing techniques into our interviews with the defendants. It becomes natural after a certain amount of time you start using them in your home life as well. You use the open-ended questions due to reflecting back. Even during an argument you can say, listen, did you just say that and that’s the reflecting during a motivational interview. It may get part of your routine; you practice it regularly.
Audience Question: What challenges did you overcome to help the staff embrace motivational interviewing?
Bridget: Just an overall mindset of having everyone kind of go from compliance and court orders and only court orders to rapport building and it was a complete paradigm shift within the department.
Audience Question: You talked about specializing these different case types. Did you specialize officers that also based on these case types so that only one officer sees only high-risk probationers or does it give an officer see a range of probationers with various different risk types?
Doug Jaye: We did not divide up by risk level only offices have a mixture of extra high, moderate and low risk. Some jurisdictions do divide up differently. That was not our approach at this time.
Audience Question: The monthly report that probationers do, will you be moving those monthly reports to an electronic format as opposed to mailing them or dropping them off?
Doug Jaye: Eventually, our moderate and high risk come in person each month into the office. When they come in, they’re bringing their monthly reports and hand it to the officer. Our low risk currently mails them in but definitely, we are looking at them being able to electronically submit it to us, us attaching it the case. We’re always looking to decrease paper and increase technology. That’s part of our strategic plan.
Audience Question: How frequently do you do booster training sessions to keep staff trained in the use of various skills? Do you do them monthly? Do you do them quarterly? Do you do them annually? I’m guessing it might also depend on the skillset themselves and the types of skills we are talking about. How frequently do you do those refresher training sessions for your staff?
Doug Jaye: We have team meetings monthly. We’ll address specific things at team meetings. Also, we do some quality assurance and observation of these meetings. During that there will be some coaching after those meetings to give some mentoring and some suggestions. We just selected some coaches. We just had the Carey Group here to provide some training. We selected some coaches. Instead of the supervisors doing the coaching, they’ll do the quality assurance. We are going to have some resident experts who are actual probation officers and we are going to do some peer to peer mentoring training. We think that that’s going to be a lot more effective because they are the ones utilizing the sheets and they are the ones who know how to do it the best.
Audience Question: What has been the unexpected benefits to some of these changes? For example, have you found it easier to retain staff? Is employee turnover down? Are you finding that your employees’ satisfaction and engagements are higher? What are some of those unexpected benefits to the changes that you implemented?
Doug Jaye: We see some camaraderie between the team. We have attracted some different types of applicants. Previously when we were enforcing conditions of probation, we see more law enforcement type of applicants now we are receiving applicants with a background in case management and skill building. Definitely increase the rapport with our probationists. We didn’t even have the ability to spend a lot of time with our probationist. Now we do and rapport is fantastic. It’s making a positive impact not just with the statistics. The statistics don’t tell it all. It’s with the letters. It’s with the cards. It’s with the thank yous. That’s where we really see the rubber hit the road
Audience Question: Do you use the same type of program for your juveniles? Or do you only supervise adults?
Doug Jaye: We supervise predominantly adults. We supervise a few juveniles in the state of Florida. If they get a DUI, driving under the influence, we have them on probation. What’s interesting is that crime is for marijuana, juvenile justice will also be supervising them. We don’t have a lot of them. If it’s appropriate anybody who walks in the door will get motivational interviewing and skill building if they fall into that level. Everyone will definitely get a motivational interview.
Audience Question: I was just going to follow up that with the subsequent question. Do you think that this type of differentiated approach would also work well with juveniles? Sounds like you are saying yes but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
Doug Jaye: A number of our officers came from juvenile justice and they receive some of these training under a different name. They found it very effective with them supervising cases. I would say would it be effective with juveniles. You have to be able to separate which cases you need to focus on to make the biggest change in your organization. You can’t supervise every case per se. That’s the premise behind differentiating case supervision.
Audience Question: Now that you have gone through this whole renovation, what advice would you provide agencies considering embracing a differentiated program like the one you just designed?
Doug Jaye: I would start with a professional consultant. It goes a long way for staff to hear it from an expert. I would start there. I would get the staff engaged. We talked about empowerment. We need the staff engaged. We need them to run committees. They are the ones with the knowledge, you get buy-in when they run the committee. They provide suggestions to the management. Not management down, staff going up. Throughout the years, I’ve seen it both ways. It definitely works better this way. You have to document your success. Share the impact at the meetings. Sometimes it’s hard for the officers to see the impact and sometimes it takes a while for those statistics to pan out. As you get those positive results, you need to share it. You need to make changes not be afraid to make changes. Those will be some of the suggestions I will make.
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