On March 16, 2004 the Governor appointed a new Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Kathleen Dennehy. CJPC views the current conditions within prisons as counter productive to the safety of our communities.
As detailed in a February letter to the Governor, CJPC hopes that Commissioner Dennehy will work to make substantive, corrective changes such as:
preparing offenders for their ultimate release to the community beginning on the day they enter prison;
establishing estimated release dates that can be used for case planning purposes;
basing release and revocation decisions on actuarial risk of reoffending;
having a system of post-incarceration supervision driven by an offender’s risk level of reoffending;
having rational policies regarding discharge from post-release supervision for offenders who pose minimal risk to the community;
using evidence-based principles for effective interventions, including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral programming to address criminogenic factors; and
participating in active partnerships with state and local level human service and corrections agencies to respond to the needs of returning offenders.
Adopting these priorities will require major changes in allocation of funds, use of facilities, classification policies, programs, selection and training of staff, and openness to interaction with the public and other agencies. These are the types of choices and challenges being taken on by Corrections Departments and Governors around the country – Rhode Island, Michigan, and Missouri to name a few.