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WHAT IS THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF COMMUNITY SUPERVISION (DTCS) PROJECT?
Facing dramatic increases in the number of defendants referred to the diversion program, in a county the size of Connecticut with limited resources, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office submitted the Digital Transformation of Community Supervision (DTCS) proposal to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The DTCS project is a grant funded research study funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The goal of the project is to increase positive outcomes for misdemeanor and low-level felony defendants in the Pinal County Diversion program by providing a digital case management platform for trained diversion officers who rigorously implement Evidence Based Practices content for individualized, targeted learning and violence reduction. Thus, reducing the administrative load of community supervision, so that officers can provide more intensive supervision and support to higher risk defendants. For more information regarding the DTCS project please refer to the action plan.
HOW DOES THE DIVERSION PROGRAM WORK?
At the discretion of the County Attorney a defendant may participate in the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Adult Diversion Program. This is an alternative approach to holding low risk offenders accountable while diverting their criminal case from the traditional court proceedings. The program saves both time and public funds while giving the individual tools to prevent them from reoffending and ensuring community safety. Defendants are more likely to successfully complete diversion programs and have lower recidivism rates than those sentenced to probation or prison
Prior to intake a battery of assessments are completed with each defendant referred to diversion to determine the driving factors behind why they are engaging in criminal behaviors and target the individualized needs of the defendant. The defendant is then referred to educational and treatment services tailored to address the risks and needs of each individual; while encouraging them to make positive behavioral change.
Under this program, a defendant enters a formal agreement that includes his/her admission to the crime and the defendant’s promise to abide by all program requirements to include paying restitution to all victims. Collection of restitution has to be made at 100 % in order for a defendant to successfully complete the program. Once a defendant successfully completes diversion the criminal charges filed against the defendant for the diversion case will be dismissed.
Program requirements may consist of counseling/treatment, community service, restitution if owed, supervision fees and in some cases random drug testing. There is no specific time frame that a defendant is required to be in the diversion program, as diversion is completed once the defendant has satisfied all of their diversion requirements. For more information regarding the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, Adult Diversion Program, please refer to our diversion webpage and Frequently Asked Questions.
WHAT ASSESSMENT TOOLS DOES THE DIVERSION PROGRAM USE?
WHAT IS THE ITETHER APP AND HOW DOES IT BENEFIT DIVERSION DEFENDANTS AND THE OFFICERS? iTether’s innovative technology significantly improves workflow efficiencies, making it easier to digitally supervise justice-involved individuals. iTether allows officers to measure engagement, while empowering the individual. iTether is a client-centered app that allows provides the defendant with:
- Integrated Telehealth
- Text Messaging
- Treatment Planning and Delivery
- Educational and Treatment Content
- Monthly Reports
- Assessments / Surveys / Forms
- Digital Payments
- Appointment Scheduling
- Deliver Social Determinants of Health
- Dynamic Delivery of Health Literacy Content
THROUGH THE APP THE DEFENDANT HAS ACCESS TO:
- Their diversion plan anywhere, anytime
- Individualized program goals & focus based on criminogenic needs
- Crisis number
- Video Meetings with their officer and treatment team
- HIPAA-compliant messaging for real-time engagement
- Alerts & reminders drive client engagement
WHAT DO DIVERSION OFFICERS SAY ABOUT THE APP?
"The use of the iTether application has made supervision more efficient. Observations between officers and defendants can occur via the video feature decreasing a supervisor's time away from the office as well as allowing for immediate assistance from the supervisor when needed. The video feature also saves defendants and officers travel time as defendants can now check in with their officer using the video feature." - Office of Pinal County Attorney, Sarah C. -Administrative Manager – Diversion
Information can be found within a single tool, making it easier for diversioners to keep track of documents and access necessary resources. As shared by one DO, diversioners can no longer say, “…I forgot to complete this, I didn’t have the paperwork, I didn’t know what to do.”
Diversion Officers (DO) found the app made it easier to share resources, assign readings and reminder notices to diversioners, thus improving the officer-diversioner lines of communication.
The app can be downloaded on any piece of equipment. With all the information necessary at diversioners’ fingertips, it places more ownership and responsibility on the diversioner to meet their goals to succeed in the program.
WHAT DO DIVERSION DEFENDANTS SAY ABOUT THE App?
Overall, most defendants report the app is simple to use and to navigate. Defendants state the app has made it easy to connect with their assigned officer. Comments received from defendants have included:
“The app is user-friendly and simplified for a smooth process of completion.”
“The app makes this process smoother to complete.”
“This app has definitely kept me on track.”
“I think this program is very easy to use.”
“I have no complaints. I feel the diversion program is a great program. Very organized, and my diversion officer is friendly and knowledgeable.”
“I was very pleased with the program and my Diversion Officer and felt supported and respected.”
“It's been great so far. The classes have been very beneficial as well as the app in my helping me reach my goals.”
“The app and officer are a very good fit.”
“I am happy with my progress and the diversion program.”
WHY USE COMMUNITY BASED PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH? WHAT HAVE THE STAKEHOLDERS CONTRIBUTED TO THE DTCS PROJECT?
Unique to the DTCS project is the reliance on Community-Based Participatory Action Research. With historical roots in the social reform movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Macaulay, 2017), CBPR relies on an ecological perspective that encourages close collaboration among citizens, researchers, and professionals to foster constructive community development (Weissberg & Greenberg, 1998). Responsive to the limitations of traditional social science research, social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1946) sought new methods for understanding and addressing complex human problems through action research. Today, CBPR is a collaborative research approach that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process. Each partner contributes unique strengths and shared responsibilities to enhance the understanding of a given phenomenon within the social and cultural dynamics of the community, and rapidly integrates the knowledge gained with action to improve the health and wellbeing of community members (Weissberg & Greenberg 1993, p. 177). CBPR systematically and democratically combines research methods and community capacity-building strategies to bridge the gap between knowledge produced through research, and translation of this research into intervention and policies (Burstein, Bryan, & Chao, 2005; Mittlemark et al., 1996,). CBPR is the balance of research and outcomes. Focusing on the empowerment of partners brings about community change. CBPR is both a research method and an intervention (Branom et al., 2012; Mittlemark et al., 1996).
SHORT-TERM WORK GROUPS
Domestic Violence Workgroup
The DVWG was among a number of working groups formed to explore specific areas of need resulting in information and recommendation that could be utilized by the project to meet its goals and enhance outcome. With an identified increase in the complexity of diversionary clients’ needs and risks in the area of domestic violence defendants and victims the DVWG was formed. For more information regarding the impact of domestic violence offenses in diversion, refer to the Domestic Violence in Diversion Handout. During the course of their work the DVWG;
- Conducted a needs assessment to determine training needs for Justice Practice Professionals in Pinal County specific to working with domestic violence offenders and victims.
- Reviewed valid and reliable DV assessment tools and made recommendations on adoption.
- Reviewed DV interventions and program standards and made relevant recommendations.
For more information regarding the Domestic Violence Workgroup’s contributions to the diversion program and their recommendations refer to the Domestic Violence Workgroup Infographic.
Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Workgroup
The Substance Used Disorder (SUD) and Mental Health Workgroup is working on the digitization of treatment referrals and enhancing communication between treatment providers and diversion staff. The workgroup also assisted with the development of the Persons In Recovery Video. The video features the stories of 4 Pinal County residents in recovery. The purpose of the video is to provide inspiration and hope for individuals struggling with SUD disorders. The video has been uploaded into the iTether platform for the diversion officers to assign to defendants as part of their diversion requirements.
Justice Practice Improvement Workgroup
The purpose of the Justice Practice Workgroup was to identify areas of needed improvement within the diversion program and to identify gaps in training on diversion of stakeholders who work with the diversion program. During the course of their work the Justice Practice Improvement workgroup:
- Created and administered a survey that will identify the training needs of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, community supervision officers and community partners specific to the diversion program. (See Appendix A).
- Formalized a quality assurance process to ensure that diversion officers are utilizing Evidenced Based Practices, while adhering to program procedures and mandated timelines. (See Appendix B).
- Developed a Frequently Asked Questions form for Deputy County Attorneys to help answer questions that diversion defendants have regarding diversion.
For more information regarding the Justice Practice Improvement’s contributions to the diversion program and their recommendations refer to the Justice Practice Improvement Workgroup Infographic.
Workforce Development Workgroup
The Workforce Development Workgroup was among four short-term working groups
formed to explore specific areas of need resulting in information and recommendation that
could be utilized by the project to meet its goals and enhance outcomes. The purpose of the
Workforce Development Workgroup included; identifying the needs of diversion
defendants specific to the domains of financial, employment and career development and
to identify resources for defendants specific to these needs that will be uploaded into the
iTether platform for defendants to access. All short term workgroups were expected to
complete their goals within approximately 6 months, but obstacles and added ambitions
led to the extension of the workgroup’s timeline. The Workforce Development Workgroup
was tasked with a number of goals, which evolved over time. The working groups were
expected to complete their work and issue final reports and recommendations in early
2021. The Workforce Development Workgroup held its first meeting on June 01, 2020 and
completes its work with this report and recommendations. During the course of their work
the Workforce Development Workgroup:
1. conducted a needs survey with defendants to identify system gaps regarding career
development/training, employment and financial stability and to determine the
needs of diversion defendants specific to these domains.
2. identified resources to meet the specific needs of diversion participants to be
uploaded into the iTether platform.
For more information regarding the Workforce Development Workgroup’s contributions to the
diversion program and their recommendations refer to the Workforce Development Workgroup Infographic
LONG-TERM WORK GROUPS
Our long-term workgroups began meeting in March 2022. We will provide updates as to their work product as they are approved. Current long-term workgroup projects include:
1. Policy Advisory Committee- will focus on revision and creation of policies/procedures
2. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Workgroup- will complete a cost-effectiveness analysis
3. Interoptimobility - will publish a playbook on interoptimobility
Check Out These Publications/Presentations Regarding the DTCS Project!