Program Development And Evaluation
ABC/123 Version X
Program Case Studies
AJS/594 Version 3
Case Study Material
Program Case Studies
Juvenile Justice Correction Facilities
In May of 2004 the municipality removed juveniles from a section of the adult corrections facility, as ordered by the government, because the juvenile area did not provide sight and sound separation from the adult population. The facility was a 50-year-old, 900-square-foot holding structure located adjacent to the adult facility. It held juveniles awaiting initial adjudication and status offenders, such as those charged with underage possession of alcohol and incorrigible behavior. This juvenile facility has two sleeping rooms located next to each housing both males and females and has held up to eight juveniles at a time. It does not have a shower room, dayrooms, or an outdoor exercise area and is not in compliance with government standards.
After initial adjudication, juveniles charged with nonstatus offenses are transferred to another facility that is over 12 hours away, making visitation extremely difficult. Once there, they do not have access to family, community support, or rehabilitation services and can quickly become institutionalized.
In 2008, there were 398 minors arrested. Of these 398 minors, 141 prosecutions were initiated. Currently, there are 73 pending cases from 2008. Of these, 32 were for drug abuse, underage drinking, and possession of alcohol. Many of the 141 initiated prosecutions included multiple charges. These charges are for burglaries, theft, rapes, assaults, threats or endangerment, disorderly conduct, attempt at unlawful sexual behavior, carrying a concealed weapon, joyriding, abusing property, reckless driving, incorrigible behavior, and sexual abuse. The majority of these also included substance abuse or alcohol use.
There has been an annual increase in incidents involving juveniles from 10% to 155% per year over the last 5 years. The number of prosecutions in 2008 has increased 200% from 2007. The increasing prosecutions reflect a shift in law enforcement to preserve peace and security in the municipality. The high number of arrests reflects a dramatic increase in methamphetamine use and underage drinking. This problem has also been identified as a primary cause of the rapid increase in school drop-out rates, truancy, family conflicts, and other juvenile crime.
Juvenile offenses have dramatically increased over recent years and the need for a new facility was apparent. In response, the municipality established the Juvenile Justice Review Committee (JJRC) that is comprised of participants who want to improve the juvenile justice system. This group meets monthly and more frequently when required.
Mortgage and Investment Fraud
In this municipality last year, the number of foreclosures increased by 723%, up from just 81% in 2006 to 667% in 2008. The vast majority of the homes lost to foreclosure are in the municipality’s southeast sector. The southeast sector is comprised of low- to moderate-income families, racial and ethnic minorities, and older adults. Research indicates that foreclosures in this area are not slowing. A recent study found that three out of four homebuyers within this municipality received an adjustable rate mortgage from 2005 to 2006. Most at-risk homeowners are Latino, Asian, or Black and have riskier and more expensive loans than most White homebuyers. Notices of Default are up 121%.
In this climate, mortgage and investment fraud targeting at-risk homeowners is rapidly on the rise. New scams targeting vulnerable communities are becoming more common, such as loss mitigation companies promising to help distressed homeowners—for a fee. The companies do nothing to help and mortgages fall further behind until banks foreclose on the homes. Countless homeowners have been defrauded by similar schemes. Older homeowners are being targeted for reverse mortgages and distressed homeowners are being targeted for scams, such as tax reassessment, solicitations, and investment fraud by professionals who start with legitimate mortgage activities and then engage in subsequent fraud. Instead of receiving the needed help, distressed homeowners are being defrauded out of their money and their homes.
The district attorney’s (DA) office has built significant expertise and success in prosecuting mortgage and investment fraud. The office has also supported federal enforcement efforts and advocated for legislative protection for potential mortgage fraud victims. The DA’s office is currently operating beyond actual capacity. The DA’s office and the police department have a swelling backlog of fraud cases. At the same time, the DA’s office has suffered significant budget cuts in the last year, resulting in staff layoffs and an office-wide strain on resources.
Rural Law Enforcement: Combatting Crime and Illegal Substance Abuse
In 2008, there were 4,198 juveniles detained as delinquents or as children in need of supervision in the rural juvenile detention facilities. The facilities director stated that 97% of the juveniles are detained for less than 3 months and 3% from 3–6 months, and 90% have alcohol or drug issues, 2% have a mental health disability, and 25% have medical issues. Juveniles in detention do not have access to risk and needs assessment, treatment or services due to a lack of coordinated services and case management resources. Reentry planning and aftercare is nonexistent. Facility administrators place urgent calls to counselors and other professionals, hoping they can come in immediately on a volunteer basis for crisis situations. No education services are provided at facilities.
Objective risk-assessment standards have never been formulated. Risk assessments that must be performed by probation officers (according to the Children’s Code) are not done on children in temporary custody. As a result, dependent children may be in detention at any given time, and children have been detained with delinquent children in violation of Children’s Code guidelines. Needs assessments also are not performed. These must be performed by the service provider responsible for the area of assessment. Substance and alcohol abuse assessments must be performed by behavioral health professionals. Mental health and medical assessments must be performed by health service professionals. The facilities, however, lack the core competencies to manage agency referrals for assessment purposes. Record keeping in the corrections department only recently became automated. Juveniles with serious needs go undiagnosed and untreated.
Detention has become the first choice to discipline children, even for minor offenses. Due to a lack of alternatives, children in contempt have been detained for 6 months when the original charge may be a curfew violation. Children brought into the system are almost guaranteed to be seen again on delinquency charges.
This region is one of the poorest U.S. rural communities with per capita income averaging $4,106. The region spans more than 24,000 square miles with 2,000 miles of paved roads. The distance and terrain make it challenging to coordinate services for the communities. Juvenile gang membership and drop out and delinquency rates are growing problems. Drug use among juveniles in the community is epidemic and drug-related assault is rising. In 2008, police responded to 33 attempted suicides and 11 suicides of youth. School dropout rates are high. The perception in this region is that restorative justice for juveniles has failed.
Judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and staff in corrections, behavioral health, and social services all agree that restorative justice has never been given a real opportunity to succeed. When most offenses were decriminalized in 2000 due to municipal code, they directed restorative justice solutions and community participation, but did not provide funding. As noted in a 2008 memorandum sent by the municipality, restorative justice is a core responsibility. The unfunded mandate for restorative justice was limited to agency-specific grants and heavy reliance on individuals with creativity and initiative. An unreasonable level of creativity and initiative has been required for personnel at the agency level. This resulted from an absence of detailed agency-collaboration plans at the policy-making level, despite general interagency agreements.
Combating Criminal Narcotics Activity Along the Southern Border
Narcotics and human trafficking are common problems in the southern part of Texas. Every day, hundreds of pounds of illicit narcotics are transported, and individuals are being transported as human cargo to areas within the United States. While Mexico has very strict gun laws, 55% of the weapons seized last year were assault weapons, and it is estimated that 90% of the weapons used by the drug cartels were illegally exported from the United States.
Most illicit traffic moving north from Mexico through Texas must flow through this area in South Texas; therefore, this area experiences the same problems associated with the narcotics, weapons, and human smuggling activity as those cities directly on the Mexico–United States border. In fact, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection now includes this county in the same border-security-concern area as the counties on the Mexico–United States border.
In an effort to curb the narcotics, weapons, and human cargo movement, South Texas law enforcement has formed working relationships to solve this organized crime problem. The six–member, local agency coalition works joint operations on highway interdiction, data collection, and data sharing projects.
The police department’s efforts are complicated by a lack of technology for its five collaborative partner agencies and by a lack of police-officer and data-analysis resources. At the present time, communications within the South Texas County Small Townof the, Texas Police Department are limited to voice communications via an 800 MHz radio system. This system can, and is, monitored by criminal organizations. Any data or intelligence gathered by the field officers must be shared over this nonsecured radio system and must be entered into the Records Management System by someone else receiving the information. This increases the possibility of data entry error.
In addition, there is no method of determining the real-time location of mobile units, which is a critical officer-safety problem. The county’s lack of resources limits effective law enforcement; reduces the ability to collect and share real-time, secure data; and reduces the safety of police officers. New technology, such as an automated license plate recognition system (tag readers), cannot be used by the police department because the police do not have data-link systems in their vehicles.
A mobile, data-link system, additional sworn officers, and a data analyst to assist with intelligence-led policing will greatly assist law enforcement. These resources and staff allow the South Texas county to better address narcotics-related activities, collect and disseminate real-time data, analyze crime and intelligence data, and improve data-sharing efforts and performance in these critical areas of law enforcement.
The Internet is an invaluable resource for community safety, because it provides public access to information on justice-related issues within communities and throughout the United States. Many law enforcement practitioners have embraced the Internet and made information widely available, allowing access to considerable justice-related data for their jurisdictions.
Currently, there are many websites available to the law enforcement community that provide data and information of interest to criminal justice practitioners. Many in the law enforcement community, however, may not be aware of the availability of these resources. Further, to search through the vast amount of data available, law enforcement practitioners have to spend considerable time accessing and conducting searches on individual sites. Access to all of the databases through a single access point would greatly benefit the law enforcement community and allow for the most efficient search functionality and data retrieval.
The creation of a law enforcement information sharing portal to provide a single access point would benefit the entire criminal justice community by allowing for more efficiency, effectiveness, and cost savings. The ability of law enforcement to query multiple resources with a common term from a unified interface will deliver a more comprehensive view regarding the search criteria.
The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is an example of the success that a single access point for searching multiple resources can provide. Prior to the NSOPW, many states had their own sex offender registry systems. However, to conduct a comprehensive search of registered sex offenders, it was necessary to conduct searches on the individual websites of the respective states and territories.
In 2005, when NSOPW was launched, the public had real-time access to information on sex offender registries throughout the United States and select territories. NSOPW provides an efficient and effective resource to identify registered sex offenders nationwide through a single search from any computer with Internet access. The NSOPW has proven to be an extremely successful and well-used resource since its launch. The success of the NSOPW demonstrates the value of providing a single access point for searching databases to law enforcement practitioners and the public alike.
The Internet has revolutionized the accessibility of information, and in a relatively short amount of time, it has evolved exponentially. Advances in technology, which make vital information available via the Internet, have provided the law enforcement community with a cost-effective tool. Using available technology to integrate existing resources will provide law enforcement professionals with expanded access to information that will aid in current investigations and could help prevent future criminal activity.
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