In passing House Bill 3194 the 2013 Oregon Legislature attempted to make broad changes in the way in which offenders are supervised and also included one provision that will actually benefit people who are compliant on supervision. These are important changes that should be studied by Portland Probation Violation Lawyers.
The most significant change was in the overall shift to the use of “evidence based practices” in supervising offenders. In short, the legislature required state and local corrections to use scientifically proven methods for reducing recidivism and required corrections to track recidivism rates so that we can all tell what actually works and what those methods cost.
The first step in this process was to standardize the manner in which offenders are assessed for their needs and their areas of risk. The tool now used is the Level of Service Case Management Inventory (LS-CMI), which measures a person’s needs and strengths in all aspects of their life. This is an invaluable tool in determining what programming is appropriate and can measure a person’s progress over time.
But, these changes would be of little use if probation officers do not have the power to add or modify conditions of probation when they discover the need for programming not ordered as a condition of probation. HB 3194 granted probation officers the authority to propose modifications to conditions of probation. Under the new law, a probation officer can file a notice of modification of probation conditions in Court and serve the District Attorney. If the District Attorney does not object to the changes within 10 days the new condition goes into effect. So, when a probation officer discovers a previously unknown mental health problem, that officer can now add appropriate new conditions requiring action that is responsive to these problems. This is a common sense, streamlined process that should work well.
The legislature also enacted a new change that will benefit people on probation. The legislature now requires that state and local corrections provide for an reduction in the length of supervision for offenders who are compliant on probation or parole. The reductions can be as much as fifty percent of the period of supervision. This is a very good idea. It makes no sense to continue supervising people who are compliant on probation or parole. This also gives people an incentive to comply, because they know that early termination of probation is the reward. This will also reduce caseloads and allow probation officers to focus their energy on people who actually need to be supervised.
As an Oregon Probation Violation lawyer I support these changes in the probation system.
By James F. O’Rourke Jr.
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