Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program Wins NCJA Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award


Public Advocate Ed Monahan receiving award

(from NCJA Press release)

The National Criminal Justice Association is pleased to honor the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program with its 2011 Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award for the Southern Region.  This program was recognized for providing social worker services to indigent non-violent defendants who are represented by Kentucky public defenders. The social workers develop plans that provide personalized rehabilitative support that address pivotal aspects of offenders life such as addiction, physical health, mental health, housing, education, employment, family and other issues to improve the client’s successful function in the community and reduce recidivism.

The use of social workers to guide offenders into effective treatment programs is advantageous for multiple reasons including: their assistance is covered by attorney-client privilege—which increases the likelihood and effectiveness of early intervention; they improve coordination and cooperation among criminal justice agencies and treatment providers; and their early involvement in a case increases the likelihood of pretrial release or probation.

Each social worker has saved 10,000 days of incarceration and $100,000 in incarceration costs. If the DPA social worker program was implemented across the state of Kentucky, the projected savings to taxpayers would be estimated at $3.1-$4 million per year.

Secretary of the KY Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, J. Michael Brown praised the program saying, “the DPA Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program has shown itself to be an important tool for the criminal justice system, by guiding offenders into effective treatment programs, and ultimately reducing recidivism and decreasing incarceration costs.  A study of the pilot program by the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work determined that, between October 2006 and October 2007, 82% of adult defendants who received DPA social worker services and who were released from incarceration were still in the community 6 months later.”

The NCJA Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Awards are a way to seek out and share successful criminal justice programs. The purpose of these awards is to highlight programs that:

•    Address an important criminal justice issue;
•    Demonstrate effectiveness based on program goals;
•    Are a good example of used of federal funds to initiate the program that is subsequently supported through state and local funds or is self sustaining; and
•    Can be easily replicated in other jurisdictions.

For more information about NCJA or the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Awards, please visit www.ncja.org.