The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners proclaimed July 21-27, 2019 as “Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision. A celebration that originated in 1999 when members of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) began to request that states across the country recognize the 100,000+ people involved in community corrections.
More than 500 employees make up the County’s Department of Community Justice — from parole and probation officers and juvenile court counselors, to corrections technicians and administrative staff. Many who too often, fly under the radar, despite such a critical role.
“Every year, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and community corrections departments across the country and Canada honor the thousands of probation, parole and community supervision professionals who play a vital role in public safety and work to change lives,” said Erika Preuitt who serves as interim director of the County’s Department of Community Justice (DCJ) and current president of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA).
“I am proud to represent the APPA as their current president and want to underscore the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Restoring Trust and Creating Hope,’” said Preuitt. “It is important to take time to recognize the work that our staff do every day to help individuals change their lives, restore their families and build stronger communities.”
Speakers from the County’s Adult Services Division to its Juvenile Services Division provided a glimpse of the range of work performed by pretrial, probation and parole professionals.
“Our juvenile court counselors have been trained in the Kids At Hope approach,” said Deena Corso, director of the County’s Juvenile Services Division who also spoke at Thursday’s board meeting. “A cultural framework that challenges the ‘at risk youth’ paradigm by inspiring, empowering and transforming youth-serving agencies to create an environment and culture where all children experience success, no exceptions,” Corso said.
Juvenile mental health consultants provide clinical assessments and outpatient behavioral health treatment for justice-involved youth and their families, Corso added. And juvenile custody services specialists work around the clock to provide a safe environment for youth in detention while also delivering skill-building, recreation, cultural and spiritual services, hygiene and health care, peer support groups, and library services.
On the adult side, Michelle Aguilar, interim deputy director of the Adult Services Division, highlighted the lesser-known work of the County’s Research & Planning team (RAP). RAP team members were recently nominated during National Volunteer Week for their outstanding work as a team, Aguilar said. They provide staff with a range of data that helps track how the department is performing and identify where we need to make changes.
Aguilar also noted the County’s human resources, business services and victims services units.
“This is one of the many examples of our staff who go above and beyond,” said Preuitt, while showing a photo of a parole officer working to put out a fire in a Southeast Portland field.
The officer and his partner were out in the field, visiting with justice-involved individuals when they came across a camp that was on fire, said Preuitt. “They worked to move people away while grabbing a fire extinguisher from their car. Passersby, also with fire extinguishers, came to help until Portland Fire and Rescue arrived. This is one of the examples of how our staff goes above and beyond.”
Preuitt highlighted the work of:
corrections and records technicians who are key in keeping track of important records and documents to track compliance and case plans;
corrections counselors who connect people to needed resources like housing, or medical care;
community works leaders who take people out to complete their community service while improving the community;
office support staff who are often the first face many see when they walk into County offices; and
the Recognizance Unit, which is open 24-hours a day assessing people to determine who can be released.
The speakers shared a video of the County’s Mental Health Unit before reading the proclamation. Following the presentation, members of the Board of County Commissioners recognized the critical role probation, parole and community supervision professionals play in individuals’ lives.
“Thank you for giving us that snapshot into the different roles that comprise this complicated work,” said Commissioner Susheela Jayapal. “The success that we’re having in Multnomah County in making sure that people are getting the appropriate intervention and that we are — where we can — minimizing recidivism and minimizing our use of jails and all of the work that you do is critical to that,” said Jayapal.
“I want to add my thanks and gratitude,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury. “Not just for the wonderful work that you do day after day, but I know the last couple years have been really challenging.
“We continue to ask you to do more and more and be more creative,” Kafoury said.
“I just want you to know that it’s not unrecognized or unappreciated.”
REMARKS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Sharon Meieran
“I want to add my thanks to you for the incredible work that you do,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “There’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes. This is one of the most difficult and challenging jobs and rewarding — but again challenging because you are touching people at a point in their lives when they are most vulnerable.”
Commissioner Lori Stegmann
“This is work that is under the radar and you're not on the front page of the newspaper,” said Commissioner Lori Stegmann, “Because you’re doing this work quietly and it’s incredibly important and meaningful.”
Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson
“I know there are so many more roles in this department,” said Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson. “The powerful role that you have in the criminal justice system that we have and how it’s important that all those pieces be strong - I’m really proud of the work that we do in Multnomah County to have this strong piece here.”