LETTERS

Public safety ultimate goal of community corrections

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

The Probation and Parole Division within the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has an unenviable task. Approximately 550 officers are responsible for supervising 63,000 offenders. The average caseload per officer is 125 offenders - individuals convicted of everything from theft to drug distribution to homicide. Community corrections play a crucial role in the overall public safety of our state, yet the public understands very little about the day to day operations of the Probation and Parole District in their area.

As we observe Probation, Parole and Community Supervision week July 13 - 19, 2008, I wanted to take a little time to educate your readers on this very subject. Louisiana has 20 Probation and Parole districts located throughout Louisiana. The dedicated professionals in these districts (officers and support staff) serve crime victims and hold offenders accountable for the wrong they have committed to our families, friends and communities.

Officers are active in their communities, providing links for offenders to the justice system, service and treatment providers, employers, the faith-based community and other organizations. Officers are P.O.S.T certified and work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure safer communities.  Officers are highly trained and receive specialized training in such areas as supervising sex offenders and dealing with hostage situations or the mentally ill.

P&P Officers visit offenders at home and at the job site to ensure compliance with supervision terms. Officers conduct warrant sweeps for those offenders who fail to report for supervision. They conduct investigations for the court system and the Pardon and Parole Boards. And, they work with other state agencies and community providers to ensure offenders have access to a number of services to aid in their successful supervision phase.

In the next few years, the Department will expand reentry opportunities for offenders in the state's prisons and in communities across Louisiana. These reentry initiatives are aimed at reducing Louisiana's highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. One of the major ways we accomplish that is by reducing the number of offenders who find their way back to prison. Community corrections plays a big part in reducing recidivism, which in turn reduces crime, lowers victimization and makes our communities safer.

DPS&C takes its public safety role very seriously. The Department welcomes information from the public regarding offenders in the communities. Please visit our website at www.doc.louisiana.gov to learn more about community corrections and how to contact your local district.

James M. LeBlanc

Secretary

Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections