Services and sanctions
Community Corrections Centers are community-based facilities that facilitate intensive supervision through bundled sanctions and services, including treatment and education, to high-risk offenders via Intermediate Sanction Levels.
Among the sanctions delivered at community corrections centers are:
- Electronic monitoring
- Community service
- Drug & alcohol testing
- Day reporting
Among the services provided at community corrections centers are:
- Substance abuse treatment
- GED/ABE/ESL or comparable educational component
- Communicable disease prevention education
- Job readiness training and placement
- Referral to Department of Public Health or Department of Mental Health service providers
- Women's services
Assignment to a community corrections center must be ordered as an intermediate sanction condition of probation, parole, or pre-release. At disposition, only a judge can order participation in an intermediate sanction level at a community corrections center. As a method of re-integration, the Massachusetts Parole Board, county sheriff's departments, and the Department of Correction use their respective classification standards to order participation in an Intermediate Sanction Level at a community corrections center.
Community corrections centers are designed to facilitate intensive supervision for a specific group of offenders. These offenders may:
- Be chronic substance abusers with significant criminal histories
- Be underemployed or unemployed
- Have otherwise been incarcerated or have served a term of incarceration and are returning to the community
Pursuant to state law, certain offenders are prohibited from sentence to community corrections programs.
Chapter 211F: Section 3. Sentence to community corrections program; duration; conditions; eligibility.
No offender shall be eligible for sentencing to a community corrections program who is:
(1) convicted of a crime that results in serious bodily harm or death to another person, excluding offenses in which negligence was the primary element,
(2) convicted of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault, or
(3) convicted of a crime involving the use of a firearm.
Community corrections center programming is based on a framework supported by research. Since 1998, the OCC has incorporated this framework for programming into community corrections center plans. The framework places high-priority on these concepts:
- A multidisciplinary, holistic approach — Criminal behavior must be addressed on every level and by every component of the criminal justice system. Weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings provide a forum for supervision and treatment components to come together to discuss progress.
- Coercive treatment is effective — Treatment is not necessarily only successful when sought voluntarily. It can be imposed on those who represent a public safety threat and yield reasonable success.
- Education and vocational training support positive outcomes — Participants who become equipped to contribute to society can fulfill their needs and become responsible citizens.
- Correctional interventions should be swift, certain, and proportionate — Participant noncompliance must result in consequence. Consequences for non-compliance must be predictable and consistently implemented by program staff.
- Services must be gender specific — Substance abuse treatment services are designed to meet the needs of both males and females in gender exclusive groups.
- Services must be culturally competent — Programming draws on community resources, including bilingual tracks based on community needs.
- Reinforcement of positive behavior supports recovery — Ongoing evaluation of participant progress should recognize success through peer recognition, revised treatment planning, and other rewards systems.
Evidence-Based Practice at Community Corrections Centers
Community Corrections Centers incorporate Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) as articulated by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) "Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations" and Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) "Implementing Evidence-based Principles in Community Corrections" through contract provisions for program standards, such as:
- Assess actuarial risk/need — CJI and NIDA state that assessment is the critical first step in effective treatment. The OCC mandates assessment by a verified instrument such as Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory, Level of Service/Risk, Need, Responsivity, Adult Substance Use Survey or Global Assessment of Individual Needs, among others.
- Target interventions — CJI states that interventions should be targeted for Risk, Need, Responsivity, Dosage, and Treatment. NIDA states that services should be tailored to individual needs. The OCC mandates that individual treatment plans are developed for each participant integrating community-based resources when necessary. Behavioral intervention process and periodic review promote systematic alteration of dosage and adjustment of approaches where participants are unresponsive.
- Skill train with directed practice — CJI states that program curriculum should employ cognitive behavioral treatment. The OCC mandates this model of treatment.
- Coordinate treatment and criminal justice obligations — Consistent with this NIDA principle, the OCC mandates weekly multidisciplinary team meetings in which treatment staff and probation officers discuss participant progress or setbacks.
- Duration of treatment — NIDA states, "…one of the most reliable findings in treatment research is that lasting reductions in criminal activity and drug abuse are related to length of treatment." Therefore, the OCC mandates that participants meet benchmarks for transition to standard criminal justice supervision before the multidisciplinary team informally recommends to the supervising probation officer that the participant is ready to end intensive supervision.
Program standards are closely monitored by OCC field staff through onsite management by Regional Program Managers and Clinical Supervisors, including meeting observation, folder audit, and monthly operations meetings between program and criminal justice agency staff.
Drug & alcohol testing
Drug testing is among the graduated sanctions available at the community corrections center. Participant behavior can be met with increased or decreased testing frequency based on progress in recovery. Community corrections centers provide drug testing for participants at intermediate sanction level III and IV. The drug testing system is modeled after the American Probation and Parole Association's Drug Testing Guidelines and Practices for Adult Probation and Parole Agencies. Random drug testing is the primary method of monitoring coerced abstinence. Random methodology is preferred in order to control cost and reduce the opportunity to beat the test.
Upon assignment to an intermediate sanction level, participants are assigned a drug testing color. The assigned color corresponds to the participant's risk level. Participants are required to call a toll-free number daily in order to determine what color will be tested that day. When a participant's color is selected on a particular day, the participant is required to report for drug testing. Specimen collection is observed by staff. Urine specimens are screened for illicit drugs via enzymatic immunoassay technique. Federal cut-off levels promulgated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reduce false positives. Typically, specimens are screened for 4 drugs of abuse, which may be altered based on demand. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry technique is used for confirmation. Breath alcohol testing is conducted via portable Breathalyzer.
As a mandatory component of intermediate sanction level III, IV, community service provides for both punitive and rehabilitative objectives of sentencing. As a time constraint on the liberty of a participant, community service holds the participant accountable for their criminal act. Participants are closely monitored by Community Service Program staff during their work hours. Further, community service fosters a sense of accomplishment in participants through achievement of a specific task as well as teaching practical skills such as painting, landscaping, carpentry, etc.
Service projects are conducted for non-profit and government agencies throughout the state. Participants are transported from the community corrections center to local project sites by van. Community service is also widely used at Intermediate Sanction Level II.