UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS
What follows is a look at community corrections: I sit on the Board of the Arapahoe County Community Corrections Program. Harvey Steinberg
COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS BOARDS
What role do community corrections boards play?
By statute, a community corrections board may be established by resolution or ordinance of a governing body or by a combination of governing bodies (Section 17-27-103, C.R.S.) In other words, locally-elected officials appoint community corrections board members. Community corrections boards may be advisory to the appointing governing body or may function independently of the governing body. There are 22 community corrections boards in the state, one in each judicial district.
Community corrections boards have the following authority:
- to approve or disapprove the establishment and operation of a community corrections program;
- to enter into contracts with the state of Colorado to provide services and supervision for offenders;
- to accept or reject any offender referred for placement in a community corrections program under the jurisdiction of the board;
- to receive grants from governmental and private sources and to receive court-authorized expense reimbursement related to community corrections programs;
- to establish and enforce standards for the operation of a community corrections program;
- to establish conditions or guidelines for the conduct of offenders placed in a community corrections program; and
- to reject, after acceptance, the placement of any offender in a community corrections program and to provide an administrative review process for any offender who is rejected after acceptance by the board.
Community corrections programs operated by units of local government, state agencies, or nongovernmental agencies have similar authority to operate a community corrections program and to accept or reject inmates referred to the program. Because some community corrections programs are operated by boards and others are operated by local governments, in some cases community corrections boards have the authority to accept or reject offenders who have been referred for placement, and in other cases the facility makes that decision. There are also cases in which this decision is made jointly by both entities. The level of involvement of boards and the authority delegated to programs varies from one judicial district to another. However, each offender referred to a community corrections program must be approved or rejected by the local community authority whether it be the community corrections board or the community corrections program.
This local control is considered a hallmark of Colorado’s community corrections program. Community corrections boards vary in size, makeup, philosophy, and degree of program control. This divergence in local control allows individual community corrections programs to offer specialized services and to accept or reject offenders based on the services offered by the program and the services needed by the offender. For instance, most community corrections facilities will not accept an offender needing intensive specialized drug treatment, but the Residential Treatment Center program in Greeley has an 81-bed drug treatment facility.
ROLE OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
What is the role of the Division of Criminal Justice in community corrections?
The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) in the Department of Public Safety is responsible for administering and executing all contracts with units of local government, community corrections boards, or nongovernmental agencies for the provision of community corrections programs and services. In addition, the DCJ is responsible for the following:
- establishing standards for community corrections programs which prescribe minimum levels of offender supervision and services, health and safety conditions of facilities, and other measures to ensure quality services;
- auditing community corrections programs to determine levels of compliance with standards;
- allocating state appropriations for community corrections to local community corrections boards and programs; and
- providing technical assistance to community corrections boards, programs, and referring agencies.
OFFENDERS ELIGIBLE FOR COMMUNITY
How do offenders get into a community corrections program?
Offenders are placed in community corrections programs via a complex referral process. There are two basic types of offenders in community corrections programs: those who are diverted from a sentence to prison, and those who transition from a DOC facility into the community. All offenders in community corrections programs, both diversion and transition offenders, must be approved for acceptance into a facility by the local community corrections program or board.
Both diversion and transition referrals come from three main sources:
Under state law, a District Court judge may refer any offender convicted of a felony to a community corrections program unless the offender is required to be sentenced to prison for a violent crime. The District Court sentences offenders directly to a community corrections program as an alternative to a sentence to prison. Occasionally, the District Court sentences an offender directly to community corrections as a condition of probation.
Department of Corrections Case Managers identify eligible DOC inmates for referral to a community corrections program. DOC case managers submit referrals to the Division of Community Corrections in the DOC. Non-violent inmates are referred by DOC case managers for placement in community corrections 19 months prior to the parole eligibility date (PED) and violent offenders are referred nine months prior to the PED. Case managers decide to which community corrections program or board the referral should be submitted. The division places non-violent offenders in a community corrections facility 16 months prior to the PED and violent offenders are placed six months prior to the PED.
The Colorado Board of Parole may refer a parolee to a community corrections program for placement in a facility either as a condition of parole, as a modification of the conditions of parole, or upon temporary revocation of parole.
Because of this complex referral system, there are several types of offenders in community corrections facilities or programs:
residential diversion offenders – these offenders are sentenced by the District Court to serve all or a portion of their sentence in a community corrections facility;
residential transition offenders – these offenders are DOC inmates who have been referred by the DOC for a placement in a community corrections facility as a transition period back into the community;
condition of probation offenders (residential) – these offenders are sentenced by the District Court to probation but are required to serve a portion of their sentence to probation in a community corrections facility as a condition of their probation;
transition parole offenders (residential) – these parolees are either in a community corrections facility as a condition of parole, or have been placed in a community corrections facility by the parole officer for stabilization because they appear to be in danger of revocation;
nonresidential diversion – these offenders who were sentenced to community corrections have been transferred from residential status to nonresidential status after completing the residential program (such as drug treatment) to which they were sentenced. While on nonresidential status they typically report to a day-reporting center or a drug testing center.
nonresidential transition – these parolees have been transferred from residential status to nonresidential status after completing the residential program they were ordered to complete. While on nonresidential status they report to either a day-reporting program or to some other treatment program.
DOC Intensive Supervision Program – these are DOC inmates who have no more than 180 days remaining until their parole eligibility date. These inmates are most likely to be released on parole by the parole board and are on intensive supervision such as electronic monitoring and home detention while awaiting an appearance before the board.