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Topics in Reentry: The Case Plan January 31, 2011

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Community corrections officers are relying increasingly on case plans to provide supervisees with a structured approach to complete central reentry objectives. This Q&A with the American Probation and Parole Association’s Matthew DeMichele, Ph.D., explores this emerging trend.

For more on case planning in reentry, tune in to the upcoming NRRC webinar on the topic on February 2.

Q: What is a case plan?

A: The case plan is a guide that provides supervisees with clear, direct, short-term goals to encourage accountability and long-term behavioral change. By outlining the action steps necessary to get the supervisee to reach specified targets for change, the case plans provides clear expectations while also helping to shape the interaction between officers and those being supervised.

Q: What’s the purpose of the case plan?

A: They are meant to prepare and inform individuals about the community supervision process by delineating employment, educational, treatment, and housing requirements to reduce recidivism risks. Case plans elaborate on the conditions of supervision by enumerating specific actions that the individual should take and spelling out sanctions and incentives to motivate good behavior. They should be direct, uncomplicated, simple in format, and explicit in what is expected of individuals under supervision.

Q: Who is involved in designing the case plan?

A: Case plans are often designed by community corrections officers and the individuals on supervision according to risk and needs assessments. Treatment providers, employment specialists, mentors, and others may also be involved. The case plan not only documents the action steps for the supervisee, but it outlines the tasks and activities for each member of the case management team.

Q: What should be included in the case plan?

A: Case plans must detail the types of behavior that are expected of the individual, and should provide supervisees with clear guidelines for appropriate behavior. The case plan should also describe what will happen if an individual successfully completes parts of the plan and the consequences if tasks are not completed. Furthermore, they are meant to be dynamic instruments; as supervisees reach measurable goals upon defined dates, the officer may adjust the next goal for the supervisee.

Q: How does a case plan help an individual change his or her behavior?

A: The case plan enumerates long-term goals as well as the short-term steps needed to get there. For example, many released individuals have deficiencies in basic social skills needed to remain employed or secure housing. The long-term goal of completing a GED may be difficult if one has not learned dependability, delayed gratification, and patience. The case plan may specify short-term goals towards reaching these targets, including completing community supervision, working 20 hours per week, remaining drug/alcohol free, and doing weekly homework.

Q: Is case planning effective?

A: Research has found that case plans and case managers have a positive impact. Individuals who had more interaction with a case manager were more likely to remain in full-time employment for a longer duration compared to individuals who had not interacted with a case manager (Rossman and Roman, 2003). Individuals with case managers were more likely to enroll in drug treatment and found to commit fewer crimes than similar offenders who had not received referrals for substance abuse treatment (Rhodes and Gross, 1997).



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