I sometimes find it unbelievable that a young person can get into trouble at age 13, and ten years later, still be on parole. I realize that a crime was committed (maybe many crimes), and that the young man went through the legal system of being adjudicated, deferred, placed on probation, detained, committed, and finally paroled. What I can’t figure out is why not just complete the conditions of parole and be done? Then it occurred to me that maybe it is because know one took the time to explain exactly how someone gets off of parole.
The purpose of this learning module is to give a brief explanation of what it means to be on parole (or probation), and a clear understanding of what it takes to get terminated from the supervision of the Oregon Youth Authority.
Probation: conditional suspension of a jail/ prison sentence. This means that the court has determined that you have been found responsible for committing a criminal act, and according to Oregon State Law, can be committed as a juvenile to the state training school (a name given to juvenile jail). However, the court has decided instead, to allow you to remain in the community as long as your behavior is appropriate (I.e. Good Behavior).
Parole: release from jail/ prison on condition of future good behavior. This means that the court has committed you to the state training school, and that (for what ever reason), you are being released early back into the community. This will continue as long as your behavior is appropriate (I.e. Good Behavior).
While probation is different from parole, they are similar in that they both involve being on supervision. The key thing to remember in both cases is the word CONDITIONAL. Your ability to remain in the community (and not in close custody) is strictly a condition of your good behavior. It is necessary for you to behave in a manner that will not result in going to (being committed), or returning to (being revoked) jail.
When a person is placed in jail (incarcerated), it is society’s way (through the courts) of saying “we don’t trust that, (if you remain in the community), you won’t hurt someone else (I.e. commit another crime). Incarceration is the most extreme way to deal with someone who has committed a crime, and is usually used only as a last resort.
Who decides Good Behavior? It is the job of a Parole or Probation officer (PPO), as an officer of the court, to make this determination. The PPO uses many different sources to help decide “good behavior”. Some examples are: interviewing parents, input from community providers (such as the Haag Home), talking with other youth, and personal observation.
The PPO is continually deciding whether or not you are at an increased risk to commit a crime. Since he (or she) is not a mind reader, they are forced to use a variety of other indicators to make this determination. If it appears that your risk level is increasing, the PPO might decide to use an intervention. An example of an intervention might be: restriction, house arrest or detention. Obviously if you steal a car, it is too late for an intervention. That is why the PPO tries to intervene early, and after only small behavior problems. If poor behavior goes uncorrected, everyone loses and you end up back in jail.
One of the favorite sayings that I hear is, “Just let me out”. “If I commit another crime, it is on me, and I will go to jail”. While this seems to be a worthy argument, it has an unacceptable consequence. If a new crime is committed, it means that there is a new victim. There is no acceptable way to explain to a new victim that they were harmed as a result of allowing a criminal the freedom to commit another crime without first demonstrating a period of good behavior.
Good behavior can mean many things. In this program, it is measured through our level system. Someone who progresses up through the level system demonstrates good behavior. Someone who comes back down through the level system is not demonstrating good behavior. Good behavior is a process of thoughts and actions. Distorted thinking (often called thinking errors, or criminal thinking) is an indicator that poor behavior is likely. Examples of poor behavior are: rules violations, safety violations, poor attitude, dirty urinalysis, and law violations. While some rules may seem silly and inconsequential, they are used to determine if you are willing to demonstrate good behavior.
Society has many rules to follow (referred to as laws and/or statutes). The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a law that says you must wear your seat belt anytime you are in a moving vehicle. To some, this rule may seem silly, and they may choose to not comply (or break the law). While it would be difficult to determine if you intend to follow this rule in the community (since you are not currently allowed to drive), we can create other rules for you to demonstrate compliance. The program rule that says that you must not enter someone’s apartment without permission may seem silly. Your demonstration of following rules, regardless of how silly you think it may be, is a good indicator of your intention to follow the rules of society. Likewise, not following the rules indicates the probability that you will continue this practice in the community. Pure and simple, Following Rules = Good Behavior!
Termination is a goal that each of you should shoot for. This is the process that includes: 1.) A period of demonstrated Good Behavior, 2.) Your parole officer, their supervisor, and in some cases the deputy director, submitting a request for termination to a review board, 3.) The review board writing a letter requesting termination to the court, 4.) And finally, the judge signing the termination request and thereby completing OYA supervision.
While your parole officer is responsible for making sure that you follow the rules in the community, he/she is also responsible for making the case that you no longer require this service. Your job is to give your PO all of the ammunition possible so that he/she can start the termination process. Every time you show poor behavior, you slow this process and require additional time on supervision. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad decision to undo a lot of good decisions. Remember, everyone you are currently associated with has the same goal. To accumulate enough Good Behavior to get you off parole and terminated. No one is out to get you. Everyone is in fact, working for you.
Name: ____________________________________ Date: _________________________
1.) How old were you when you first committed a crime? ________________________________________________
2.) What was your first crime? ______________________________________________________________________
3.) How old were you when you were committed to the Oregon Youth Authority? _____________________________
4.) What was your commitment offense? _____________________________________________________________
5.) How much time has passed since your last “poor behavior”? (I.e. Day, Week, etc.)__________________________
6.) What was that behavior? (I.e. drug use, run away, theft etc.) ___________________________________________
7.) Who is your Parole or Probation Officer? __________________________________________________________
8.) How much “good behavior” time do you think your PO expects before making a termination request? __________
9.) What kinds of “poor behavior” usually get you into trouble? ___________________________________________
10.) What is the difference between Parole and Probation? ________________________________________________
11.) What is the KEY thing to remember about Parole/Probation? __________________________________________
12.) Name three sources that help the court decide your “good behavior”. ____________________________________
13.) What is the problem with the argument: “Just let me out”, “If I commit another crime, it is on me, and I will go to jail”? _______________________________________________________________________________________
14.) Why does the program create rules (some which might seem silly) to follow? _____________________________
15.) What is the process for being terminated? 1.) ______________________________________________________
2.)___________________________________________ 3.) _______________________________________________
What is YOUR JOB? ____________________________________________________________________________