Probation Department, Director Gerald Zimmerman: Promoting safe and peaceful communities throughout Cattaraugus County

Probation

A Message From The Probation Director 

Gerald Zimmerman 

 The special focus of the Cattaraugus County Probation Department through 2011 has been in the development of the departments’ ability to provide the tools to probationers that they will need to be successful and law-abiding citizens of their communities. This is consistent with the departmental goal of creating and maintaining safe and peaceful communities. The aim of the probation department is to assist our probationers in transforming themselves from being liabilities in their community to becoming assets to their community.  This focus has led to probation officers being trained in the delivery of specialized programs.  These programs assist probationers in becoming employable, assist probationers in the identification of their problem areas, and assist them in learning the life skills necessary to address those problem areas. Officers were also trained in the administration of specialized assessment tools to determine the risk and progress of the sex offenders currently under the departments’ supervision.

As a result 15 staff members are now trained and certified as Offender Workforce Development Specialists, 5 are trained and certified in the delivery of the Thinking For a Change Program, a cognitive intervention program, 5 are trained and certified in Motivational Interviewing, an intervention strategy, and 2 are certified in the administration of the TABE. The Cattaraugus County Probation Department is a leader in staff training and certification in these evidence based programs and is diligently working to implement these programs to have a positive impact upon our probationers and their communities.  Another key element in the delivery of evidence based practices are the continued use of specialized assessment and reassessment tools to assist the probation officers and the probationers to determine which areas of their lives are in need of intervention. The department continues the use of the COMPAS and YASI assessment tools, and during 2011 had two officers trained in the use of the STABLE-2007 and ACUTE-2007 assessment tools for use with sexual offenders. These officers were previously trained in the use of the Static-99 assessment tool for use with sexual offenders. The use of all these assessment tools helps ensure that each offender receives services that are tailored to their individual needs for their rehabilitation.

Knowing that education is a necessary part of an individuals success, the Probation Department, in cooperation with the Olean Community Schools program, began offering a GED program on-site in theOleanoffice.

The department continued to deliver the Ready, Set, Work! Program on a regular basis and was selected by the NYS Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives to pilot a Ready, Set, Work! Program for individuals who have Mental Health issues.  The probation staff have also continued to deliver the Thinking For a Change curriculum as an introduction to group work and cognitive intervention, and have been preparing to deliver the Courage To Change curriculum as an on-going intervention and part of the group reporting approach.

This focus has also led to the re-configuration of the office space in the Olean Probation office, with several individual interview rooms being reconfigured into a group room, with the equipment necessary to allow the delivery of programs in a group setting.

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