Friday, October 26, 2012

Probation Exchange


Today marks the final day of a four-day visit to New York by Heather Munro, the head of the London Probation Trust, and a team of her senior staff.   The trip was organized by the Centre for Justice Innovation and included visits to a number of our demonstration projects (Red Hook, Brownsville, Newark, etc.) as well as to New York City Probation. 

To cap off the visit, we had a wide-ranging conversation here at the Center's headquarters covering such topics as risk-needs responsivity, cost-benefit analysis, and peer mentoring.  Heather described how her agency is adapting to a changing landscape in England, particularly the growing interest in contracting out some government functions to private providers and testing "payment by results" commissioning schemes. 

Over the past few years, we have worked on several projects that involved Probation officials in England and Wales.  (For example, see Phil Bowen's recent piece on Intensive Alternatives to Custody.)   One of the things that I like about the relationship that we have developed is that it feels like a genuine two-way street: there is a great deal going on in England that we would do well to emulate here in New York.  For example, one of the initiatives that Heather described was UserVoice, an effort to give probationers a formal, organized voice within Probation.  Building on the similar work we've done with the Youth Justice Board, this feels like an idea we should be looking at closely.