Adult Programs and Services is a part of the Community-Based Programs and Field Services division, and is led by Mike Nehe (bio). Adult Programs and Services includes: presentence investigations, assessments, and probationer case management/supervision. Additionally this focus area includes the following services: Reporting Centers, Service Centers, assistance with education and employment (RISE), Electronic Monitoring, Substance Abuse Testing, Victim Services and other community based services.
What does Probation’s Adult Programs and Services Provide?
In Nebraska, Probation is a part of the Supreme Court, under the Judicial Branch of Government. Probation has two primary functions in its service to the Court, presentence investigations and probationer case management/supervision. These functions are defined and dictated in Nebraska Statute (Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2257; Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2261; Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2262.04; Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2263). There are 14 probation districts statewide. (Click here to find District). These two primary functions for the Court, are supported by additional rehabilitative services that are provided by internal and external stakeholders.
A presentence investigation is ordered by the Court, to assist the Judge in making a decision regarding sentencing for adult offenders. It is completed by highly skilled probation officers, who work to investigate and collect information from various sources to include in a comprehensive report. While probation officers complete the investigation, this does not mean that the defendant will receive probation as a sentence.
The second function of probation is offender management/supervision. A judge can place someone on probation as an alternative to jail or prison. As opposed to parole, probationers do not serve a period of incarceration directly prior to their community based supervision. Probationers are supervised by highly skilled officers, in their own communities.
The presentence investigation is comprised of the officer’s analysis of factors presented through an interview with the individual and other information collected throughout the process. Probation officers complete a research based, actuarial assessment on each offender that helps to identify specific risk and need factors. Factors explored include past criminal history, family history and family support, educational and employment history and current status, alcohol/drug or mental health concerns, and overall attitude regarding the offense. Officers work through the assessments to not only identify concerning factors, but also areas of strength for the individual. From there the officer will investigate the history and current status of the individual through collection of information from a variety of sources to include the individual’s employer, treatment providers and/or evaluators, family and friends and victims. All of this information is analyzed to assist the officer in preparing a document for the court. In many jurisdictions across the state, the probation officer is required to use their own skills of analysis and investigation to make a recommendation to the court regarding sentencing. If probation is the primary recommendation, then the officers will use the information they have obtained throughout the investigation to suggest specific interventions for the individual that will assist with overall behavior change.
Nebraska Probation uses both general and specialized assessments when completing investigations on adult offenders. The Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) and the Nebraska Adult Probation Screen (NAPS) are the two primary risk assessments used to explore the defendant’s specific risk to reoffend and any current and/or potential needs for services.
The LS/CMI is utilized for those individuals who are initially screened as higher risk (those with felony offenses, or domestic violence or sexually based offenses). It is a validated risk/need assessment tool designed specifically to determine the degree of risk the defendant presents to recidivate. The LS/CMI targets eight (8) domains that represent the top criminogenic risk factors for recidivism. These include criminal history, education/employment, family history, leisure/recreation, companions, alcohol/drug problem, pro-criminal attitude/orientation and antisocial pattern. The tool also helps identify other specific responsivity needs to assist in case management, treatment planning and service delivery.
The NAPS is utilized for those individuals who are initially screened as lower risk. Individuals that score higher on the NAPS indicate a need for additional assessment. If that occurs then the officer will also complete an LS/CMI to investigate additional risk and need factors.
Probation also utilizes several specialized or responsive assessments for adult offenders. Nebraska Probation uses several assessments to help understand and explore issues related to substance abuse. Those assessments include two assessments from Behavioral Data Systems, the Substance Abuse Questionnaire and the Driver Risk Inventory, as well as Nebraska specific assessments such as the Simple Screening Instrument (SSI) and the Standardized Risk and Reporting Format (SRARF) which are key tools to assist evaluators through the Standardized Model.
Specialized tools to assist with assessment of domestic violence and sexual offense related risk are also used. The Domestic Violence Offender Matrix (DV Matrix) was adapted for Nebraska out of research compiled by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project and the probation department in Duluth, Minnesota. It is composed of a 13-item risk scale based on the pattern of violent and controlling behaviors exhibited by the defendant. This assessment tool is used by the Nebraska Probation System to determine the appropriateness of a defendant convicted on a domestic violence offense for specialized community supervision.
The Vermont Assessment of Sex Offender Risk (VASOR) is a specific assessment for sex-related offenses. It is composed of two scales, a 13-item re-offense risk scale and a six-item severity scale. In order to score this assessment, each scale’s score is compared to determine the level. This assessment tool is used by the Nebraska Probation System to determine the appropriateness of a defendant convicted of a sex offense for community supervision.
All assessments are completed after the probation officer completes an interview, utilizing motivational interviewing. Information from key interested parties, such as family, friends, employer, treatment providers, and victims is also used to accurately score the assessments. The information and the scores obtained through the completion of assessments are used to indicate the level of supervision needed by the defendant. They may indicate a need for incarceration, intensive community-based supervision, or a lower intensity community-based supervision.
Probationer Case Management/Supervision:
The second function of probation is supervision. Judges place individuals on probation as an alternative to jail or prison. Probation is intended to work with those individuals who can be supervised safely in the community. The overall intent of probation is to create sustainable change in a probationer’s behavior, so that they can become productive, law-abiding citizens. While some probationers pose a relatively low risk to recidivate, or commit another offense, other probationers may pose a higher risk to recidivate. Based on this risk, a probationer’s supervision will look different. High risk probationers’ supervision and case management involves high levels of engagement and accountability by highly skilled and experienced officers.
Nebraska Probation is different from most other states, in that it doesn’t rely on contact standards. In Nebraska, it isn’t the number of times you had contact with an individual that matters, but the quality of that contact. Nebraska Probation Officers meet regularly with clients both in the office and in the community, and their level of engagement with that individual is directly related to the assessed risk level. Research completed by Ed Latessa, a Professor at the University of Cincinatti, (click here to learn more) and others indicates that in order to be most successful with probationers the level or amount of supervision should be directly related to an individual’s risks.
To better serve the community, Probation works hard to stay on the cutting edge and provide specialized programming whenever possible.
SSAS is one example of this specialized programming and stands for Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision. SSAS was established in 2006, and targets supervision for high risk substance abusing offenders.
Nebraska probation also has specialized supervision caseloads based on offense type or needs of a probationer. Officers supervising these caseloads receive intensive training to assist them in providing an individualized and specific response. Officers across the state specialize in supervising domestic violence and sexual offenders, as well as gang offenders, and those with significant mental health concerns.
Specialized supervision for domestic violence works to hold the probationer accountable, while at the same time prioritizing victim safety. Probation officers who specialize in this caseload work with community partners, victim advocates, and service provider to ensure that probationers are held accountable for their behavior and are provided services necessary to change that behavior. Officers collaborate with victim advocacy programs to ensure that victims’ needs are met as well.
Specialized supervision for sexual offenders works to provide accountability for the probationer, while at the same time providing the support necessary to prevent re-offense. Probation officers provide intensive supervision to this population and collaborate with treatment providers regularly to assess for potential risk factors. If risk factors are assessed, officers are trained to immediately respond, to provide for community safety. To learn more about sex offender risk and needs and other information, please see this Sex Offender FAQ, which was created by a multi-disciplinary task force in Nebraska.
Officers who supervise gang members work closely with local law enforcement to not only identify individuals specific to this caseload, but also to assist with supervision. Probation and law enforcement work hand-in-hand to provide the level of accountability and support necessary to help these individuals choose a different way of life.
Nebraska Probation employs ## individuals who are licensed mental health practitioners in Nebraska. While in their role as an officer, these individuals do not provide therapy, their knowledge and expertise provides them the ability to better serve probationers with mental health needs. These officers have specialized knowledge in resources and community partnerships to best serve the individuals on their caseload.
The Reporting Centers provide a continuum of services for clients under one roof. We work with a variety of individuals from State Probation, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and Federal Probation. By pooling state and county resources, the centers can provide a means by which clients’ time can be structured towards educational opportunities, employment assistance, and a variety of classes and groups that are either court-ordered or offered because there is a need.
Services are evidence-based and tailored to meet the needs of the local community. Reporting Centers assist in engaging clients in rehabilitative services while simultaneously providing enhanced supervision through probation.
Reporting Centers also serve as community resources for individuals who live in the area or are related to clients on probation offering a variety of services to meet their unique needs. These services range from AA meetings to Employment classes to access to computer labs and a variety of other services that meet the community’s demands.
Service Centers in Nebraska
Service Centers were established in 2011 for the benefit of the Judicial Districts that do not currently have a Reporting Center. The Service Centers were created and maintained when services were needed within the district to assist clients in fulfilling court-ordered obligations, addressing high-risk needs and through the sanctioning process of clients on probation.
There are currently four Service Centers in the state. They are located in Beatrice, O’Neill, Hastings, and North Platte.
Service Centers serve the same population as Reporting Centers, but offer a scaled back schedule of rehabilitative services. By pooling state and county resources and utilizing cash fund dollars to fund contracts, Service Centers offer opportunities that would otherwise not exist in rural communities. The limited number of Service Centers in operation are structured to loosely mirror a Reporting Center. It should be noted that staff within the District must provide the necessary coverage and staffing because there are no additional staff allocated to Districts to operate their local Service Center unlike the addition of a Reporting Center which comes with seven full-time staff.
Service Centers have the ability to offer programming via Probation TeleServices (PTS). PTS offers the availability for a two-way connection of two or more locations through audio and video equipment and merges the gap between barriers that probation officers, treatment providers, and clients deal with in the state of Nebraska due to transportation and logistical issues. PTS allows Probation the ability to overcome the barriers of the rural nature of the state and allow for smaller communities to deliver services similar to that found in the more urban areas of the state.
The following Districts currently operate a Service Center:
Judicial District 1- Beatrice (Gage County)
The closest Reporting Center is in Lincoln which is 42 miles from Beatrice.
Contracted Services include:
Judicial District 8-O’Neill (Holt County)
Closest Reporting Center is in Norfolk which is 90 miles from O’Neill.
Contracted Services include:
Judicial District 10-Hastings (Adams County)
The closest Reporting Center is in Grand Island which is 25 miles from Hastings.
Contracted Services include:
Judicial District 11-North Platte (Lincoln County)
The closet Reporting Center is located in Lexington, NE which is 65 miles from the Service Center in North Platte.
Contracted Services include:
Cognitive behavioral Programs- Life Skills
Probation takes very seriously those crimes where a person was victimized. As a result, it has chosen to provide a specialized approach to the investigation and supervision for domestic violence and sex offenders.
Investigations in cases involving a victim will include the opportunity for the victim to complete a Victim Impact Statement. A Victim Impact Statement is provided to the victim(s) named in the case that is being investigated. The Victim Impact Statement allows the victim share how this incident impacted them physically, emotionally and financially. This information is utilized by Probation as part of the Presentence Investigation/Presentence Report to provide the judge with a complete picture of the incident and the impact upon the victim(s). In addition, Probation aims to make phone or in-person contact with the victim(s) in order to collection any additional information. Victim input and feelings are an important part of the Presentence Investigation. This is the opportunity for a victim to be heard and to voice thoughts as to an appropriate sentence, as well as to request restitution.
Supervision of domestic violence is grounded in victim safety and offender accountability. Probation officers maintain regular contact with victims in order to better supervise probationers and overall monitor their behavior change. According to the Department of Justice, “Batterer intervention programs are an integral part of any comprehensive approach to domestic violence.” Officers work closely with these Program Providers as the probationer learns to replace their violent behaviors with more socially appropriate behaviors. In addition, probation officers maintain regular contacts in the home and on the job with probationers to further provide for accountability and overall success of these individuals on probation.
While there is a small percentage of individuals who have committed a sex offense under probation supervision, it is a population that requires a specialized approach. Probation Officers target interventions specific to the type of offense. Officers work with treatment providers and victim’s representatives to address treatment needs and to provide an increased level of accountability. According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, specialized interventions and specialized caseloads improve a jurisdiction’s ability to hold sex offender accountable, and overall improve community safety.
For more information contact:
Office 402 471-2125
Cell 402 326-9436