This 101 series will help to explain and describe the work the Iowa Department of Corrections is doing with the Statewide Recidivism Reduction Strategy.
What is it?
A time study is having your staff document their time. For example, staff would document the amount of time spent on each task and put it in categories such phone calls, travel, paper work etc. What it helps to do is see exactly what it is that you do in your job. A time study documents what you do within a 40 hour work week.
Why are we doing this?
Our goal for the time study is to find out a workload formula, we already have a workload formula in the communities. This formula would help to balance out the caseload and workload. This helps to distribute the workload to where staff would be doing the work that one human being can do in 40 hours of work and getting the best 40 hours we can in a week.
What is the difference between caseload and workload?
Caseload is the number of offenders assigned to officers and workload is the amount of time necessary to complete tasks. There might be 1,300 offenders in an institution and 12 counselors. The counselors could have an even number of cases but not even workload. Workload is determined based on risk, needs, and other factors that contribute to how much time it takes to interact with treatment plans of offenders. By tracking how long different tasks take based on level of risk then using that information for the workload formula, we may see a counselor have 60 offenders on their caseload and another counselor has 140 offenders on their caseload but they still have an even workload.
Where is this being done? Who is doing this?
It’s being done at the Iowa institutions. All the correctional counselors that carry cases have participated. The American Probation and Parole Association are overseeing the time study.
When will this happen?
The final results have been recorded. The final results of the time study include 98 percent of counselors participation, 31,353 activities recorded, 930, 339 minutes (15,506 hours) recorded for activities with an average of about 7,952 minutes (132 hour per counselor) for the Institutional Time Study. A time study will be happening soon for the Iowa community corrections.
Why is this so important?
We have done research and no other state corrections institution has a workload formula. The Iowa institutions had nothing to go on and it’s important to have a time study to look at exactly what they are doing and how long it is taking.
How will this help to reduce recidivism?
Offenders that are higher risk would hopefully be assigned to counselors that have a lower caseload size thus having more time to work one on one with that offender. Those one on one interactions are important in terms of recidivism reduction. This ultimately helps us to work efficiently, utilize our resources better and to also communicate better with the public that this is what we need in terms of public safety and the amount of staff we need to get people into treatment classes, to get them back on the street and to do what we can while they are in our care with rehabilitation.
Here is our SRR Newsletter! See what we have been up to in the Iowa Department of Corrections for the months of April, May, June and July 2016!
By Jackie Horsfall
The Iowa Statewide Recidivism Reduction Strategy presented at a panel at the 2016 Iowa/Nebraska Peer to Peer Homelessness Symposium June 9th on the topic of housing persons re-entering communities. 36 professionals in the housing, shelter and social work industries attended the panel to learn and discuss the challenges of prisoner reentry and housing. The panel included Beth Skinner, Katrina Carter, Debra Dancer, Melissa Perry and Deb Theeler.
Beth Skinner, coordinator for the Statewide Recidivism Reduction Strategy, started off with statistics related to recidivism. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68 percent of state prisoners are rearrested in three years and 50 percent of state prisoners are reincarcerated in three years. Skinner commented on the difficulties of released inmates reentering society with housing and employment.
"How do you focus on your job if you don’t know where you are sleeping tonight,” said Skinner.
The panel also included two previous justice involved individuals who spoke on their experience on homelessness and job security after reentry. Deb Theeler, a registered nurse and previous inmate who now helps run halfway houses, described life after prison as scary staying in inadequate housing.
“I wanted to go back to prison with the people that loved me and the people that knew me,” said Theeler.
Melissa Perry, a previous inmate and fellow panelist, described her difficulty finding a job and housing.
“They wouldn’t hire me for my history, they wouldn’t take me” said Perry. “I had to start buying and selling drugs to make money and ended up back in prison.”
A discussion addressing challenges for individuals returning included educating landlords, reducing screening criteria, improving collaboration among service agencies, creating incentives and seamless reentry practices. The panel was asked what they would say to someone who was reentering society.
“You are a new arrival, you are not in the clearance bin, you are arriving as a new person and the world is open to you,” said Theeler.
Perry described how overwhelming everyday life can be.
“Make a little plan, don’t do it all in one day,” said Perry.
Skinner closed the panel discussion by commenting on how important collaboration is when addressing challenges to housing and employment for previous inmates.
“We have to work together so people don’t fall through the cracks,” said Skinner.
The panel included left to right: Debra Dancer, Beth Skinner, Katrina Carter, Melissa Perry and Deb Theeler.
By Jackie Horsfall
Kim Sperber visited the Iowa Department of Corrections May 24th to give a presentation about Continuous Quality Improvement. Sperber, the Chief Research officer for Talbert House in Cincinnati Ohio, is a part of the quality assurance workgroup in SRR that helps to research and assess that desired quality of use in policies and procedures are being utilized by staff in institutions and community-based corrections to ensure fidelity in programming and casework. Continuous Quality Assurance is a method of continuously examining processes and making them better by the means of data, team approaches and the involvement of the organization. Jerry Bartruff, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections addressed the staff in the audience, commenting on the important work being done by SRR and the massive undertaking with quality assurance.
“I am proud that we are doing this in the state,” said Bartruff.
Sperber addressed how CQI in organizations demonstrated better outcomes and thus can help aid in lowering recidivism.
“System issues are one of the biggest factors that make people quit their job,” said Sperber.
The staff in the audience was then split into eights groups all to discuss goals, challenges and steps moving forward. Comments for goals included stakeholder education and program fidelity. Challenges included staff resources and time. Future steps included education of all staff of the benefits and utilization of the CQI process. The SRR staff in Des Moines is currently developing a strategy to spread knowledge of CQI to community based corrections and institutional staff.