ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CODES
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CORRECTION
NOTICE OF JOINT PUBLIC HEARING
In 1985, the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) was created by merging the Alternatives to Incarceration Program operating within the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) into the Division of Probation. According to the legislative history, the new agency was created to improve the coordination of alternative punishments at the local level and facilitate state monitoring and evaluation of these programs.
Twenty-five year later, DPCA was merged back into DCJS as part of the SFY 2010-11 enacted state budget. The rationale for this reconsolidation was to create operational efficiencies, foster improved coordination of policies and programs and provide for more cost-effective delivery of services. As a result of the merger, DPCA became a specialized office within DCJS. However, recognizing the important role of probation and ATI programs in the criminal justice system, the director of the new office was statutorily designated as a special advisor to the governor on matters pertaining to probation and ATI. In that role, the director is required to coordinate and make recommendations relating to the type and nature of ATI programs needed to reduce incarceration where the purpose of such incarceration can be adequately served by alternative programs. The director is also required to work with local probation departments to enhance and develop probation and ATI services throughout the state.
The SFY 2010-11 enacted budget also altered the manner in which state probation aid is distributed to localities. Before the change, state funding for probation was distributed in the form of partial reimbursement to local probation departments. The SFY 2010-11 enacted budget repealed the existing reimbursement formula and instead established a block grant program for probation aid distribution.
Currently, the state provides about 18% of the total amount of funds expended by localities for probation services. The SFY 2011-12 enacted budget appropriated $44 million from the General Fund for local probation aid and an additional $3.5 million in federal Byrne funds. Further, the SFY 2011-12 budget appropriated approximately $9 million from the General Fund and $2.8 million in federal funding for alternative to incarceration (ATI) programs.
This hearing will provide the Committees an opportunity to examine the impact of the merger of DPCA into DCJS on probation and alternative to incarceration programs, and on public safety, and review the adequacy of funding for such programs in the SFY 2011-12 enacted budget.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Testimony is limited to ten (10) minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to the Committees' staff as early as possible.
Twenty (20) copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committees' hearing. In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
Has the merger improved the coordination and delivery of probation and alternative to incarceration programs? If so, how? Has there been an impact on public safety and if so, what has been that impact?
Given the high cost of incarceration and the current economic decline, what have the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives and DCJS done to develop and promote new cost-effective alternative to incarceration programs and services that both enhance public safety while providing flexibility to the correctional system?
What has been the impact in recent years from the reduction in state funding for county probation departments? Has this affected sentencing decisions by judges? Has reduced state funding affected the caseloads of county probation officers?
How has the block grant program impacted the amount of probation aid received by the counties and New York City? Is the grant program as responsive to fluctuations in local probation expenditures as a reimbursement program?
Are probation and alternative to incarceration programs adequately funded? If not, what additional funding is needed to effectively and efficiently operate such programs?
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