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Web-Based Training

CMIT teamed up with SHSU online services to deliver its first Web-based training session to probation officials throughout Texas.

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas hosted its first live broadcast on the Internet for adult probation officers to discuss ways to implement research-based practices in the field.

The Webinar, “Finding the Point with Evidence-Based Practices,” was attended by criminal justice agency personnel from 95 sites across Texas and was a cost-effective way to reach more professionals in the corrections field with nationally-known experts and a broad range of officials in Texas in the community correction process. This live, interactive program featured Dr. Christopher Lowenkamp, former Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research and Associate Director of the Corrections Institute at the University of Cincinnati, as well as a panel of officials from Community Supervision and Corrections, probation supervisors, and judges from across the state.

“It’s a cost effective way to reach a lot of different people in the state of Texas,” said Craig Corder, a Project Coordinator from CMIT. “It‘s assisting the community supervisors and adult probation officers in the state and helping them to implement evidence-based practices in their departments.”

The program also gave participants the opportunity to send in questions for the expert or panel during the live, two-and-a-half hour presentation. All that was needed to participate was access to a computer and the Internet.

Dr. Lowenkamp, now a lecturer at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is the author of several risk assessment instruments and cognitive behavioral curricula for offenders. He is the author of Post Conviction Risk Assessment and the Pretrial Risk Assessment, which is used by the federal probation and pretrial systems. He has been involved in training correctional staff in effective staff practices and risk assessment.

Dr. Lowenkamp said evidence-based practices are a process rather than a particular treatment or procedure. The steps for using evidence-based practices are to assess the nature of the problem, ask clinical questions about the best methods for intervening, acquire evidence by reviewing relevant resources, appraise how closely the research subject matches a particular client, develop and implement a plan, and analyze if it works.

Dr. Lowenkamp urged participants to become the innovators or to follow the early adopters of plans in their offices to help implement evidence-based practices and then train others how to do it.

The ideas presented were discussed by a panel of Texas officials in various aspects of the criminal justice process, including Leighton Iles, Director of Tarrant Community Supervision and Correction Department (CSCD); Judge Rose G. Ryan of the 206th Judicial District Court of Hildalgo County; Mike Wolfe, Director of Taylor County CSCD; Retired Judge John Creuzot of Dallas County DIVERT Court; and Caroline Rickaway, Director of Brazoria County CSCD.

The panelists talked about some of the challenges to implementing evidence-based practices and ways that different jurisdictions overcame those obstacles. Some of the issues that arise are large caseloads as well as the size and resources of the counties. Judges also discussed the patterns they have seen among offenders in the courtroom.

The program was moderated by Carey Welebob, Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Community Justice Assistance Division.

This is the first professional Webinar offered by CMIT and was done in collaboration with DELTA, which provides SHSU’s online courses, and the Mass Communications Department at Sam Houston State University. CMIT hopes to hold more Webinars in the future.

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