E-learning Part 1 Course Descriptions Basic Safety for Probation and Parole Officers

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E-Learning Part 1 Course Descriptions

Basic Safety for Probation and Parole Officers

Working as a community supervision officer (e.g., pretrial, probation or parole officer) is not without risk. Slightly less than half of probation and parole officers will be victimized by either intimidation or assault during their careers. Therefore, all community corrections staff, whether they are armed or not, need to have basic officer safety training. This course provides an overview of the issue of officer safety and offers practical strategies for how officers can work more safely with individuals under supervision whether they are meeting with them in the office or in the field. The course also introduces participants to Critical Incident Stress Management as a way to respond when there is a traumatic event. This course is recommended for staff who provide surveillance and/or supervision to adults or juveniles on pretrial, probation, parole, aftercare, or other community supervision options. It is not intended to replace onsite safety training, nor is it considered to be comprehensive enough to provide all that an officer needs to know to be safe. However, it serves as a good primer to more advanced, hands-on officer safety training.

Cognitive-Based Communication Skills with Individuals on Community Supervision

Community supervision officers are tasked with facilitating positive changes in the behavior of people who, for the most part, are reluctant to change their behavior. Many of the individuals on supervision are committing crimes or are involved in antisocial behavior because their criminal or antisocial behavior is justified by their way of thinking. In other words, antisocial thinking leads to antisocial acts. As a supervision officer, you have a responsibility to be effective in your supervision of individuals on your caseload and facilitate positive behavioral change by challenging and helping individuals change the way they think and act. You may refer individuals on your caseload to cognitive-based interventions, which are designed to help them change their thinking and behavioral problems. However, referring individuals on supervision to cognitive behavioral interventions is not enough. You should also use cognitive-based approaches in your everyday communication with the individuals you supervise to increase their immediate responsiveness to your supervision efforts, improve their chance of success on supervision, and reduce their likelihood of committing new crimes.
Within cognitive-based offender management approaches is the belief that relationships for the management of behavior and the fostering of change are based on cooperation of people on supervision. This course will provide supervision staff with background information on some of the common thinking errors and how antisocial thinking patterns drive criminal, delinquent, or disruptive behavior. You will also be introduced to four cognitive-based skill strategies that you can use to improve your interpersonal communication with individuals you supervise, leading to more positive outcomes. In addition to presenting information, this course includes interactive exercises and case studies to help reinforce what you learn.

Communication Essentials: The Effective Listener

In this course, you will explore a key competency that top leaders have in common. As an often undeveloped component of effective communication, “listening” skills can provide the necessary leverage for leaders and managers to build more productive and engaged teams, as well as increasing their individual effectiveness. You will learn the consequences of not listening effectively and how adapting the style and techniques of active listening will reap positive benefits.
You will develop a greater understanding of why and how a manager and leader must listen actively, not passively, to build stronger teams and increase individual effectiveness. You will learn the importance of establishing common ground and practicing empathy as you apply the tips and techniques for becoming a better listener. We will use a blend of experiential exercises, instructive information, and self-study to increase your awareness and skill in being an effective communicator; a leader who listens.

Conflict Management

Any work situation involves juggling diverse tasks and interacting with a variety of different people. Sometimes, the "personal" side of dealing with differences in opinion can be stressful - and even harmful - if you don't handle issues in a respectful way. This course reviews the sources of potential conflict in the workplace along with effective conflict resolution strategies you can use to keep your work environment productive and professional.

Crisis Management for Paraprofessionals

This course is about identifying the elements of crisis management, understanding the steps for crisis intervention and stabilization and assisting clients in developing a crisis prevention plan. The course provides the community supervision professional the opportunity to become familiar with the dynamics of crisis, to identify the five phases of crisis and to develop the skills to respond appropriately.

Effective Communication in the Workplace

This course gives an overview of verbal and nonverbal communication at work. You will learn about how communication works, how it can break down, and how you can improve the likelihood that you can be more effective in your interactions at work. A key aspect of this course is the use of interactive exercises that involve learning more about active listening and explaining yourself effectively at work.

Legal and Liability Issues

Module 1: Legal and Liability Issues for Pretrial and Local Probation Officers - This module provides participants an opportunity to explore relevant legal issues impacting the delivery of pretrial and local probation services and to identify potential liability issues faced by criminal justice supervision officers.

Module 2: Legal and Liability Issues in Pretrial Services - This module relates specifically to the Virginia pretrial supervision model and legal issues that are directly applicable to pretrial services based on the unique legal status.

Module 3: Legal and Liability Issues in Local Probation/Community Supervision - This module relates specifically to the Virginia local probation supervision model and legal/liability issues that are directly applicable to post-conviction populations.

Managing Offender Resistance

Offender resistance to treatment is a significant challenge for treatment professionals working within the criminal justice system. If not appropriately handled, this resistance can lead to poorer treatment outcomes and a waste of resources on ineffective techniques. This course is intended to give you a clear understanding of how offenders develop and sustain resistance in treatment, along with some concrete techniques to effectively manage such resistance using best clinical practices. You will learn strategies for managing client resistance and for avoiding counterproductive power struggles with offenders. This course is appropriate for treatment professionals working in correctional facilities, probation and parole services, and any other setting dealing with criminal justice clients. A blend of interactive exercises and vignettes accompany the instruction to enhance your learning.

Minimum Standards for Local Probation and Pretrial

This course provides participants an opportunity to use DCJS Minimum Standards, Guidelines, and local Standard Operating Procedures to make decisions when delivering local probation supervision and pretrial services.

PREA: What It Means for You and Your Agency

This course will give you the knowledge you need in order to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) that was signed into law on September 3, 2003 and the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape established by PREA. This course is intended for all persons employed in all types of adult and juvenile detention facilities throughout the United States, and will educate you on preventing and responding to sexual abuse and how day-to-day operations and practices can achieve sexual safety for offenders. Focus will be on a zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of rape in jails and prisons in the United States. This course will give you the information you need to identify, prevent, and respond to incidents of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct between offenders, as well as between staff and offenders. Beyond learning the "letter of the law," you will learn concrete techniques that you can apply on the job. This training will also give you the chance to apply your knowledge in a series of interactive exercises that test your understanding of the material you will learn. The exercises include true/false questions, placing items in ranking order, multiple choice questions, and stories that demonstrate how to apply the training to your job. This course provides essential information to local probation and pretrial officers who have contact with offenders in correctional settings. Further, all community supervision officers will become familiar with the prohibited behaviors as outlined by PREA and the duty to report any knowledge of allegations or incidents.

Professional Ethics in Corrections

In this course, we discuss corrections' path toward becoming a profession. We examine the six traits of emerging professions, the seven traits of dynamic and growing professions, and the evolution, the history, of professional corrections. We also examine the six qualities of professionals. Finally, we identify the goals of correctional facilities and the roles of correctional officers. Community corrections agencies and their staff play a vital role in the emerging profession of “corrections.” Local probation and pretrial staff will learn the importance of development in character, attitude, competency, conduct, excellence and loyalty as they define their role in establishing a moral framework of behavior and standards of excellence to support the goals of the agency.

Understanding Responsivity

Evidenced-based practice (EBP) is currently the most talked about change within community corrections. Of the three core principles of EBP, responsivity is the least understood. This course will explain to you the evidence-based principle of responsivity. Responsivity requires that community corrections professionals consider characteristics specific to the individual under supervision when matching him/her to specific interventions and treatment services. The process of understanding someone’s learning style, motivation, etc. can be difficult, yet when these factors are addressed, outcomes with persons under supervision are more successful. The information in this course will provide you with an overview of evidence-based practice principles, as well as specific responsivity factors, including those within a contact. You will be exposed to a variety of case scenarios to better understand these concepts. The goal of this course is to help community corrections personnel identify “responsivity factors” and learn how to apply them to individuals on their caseload. Drawing upon information from Bonta’s "The Responsivity Principle and Offender Rehabilitation," this course will be helpful for any case bearing community corrections officer at any stage of their career.

Using Assessment Tools

Being a community supervision officer presents a variety of challenges. However, it can be an extremely rewarding profession when you are presented with the right tools and training to do your job effectively. Your time is a scarce and important resource. Assessments can assist you with a number of decisions in the case management process and in the allocation of your valuable time. Furthermore, done properly, assessments can assist with reducing the likelihood of future crime committed by individuals under your supervision—a win-win situation for everyone. Drawing upon material from the National Institute of Corrections’ Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Community Corrections: The Principles of Effective Intervention curriculum, this course is designed to educate entry-level, community corrections personnel on evidence-based practices. Specifically, you will learn how assessment tools can be used to enhance the decision-making process and guide the development of more effective community supervision and treatment plans for offenders. The combination of experiential exercises, instructive information, and detailed case examples in this course gives you the tools you need to effectively use the most appropriate assessment tools in your own setting.

Virginia Courts & Courtroom Demeanor

This course provides new pretrial and local probation staff with an overview of the Virginia Courts System and key points to remember when preparing for court appearances throughout the course of their work.

OPTIONAL: Supervising Offenders in Crisis

In the criminal justice system, especially in corrections, the word “crisis” brings to mind images of riots, hostage situations, escapes, and other types of violence and disruption. However, offenders often perceive a crisis to be anything, whether major or minor, that affects them and interferes with what they want to do and when they want to do it. How correctional staff responds to these sorts of crises can determine whether these situations escalate and become more volatile or whether they are resolved successfully. In this course, you will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal skills to effectively manage crisis situations with offenders. This course is appropriate for all correctional staff, though it is particularly relevant for correctional officers and correctional supervisors. You will learn how to determine whether an offender is in crisis and which of the five phases of crisis s/he is experiencing. You will read about using effective nonverbal responses to de-escalate the crisis and avoid harm to staff, offenders, and government property. You will also learn how good verbal communication skills can increase the safety and security of your institution by preventing or successfully managing crises. This course uses a blend of interactive exercises and multiple-choice vignettes to enhance your learning. This course is recommended for community supervision staff who interact with clients in a jail setting.

E-Learning Part 2 Course Descriptions

An Overview of Mental Illness for Correctional Staff

While mental illness exists in every segment of our society, its prevalence is higher in jails and prisons. A survey of the states revealed there are now over three times more people with serious mental illness in jails and prisons than in hospitals. Dealing with offenders who have a mental disorder is challenging for all correctional staff, especially officers who provide direct supervision. Offenders with mental illness are at higher risk of victimization, misbehavior, and suicide. In this course, you will learn about mental illness, its definition, causes, and myths. You will also examine the common mental disorders that offenders may have. Interactive exercises will provide you with opportunities to practice what you have learned. This course is designed for all staff members who work in adult corrections and is beneficial to those who provide supervision. To more effectively provide supervision, community corrections staff must be able to identify mental illness and common mental disorders as they directly impact a probationer’s / defendant’s health and ability to function in the ways that matter most: in their social, familial, and/or work lives.

Assessment of Treatment of Criminal Offenders with ID (Intellectual Disabilities)

There is increasing recognition of the lack of resources and need for supports for people with intellectual disabilities at risk of criminal behavior. This presentation will focus on assessment of the individual and the development of effective safety and treatment interventions. Case examples will illustrate a variety of legal and biopsychosocial issues. The community supervision officer will develop an understanding of why cognitive impairment increases an individual’s vulnerability to criminal behavior and will be presented with various treatment considerations for these clients.

Domestic Violence: Fundamentals for Community Corrections Practice

This distance learning opportunity provides an introduction to the guidelines for community supervision of domestic violence perpetrators developed by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) project, Protecting Victims Through Community Supervision of Intimate Partner Abusers. Through a series of 12 modules, participants can learn about many issues related to domestic violence and gain knowledge and skills for supervision of domestic violence cases.

Module 1: Domestic Violence: Fundamentals for Community Corrections Practice

Module 2: Risk Factors for Domestic Violence

Module 3: Case Investigation Strategies for Domestic Violence Cases

Module 4: Working with Victims

Module 5: Separation Violence

Module 6: Culture and Domestic Violence

Module 7: Community Supervision of Domestic Violence Cases

Module 8: Community Supervision Strategies for Domestic Violence Cases

Module 9: Responding to Compliance and Noncompliance

Module 10: Firearms and Domestic Violence

Module 11: Stalking

Module 12: Batterer Programs

Facilitating Offender Success with Effective Case Planning

Individuals under supervision often have an assortment of problems and issues to address. Sometimes these issues seem incredibly difficult to identify and address. Even when offender problems are known, how do you know which issues are relevant to supervision? How do you know what to prioritize in the supervision plan? Which issues will be addressed through programming or treatment? Moreover, which issues, if any, can be ignored or put on the back burner? These questions are constant struggles for community supervision officers. Some days, it feels as if there is not enough time to address everything that seems significant. However, when properly used, assessment tools and supervision plans can help you answer these important questions and assist with the supervision process. Drawing upon material from The Probation and Parole Treatment Planner and other scholarly research material such as information from The National Institute of Corrections, this course is designed to educate entry-level, community corrections personnel on criminogenic needs found in evidence-based practices literature and associated with an offenders delinquent or criminal behavior. The information in this training discusses how these specific domains contribute to criminal and antisocial behavior. Further, using interactive exercises, detailed case illustrations, and informative material, you will explore how to address each of these specific domains in the supervision plan.

Female Offenders: Violence, Trauma, and Supervision Strategies

Women in America experience high rates of violence as both children and adults, which can lead to serious long-term effects from the trauma. Many of the women offenders you supervise have a history of victimization and may be inadvertently re-traumatized in a correctional setting. This course focuses on violence against girls and women, and the role it plays in the lives of those women while they are involved in the criminal justice system. You will learn about childhood abuse and adult sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence. As a corrections professional, you can make a difference by helping to create an environment that allows the healing process to begin - one which gives these women an opportunity to learn new behaviors. In turn, the information in this training will help you manage these offenders more effectively, whether in a confinement or community supervision setting. This course provides the learner with an understanding of the impact of victimization on women to highlight the importance of changing the behavior and circumstances that put these clients at risk for re-offending. You will have the chance to test your understanding of the concepts in a series of interactive exercises and case studies.

Managing Sexual Offenders under Community Supervision

Managing sexual offenders under community supervision differs in several important ways from managing other offenders. This course is intended to provide the parole agent and/or probation officer with knowledge specific to the effective management of sexual offenders. This course will provide information about sex offender characteristics and methods for supervising sexual offenders under parole or probation in the community. You will learn how to approach supervision from a risk based perspective, with the goal of keeping the community safe while using available resources effectively. Following completion of this course you will be better equipped to understand the unique supervision needs of those persons on your caseload with a history of committing sexual abuse and sexual violence.

Overview of Sex Offender Supervision: The Comprehensive Approach

Once convicted, most adult sex offenders serve all or most of their sentence on community supervision. Sex offenders on community supervision present unique challenges that can have an impact on the supervisory relationship, making it challenging for supervision staff to assess their level of risk to the community and to their victims. Also, there is typically a high level of concern among community members around the issue of sex offenders being supervised in the community. As a result, officers supervising these types of offenders need to become familiar with the supervision challenges sex offenders present and educate themselves about effective ways to supervise this population of high-risk individuals. There is no cookie-cutter approach to working with this population. You need specialized knowledge and skill-based training when working with sex offenders. However, not all agencies have the resources to have specialized sex offender caseloads. Therefore, this course will provide community supervision professionals who are managing sex offenders as part of a generalized caseload an introduction to sex offender management and community supervision, as well as an overview of some of the techniques and tools probation and parole officers can use to effectively manage and supervise adult sex offenders in the community. In addition to providing you with information, you will have an opportunity to apply what you learn through various interactive exercises within this course.

Supervising Offenders with Mental Illness

Correctional staff has the difficult task of working with offenders who have mental health issues. These offenders have special needs, and their behavior can disrupt normal operations and require intervention from both correctional officers and treatment staff. This course looks at the factors in the correctional environment that influence offenders with mental illness and also identifies the common signs of mental illness. It then examines how to supervise these offenders effectively. Interactive exercises give you an opportunity to practice applying what you have learned. With these new tools, you will be well-prepared to work safely and effectively with offenders who have mental health issues. The target audience for this course is correctional staff who work in jails and prisons, particularly correctional officers. Additionally, this course provides useful information for community supervision staff by outlining common signs of mental illness, general techniques for effective supervision and identifying the importance of making appropriate referrals for these clients.

Understanding Addiction: An Overview for Corrections Professionals

Addiction is prevalent among both males and females involved in the criminal justice system and presents special challenges to correctional professionals. Understanding the addictive process and becoming familiar with the signs of addiction can lead to earlier detection and intervention. In this course, you will look at the steps that lead up to addiction and the substances and events to which people become addicted. You will see how a person’s personality and ways of acting with others change because of addiction. By the end of this course, you will be familiar with the warning signs of addiction and withdrawal and will understand how addiction in offenders can disrupt the orderly running of correctional facilities. This course is appropriate for correctional staff in adult jails and prisons. This course is also relevant to the community supervision officer as it outlines many of the challenges and barriers that must be identified when supervising probationers or defendants with addiction issues. Interactive exercises accompany the instruction to help develop your skills.

Understanding Mental Health Treatment in the Corrections Setting

With the large number of mentally ill offenders entering correctional facilities, providing treatment is becoming even more important. Many serious mental illnesses are persistent in nature, and like diabetes, require long-term treatment. Mental health staff help offenders manage their illness by treating the symptoms of their disorder(s). Once they become stable, offenders can learn how to cope with life and function successfully in society. Probation and pretrial officers can gain beneficial and pertinent information from this course. Probationers and defendants who are professionally diagnosed and maintaining control of their disorders will increase their chances of successfully completing supervision. The interactive exercises in this training will help you to work more effectively with individuals with mental health problems.

Revised 7/8/2014


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