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DPA Social Worker Program - Top 25 Innovations in Government

Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University announced the Top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Award competition. These government initiatives represent the dedicated efforts of city, state, federal, and tribal governments and address a host of policy issues including crime prevention, economic development, environmental and community revitalization, employment, education, and health care. Selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners, four finalists and one winner of the Innovations in American Government Award will be announced in the fall. A full list of the Top 25 programs is available here.

“These Top 25 innovations in government offer real, tangible ways to protect our most disadvantaged citizens, educate the next-generation workforce, and utilize data analytics to enhance government performance,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government program at the Ash Center. “Despite diminishing resources, these government programs have developed model innovations that other struggling agencies should be inspired to replicate and adapt to their own communities.”

Included in the programs selected is the Department of Public Advocacy's Social Worker Program.

Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program Commonwealth of Kentucky

In the Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program, social workers—with public defenders—develop and present individualized alternative sentencing plans to the court as options other than incarceration. Persons who would normally be jailed or imprisoned stay in the community, receive services, and become less likely to reoffend.

DPA social worker program changes lives, but lacks funding

Click here to read the Glasgow Daily Times article on DPA’s social worker alternative sentencing program, recently recognized as one of the 25 most innovative government programs in the country by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. For a 2 minute summary of the social worker program and comments from a judge and prosecutor, click here.

DPA Social Worker Program: alternative sentencing social workers offer courts developed sentencing options

DPA social workers develop and present evidence-based individualized alternative sentencing plans to the court as options to incarceration. Persons who would normally be jailed or imprisoned instead serve their sentence in treatment in the community with more effective and less costly outcomes. These alternatives to incarceration decrease jail and prison costs and recidivism. They advance a more efficient and effective justice system. DPA represents the vast majority of criminal defendants in the state and is particularly well-suited to lead a collaborative effort to create plans for juveniles and offenders with substance abuse and mental illness.

DPA social workers do what others cannot do

  • Use motivational interviewing within the attorney-client privilege, increasing changed client behavior
  • Improve coordination and cooperation among criminal justice agencies and treatment providers
  • Intervene early for more efficient resolution
  • Understand substance abuse, mental illness and the undeveloped minds of juveniles

Judges and prosecutors support this program because

  • Sentencing options are provided
  • Plans address underlying causes of the criminal behavior
  • Clients’ motivation for compliance with treatment plans increases

Jail and prison costs are saved

Each social worker saves counties and the state $100,000+ jail and prison costs according to an independent study done by University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work.
See, http://dpa.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/369E42F6-ECFF-4E51-ACC6-99F609A511D3/0/SW_Pilot_Report.pdf

A presentation on alternative sentencing social workers can be viewed by clicking on: Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Click Here to view the: Alternative Sentencing VideoYou are now leaving the ky.gov domain. Click here to view the One-Page Social Worker Overview.

2013 Pilot Evaluation by University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research
A 2013  pilot study of the outcomes of the DPA Alternative Sentencing Program was conducted by Robert Walker, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. Assistant Professor Department of Behavioral Science and Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Using a convenience sample of 20 cases from FY 2012, it examined their potential sentences for an outside range of possible costs of incarceration in the absence of any possible alternative sentencing arrangements. Then, it examined the cost of the clients imposed sentences. It also examined the cost of actual time served following the disposition of the cases that included an acceptance by the court of the alternative sentencing plans. We then analyzed costs, netting out the cost of the program, in order to arrive at an estimate of the net reductions in likely incarceration costs resulting from the use of the DPA program. Using two per diem rates we found high and low end cost offset amounts. These offset amounts can be rendered as returns on investments. At the high end there was a cost/benefit relation of $1:$6.80 and in the low end there was a relation of $1:$4.47. These ratios can be stated such that for every dollar spent on the DPA alternative sentencing program, there was a savings of $4.47 to $6.80. for the full Report see: DPA Social Worker Alternative Sentencing Program Pilot Evaluation Study 2013

 

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Last Updated 9/26/2013
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