From a series of seven panel workshops on lessons learned from how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the criminal justice system, this report focuses on the workshop panel composed of representatives of federal, state, and local community supervision agencies, service providers, and subject-matter experts who discussed how the pandemic has affected these organizations and their responses to the pandemic.
In addition, a separate community workshop provided input on the broader effects of changes made by community corrections agencies and the justice system generally. The challenging aspects of the pandemic for community corrections organizations included the increase in the number of persons under community corrections supervision due to the large number of offenders released from jails and prisons; traditional in-person interactions between supervised offenders and corrections staff; greater demands on treatment, counseling, and reentry service organizations; and the challenge of training staff and clients in the technology of “virtual” models of interaction. Some key adaptations of community corrections agencies in meeting these pandemic-related challenges have been a reduction in the frequency and length of supervisory interactions, shortening of sentence lengths for low-risk offenders, increase in virtual interactions, changes in treatment delivery models for substance abusers, and the expansion of work-from-home models for staff. Workshop recommendations for continuing revised policies and practices beyond the pandemic include maintaining teleworking models for flexibility and conserving resources; maintenance of virtual supervision and “teletreatment” models to accommodate larger caseloads; and the adaptation of treatment and service models to offender risk and needs. This report also includes questions posed by the workshop that might be used in evaluating whether to continue a pandemic-related modification post-pandemic.
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