In addition to supervising offenders, probation and parole officers collect court-ordered payments from offenders. A pilot study was conducted in Circuit 11, Miami that allowed offenders to pay court-ordered fees via VISA/Mastercard or ATM debit card. The use of credit cards steadily increased during the six- (6) month pilot. Preliminary findings indicate that the acceptance of payment by credit card is the future trend for all governmental agencies charged with the responsibility of collecting payments from the public.
The implementation of the offender tracking by use of GPS has expanded the surveillance capabilities of the department in tracking offenders on "house arrest". Electronic monitoring using radio frequency monitors the offender's presence or absence from the home telephone but lacks the ability to know the offender's whereabouts while away from the residence. The enhanced technology utilizing the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to track the location of offenders in standard time and provide mapping for retrieval upon demand adds a new dimension to supervision. The ability to track and know an offender's whereabouts in standard time also allows for early warning to victims if offenders enter restricted areas. The department is conducting (2) two pilot programs in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties and has probation officers on 24 hour on call pay to investigated and apprehend, along with local law enforcement, and program violators.
The department has initiated several community-based partnerships with the police throughout the state. The primary objectives of these partners are to increase law enforcement (police and probation officer) presence in neighborhoods and enhance public safety. Community policing is more than just enforcing the law. It is the police, probation officers, and citizens working together to find solutions to a wide array of community problems. Community policing also helps build better relations between law enforcement agencies (police and probation officers) and communities. The above Global Positioning Satellites Pilot Project is one example of this partnership.
The Florida Department of Corrections Bureau of Program and Quality and the Office of Information and Technology jointly developed a system to download and upload offenders' urinalysis results from our contracted vendor, PharmChem Laboratories. Downloading consists of electronically transferring offenders' test results from the files of PharmChem Laboratories and automatically inputting (uploading) the laboratory results into the offender-based information system. The PharmChem Download/Upload Project system is an automated system that saves work hours by alleviating the correctional probation officer or criminal justice information technician from inputting the drug test results manually into the database. By eliminating the data entry work hours, the Department of Corrections has cost avoidance of $15,000 PER YEAR as a result of this automated system. Also, the PharmChem Download/Upload Project improves time management and increases efficiency in case management.
A pilot project was conducted on the PharmChem Pharmchek drugs of abuse patch. Twenty-eight male offenders enrolled in the nonsecure program at the Turning Point Program in Pompano Beach and one (1) female volunteer from the outpatient drug court program participated in the pilot program. The purpose of the pilot project was to determine if most offenders would be able to wear the patch for a period of time without the patch being compromised or falling off. Also, the pilot compared patch test results to the urine test results of positive and negative specimens; it considered the ease of use; time to apply the patch, the usefulness to offenders who are unable to provide an immediate urine specimen, and the reliability of the patch to other traditional methods. A total of one hundred and twenty-eight (128) tests were used during the pilot. Out of twenty-nine (29) participants one offender tested positive while in treatment at the Turning Point for opiates. One offender-tested positive for cocaine but confirmation was negative. The female participate who was enrolled in outpatient services tested positive for cocaine three times using the patch. Twice the positive tests were confirmed by PharmChem Laboratories. The patch costs $11 for a five (5) panel screen. The maximum cost for the patch including the five (5) panel screen and laboratory confirmation is $21. In comparison to the on-site test and laboratory confirmation, the maximum cost is $23. In conclusion, there is not a significant difference in the cost of the patch as opposed to testing the specimen utilizing the on-site test.
During the 1995 legislative session, the Florida Legislature created the Office of Certification and Monitoring of Batterers' Intervention Programs to be housed within the Department of Corrections, Office of Community Corrections in Tallahassee. The Office of Certification and Monitoring was mandated with developing minimum standards and procedures or certification and monitoring of batterers' intervention programs (BIPs) throughout the state, in conjunction with the Governor appointed Commission on Minimum Standards for Batterers Intervention Programs. These minimum standards and procedures were mailed to more than 1300 interested parties in late May 1996, and applications were accepted in Tallahassee as of July 1, 1996. The standards require that programs use a power and control model of intervention. It is believed that the use of violence is learned and therefore can be unlearned. The purpose of the 26 week psycho-educational groups is to hold batterers' accountable for their behavior, challenge their beliefs, teach new skills that will facilitate changes in their behavior, and provide a model of violence-free behavior among family or household members.
The Office of Certification and Monitoring in Tallahassee at the central office is staffed by two administrative positions that oversees the certification and monitoring process, along with the daily operations of the program. Five regional monitoring positions will be added soon that will be responsible for the annual administrative monitoring and group observations of the batterers' intervention groups. There are currently 54 certified batterers' intervention programs and 129 certified assessors, covering 17 of the 20 judicial circuits. A list of the certified programs and assessors is updated and sent to chief judges, state attorneys, public defenders, county, and state community corrections offices on a monthly basis.