DHS Research and Reports - Crime and Justice
Pretrial Decision-Making: How a Model Pretrial Services Program Changed Allegheny County’s Criminal Justice System
Published, July 2014
The Allegheny County Pretrial Services Department, created by combining the county bail agency with three other programs that work with defendants who are awaiting a court hearing (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, the Alcohol Highway Safety Program and the Behavioral Assessment Unit), has reformed the way in which pre-trial release decisions are made. Utilizing background research and a standardized risk assessment, Pretrial Services staff prepare balanced and fact-based recommendations that provide the basis for many of the case disposition decisions made by Fifth Judicial District President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, who runs Motions Court. Supervision of released defendants awaiting trial, staff training and information management were also restructured in accordance with national best practices.
This innovative collaboration between Pretrial Services and Judge Manning has been cited as a national model in pretrial release decision-making. The accompanying report describes the modernization and current structure of the pretrial system, as well as the improved outcomes that have resulted from the reforms (e.g., quicker arraignment, reduced dependency on monetary bail, and reduced jail overcrowding).
Reducing Street Violence in Allegheny County: Research & Recommendations
Published, June 2014
Although most Allegheny County residents say that they feel safe in their neighborhoods, Pittsburgh's homicide rate is higher than the average of U.S. cities of similar size. The majority of these homicides are the result of street violence. There are strategies that have been shown to reduce this street violence, but, to be effective, they must focus on those at highest risk and be implemented in a collaborative way that involves community members as well as agencies in the criminal justice and human service systems.
This report is the result of interviews with more than 50 practitioners; reviews of local, state and national programs; research on the roots of violence and evidence-based practices that have been effective in combatting street violence; and discussions with noted experts in the field of criminal and juvenile justice. It presents recommendations of specific, proven strategies that can reduce street violence in Allegheny County within one to five years.
Data Brief: Behavioral Health Services In The Allegheny County Jail
Published, March 2014
The Allegheny County Jail Collaborative strives to improve public safety and reduce recidivism through a variety of programs and services offered to inmates while incarcerated and during re-entry into the community. One of the primary challenges to successful re-entry is the high rate of behavioral health issues (substance abuse and mental health disorders) among the jail population. Left untreated, these issues make it far more difficult for an individual to find and hold a job, maintain a home and create the supportive community relationships that help to prevent recidivism. As a first step toward improving outcomes for this population, the Collaborative convened a workgroup to review the behavioral health services available, to identify gaps and challenges within the system, and to recommend possible improvements. This brief summarizes the workgroup’s findings.
Day Reporting Centers: The New Face of Probation in Allegheny County
Published, January 2014
Since 2009, Adult Probation, part of the Criminal Division, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, has opened two community-based Day Reporting Centers, one in Arlington and one in East Liberty, where probation officers are mobile and services are designed to help offenders move in a positive direction. These Centers represent a major transformation in the way in which Adult Probation in Allegheny County manages offenders on probation, placing rehabilitation at the forefront and prioritizing positive involvement in the community. The new model has also significantly changed the role and day-to-day life of probation officers working in the two Centers. Early results of a comparison study of traditional probation and the new model are promising.
In this report, writer Bruce Barron describes the Centers and the challenges involved in their establishment. He also illustrates the impact of the model on offenders, three of whom chose to share their experiences for this report.
The Bridge to Home: The Allegheny County Jail Collaborative’s Family Support Initiative
Ervin Dyer, Kathy McCauley and Evelyn Whitehill
Published, November 2013
Video Summary of Report
The Family Support Program was implemented in the Allegheny County Jail in 2009 as a key strategy of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative’s Reentry Program. The Family Support Program is based on the premise – supported by emerging research – that positive family and community connections provide incentives and resources that encourage and assist ex-offenders to stay out of jail. But a second, equally important goal is to prevent the negative outcomes that children experience when their parents are incarcerated. This report provides a description of the program, its development and its effect on the lives of inmates and their families.
DataBrief: Batterer Intervention Programs in Allegheny County
Published, November 2013
The Allegheny County Department of Human Services reviewed national research, evidence-based practices and local batterer intervention programs as part of a collaborative effort to improve community response to domestic violence. Based upon the results of the review, a Request for Proposals was issued to identify providers to implement batterer intervention programs in the community and within the Allegheny County Jail. This brief summarizes the findings of the review and the results of the RFP process.
DataBrief: Violence in Allegheny County
Published, October 2013
Homicides in Allegheny County were analyzed using data from sources including the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police and the DHS Data Warehouse. Data show that homicides in the region have declined in recent years but that rates are nearly twice that of some of our benchmark cities, including Minneapolis and Denver. Data also show that homicides are concentrated geographically and demographically. Other findings, including involvement of victims in the human services and criminal justice systems, are provided in this brief.
Homicides in Allegheny County 1997 Through 2012
Prepared by Kathryn Collins, Ph.D., Erin Dalton and Charles Odah, October 2013
The Department of Human Services (DHS) analyzed data from a number of sources in order to understand the factors that contribute to community violence and how it disproportionately affects certain populations. This report examines homicides that occurred in Allegheny County from 1997 through 2012. It includes an analysis of victimization rates by gender, race and age; geographical information about homicides and shootings; an examination of the time, days and months when homicides and shootings most frequently occur; details about the relationship between victims and offenders; and human services and justice system involvement of victims. The report concludes with a discussion of violence prevention efforts in Allegheny County.
Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Annual Report 2012-13
Published October 15, 2013
Stories of Transition, Part 2: Men and Women in the Jail Collaborative’s Reentry Program
By Bill Moushey, October 2013
As a key initiative of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative, the Allegheny County Jail’s Reentry Program is designed to reduce recidivism by providing support and assistance to inmates returning to the community following incarceration. Research currently underway will provide information on the outcomes of the Reentry Program; however, there is much to learn from the experiences of individuals who have participated in the program. In May 2013, Stories of Transition [Part 1] was published; writer Bill Moushey recently interviewed a second group of individuals who have participated in the Reentry Program. In this report, he describes their experiences.
Stories of Transition: Men and Women in the Jail Collaborative's Reentry Program
By Bill Moushey, May 2013
As a key initiative of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative, the Allegheny County Jail’s Reentry Program is designed to reduce recidivism by providing support and assistance to inmates returning the community following incarceration. Research currently underway will provide information on the outcomes of the Reentry Program; however, there is much to learn from the experiences of individuals who have participated in the program. Writer Bill Moushey recently met with some of those individuals. In the following stories of transition, he describes their experiences.
Allegheny County DUI Alternative to Jail Program: System Collaboration Leads to Innovative Reform
By John Sawyer, January 2013
In late 2010, after more than a year of research, program design and collaboration across departments, Allegheny County launched the DUI Alternative to Jail Program, also known as the “DUI Hotel.” The new program was designed to reduce the number of first-time DUI offenders sentenced to the Allegheny County Jail or to Electronic Monitoring; to improve compliance with sentencing requirements; and to reduce overall recidivism by DUI offenders across the county. This report provides a description of the program, its progress towards the stated goals and its impact on the systems and individuals involved.
I Hope I See You Somewhere Else: Allegheny County Jail’s Discharge Center Helps Ex-Offenders Leave on the Right Foot
By Bruce Barron, January 2013
In 2011, the Allegheny County Jail opened the Discharge Center, designed to smooth inmates’ transition back into the community at the end of their jail stay. The Discharge Center is a key component of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative’s plan to reduce recidivism within the county and resulted from a coordinated effort by a number of Collaborative partners. In this narrative report, the author provides an historical overview as well as a first-hand look at the workings of the Discharge Center.
Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Annual Report 2011-12
Published September 1, 2012.
Allegheny County Jail Collaborative Annual Report 2010-11
Published July 1, 2011.
The Allegheny County Jail Collaborative, which includes leadership from the Department of Human Services, the Allegheny County Jail, the Allegheny County Health Department and the Court of Common Pleas, as well as the Chief of Staff for the County Executive, was formed in 2000 to increase public safety by reducing recidivism. In 2010, the Collaborative embarked upon a strategic planning process resulting in a three-year plan for reducing recidivism. The plan involves three strategies designed to achieve this goal: 1) begin a new reentry program; 2) make necessary systems changes; and 3) develop alternatives to incarceration.
Significant progress has been made in all three areas. The first year report (published July 2011) and second year report (published September 2012) detail this progress.
HOPE: Helping Others Through the Power of Education: A Report on a Series of Events Held in the Spring of 2011
Prepared by Robin Orlando, Jeanine Rasky and Evelyn Whitehill
Published June 2012.
Throughout May and June of 2011, three events were held that brought together youth and families from a number of DHS children and youth-serving systems (e.g., behavioral health, intellectual disabilities, child welfare), the Allegheny County Health Department and the Juvenile Justice system, to engage them in empowering activities designed to: 1) provide a better understanding of the resources available to them; 2) increase their skills to utilize these resources; and 3) expand their ability to connect with their peers and build community networks of support. These three events, collectively known as HOPE (Helping Others through the Power of Education), were: 1) Spin the Wheel to Wellness Workshop; 2) Strong Communities Celebration and Resource Fair; and 3) Youth Empowerment Conference. A description and evaluation of each are included in this narrative report.
Evaluation of Allegheny County’s Crisis Intervention Team Training Program
Beth A. D. Nolan, Alexis Blandford, and Danielle Kirin
Between 2007 and 2009, 95 officers from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and other municipalities received crisis intervention training designed to teach them how to identify and intervene with individuals with mental illness at an earlier stage, in order to avoid escalation of the behavior, prevent possible injury and reduce the possibility of subsequent arrest among youth and adults who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This program was a component of a broad-based strategy implemented to decriminalize individuals with mental illness who may encounter the criminal justice system and to seek solutions through diversion programs. This report summarizes the process of development and implementation of the training program, describes the community interventions in place to support the officers, and examines course ratings and evaluation feedback from participants.
An Analysis of Allegheny County Mental Health Court
Kimberley C Falk and Stephanie Moravec
Data gathered in 2008. Published 2011.
The Allegheny County Mental Health Court (MHC) was established in 2001 to address the needs of people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders in judicial proceedings. Blended resources and funding, as well as collaboration among the Court of Common Pleas, District Attorney, Department of Human Services (DHS) and Adult Probation, enable the court to ensure that mental health or substance use treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration for MHC participants; treatment is intended to reduce the likelihood of criminal recidivism. This 2008 analysis uses summary violations and criminal convictions to compare recidivism of MHC graduates with federal reconviction rates. Ten percent of MHC graduates were convicted of criminal charges three years after completing the MHC program, a figure which compares favorably to national reconvictions of 46 percent after three years.
Collaborative Approach to Juvenile Justice
Reform An Analysis of Juvenile Justice Related Services in Allegheny County
Published November 2011
JJRS was created in Allegheny County more than a decade ago to ensure that adolescents in the juvenile justice system who are struggling with behavioral health issues receive coordinated services tailored to their individual needs. Today, JJRS plays a key role in the collaborative approach taken by the behavioral health, child welfare and juvenile justice systems in the county to address this challenging population by offering services ranging from early screening and case management to helping to educate probation officers, judges, and others about the behavioral health system and treatment, coordinating appropriate planning/dispositions with Juvenile Probation, and facilitating the involvement of parents and guardians.
Executive Summary of Juvenile Justice Related Services in Allegheny County
Key Characteristics of Juvenile Justice Related Services in Allegheny County
Parent Participation, a successful approach to Involving parents in Allegheny County
How Case Reviews Transformed Allegheny County's Criminal Justice System
Published September 2011.
In this report, writer Bruce Barron documents the criminal justice case review process in Allegheny County which was established to deliver justice efficiently and effectively. The report provides a behind the scenes look at how cases are identified, prepared and documented for the review which includes stakeholders from law enforcement, prosecution and defense counsel, the courts, probation, human services, and corrections. The report highlights the issues and solutions proposed by the criminal justice case review team and the factors that have contributed to the team’s success.
Violence in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh
Erin Dalton, Michael Yonas, LaToya Warren and Emily Sturman
Data current through 2006. Published 2008.
Community violence has persisted as a public health problem throughout the United States, despite considerable intervention and prevention efforts made by public officials, researchers, law enforcement officials, and community-based individuals and organizations. In this report, the authors attempted to provide a profile of community violence in Allegheny County and to better understand the relationship with violence held by DHS consumers and clients.
Child Welfare, Juvenile Probation, and Jail Cross-Participation
Data current through 2008. Published 2008.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) examined cross-participation of DHS clients across the child welfare system, the juvenile probation office, and the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ). By better understanding cross-over youth, DHS will be better equipped to provide prevention and intervention services to children in care, as well as to work collaboratively with the Juvenile Probation Office and ACJ to ensure that the unique needs of these youth are being met. The analysis in this research brief describes youth participation in these systems from June 2007 through June 2008.
One Vision One Life Trauma Center Intervention Program
Erin Dalton and LaToya Warren
Data current through 2007. Published 2008.
This research brief examines the 41 trauma center interventions conducted by One Vision One Life (OVOL) from 2005 to the spring/early summer of 2007. The analysis uses data collected during OVOL trauma center interventions; this information, which was logged on OVOL hospital forms, is self-reported by the victims and, in some cases, by a family member. The results of the analysis are intended to provide feedback to OVOL and the trauma center partners as well as to assess the cost-savings attributed to the intervention.
Children of Incarcerated Parents
An Analysis Conducted by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Data current through 2006. Published 2008.
Much of the recent media attention on incarceration has focused on the incarcerated population, the facilities in which they are housed, and the cost of their stay. However, the discussion rarely centers on the children of the incarcerated. This report, however, broadly explores who these children and parents are and, to the extent possible, describe their experiences in the human services systems. This report is intended to start the discussion about the full spectrum of needs that these children may have and how we can better serve them.