Our unique Client Assistance Process consists of five progressions:
1. Situating the client
2. Preparing a plan of action with the client before the hearing
3. Representing the client before the Parole Committee
4. Implementing the plan of action post-release
5. Reentry Coaching and information gathering
Situating the client consists of working with corrections officials to properly screen our clients for parole eligibility and ensure they are prioritized for educational and rehabilitative opportunities. Each client would be screened for their criminogenic needs and would be counseled as how to best address their individualized needs. Also, this step would focus on lowering a client’s dynamic risk factors as it relates to LARNA/TIGER scores.
Preparing a plan of action with the client before the hearing is necessary to ensure long term success. Just as any business or organization with no plan of action would fail, so too would an offender seeking parole release with no tangible strategy. This plan would first include identifying a residence and a job for the offender available upon release. The Parole Committee will not grant an individual who has not lined up these priorities. An incarcerated individual may have the skillset to be prosperous upon release, but it is often not possible for any person who has been incarcerated for 35 years or more to coordinate such matters on his or her own. We see ourselves as facilitators, connecting these individuals to family, friends, or existing community organizations that can help. We also seek to connect these individuals to social or self-help groups in the communities to which they would be relocating. Additionally, there is a need to have each client examined by an expert in adolescent brain science per U.S. Supreme Court directive. This would allow eventual expert testimony at a parole hearing to the client’s maturity when the offense was committed and the likelihood of continued criminal behavior.
Representing the client before the Parole Committee is a priority for our organization. We seek to invest time and effort into the client long before the day of the hearing, yet our clients will receive outstanding representation the day of the hearing. We recognize that while parole candidates who have legal representation are more likely to be granted than those who do not, the vast majority of offenders cannot afford to hire an attorney to stand with them at the hearing. The attorneys we will bring on our team to represent our clients have previously navigated hundreds of parole cases and are committed to our strategy. In addition, we would coordinate the expert testimony and testimony from supporters to take place at the hearing, something the client could not easily do on his or her own.
Implementing the plan of action post-release is necessary to prevent recidivism. At this point we would have already done the groundwork for the plan of action, but we would also be there to help navigate the offender through his plan and offer assistance when obstacles or unforeseen issues present themselves and the plan needs to be adjusted. We would collaborate with Probation and Parole so they would see us as a partner in ensuring the client is law-abiding and productive.
Reentry Coaching and information gathering is the final piece of our process, yet it is ongoing. Our coaches would serve as mentors rather than supervisors as the client adjusts and progresses in his or her return to society. While any Reentry coach would be required to have applicable experience in this field, we would prefer to employ individuals in this capacity who have personally gone through the reintegration process successfully and could serve as role models to the client. The coach would be the case manager linking the client to support services and community resources when necessary. The coach would also maintain communication with clients and meet with them on a regular basis to ensure success. We see this as an additional layer of security for the client and his community. Through the Reentry Coach, we would compile information on each client that would allow us to promote the success of this process. Most importantly, we will establish an assessment procedure that allows us to improve our program and promote best practices to our partners.
LPP Long-Term Outlook: Create Model Reentry Program
LPP will be a long-term endeavor. Although there will be an initial significant number of juvenile lifers eligible for parole, there will always be a steady number becoming eligible over the coming years. Our clients who are paroled will be on parole supervision for the remainder of their lives. As it relates to the issue of juvenile lifers, our work will never be done.
Nonetheless, an enduring objective for LPP will be to create the model start-to-finish Reentry program in Louisiana that could be expanded beyond juvenile lifers. Our organization would like to be the conduit that provides offenders deemed suitable for parole release a blueprint and mechanism for long-term success. As the Department of Corrections and the Louisiana Committee on Parole have moved toward a comprehensive revamp of their risk assessment instrument (from LARNA to TIGER), we believe our formula will be consistent with the best practice policies corrections officials are moving toward.