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Agency And Organizational Profile Interview Essay Sample

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Agency And Organizational Profile Interview Essay Sample

The United States District Court Pretrial Services and Probation Office. (Northern District of Ohio) organization was chosen for this essay because this is where my field placement is and my interest are in becoming an employee of U.S Pretrial and Probation office in the future. This essay provided a brief history of United States District Court Pretrial Services and Probation Office, the responsibilities of United States District Court Pretrial Services and Probation Office, and the SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) – of the agency and theoretical perspectives were further discussed in greater detail as the essay goes on.

On January 29, 2013. Tawanna Norton an MSW, student at Cleveland State University conducted an in person interview at the U.S. Pretrial and Probation Office at 801 West Superior Avenue, Suite 3-100 Cleveland, Ohio 44113. She interviewed Pamela Lynch who has achieved her Master’s Degree in Social Work, and serves as the Assistant Deputy Chief at that Agency. When setting the appointment to interview Ms. Lynch, Tawanna offered her the option to conduct the interview either in person or over the telephone. It was agreed that an in person interview would be best, this would allow Tawanna the opportunity to tour the facility as well as develop a sense for an outpatient environment whose mission is to protect the public; by adhering to an explicit set of beliefs and values through quality investigative, supervision and support systems. The agency mission has evolved over the years due to technology and research. The prior mission stateted they provided treatment opportunities for positive lifestyle changes. Ms. Lynch stated “the agency treats everyone with fairness and dignity as they strive to deliver excellence”.

The Federal Probation Act of 1925, provided for the establishment of the federal probation system. The probation office for the Northern District of Ohio officially opened its doors on February 12, 1940, with the first officer appointment in Cleveland, followed shortly thereafter by an appointment of an officer in Toledo. Originally, it was under the jurisdiction of the department of Justice and The Bureau of prisons which was designated by the Attorney General to oversee the new system’s administrative direction and supervision. In 1940, a year after Congress established the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S Courts, a resolution of the Judicial Conference of the U.S transferred administrative control of the Federal Probation System to the AO. Within the AO, the Division of Probation was to oversee the system. During, the 1950’s and 1960’s, dramatic increases in the size and complexity of the workloads of probation offices resulted in the expansion of the officer positions. In 1963, the then Judicial Conference of the U.S Committee on the Administration of the Probation System (now known as the Criminal Law Committee) was created as an ad hoc committee devoted exclusively to the support and improvement of the federal probation system; in recognition of the significant role probation officers played in community corrections of federal defendants and offenders.

In 1975, Congress passed the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, authorizing the AO to establish pretrial service agencies in a few courts. In the 1980’s pretrial services expanded nationwide and became an important and integral part of the federal probation system. In 1982, the president signed into law the Pretrial Services Act, directing the AO to establish pretrial services in each judicial district except the District of Columbia. They could be a separate agency or combined with probation. In the last few years, because of budget constraints, separate pretrial agencies have been consolidating with probation. As a federal governmental agency, funding is exclusively from Congressional appropriations. The budget is allocated based on the previous fiscal year’s workload formula.

This has changed focus over the years.Previously; it was based on numbers of reports generated as well the numbers of offenders supervised in previous years. Now it is based on numbers of presentence reports, number of offenders supervised and number of offenders participating in special programs. i.e. location monitoring, drug and mental health treatment, sex offenders, etc. While some districts require offenders to pay for some or all of their treatment on a sliding scale, The Northern District of Ohio has not done so traditionally because few of their offenders are financially able to pay. Often they have huge restitution orders, so it’s preferred that any extra monies go toward the victim of the offense. The exception is offenders who are participating in the location monitoring program may be required to pay for monitoring services if determined they have the means. The money is not collected by the officers; it is billed by the monitoring agency with whom the probation office has a contract.

The demographics of the offender population of The U.S. Pretrial and Probation Services have not always been recorded. It has definitely changed over the last 20 years. According to Ms. Lynch who has been in the district since 1993, the drug, violent and firearm offenses have increased whereas previously, the majority of crimes were considered ”white collar”. However, fraud offenses are on the increase. The racial percentages have changed. During the mid-1990’s, the majority of offenders were white (60.6% white vs. 35.4% black in 1995). Gradually, the numbers changed as they moved toward more drug and gun offenses of conviction. For example in 2012, the percentages were 50.9% black to 44.3 percent white.

In 1995, 77.4% of offenders on supervision were male and 22.5% were female, but in 2012, 87.4% were male and 12.6% were female. The average age of offenders in 1995 was late 30’s to mid-40, while in 2012; the average age is 30 to 39, with the next largest group is 18 to 29. As indicated above, the racial makeup of offenders is majority black, and white offender numbers are second. Males considerably outnumber females and although we do not keep records of class or income level, a majority of the offenders are indigent. The offices are located in Cleveland (headquarters), Akron, Youngstown and Toledo. There are a lot of officially classified offenders by geography in terms of numbers, but most are from the urban areas of each city. According, to Ms. Lynch

Ms. Lynch was not aware of any formal strategic planning. The agency is headed by a Chief Pretrial Services and Probation Officer and his second in command Deputy Chief; currently there are also two Assistant Deputy Chiefs and an Administrative Assistant, this makes up the senior management team. The agenda for the agency is determined by initiatives desired by the Chief. There are core duties for the district that do not change, such as pretrial services, presentence investigation and reports and post conviction supervision. The statutory duties are promulgated by congress. Anything extra must be provided by the AO and Court.

The extras change depending on who is at the helm. The current Chief is due to retire in May 2013, he had a number of initiatives he wanted to accomplish and he directed the district to work on them once he received approval from either the AO and/or the Judges. Given their government budget issues however, it is speculated that there will be any money to do much extra and barely enough do the basics. As it stands the agency is facing furloughs and layoffs based on the fiscal cliff or impending sequestration. Many staff members have been offered and have taken early retirement. Several positions have not been filled, more retirements are coming and the future is uncertain. Ms. Lynch also states that “The agency will continue to exist, but how it will look is anyone’s guess”.

Based on the agency interview the following has been determined about the organization using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. There are three strengths: Cost, Information and Reputation. The reason costs are considered strength although the agency stated they did not have any money to do much is because it’s a federal agency and they are funded by congressional appropriations. However, government agencies are typically larger than private agencies and therefore benefit from economies of scale. This means that they can negotiate lower costs from suppliers because the large amount they purchase. They also create efficiencies between departments, allowing the agency itself to have more people actively engaged in devote significant time and resources to the agencies and activities that help benefit their client’s needs.

A second strength is information, Government agencies benefit from integration into the overall government system, which provides them with a great deal of information and latitude. These agencies often work closely with the court and law enforcement systems to share information and resources. Accurate and up-to-date information helps the agencies perform their jobs with greater success and efficiency. The third strength is Reputation, Government agencies have the backing of the government of which they are a part, which provides a reputation premium behind their actions. Government agencies may find it easier to work with both groups and individuals due to their status as government representatives. Workers from private agencies may have to begin their work with their clients by proving their legitimacy, which government workers typically would not have to do.

There are three weaknesses: funding, mission statement and strategic planning. When a government agency mentions facing furloughs and layoffs due to the fiscal cliff that means people will be forced to work days without pay and /or not have a job and because they are funded through congress. The government agencies have larger budgets which end up hurting the employees and the population it serves. The second weakness is the mission statement when revised should have included the information from the previous one that the agency provided treatment opportunities for positive lifestyle changes. The reason behind my statement is because a major part of the services that this agency offers is treatment for their clients.

The probation officers actually do the testing onsite as a part of the supervision and providing them with the tools and resources to help promote positive lifestyle changes is done on a daily basis. The third weakness of the agency is the strategic planning. According to a senior level officer this agency does not have a formal strategic plan, and that the agenda is based on the desires of the chief. Which according to The National Association of Social Work (1982) asserted this notion, stating in their manual on community work skills and knowledge, which the ideology of the worker will influence which groups a worker does and does not support and the strategies endorsed by the worker. This would mean a lot of changes could take place within the agency and not be in accordance with the question of ideology in community work theory and practice explaining that `the way a worker makes sense` of concepts will influence their practice. If an agency does not have a plan in place according to the statement the agency needs to expand upon creating a model directly relating political ideology to community work practice.

There are two external threats to the agency carrying out its mission statement, which are statistical regression and diffusion or imitation of
treatment. Statistical Regression can occur in repeated measure designs when people score either extremely high or extremely low on assessments. You could see regression toward the mean. The next time you measure them; there will be a tendency for their scores to move in the direction toward the mean. This becomes confusing because you will not know if the DV changed because of the IV, or because of regression toward the mean. Diffusion or imitations of treatment participants in one treatment group become familiar with the treatment of another group. They then either copy that treatment or are just otherwise affected by what they have learned. As such, they are no longer “naive” and this changes their behavior. This will minimize or mask completely the difference between your groups in a group. There are two internal threats to the agency carrying out its mission statement, morality and research. Morality which in this case refers to attrition due to compliant “non-compliant”

If mortality occurs in one condition more than the other conditions, then you have a problem, specifically, a confound The “supervised released” in the group that was hit particularly hard are probably very different from the subjects in the other groups. If you now see a difference between the groups, you won’t know if it’s because of the IV or something particular to that one group of compliant population. Even if mortality is approximately the same for each group, you still have a problem. To what extent do the non-compliant represent the population you had originally targeted? I.e. you have a problem with compliant. The second internal threat to the agency is research; we tend to use convenience sampling and test mostly offenders who are on supervision. To what extent do offenders on supervision represent the general population? To the extent that they don’t, our external threats suffer. There are two external opportunities to the agency they are able to use in building their future.

These external opportunities are trainings and education of future federal employees and the government is committed to delivering comprehensive government training to meet the employee and clients’ needs or provide private on/off-site training program based on the topics of need. All of the trainings are a combination of topics that the agency and clients will utilize to make it beneficial to both parties involved. The basic requirements are only the starting point in applying to work at USPPO (United States Pretrial and Probation Office). To be considered for employment as a Federal Probation Officer, you must be a US citizen with a completed Master’s Degree or working toward a Master’s Degree, possess a valid driver’s license and submit a 250-300 word essay on the subject of choice. There are two internal opportunities to the agency they are able to use in building their future Interview process and Background Investigation. The agency is looking for motivated people who possess strong interpersonal skills and the ability to take initiative; people who are empathetic and sensitive to the cultural morals of a changing society, and computer literacy.

The application process is rigorous, competitive and lengthy. Because of the sensitive nature of USPPO work, all applicants must undergo security background investigations by the FBI. This shows they only want the best of the best working for their agency. There are two major theoretical perspectives are `empowerment and social control this contested concept` (Saleebey, 2005). distinguishes the use of the term empowerment as a capitalist tool for increasing productivity in the workplace from `educational practice` empowerment which he feels can build `hegemony within the working class`

Thus we become aware of not only an element of rhetoric surrounding the term empowerment but a disparity of meanings. As social workers it is imperative that we are clear in what we perceive to be empowerment and that we remain focused upon the educational process as we address our clients need and support the practice of the agency. Traditionally social control has been seen as a coercive process, which engenders social conformity and maintains status quo. Indeed `Without its values, society would have no way of regulating the interchange of citizens; without its order, chaos, anarchy and continuous war for hegemony are likely to result. The process which enforces values and maintains order is termed social control` (Robbins, Chatterjee, & Canada, 2011).

Social control within a context of federal agency may be regarded as a process of continuity. Indeed much community work especially that of those with right wing political ideology, involves self-help and making the best of what you have. Thus, it could be argued that this kind of work reinforces the current control and deflects from attempts to challenge the oppression it creates, especially if this challenge may manifest as civil disobedience. Furthermore it could be argued that many government agencies who work towards small political gains and improvements for individual are only serving to pacify a potentially threatening collective group of radicals. That is by allowing them political gains they are discouraged from seeking collective action with other groups in similar positions of disadvantage and attempting a radical change at a regional or even national level. These theoretical perspectives are the driving force behind the U.S. Pretrial and Probation Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Reference Page

1. Lynch, P. (2013, January 29). Personal interview.

2. National Association of Social work (2013, January 30) Code of Ethics retrieved from http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

3. Robbins, S. P., Chatterjee, P. & Canada, E. R. (2012). Contemporary human behavior theory: A critical perspective for social work, Third Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon

4. Saleebey, D. (2005). The strengths perspectives in social work practice (4th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

5. The Council of Social Work Education (2013, January 30) retrieved from http://www.cswe.org.

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