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U.S. probation and pretrial services officers January Welks and Jennifer Simone discuss how the pandemic has called for new ways of thinking and working, in some cases leading to positive change in both their professional and personal lives. Officers Welks, Simone, and colleagues across the country, on the front line of the pandemic, share the adjustments they make to remain healthy and safe while continuing to keep the wheels of justice moving.  Clinical psychologist Guy Bourgon, a second time guest, reacts to their stories and describes how knowing your "why" and being proactive, predictable, and people-focused can help officers manage crisis. He explains how being forced to implement new practices can move organizations and individuals past the inertia that impedes change, making them stronger and better.

Host Mark Sherman talks with bank robber turned Georgetown law professor Shon Hopwood about how the system can help and hurt an inmate’s return to society. Shon’s unusual legal journey began during a twelve-year stint in federal prison for robbing banks. While there, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of two of his petitions, giving his life an unexpected turn. While on supervised release, Shon overcame many of the obstacles that stand in the way of most inmate’s successful reentry into society, to include finding a good job and attending the University of Washington School of Law on a Gates public interest scholarship. Today, he is a member of the bar, teaches constitutional and criminal law at Georgetown University Law School, and represents prison inmates before the federal courts. As a criminal justice reform advocate, he also lobbied successfully for the 2018 passage of the First Step Act.

Chief U.S. Pretrial Services Officer Christine Dozier (Ret.) of the District of New Jersey has become known for her unique philosophy that “reentry begins at arrest.” In her fifteen-year tenure, she transformed the agency from being a traditional provider of pretrial services, to one on the cutting edge of innovation, not just in pretrial work but in criminal justice more generally. Chief Dozier’s approach has enabled the District of New Jersey’s pretrial services office to become a leader in release rates and successful outcomes for individuals on pretrial supervision. She has taken a systems view, illustrating that an individual’s success on pretrial release can have a positive impact on their sentence, their community following reentry, and their post-conviction supervision. Host Mark Sherman talks with Chief Dozier about the present and future of federal pretrial services and what she learned as a leader over the course of her tenure.

Chief U.S. Probation Officer Connie Smith and Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, both of the Western District of Washington, will discuss the roles of the officer who conducts the presentence investigation and the sentencing judge; individualized sentencing and avoiding unwarranted sentencing disparities; and the importance of taking a science-informed approach in the presentence and sentencing process.

Thinking for a Change is one of several cognitive behavioral interventions used by federal probation and pretrial services offices to help clients succeed during and after supervision and thus reduce recidivism.  Officers volunteer to facilitate the intensive 13-week program, and most find that their time and energy commitments are more than worth it. The Eastern District of Wisconsin Probation Office adopted T4C, as it’s often called, in 2012 and now has more than two dozen officers trained as facilitators.

Holistic defense is also called community-oriented defense, therapeutic defense, or holistic advocacy. Whatever the name, its purpose is to solve underlying social and environmental problems that may have contributed to an individual's involvement in crime. It does this by emphasizing teamwork, partnerships with other criminal justice stakeholders, and identification and mitigation of collateral consequences. By doing this, defense attorneys hope to improve public safety by helping clients avoid involvement in the criminal justice system and reducing recidivism. In this episode of Off Paper, federal defenders Kathy Nester (D. Utah) and Maureen Franco (W.D. Tex.), who have been at the forefront of this work in the federal system, talk about the role of the defender in building and sustaining a multi-stakeholder, district-wide reentry infrastructure and in developing and implementing collaborative, problem-solving courts.

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This guide provides an overview of special conditions of supervised release and probation restricting computer and Internet use in an effort to protect the public from cybercrime, including child pornography offenses. The guide summarizes the relevant statutory provisions and Sentencing Guidelines policy statements that courts consider when evaluating computer and Internet special conditions; reviews Judicial Conference policy concerning the recommendation and execution of special conditions by federal probation officers; summarizes the types of bans and restrictions on computer and Internet access during postconviction supervision that have been upheld or rejected by courts, and discusses the most important factors that courts consider in assessing the restrictions; and describes the factors courts consider when evaluating conditions requiring computer filtering or monitoring and discusses other procedural issues related to the imposition and execution of such restrictions.

Six of the nation's top legal scholars discuss and analyze the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2014–2015 Term that are most likely to affect the work of federal judges in the coming years. Free speech, same-sex marriage, criminal law, search and seizure, patent and trademark, and bankruptcy decisions are among the topics explored and explained.

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The Benchbook is an ongoing compilation of information that federal judges have found useful for immediate bench or chambers reference in civil and criminal proceedings. It contains sections on such topics as assignment of counsel, taking guilty pleas, standard voir dire questions, sentencing, and contempt. The sixth edition, published March 2013, adds new sections on disclosure of exculpatory information under Brady v. Maryland, civil case management, and restraint of dangerous defendants (“shackling”). Also included are a complete revision of the sentencing section that now provides a sample sentencing “script” for judges to follow, Padilla-based warnings to noncitizen and sex-offense defendants, and updated jury instructions that deal with jurors’ use of social media and electronic devices. The Benchbook is prepared under the guidance of experienced district judges and may be used online, downloaded to a computer or other electronic device, or printed out in loose-leaf format.
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This report presents the results of the Federal Judicial Center's retrospective process-descriptive study of judge-involved supervision programs for offenders in the federal courts. It is part of a larger research effort to investigate how programs modeled on state and local drug and reentry court programs operate in the federal system. This report does not evaluate these programs, but describes the population served, the services provided, and, through official data, how the participants fared when compared with a group of similar offenders who were not in a program.


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