City Transforming Probation Waiting Rooms Into Resource Hubs
People on probation are required to check in with their probation officers but some have complained it's a waste of time just sitting around in a office waiting for their appointments. Now, there's a plan to change that. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Usually, there's nothing to cheer about if you're sitting in a probation office. But the city said it's working to improve the experience with what's called Probation Resource Hubs. They recently opened one in Downtown Brooklyn.
"The department is trying to change the way we work with clients, to really hook them up with the kinds of resources that will turn their lives around so they will stop committing crimes," said Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi. "That is our basic bottom line and what this room is is first base in that effort."
The waiting room at the new site used to have a jailhouse feel but now it's been given a makeover with bright colors and inspirational artwork. Computers have been added so clients can look for jobs and other opportunities. A TV showing educational information has been installed.
Anthony Torres is on probation and said the makeover was needed.
"This space is so much better now than what it looked like before," he said. "It looked horrible."
Right now, about 27,000 people in the city are on probation after being convicted of crimes that were not considered serious enough for jail time.
"We are not about scolding," said probation officer Pamela Phillips. "The scolding is over with. It happened in the courtroom. Now it is about working. We are about moving on past that bad moment."
The Correctional Association of New York, an advocacy organization for prisoners, said it hopes all probation employees embrace the new softer and helpful image.
"If you get an probation officer that is really committed to working with you, your likelihood of success is going to be a lot higher than if you are working with someone who looks at themselves as a quasi-police officer looking for a new arrest," said Soffiyah Elijah of the Correctional Association of New York. "So those are some of the issues faced by anybody who's on probation because you don't get to choose who your probation supervisor is going to be."
So far, three probation waiting rooms have been turned into resource hubs, in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The city said it's working to do the same thing at four other sites.