Providing security, mentoring, and training, on and off duty Probation Officers
play an active role in serving and protecting Butte County.
CHICO ER Article
Our appreciation to partnering agencies and law enforcement for another powerful PAC meeting!
A defendant’s remarks: “I personally totally enjoyed this event. It will be truly helpful to me and many others. Thanks”
MONTHLY MEETINGS STARTED TO HELP BUTTE COUNTY OFFENDERS
By Almendra Carpizo, Chico Enterprise Record
Picture: Addiction and Recovery Specialist Danny Tullius gives a talk during a Butte County Probation monthly event (Probation and Community) that gives defendants on probation the opportunity to meet with a variety of service providers in Butte County. (Bill Husa — Enterprise-Record)
Chico >> Fifty-nine adults who were recently placed on probation or post release community supervision gathered last week with the hopes that they would receive services to help them transition into becoming "productive members of the community."
The Probation and Community meetings recently launched by the Butte County Probation Department are intended to provide offenders with different resources all under one roof, said Greg Lynch, chief deputy probation officer. Once a month, a new group of people will participate in the event.
Last Tuesday's meeting was the second one held so far.
Representatives from 27 organizations and agencies like Orchard Church, Butte County Behavioral Health and the African American Family and Cultural Center were at the Salvation Army's community center at 567 E. 16th St. in Chico to provide housing, treatment, health, education and employment information.
The idea to start the monthly meeting comes from previous efforts from the California Correction Department office in Chico, Lynch said. The agency used to hold the meeting, but because of staffing shortages it hasn't done so in several years.
Community organizations were asking for the meetings to happen again, he said. Once the Probation Department decided to start Probation and Community, organizations volunteered right away. The event is only on its second month, but it's already growing.
Next month, the state's parole office will also participate.
MEETING BENEFICIAL FOR EVERYONE
Probation and Community is meant to be an overall benefit to everyone involved — offenders, organizations, the Probation Department and community.
This event helps offenders by bringing the community together to assist them, and to get rid of the alienation and stigma they might face, Lynch said. It also provides education on the myriad services available to people because many don't know these resources exist.
Janice Pasillas, 51, has been sober since May and she credits events like Probation and Community for helping her "stay put and in check."
If these services weren't available, people who have been convicted probably wouldn't move forward she said, while she stopped to check out one of the organizations. The event helps people get information from everything from jobs to anger management.
Butte County Probation is working with a research team from Chico State University to monitor how the event does and whether it is something worth keeping the same or altering, Lynch said.
Before offenders can leave the meeting, they must collect 15 signatures from organizations they spoke with and have one of the many probation officers attending sign off his or her form. Offenders and organizations are also asked by the Probation Department to provide feedback and suggestions at the conclusion of each event.
MAKING IT WORK
Chico resident Danny Tullius, an addiction and recovery specialist, started Tuesday's meeting with a motivational speech.
He addressed the importance of offenders surrounding themselves with people who don't use alcohol or drugs, he was frank about this struggles as a narcotics user and shared his passion about wanting to help people.
People are sitting here because of fear of legal repercussions, but this opportunity can lead them to a good life if they want it, Tullius told this newspaper.
"Take all this stuff in and make it work for you," Tullius said to the room during his speech.
Pasillas plans on doing just that.
Tullius mentioned in his speech that someone at the meeting was going to "get it" and turn around his or her life, she said. "I'm going to be the one to 'get it'."
During Tullius' fight with substance abuse and legal problems, there weren't any events like Probation and Community, he said.
The monthly meeting offers so many resources and hopefully more organizations and business will step up and join, Tullius said. These people are wonderful and this gives them a chance.
Lynch would also like to see more businesses becoming involved to help provide job training.
Any organizations or businesses interested in joining Probation and Community can call (879-7575)
Voice to the voiceless
The Writing Exchange helps heal and inspire Juvenile Hall students
By Ken Smith
Chico News & Review
This article was published on .
The Writing Exchange instructor Scott Bailey
in the halls of Butte County Juvenile Hall.
One recent rainy morning, about a dozen students at Table Mountain School took a break from their daily English class routine to read passages from a short packet titled “The Writing Exchange.” The high-school-age students, both male and female, each politely volunteered to read sections, with the group pausing between some to engage in discussion led by instructor Scott Bailey.
There were some laughs over particular turns of phrase, and after one story a girl announced, “I can relate to that.” For the most part, it seemed like a classroom that could be found at any area high school.
But rather than looking out their windows and seeing falling rain, the Table Mountain students could see only the white walls of Eagle Pod, the housing unit at Butte County Juvenile Hall in Oroville where they are currently incarcerated.
And what these young students were reading and writing was distinctly different than the subject matter of your average high-school composition class: harrowing first-person snapshots of abuse, addiction, homelessness, loss and heartbreak. Many of the stories detail young people’s descent to rock bottom, hope for redemption, and frustration at their past failures.
The Writing Exchange is the brainchild of Bailey, who serves as a special-education instructor for Table Mountain. Bailey said he was inspired to start the program through his long association with the Long Beach-based Freedom Writers Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Erin Gruwell in 1997 to inspire underprivileged and at-risk youth through writing.
Each month, Bailey collects submissions from the students, and selections are chosen to be published anonymously on The Writing Exchange webpage at www.writeyourtruth.blogspot.com. Initially, the exchange was just between the Butte County facility’s three housing units (called Condor and Falcon pods, in addition to Eagle), but now includes juvenile halls in Fresno and Sacramento counties and, most recently, Lassen County. The site also collects artwork, with that component overseen by Macy Joachim, a fellow Table Mountain instructor.
Bailey explained that the pieces are published anonymously to allow the students to be completely open and honest. He’s been overseeing and witnessing the many benefits of The Writing Exchange since 2006.
“It gives them a chance to vent, and to purge some of those difficult experiences in their lives,” he said. “They really get a kick out of the fact that it’s published and that other people in other juvenile halls get to read it.”
Bailey also said it helps the incarcerated youth connect with others when they read about shared experiences, and process why they are incarcerated and what they would like to do differently when they are freed. It also gives them valuable writing skills, which The Writing Exchange contributors have used to make a splash on the local literary scene: For several years running, Table Mountain students have placed in the CN&R’s annual Fiction 59 and Poetry 99 contests.
“We started having a pizza party for any pod that had a winner,” Bailey said. “Last year, we took three of the six slots for high-school-age submissions [in Fiction 59]—one from each pod—so everyone got pizza.
“It’s also a nice switch for them to write fiction, because when they write for the exchange they pour their personal experiences and pain into it, so fiction can be fun and teaches them more about writing.”
The program fits perfectly with the juvenile hall’s educational component, which is designed to ensure that time spent in the hall isn’t lost altogether. The program is always expanding and improving, and last year—for the first time—produced enough graduates to garner a special ceremony, complete with cake and family visitors.
For some of the students at Table Mountain, The Writing Exchange is a rare bright spot in the face of bleak circumstances, a fact that sank in with Bailey’s words as we left the classroom.
“Some of those kids will be out of here in a week, and some of them will be here for a very long time,” he said. “A few could be tried as adults and spend the rest of their lives incarcerated.”
Read about this 2014 BC Probation Drug Court graduate's success, in his own words.
Butte County Probation has launched PAC (Probation and Community), a monthly event which gives defendants on probation the opportunity to communicate with a variety of relevant service providers in Butte County.
These agencies—27 in attendance at January’s meeting—offer services of employment and education, substance abuse treatment, housing, health, veterans, and childcare. Also in attendance at the event are local law enforcement officers making positive contact with defendants.
Defendants in attendance found their experience at PAC enlightening, stating “Good information, especially job and health programs” and “Learned a lot about where to go for the help I need, thank you”.
Probation unites with the community in the mission of rehabilitation and encouraging defendants to lead a productive lifestyle.
BC Probation in the news: Chico ER reporter on ride-along with officers.
"Butte County probation officers, personnel wear 'a lot of different hats' "
By DAN REIDEL
--photo: Mark Cole searches a shed in Oroville for contraband on Friday as Butte County Probation officers check in on people under mandatory supervision. --
OROVILLE -- "In every house we go to, there's a convicted felon," Mark Cole said.
Cole and his team from Butte County Probation cover every corner of the county.
Four officers, plus Cole and the team's EMT, went out in the Oroville area Friday night on a routine patrol, stopping at the homes of various convicted gang members, sex offenders, drug dealers and other felons.
Part of the department's job is to check in on people on probation and make sure they are adhering to the rules of their probation.
In a shed behind one house on the south side of the city, officers found fired and unfired bullets. They did a thorough search after the rounds were turned up, looking for, but not finding, a gun.
The young man who the officers were checking on had been convicted of a felony with a gang association.
Cole said that although the man was Caucasian with red hair, he was a Norteño gang member.
There's a stereotype that gangs like the Norteños are all-Hispanic, but most gangs will take people of any race to be soldiers, Cole said.
These guys can be the nicest guys in the world, he said. But they also won't hesitate to jump into a car with other gang members and go to shoot someone.
Probation officers are different than other law enforcement.
For instance, Chico police and Oroville police don't take their IT guy out on patrols. Butte County Probation does.
Then again, the probation department's IT guy is a certified EMT and a part of the team.
The department has about 70 sworn officers and 50 support personnel located in the office on County Center Drive.
Those officers and personnel prepare risk assessments and intake reports for the courts to determine sentencing, keep tabs on people in the Post-Release Community Supervision program, and do myriad other tasks including drug testing and counseling.
"We wear a lot of different hats," Cole said.
With the passage of Assembly Bill 109 in 2011, non-violent, non-serious, non-sex-related felons can be sent from state prisons to county prisons. The realignment program has put more people in mandatory supervision, or probation, than before.
"It was something that had to be done," Cole said.
The department evaluates each person in mandatory supervision based on 26 different criteria and determine whether they are high-risk or low-risk to be repeat offenders.
People in the program have different services available, including behavioral health, employment and education.
"We hit them with a lot of services," Cole said.
Another duty of the department is the county's Juvenile Hall.
Cole got his start as an officer while working as a bouncer at the Madison Bear Garden in the late 1980s. He was told about a job opening at the juvenile hall and started working there.
He worked his way up the ranks and currently heads Post-Release Community Supervision. In nearly 25 years of service, his work as a probation officer focused mostly on gangs.
Other officers have different specialties; some worked with the Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force and are more familiar with drugs.
Each person in the supervision program meets with probation officers at least twice a month in the office and twice a month in the field.
Officers were fulfilling that field commitment Friday night.
At many of the houses the unmarked probation vehicles pulled up to, the person they were looking for wasn't there.
Officers searched homes for contraband, which can be different things for different crimes.
Sex offenders can't have things like teddy bears or Internet access, Cole said. Gang members can't have their gang's colors or any guns or drugs.
During the patrol, officers were passing the Circle K on Montgomery Street when they saw a fight and heard screaming.
The three vehicles pulled into the parking lot and officers drew their weapons, screaming, "Get on the ground!"
The officers knew both of the men involved in the fight. One was a former Norteño gang member and the other was a current Norteño.
The current gang member had a knife and was trying to "slice him up," Cole said.
Probation officers are law enforcement and have all the training and abilities of other police agencies. They are able to do everything that police, sheriff's deputies and highway patrolmen can do and help other agencies out when they can.
"We have a great relationship with just about all the other departments," Cole said.
After Oroville police officers arrived and took over the scene, the probation officers continued to the next stop, another gang member's house.
"I love my job because not only do I get to keep my community safe, which is really important to me," Cole said, "I get to help those who want help."