United States Courts
Western district of Missouri
Criminal Law Update: Pretrial Orientation Offered
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -- Helen Keller
Collaboration does make a difference, and a dedicated team is doing just that with the Pretrial Orientation Program. This program is a joint effort led by probation officers in the Districts of Western Missouri and Kansas, and the Bureau of Prisons. The goal of the program is to provide information to help defendants and their family members reduce the fear, stress and anxiety associated with the criminal justice process and BOP. Defendants typically have a lot of questions about the pretrial process and issues related to a prison sentence. By bringing them together for one presentation and providing written material, it helps the Probation and Pretrial Services Office be more efficient and allows for the sharing of more information from a variety of sources.
The program is only for those defendants who have been convicted and are either pending sentencing or voluntary surrender. It is our hope that the presentation and written material will ultimately allow defendants to receive the maximum benefit from their incarceration, and will lead to their successful reintegration into the community following their sentences.
The first session was held in April 2010, and subsequent classes are being held quarterly, with the site alternating between federal courthouses in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan. Individuals from other divisional courthouses in both districts are able to participate through video-conferencing technology. The program addresses a variety of topics that includes: the sentencing process, self-surrender, the Bureau of Prisons and family issues. The agenda includes presentations by a U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officer, staff members from the BOP, and an ex-offender talking about his/her experience in BOP custody and on supervised release.
A Pretrial Orientation Program handbook is given to each participant and is available on the District of Kansas Probation website and also on the court’s public Internet site. In addition to the handbook, depending on what state the defendant lives in, participants are also provided Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services or Missouri Department of Family Services information that may assist defendants and family members with personal and family issues while they are incarcerated.
Feedback and reviews have been extremely positive. Defendants and their family members have benefited in tangible ways through their participation. Agencies and team members are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate on this worthwhile program. Together, we are doing so much.
For more information about the program, contact Sr. USPO Melissa Goldsmith at (913) 735-2422 or ADCUSPO Trey Burton at (785) 338-5611.