"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. " - Helen Keller
This program is a joint effort between the U.S. Probation Offices in the Western District of Missouri, the District of Kansas and the Bureau of Prisons. It targets post-plea defendants and their loved ones and the goal is to provide general information regarding upcoming sentencing, possible voluntary surrender, and especially provide information about the Bureau of Prisons. It is designed to educate defendant's and their significant others and hopefully reduce the fear and anxiety associated with possible incarceration. Additionally, we have former offenders speak as to their own experiences while incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons.
The program is held four times a year (winter, spring, summer, and fall) and alternates between districts. Additionally, we videoconference the program to divisional offices in Springfield, Jefferson City, Topeka and Wichita to maximize the exposure of the valuable information.
More About the Program
Collaboration does make a difference and a dedicated team is doing just that with the Pretrial Orientation Program. This program is a joint effort lead by probation officers in the Western District of Missouri and the District of Kansas, as well as staff with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Again the goal of this program is to provide information and help defendants and their significant others 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 serving a federal prison sentence. By bringing them together for one presentation and providing written material, it helps the Probation and Pretrial Services Office be more efficient thus allowing for the dissemination of accurate and up-to-d ate 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 maxi mum benefit from their incarceration, and lead to their successful re integration into the community following their sentences.
The first session was held in April 20I0 and subsequent classes are being held quarterly with the site alternating between federal courthouses in Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS. 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 BOP, and a variety of other issues. The agenda includes presentations by a U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services Officer, staff member(s) from the BOP, and ex-offenders talking about their experiences 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 (http://ksp.uscourts.gov/) and is also made available below. In addition to the handbook, depending on what state the defendant lives in, they 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 benefitted 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.