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Interviewing, Report Writing, & Testifying

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  1. Interviewing,Report Writing, & Testifying New Probation Officer’s Orientation Indiana Judicial Center March 15, 2012

  2. Interviewing

  3. Interviewing • When do you interview clients? • Interviews for specific reports • Supervision contacts • Always trying to obtain information

  4. Interview Non-accusatory, objective, or neutral Used to gather variety of information Flexible and free-flowing Dialogue between the participants Interrogation Accusatory and biased Very specific and focused Structured to find a specific piece of info Persuasive techniques used Interviewing vs. Interrogation

  5. Interviewing Tips • Build rapport • First impression will go far • Talk on your way to your office • Set a positive and professional tone • Be informative • Introduce yourself • Explain your role • Explain the process • Talk about past conversations that lets them know they are not just a “case” to you

  6. Interviewing Tips • Be polite • Avoid surprised and unpleasant expressions • Appear comfortable with questions and their answers • Be non-judgmental • Don’t argue

  7. Interviewing Tips • Upset or angry clients • Remain calm • Model the demeanor they should follow • Know your escape routes • Speak softly if they are loud • Open your door • End interview if threatened or inappropriate

  8. Interviewing Tips • Difficult or uncooperative clients • Building rapport can help • Reflect discomfort • You seem… • Reflect resistance • I hear you saying… • Paraphrase resistance • I understand you are upset because… • Allow time to vent • Take a brief break

  9. Interviewing Tips • Listening skills • LISTEN! • Don’t interrupt • Reduce distractions (take notes or record?) • Make eye contact • Paraphrase, summarize, repeat back • Clarify answers • Keep your mind from wandering

  10. Closed-ended questions Require one word answer How many children do you have? Are you married? Are you working anywhere? Did you have a good relationship with your parents? Open-ended questions Require explanation Tell me more about what you do in your job? What do you think you could do to change that? What have you tried before that worked? What was your relationship like? Interview Questions

  11. Interviewing Tips • Prepare BEFORE the interview begins • Read case notes, read reports, read demographic packet, etc. • Write out some questions from materials • Use guide for lengthy interviews or when specific information is needed • Let them stray from the guide and be flexible • Use pauses and encouragements to keep talking (uh-huh, yes, etc.)

  12. Motivational Interviewing • In general, people tend to disclose information more freely and accurately when they feel they are being listened to, respected, and supported. • Style of communicating that helps people explore and resolve ambivalence about changing specific, maladaptive behaviors. • Major goal is to elicit change talk.

  13. Motivational Interviewing • Active listening skills of MI • Open ended questions • Affirmations • Reflections • Summaries • Using active listening skills lowers defenses a person has and increases the quality of information received.

  14. Motivational Interviewing • Stages of change • Pre-contemplation – No awareness • Contemplation – Some acknowledgement • Preparation – Realization • Action – Trying new behaviors • Maintenance – Usually more than 6 months • Relapse/Exit – Slipping back or perm change

  15. Motivational Interviewing • General principles • Express empathy • “Acceptance” – it’s possible to see and understand an offender’s perspective and not agree with it. • Develop discrepancy • Focus on their behavior versus what they want • Avoid arguing • Counterproductive • Rolling with resistance • Develop strategies to combat resistance • Supporting self-efficacy • Support their belief in change

  16. Report Writing

  17. Common Reports for POs • Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) • Pre-dispositional Report (PDR) • Preliminary Inquiry (PI) • Modification Report • Petitions (PTR & PTM) • Memos, letters, emails, notes, etc.

  18. Writing Tips • Spelling • Use spell check on your computer • Don’t ignore the red squiggle lines under words • Use a dictionary • Check for homophones and use the correct spelling (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) • To, two, too • Rain, reign, rein • Their, they’re, there

  19. Writing Tips • Contractions • Generally avoid in reports (informal) • Numbers • Spell out numbers zero to ten • Slang • Don’t use it unless it’s in quotes • Plurals and possessive • ‘s shows possession unless word ends in s

  20. Writing Tips • Grammar • Use grammar check on your computer • Have another person read it • Does it make sense? • Thesaurus • Reports, describes, accounts, details, states, explains, characterizes, etc.

  21. Writing Tips • Professional wording • He got drunk and… • He was intoxicated when… • He was kicked out of school… • He was expelled during the 2011-2012 school year due to…

  22. Writing Tips • Objective • Real or factual; without bias • Most sections of reports should be written objectively • Subjective • Of one’s feelings rather than fact • Typically when writing recommendations and/or evaluation at the end of a report

  23. Writing Tips • Factually accurate • These reports matter! • Self reported information from client • Indicate whether or not it was verified • Know your audience • Judge, attorneys, defendant, DOC, public

  24. Presentence Investigation Reports • INcite application • Ask supervisor about access • Incorporates IRAS into the report • Required to complete IRAS • Instruction manual on first page in the application plus information icons throughout • When in doubt, follow the instructions and ask your supervisor

  25. Presentence Investigation Reports • Face sheet • Demographics and a quick reference to information contained in the report • Legal history • Provide any details that you can for each offense • History carries from report to report

  26. Presentence Investigation Reports • Present offense • Official version • Attach documents when appropriate • Defendant’s version • Written statement • Use quotes when possible • Good information for attitudes and behavioral orientation section

  27. Presentence Investigation Reports • Victim information • Attach documents when appropriate • Required by statute to make (attempt) contact and provide certain information to the victim • Certification statement in the PSI

  28. Presentence Investigation Reports • Parent/family information • The defendant characterized his childhood in positive terms, reporting no instances of abuse or neglect during his formative years and stating that he and his siblings were adequately provided for, in a financial sense, during that time. • The defendant explained that his family situation abruptly changed in 2003 when his parents separated due to financial and communication problems. He recalled that the family resided in a “nice” home and were “suddenly broke” with their situation going “downhill quickly”. Over the next three years, he states that he and his siblings moved from home to home staying with relatives.

  29. Presentence Investigation Reports • Personal relationships (significant others) • Mr. Example reported that he has never married but has been in a relationship with Ms. Jane Doe since 2010. He indicated they are engaged, residing together in Bloomington, with plans to marry when their son is older and his legal situation is resolved. • The defendant stated that Ms. Doe is very supportive of his despite the hardship that his recent periods of incarceration created for her financially. He explained they have been unable to pay rent and living expenses without help from her family members.

  30. Presentence Investigation Reports • Dependents • Provide as much information as you can about dependents living within the same home • If residing outside of the home attempt to provide information about any existing child support orders and compliance

  31. Presentence Investigation Reports • Peer associations • Mr. Example indicates that he has changed his friends and associates within the past year in an effort to avoid further legal problems. He stated that he typically associates with his family, his girlfriend, and her family who have not been involved in the criminal justice system.

  32. Presentence Investigation Reports • Education • Try to verify as much as possible • Verification matters if sent to DOC where time cuts can be earned for achievements • The defendant reported he attended Bloomington High School South through the 10th grade and enrolled in the Graduate Alternative School in the 11th grade. He states that he withdrew from school after only two months at his new school because he “lost focus”. He describes his academic performance as being “very good” during his high school years. • Records obtained from Monroe County Community School Corporation indicate that Mr. Example was expelled during his 10th grade year for being in possession of marijuana on school grounds. He was permitted to enroll in the Graduate Alternative School the following year, but was again expelled for truancy. Mr. Example obtained a total of 11 credits and earned a grade point average of 1.3.

  33. Presentence Investigation Reports • Employment • Try to verify as much as possible • Helpful to describe an employment history along with current employment • Obtain lengths of employment • Note periods of unemployment • If unemployed, list steps to gain employment or reasons why not • Include military information

  34. Presentence Investigation Reports • Financial situation • Try to verify as much as possible through copies of bills, pay check stubs, etc. • Document public assistance or disability • Document how they survive if not employment and no other sources of income

  35. Presentence Investigation Reports • Residence, neighborhood, and leisure • Try to verify address using GIS or mapping software • Physical health • Obtain releases to healthcare providers • Obtain medication list if possible • Describe reasons for disability and length of time

  36. Presentence Investigation Reports • Mental health • Obtain releases to healthcare providers and hospitals • Obtain medication list if possible • Don’t include substance use (next section) • Describe history when possible along with current treatment

  37. Presentence Investigation Reports • Substance use • Obtain releases to treatment providers • Detail a history of use, age on onset, and current use • Describe treatment history and current efforts • Include contradictory information from official records (drug tests, etc.)

  38. Presentence Investigation Reports • Attitudes and Behavioral Orientation • Mr. Example made statements to law enforcement and in the preparation of this report indicating his belief that his actions do not substantiate the charges filed against him. He states that he was “just the driver”. When discussing the events that occurred inside the residence, Mr. Example reports that he is not responsible though he admits he knew what his co-defendants were planning we he agreed to drive them. • The defendant reported that he considers himself to be curious and adventurous without being a risk taker. He indicated that he believes these personality traits have contributed to his involvement in the criminal justice system.

  39. Presentence Investigation Reports • Risk and needs assessments • Information from the IRAS is automatically inserted. • Add complimentary assessments if done • Evaluation/Summary • Summary – objective • Evaluation – opinion • Draw conclusions on appropriateness of sentence • Include aggravating and mitigating factors • Recommendations • Accept or reject plea; make your own

  40. Preliminary Inquiry • Personal information • Demographics • Current delinquent act information • Detention information (if applicable) • IV-E findings • Reasonable efforts and best interests

  41. Preliminary Inquiry • Juvenile’s background • Prior legal history • Family information • School information • Employment information • Health information • Substance use information • Evaluation/Summary • Recommendation • Permanency Plan

  42. Pre-dispositional Reports • New report on the horizon • Contains much of the same information • Incorporates the IYAS into the report • More information in the near future

  43. Pre-dispositional Reports • Personal information • Demographics • Current delinquent act information • Client/parent statement • Use quotes when possible • Victim impact statement • Required by law to make the effort

  44. Pre-dispositional Reports • Juvenile’s background • Prior legal history • Family information • School information • Employment information • Health information • Substance use information • Financial information • Home and neighborhood • Home adjustment • Religious and social orientation

  45. Pre-dispositional Reports • Prior services and adjustment pending disposition • Risk and needs assessments • IV-E findings • Reasonable efforts and best interests • Permanency plan • Evaluation/Summary • DCS concurrence • Recommendation

  46. Petitions, Memos, and Filings • When appropriate follow what’s in statute • Establish facts • Defendant found guilty • Placed on probation • State violations, requests, etc. • Use standard forms when possible

  47. Testifying

  48. Testifying • Definition • Making of a statement under oath or affirmation in a judicial proceeding

  49. Common Reasons POs Testify • Pretrial supervision or recommendations • Presentence or predisposition reports • Modification hearings • Violation hearings • Civil proceedings • Jury trials

  50. Testifying BE PREPARED!