Friday, February 07, 2014

McClure Wants Performance Audit of Jail's Treatment Program

In December, Lamont McClure was the sole vote against a $5.5 million plan to reduce recidivism at the Northampton County jail by treating inmates instead of just warehousing them. He opposed a five-year contract with Community Education Centers to provide substance abuse programs called the Future Foundation program for men, Sister to Sister program for women and the West Easton Treatment Facility program. Now he is asking Controller Steve Barron for a performance audit to determine whether the program really works.

"We've invested millions of dollars and have committed to millions more without any definitive evidence that any of the programs are returning any benefit to the County taxpayer," he argued at a February 6 County Council meeting. "I know it feels good," he acknowledged. But he questioned whether this is the "kind of program that should be going on at our jail." Disputing whether the program really reduces recidivism, McClure has argued the focus instead should be on educating inmates, ensuring they have GEDs. He also stated that the overall recidivism rate at the jail has not declined appreciably.

McClure repeated most of the arguments he made when he was the sole dissenting vote against this contract.

McClure told Council members that he would work with the Controller to come up with parameters for the audit. "I don't think we need a resolution," he assured Council members.

That argument was disputed by Council members and the Controller himself.

Barron said he'd prefer to have a resolution from Council setting the parameters, which was also urged by Council members Scott Parsons and Hayden Phillips. Barron also advised Council that he will render no opinion on the efficacy of the program, calling it a legislative and executive matter. "I'd like direction from Council," he said.

Council member Bob Werner questioned whether Barron is qualified to do a performance audit. Barron responded that his office does them for programs and contracts quite regularly. "My staff is very,very intimately involved or knows the inner workings of the prison," Barron assured Werner.

McClure agreed to work on a resolution himself, based on the input of council members. He indicated that the matter need not be heard first by Mat Benol's Courts and Corrections Committee.

According to the Government Accounting Office, a performance audit is an "objective and systematic examination of evidence to provide an independent assessment of the performance and management of a program against objective criteria ... ."

Though McClure was the sole vote against this contract in December, he appears to be using a performance audit to defeat it now. This report will be prepared by a Controller who supported his Executive race and introduced him when he announced.

I think we already know what Barron will conclude.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lamont is an idiot. He has been on Council for years and still doesn`t know what happens at that jail. First question: "Has he ever been there ?" Ever attended a CEC graduation ? The annual dinner ? An Advisory Board meeting ? Bet his attendance is worse then his committee attendance. He is simply prejudiced and jealous of the success over there. He likes to brag and spend money on environmentally sensitive lands but voted against the half mil tax that allowed it. What a phony and Barron is unqualified to do any study like this. Two blind mice.

Anonymous said...

Thank God someone is going to look into this thing. Word on the street is that behind closed doors most at the courthouse have not seen any benefit form this plan. This was another sweetheart deal Stoffa pushed with his cronies.

The social bullshiters claim this is "humane" and will save money. So far it has not saved any money. There are no controls and not even any parameters of success or failure.

This was just another way to get money into the social liberals that run these goofy programs that have never had any impact on crime.

Thank you Mr. McClure. this is why we elected republicans, to help you undo all this money wasting nonsense from the past Admisntration.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll bet the new R Council will be more than happy to kill this contract and call it a bipartisan success. The new Chsir of the "law and order" committee ( the last one didn't meet for 4 years) is Mat Benol, who said at a Council debate that we "coddle" inmates. McClure just gave them a reason to kill a good treatment program, and the performance audit will say whatever he wants it to say. My guess is McClure has already lined up Kraft, and will get at least 3 Rs. They can request Brown to kill it, and he can say he is working with Council.

Everyone wins. Except the inmates and their future victims.

Anonymous said...

It was a waste of money from day one. The sins of the past eight years will now start to be exposed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lamont and the rest of county council for looking into all these taxpayer money wasti8ng feel good scams.

Anonymous said...

Remembering when the Stoffa Administration used all its power to ram this so called treatment down the throats of NORCO municipalities settling in West Easton. The whole thing was a sham to begin with. Lamont is on to something! Next he should take a look at the evolution of the long term lease of the Taj Mahal in Bethlehem being built for Human services.

Sunsetpicnic said...

Lamont does not need to consult Barron for anything. He needs to talk to Gary Sauka in Drug and Alcohol. Gary is the most hardworking employee in the county. Gary did the evaluations for CEC, Work Release and all court appointed and was passed over for promotion when Mary Carr left. Ask him how many times inmates come back to prison after going through those programs. I know one that did a year ago and is incarcerated as we speak for testing positive. Ask Gary how many times the county has provided rehabs for these offenders that find their way back to jail. Anyone can influence data and rearrange figures to produce the desired result. Barron has no idea what the prison does with data and Lamont should also look into the backgrounds of some of the administration at the prison. One that works with data started out as an employee responsible for the inmate gym and is now one that collects the data. Another started out as a cook in the kitchen and worked their way up. How can people that could never qualify on the outside in private companies become qualified for our county positions just b coming to work everyday and becoming one of the good ole boys? Most of the programs offered give the promise to an inmate that if you go through the program the Judge may let you out early. The inmate goes through the motions under that assumption and then three months later or earlier, they end up back in jail. Gary will tell anyone that asks just how good those programs are.

Anonymous said...

This may also be a union issue. The CO's are AFSCME but the administration is not. Money saved in one area can be spent somewhere else..hiring more CO's with a better benefit's package/contract?

Anonymous said...

Barron couldn't find the jail if you drew him a map. Useless and prone to manipulation also apply.

Anonymous said...

Careful Lamont..even Ron Angle himself..would not take on the jail under any circumstances. Even a bulldog knows to let the beehive alone or else. This issue is not for the faint of heart..

Anonymous said...

Even the broken clock is correct twice a day.

The audit should happen. Now that McClure has come out so strongly in favor, Council should find a way to take the reins and get it done without his or Barron's direct involvement.

Only in government can so much money be approved and spent without concurrent metrics, analysis and controls. They should know, in real time, how they are doing, and be able to present to Council on demand. Any actual management going on behind those titles and salaries?

Their motives nothwithstanding, the doughboy duo may well be right about the cost/benefit. They should both step away, now that they've drawn the appropriate attention to the matter. We can then find out the truth without the white noise about their agenda.

Both pro and anti treatment folks, if they truly believe in their position, should welcome an independent audit.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

We need an objective performance audit on McClure's council legacy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Clem. Well said and I hope your plan is the one that is followed thru on. Just the facts..please.

Anonymous said...

sunset picnic you are right in your remarks, these numbers can be made to look whatever way they want them too. Maybe by, including inmates still in the system as not having re-entered the system in a year. They can do it however they want and make numbers come out right.
in regards to the post at 8:33, don't think this is any union issue at all, as the CO's have nothing to do with these programs they are all outside contract, and if you would ask most would tell you they think that most of the programs are not living up to the hype that they are given.

Anonymous said...

Why is this such a big deal? Are these programs working? Is the taxpayers money being well spent?
There needs to be an answer as if this inmates aren't being treated what are we paying for?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have no problem with a performance audit of any program, including CEC. But Lamont McClure should have nothing to do with it. As an opponent of the program who voted against it, he lacks the objectivity needed to provide objective criteria for the parameters.

I'll give an example. He suggested measuring recidivism in the program in the county vis a vis recidivism elsewhere. In other words, how many CEC grads reoffend in NC? How many CEC grads reoffend in other counties? He already knows that data does not exist. That point was made when he voted against it.

Also the most political controller in the LV, and one who supported McClure when he ran for Exec, is in no position to provide an objective examination of the data.

One of the commenters suggests this has something to do with AFSCME, which might feel threatened by CEC. I don't know if that is accurate, but if this has anything to do with the unions, there's another reason why McClure and Barron will embark on a witch hunt. Ken Kraft will jump on their bandwagon, something he has probably already done.

The Rs will likely be fooled and go along with killing the contract. There would be immediate savings and Benol could say something about not wanting to coddle criminals, looking like a tough guy. And we all love to hate criminals.

But if this program reduces recidivism, as I suspect an objective report will find, a true conservative should not only support it, but spend more money on it.

We spend 66 cents on the county tax dollar to pay for the back end of crime. By reducing recidivism, we work at reducing that figure. It costs a significant amount of money to house someone, who is not exactly coddled in the jail.

Financially, this program may already be paying off. The jail population is well below the projections. That may be due to several factors, but this program is one of them.

We could abandon this program and pat ourselves on the back for saving $5.5 million over 5 years. But then, when it becomes apparent that we need a $60 million prison expansion, this idea will have looked pretty good.

Anonymous said...

That may be due to several factors, but this program is one of them.

Of course you are just saying that and have no hard and fast evidence. Stoffa pushed this with cherry picked data from all over the country. No different then the Stoffa palace of waste in Bethlehem Twp. The lease is the next agenda item as it is one of the most sweetheart lopsided deals the county ever got tricked into.

so there are many things that need the light of day.

Bernie, you just keep blowing the inefficiency horn.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County has excellent program for women offenders. Effective from front to back. NorCo's program is still half assed at best. All these years women have got the short end of the stick and nothing is really changed. Please do a post on this, this is shameful.

Anonymous said...

Another political witch hunt from the tag team of LaMutt McClueless and Little Stevie Blunder. LaMutt had the last four years for his phantom committee to investigate this program. He was clearly embarrassed when Phillips suggested the matter be referred to committee. Now the Mutt is dispatching his lapdog Blunder to gnaw on the program. Politics as usual in the Peoples Republic of Northampton.

Anonymous said...

It is about time some of these stupid programs are examined. Next on to the Stoffa palace and Gracedale.

We have faith in the new Admisntration and the new council to make the necessary cuts on behalf of the taxpayer. Also start looking at all the jobs these people have. Most are busy talking and taking breaks when you need something. Cut them loose.

Finally, real leaders.

Anonymous said...

Really 7:48 You have faith in the new administration and the new council. Come on they aren't going to do anything.

Anonymous said...

A no tax increase four years will mean some of this crazy money wasting crap will stop. Also some of these goldbricking county employees ill get their walking papers.

Finally.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It is about time some of these stupid programs are examined."

In NC, a performance audit is designed to ensure that a contract is being followed. This, i don't see how McClure or Barron can use a true performance audit to determine if this program really works. That really is beyond the scope of the Controller, What McClure really wants to do u=is use the Controller to reverse an Ordinance that was just adopted in December.

I think this should be Brown's call. Council has no authority to back out of the contract. That is his prerogative. If Brown thinks this is a bad idea or has questions whether the money is wisely invested, he can investigate that himself. He does not need a performance audit.

Maybe that is what he wants. But he should be making this call, not McClure.

Last time i checked, McClure lost the Executive race.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa pulled a midnight special to help his cronies. The contract should not have been signed. All of our elected officials have a voice, the little dictator is gone.

Council should ask the executive to kill the contract.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is brown's prerogative. But this is no "performance audit" bc its scope is going to be much broader. It should more properly called what it is - a witch hunt.

Brown has the means to determine for himself whether this is a good or a bad contract. This should be his call, not Lamont McClure's.

If the program does not reduce recidivism and it's all a mirage, then kill it.But don't turn this into a dog and pony show.

McClure was the sole No vote and now is trying to force his will on everyone else through a masquerade.

Anonymous said...

McClure's motives proceed him and rightfully so. His resume is loaded with bad calls and missteps. Any program of this type will have winners and losers. Is the ROI worth it? I don't know and maybe we need to hear from those people who did complete the program and now are out there in free society. How are they doing? We need to hear their side of this..not some politico or administrator with an axe to grind. Just give us some truth!

Anonymous said...

The lack of transparency with this jail administration is staggering. Does anyone really know how they are running this county detention service? The curtain has been drawn for a long time and the light of day needs to be shown on what's good as well as what's bad. Jails are a reflection of the societies they serve. What does the county jail say about us as citizens? Can you handle the truth? Do you really want to see behind the curtain? These people will return to your neighborhoods at some point in time. Time for a reality check about how we treat fellow human beings who have gone astray.

Anonymous said...

And by the way Mr. Benol..nobody is being coddled at the county lock up! I dare you to eat what the inmates eat for a few days and then tell me how coddled they are especially at the inflated high rates they are charged for room and board by the county. Get a life and wise up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is the ROI worth it? I don't know and maybe we need to hear from those people who did complete the program and now are out there in free society. How are they doing? We need to hear their side of this..not some politico or administrator with an axe to grind. Just give us some truth!"

I would welcome something like this, but this is not what McClure wants. He just wants Barron to tell him the program sucks.
An objective and independent evaluation of the success of the CEC program should not be done by the Controller, but some third party who knows about corrections and treatment. That is what would be needed and that costs money. So this should be a resolution to hire some third party to provide an assessment, although I believe this assessment should be made by the Executive since Council has no power to negate the contract.

I can't think of one person who would spend a dime on something that does not work. That's why I would never spend a dime on McClure or Barron.

David said...

The problem not with the program, but with other critical areas. A high percentage of the inmates that go to CEC "the program" are forced by the court to take it. That is wrong to start with.
Not one person looks at what brought the inmate to the point of offending, such as his or her environment, so they are placed right back into the dysfunctional place they came from. Once the inmate graduates if they have to go back into the population for a certain amount of time, the CEC training is wasted because the prison staff (guards, caseworkers, administration, probation and parole etc. do not recognize nor support what the CEC has spent six months teaching the inmate. If the inmate is released there is nothing to monitor or assist them to succeed. No help or employment guidance at all. I have personally seen guards corrupt graduates of the program in work release. The only aftercare is two one hour meetings a week and they are not mandatory because probation and parole could care less about their program follow up.
It is a shame that everyone makes this about nothing but money.

Anonymous said...

Free Greggy!

Bernie O'Hare said...

David, you make excellent points that will not be picked up by a performance audit. As you know, our system offers little real guidance for inmates right after their release. This is a point made by one county worker who I will not mention. We need to identify better housing solutions and employment opportunities for the recently released than the hell holes we have right now.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa and his hacks knew all this but wanted this big contract for his cronies. he pushed this through with all its faults for a reason. Money talks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What exactly are you suggesting? That John Stoffa pushed this contract to take care of some New Jersey nonprofit? Why? A kickback? Do you have any evidence at all to back up this accusation, or do you think an anonymous comment on a blog is all you need? Your comment is spurious and demonstrates just how hateful some people can be.

Anonymous said...

John got nothing at all except the satisfaction of knowing he did something positive for people on the bottom rung of life. The idea and the ideal are right. I'm just not sure the oversight and implementation of the program were correct and outcome effective enough to warrant continuation w/o some modifications and serious discussion. The deal did seem a bit rushed as his admin. was closing things out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Although McClure just wants to kill the program, and may very well succeed with a new Council and Exec, the discussion should more properly be focused on housing and treatment for recently released inmates. This is when they are most vulnerable.

David said...

Unless a Populus of people and/or "politicians" surfaces on this matter, that can exercise an empathetic point of view toward the graduates of CEC, there will be no understanding or progress. A persons intelect must be able to see things from more than one point of view. Any volunteers????

Bernie O'Hare said...

I know someone who is upset at what McClure proposes. Don't know if he plans to speak out.

I would welcome an evaluation of any program, but it should not be designed by someone with a pre-determined view, or implemented by one of his lackeys.

The way I look at this is the county can spend $1 million per year to treat people or $60-100 million for a prison expansion.

Anonymous said...

There already is such a group of community people who have been working hard to present a comprehensive reentry program for the county jail administration. They have been at work for over a year now and their findings will soon be presented for approval. Listen to what they have to say and just maybe..some real progress can be made in reducing recidivism.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa's handpicked group. We all know what they will say. Not interested.

Anonymous said...

This word for ReOffend is total bullshit an adult offender will in most cases offend again?
This social issue faceing the nation is and will CONtinue to overflow jails? This is just another way for political parasites to rob a general fund as the pay to play rules are intact? Than of course there are the administrative costs that will far outweigh the reciepiants?

There is a system that is broken and helping to contribute to the Brown Hole equasion that being the destroying of the institution of FAMILIA?

I only have one question for all involved in this yet another theft by deception? That would be were are all the allocation for the helpof the children that will help this circus continue? There are many values that could and would be addressed before the child becomes an adult but have been used up by these political parasitism pay to play circus of grab the cash before someone comes up with a truely valueable asset and breaks the local cash grab grant givaway circus that is perpatrated upon the the public of the Brown Hole of ReNew the valley but not limited too personal GAIN?

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

"I would welcome an evaluation of any program, but it should not be designed by someone with a pre-determined view, or implemented by one of his lackeys."

Unlike Stoffa, Harp and Mohr who had alrteady decdied what they wanted then put together studies, "facts" and other materials to get a naïve county council to nod yes.

Such as Gracedale, the Stoffa Human Services palace of waste and the re-offender boondoggle.

You are right,"pre-determined" plans arte not good.

Lenny

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Lenny," those plans were considered and approved by a majority of Council, the real "We, the People." In most cases, an overwhelming majority. They have a little more clout than some coward who can't sign his real name.

I'd have no problem with an independent evaluation done by someone with no skin in the game, I'd prefer to see the Exec do it in house since cancelling the contract is his call. McClure made his opposition clear, so he should be out. So should his lackey, Steve Barron.

Anonymous said...

Bernie you can not say with any certainty or evidence that Barron will find for Lamont and no evidence to say he's his lackey. Simply because someone supports a candidate does not mean they are a lackey. Are you Angle's lackey? Callahan's lackey?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, I can. First, he has proven himself to be a very political controller. Second, he has proven himself to completely lack integrity by taking on other jobs after assuring everyone w=that he meant he would be a FT controller. Third, he did not just support McClure. He introduced him, endorsed him twice, and told half the courthouse he would be McClure's Director of Fiscal Affairs. I think it's safe to call him a lackey.

As for me, I support Stoffa and Ron because I believe in them both, not bc I expect to get a job out of it. In fact, my support has sometimes hurt me financially. I am certainly nobody's lackey. But I'd agree that someone like me should not be counted on for an objective performance audit.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare you are just to white and too male!

David said...

An interesting fact is the existence of how short sighted people are. I think the "elephant in the living room" seems to fit here.
Inmates, convicted felons, criminals, or whatever you want to call them, are among us and that will never change. The best hope for change is that the offender can be reached while they are locked up. Being in jail gets a person's attention and is a prime time to try. Drug and alcohol addiction is the number one social contributor to creating the offender. A program in jail is the best way we have to effect change and keep society safer.
If you put a person in jail and just do nothing, then they are just as sick as they were when they got locked up. Usually, even worse. Doing nothing is exactly that... Nothing.
A GED will not offer the tools to help keep the addict on the right track. Ask any recovering addict/alcoholic what is the most important thing to them and they will tell you "the ability to stay sober". You can offer anything you want to a person, but if they cannot stay sober the battle is lost. What they will do is find you, and/or your family, cram that GED diploma down your throat, steal your money to get high. They know only that they want to feel better and "high or drunk" is the only escape. Well, maybe they will only kill you or someone you love in a drunk driving accident. I am sure Deputy Warden Mike Bateman would back that up.
The CEC program offers a very real shot at stopping, at least in part, that cycle. It may very well be a guy or girl that never had the chance to get help in jail that kills or robs someone you know or love down the road.
Well, what the hell, at least they will have a GED and that will make it easier on you right.

Anonymous said...

My point is you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Addicts either want help or they don't. Court ordered treatment is failing and for good reason. You can't legislate or court order morality or treatment. This program was at the start and should continue to be..voluntary! That is the bottom line. You have to want it for it to have any chance of succeeding. Otherwise it is coercive. It doesn't work that way.

David said...

You have my vote on that.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/02/allentown_man_charged_with_hom_1.html

CEC GRAD

Bernie O'Hare said...

Several CEC grads have reoffended. I can name some of them myself. So I would certainly support an independent and objective analysis, but not the witch hunt being proposed by McClure and his lackey. I believe the Executive has the resources to make that determination objectively since he did not propose CEC. Since the Exec is the person who would rescind this contract, I believe this should be his call, not Council's. Council has already spoken. McClure just wants another bite at the apple.