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Resolution


Supporting Community Corrections' Role in Homeland Security
Enacted: Jul 2005
Background

When the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) issued its final report on the events of September 11th 2001, it emphasized the failure of the Federal government to involve state and local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in counterterrorism. It noted that a culture of secrecy institutionalized in the national security system hindered the sharing of valuable information that might have prevented the tragedy from occurring. The Commission highlighted the need to incorporate criminal investigations and supervision in the homeland security process. Most recently, in a report on the implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, the Homeland Security Advisory Council called for sweeping changes to the ways in which information and intelligence are gathered and shared. Specifically, the Council recommended increasing federal resources for state and local programs to enhance existing intelligence gathering and information sharing among all levels of government and to ensure that information collected at all levels of government is readily available to officials who may need it.

Discussion

In the year 2003 almost five million men and women in the United States were on probation or parole in this country. Among probationers, roughly half were convicted of a felony and half of a misdemeanor. Many experts have come to recognize that this criminal population under supervision in communities across the country represents a potential source of either terrorist activity or the illegal actions that can finance and support such activity. Much attention has recently been paid to so-called “pre-cursor” or “all crimes” indicators of terrorism--lower level crimes such as driving without a license or creating or possessing false identification, which are common among probationers and parolees.

Community corrections agencies collect a vast amount of data, from pre-trial detention and pre-sentence investigations to documentations of case supervision and the technical and criminal violations of probationers and parolees. This information could be mined and analyzed for terrorist implications. It could also be shared with national homeland security agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and state and local law enforcement anti-terrorist units, such as those being established in prosecuting attorneys’ offices.

Probation and parole officers are also a trusted presence in communities large and small, urban and rural. Within the law enforcement profession, they are the most likely sources of contact with different neighborhood groups and community members, and individuals and families wishing to report suspicious terror-related operations. Finally, these officers are extremely knowledgeable about gang activity, which research is now showing has become more closely linked to the support of terrorism.

Despite all of these potential resources, community corrections have never been formally involved in homeland security. Its officers have yet to be trained in the most basic techniques for identifying suspect terrorist situations and behaviors. Even where suspicions are aroused in the office or in the field, mechanisms for reporting such valuable information do not exist.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Probation and Parole Association supports:

  • the integration of community corrections into federal, state and local strategic planning and implementation processes for homeland security;
  • the establishment of close working ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to incorporate community corrections into the effort to protect homeland security;
  • cooperation with the FBI and DHS to define “pre-cursor” crimes and offender behavior that might be indicative of terrorist or terrorist-supportive activities;
  • the opening of clear lines of communication and information-sharing with the FBI and DHS with regard to terrorist watch lists and other terrorism indicators used by the Federal government;
  • the restructuring of probation pre-detention and pre-sentence investigation reports to identify “pre-cursor” crimes and behaviors and to supply this information to the FBI, DHS and local law enforcement, including state and federal prosecutors;
  • the development of a training curriculum for community corrections personnel on terrorism awareness and the identification and the reporting of terrorist or terrorist-supportive activity and behavior;
  • the specification and development of data mining techniques for community corrections to analyze and evaluate any suspicious trends contained in its case management and case tracking databases;
  • the definition of the role that community corrections should play in any first response to a terrorist action in the United States and the training of community corrections to carry out that function;
  • outreach to local communities and probation constituencies to help them better understand and become more aware of terrorism and possible terrorist-related activities;
  • increased Federal funding for anti-gang interventions with special emphasis on preventing the expansion of gang activities into areas supportive of terrorism, such as illegal immigration, weapons and explosive smuggling and the channeling of proceeds from drug sales to terrorist organizations.