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Pretrial Orientation Program

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller

This program is a joint effort between the Western District of Missouri and the District of Kansas and targets post-plea defendants and their loved ones. 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 families and hopefully reduce the level of anxiety and fear associated with possible incarceration. In fact, representatives from the Bureau of Prisons are members of the panel which also includes probation and pretrial services officers.

The program is held three times a year (early spring, summer, and late 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 valuable information.

Next Onsite Program

  Date: Mar. 30, 2013, 3 - 5 p.m. View Handout
  Location: Whittaker Courthouse, Kansas City, Mo.

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 Van Hecke (Sr. USPO-WD/MO), Penney Hodges (USPO - WD/MO), Melissa Goldsmith (Sr. USPO - D/KS), Trey Burton (ADCUSPO - D/KS), Dr. Don Denney (Regional Psychology Administrator - BOP), and James Henry (Regional Correctional Programs Administrator - Bureau of Prisons). The goal of this program is to provide information and help defendants and their family members reduce the fear, stress, and anxiety associated with the criminal justice process and Bureau of Prisons (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 thus allowing for the dissemination of accurate and up-to-date 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 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, 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 Bureau of Prisons, and family 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 and also on the court’s public Internet site. 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. For more information about the program you can contact Sr. US Probation Officer Van Hecke at 816-512-1467.

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