The Carey Guides and BITS Contest Winners

Carey Group Publishing's Carey Guides and BITS Contest invited corrections professionals from across the country to share their stories about how these tools have impacted their work and changed the lives of offenders. CGP awarded 1st, 2nd, and three 3rd place prizes, as well as 15 honorable mentions, for stories that were full of insight, data, and hope. We hope that these stories, which appear below, serve as inspiration to you.

In all of the following entries, the clients’ names and other identifying characteristics have been changed or omitted to maintain confidentiality.

First Place Winner

Robert A. DeJesus, Santa Clara County Probation, San Jose, California

In October 2011, the Santa Clara County Probation Department executive team began its work with The Carey Group. At the time, evidenced-based practices were relatively foreign to many of us. Yet, it took no time to begin to understand how the use of research and data would help to establish best practices and inform decisions. However, it took numerous trainings provided to all levels in the organization over a period of time to become familiar with the concepts of risk, need, responsivity, and the importance of cognitive behavioral-based strategies in changing behavior.   

Second Place Winner

Kathy Starkovich, Department of Probation & Court Services, 18th Judicial Circuit, Wheaton, Illinois

Our agency has been well trained in evidence-based practices and in a casework model based on EBP. These trainings have provided an excellent framework for conceptualizing risk and knowing what to focus on. Practice and feedback have improved our officers’ assessment and professional alliance skills. Where we have fallen short is providing officers tangible tools to shift their role from advocate and broker of services to an interventionist responsible for engaging offenders in activities that address thinking and skill deficits. This is where the Carey Guides and BITS have helped!   

Third Place Winners

Melissa Stephenson, Grant County Correctional Services, Marion, Indiana

At Grant County Correctional Services, we often referred to what happened during community supervision meetings as the “Black Box,” because, quite frankly, we didn’t know what was taking place during those sessions. Then we decided to develop our own version of the Black Box—one equipped with the tools needed to have purposeful meetings with clients.   

Jessica Bullock, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Fayetteville, North Carolina

During my tenure with community corrections, several offenders have displayed behavioral changes as a result of the continuous effective use of Carey Guides. Steven Wilson grew up in a home of domestic violence. As a child, he was shot by his alcoholic father while attempting to protect his mother during a daily episode of domestic violence. Later in life he was further challenged by a ten-year addiction to cocaine and by mental illness. Even with such a devastating foundation, Mr. Wilson was able to build positive rapport with me and felt that he could trust me as his probation officer. The Carey Guides were instrumental in helping him to establish long-term stability and family support, to change his thought processes, and to reinforce those strengths that would help him overcome his challenges. Through the use of the Guides, Mr. Wilson realized that in order to begin his life transformation, he had to whole-heartedly forgive his father for his transgressions. This eventually led to him assuming the role of primary caretaker for his father who had become disabled. Mr. Wilson also completed substance abuse treatment and was selected for the Community Corrections Most Valuable Probationer Award.   

Rodney Zahn, Youth and Family Services Unit, Manitowoc County Human Services Department, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, has been utilizing the Carey Guides and BITS for several years as part of case planning—to work on criminogenic needs and skill deficits—and to address violations. The implementation of these tools was part of a large system reform effort.   

Honorable Mentions

Annette M. Norton, 14th Judicial District, Craig, Colorado

I am a Probation Supervisor in the 14th Judicial District, a small rural district in northwestern Colorado. We were introduced to the Carey Guides and to the Supervisor’s EBP BriefCASE by our Chief Probation Officer, Dennis Martinez. These two tools, used jointly, have made a significant impact on our work with clients and their outcomes.   

Kelly Hartley, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Durham, North Carolina

In recent years, the state of North Carolina has undergone some very serious and very positive changes in regard to sentencing laws and probation supervision. Among these changes is the utilization of evidence-based practices, which has had an instrumental impact on staff and offender relationships and resulted in reduced recidivism rates. Our use of Carey Guides has not only assisted probation officers in structuring office visits, but it has allowed them to use cognitive behavioral interventions to encourage offenders to take a deeper look at the thoughts and emotions behind their criminal actions and to inspire change within offenders.   

Candy Price, DHS, Castle Country Youth Center, Price, Utah

Here at Castle Country Youth Center, case managers in Youth Services and Detention use the Carey Guides and BITS. They have changed the way we do things here, giving us the ability to have structured meetings with our youth, to teach them new skills (especially through role play), or to remind them that they already have skills they can use. Case managers use the tools to enhance what youth are learning in their programs and to help them solve problems when they return home before those problems become charges. Detention and Shelter use the BITS for youth when they first come in. They are a quick, effective way for youth to be accountable for their actions and start the change right away.  

Christie Gloege, 6W Community Corrections, Madison, Minnesota

The Carey Guides have made such a drastic impact on how our agency works with our clients. We are all well trained on the LSCMI, on Motivational Interviewing, and on Cognitive Skills; however, there was never really anything that helped tie everything together. Then I attended a training hosted by the MN DOC to become a trainer for the Carey Guides. I had heard of the Guides before, but didn’t really know what they were. I walked out of that first day of training excited about Corrections again! Finally, here were tools that helped tie everything together. It finally made sense!  

Karen Peterson and Angel Braden, Oakland County Community Corrections, Michigan

A 26-year-old male, Bill, was referred to Step Forward on the charge Domestic Violence (first offense). At intake, Bill completed the COMPAS assessment and, among other findings, he scored Highly Probable on the Substance Abuse scale and was flagged in the Defensiveness scale as Potential Faking Concern. The probation department referred Bill for Domestic Violence treatment specifically, and he began (and has continued) treatment as required.   

Megan Hess, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Kenansville, North Carolina

I must admit that when I was first explained the Carey Guides, I was a little skeptical. I thought, a piece of paper? How will that change an offender’s attitude and/or outlook? Will they even read it or complete it properly? The truth is that, no, not every offender will read the Carey Guides or complete them properly by putting actual thought into the answers. However, when a Carey Guide hits home with an offender, the result is amazing.  

Cha Lee and Beverly Shellenberger, Calumet County Department of Health and Human Services, Chilton, Wisconsin

In May 2015, the Calumet County Department of Health and Human Services implemented the Carey Guides in the Family Services Unit (FSU) with our juvenile justice clientele. Although the Guides are designed for one-on-one interactions, FSU saw the potential for them to be used in small group settings. As a result, the FSU created the Calumet County Choices 4 Change Group. The goal of Choices 4 Change is to provide participants with skills and to address criminogenic needs so that participants can make better choices for a healthier life.  

Jodi Lefebvre Jackson and Katie Moore, Offender Aid and Restoration, Jefferson Area Community Corrections, Charlottesville, Virginia

I began managing a small, local probation department in 2010 after having been a Probation Officer in the field for over 10 years. I was all too familiar with the push and pull of case managing whilst focusing one’s energy on clients’ long-term behavior change. It’s exhausting. When I learned about the Carey Guides, I was skeptical about the degree of buy-in from staff and expense of time. Over the course of the last five years, the buy-in has simply become a part of our organizational culture.   

Dawn Schott and Ericka Maynard, Linn County Juvenile Detention and Diversion Services, SOLO Intervention Program, Johnson County, Iowa

The SOLO Intervention Program is a pilot program in Johnson County, Iowa. SOLO provides intensive, in-home day treatment for the highest risk juveniles on probation. Carey Guides are the primary inspiration and source of curriculum for SOLO programming.   

Stephanie Smith, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Spindale, North Carolina

Carey Guides have been most influential in the supervision of offenders on my caseload. The conversation that follows the completion of tools in the Guides is so useful in obtaining insight into that person’s life—insight that may otherwise be undiscovered. Carey Guides give offenders a chance to write their most heartfelt thoughts and feelings—ones they may not be able to express verbally. And, being able to complete the tools at home, not in the presence of an officer, can make them more comfortable being honest.   

Angie Stafford, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I am an Officer in Forsyth County, NC. I remember leaving training for this position feeling very nervous and overwhelmed about how I would manage my caseload. Yet, I was very fortunate that our agency was in the process of incorporating evidence based-practices (EBP) into our supervision of offenders; this included using the Carey Guides.  

H. Megan McNeill, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Carthage, North Carolina

When I began my career as a Probation and Parole Officer for Moore County in 2013, I thought that I would be supervising a bunch of criminals who couldn’t care less about what I had to say and that I would be spending most of my days at the jail, locking up anyone who didn’t follow my or the judges’ recommendations. I quickly realized how uneducated I was about what probation was really about.  

Jessi Spearman, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Kenansville, North Carolina

When I started with Adult Corrections, EBP was taking probation by storm. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure what to think about it. I mean, how could one or even five simple worksheets be a key turning point in someone’s life? How could they make a difference, really? Where could I find the time to use them? Over the years that we have been using the Carey Guides, those questions have been answered; they can be a turning point, they can make a difference, and you can find the time to do anything that you want to do, if you want to do it. I have learned just how successful offenders can be when they use Carey Guides and I’m appreciative of the tools they provide. They open up the door for communication and allow offenders to reflect on and express what is going on in their lives in ways that they may not have considered before.  

Tracy Harris, Volunteers of America, Roseville, Minnesota

Volunteers of America Residential Reentry Centers have been using the Carey Guides since March 2015. Since their implementation, our programming has done an about face. We no longer use a “one size fits all” curriculum. Instead, VOA’s programming staff have created a case plan (or individualized program plan) template that includes nine of the most commonly used Carey Guides. After various assessments are completed (LSCMI, Criminal Thinking Scale, for example) and the resident meets with the Social Services Coordinator, the Coordinator develops the case plan, which includes assigning appropriate Carey Guides for the resident to complete as part of their programming.  

J. Seth Coleman, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Fayetteville, North Carolina

I am currently a Chief Probation/Parole Officer, but I was a field officer at the time the Carey Guides were first introduced to our agency. I remember some of the responses that I got from the first offenders with whom I used the Guides. Overall, the responses were positive. Offenders seemed surprised that I was taking the time to actually ask what was currently going on in their personal lives or what may have been going on that led them to a term of supervised probation. Particularly interesting were the responses from offenders I often refer to as "frequent flyers": those who have been under supervision before, sometimes numerous times. They seemed shocked that our meeting was going to consist of more that just me asking them the same handful of questions that I always asked and that I generally already new the answers to. These offenders seemed encouraged that I was taking an interest in what they were dealing with and that I was making an effort to help them make better life choices rather than just pointing out the poor choices they had made up until then.