Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus, along with Director of Probation & Community Corrections Mary Ellen Still and Commissioner of Social Services Robert Allers, is pleased to announce two Dutchess County employees, Deputy Probation Director Catherine Lane and Deputy Commissioner of Social Services Debra Bonnerwith, have been honored with a statewide award for “Outstanding Collaboration between Probation and Social Services.” The award recognizes their partnership work on the Juvenile Pretrial Services Program, which has significantly contributed to the field of prevention and juvenile justice, strengthening Dutchess County’s ability to improve outcomes in the lives of children and their families through evidence-based practices and programs.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “Once again, the innovative and forward thinking work of Dutchess County Government is being recognized at the state level. Congratulations to Catherine and Debra for their outstanding work helping to strengthen youth and families with programs that are driven by positive outcomes. This is another great example of the collaborative environment we have fostered so successfully here in Dutchess County.”
Dutchess County’s Juvenile Pre-Trial Services have resulted in a decrease of out-of-home detention placement numbers and have resulted in significant savings for taxpayers. These programs involve the cooperation of Family Court Judges, County Attorneys, and the youths’ Law Guardians working with the families to approve a service plan as an alternative to detention or short term out of home placement. Dutchess County’s alternatives to detention services for youth also include electronic monitoring by Probation as well as the Mental Health Juvenile Justice and J-RISC programs which involve case management, evidence-based mental health therapy and additional supervision by probation officers. Catherine Lane and Debra Bonnerwith have partnered successfully in developing, securing funding through state grants, and implementing innovative programs to improve outcomes for youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system and have made measurable strides in reducing the number of youth at-risk of placement. These programs have resulted in savings of $200,000 for taxpayers due to the reduced number of necessary detention beds.
“Both Cathy and Debra have long recognized the importance of effective collaboration and have worked to develop programs to improve outcomes for youth while reducing the human and financial cost of detention and placement,” said Director of Probation & Community Corrections Mary Ellen Still. “With the Juvenile Pretrial Program, they have coordinated an inter-agency effort that has had a major positive impact on the juvenile justice system.”
Sean M. Byrne, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), said: “Studies have shown that New York State taxpayers are paying well over $200,000 a year to house each youth in a juvenile facility, and the return on that investment is an 89 percent recidivism rate for boys and an 81 percent recidivism rate for girls. The work probation officials do in protecting our communities in a very cost-efficient and effective manner goes unnoticed. I am very pleased that Catherine Lane and Debra Bonnerwith have received the public recognition that they have earned and deserve.”
Ms. Lane has been with the Dutchess County Probation Department for more than 25 years. She has been a state-credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor for over 20 years, served as president of the New York Association of Pretrial Service Agencies and worked as a youth worker and elementary school teacher. She is currently president of the New York Association of Pretrial Service Agencies. Ms. Bonnerwith has worked with the Dutchess County Social Services Department for over 22 years and has performed child care work and case management at the former New York State Division for Youth and the Hillside Children’s Center.
The Outstanding Collaboration between Probation and Social Services award was presented to Ms. Lane and Ms. Bonnerwith last week at the New York State Probation Officers Association annual conference in Albany.
“Cathy & Deb are just two examples of the talented people who are part of Dutchess County Government, who are working every day to help improve the quality of life here in Dutchess. We are grateful for all of their hard work and are thrilled to have them recognized at the statewide level for their efforts,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.