Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks by Commissioner Brian Fischer
Community Safety Through Successful Transition From Prison to the Community
Saratoga Hilton
December 14, 2009

It is my belief that people change, for both good and bad, when two factors come together. The first is the conscious desire to change on the part of the individual; there has to be a willingness and commitment on the part of the person to change. The second is the interaction that a person has with at least one other person. We live in a social environment. We learn to trust, love, hate, resent and fear in a social environment. No one lives in a vacuum and no one changes by himself or herself.

I say all this today because our collective goal is to get offenders to stop being offenders – to change their thinking, and therefore, their behavior. I recently encountered the saying, “Where the mind goes, the bottom will follow.” When a person changes his or her thinking, that person’s behavior will change.

Notice, I say when the person changes his or her thinking, not when we change the person’s thinking.

That brings us to why we are here today and the next two days. Our role is to create the social environment that encourages, supports and directs each offender’s course of action. Our role is not to change the offender but to foster the offenders’ desire - and provide for their ability - to change on their own. We can do this by incorporating the principles of treatment and supervision that will be presented to you during this staff development program.

Re-entry is all about good public safety. The better prepared and equipped the offender is, the greater the likelihood that he or she will make it in the community. What we do to assist every offender is important to his or her success, but I would like us to consider the following idea and my personal charge to all the participants:

Let us not judge ourselves on the success or failure of each offender but by what services and assistance we provided.