Leslie Mills of the Washington State corrections department helped start a Neighborhood Corrections Initiative six years ago to keep better tabs on former state prisoners, the Seattle Times reports. The program she helped start has been copied in other communities and was expanded to four other Seattle police precincts. The aim is to get ex-cons off the streets, either into much-needed treatment or back behind bars where they can be held accountable. “It used to be 20 percent committing 80 percent of the crime. Now it’s like 5 percent committing 80 percent of the issues in the downtown metro area,” Mills said. “Nothing in the downtown metro area is open [in the morning]. Unless you are a doughnut maker or a cop, then you are a person who has chosen not to be in a shelter and are either a drug user or a drug facilitator.” About 300 people are stopped each week.
The most common excuse officers hear about why ex-cons don’t check in with probation officers: “They all say ‘I was on my way,’ ” says Mills. The Times describes how she and fellow officers do their jobs. Mills, 44, is known on the streets for being tougher than many of her male counterparts. The high-school cheerleader from Ohio always thought she would become a TV news anchor, like her father. After college, she worked in TV in Cleveland before moving to Texas. While there, she befriended a parole officer and joined the ranks at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.