Monday, March 7, 2011


I am writing to you all from Riga, Latvia, where it is cold and wintery and, certainly, much different from what I left in Sarasota on Saturday.

This is my third trip to Latvia in the past 12 months. In fact, I've actually spent more time in Riga this past year than I have in Canada. Unfortunately, this may be my last trip for the foreseable future, which leaves me a little melancholy.

However, not to be too down in the dumps...

This trip marks the end of a long path for me and my Latvian compatriots. Having been the recipients of a large grant from the Norwegians, Latvia was provided with a tremendous opportunity to revamp and upgrade the way in which it assesses, treats, and manages a variety of offenders, primarily sexual offenders.

Indeed, the Norwegian grant allowed the Latvians to pick from among some of the best models available in the world. Not surprisingly, there were many ATSA members involved in the processes related to upgrading the Latvian systems for sexual offending. Chris Thomson from the Justice Institute of British Columbia provided training in the RNR model and community supervision, while Dawn Fisher and a group of folks from the UK provided training in SO treatment. Andrew McWhinnie of Victoria, BC and I provided consultation on starting up Circles of Support & Accountability.

My principal role in all of this was to provide Static-99R/Stable-2007/Acute-2007 training to 60 probation officers and to help our Latvian colleagues establish sustainability by completing train-the-trainer instruction of a select group of those probation officers. That's what I doing here now; however, with a twist. My trainer candidates know some English, but my Latvian stinks (you know, the usual -- "please", "thank-you", "beer" [that pretty much sums up my Spanish as well]). Consecutive interpretation takes some getting used to.

In the photo below are my trainees and the interpreter who will help me establish whether these folks are able to successfully impart the complicated materials associated with the Dynamic Supervision Protocol framework to their colleagues.

L to R: Anvars Zavackis, Monika Miglāne, interpreter Ojārs Balcers, Ainis Jukšs.

Next week, the Latvian Probation Service will celebrate the completion of their grant-funded projects by having a large conference with approximately 250-300 delegates from corrections, probation, government, academic institutions, and other concerned groups of stakeholders in the risk management world. My Latvian hosts have pulled together an impressive roster of speakers that will include many of the folks above, in addition to a large number of international delegates from Europe (e.g., Belgium, the Netherlands, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, the UK, and Norway), more Canadians, and a certain transplanted Canadian now living in Florida.

Of note to ATSA folks will be the inclusion of 2009 Significant Achievement Award winner Tony Beech and former AUDIOphilia guest vocalist Jo Clarke of the University of York in the UK. Indeed, ATSA will have a fine showing at this conference, which helps demonstrate the truly international scope of our organization.

At the end of next week, I will leave Latvia, maybe never to return. However, it has been great fun and certainly awe-inspiring to have been a part of the wonderful transformation that these folks have been undertaking. A good deal of credit is due to Project Leader Imants Jurevicius, who also made the long trip last fall to attend our conference in Phoenix.

Congratulations to our Latvian colleagues!

Lai veicas,


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