Press Release - 05-10-2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Joe Morrissey (DMV)
Mary Rozak (Albany County)
ALBANY COUNTY PROBATION DEPARTMENT THE FIRST-EVER TO BE APPROVED FOR PILOT PROGRAM TO PROVIDE A DMV PRE-LICENSING COURSE
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Albany County today announced that Albany County’s Probation Department has become the first probation department in New York State to be approved for a pilot program to provide the DMV Pre-licensing Course, also known as “the 5-hour course,” to probationers. New drivers must complete the Pre-Licensing Course, or a New York State approved Driver Education course, before they can schedule a road test for their driver license.
“When Albany County approached us about creating this pilot program, we saw a great opportunity to create a state-local partnership that could have a very positive impact on probationers and our communities,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “Working together, we can break the cycle of recidivism and by assisting ex-offenders in obtaining a driver license, help them become productive members of the community.”
“I am pleased that the county is the first in the state to roll out this new training effort,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “By offering this training, we will provide probationers the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license and have the ability to find meaningful employment, participate in activities and contribute to society. The state has proven again to be a good partner with the county and this partnership will pay off for those looking to rebuild their lives.”
Probationers are required to remain within the county, which excludes them from many types of jobs and severely limits where they can work. In addition, many union jobs require a driver license. Probationers who cannot drive must find a job that is close to home or near a bus line, has hours corresponding to public transportation operating hours, and has a schedule that does not require them to be “on-call.”
Albany County estimates that roughly 20 percent of its probationary population at any given time is unable to legally drive. Eligible participants will be part of the county’s Alternatives to Incarceration program, which focuses on youth and adults who never had the opportunity to receive instruction from schools or family members. The costs for books, materials, instruction and DMV fees will be covered by the county.
Pre-licensing classes will be held at the Department of Probation on South Pearl Street in Albany. Class size will be limited in the pilot to around 20 probationers, to allow for issues to be identified and addressed and provide enough flexibility to adapt the program.
Michael C. Green, executive deputy commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, said, “For probationers, the lack of a driver’s license can be yet another barrier to finding steady employment, which studies have shown to be effective at reducing the likelihood of them reoffending. This collaboration between the State Department of Motor Vehicles and Albany County will offer a meaningful service to those who are on probation and hopefully help them lead productive, crime-free lives.”
The Division of Criminal Justice Services oversees and provides funding to county Probation Departments and community corrections and alternative to incarceration programs across New York State. Probation Officers across the state supervise approximately 100,000 adult probationers and provide intake and adjustment services that divert cases from Family Court and supervise 6,000 juveniles.
Last November, Governor Cuomo announced more than $10 million in funding to support programs providing job training and other re-entry services to individuals currently under community supervision. Additionally, these grants will create a new state-supported County Re-Entry Task Force in Queens and allow 19 other existing Task Forces across the state to assist more people returning to their communities after serving state prison sentences.