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GIVING BACK

Julie Altenhofen, 2016 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the Wisconsin Parole Commission.

I am graduating with a degree in legal studies and a certificate in criminal justice at the end of the summer term. Then I plan to take the state test in the fall to become a probation and parole agent for the Department of Corrections.

Over the course of the summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the Wisconsin Parole Commission. Like most people, I knew nothing about the parole commission before I began my placement this summer. However, as I am nearing the end of my placement, I have become very knowledgeable on the different sentencing structures that existed prior to Wisconsin’s switch to determinate sentencing on Dec. 31 1999. During the first week of my placement I spent the majority of my time familiarizing myself with the different Wisconsin statutes that pertain to the parole commission (e.g. PAC 1, 302, and 304). Once I had a grasp on which inmates are statutory eligible for parole consideration and the criteria they must meet to be given a discretionary parole grant, my supervisor scheduled me to go out to different Institutions with a commissioner to conduct parole hearings. Prior to the interviews I conducted case research on each of the inmates scheduled to be seen on those days and made note of things that factored into the criteria. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in with all three commissioners during the course of my placement. Each one conducts their interviews differently and it was interesting to see how the inmates responded to each of the different styles. Additionally, I was able to see and get tours of all different security level institutions as well as see both male and female institutions.

Another large part of my placement this summer involved seeing and learning about different departments within the DOC. I was able to spend time at the monitoring center, the Grow Academy, the records unit, programs unit, and the interstate compact unit. I really enjoyed these visits because I was able to get a larger picture of the Department of Corrections and how each of the different units plays a part in the daily operations. Another wonderful opportunity I was given was to shadow different probation and parole agents. Given my desire to become an agent, my supervisor sought out agents who were willing to take me on for the day. I was able to see both home visits and office visits with offenders as well as intakes. Overall, this internship has provided me with a vast array of knowledge and connections which will help me in my future career endeavors.

I would just like to express my gratitude to the family of Ms. Audrey J. Harris for the generosity they provided in the form of a scholarship. Being nominated and selected for this award really helped me financially and allowed me to completely immerse myself in my placement and overall education.