Garase joins parole board

Rebecca Dunphy, Staff writer

Maria L. Garase, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, was recently selected to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole’s Citizen Advisory Committee.

The committee is comprised of seven to 15 community members, ranging including criminal justice and law enforcement professionals and retirees. There is one committee in each of the Board of Probation and Parole’s 10 districts across the state.

The committee is responsible for assisting the board with developing good public relations and assisting offenders by finding employment opportunities and needed community resources.

Other duties include advising and developing position papers related to agency operations, evaluating their services and creating legislation to help improve probation and parole services.

Garase was chosen by Patricia Lightner, the director of the Erie District of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, because of her involvement in the criminal justice and academic communities.

Garase’s previous research and evaluation experience in probation and parole also made her a viable selection.

“I have always been interested in probation, parole and reentry services,” said Garase. “Not only have I worked as a counselor specialist with juvenile delinquents who were on probation, but I have also completed research with the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. Additionally, I completed an evaluation of the House of Healing, a now-defunct innovative residential treatment facility for women under court supervision who were completing their sentences while having their children live with them.”

Garase is now the second Mercyhurst professor to have served on the committee, following Peter Benekos, Ph.D., professor emeritus of the Criminal Justice department.

Although there have only been two meetings thus far and her official role has not yet been established, Garase is being used as a sounding board for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole’s current engagements and future programming.

The Citizen Advisory Committee meets only four times a year, which will not inhibit Garase’s work at Mercyhurst. In fact, she believes that her involvement will be positive for students, as it will allow her to share up-to-date information about the field.

“I hope that serving on the committee will expose me to the new policies and evidence-based practices that are being implemented by the (board),” said Garase. “I will be able to discuss these in my graduate Criminal Justice Planning and Evaluation and Criminology and Crime Policy courses.”