Chief Lessard retired from Maricopa County with 23 years of experience in probation, working his way up from line probation officer to division director. As director he had oversight of all specialty programs including problem solving courts, literacy centers for probationers and member of the community, and a 25-bed facility for homeless probationers.
During his time at Maricopa County, he developed a passion for working with clients who were dealing with mental illness. He is a national speaker on serving probationers with mental illness and is on the faculty at the National Crime and Justice Institute. His work with the Crime and Justice Institute has afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with and train tribal nations on how to address mental illness in their court systems. According to Chief Lessard, "We drastically underestimate the number of probationers on our caseloads who suffer with serious mental illness."
Most recently Chief Lessard spent two years working at the Arizona State Supreme Court, where he oversaw specialty courts and specialty programs statewide. He loved working at the court, but missed the interactions with probation officers and clients. His position in Gila County allows him more of these sorts of opportunities to connect with folks one-on-one. Chief Lessard grew up in a small town and his wife grew up in Globe, so the position at Gila County was also an opportunity for him to be closer to family.
Chief Lessard is proud to work for Gila County and has been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of his new staff, the courts under leadership of Presiding Judge Honorable Timothy M. Wright, and Court Administrator Jon Bearup. Chief Lessard is passionate about evidence-based practices stating, "Today we know what works with offenders and we have a slew of tools to motivate offenders to change their behaviors, without always reverting to jail or prison sanctions." Chief Lessard adds, "I truly believe that we can protect the public by investing in communities where our offenders live... These offenders are connected to families, and the decisions we make impact offenders, families, victims and the community."