Recovery Month and Parole and Probation

By Kim M. Barry

National Recovery Month Observance is part of a national initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) observance of National Recovery Month emphasizes our belief in the value of partnerships with community organizations, local, and federal criminal justice agencies, city government, the faith community and individual citizens in promoting both successful reintegration and public safety.

CSOSA is a federal, executive branch agency providing parole and probation services to Washington, D.C. We supervise 16,000 people on supervision daily and 24,000 yearly. Ninety percent have histories of substance abuse. CSOSA is a research based, best practices agency.

This article examines the integration of SAMHSA best practices into the work of CSOSA.

Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

In recognition of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month 2012, President Obama issued this Presidential Proclamation: “Every day, millions of Americans with substance use disorders commit to managing their health by maintaining their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.  People in recovery are not strangers:  they are our family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.  During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we recognize their strength and resilience.”

Research on Substance Abuse and Recovery:

According to research findings by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), at least four major types of drug abuse treatment can be extremely effective in reducing drug use. These include supportive group therapy, urine monitoring during treatment, relapse prevention, and post-treatment involvement in self-help groups. In addition drug abuse treatment produces decreases in illegal acts and increases in full-time employment.

CSOSA’s Mission:

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency’s mission is “To increase public safety, prevent crime, reduce recidivism, and support the fair administration of justice in close collaboration with the community.” CSOSA contracts with experienced providers to offer outpatient treatment, long-term residential treatment, short-term inpatient treatment and a Secure Residential Treatment Program (SRTP). The Secure Residential Treatment Program provides an alternative to incarceration for offenders facing revocation of parole or supervised release as a result of illegal drug use, criminal arrest or other violations of their release conditions.

In addition, CSOSA‘s Reentry and Sanctions Center provides offenders with a 28-day assessment and treatment preparation program prior to placement in residential or outpatient programming. Also, CSOSA has Faith Community Partnerships designed to provide mentors for returning offenders and to establish a network of faith-based institutions that may have housing, employment, substance abuse, or other resources that can benefit returning offenders. In addition, CSOSA provides supportive services such as drug aftercare, relapse prevention groups, and educational seminars for family members.

Recent Developments:

CSOSA’s Director Nancy Ware stated in her Strategic Plan that over the next five years CSOSA will strive to enhance public safety by lowering the re-arrest rate among supervised offenders and increasing the numbers of offenders who successfully complete supervision. CSOSA will achieve this goal through continued use of assessment-driven case planning, evidence-based interventions, consistent use of sanctions and incentives, and effective partnerships with the community, law enforcement and other stakeholders. Integrating the efforts of regional law enforcement will also be critical to success. Ware stated that, “Through its supervision activities, CSOSA’s seeks to continually enhance the agency’s impact on a safe Nation’s Capital.”

Overview of the Treatment Management Team:

The goal of CSOSA’s Treatment Management Team (TMT) is to enhance public safety by providing supportive services to community supervision staff. TMT is responsible for making timely referrals to drug treatment based on clinical evaluations, matching offenders with appropriate interventions, timely processing of placements and monitoring of offenders in treatment.

In 2010, CSOSA contracted an average of 3,000 treatment placements into 1 of 4 treatment modalities, namely detox, outpatient, short-term or long-term residential treatment.

The Agency’s fiscal appropriation allows for CSOSA to meet 25% of the population’s addiction treatment need. CSOSA focuses its resources on high-risk offenders and strives to make clinically appropriate treatment placements. Lower-risk offenders are referred to the District of Columbia Department of Health, Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA), the agency primarily responsible for addressing substance abuse treatment needs of eligible District of Columbia Residents.


CSOSA’s Director Nancy Ware states that “The long-term outcomes toward which CSOSA directs its efforts are the successful completion of supervision and the reduction in recidivism among supervised individuals, particularly those persons assessed as high risk”.

CSOSA embraces Recovery Month which spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.

CSOSA’s vision is to create a model of community supervision that is recognized for positively impacting public safety by ensuring that offenders are referred and approved for treatment and supportive programs consistent with SAMHSA protocols.

Work Cited:

  1. NIH Press Release- New Research Documents Success of Drug Abuse Treatments-12/15
  2. A Guide To Treatment, Education and Job Related Services Within The Court Services article/28820
  3. CSOSA Fact Sheet-CSOSA Office of Legislative Intergovernmental and Public Affairs
  4. CSOSA 2011-2016 Strategic Plan
  5. Presidential Proclamation—National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month 2012 issued by press-office/2012/08/31



GPS Tracking of Criminal Offenders in Washington, D.C.

Updated March, 2012

By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

In Washington, D.C. offenders on community supervision—probation, parole, or supervised release—face an impediment to criminal activity and non-compliance:  GPS tracking, which monitors the individual’s whereabouts 24 hours per day.

This article summarizes the effort in the nation’s capital and offers a brief overview of national GPS research.

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the federal agency that supervises D.C. Superior Court sentenced offenders in the nation’s capital, has been using GPS since April 2003.  About 600 offenders are currently in the program.  The numbers will change to respond to new initiatives or requests from law enforcement partners.

“GPS is a wonderful tool to help protect society,” states Carlton Butler, Program Administrator of the unit that oversees CSOSA’s GPS program.  “We share our GPS technology with law enforcement agencies in D.C and throughout the metropolitan area. They have the ability to track any of our offenders via their own computers and see if they can place them in the vicinity of a crime scene, which they do numerous times throughout the week.”

 “The use of GPS Technology is not a panacea and will not replace good old one-on-one interaction data exchange by the supervision officer and/or the traditional law enforcement investigation techniques, but it is another helpful tool to assist in supervision and crime fighting,” stated Butler.

CSOSA supervises about 16,000 offenders, half of whom are in treatment or on a specialized high-contact caseload.  The agency emphasizes evidence-based practices in case management; GPS is just one of the strategies it employs to promote compliance. 

It is typically employed as a sanction for non-compliance among high-risk offenders and those with specific geographic limitations (such as stay-away orders).  It is also used to monitor high-risk offenders who refuse to maintain or actively seek employment.

 “In addition to sex offenders, we place high risk and domestic violence offenders on GPS,” says Thomas H. Williams, Associate Director for Community Supervision Services at CSOSA. “In the past, a domestic violence offender could stalk a victim without our knowing it. Now we know and can notify both the victim and our law enforcement partners and take swift and certain action in conjunction with the courts or parole commission.” 

GPS can greatly increase Community Supervision Officers’ (CSO’s) ability to protect the public.  The following case illustrates how quickly GPS data can make a difference. 

Local news in Washington, D.C. reported a string of assaults on teenage girls in a particular neighborhood.  Police provided a sketch of the suspect to the media in order to solicit the public’s assistance with the investigation.

An alert CSO saw the sketch on the news broadcast and recognized the subject as a high-risk parolee on GPS.  She immediately checked the individual’s whereabouts at the times of the assaults and placed him at the crime scenes.  She visited his home to verify that his car matched the description of the vehicle used in the crimes.  She then arranged for the man to come into her office, where he was arrested by Metropolitan Police Department officers.  CSOSA works closely with the United States Attorney’s Office, wherein a conviction was achieved.

An Enormous Responsibility

Implementing GPS tracking places an enormous responsibility on any agency.  While CSOSA has stringent contact standards, requiring eight contacts per month for offenders at the highest risk levels (even more contacts are possible for drug testing and treatment programs) GPS provides a great deal of additional information on each offender.  Learning to interpret and respond to that information is a challenge for even the most experienced CSOs.

Generally, the Community Supervision Officer will review daily reports provided by the vendor: (1) a daily summary on each offender indicating whether the GPS unit transmitted appropriately and whether the offender remained in compliance with location parameters the CSO had previously defined, and (2) an incident hit report, which details whether offenders on GPS were in the vicinity of crime locations reported by the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. 

The CSO can also review the actual tracking data, which shows the offender’s movements through the city.  For some types of offenders, including sex offenders, daily review of the tracking report is a must.

Paul Brennan, a Supervisory Community Supervision Officer for one of CSOSA’s sex offender teams, demonstrates his ability to interpret the tracking report.  He pulls up the report, which follows the movements of a particular sex offender on the previous day.  With a few keystrokes, Brennan lays a detailed map of the city over the tracking report. 

For an even higher level of detail, he superimposes satellite images from Google Earth over the offender’s movements.  Suddenly, a daycare center with a playground appears in the offender’s path.  Brennan now has a good idea why that sex offender has been loitering in the area.  He and his team also share intelligence with the police and use it to inform their own surveillance and case management activities.

“We use polygraph tests, GPS, drug testing, surveillance and other forms of human and technological intelligence with our sex offenders, but we are only as good as our ability to interpret and react to the data we get,” Brennan says.  “We are not perfect, and offenders will test the capabilities of the system, but we have some of the best tools in the country to provide accountability while getting offenders into programs they need.”

Offenders try to “get around” GPS in a variety of ways—some as simple as failing to charge the unit or attempting to cut it off.   One of the ways that GPS is tamper-resistant is “double” monitoring; the offender is tracked not just by satellite but by cell phone towers as well.  GPS transmission may be hampered in large buildings or homes, but supplemental devices can be placed in those buildings to continue transmission.

National Trends

GPS tracking is poised to play a significant role in the system’s ability to protect society and place and keep offenders in programs.   The use of this technology will likely grow significantly in coming years.

The ability to track an offender every minute of every day provides new opportunities and challenges for the criminal justice system.  Criminological research has consistently emphasized the importance of immediate response to violations for those under supervision.

The nationwide adoption of intermediate sanctions (i.e., increased reporting or drug testing, community service, treatment programs, day reporting, halfway back measures or brief periods of incarceration) to respond to violations requires agencies to be in frequent contact with the offender if sanctions are to be imposed effectively.

GPS increases officers’ awareness of potential violations.  The offender’s non-compliance with GPS—attempting to tamper with the device or the signal—also constitutes a serious violation in itself.

One of the few evaluations that include both GPS and radio frequency monitoring was completed in 2006 by Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  The study (“Under Surveillance: An Empirical Test of the Effectiveness and Consequences of Electronic Monitoring”) concludes that electronic monitoring has produced promising results:

“Overall, Florida’s program is found to provide an effective public safety alternative to prison for serious offenders, including those convicted of murder/manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, and other violent offenses…Our findings indicate that electronic monitoring actually reduces the likelihood of revocation for a technical violation for offenders on home confinement. More importantly, electronic monitoring also reduces the likelihood of revocation for a new offense [emphasis added] and the likelihood of absconding which demonstrates a positive effect on public safety.”

The authors conclude:  “…it appears likely that the use of electronic monitoring devices will increase dramatically in the very near future.”


Recent Research

A new study (“A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Electronic Monitoring”) was offered by the Florida State University in January of 2010. It provides the latest update of previous studies using GPS and other forms of electronic monitoring.

The report indicates, “The balance of evidence from these studies shows that EM is effective in reducing supervision failure rates, as measured in a variety of ways.”

Researchers examined 5,034 medium- and high-risk offenders on EM and 266,991 offenders not placed on EM over a six year period plus interviews with staff and offenders. Selected findings include:

  • EM reduces the likelihood of failure under community supervision.  The reduction in the risk of failure is about 31%, relative to offenders placed on other forms of community supervision.
  • EM allows offenders to remain in the community thereby promoting family ties.
  • EM supervision has less of an impact on violent offenders than on sex, drug, property, and other types of offenders, although there are significant reductions in the hazard rate for all of these offense types.
  • There are no major differences in the effects of EM supervision across different age groups.
  • There were no major differences in the effects of EM for different types of supervision.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 EM offenders would have served time in prison if not for the electronic surveillance option available to the courts. 


Improved Public Safety

GPS is a useful tool in community supervision but, “It’s not foolproof,” Paul Brennan says.  “Nothing’s foolproof. If people want ironclad guarantees that the offender will not commit additional crimes in the community, their only alternative is incarceration.”

Despite its limitations, however, GPS helps CSOSA achieve its goal of protecting the public through effective community supervision.  “We can provide the citizens of the metropolitan area with improved public safety,” says Thomas Williams.  Because of its contribution to the bottom line, GPS will continue to be part of CSOSA’s supervision strategy.


Law Enforcement’s and Community Correction’s Use of GPS

Updated January, 2012

By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Brian Glover is an eight-year veteran of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He patrols the fifth district in northeast D.C.  A couple of years ago, he heard something about the local parole and probation authority putting criminal offenders on Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking.

“I started to notice that some of the offenders we run into were wearing cell phones on their right ankles.  So, I took a training course offered by the parole and probation people and learned that I can track the movements of these guys right from the computer in my car, and I think that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Every time a crime is committed in my patrol area, I can find out if one of these guys was at the crime scene or close by.”

Lt. Michael J. Farish (a supervisor working on homicides, cold cases and special investigations) likes the capabilities GPS brings to criminal investigations. “Maybe the most important tool in the use of GPS is not the ability to place an offender at the crime scene, although that happens, but the ability to tell who was in the immediate area. We track these people down and get important leads that solve homicides and a variety of additional crimes. They may not have done the crime, but they may know who did. Or maybe this person was holding the gun or driving the get-away car or just out for a smoke. But just having someone close to the crime scene can produce valuable information.”

Capt. Mario Patrizio (Commander of Special Investigations) knew immediately in 2006 that the use of GPS on offenders was going to be an important investigative tool. “Our detectives are mandated to check the list of new crimes against the GPS data. Every day, we do hundreds of checks.”

InNortheast Washington,D.C., an offender was sexually assaulting teenage girls who were walking in their communities. A sketch of the assailant supplied by the Metropolitan Police Department was recognized by a Community Supervision Officer (CSO–referred to as Parole and Probation Agent or Officer in the rest of the country) who, through GPS, placed the offender at the scenes on the exact days and times of the assaults.

The CSO is an employee of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA).  CSOSA is a federal, executive branch agency providing parole and probation services to residents ofWashington,D.C.It was established in August of 2000. The agency considers itself to be one of the most technologically sophisticated community supervision agencies in the country. The agency believes that with accountability and opportunity for programs, increasing numbers of offenders can avoid future criminality. CSOSA has been using GPS or satellite tracking since 2003 and currently has approximately 600 people on the system.

The numbers on GPS change due to new initiatives or requests from law enforcement partners.

Does GPS Help Prevent Crime?

CSOSA’s Associate Director for Community Supervision Services believes that the use of GPS can prevent crimes. Thomas H. Williams is a veteran of community supervision administration at the highest levels. “There is a wide variety of offenders who are looking for a way out of the criminal lifestyle. They want normalcy in their lives, but their friends and associates can drag them down. GPS stiffens their backbone.  If an offender’s criminal associates know that he’s on GPS, well, they certainly don’t want him around during the commission of a crime.”

Lt. Farish also feels that GPS can prevent criminality. “Criminal offenders on supervision really need to do the right thing. They often have prior arrests, convictions and periods of supervision with CSOSA. Everyone wants them to be successful when coming out of prison or being placed on probation. It’s impossible to put everyone in prison, so the more they succeed, the more the community is protected. The device seems to give some the courage to do the right thing.”

New Research

A new study (“A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Electronic Monitoring”) was offered by theFloridaStateUniversityin January of 2010. It provides the latest update of previous studies on the use of GPS and other forms of electronic monitoring.

The report indicates, “The balance of evidence from these studies shows that EM is effective in reducing supervision failure rates, as measured in a variety of ways.”

New research examined 5,034 medium- and high-risk offenders on EM and 266,991 offenders not placed on EM over a six year period, plus interviews with staff and offenders. Selected findings include:

  • EM reduces the likelihood of failure under community supervision.  The reduction in the risk of failure is about 31%, relative to offenders placed on other forms of community supervision.
  • EM supervision has less of an impact on violent offenders than on sex, drug, property, and other types of offenders, although there are significant reductions in the hazard rate for all of these offense types.
  • There are no major differences in the effects of EM supervision across different age groups.
  • There were no major differences in the effects of EM for different types of supervision.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 EM offenders would have served time in prison if not for the electronic surveillance option available to the courts.


The Issue of Interagency Cooperation

CSOSA and the Metropolitan Police Department share information on an ongoing basis at the headquarters, district and officer levels. Metropolitan Police Department and Community Supervision Officers conduct announced and unannounced home visits (called Accountability Tours) of new and high-risk offenders. MPD staff also participates in CSOSA’s Mass Orientation program, which informs offenders new to supervision of CSOSA’s expectations for them while under supervision.  There are joint endeavors to serve warrants and to create leads for homicides and serious crimes.

Officer Glover states that he likes the GPS program for the communication it provides between himself and the CSOs. “If I discover that someone on the street may be causing problems, and he’s not working, I’ll ask the CSO to put him on GPS or in CSOSA’sDayReportingCenterprogram.  I also can access CSOSA’s information system, SMART (Supervision, Management and Automated Record system), to determine the name of the CSO and call or send him or her an e-mail. “

“Recently, I had a guy who was taking a lot of items to pawn shops, and he was under CSOSA’s supervision, so I asked CSOSA to put him on GPS tracking. Within weeks, we were able to tie him into several burglaries. I’m also able to tell CSOSA’s sex offender unit when someone is hanging out at school or playground. “

When asked if he is this vigilant because of his veteran status, he states that his fellow officers are taking increased interest in the use of GPS data and asking CSOSA to place additional offenders on the program. “The level of information exchange is improving,” he states.

Capt. Patrizio and Lt. Farish cite the case of a retired MPD officer who was shot while resisting a robbery outside of his house after watching a Monday night football game.  The officer was walking his brother to his car when two guys walked past and returned a short time later and announced a robbery. MPD asked CSOSA to immediately run offenders through the GPS system. That allowed detectives to concentrate on interviews and evidence collection. Within minutes, CSOSA personnel were able to place a suspect 11 feet away from the crime scene at the precise time and date of the crime.

The Future of GPS

The term electronic monitoring does not necessarily indicate the use of GPS or Satellite tracking. Electronic monitoring could include radio frequency devices tethered to a telephone for supervision in the home or immediate area.

ToCarlton Butler, CSOSA’s GPS Manager, who supervises the provision of GPS equipment to offenders, it’s only going to grow. “We are in partnership with MPD and other law enforcement agencies, and many officers would like to see the continued, beneficial use of GPS.  The spirit of cooperation is strong, and the exchange of information is increasing.”

“The use of GPS technology is not a panacea and will not replace good old traditional law enforcement investigation techniques, but it is another helpful tool to assist in fighting crime.”

But to Capt. Patrizio and Lt. Farish, it’s simply an idea whose time has come.  It’s a way to prevent crime and help some offenders do what needs to be done to straighten themselves out.  But with respect to violent law breakers, “The quicker we get them off the streets, the safer the city will be. With CSOSA as our partner, we can help offenders get the programs they need and make the city safer,” states Mario Patrizio.


A Guide to Treatment, Education and Job Related Services Within CSOSA

A Guide to Treatment, Education and Job Related Services Within the

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA)

By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

 Updated, Summer, 2011

Please see our website at and our social media site at

All of us at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) receive telephone calls and e-mails from family and friends asking for information on programs to assist their loved ones currently under parole, probation, or supervised release.

 Family involvement, support and encouragement are crucial to successful outcomes of people on community supervision. We appreciate your interest.

In an effort to assist those who are trying to help, we offer the following overview of services. CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers (CSOs—the professional supervising or assisting the offender—known elsewhere as parole and probation officers or agents) are your first contacts for information.

CSOSA is a federal, independent agency supervising and offering services to people convicted of D.C. code violations or who have been accepted for supervision through the Interstate Compact Agreement. We do not provide assistance to individuals not convicted of D.C. code violations or accepted through the Interstate Compact Agreement; we do not assist individuals living in adjacent states.

The CSOSA Website

 Many of the resources listed on the CSOSA website (see below) are available to anyone. Please note that there are a wide array of government and private organizations providing services beyond those offered by CSOSA.

 Please see The top of the main page offers a button marked “Offender Reentry.” The section marked “Reentry Resources” provides a comprehensive overview of assistance available throughout the city.

Examples include:

  • A directory of helpful resources created by the Public Defenders Service
  • An emergency food and shelter directory offered by the Interfaith Conference of Metro Washington
  • “Starting Out-Starting Over-Staying Out” by D.C. Cure
  • CSOSA’s Faith-Based Initiative

There are many additional services and opportunities to explore on the website, as well as a series of television and radio programs featuring the experiences of people on supervision with CSOSA.  See link on the website (main page on right) for “DC Public Safety.”

Washington, D.C. Government and Non-Profit Providers

The District of Columbiagovernment provides the majority of services available to people on CSOSA supervision. You can find comprehensive, up-to-date listings of social services available through the DC government at “211 Answers, Please!” ( For general employment information available at the District’s one-stop workforce development centers, please contact the DC Department of Employment Services at 202-724-7000, or see (

Services Available from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

CSOSA supervises 16,000 offenders on parole, supervised release or probation every day.

CSOSA enforces the conditions and requirements imposed by the court or the US Parole Commission (such as drug testing and finding employment) and also refers individuals to supportive programs .

An individual supervision and treatment plan is developed for each offender.

The CSOSA Starting Point: Risk and Needs Assessment

Every individual entering supervision receives a comprehensive risk and needs assessment.  The assessment identifies the particular areas in which the offender needs assistance and accountability. The assessment is updated throughout the year.

The Role of the Community Supervision Officer (CSO)

We encourage you to contact your friend’s or relative’s CSO, but please note that most information regarding an individual’s status on supervision or program participation is protected under the Federal Privacy Act.  This information cannot be shared with anyone other than relevant government agencies without the offender’s written consent. Within these limitations, however, CSOs can be helpful and encouraging to family members and loved ones trying to assist offenders.

If you are uncertain of the name and telephone number of your loved one’s CSO, please contact 202-585-7377.

The CSOSA/Faith Community Partnership

CSOSA works with a wide variety of faith institutions throughout the city to coordinate a network of support services for people returning to the District from prison.  Many of these services are also available to offenders not under CSOSA’s supervision, as well as probationers.  CSOSA’s faith partners provide an array of services including mentoring, drug counseling, emergency food and clothing, job placement, housing assistance and more. See the CSOSA reentry web site mentioned above.

Substance Abuse Treatment

 In fiscal year 2010, 90 percent of offenders entering supervision self-reported a history of illicit drug use.  The connection between drug abuse and crime has been well established.  Long-term success in reducing recidivism among drug-abusing offenders depends upon two key factors:

  1.  Identifying and treating drug use and other social problems; and
  2. Establishing swift and certain consequences for violations of release conditions.

Treatment reduces drug use and criminal behavior; it also can improve the offender’s prospects for employment.

CSOSA’s treatment resources are focused on the highest-risk, highest-need individuals.  We also work with District government to place other individuals, as appropriate, in city-funded treatment as slots are available.

Offenders access treatment in several different ways:

  • By testing positive for drug use, which usually results in referral for assessment and possible treatment placement;
  • By talking with the Community Supervision Officer and requesting treatment;
  • By having a condition for substance abuse treatment imposed by the U.S. Parole Commission or D.C. Superior Court; or
  • By completing the pre-treatment program in CSOSA’s Reentry andSanctionsCenterand being discharged to continue treatment.

The CSOSA substance abuse treatment continuum includes the following programs:

  •  7-Day Medically Monitored Detoxification,
  • 28-Day Residential Treatment,
  • 90- to 120-Day Residential Treatment,
  • 120-Day Residential Treatment and Transitional Housing for Women with Children,
  • 120-Day Residential Treatment for Dually Diagnosed Offenders (mental health and substance abuse),
  • 90-Day Supervised Transitional Housing, and
  • Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient Treatment.
  •  After the individual completes treatment, he or she generally is assigned to an aftercare support group.

 The Reentry andSanctionsCenter(RSC)

CSOSA’s 102 bed Reentry and Sanctions Center (RSC) provides 28 days of intensive assessment and pre-treatment programming for individuals with long-term histories of substance abuse and criminal involvement.  These individuals are the highest-risk, highest-need offenders under CSOSA supervision.

Offenders are generally referred to the RSC directly upon release from prison or early in their supervision period.  Participation for offenders is voluntary, though some defendants are court-ordered to participate.  The program provides offenders and defendants with tools to prevent relapse, improve family relationships, and modify deviant behaviors.

After completion, most participants are placed in custom-designed  community-based programs to continue treatment.

The Secure Residential Treatment Program (SRTP)

 The Secure Residential Treatment Program (SRTP) is a 32 bed, residential 180 day program operating within the DC Department of Corrections’ Correctional Treatment Facility.

The program is an alternative to incarceration for individuals facing revocation by the US Parole Commission. The primary focus is a comprehensive, intensive cognitive behavioral model aimed at the inmates’ individual criminal and substance using lifestyle rather than a focus on substance abuse alone.

Core treatment components include pre-screening, intake, orientation, assessment, crisis intervention, individualized treatment planning, inmate psycho-education, abstinence directed counseling, supportive group and individual counseling, urine toxicology screening, comprehensive case management, anger management education, spiritual education and group counseling, recreation therapy, group/individual psychotherapy, relapse and recidivism prevention, community re-integration, supervision compliance planning, discharge planning, introduction to community support meetings and continuity of care planning.

 Mental Health Services

CSOSA contracts with mental health service providers for psychiatric screening and evaluation; psychological case reviews; pretreatment counseling; aftercare counseling; medication compliance/education groups; and full battery assessments on an as needed basis.

CSOSA does not provide mental health therapy or medication management.  Based on the assessment results, CSOSA will refer the individual to the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health for appropriate services.

CSOSA has a supervision branch comprised of six teams that specialize in managing offenders with mental health issues.

Violence Reduction Program (VRP)

 The Violence Reduction Program (VRP) is a programmatic intervention that blends best practices from the literature – such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mentoring – into a three-phase treatment intervention for men, aged 18-35, with histories of violent, weapons, and/or drug distribution convictions.  The goal of the VRP is to help offenders:

  •  Develop non-violent approaches to conflict resolution,
  • Increase problem-solving skills,
  • Adopt communication styles that improve social skills,
  • Establish an alternative peer network by promoting pro-social supports and accountability networks, and
  • Learn and apply skills to regulate anxiety.

Specialized Treatment:

 Several specialized treatment interventions are provided to offenders who have committed certain types of crimes or are assigned to special supervision caseloads:

 Traffic Alcohol Program (TAP) 

 Offenders are court-ordered to complete the Traffic Alcohol Program (TAP) following conviction for traffic and/or alcohol related offenses.

Sex Offender Assessment and Treatment

CSOSA contracts with treatment providers to assess and treat individuals convicted of sex offenses, as ordered by the Superior Court or U.S. Parole Commission.

 Domestic Violence Treatment

As part of CSOSA’s supervision of offenders with domestic violence convictions, offenders convicted of domestic violence may be court-ordered to participate in an 18-week Family Violence Intervention Program or a 22-week Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

 Women Offenders

 One example of a community-based program providing services for women offenders and their families is Our Place DC ( The phone number is 202-548-2400. Our Place works with CSOSA to bring comprehensive services to women offenders.

CSOSA has specialized supervision teams, treatment services, and groups for women offenders.  Women offenders have unique and challenging needs that are best met through gender-specific groups.

 Anger Management

 CSOSA Treatment Specialists facilitate a 12-session Anger Management group program.    Participants attend one 90-minute session each week.

Educational Assistance and Job Placement–Vocational Opportunities, Training, Education, and Employment Unit (V.O.T.E.E.)

The Vocational Opportunities for Training, Education, and Employment (VOTEE) Program assesses and responds to the individual educational and vocational needs of offenders.  Vocational Development Specialists provide direct assistance in preparing offenders for job readiness training, community-based vocational and rehabilitative programs, and job search/placement and retention assistance.  The unit also provides adult basic education and GED preparation courses at one of four learning labs staffed by CSOSA Learning Lab Specialists.  The Learning Lab Specialists assist offenders in improving their educational levels.  In addition, the Learning Labs provide information systems technology training and referrals for certification training.


CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers (CSOs) are responsible for creating a supervision and treatment plan for each offender under CSOSA’s supervision. Please contact the CSO supervising your friend or family member if you would like to discuss your loved one’s needs. Your support, encouragement and guidance are often critical elements that keep many offenders from returning to crime or drugs.


Sex Offender Supervision in the Nation’s Capital

Gavel from Crestock Creative Images











By Paul S. Brennan, M.P.A. Edited by Cedric Hendricks and Leonard Sipes.

See for our social media site or for the website of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency

When he was arrested on the bench warrant in February of 1999 and brought to court to answer for his non-compliance, it seemed reasonable at the time to give Michael the benefit of the doubt to his claim that he did not know he was on probation.  This time he would be supervised by the newly formed Sex Offender Unit at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. 

In the wake of federal legislation passed in the mid 1990’s to address the growing public concern about sex offenders in the community, community corrections officials in Washington, D.C. followed a growing trend around the country to develop a specialized supervision team of community supervision officers to manage its sex offenders.

His probation officer decided to stop by his home, unannounced, one random weekday evening in 1999.  Michael was not home at the time of the visit; however there was an answer at the door.  The probation officer was stunned to find alone in Michael’s one bedroom apartment, a small, frightened, eight-year-old girl. The probation officer knew instantly that the child was in imminent danger. 

Michael’s deviant behavior ended the day his probation officer found the child in his home and, ultimately, when the Judge sentenced him to eighteen to fifty-four years in prison for molesting the eight-year-old and two other children; this was in addition to the ten years he received when his probation was subsequently revoked. 

It did not take long for SOU to conclude that sex offenders presented unique challenges that demanded more from those of us responsible for managing them in the criminal justice system and in the community. Over the past decade the Sex Offender Unit has been directly involved in many cases that highlight the need for a specialized supervision program.

The program has become one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive in the country. 

The Sex Offender Unit is a special program of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA).  CSOSA is an independent executive branch agency of the federal government responsible for the supervision of nearly 16,000 offenders on probation, parole and supervised release, sentenced in D.C.  Superior Court or transferred to D.C. from other jurisdictions. 

Approximately 700 of CSOSA’s offender population are considered to be sex offenders.

Defining Sex Offenders

The Sex Offender Unit generally defines a sex offender as anyone who has been convicted of a crime that is sexual in nature.  This means that SOU seeks to supervise the behavior as opposed to the conviction. 

Under this definition it occurs with some frequency that offenders being supervised by SOU may be serving a sentence for a non-sex related offense, such as Simple Assault or Burglary, but elements of the crime suggest that it was sexually motivated. 

An example of such a case would be an offender who breaks into a home and is found to be standing over a victim in bed masturbating.  This definition is also designed to identify for assignment to Sex Offender Unit the offenders who may have incurred a sexually motivated conviction in the past but may not currently be on supervision for a sex offense.  For example, a case in which an offender is on probation for Driving Under the Influence, but was convicted of Rape ten years earlier. 

SOU’s rationale for including offenders who are on supervision for an offense other than one that is by statute a sex offense is to ensure that:

  • offenders with potential issues of sexual deviancy are being monitored appropriately;
  • offenders with potential issues of sexual deviancy receive appropriate evaluation and therapy if needed.

 Approximately 40% of SOU’s current offender population is on supervision for an offense that is not one of sexual abuse by statute. 

 Sex offenders on community supervision represent a small fraction of the offenders who commit sex offenses. Many crimes of sexual abuse are never reported to law enforcement.  Even fewer of the crimes result in an arrest or conviction.  Issues that impact this often include, but are not exclusive to: 

  • The victim is influenced by the offender, family or other external factors to recant;
  • The victim decides not to cooperate out of fear of embarrassment or physical harm;
  • The victim or other critical witnesses are not available for court proceedings;
  • A lack of corroborative evidence (i.e., witness or forensic evidence);
  • The victim is too emotionally fragile or mentally ill to endure a trial;
  • The victim is too young or impaired to describe the crime to a jury or judge;
  • The crime was reported years after it happened therefore evidence is lost or the statute of limitations has expired; 
  • The prosecutor determines that the evidence otherwise is not sufficient to win a conviction. 

 Likely to Have Committed Other Crimes

 One of the unique aspects of crimes involving sexual abuse is that they tend to be very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  Sex offenses often are committed in secret; the offender is usually someone known and trusted by the victim, victim’s family and community.

The Sex Offender Unit is aware that many of the sex offenders placed on supervision are likely to have committed other sex offenses for which they were never held accountable.  SOU is also imminently concerned that convicted sex offenders have the potential to commit new sex offenses while on supervision (or beyond) that may go undetected. 

We understand that there are sex offenders who are not likely to commit new sex offenses and, therefore, require minimal services and monitoring.  In fact, over-supervising a low risk sex offender can potentially increase their risk to reoffend.

The bottom-line is what’s in the best interest of community safety.  For example: in D.C.  a misdemeanor sex offense allows for a maximum incarceration period of 180 days, whereas the maximum period of community supervision could be up to five years.

Provisions in the sentencing guidelines also allow for registered sex offenders to be placed on ‘supervised release’ for periods from 10 years to life depending on their registration classification.  Community supervision can offer the community a better option for long term monitoring and intervention in many cases than incarceration alone.

Close supervision/accountability

To maintain a successful sex offender management program there must be a comprehensive effort to monitor the offenders and hold them accountable for their behavior.  The Sex Offender Unit achieves this through a myriad of techniques designed to minimize a sex offender’s opportunity to offend.

Close supervision and accountability is predicated on the ability of SOU to take swift and meaningful action once the risky behavior becomes evident.  CSOSA uses a system of graduated intermediate sanctions in order to maintain community safety while fostering successful supervision completion.  The Sex Offender Unit incorporates these sanctions into the Containment Model. 

The following are some of the mechanisms SOU uses to address a variety of compliance issues that arise:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring;
  • Search and Seizure;
  • Reentry and Sanctions Center (RSC);
  • Polygraph testing;
  • Offender surveillance;
  • Drug treatment;
  • Joint CSOSA/Police accountability tours;
  • Interagency crime initiatives; and
  • Computer searches/monitoring.

None of these mechanisms to address offender behavior existed a decade ago.  The introduction of these countermeasures has allowed SOU to reduce revocations by at least 30%.  Furthermore, they provide the means to prevent crime and hold offender’s accountable for behavior that may have otherwise gone undetected in the past. For example, the SOU has:

  • helped police solve a number of crimes by correlating crime scene data to offender GPS tracking data,
  • uncovered evidence of crimes and violations of release conditions through search and seizures of offenders’ property,
  • used the polygraph to help reveal the existence of victims not previously known,
  • found child pornography on the computers of sex offenders that has lead to criminal convictions and revocations, and
  • used evidence provided by our law enforcement partners in order to establish violations of supervision conditions that have lead to revocations.

 Support services and treatment

 The primary treatment intervention strategy revolves around the sex offender treatment program.  SOU invests nearly 1.2 million dollars a year into providing sex offender evaluation and treatment services.  All sex offenders assigned to the SOU undergo a comprehensive psychosexual evaluation.  This evaluation is critical in assisting us with assessing offender risk to commit another sex offense and identifying supplemental needs. Sex offender treatment is conducted by an outside vendor hired for their qualifications and expertise in this field.  Sex offender treatment is marked by the following characteristics:

  • Victim/community safety;
  • Targets accountability and thinking errors;
  • Primarily delivered in a group setting;
  • Often mandated;
  • Waivers of confidentiality;
  • Provider is part of the  management team;
  • Specialized training/experience is essential.

A sex offender typically will be engaged in sex offender treatment from 18-24 months.  This is followed by an indefinite period of aftercare.

CSOSA also created the Re-entry and Sanctions Center (RSC) which is designed to be a 28-day residential assessment facility.  The RSC is a facility where offenders can report directly from prison for a comprehensive assessment of needs.  Or, it is used as a constructive means of sanctioning offenders exhibiting acute drug abuse issues where removal form the community is needed while avoiding revocation and incarceration.   Programs to address anger, domestic violence, substance abuse, employment, and housing, among others are offered as well.  In short, CSOSA has demonstrated its commitment to providing opportunities for its offender population to make positive changes.


There is value in developing and maintaining strong partnerships with other stakeholders.  Successful outcomes in sex offender management can not occur without all stakeholders coming together around a common goal: of public safety. Existing partnerships include the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, D.C. Superior Court, the F.B.I. Innocent Images Unit, Metro Transit Police, Prince George’s County Sex Offender Registry, Montgomery County Sex Offender Registry, State of Virginia Sex Offender Registry, D.C. Rape Crisis Center, D.C. Housing Authority, D.C. Child and Protective Services, the D.C. Victims Advocacy Center, U.S. Probation, U.S. District Court for D.C., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (NOVAICAC) and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. 


Over the past decade CSOSA’s Sex Offender Unit has come a long way toward achieving the right balance between enhancing community safety and offender rehabilitation.  SOU consistently maintains one of the highest success rate among the CSOSA offender population; less than one percent of the sex offenders we supervise have been arrested or convicted for new sex offenses.  In the rare instances where new sex offenses were committed by those we supervise, we and our interagency partners have worked closely to see that there was justice for the victims.

If Michael was on supervision with SOU today we believe the likelihood that his sexually deviant behavior would have been prevented or detected much sooner.  It is impossible to predict how Michael’s case may have turned out if he were subjected to the program requirements we have in place today.  The Sex Offender Unit is certain that he would have found it substantially more difficult to hide his behavior between polygraphs, accountability tours with police, GPS monitoring, computer searches, intensive therapy and the investigative eye of a well-trained community supervision officer. 


  • CSOSA invests nearly one million dollars on sex offender treatment services per year;
  • SOU supervises nearly 700 sex offenders ;
  • Average SOU caseload size is 25:1;
  • Approximately 25% of sex offenders actively under supervision are on GPS monitoring at a given time;
  • All sex offenders submit to polygraph exams.

United States v. John Anthony:

In 2007, the offender was given a polygraph exam.  The polygrapher determined that the results were inconclusive. After further questioning, the offender admitted to his Community Supervision Officer (CSO) that he had viewed pornography.  His CSO determined that a search of the computer was needed.  Consent was obtained to allow officers to conduct a “scan” of the computer in question using special software. 

The scan revealed one image of a nude male, some MySpace activity, and password protected files. Officers asked the owner of the computer if she would allow them to take the computer back to the office in order to conduct a more extensive examination of the computer since the software they were using is not powerful enough to view protected files.  She refused. 

SOU consulted with the US Attorney’s Office who agreed to assist by securing a search warrant in order to seize the computer and conduct a forensic examination with more powerful software. 

Child pornography was found on the computer in question.

Anthony entered his guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before The Honorable Ellen S. Huvelle.  Anthony was subject to enhanced penalties because some of the images of child pornography he possessed involved prepubescent minors or minors who had not attained the age of 12 years, and some of the images and videos he possessed portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.  Most of the evidence was pornographic videos depicting graphic sexual acts by young boys.  The evidence was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which was able to verify that at least 4 of the images were known (previously identified) children.  The offender was sentenced in US District Court to 121 months in prison to run concurrent to his other sentence.  His probation was subsequently revoked.