Archives for June 2007

Faith Based Programs

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[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes. Today’s guest is Cedric Hendricks, Associate Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency addressing faith-based programs. Cedric, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Cedric Hendricks: Thank you, Leonard.

Leonard Sipes: What are faith-based programs as we employ them within the Washington D.C. area, Cedric?

Cedric Hendricks: At the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency we’ve developed a partnership with the faith community that has enable us to access both mentors and resources that we can use to meet the needs of our client population.

Leonard Sipes: And one of the exciting things about this is that we’re getting churches, mosques, synagogues-all sorts of faith-based organizations involved in terms of helping people as they return from the prison system, correct?

Cedric Hendricks: Well certainly that’s correct because the people that come back to us are of all faiths and certainly it is important to have multi-denominational representation and it’s been great that we’ve been successful in achieving that.

Leonard Sipes: When we’re helping these individuals coming out of the prison system and the various volunteers through these faith-based organizations as they help them, what specifically do they do?

Cedric Hendricks: First and foremost they’ve been involved in mentoring men and women who return home from prison. And mentors are essentially coaches, aides, supports, resource persons, friends; they have been for a few years meeting consistently with men and women coming home. And we found that mentoring is a help-doesn’t work in all cases, but the thing first and foremost that the mentees say is that having someone in their corner gives them hope that they never had before.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s the discussion that I’ve had with individuals who have been through the faith-based program, they credit it in many ways with helping them adjust to the difficulties. We all acknowledge that there are a myriad of difficulties when you come out of the prison system-having somebody in your corner to meet with you, to show you how to fill out an application, to help you go through the trials and tribulations, or just having somebody to talk to seem to be of immense help for many of these individuals.

Cedric Hendricks: The major challenges that I see confronting many women coming home involve housing, healthcare, education, employment, and then family reunification. And while mentors can’t help with all of those needs, it’s often the case that they can. We’ve seen examples where mentors have helped a mentee obtain furniture to furnish an apartment. We’ve seen mentors use their connections to help a mentee obtain employment. We’ve seen a lot of examples of how commitment and innovation can assist a person when they’re in dire straits, and the kind of assistance can move our clients past the point of deterioration and move them toward achieving stability.

Leonard Sipes: One of the things we have to acknowledge is first of all the faith-based community within the District of Columbia was doing this before we came along. But one of the things that we’ve discovered is that in many instances there are an array of resources that they have. And whether it be housing, whether it be healthcare, whether it be childcare, whether it be helping them find clothes for a job interview, whether it be providing drug treatment, or in some cases providing housing. A lot of the faith-based organizations-the church and the mosques in the District of Columbia, they have resources and we’re discovering those resources and taking advantage of those resources.

Cedric Hendricks: Well that is certainly the case. I think they would refer to them as their ministries. And certainly we have found over the years faith organizations that have conducted prison ministries or jail ministries have maintained a cash of clothing to provide to the needy-have programs to feed the hungry, and we’ve certainly been able to tap into those rich resources.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes this version of D.C. Public Safety, the radio version. For additional information on the faith-based program within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, go to Thank you and have a great day.

[Audio Ends]

Information about crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.


Domestic Violence Unit

This Radio Program is available at

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Nevile Campbell-Adams, he is a Community Supervision Officer with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency in general supervision. Nevile, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Good morning.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, you’re with the Domestic Violence Unit, correct?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And just tell me a little bit about the Domestic Violence Unit.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: In the Domestic Violence Unit, we supervise civil protection order cases, deferred sentence agreements as well as probation and supervise release cases. The nature of charges that we supervise were simple assault, domestic, destruction of property, intimidation, attempted threats-charges of those sorts.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. I started my career in the Maryland State Police and I never saw my parents touch each other-they took their arguments behind closed doors. One of the hardest things I had to do when I was a cadet was to go out and to deal with domestic violence. Because we’re not talking about pushing, we’re not talking about shoving-I think my first domestic violence case was a man-they were living in a trailer together-a man taking a frying pan to his significant other’s head. And when we got there she was-her head was about twice its size, and that was shocking to me. I mean, when we’re talking about domestic violence, we’re talking about some fairly serious stuff, correct?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct. The majority of the times, one would associate domestic violence with physical abuse, but that’s not always the case. There’s emotional abuse that far outweighs the physical abuse that one can impose on another.

Leonard Sipes: That’s an important point.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Yes because emotional scars last longer than the physical scars. And for a minute, let me regress and explain the different type of cases-the civil protection order cases, those are a case where one civilian can file a case against another civilian and the judge will determine whether or not the protection order will be issued. Various conditions can be imposed such attending parenting class or domestic violence class, anger management, substance abuse counseling-those are cases strictly where one civilian files a case against another one.

Leonard Sipes: Is this what we ordinarily refer to as a stay-away order?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Yes, and some people refer to them as peace orders in other jurisdictions.

Leonard Sipes: Peace orders, okay. Most of the offenders that we supervise are parents.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And so if you’re involved in an issue of domestic violence, in many cases, it involves the kids and emotional scars. The overwhelming majority of the offenders are males?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct, but surprisingly, the number of female offenders is starting to increase.

Leonard Sipes: Really? Now is there a sense as to why that is?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: We haven’t exactly pinpointed the reason for that trend, but it’s surprising.

Leonard Sipes: Let’s get back to the kids when there are acts of domestic violence. When I was a police officer and going into the homes of various people, the great majority of the cases, it would be a male physically attacking a female. But inevitably, there would be kids in the background witnessing this, and I can not imagine a more difficult situation of kids growing up in a household where there is domestic violence because that’s gotta influence them psychologically for the rest of their lives.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Exactly, domestic violence is a learned behavior. When you expose children to those types of tactics, they think it’s the norm, so when they grow up, that’s how they handle conflicts with their intimate partners.

Leonard Sipes: And just the idea of mommy beating up daddy or daddy beating up mommy, I mean, just witnessing that is sort of a violation to the whole concept of what it is to be a child growing up in a supposedly secured household.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Yeah, it’s unfortunate for the children to grow up in those types of environments, and surprisingly, I had the experience of also working with-prior to my assignment to the Domestic Violence Unit, I worked in the Child Abuse and Neglect Unit. And it was a spin-off where you saw the abuse with the children; you also saw that there was abuse with the parents or intimate partners in the household.

Leonard Sipes: Let’s get back to the unit itself. We have stringent supervision and we do provide services, which is the hallmark of what we do here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We have low caseloads-you see your offenders a lot and that if warranted, you put them through programs for them to try to come to grips with their history of domestic violence, right?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: And tell me about these programs.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: These programs that we offer for the offenders in the Domestic Violence Unit assist them in changing their way that they handle volatile situations. If we incorporate change in their activity on how they want to handle situations, and show them that there’s a better alternative to violence. A lot of these offenders wouldn’t come into contact with the system.

Leonard Sipes: And a lot of offenders that I’ve dealt with throughout the years are sort of surprised when you tell them that absolutely positively you can not strike your wife, you can not strike your husband.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct. A lot of them aren’t cognizant that the District of Columbia has a mandatory arrest law.

Leonard Sipes: So that means if both people are involved in the altercation, both people are arrested.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct, one or both.

Leonard Sipes: And so you could have a husband and wife, two people being in the domestic violence caseload at the same time?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: And how does that ordinarily work ?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Sometimes it works out-if one of the partners is receiving services, they can incorporate what they’ve learned from the program and take it back into the household and assist their partner in seeing that there’s alternative ways how they can address the conflicts.

Leonard Sipes: Do you think that that combination of strict supervision as well as providing them with these multi-week domestic violence cases, do you think it helps?

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Yes, for the majority of the offenders that attend the programs, they indicate that at first they’re initially hesitant about going to the program, but after they attend the program regularly, the majority of them indicate that they really like the program and they express how it has helped them.

Leonard Sipes: Be better parents and be better partners and be better wives and husbands.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Right.

Leonard Sipes: And not to resort to violence, that’s the interesting thing.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Exactly.

Leonard Sipes: And to deal with your conflicts in a separate way. Nevile, thank you for being at our microphones today.

Nevile Campbell-Adams: Thanks for having me.

[Audio Ends]

Information about crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.


Domestic Violence Unit #2

This Radio Program is available at

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Alexander Portillo, he is with the Domestic Violence Unit, he is a Community Supervision Officer. And Alexander, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Alexander Portillo: Thank you, Mr. Sipes.

Leonard Sipes: Now, you’re with the Domestic Violence Unit-and we should set up the Domestic Violence a little bit, and then I want to go on to some unique aspects because some of the other radio shows we’ve done covered the Domestic Violence Unit. But in essence, you have a fairly small caseload, and what we do is we strictly supervise people who are on that caseload. But at the same time, we provide them with services-counseling, so that they understand that what they’ve done is wrong, and help them from reoffending in the future.

Alexander Portillo: Yes. Well I work for the Domestic Violence Intervention program. What that entails is a psycho educational program that teaches offenders that there’s other ways other than violence to react to certain situations. And what we do is teach them different healthy alternatives to help them to deal with those situations in familiar relationships.

Leonard Sipes: In many ways throughout criminology and the criminal justice system there’s a bit of a buzzword, it’s cognitive rearrangement, if you will, of their thinking patterns. What we have done in the last four or five years throughout the country to really focusing on the thinking process-the decision-making process. Now to the listener, they may find that absurd because we’ve all been taught one way or another in terms of making the right decisions and thinking through a process. But many of our offenders simply do not, correct?

Alexander Portillo: Right. What we try to do is teach them different things. Violence is not the solution to everything. We teach them that you can walk away from certain situations and then you can handle situations in a healthy way, that way you don’t get yourself caught up in trouble.

Leonard Sipes: But a lot of the people on the domestic violence caseload, which is mostly male, solve their problems by physically striking out.

Alexander Portillo: They do, and not just physically, but emotionally, verbal-I mean, they can be prosecuted for threats in the District of Columbia.

Leonard Sipes: Sure. But you get that person in the treatment process and what happens?

Alexander Portillo: What happens at first is a lot of people are very resistant to the change process because people don’t want to change because this is the way they’ve been all their lives. So what we do is educate them; maybe they can think a different way, therefore they don’t get involved in violence again and they’re not before the court one more time.

Leonard Sipes: If you have a history-if you have a lifelong history-and a lot of the attitudes that we have in terms of beating up on our spouses didn’t happen yesterday, it didn’t happen last year-I mean, we’re talking about from birth in some cases, you’re brought up to believe that if the woman gets out of line, you can smack her. In some cases there are women who are brought up to believe that if the male gets out of line you can smack them. Changing lifelong beliefs is not the easiest thing to do.

Alexander Portillo: Right. Correct. I mean, it’s a belief system that they’ve had all their lives, but what we try to do is challenge them and their belief system to get them to think a different way.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, and thinking a different way how?

Alexander Portillo: In a healthy way.

Leonard Sipes: It’s a tough question, it’s really is a tough question. If you were brought up to believe that by a slap or by physical intimidation solves the problem, how do you get the person to look beyond that in teaching him or her the skills that they won’t rely upon physical violence or intimidation?

Alexander Portillo: Okay, well what we do is make them realize that that’s not healthy, that there are different options that can be taken for you to have a healthy way to handle your relationship.

Leonard Sipes: Right. Okay, and what are some of those healthy ways?

Alexander Portillo: The healthy way is taking a time-out and thinking about things what we call is a red flag. And what that red flag is anything that gets you upset-able to recognize before you become violent.

Leonard Sipes: Walk away from the situation.

Alexander Portillo: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Get out of the house and go for a walk around the block.

Alexander Portillo: Yes, and maybe take deep breaths. What we recommend is to walk away for an hour and then come back and possibly call to make sure that the person wants to talk.

Leonard Sipes: Right, but I mean, that’s tough to do. It’s tough to retrain a person in terms of doing it that way when they’ve done it a different way throughout their lives.

Alexander Portillo: Right. I mean, we’re not saying that everyone is receptive, but what we try to do is just put the information out there to educate them-it’s up to them if they want to be receptive of that information.

Leonard Sipes: Do you think it works? Do you think there are people who take a look at their own lives and say ‘I don’t want to continue using physical violence because all it’s doing is destroying my marriage, all it’s doing is upsetting the kids.’ Do they come to that realization?

Alexander Portillo: Yeah a lot of them do. At first a lot of them are very resistant to the process because it’s just their belief system, this is how they’ve been their whole lives. But during the process we’ve seen that there is change in not everyone, but a lot of people do change. They change the way they see everything and how not to use violence in their relationship.

Leonard Sipes: Right. And one of the things that we were talking about before we began the program was the sense of dealing with victims.

Alexander Portillo: Yes. I mean, we are very much involved also with the victims. I’m a victim advocate. We have to keep in contact with the victim to make sure that they are safe.

Leonard Sipes: And we work with them a lot in terms of making sure that they are safe, correct?

Alexander Portillo: Yes. We provide them with information and we have a victim services coordinator for the agency which helps a lot.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Alexander, thanks for being with us at our microphones today.

Alexander Portillo: Thank you.

[Audio Ends]

Information about crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.


Domestic Violence Unit #3

This Radio Program is available at

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Yanira Sanabriad, she is with the Domestic Violence Unit of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And Yanira, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Yanira Sanabriad: Thank you, Mr. Sipes.

Leonard Sipes: Now you deal with domestic violence, correct?

Yanira Sanabriad: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And how long have you been with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency?

Yanira Sanabriad: For three years.

Leonard Sipes: For three years. And you got involved in domestic violence because you were placed there, because you wanted to go there?

Yanira Sanabriad: Actually when I came to the agency, I was placed general supervision.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: And later on someone wanted to transfer form the domestic violence intervention program into the general supervision, so we swapped. And that’s how I ended up in the unit.

Leonard Sipes: So this is something you wanted to do, right?

Yanira Sanabriad: Yes. Actually my major is psychology and I wanted to put my training to good use.

Leonard Sipes: I did a show a little while ago on the Domestic Violence Unit and I said that as a police officer I was shocked because I never saw my parents hit each other. They would go behind closed doors and argue, but I never saw them hit each other. And when I was a young police officer, actually I was a cadet with the Maryland State Police, and we were doing a ride-along and we went to this home where a man was beating up his wife with a frying pan. And I was just appalled, it’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. So domestic violence really struck me as being an everyday part of the criminal justice system more prevalent than you would think-then the average person would think, correct?

Yanira Sanabriad: Correct, and I think it happens as we are speaking or there is a domestic violence happening now. The only that the issue-it’s not known until it’s brought to the court system.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: And it’s unfortunately for the victims that they live this type of life-suffering at hands of batterers.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: When they come to the system it is hard for them to recognize that they have a problem with their behavior.

Leonard Sipes: Because a lot of males think that they have a perfect right to hit females. Now I’m not discounting the fact that there are women who do battering, but the vast majority of the batterers are male.

Yanira Sanabriad: That is correct. Statistics show that there are more females hurt than males.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: And not to diminish that females do batter.

Leonard Sipes: Because they do.

Yanira Sanabriad: They do. But as men, they keep their pride and they will not call the police and report the abuse. But I think it statistically shows that females are the ones that suffer more in regards of this issue. It’s very unfortunately because we are seeing that the family-the kids and the females suffer a lot.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s a very important point because the overwhelming majority of the offenders that we have are parents and their kids are in that background or there and they see the battering take place, and psychologically that’s difficult.

Yanira Sanabriad: That is correct. And unfortunately, some men will use that power and control as we call it, to utilize the children as a means to stay and beat the woman in the house. It is unfortunately once they come to the system, the family gets separated and they try to manipulate to return to the relationship.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: But again to manifest the same behavior. And they’re doing a lot of harm to the child. I can relate a story that I have.

Leonard Sipes: Please.

Yanira Sanabriad: I was 15 at that age when I saw someone doing domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: And it’s been probably 16 years and at that time I told the parents not to fight in front of the children and they kept fighting and that’s what they did.

Leonard Sipes: Now was this part of you job as community supervision-this is before-this is when you were younger?

Yanira Sanabriad: No, this is a younger age.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, fine.

Yanira Sanabriad: It’s to relate the impact of domestic violence in children and in the family.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: The latest notice that I have on this family is that the children basically-they’re still together, they say, ‘we are going to save the marriage for the sake of the children.’

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: It ended up that the children have not finished high school.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: So to say-it’s a great impact that domestic violence has in the family. And sometimes the culture, especially there’s some cultures that will blame the children if they commit the same mistake as the parents.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: So I think domestic violence is an issue that people have to be conscientious about it and be educated. Right now we provide treatment to the offender population here in the District. We have a Spanish program for the Latino community in the District.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Yanira Sanabriad: So that is another realm of people that we serve.

Leonard Sipes: And I think you’re correct in terms of the impact on the kids because one of the things that always amazes me is the long-lasting impact, not just on the female or male victim-and again, the overwhelming majority of the times they are female victims, but it’s the kids. Often times what we call domestic violence, we’re not just talking about being slapped once, and we’re also talking about emotional intimidation, I guess almost being imprisoned within your own home.

Yanira Sanabriad: Right.

Leonard Sipes: But the kids see this on a day in day out basis and it has a profoundly negative impact on them and their potential to grow up as healthy complete human beings.

Yanira Sanabriad: It certainly does. We can see that the child will start to develop the same pattern as the parents once they-they date probably the same type of men that the mother was in the relationship, so it has a great impact in the life of that child. So I think there is more work to educate the community about the domestic violence and what it is.

Leonard Sipes: And hopefully we’re doing that just now talking about the complete picture when we say domestic violence, it is far more comprehensive and far more difficult than most people think.

Yanira Sanabriad: Right, it’s the physical abuse, but also there is the psychological abuse, the verbal abuse that it entails, so it is a very complex issue and some people diminish the impact on the child but this is a family affair, as we can say.

Leonard Sipes: Yanira, thank you for being with us today.

Yanira Sanabriad: Thank you, Mr. Sipes.

[Audio Ends]

Information about crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.


An Interview with CSOSA Director Paul Quander

This Radio Program is available at

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Paul Quander. Paul is the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And Paul, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Paul Quander: Thank you, thank you very much, Len.

Leonard Sipes: Paul, you run the parole and probation agency for the District of Columbia, but we are a federal agency. You were appointed by the president, we are an executive branch agency. It’s so easy to say you run parole and probation but we’re so much more than that in terms of high technology, some of the best information systems going, some of the lowest caseloads in the country, drug treatment, mental health treatment-there’s an array of things, for a lack of a better word, that you have within your agency that most parole and probation agencies don’t have.

Paul Quander: Well Len, let me first start by saying I am the director of the agency-I am one of many individuals who are dedicated to performing public safety here in the community for men and women who are involved in the criminal justice system. And you are correct, we are a relatively new executive level agency, a part of the federal government, and we’re an independent federal agency which means that we have the ability to be creative, to try new approaches, to implement research-based practices and we’ve done that. So we have some of the better and more of the state-of-the-art programming and opportunities that we can offer to the men and women we encounter. As a result of that, we’re able to provide services for the men and women of the District of Columbia because we’re making the city safer and the streets safer as well.

Leonard Sipes: All right, so we’re responsible probation, we’re responsible for people coming out of prison.

Paul Quander: That is correct. Whether they are coming out of prison, if they’re on parole, or if they’re under supervised release, if they’re under probation, we have responsibility for them. So anyone who has been convicted of a crime in the superior court of the District of Columbia and either incarcerated or placed straight on probation or the first sentence or a civil protection order, we have responsibility for their supervision and for their reintegration back into our society, and to help them with some of those skill sets that may be deficient. Because as we help individuals with their own individual skill sets whether it’s in education, employment, substance abuse, mental health issues-the more we help them, the more we help our community as a whole and the safer our community becomes.

Leonard Sipes: Right. But especially we are two-fold operation, we have very strict supervision. We have strict accountability for the offender population from the standpoint of very low caseloads compared to national averages and from the amount of drug testing we do and from our partnerships we have with the Metropolitan Police Department-the fact that our people ride together with folks within the Metropolitan Police Department and go visit offenders’ homes. It’s accountability plus services. And we have probably more services than the vast majority of parole and probation agencies in this country.

Paul Quander: We’re very fortunate in that we do have a number of services, and we’re very fortunate in that accountability is a mainstay of what it is that we do. And in order to get the accountability to where we wanted it, we had to reduce the caseload. When we initially started this agency, the individual caseload for the parole and probation officers, we call them here in the District of Columbia community supervision officers with the emphasis on community supervision-is that it was in excess of 100 to one. In our General Supervision Units it’s down to 50 to one. And in some of our specialized units, it ranges from 25 to 35 to one. That allows us to spend more time with individual offenders, it allows us to get to know them better, it allows us to monitor and find out what the needs are, and it allows us to be more vigilant so that we can identify problems early on and in many instances we can correct them or take action to prevent a person from going or falling completely down that slippery slope.

Leonard Sipes: Well let’s talk about some of those special services because they are extraordinary. Now we do have many articles that are on our website: that address the individual operations, and stop me whenever you want to address a particular one, we have a mental health caseload, we have a high risk offender caseload in terms of substance abuse. Go ahead.

Paul Quander: That’s right. A lot of people don’t understand or don’t realize is that a number of the individuals involved in the criminal justice system have mental health issues. Some of them are not diagnosed, but you get this outward and acting out type of behavior. So what we’ve done is we have divided and strategically positioned ourselves by assigning individuals to specific caseloads. So we have a mental health team where we have CSOs, community supervision officers, who have an interest and who have received special training in the area of mental health supervision-it’s connected to the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health, and so we can provide services. And there’s some special techniques and there’s a special patience that you have to have when you’re dealing with individuals who have some of the mental health issues. But a large percentage of the individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system have mental issues. A lot of them have been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. We’re getting it to them and so as a result we are able to put into place a structure, we get them treatment, and we are able to hopefully manage and move them along with their mental health issues as well as dealing with the criminal justice. And what we have found out is if we can deal with the mental health issues and if a person needs medication-making sure they get the medication, making sure that they’re placed into the support network that is already available in the District of Columbia, that person stands a much greater chance of successfully completing his or her supervision, and that’s what everyone in the community wants.

Leonard Sipes: Recent Department of Justice research suggests that over 50% have a history of mental health problems, not a diagnosable mental health condition, but having a history of mental health problems, and the figure is much higher for female offenders.

Paul Quander: Absolutely. And when you have higher caseloads, you don’t have time sometimes to go into that. But because we’re in a position where our caseloads are manageable, they’re not ideal, but they are manageable, we can go into it. And we have a state-of-the-art tool-we have a screening tool, we call it our auto-screener which allows us to assess an individual’s needs, assess their likelihood of future criminal activities, and also will give us a prescriptive plan for what that individual needs, what services that individual needs so that we not only know what the risks are, we know what that individual’s needs are.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s a good segway in terms of technology because along with the auto-screener we have SMART which is the department’s overall tracking system which again is state-of-the-art, it’s shared with all members of the criminal justice community, it allows us to seamlessly move information-all information from one community supervision officer to another or to work with MPD in terms of their requests for information-you have a state-of-the-art information system.

Paul Quander: It is and it allows us to I think become very efficient. And let me give you an example, I mentioned some of the teams that we have and there’s a mental health team, there’s a heightened substance abuse team, there’s a sex offense team, there are general supervision teams, there’s a traffic and alcohol prevention team, and from time to time you may have team members who will assist an individual in speaking to or helping on an individual caseload. There have been occasions where our officers had been our on the street doing accountability tours, going and visiting the offenders in their homes, seeing if-

Leonard Sipes: With the police department?

Paul Quander: With the police department. And for example, I may have someone on my caseload and I’m going to see that person, but I happen to see someone on your caseload. With our technology and with our SMART system and with the mobile capability that we have, our officers are out there with their mobile laptop computers, they can actually pull up the individual’s caseload, they can go into it and find out when that individual offender was in the office, when his next appointment was.

Leonard Sipes: Can they pull the pre-sentence investigation report?

Paul Quander: They can pull all that information right up right there on the street. So it allows us to be in the community, it allows us to have access to all the relevant information at anyone’s fingertips-it just allows us to be efficient and in doing that we can provide the services that help not only the offenders, but helps the District of Columbia and Public Safety.

Leonard Sipes: Well that’s one of the things that you mentioned before, Paul, in terms of the term community supervision officer. To be a community supervision officer, the concept of naming parole and probation officers or agents that– to give them that moniker– establishes the sense that they need to be out in the community, out with the offender, where he’s employed, in his home, with Metropolitan Police Department, with treatment providers, to get him out of the office and into the community.

Paul Quander: Absolutely. When this agency was created, one of the mainstays was that we needed to practice what we preached. If we were going to be about community, we needed to divest ourselves from a centralized location. Prior to the offices coming into existence as CSOSA, probation and parole basically were located downtown in the center of the city.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Paul Quander: But what we decided to do is if we’re going to be effective and if we want to have the impact of the community and if we want the community to assist us, and to know what we’re doing, we needed to be out there. So we have six field sites located throughout the District of Columbia in northwest, in northeast, in southeast, across the district so that we can be present where not only our offenders, but where the larger community is.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Paul Quander: We changed the name so that it’s not just a parole or probation supervision, it’s about community supervision. We want to do thing in concert with the community because we don’t live in a vacuum and we don’t want to supervise in a vacuum. We want to supervise our offenders in concert with what the community wants. What are the community standards? What is the community asking from us? And we want to be responsive to our community.

Leonard Sipes: And we have five full-time individuals. Now this is beyond the fact that you and other senior staff are constantly out there talking to the community organizations and talking to the neighborhood groups, but we have five full-time people who’s jobs are to go to every meeting in the District of Columbia that has crime as a theme-where public safety is a theme.

Paul Quander: Absolutely. We have community relation specialists who are out there in the community who even more so than the community supervision officers, and these are individuals who are representing this agency to not only talk about what it is that we do, but to find out from the community what we could be doing more of.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Paul Quander: And so we want to be a full partner with the community. So we want to know all the nuances-we want to know what’s working, what’s not working. We want to know how we can partner better with the Metropolitan Police Department, how we can partner better with religious organizations, how can we partner better with community organizations-because in this country politics and resources start at the lowest level.

Leonard Sipes: Sure.

Paul Quander: We want to know what’s going on in the communities, in the ANCs, in the wards, and the only way for us to do that is to be an active member-to go out and to talk and to be visible so the people know who we are so that we can be responsive.

Leonard Sipes: And that segway is very nicely in terms of our faith-based effort, we have about 40 churches, mosques, synagogues, throughout the city participating. We have hundreds of volunteers who work with individuals as they’re coming out of the prison system-that’s a pretty impressive record. In fact, we seem to have hit a spike recently in terms of interest-in terms of church groups coming on bringing on new members, so the faith-based outreach-again, which is part of our overall community outreach, seems to be continuing and seems to be prospering.

Paul Quander: Absolutely. The churches and the religious organizations have just been fantastic. We wanted to reach out to the community and we decided that we should go with what’s already out there-and what’s already been established are the churches. There are churches that have been doing this work for years and years. There are churches that have prison ministries, clothing ministries, education ministries, job enhancement and job placement ministries-so what we did was we tapped into that resource that was already there. This community has a long history of tremendous involvement by the churches so we put a call out to the faith community and said, ‘come partner with us. We have men and women who are returning home from prison who need help, who need assistance, who need mentoring, who need a helping hand,’ and those churches and the members of the church not only talk the talk, but they’ve been walking the walk. They’ve actually come in given a person a hand in a systematic manner and that program has blossomed and it’s something that is really significant because it’s easy to talk about it, but these churches have really put their arms, their shoulders, their good heart, and their good work, and it’s paying tremendous dividends.

Leonard Sipes: I find that from time to time a mother will call, and in many cases they’re part of the Islamic religion and there is this one mosque, all you have to do is refer that mother-refer that particular person who’s under our supervision, and they immediately take care of them. So that really seems to be a quite a coalition-quite an impressive coalition.

Paul Quander: It is and-you know, we’re up, we’re operational, and it’s beginning to take on a life of it’s own. Because as I said, what we’ve done it just tapped into organizations-these faith-based organizations have always done this work, we just asked them to look at this population and to help us. And when we’ve done that they’ve agreed, they’ve opened their doors to the mosques, to the churches, and it has been fantastic. It also allows for us in the supervision business to have another set of eyes and ears and a heart that will help these men and women who need sometimes a different ear, who need a different shoulder, who need a different hand to push them or guide them along other than someone who may be considered just law enforcement. So when you have someone from the outside from that religious community whispering in the left ear, basically what has been whispered in the right to move forward-to leave that bad lifestyle away to reconnect with your family, that your children need you, that your parents were getting older and your grandparents-they need you out here. It gives people a reason to say, ‘no, I can’t go with you because I need to stay here.’ It gives people a reason to be pro-social in this environment.

Leonard Sipes: Now one of the things we need to talk about is the treatment program-the VOTEE units throughout the city-four locations throughout the city where individuals can go and get an assessment in terms of their education in terms of other jobs or the potential for jobs-we will find them jobs, we will work with D.C. government in terms of finding them opportunities.

Paul Quander: Well actually it’s even more than that. We have staff with our agency who are vocational development specialists. We have a learning lab in a number of our field sites where we actually provide educational services and general equivalency diploma – GED preparation and classes so that individuals who are on supervision don’t necessarily have to go to a District of Columbia facility, they can come in-house. And we thought that was important because we need to help the men and women who are under supervision reach a certain educational level so that they can avail themselves of some of the jobs that are out here. We can have all the jobs just waiting, but if we don’t have offenders who are prepared to accept those jobs and to excel in those jobs, then we’re missing a significant portion. So we are funded for that, we have vocational opportunities and training in education employment program that are up and operational. We have an educational program where we have learning laboratories in four of our facilities, and we work with men and women day in and day out. Again, if you’re going to compete in this society you have to have the basic education. And we need to get many of our men and women up to a certain level so that they can get those jobs and then compete for promotions later on down the line.

Leonard Sipes: And there’s Department of Justice researches says just that-it’s just not a matter of supervision, it has to be the combination of supervision and treatment services. I go back to the mental health caseload; does anybody really expect a person with a mental health issue to do well without treatment? So it’s just not about supervision, it’s just not about accountability, it’s gotta be the combination supervision and accountability and services.

Paul Quander: Right. One of the things that people often think is that you can just supervise, you can watch individuals like a hawk and that’s all you need to do. Unfortunately, our society has been very good at locking people up. But the issue is when you lock people up, they’re coming home.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Paul Quander: And when they come home, are they prepared to do anything differently that will keep them in the community?

Leonard Sipes: But that philosophy is also proved to be difficult. Again, Department of Justice research states that it increases recidivism. It doesn’t decrease recidivism, it increases recidivism.

Paul Quander: It increases recidivism, it is extremely costly and counterproductive to a society-I would much rather supervise an individual, provide that individual with the treatment that he or she needs, monitor, support, encourage, but at the same time I have to watch and make sure that there is no risk to public safety-that way, I am treating the entire person. And as a society, I think we are better served when we do that.

Leonard Sipes: We do satellite monitoring, GPS tracking, we do lie detector tests for sex offenders, we’ll follow them at night if necessary. So we have a very strong watching component. We have a very strong-probably one of the stronger accountability components in the country. But coupled with some of the best services in the country at the same time, and I think that’s what makes CSOSA unique.

Paul Quander: And I think that’s where we’re getting the best bang for the dollar. When you start the analysis, and if you start and stop the analysis just with accountability, then it’s not a complete project. You have to continue that analysis on. You need accountability, you need treatment, you need monitoring, you need to revisit, and then you will have a structure that I think gets you the best for the resources, and you get an individual who is more likely to participate in pro-social activities as opposed to tearing down our society.

Leonard Sipes: Paul, couple minutes left-anything from a philosophical sense? I think you just summed it up right there in terms of that combination of accountability and also at the same time, the provision of treatment. You just opened the Reentry and Sanction Center, which is amazing. I don’t know of a parole and probation entity in this country that has its own hospital wing devoted to drug assessment and drug treatment. They come out under extraordinarily tough supervision and at the same time continued treatment in the community or in continued in-house treatment-that’s an amazing component.

Paul Quander: Well let me talk about that just for a moment. What the research has shown in particular here in the District of Columbia of is that there are core group of about 30% offenders who are long-term criminals who have on average nine prior arrests, six prior convictions, a documented chronic history of substance abuse, and what happens is they’re arrested, they’re convicted, they go in, they come out, they are arrested, they’re convicted, they go in, they come out.

Leonard Sipes: Constantly.

Paul Quander: Constantly. And what we decided to do was to try to break that cycle. We know they have criminality issues. We know they have substance abuse issues. Why not take a look at what makes them tick-do a detailed assessment, figure out what’s going on in that individual. Why does he or she need to have this type of conduct in their lives? Once we get that assessment done, then we know what’s going on. Then we can identify an appropriate substance abuse treatment program because substance abuse drives many of the criminal acts that follow. So if we can assess then place an individual in a specifically designed treatment program for that individual, we will see a tremendous result. We’ve had this pilot up for a number of years.

Leonard Sipes: 35% reduction in arrests.

Paul Quander: The University of Maryland did a study of it, it is a quality program, it works, and we want it to replicate it and to build it out. So now once we’re fully operational and we started in February of this year, but as we continue to bring the program on, we will reach approximately 1200 individuals every year into the program. So it’s something that we’re very proud of.

Leonard Sipes: And it’s something I think that the entire country is going to take a look at. National Public Radio took a look at, CBS Evening News took a look at it-in fact, CSOSA is just not about what’s happening in the District of Columbia, CSOSA seems to be getting a lot of publicity throughout the country. Again, national news media, constantly being written up in national criminal justice publications-it seems to me that CSOSA is far more than just the District of Columbia that you’re setting sort of an example for what’s supposed to happen throughout the country.

Paul Quander: Well we have some advantages. We have some resources that Congress has given us, and many states who are dealing with some of the same issues that we are dealing with have not been as fortunate. They don’t have the resources that we have been provided. So what we try to do is we try to put into place programs that work. Once they’re established here then we share them with other agencies throughout the country. You spoke earlier about our information system the SMART system. That’s something that is in place that can be replicated throughout the country. We spoke earlier about our assessment tool, the auto-screener that is an assessment and a needs tool-that is available to members of our community throughout the country. So as we progress and as we are doing things and we’re getting the research that supports the success of these programs and initiatives, others throughout the country can use them as well and just piggyback on it and they can refine it and customize it to their particular jurisdictions, but the groundwork has been laid, they can cut and paste and get the programs up in their own jurisdiction, which is a wonderful thing for us.

Leonard Sipes: And you’ve been listening to Paul Quander, the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Our website is – Ladies and gentlemen, you’re listening to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Len Sipes. Have yourself a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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