Archives for August 2007

Supervising Domestic Violence Offenders

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[Video Begins]

Segment One

Leonard Sipes: Hi, welcome to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our show today focuses on domestic violence, and every one of us knows someone who has been a victim of this crime. The question is whether or not domestic violence offenders can be successfully supervised and treated? Can they end the cycle of interpersonal violence? To answer that question we have two individuals on our first segment; one currently under supervision by my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the person in charge of supervising domestic violence offenders. They are branch chief Valerie Collins and Dennis Smith. And to Valerie and to Dennis, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Dennis Smith: Thank you.

Valerie Collins: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: All right, Valerie, you’re the person in charge, you’ve been around for 20 years, you’re the true veteran-give me a sense of your Domestic Violence Unit in the District of Columbia; how many offenders do you supervise, and how many staff are supervising people?

Valerie Collins: Currently we have about 1200 offenders under supervision for domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, so that’s one thousand two hundred?

Valerie Collins: One thousand two hundred.

Leonard Sipes: That’s a lot of people.

Valerie Collins: It’s a lot of people.

Leonard Sipes: And how many staff do we have to do that?

Valerie Collins: And right now we have about 50 staff-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Valerie Collins: -who provide supervision and treatment services.

Leonard Sipes: Well that’s a big staff and that’s a lot of offenders to supervise, and you just hit the two key themes of this show, which is supervising domestic violence offenders and treating domestic violence offenders. Tell me a little bit about the treatment.

Valerie Collins: Well, our treatment component is a 22-week psychosocial educational program; we follow the Duluth model for domestic violence, which is the national model-

Leonard Sipes: And the Duluth-the national model, yes.

Valerie Collins: -in the country. And basically what we do is we provide our services for the offenders, they come in once a week for a 90-minute period, they come into a group setting and they learn about domestic violence. They learn to take responsibility for their behavior. And then the key component is getting some skill so that they will no longer engage in this behavior.

Leonard Sipes: Right. At the same time, we do supervise the dickens out of them, we drug test them, we hold them very accountable, and we’ll get to that in a second. Dennis, one of the things that I wanted to do with you, Valerie mentioned taking responsibility, and in conversations that we’ve had, one of the hallmarks of where you are right now in terms of being charged with this crime is just that, taking responsibility, correct?

Dennis Smith: That is correct.

Leonard Sipes: Tell me a little bit about what happened to you and how you got involved in all of this.

Dennis Smith: Well basically I had an ongoing cycle with my wife. She was my live-in girlfriend for quite a while and we had many reoccurrences in the city of Richmond where I was charged with domestic violence, and I was given mild jail terms, suspended sentences. Moved to D.C. and within a ten-year period, we had no occurrences of that, once we got married the cycle picked up again.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So the cycle of physical violence between intimate couples is not unusual. One of the things, and this question can go to either one of you, one of the things that I read in a Department of Justice document the other day was that one in 300 households experiences domestic violence. So as ride the train or the subway, or as we ride through the District or Virginia or Maryland, it’s easy to see thousands upon thousands of homes, which means we’re looking at hundreds of victims of domestic violence-this is not unusual. Valerie.

Valerie Collins: You’re absolutely correct, Mr. Sipes. Domestic violence cuts across all racial and socioeconomic lines, and so it’s not just a problem that you would say is in one particular neighborhood or you know, one particular city, but it is a national problem.

Leonard Sipes: Right. But Dennis, going back to you set of circumstances, all right, so you were charged before, you moved the District of Columbia, and you were charged again in the District of Columbia. Now what happened-the judge gave you what?

Dennis Smith: The judge gave me an imposed sentence of conditionary probation, meaning if I completed all the requirements of the program that the record would be expunged-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dennis Smith: -and that I would be turned released in good standing.

Leonard Sipes: Now you went through-when you came to the program, is this what you ordinarily got in the past, or was this a different experience?

Dennis Smith: This was a totally different experience. In the past I might have gotten seven days in jail, weekend incarceration, or what they call weekend support where I would do detail work for the Department of Transportation cleaning up roadsides.

Leonard Sipes: But nothing was there to help you understand that pattern of domestic violence and the fact that it’s, you know, completely unacceptable, as you and I would agree today, and that it’s wrong and that’s the bottom line, correct?

Dennis Smith: Correct. The difference here was that in D.C. it is mandatory upon being charged, that you go through what’s called pre-trial drug testing. And from what I gathered, that gave them the basic information to set up certain programs to educate me in ways of dealing with the stressing, the relationship, the financial difficulties that they go through which possibly leads up a lot of the domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and basically talking about the triggers and how to deal with those triggers. In other words, when something happens in your life where in the past you would have reached out and hurt somebody or touched somebody, you know how to deal with those triggers without hurting or touching somebody, correct?

Dennis Smith: Correct. You implement what they call safety plans-they teach you how to implement safety plans and they give you fallback solutions, things that normally if you were caught in that cycle, you wouldn’t even think of, ‘hey, this is the simplest thing to do.’ You have a set of keys, walk out-walk away, turn around or just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ don’t react.

Leonard Sipes: Now I’ll express-the question can go to either one of you-I’ll express my own prejudice. There’s too much within our society that says it’s okay to hit women. I understand that it goes both ways, but the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators of domestic violence are men. So there is too much in our society-there’s too much in terms of music, there’s too much in terms of movies, there’s too much in terms of our attitudes that essentially says that it is okay for a man to physically assault a woman under those set of circumstances. And I think it’s very difficult because we in the larger society are sending a dual message; on one side we’re saying, ‘you do not touch your significant other, you do not touch your wife, you do not touch your spouse,’ and at the same time movies and music and the larger society for decades, for decades now has basically said, ‘no, it is okay to manhandle your significant other.’ Comments?

Valerie Collins: Well it was in the early 90s when things began to change regarding domestic violence, particularly in the District-1991, the mandatory arrest law, which indicated that, you know, when the police came to the home, we had to make an arrest. Previously, as Mr. Smith indicated, a lot times they come to the home and usually the male, 95% of battering is done by males, will be told to take a walk around the corner, go cool down, come back, there’s no intervention. And a week later the police are right back there to the same home.

Leonard Sipes: Over, and over, and over, and over again to the same home.

Valerie Collins: And over again-exactly. And the other thing with the treatment component is it’s the first opportunity for men to come and talk about what’s going on in terms of domestic violence-the issues of power/control, because that’s what it’s all about, domestic violence is power/control issues.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So you give them the opportunity to talk about, you know, take responsibility for their behaviors, identify the type of behaviors they’ve engaged in, and then also have that forum with other men to discuss you know, ‘well what are your emotions beneath the anger? What are your cues to violence?’ as Mr. Smith talked about, and, ‘when you have those cues, how can I go ahead and take that time out?’ Walk away. A lot of men feel like if you walk away that’s not something that’s manly.

Leonard Sipes: Well Dennis, I want to get to that-how difficult is it for a group of men to sit together and talk about these feelings and talk about these emotions? Because my guess is a lot of the guys who are participating in these sessions feel up to this point, it’s a private matter.

Dennis Smith: Well, a lot of the groups I sat in, I found that amongst ourselves we’re able to let down that guard, but it’s totally different when you are in the moment, right in the moment of that situation that just blew out of control. And you’re looking at it from your perspective-it could be I just finished putting in 12 hours and I don’t understand why she’s coming in at me like this, and there’s no trigger to think-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -at that point-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -you just react.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And before you know it, both of you are reacting and before you know it, it’s beyond reaction anymore. It’s gotten to the point where somebody, be it the male or the female, has reached out because no one had the ability to say, ‘okay, I can control this, I can stop this, this is gonna go way beyond where it needs to go.’ You’re reacting to that anger versus just kicking in a five-second, or a ten-second thought pattern and say, ‘why?’

Leonard Sipes: Do you feel that the folks within the group understand this, embrace it as you have? And you’re obviously very aware of what’s happened, you’re obviously very tuned into what’s happened, and I applaud you for that. But do you feel that the average man who comes into these groups is going to have the same sort of experience and thought process that you have now?

Dennis Smith: Initially I would say no, but the facilitators that y’all are using are the key role in establishing the control at that point. Some of the facilitators that I’ve worked with were able to break down that still present anger. You’re never gonna get rid of that anger until that individual accepts who he is, what he is, and accepts the change that y’all are trying to give him.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But once that facilitator sees that channel of anger and he directs how to release it-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -and within the group he tells us how to talk about it, how to get it out there. We don’t know-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -we come at each other the same way we come at our mates in those groups.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But that facilitator then interjects key things that we don’t know from living that cycle for so long. And if we absorb what that facilitator is saying and not take it personal as an attack on our character, then we can sit back and have a channel of thought. Once we engage that channel of thought that, ‘hey, maybe I am this controlling guy,’ because for me, personally I said-I constantly said I wasn’t controlling.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And there were instances where I felt that the mate was the controller.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But in all actuality what the facilitator taught me was I am the controller because I’m the one blowing it. I’m the one throwing steam.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and that you can control your own life, you can control set of circumstances, you can control those triggers.

Dennis Smith: I can also approach it, and that’s what he kept on emphasizing with me, the way I was approaching was the trigger.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And her, not just my anger.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: What I was saying and how I was saying was making her mad, making her come back at me. And each time she came back, I came back stronger because I was the stronger of the men.

Leonard Sipes: Valerie, we don’t have a lot of time in this first segment, but do you think that Dennis’ experience is pretty much characteristic of the other men who get involved in domestic violence, counseling treatment?

Valerie Collins: Dennis has said a couple key things. The first thing he said that he learned this-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -you know, he says it’s something he’s been doing for a long time, so it is learned behavior.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So they come to the groups, this is what they know; this is what they’ve learned in their family of origin. It’s intergenerational, you know, this has been going on, has been passed down, you know, from generation to generation as I said. And the other thing is the whole communication piece, and that’s the other thing as Dennis talked about in the group, is that you come and a lot of men, and this not an indictment on men, but a lot of men aren’t able to come and express their feelings. They’re able to say, ‘I was angry,’ but they can’t identify that they felt disrespected by their mate, you know, that they felt lonely when she went out with her mother shopping-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -or something like that.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So it’s getting them to identify their feelings and take responsibility for those feelings and then communicate that with their mate.

Leonard Sipes: If not only ending violence, but it’s improving the quality of their life at the same time.

Valerie Collins: Exactly, yes.

Leonard Sipes: Would the same message that domestic violence is completely unacceptable-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and everybody knows that and everybody is comfortable with that after the treatment do you think?

Valerie Collins: Yes, I would say we have probably about 70, 75% success rate in terms of our group completion. So if people stay in there, they hang in there, it’s tough when you first get there.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: I would say those first three to four sessions no one wants to be there, they’re very angry, but if they hang in there and they bond with the group, then they’re able to move forward-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -they’re able to deal with their own issues and their emotions and express that in a group-and get the help, like he said, from the facilitators.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, we’re gonna stop you right there. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us on the first half of D.C. Public Safety as we discussed domestic violence. Stay with us for the second half as we continue this very, very, very interesting conversation. We’ll be right back.
Segment Two

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our next two guests are Valerie Collins, who you met in the first segment, and Mark Collins, a community supervision officer who supervises domestic violence offenders on a daily basis. And to Valerie and Mark, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety. Welcome, Valerie, you had a major role in the first segment with Dennis as Dennis was explaining this whole metamorphosis that he went through. Certainly 15 minutes does not give it enough time, but we have this unfortunate sense of mostly men batters who think it’s okay to take out there expressions, to take out their frustrations in a violent way towards principally female victims. And I understand it’s a lot more complicated than that. For the men watching this show, I understand that whoever have been in this set of circumstances, I understand that they’re far more complicated than that. But the bottom line is that they can not hit, they can not touch, they can not strike their wives-significant other. They go through this training process, this counseling process where they learn that, and what you’re saying is that most of them come out of that with a sense that they understand that they can not do this.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And that to me is a remarkable turnaround because isn’t a good part of the domestic violence problem cultural, that in many cases we come with this sense that it’s okay to do this?

Valerie Collins: Well it’s cultural, we’ve learned it just in society in general that you know, men are pretty much, you know, a king of the castle, that’s kind of in the historical point of view. And I can say it’s not changed until, you know, really the 90s when a lot of victims advocate groups got together and said, you know, ‘we have to make a change,’ and that’s because a lot of women were losing their lives as a result of domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: And they were being battered half to death in some cases.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: I going to tell you my experience, when I was a very young state trooper going to a house and finding the woman open the door and her face was twice its size-he had just beaten her with a frying pan. And my parents never-I never had this problem at home, and it was just completely flabbergasting. I can deal with horrible automobile accidents, I can deal with lots of different things, but that act of domestic violence completely threw me for a loop. That’s what we’re talking about in many cases aren’t we? The pushing and shoving and the hitting-in some cases, it can be pretty graphic.

Valerie Collins: It can be graphic but domestic violence is not only hitting and shoving and pushing. I think that’s important to understand that also, that there’s emotional violence, economic abuse, people threaten people with domestic violence. And the thing about domestic violence is if I threaten you, you know, maybe I point a gun at you or threaten to kill you, then I don’t have to hit you-it’s really all about power/control, it’s not just the hitting.

Leonard Sipes: All right. So larger issue-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s a very important point.

Valerie Collins: Yes it is.

Leonard Sipes: So just to reemphasize, not to beat the point to death, and so we can have offenders who come into our program and actually truly recognize all of this and deal with all of this, and the vast majority will walk away with a sense that, ‘I’m not going to do this again,’ and they’re successful?

Valerie Collins: And we have to teach them also not to replace the physical violence with another form of violence.

Leonard Sipes: Right, okay.

Valerie Collins: So we do go through the entire what we call, you know, wheel of different types of violence so that they will understand that there are many forms of violence. And that really what you’re trying to get them to the point is where they’re gonna have what you call a relationship that’s based upon equality.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Valerie Collins: And so they have to understand about what it is to be in a relationship and a healthy relationship.

Leonard Sipes: I’m just trying-

Valerie Collins: So we go much beyond just talking about the hitting part of domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: And that was my point of the first segment, was not only are they taught how to deal with their raw emotions during this time, but also as in many ways a way of improving their relationships with their significant others.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Mark, you’ve been doing this for five years in the domestic violence beat, you’ve seen at this of the game just about everything possible. What’s your impression of the program and the sense of domestic violence across the board?

Mark Collins: Well I think CSOSA and the domestic violence program is doing wonders in the District of Columbia. Mr. Dennis Smith is one classic example of how the domestic violence-the treatment, the services that CSOSA has provided can actually impact an individual in a major way.

Leonard Sipes: And I think that’s one of the reasons why we have folks like Dennis on this program, was to, you know, whether the public hears it from me and hears it, sees it from you, I’m not quite sure it has the same impact if something like Dennis who has been caught up in the system, mature enough to understand that what he did was wrong and to learn from it and to move on and improved his life.

Mark Collins: Right, and that’s the key. We don’t want Dennis to leave or get off of probation this particular time and then to come back.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Mark Collins: We want him to be able to get off of probation and proceed with his life never to come back again, that’s our goal.

Leonard Sipes: In so many of these instances-again, as a young police officer, so many children are involved. You know, you go into a house and there’s an argument and a neighbor has called and you go in and there’s three or four kids. And the three or four kids are exposed to this, and you know that it’s not the first time that they’ve been exposed to it. So the other larger point that I wanted to make is that it’s just not these two individuals, it’s just not their relationship, it’s just not our statistics, it is the lives of multiple, multiple children who are caught up in this as well. And they are brought up with this sense of hitting and being hit and that this is the appropriate way to conduct their lives, then that propels them into acts of violence possibly in the future.

Mark Collins: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: You know, so I mean, is it-but a lot of our offenders if not most of our offenders, have kids.

Mark Collins: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: All right. When you supervise them, we do the normal supervision things where we go out to their home, where we join with the Metropolitan Police Department and we go to their home in terms of joint visits. In some cases we’ll put on global positioning system tracking devices on them to be sure that they stay away from their victims, you meet with them on a fairly frequent basis, you drug test them on a fairly frequent basis. Tell me about that experience.

Mark Collins: Well the whole experience, I think ever offender is different, every offender needs different services. A lot of offenders do have drug treatment needs, so we don’t want to just address the domestic violence needs-

Leonard Sipes: Oh, thank you for bringing that up, yeah.

Mark Collins: -we’ll address the drug treatment needs. And in Mr. Smith’s case, that was a service that he needed and it was addressed. And now Mr. Smith is drug-free, he understands-and one thing is important that Mr. Smith finally understood and was ready-his stage of change, he was ready to proceed on with his life, he was ready to be drug-free, he was ready to commit to the domestic violence, not just be in the classes, but commit to drug treatment, commit to the domestic violence intervention program. And one thing which is key, is the communication-Mr. Smith as well as other offenders, are very ready to communicate and ready to-I mean, sometimes me and Mr. Smith, we may sit down for a half an hour-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Mark Collins: -you know, an hour sometimes-we may have a conference with my SCSO. So we just want to make sure that he’s provided-that we can do everything possible so that he can go on and be productive.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s the key issue because I think-I go back to this cultural issue, I think it’s very manly of people like Dennis to look at his set of circumstances, to embrace the help that is there provided to him, and then to make that transformation. I think that that is gutsy; I think that that is manly. Obviously he knows what he did was wrong, but obviously he’s set now-and he was also telling me that he’s now employed as a contractor-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -as an independent contractor and he’s working on a regular basis. So his life seems to have taken a substantial progress.

Mark Collins: Right.

Leonard Sipes: He’s making substantial progress.

Mark Collins: Major progress, he’s not even the same person that he was-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Mark Collins: -back in February of ’06, not even the same person, just a totally different person.

Leonard Sipes: But at the beginning, I would imagine most of the offenders or most of the folks who come into our program aren’t that, they need to be restructured-

Mark Collins: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: -they need basically a wake up call-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -that we’re not gonna tolerate domestic violence-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -and we’re not gonna tolerate as Valerie put it, the larger psychological entrapment that many individuals use over their spouses, use over their significant others. Valerie, correct?

Valerie Collins: Oh, you’re absolutely correct, Mr. Sipes, and it’s because of people like Mr. Collins, their supervision, their extensive training in domestic violence, and using that special supervision to deal with this particular population. Always when they’re coming to the office talk to them about their relationships, doing a check-in with them, making sure that they are using the skills that they have learned in the treatment component. They generally end up completing their far before they complete their supervision.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So it really is up to the CSO who has that-

Leonard Sipes: To continue that process.

Valerie Collins: -you know, day-to-day interaction with them-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -who is gonna ensure that they’re using these tools. And so, you know, there’s a lot of services that are available. The CSO, they develop a supervision plan for the offender. A lot of times it is other needs outside of the domestic violence, it may be employment.

Leonard Sipes: Right, it could be anger management-

Valerie Collins: Oh yeah.

Leonard Sipes: -it could be employment-

Valerie Collins: Employment, yes.

Leonard Sipes: -it could be educational-

Valerie Collins: Parenting skills, all types of things.

Leonard Sipes: -vocational, parenting skills, yeah.

Valerie Collins: Yes, and we look at the entire situation for the person.

Leonard Sipes: And you’re also interacting with the family, you’re interacting with the victim?

Valerie Collins: Yes, yes.

Leonard Sipes: Because we are pledged to protect the victim.

Valerie Collins: Right.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the things that we need to bring up in the final minutes of this show-

Valerie Collins: Exactly, yes, right.

Leonard Sipes: -that we work with the victim on a regular basis and we reach out to her principally, or him-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and we try to the best of our ability to make sure that they’re protected.

Valerie Collins: Yes, and a lot of the cases, there’s a stay-away order, so we’re mandated to, you know, check in with the victim, ensure that there’s some safety for the victim as well. And we work very closely just in the city in D.C., the United States Attorney’s Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Victim Services Unit, even with the court, you know, the D.C Superior Court. Domestic Violence Court-we meet monthly and talk about the issues, so there’s a lot of information sharing. And I believe that also with the success that we’ve been having. I’ve traveled around the country, met a lot of other people who work in various DV programs, and we’re light years ahead in the District of Columbia. And I think that really attributes to our success because we are really working at that coordinated community response.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the nice things that I find within the District of Columbia that you don’t find in lots of other cities-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -that level of cooperation between we and parole and probation, the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, other federal agencies, I mean, that level of cooperation really is there, and that’s what makes a big difference in terms of our ability to supervise, and if necessary, take action against people who violate the terms of their-

Valerie Collins: Yeah, they go out with the police on the accountability tours-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -so most of them, as Mark probably could tell you, they know the officers and the particular PSA that they work in, so there’s really close collaboration.

Leonard Sipes: And then the officers know that this individual is under supervision for domestic violence-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and if they get that call, you get notified.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: So it’s just not an isolated incident, it’s just not, ‘well go ahead and-‘ In the District of Columbia, there’s no longer a walk around the block-

Valerie Collins: No, there’s no walk around the block.

Leonard Sipes: -if you’re involved in domestic violence, you’re arrested.

Valerie Collins: Yes, mandatory arrest.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, and that is a key issue.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: All right. Thank you both, greatly appreciate you being with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us on D.C. Public Safety. Watch for us next time as we explore another very important topic within the criminal justice system. Have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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


High Risk Drug Offenders

This Radio Program is available at

This Television Program is available at

[Video Begins]

Segment One

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. The show today focuses on the high-risk drug offender, and as you know, newspaper articles for the last 40 years have made this person a point of major concern. The question is whether or not the high-risk drug offender can be successfully supervised and treated. Can they become productive crime-free citizens? To answer that question, we have two individuals on our first segment; one currently under supervision by my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and one who has successfully completed supervision; they are Ronald Wade and Marissa Johnson. In the second segment we will interview two supervisory community supervision officers who supervise and assist high-risk drug offenders on a daily basis. And with that, welcome Ronald Wade and Marissa Johnson, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Marissa Johnson: Hi, how are you?

Leonard Sipes: Hi. Marissa, Ronald, tell me a little bit about your backgrounds, your crime backgrounds and your drug backgrounds. Because what we’re talking about in this program is a person heavily involved in crime, heavily involved in drugs, and whether or not society can meaningfully do anything with these individuals besides incarcerating them? Marissa, go ahead please.

Marissa Johnson: My name is Marissa, started using drugs at the age of nine-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: …stayed on the streets for 19 years smoking crack, choice of drug was crack cocaine.

Leonard Sipes: And at the age of nine, what did you start using?

Marissa Johnson: Marijuana, PCP, I left from PCP to acid, after acid, crack cocaine.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And why do you think you started as early as you did?

Marissa Johnson: Well I had abandonment issues.

Leonard Sipes: Had what now?

Marissa Johnson: Abandonment issues.

Leonard Sipes: And what you’re describing in terms of what we call the high-risk drug offender, that’s not unusual.

Marissa Johnson: No, it’s not.

Leonard Sipes: Early age of onset, early use of drugs, having family issues, that’s common, it’s common in the research and it’s common to all of the offenders that I’ve talked to throughout my criminal justice career. So what about the crime part of it?

Marissa Johnson: Crime part of it started at the age of 19.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: I got arrested very first time for just giving a guy a ride, but he had PCP on him-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: …but I got arrested also.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And after that I copped the habit-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Hey, it just was ongoing, ongoing.

Leonard Sipes: A lot of theft?

Marissa Johnson: No theft, a lot of possessions-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: I got distributions.

Leonard Sipes: Drug dealer.

Marissa Johnson: Distribution.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. You were caught up in that whole drug dealing world.

Marissa Johnson: Distribution.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Violence is an inherent part of the whole drug dealing world, is it not?

Marissa Johnson: Exactly.

Leonard Sipes: Were you involved in the violence?

Marissa Johnson: I’ve seen a guy’s head blown off a couple time.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: In and out-like I said, in and out, back and forth, it was back and forth, back and forth, until this got to the point where my last time I didn’t think I was gonna come home.

Leonard Sipes: When I talk to the community supervision officers within my agency who deal with the high-risk drug offender, they tell me in many cases it’s like dealing with a person who has been a veteran at war. They’ve seen so many people hurt, so many people dying, so many people lives destroyed, that they become, you know, damaged in that process as people, am I right or wrong?

Marissa Johnson: It is so easy to get into and it’s still taking time for me to undo what I have done. Acceptance plays a big part of my life today, accepting the things I can not change.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: CSOSA has been wonderful to me-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -absolutely to the utmost. Without CSOSA I may be dead.

Leonard Sipes: What programs are we talking about that you got involved in?

Marissa Johnson: CSOSA came to the D.C. jail to give me an opportunity to come back to the streets.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: At that time I was still toxic.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: And I had no idea what I was signing, I had no sense of direction, all I knew, I wanted to come to the street.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: They gave me a chance and opportunity to start my life over again.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: Okay, I signed my name on the dotted line not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Leonard Sipes: Yep.

Marissa Johnson: But when I met my probation officer, it was a book of a different color.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, I hear you. We want to get back to that and talk a little bit about that, but Ronald, your story, and when did you start drugs?

Ronald Wade: Probably age of 16.

Leonard Sipes: At the age of 16, and what drugs were they?

Ronald Wade: Started out with alcohol-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: -and graduated to marijuana-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: -and then ran the table-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -every drug that you could conceive of, the hallucinogenics, marijuana, cocaine, heroine, but my drug of choice was labeled as heroine.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And your criminal background?

Ronald Wade: My criminal background is mostly dealing with property crimes and crimes against myself, distribution, you know, no violence involved in it.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: Although I have been witness to countless occasions of violence taking place in the street and even in the institutions.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, and that’s again, a big part of when I talk to the community supervision officers, and this is the same question I posed to Marissa, when I speak to the community supervision officers who deal with the high-risk drug offender, they describe you guys as many ways as almost as battle-scarred veterans, and that has an impact on your ability to escape this. There’s a certain point where the violence becomes almost accepted, there’s a certain point where the violence and the disruption becomes almost a day-to-day thing.

Ronald Wade: When you’re involved in the lifestyle of the street and from an institutional standpoint, you tend to become desensitized. I mean, you don’t have the sensitivity that a normal human being has in relationship to how you feel when a person is experiencing traumatic experiences in your life. In the institution, if you see an individual who is stabbed multiple numbers of times, your best outlook is to ignore that situation because you have to think past that situation.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: If you decide to assist that individual, then the thing is you have to think, ‘am I gonna be the last person that he speaks to before he expire, so that whoever did what they did to him, will come looking for me?’

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: So this is the street mentality that goes on, and I mean, it’s dealing with the value system.

Leonard Sipes: Well, and I agree with the value system, but let’s get around to the programs a little bit. Marissa said that she was involved in programs through the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, were you involved in any programs?

Ronald Wade: Yes, through CSOSA, thank God for CSOSA and Mr. Brown at the South Capitol Street office because he made a determination with me that I had one or two choices: either I could go into treatment or I could suffer the consequences of a warrant being issued.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: Well, I didn’t want to go to jail-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -so I opted to take treatment. But in the process of taking the treatment, I was exposed to, you know, the different components that go along with the rehabilitation process. But what I had to do was make myself accessible and open to the information because all the necessary components for a person to become crime-free and drug-free, CSOSA provides.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: I came through what was then known as AOC-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -Assessment and Orientation Center. And the therapeutic concepts from a psychological standpoint, from a health standpoint, from a spiritual standpoint, all of these things that I was exposed to and the information that was provided to me that would enable me to turn my life around. But I had to be willing to accept the information.

Leonard Sipes: Well, and that’s the problem, the problem is that in so many cases when I talk to offenders who have successfully come away from a life or the crime who are now working, who are now drug-free, who are now out-you know, they’re taxpaying citizens, they’re no longer a burden of society. It is reaching that point where I’ve heard a hundred times, a thousand times from heroine addicts especially, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ And when they’ve reached that point, then they climb back through programs, but is there a way or reaching out to offenders who haven’t reached that point? Obviously you guys are not in your 20s, you’re not in your teens, you’ve had some experience to use as a way of reaching out to the younger offenders to see if we can pull them out of the same cycle and get them involved in treatment and get them away from a life of violence and away from a life of crime; is there a way of doing that? That’s a tough question, I understand.

Marissa Johnson: I have a daughter that’s out there now.

Leonard Sipes: She’s out on the street?

Marissa Johnson: She’s out there.

Leonard Sipes: She’s part of the lifestyle?

Marissa Johnson: She’s part of the lifestyle.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Prayer.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, prayer is right. I will say a prayer.

Marissa Johnson: Prayer is first. They say you can take a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I have all the information, I use my information every day. I wear a tool belt when I walk out my front door.

Leonard Sipes: You wear a what belt?

Marissa Johnson: A tool belt.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Because I collect it from Second Genesis as well as from CSOSA-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -it’s fully loaded.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I strap up everyday-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -looking anything that may come my way-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -this addiction is cunningly baffling.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Okay. Acceptance-she’s not ready.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And I hear that from so many offenders, and that’s part of the tragedy in terms of dealing with high-risk drug offenders or people who are out there doing a lot of drugs, doing a lot of crime, reaching out and pulling them back out of that pit. Because all three of us know that it’s a terrible, terrible pit to be in. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to do until you’re ready to make that transformation.

Marissa Johnson: I’m on a tough love right now-

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -for my daughter.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Paul, I had questions about reaching to those younger offenders.

Ronald Wade: Well the desire has to come from within. I mean, once the desire comes from within, then everything is already in place to assist an individual. But you can make the information available, but until a person is willing to access that information and make use of it, it’s just out there.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah. Now, we talked a little bit before the program, we didn’t do a lot of preparation, I never do a lot of preparation with my guests on this program, I like it spontaneous. But we said, you know, the average person out there watching this show is going to say to themselves, ‘wait a minute, Ronald or Marissa, you’ve done a lot of crime, you’ve done a lot of drugs-and if we have money to give, let’s give it to the school kids, let’s give it to the elderly, let’s plug it in the schools. I don’t want to give it to criminal offenders, they’ve done terrible things to themselves and to other people, why should I-‘

Marissa Johnson: I’m gonna stop you right there.

Leonard Sipes: Go, please.

Marissa Johnson: The only way I keep what I have is to give back to the newcomer.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: That’s everyday-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -if it’s just a phone call-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -like somebody did for me.

Leonard Sipes: But explain that, you’re giving back to the who the newcomer is-

Marissa Johnson: The newcomer, the person that just has an hour clean-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -just that person, just to say hello, just to give you my phone number.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: Just to say we can do a movie together, just to say I’ll take you to lunch.

Leonard Sipes: To maintain that connection to pull that person out-

Marissa Johnson: I have to give back-

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -what somebody gave me.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -which was some words.

Leonard Sipes: All right, so your response to all of this is that you’re giving back, you’re out of that, and the programs are extremely important.

Marissa Johnson: Very.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Very, very.

Leonard Sipes: Ronald, same question, and it’s a tough question, I understand.

Ronald Wade: But it’s a realistic question, but it has to be some type of input from a financial standpoint to finance these programs because the problem is not going to go away. And if it’s not addressed, you know, from the programs that’s established, you know, through your agency and through other self-help agencies, you know, it’s gonna get worse.

Leonard Sipes: How many people-well, I know the answer for myself, but for you guys, if those programs weren’t there-the GED programs, the job placement programs, the mental health programs, the drug treatment programs, if these programs were just away, they disappeared and all we did was supervise you guys, what would happen-and supervise people like you? All we did was supervise, no programs.

Marissa Johnson: We would lose a lot of-it would be a lot of people still dying from this disease of addiction.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: It really would. I’ve had numbers of doors shut in my face because of my criminal background, let’s go back to that.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: But I had an excellent probation officer-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -Bridget Nemo-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -that was-the phone-every time I called, she picked up.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I even interrupted a meeting down at the office one day because I needed to talk to her-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -about what was going on in my life.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: Okay.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: It’s that same thing of talking to some-getting through it, you know.

Leonard Sipes: Getting through it.

Marissa Johnson: Okay, and I’ve had, at last, one day just asked for a job, it was so hard for me to get employment. And I just maintained-just got really getting into getting the job that I really want because of my criminal background.

Ronald Wade: And the answer to your question-

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, please, Paul.

Ronald Wade: -the crime rate would skyrocket. If those programs that you just mentioned failed to exist, GED, job training programs, and self-help programs, the crime rate would skyrocket. Because you have an idle mind, an idle is the devil’s workshop. If you don’t have anything constructive or positive to do, then you’re going to regress back to what you’re generally familiar with, which is the criminal element. I mean, that’s the only way you see a survival because that’s the only way you know how to survive, is putting your criminal skills to work. And unless you have something to replace those skills from a constructive point of view, you will continue to do the same thing.

Leonard Sipes: And I understand that because-and I’m not quite sure the public understands it, I spoke to a women one time who was deeply involved in drugs, deeply involved in crime, committed literally thousands upon thousands of crimes if you count all the drug dealings and all the thefts-and that’s what she said. I mean, she’s now managing a business and she now has her home and she’s reunited with her kids, because so many kids are involved in all of this as well. And that’s what she said, that if those programs disappeared, all it’s doing is endangering the public. The thousands of crimes that she was committing, she’s no longer committing. She is a taxpayer rather than a tax burden, and that was her point of view.

Marissa Johnson: And that’s the same as being homeless in a sense. You don’t have anything, you’re homeless. You write down on your application you’re homeless because you don’t have your name on a lease anywhere.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And my question was-my biggest problem was when I got to Second Genesis, the last week of the program, I didn’t have anywhere to go.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And I refused to leave out of the door because I wanted to change.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: So can I hold this bed? Can you call CSOSA and ask them can I stay one more week until I get some things lined up for myself?

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: Because you know, you’re just caught up on the streets, and when you get clean, you’re still numb-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -really, and you don’t have a sense of direction.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and you’ve got the final word, Marissa and Ronald. Thank you very much for being with us on the first half.

Marissa Johnson: Thank you for having me.

Leonard Sipes: Look for us in the second half as we continue our discussion on the high-risk drug offender with two supervisory community supervision officers who supervise these kinds of individuals on a day-to-day basis. We’ll be right back.
Segment Two

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our next two guests in our discussion of high-risk drug offenders are supervisory community supervision officers. They are Elizabeth Estrill and Dorian Sanders. And ladies, welcome to D.C. Public Safety. Elizabeth, the first question will go to you. You heard Ronald and Marissa’s testimony, and you work with hundreds if not thousand of high-risk drug offender throughout the course of the year. The story that they told, is this a typical story in terms of early onset of crime, early onset of criminality, the amount of drug use and the amount of crime that they commit?

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes it is.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, tell me a little bit about that.

Elizabeth Estrill: Well, I guess, you know, it’s a vicious cycle. The population that I supervise are all on the parole or supervised release-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -so they have all served some period of incarceration-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -sometimes they have been in at least three or four times because they’ve done it before-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -it’s not worked, so they’re being released and are being supervised a very high level.

Leonard Sipes: Right. So you see them a lot, and when I say a lot, it could be-I mean, it’s far more than what most parole and probation agencies throughout the country supervise offenders. You’re in contact with them a lot, you drug test the dickens out of them, you’ve got them involved in programs.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes, most of my offenders, actually when they’re released, they are supervised in the intensive or the maximum level-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -which means I see them at least three times a week.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and three times a week is phenomenal compared to most parole and probation supervision in the country, I just wanted the public watching this TV show to understand that.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Elizabeth Estrill: They’re required to drug test at least twice.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: We do home visits at least once a month.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: We do employment verification at least once a month. So we make sure that we have a very tight, close relationship with-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -close supervision structure when they’re first released to ensure that services that are being rendered to them are rendered and that they complying to make sure that they do what they need to do to say home.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. They’re coming out of, in many cases, a program that we operate where they come out of prison and then they go into a building that we rehabbed in the District of Columbia that is a giant rehabilitation center where they come straight from prison to this building for 30 days of assessment, and then in many cases go out to inpatient treatment.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes, sir. Most of my offenders come through the Re-entry Sanction Center, it’s a new assessment center, it’s on the grounds of the former D.C. General Hospital. They’re there for a 28 day assessment. A series of tests are ran, they look at the prior criminal history, the pre-sentence report, the reports from the institution, and after the 28 day assessment they are plugged in, they can be in treatment 190 days-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -120 days, 90 days, 30 days
Leonard Sipes: Right, but generally speaking, that’s in-house treatment, it’s not outpatient, it’s-

Elizabeth Estrill: No, the assessment is for 28 days.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: After the assessment, then they’re plugged into treatment.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: But that treatment that they’re plugged to after the 28 day assessment, that’s basically-they stay at a location-

Elizabeth Estrill: Exactly-

Leonard Sipes: -24 hours a day?

Elizabeth Estrill: -it’s inpatient.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, inpatient.

Elizabeth Estrill: Right.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, cool.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yeah.

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, you handle what, correct me if I’m wrong, the probation population-

Dorian Sanders: Yes, I do.

Leonard Sipes: -of people, not necessarily people who have been incarcerated, but in many cases they have incarceration in their backgrounds?

Dorian Sanders: Right, they do have incarceration in their background. The program that I supervise, which is STAR/HIDTA program, is a drug court program. And what we also provide is court sanctions for positive drug test results, failure to report for supervision-so once they come into our program through probation, through a judge, they go to court, the judge signs an order, they sign a contract agreeing to the terms of the program.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: They can be incarcerated for up to a maximum of 15 days-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: -depending on what the infraction is. If they fail to complete a drug treatment program, if they missed a urine test they could possibly be sanctioned for three nights in jail. The second sanction for the same infraction they would get maybe seven nights in jail.

Leonard Sipes: So they know if they screw up, which by the way in terms of the public, people say, ‘well, you know, the first drug test, let’s throw them back in the prison.’ Well, if we did that the prisons would explode tomorrow. We expect relapse, we expect problems from this population. So you’re talking about the sanctions matrix where they understand every time that they screw up-

Dorian Sanders: Right.

Leonard Sipes: -every time they give us a positive drug test, here’s what’s gonna happen as a result.

Dorian Sanders: Right, absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: And I think what it also does, it helps them to see the relationship between their drug usage and the impact that it’s having upon their lives because they’re constantly having to be interrupted by going back and forth into the prison system for even a couple of days.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: So it has them thinking about, ‘well wait a minute, I think I need to do something a little bit differently because I’m gonna be sanctioned-‘

Leonard Sipes: Yeah.

Dorian Sanders: ‘-and possibly stepped back and revoked.’

Leonard Sipes: Now how difficult is it, and either one of you can answer this question, both of you can answer this question, this is the toughest, roughest population that we had to deal with beyond maybe the mental health offenders, and a lot of your offenders bring mental health issues to the table as well.

Dorian Sanders: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: I mean, you know, I’ve sat and talked with many community supervision officers who supervise this particular population, they like doing it, they like the challenge, they like being out there. But like supervising sex offenders, supervising mental health offenders, you’re population is one of the toughest imaginable because you have to crawl into the lives of these individuals. And the stories that they tell, in many cases, are tragic in terms of the, you know, starting drug use at eight, nine ten; starting crimes at eleven, 12, 13; and in many cases going for decades in terms of this pattern. And suddenly, wha-la, you’re there to try to pull them back out of a habit that they’ve been using for ten, 20, 30, 40 years.

Elizabeth Estrill: For me, it’s rewarding and it’s challenging-challenging because everyday it’s different, every life is different, every circumstance can be different. So I have to make sure that the public safe.

Leonard Sipes: Absolutely.

Elizabeth Estrill: And I also have to make sure that the people that I’m in contact with, they’re successful. Being successful to me means being productive, having a job, not using, you know, giving back to the community. Rewarding is, you know, the fact that after the end of the supervision period, that person is no longer quote/unquote ‘on papers.’

Leonard Sipes: Which means on supervision.

Elizabeth Estrill: On supervision, yes. Rewarding to me means that, you know, D.C. is a safer place-

Leonard Sipes: Sure.

Elizabeth Estrill: -you know, for me and my family to reside.

Leonard Sipes: Of course.

Elizabeth Estrill: And the fact that I can make a positive change in somebody’s life because I have a, you know-I think each person deserves an opportunity.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: And I think that the agency has given a lot of D.C. residents that opportunity to succeed. We have an awesome responsibility. The people that I supervise, the charges range from murder, burglary, I mean, it’s really high-risk. And some of it, I have a part of assisting and making my neighborhood safer-

Leonard Sipes: Sure.

Elizabeth Estrill: -you know, is very rewarding.

Leonard Sipes: Now we talked about success, we have two independent outside pieces of research from the University of Maryland that indicate that the individuals who get through the assessment center, the individuals who go through treatment, and then the individuals who are supervised by you and Dorian, they have dramatically lower rates of recidivism based upon new arrests, so obviously what you’re doing works.

Elizabeth Estrill: It does-it really, really, does. And you know, the studies show that when you have hands-on, when it’s intensive, at least when the clients first come home, you know, it usually turns out to be, you know, a better situation. Most people that are assigned to my team, they come kicking and screaming.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah.

Elizabeth Estrill: They don’t want to be there.

Leonard Sipes: They don’t want to be there, that’s right.

Elizabeth Estrill: And you know, I sit with them and I tell them, you know, what my expectations are of them and what theirs are, you know, of me. I’m here to provide a quality service-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -and I’m gonna do whatever I can to make sure that that is done. And if you can just take it one day at a time, if you can let me drive the car, okay, and be a passenger, I guarantee that it will be successful.

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, same question goes to you in terms of the difficultly of dealing with this type of individual and what you do to cope and bring these individuals along.

Dorian Sanders: I don’t find this as a difficult task, I think when the offenders know that you’re genuine and that you really care about their well being and you’re able to impart information to them that is very helpful-even for those who may not be able to grasp what is that we have to offer them, the fact that we’re able to plant a seed, whereas at some point in time during their life experience, maybe they’ll be able to grasp what it is that we were trying to give them.

Leonard Sipes: But I’ve done in a small way what you guys are doing in terms of gang counseling the streets and city of Baltimore, and the jail and Job Corp Kids, and running a group in the prison system, for me it was extraordinarily difficult. Their lives were so tragic in many ways, and dealing with the family, dealing with their kids, pulling them out was immensely taxing for me, and I found it difficult. Because I know how difficult their lives are going to be upon release and how many challenges they have. And quite frankly without the resources that we have in CSOSA, so many of them went back to crime, so many of them went back to drugs-that’s why I’m saying difficult.

Dorian Sanders: Okay. I guess for me, I don’t take it personal-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: -I understand that this is their life experience-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: -and I also am aware of the fact that I can only do what they allow me to do.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: And that sometimes there are some experiences that people have to have that I have no control over.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: So if they have to go back into the system in order to learn or to get what it is that they need in order for them to maybe be able to come out and be productive citizens, then sometimes that’s what has to happen.

Leonard Sipes: Well I just remembered one particular instance, me and this guy’s wife, we were screaming at him. [laughs] You know, and saying, ‘how in the name of blind can you do this after all of the opportunities that you’ve been given?’ So I mean, it’s a tough field, I guess I found it to be a field. Elizabeth, where do you think we should go in terms of supervising this sort of an offender? Do we have all of the resources we need? We never claim that we have all of the resources that we need, but programs do make a difference in the lives of these offenders, correct?

Elizabeth Estrill: I think it does, I think that CSOSA is doing an awesome job, not only because I’m an employee of CSOSA, but because I have seen people’s lives that have changed. I have seen families that have stayed together, so-

Leonard Sipes: And a lot of them have children-a lot of these offenders have children, so it’s just not them-

Elizabeth Estrill: Right.

Leonard Sipes: -it’s their children as well.

Elizabeth Estrill: Exactly. My clients, my team is strictly adults, but I deal with their entire family because we go to the homes-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -whatever my clients have an issue with, I’m there, my officers are there. I have nine officers-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -that are assigned to my team and one assistant, and we’re there to assist. So if the entire district-if all the teams were like my team, I would think we would be a lot better, but I mean, that’s not-

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, we only have a couple seconds left, anything-the programatic part of it? Because it’s just not supervising, it’s just not drug testing, it’s assisting them as well.

Dorian Sanders: I just think that we have a lot offer, I think we’re a unique agency compared to many other probation parole agencies throughout the country. And if we continue to bring in the programs and continue to improve upon them, the change will be just awesome in terms of how many people we’ll be able to help-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: -and we’ll be able to, you know, recover and be positive and product citizens.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies, thank you for being on the show.

Dorian Sanders: Thank you.

Elizabeth Estrill: Thanks for having us.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching D.C. Public Safety. Look at our website for this and previous shows that we have, radio and television shows on the criminal justice system. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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Faith Based Mentoring of Criminal Offenders

This Radio Program is available at

This Television Program is available at

[Video Begins]

Segment One

Leonard Sipes: Hi, welcome to D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes. Approximately 7,000 D.C. offenders are incarcerated within federal prisons. About a third of those come back on a year-to-year basis, and when they come back, there’s a responsibility of my agency, the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We provide strict supervision and accountability, but more important, we provide services. Part of that service is a faith-based advisory counsel and partnership. And to discuss the faith-based advisory counsel and partnership, we have guests today; we had Diane Simms-Moore and Patricia Robinson. And to Diane Simms-Moore and to Patricia Robinson, welcome to D.C. Public Safety. Now, I’m excited about this program, this program I think, brings together the faith community in the District of Columbia and elsewhere to help offenders as they come out of prison to make their lives more livable, to help them in that transition from prison back into the community. But it’s a frustrating job, Diane, isn’t it?

Diane Simms-Moore: Thank you, Leonard, for having us. I would not say that it’s frustrating; I think that it’s pretty exciting. We have an opportunity to do a collaborative effort with the faith community and CSOSA. We’re excited that we have so many partners from the faith community who decided to be part of this program. What we do, we provide mentoring and other support services to make sure that individuals who are coming home, transition will be smooth. As we know, we see ourselves sometimes as an extended family-we know that a lot of our members who have gone away to prisons have burned bridges prior to going leaving. And the faith community provides a bridge to help them transition back into their families with just another focus.

Leonard Sipes: And Diane-and I’m glad you clarified that because it’s challenging, it’s not the easiest job in the world, but it’s a necessary job. I mean, the idea of the individuals coming back out of prison, if they don’t have that support of the faith-based community, it becomes a much more difficult transformation for them. I think that’s the bottom line behind the program, that we can reduce recidivism by getting more people in the faith community to help these individuals as they come out of prison.

Diane Simms-Moore: Exactly. That is one of our objectives, it is also to help them transition back into the community, become more productive citizens. We help with housing, we help with substance abuse counseling, we help with our mentoring, program-so we try to provide an array of services that will make their transition much easier.

Leonard Sipes: And we have an array of faiths involved in the District of Columbia and outside of the District of Columbia in terms of our volunteers. We have the Muslim religion, the Christian religion, other religions, all coming together in terms of this effort.

Diane Simms-Moore: Yes, what we know is that crime does not have a denomination, and we know that the individuals who are coming home are coming back into an entire community, not just one segment of the community, but the entire community. So the faiths initiative allows each of the denominations of faith to come together and to work together in a collaborative effort.

Leonard Sipes: And we also work with the community supervision officers, essentially the parole and probation officers within Court Services and Offender Supervision and the entire effort is one of CSOSA working together with the churches and the mosques, working together with businesses-it’s a collaborative effort, that’s the bottom line.

Diane Simms-Moore: Exactly.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Patricia Robinson, now you and I have talked before, you’ve done a couple stretches in the federal penitentiary-

Patricia Robinson: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: …you’ve had a very, very, very interesting and some cases a tragic background. But if it wasn’t for the faith-based initiative, Patricia, where would you be in your life right now?

Patricia Robinson: Well, I wouldn’t be sitting here, that’s for certain, because of my past behavior. I mean, you know, I have an over 20-year history in the court system, in the penal system and I found it to be to my best advantage on my return coming home this time. It allowed me to have an accessible component that was gonna have resources and tools available for me, and to help me address some issues that I ordinarily wouldn’t have addressed in my prior incarceration or my recidivism behavior. The faith-based initiative program and partnership with the court system and the community has also allowed me to be able to complete any and all assignments that was required to me upon my release back into the community as well. It also allowed me to be more open and less desensitized and more sensitive to the needs of the community as well as those of the ex -offenders that are coming home. You know, you have to really, really be able to learn how and want to break the cycle of recidivism, and the only way you can really do that is know that you have to have accountability and responsibility. What in turn would help for me was simply that those issues that I hadn’t addressed, I was able to address through my parole officer, through my mentors-

Leonard Sipes: And that’s Willa Butler-

Patricia Robinson: Absolutely, absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: …and that’s one of the-and when people watch this program, they’re gonna see you and Willa interacting.

Patricia Robinson: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: You give a lot of credit to Willa Butler-

Patricia Robinson: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: …your agent or your community supervision officer.

Patricia Robinson: Yes, yes, absolutely. And my parole officer, Ms. Butler, she has a spiritual background, so that in itself is also a need for ex-offenders, and as well as us to be able to collaborate and just have a bonding experience with the community, your parole officer, and your mentor. I mean, in the past we always had a breakdown, you come home and you’re back into the community, and you just, you know, you’re just stuck. So ordinarily or you’re gonna go back into behavior that’s similar. You know, so when you have the mentoring program and you have a church-based community behind you, they allow you to walk you through step-by-step.

Leonard Sipes: What I need to emphasize right now, Diana, this question will go over to you, that you don’t have to embrace the faith to be part of the faith-based community, an offender when they’re coming out of prison, or even anybody that gets involved in this, they don’t have to necessarily embrace a particular brand of the Islamic faith or Christianity, they can come in there and simply take advantage of the services, correct?

Diane Simms-Moore: Correct, that’s correct. We don’t offer a religious support system, we offer a faith support system which allows us out there have access to various sources from the community that are being now provided by the faith institutions. We have a lot of institutions from the faith community that provide housing, substance abuse counseling, clothing banks, food banks.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the amazing things, and I think we need to dwell upon that. There’s a lot of faith-based communities in the District of Columbia and outside of the District of Columbia that support this program through the services you just talked about; day care, drug treatment, housing, clothing, and that’s something I’m not quite sure a lot of people understand, all of the support mechanism currently available.

Diane Simms-Moore: Sometimes it’s difficult to get that out. We found that by having the broader base of the faith community, we’re able to tap into more resources and we’re also able to put that resource information out there for the offender when they come home. One of the exciting things about our program is that we attempt to establish a relationship prior to them coming home.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and in some ways we do that through a video program with the prison in North Carolina. Patricia, back to you, so many offenders struggle, and they struggle big time when they get back to the street.

Patricia Robinson: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And an awful lot of individuals when they come of prison, simply don’t make it. Could the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency provides a ton of services; educational, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health? The faith-based program is there but still for the average offender coming out of prison, it’s a difficult place to be coming out of prison into the community.

Patricia Robinson: Yes, it is, it really is and what was benefit to me was because I had a second outlet to whereas I knew all these services and resources was available to me in the past. I mean, you know, drug education, after care, mental illness, housing, and things of that nature, but I never really grasped onto it, you know, throughout the duration of the process-

Leonard Sipes: Why not?

Patricia Robinson: Well simply because-I can honestly say I felt disconnected.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And when you came out of prison this time, what happened? What brought upon that connection?

Patricia Robinson: What brought upon this connection was prior to me being released out into the community-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Patricia Robinson: …the faith-based initiative program was offered to me-

Leonard Sipes: Oh, okay.

Patricia Robinson: as a volunteer and at my own accord, I wasn’t forced to comply with the program. And I had just gone through my ends and wits, so you know, I had depleted everything that I had did in the past and this was something that, you know, I felt that would be more feasible for me this second and last chance back into the community.

Leonard Sipes: But why, what is the key ingredient about the faith-based initiative? When they reached out to you, what did that mean to you?

Patricia Robinson: It was an overwhelming experience because I had a group of people, a community, that embraced me with all my faults and all of my bruises and all of my scratches, and embraced me with an unconditional guidance, care, and love. You know, when you deplete all of your resources and your family and your connections, you feel disconnected, even when you come back home. So what made a difference for me was because in the initial assessment, I saw this, you know, and I had no other recourse but to embrace this because this was unfamiliar to me, but it was comforting, and it was consistent, you know. And one thing I learned through the faith-based initiative program, that consistency is something that I can really rely on because it’s not a breakdown.

Leonard Sipes: Now was it the message of hope and acceptance, or was it the provision of services, or both?

Patricia Robinson: It was collective.

Leonard Sipes: Was it the entire package?

Patricia Robinson: It was the entire package.

Diane Simms-Moore: Yeah. Right.

Leonard Sipes: Diane, please.

Diane Simms-Moore: And I think one of the exciting things when we first met Patricia was that when we made it known to her all of the services that we would provide and the extent of our mentoring and support for her, she said to me, ‘and you mean I don’t have to do anything,’ that, ‘you guys are willing to support me without my having to give anything to you in order for that support?’ which for her was a new experience. The faith community is there, it’s available to support, we’re there to practice what God tells us, to love and respect each other.

Leonard Sipes: But in most cases, both of us, all three of us would have to admit that difficultly of love and respect in terms of offenders coming out of prison.

Patricia Robinson: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Most people, I mean, we have to put this on the table, have this aversion, you know, a person coming out of prison, no. When a person-when they hear about a person coming out of prison, they don’t see Patricia Robinson, they don’t see struggle, they don’t see hope, they don’t see possibility, they see something entirely different. But the two of you coming together, in a faith community coming together, we have a different Patricia Robinson.

Patricia Robinson: Yes.

Diane Simms-Moore: Exactly because a faith community sees beyond that, sees beyond your faults. And I think by coming through the faith community back into the community, it also helps the community to open their arms and embrace those individuals that are coming home.

Leonard Sipes: And if everybody, I mean, this is just theoretical, if everybody coming out of prison had that to come back to, had that group of people to embrace them-and again, I understand that it’s a difficult embrace for many people, but if that was there, instead of the recidivism rate that we have now, I’m assuming that we would have a dramatically lower rate of recidivism.

Diane Simms-Moore: We certainly like to believe that.

Leonard Sipes: And Pat, where would you be, again, without this program you said it at the beginning, where would you be right now? I mean, your background is difficult.

Patricia Robinson: I would be probably locked up or dead, really. My behavior was totally extreme and disrespect and uncaring nature in my past behavior. And as I said before, this was over a 20-year period, so absolutely, you know, it wouldn’t by completely terminated or you know, I would be back in prison.

Leonard Sipes: And a 20-year period is a long time-

Patricia Robinson: It’s very, very long time.

Leonard Sipes: If this had been in place ten years ago, what would happen? Would you think you could have made the break back then?

Patricia Robinson: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely, absolutely. I would have been able to make the break back then simply because it would have stopped it, and it had a lot to do with the issues that I had to address on my own and to have some assistance with that. Not only with clinicians, or parole officers, or the court systems, or social workers, but simply another component that I can have a choice to go out and reach out to that would automatically reach out to me.

Leonard Sipes: All right, Patricia, we’re out of time. Diane, Patricia, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching us.

Patricia Robinson: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: Be with us in the second segment where we talk to director Paul Quander, the director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Reverend Donald Isaac, the chair of the faith-based advisory partnership, where we continue our discussion about faith-based efforts for ex-offenders in the District of Columbia. We’ll be right back.

Segment Two

Leonard Sipes: Hi, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I continue to be your host, Len Sipes. On our second segment we have two new guests. We have Paul Quander, the director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and we have Reverend Donald Isaac, he’s the chair of the faith-based advisory partnership. Paul and Reverend Isaac, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety.

Male 1: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: Director Quander, now the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, essentially we are the parole and probation entity for the District of Columbia, correct.

Paul Quander: That’s correct, we’re an independent federal organization agency who’s mission is to supervise men and women who are on probation, parole, supervised release, or any type of court supervision to the superior court or to the United States parole commission for offense that have been committed in the District of Columbia. We are the supervising authority for those individuals.

Leonard Sipes: To get a partnership, to establish a partnership with the churches, with the mosques, the other religious entities within the District of Columbia that help offenders coming out of prison, I mean, that is in essence basically a bold step to enter into that sort of a partnership with them. Where do you see that partnership going?

Paul Quander: I think it’s the next step in a continuum of progress for how do we help individuals return to the District of Columbia, return to their communities, and how do we protect our communities, how do we make them safer? All too often, you know, you look at government as having all the answers to the problems, but we realize that government by itself can’t do this job, we needed to reach out. And what better place to reach out to than organizations, faith institutions, that have been doing the same type work in their ministries? Many of these churches have had prison ministries, have had outreach ministries, had food ministries, housing, clothing, nursery school and educational programs, it was just a natural match for us to reach out to invite the faith communities. And in the District of Columbia we’re very thankful that we’ve had a very overwhelming response, good leadership, as we try to build this partnership to help the men and women of our community.

Leonard Sipes: And Reverend Donald Isaac, that’s a perfect segway over to you, now you’re the chair of the faith-based advisory counsel and partnership-this is to me an amazing event of the idea of the church and the mosques and the other religious entities coming together to help former offenders. As Paul said, the churches and the mosques have been doing this for a long time, but now it’s being done under one umbrella, one partnership, one entity, and the harness the power of all the religious institutions, amount I right or wrong?

Rev. Donald Isaac: Well, you’re absolutely correct. The faith advisory counsel is an effort to really give leadership to the CSOSA faith partnership, and essentially is an effort to really connect the dots as you indicated, both in the faith community, both Christians and Muslims alike have been doing this work for a number of years, so it’s just a recognition that the problem is big enough that all of us have to work together to have impact.

Leonard Sipes: Now but, and again, as I said during the first segment, I’m impressed; so many of the churches, so many of the mosques have the outreach already, have the clothing ministries, have the drug treatment ministries, have the housing ministries, so they’ve been out in the community. But it’s that collective effort that is truly impressive to me, to go into these events and to see the ministers and the imams come together with the people who they’re mentoring, and to see the difference that it’s making in the lives of so many people. I think that’s the message that we’re trying to get out in the program today, that you can make a dramatic difference in the lives of people who may not make it through the faith-based initiative.

Rev. Donald Isaac: Absolutely. I sort of characterize it by saying, ‘moving from the – me to we mentality.’ If it’s the previously incarcerated person who’s coming home, they need other people.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Rev. Donald Isaac: If it’s a Christian church who has a food ministry, we need to be linked up with someone else who has a housing ministry. We all need-there’s an effort for mentors, many of the people who are in our congregations or are in our mosques who want to do something, this is an opportunity for us all to rise up and work together as a collective whole.

Leonard Sipes: Paul, the bottom line between our organization and this entire partnership is one of public safety, is one of protecting the public-

Paul Quander: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: …is one of making the District of Columbia as safe as we can make it, and I think that point bears repeating as well. Because we talked to Patricia in the first segment, we know that if she had these resources before, she possibly could have escaped a continual life of drugs and crime and incarceration. If we had this partnership well established even beyond the partnership that we have now, where do you think it could go? What do you think it could do in terms of public safety?

Paul Quander: Not only would we be able to reach more men and women who have been incarcerated who are involved in the criminal justice system, but more importantly, we’ll have a greater impact on public safety in the District of Columbia and in the surrounding region. Every time there’s a man or woman who comes out who we can put together in our faith-based initiative, who we can provide a mentor for, who we can make sure has a job, retains that job, has housing, that individual is less likely to commit more crime. If they’re not out committing crimes, then they’re out being productive; they’re paying taxes-one of the greatest things that we can have is for a man or a woman to be involved in their child’s life, to take care of the child, to go to the PTA meetings, to do all of all those things that many of them aren’t doing right now.

Leonard Sipes: And most offenders do have children.

Paul Quander: Most offenders have children, and so we don’t really talk about that a lot. But if we don’t address it, then that’s the next wave that will be coming to us, and we want to prevent that. So the more and more we can do with these offenders that are coming back, we can promote pro-social values, we can give them the support. And it’s not just the support from the CSO, the probation and parole officer, it’s support from people that look like them, that live in the same communities, that may have gone through some of the same paths that they have and been successful in making that transition. So the more that we can bring to the table, the more that we can show them good examples and good support, the easier it is for them to come over to this side, to come over to the pro-social, to come over to the right, the religious, the faith-based way, and leave that other side alone. But that other side has a powerful draw, and we have to have a stronger message on this side if we’re gonna be successful.

Leonard Sipes: And it is an extraordinarily powerful draw. One of the things we’re going to do throughout this program is put up our telephone number for people who want additional information, or people who want to volunteer, or people who want to get involved in this as well as our website address. But Reverend Isaac, again, it’s that sense of hope, a lot of offenders fail, a lot of people coming out of prison, they don’t make that transformation, they just simply go back to prison, they simply go back to the needle in the arm, they simply go back to drugs, they simply go back to harming other people. In the hundreds of offenders that I have talked to throughout my career, they basically said there was no hope. They didn’t intend on going back to crime getting out of prison, but they essentially after the first week, after the second week, after the first month, there was a sense of no hope. What I’m getting from the faith-based advisory counsel, what I’m getting from the partnership, is that you all provide them with a sense of hope that was not there before.

Rev. Donald Isaac: That’s absolutely right. Often times when people ask what is faith-based, I simply say that it’s talking about the motivation of the persons who are engaging previously incarcerated persons. So the reason I do it, the reason Diane does it, the reason that other people are involved is because of our faith conviction. It’s not a requirement for a person coming home to have that faith.

Leonard Sipes: Right, they don’t have to get involved in that church-

Rev. Donald Isaac: No.

Leonard Sipes: …they don’t have to get involved in that mosque.

Rev. Donald Isaac: No.

Leonard Sipes: Understood.

Rev. Donald Isaac: But through the relationship, we believe in the principle of transference. And that is as they begin to walk and observe and look, they might never come to hear a sermon, but they might see it in the walk and in the way that we conduct ourselves, and it begins hopefully to transfer and ignite hope within that individual.

Leonard Sipes: Because a lot of people who are involved in this, at one time were incarcerated as well, they understand the challenge, they understand the need, or they come from a history of one, or they come from a history of addiction. They can help not only in terms of provide an example, they can identify very clearly with what that person is going through when they’re released from prison.

Rev. Donald Isaac: Absolutely, absolutely, and that’s the case, so we think-and Paul kind of indicated, I think that we talk about mentoring, but in my experience, there’s nothing more therapeutic or powerful than a father and a son sitting across the table from one another, it just does things with regard to stirring up a sense of conviction and determination on both the part of the father and the young person that you just can’t explain or you can’t duplicate it.

Leonard Sipes: And so many people watching this program, quite frankly they’ve lost hope. They are more than willing to take people coming out of prison and basically toss them aside. There are so many other things to worry about, but here there is that sense of hope, there’s government, there’s the faith-based community, there’s businesses-what is the most you think, Paul Quander, is the key ingredient here? I think personally, it is having that sense of hope where there was no hope before, having that sense of direction where there was no direction before.

Paul Quander: Right. Hope and compassion and a consistent message, the one thing that has been consistent throughout is the faith community. They’ve been there, they’ve been there for years and they will be there. The new ingredient is the government coming to the faith community and saying, ‘let us work with you as we walk down this road together.’ The other thing is we’re starting early; we’re not waiting for the men and women to actually get to the District of Columbia to start this. We’re actually in the prisons now, we’re in the Rivers Correctional Facility in Winton, North Carolina for the men, and very soon we’re going to be at one of the women’s facilities as well. We do video hookups, so by that way we can get the mentors in, we can tell the men and women what programs are available, what services are available, so they can see even while they’re still incarcerated, while they’re getting ready to come home, that it’s a new home, it’s a new day, there are new opportunities. Accountability is still job number one, public safety is still job number one, but there is a means to help them with that transition. They don’t have to have a life of crime, they can start doing those pro-social things that we as a larger community want them to do, so they can see that and they can see the transition. And there are some success stories that are people that have already been out there. For every Diane that’s out there who has made it, that has a tremendous impact on those men and women who are still incarcerated.

Leonard Sipes: Sure, sure. And for those people who are watching this program right now, if they want additional information that they didn’t take advantage of it coming out of prison, they can still get involved in the faith-based partnership. And again, we’ll put up the telephone number and we’ll put up the website for additional information. Reverend Isaac, where do we want to go to from here in the final moments of the program, do we want to go from, you know, a couple hundred churches and the mosques to 400, do we want to go from, I’m sorry, 50 to 100, do we want to go to a couple hundred volunteers to 400 volunteers, where do we want to go in the next couple years?

Rev. Donald Isaac: Well I think it’s essential, I’m glad you asked that question because I think it’s essential to our mindset to understand that we’re not running a program, but we’re building a movement. And often as we look at the death of Coretta King and Rosa Parks, I think it’s fitting because it reminds us of the type of social engagement, the type of social involvement, the type of explosion was necessary in order to address a very serious problem that we have within our country. And finally in that context, it’s really not about numbers, even though we want to see numbers, but we feel that a few dedicated, committed persons can have tremendous impact on the quality and direction of our society.

Leonard Sipes: And we saw that through Diane and Patricia Robinson. Paul, in the final minutes of the program, where do you see us going with the faith-based community?

Paul Quander: I’m trying to reach as many men and women who are incarcerated as they come back. As you mentioned in the beginning, there are approximately 7,000 men and women from the District of Columbia who are incarcerated in federal facilities. Those are our sons and our daughters and our parents, and they’re a part of our community. I want them to come back and I want them to be involved in their children’s lives, I want them to be able to take care of their parents and their grandparents. I want them to come back and get jobs and be taxpaying citizens. I’m talking about just the social fabric of our community. The more that we can bring them in, the more productive that they can be, the better our community is going to be, the safer our community is going to be. And that’s what we’re about, we want to reclaim those lost souls and those lost individuals, we want to make them whole again and we want them to be a part of our community.

Leonard Sipes: And people need to understand as we said before that so many children are involved in this, if we can reclaim thousands instead of hundreds, we’re talking about in the process, thousands upon thousands of children who are dependent upon them, not just for their emotional support, but for financial support, for physical support, to be there, and they can’t provide that support if they’re in prison, they can’t provide that support if they’re doing crime, they can only provide that support if they’re part of this initiative and doing the right thing.

Paul Quander: Absolutely, absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: All right, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for watching this edition of D.C. Public Safety. Watch for us next time as we explore another very, very, important topic within the District of Columbia’s criminal justice system. Have yourself a very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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