Archives for 2008

Burglaries on the Decline in the United States-National Public Radio

This Radio Program us available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=69

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See http://media.csosa.gov/blog for the “DC Public safety” blog.

Melissa Block: From NPR News this is all things considered. I am Melissa Block.

Michele Norris: And I am Michele Norris. Burglary is one of the most mundane crimes. More than two million Americans are victims of burglaries every year. Even so that number’s a lot lower than it used to be. Over more than three decades most crimes have risen and fallen repeatedly but burglary has seen a steady decline. NPR’s Laura Sullivan tells us some of the reasons why.

Laura Sullivan: To figure out what happened to all the burglaries, you have to begin here. In an empty beige waiting room of one of Washington D.C.s parole offices. In a chair is a neatly dressed man waiting to see his probation officer.

Barry Mathis: My name is Barry Mathis, I was you know doing burglaries and things to support a habit.

Laura Sullivan: Mathis says for almost twenty years anything he stole; he could quickly turn into cash.

Barry Mathis: I was a salesman. I could sell anything you understand. I don’t care what it is. It could’ve been some toilet paper, I could sell it.

Laura Sullivan: But not anymore. Mathis says a few years ago he noticed things had changed.

Barry Mathis: If you’re gonna do a burglary or you gonna you gonna get something you need to have some buyers. You need to have somebody to buy you know. Now you know it’s everybody have everything now. I mean to me it’s not worth it, but I mean if you gonna get anything get some money, man. Heck with the appliances, heck with the boom boxes and all that.

Laura Sullivan: Most criminals it seems agree. Bank robberies, rape, assault, murder all spike from time to time, but not burglaries. For almost thirty straight years they’ve declined. Even any upticks are tiny. Mathis says there’s just too much on the street already. Everyone he knows already has a digital camera, I Pod knockoffs and pirated DVDs shipped in from China.

Barry Mathis: And if it’s not new a lot people don’t want to fool with it, and lot of people want stuff new, brand new in the box and all that so.

Laura Sullivan: Forget about last year’s video games, old laptops and Mathis says don’t even bring a VCR or boxy TV out to the street.

Barry Mathis: You can get a TV for nothing almost. People are giving them away now.

Laura Sullivan: Mathis has been clean for more than five years now since participating in an Offender program in D.C. called the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency or CSOSA. The program and the street economy may have turned Mathis’s life around, but criminologists say but when it comes to a 30-year drop in burglaries, there area a few other reasons behind the drop too. Big ones like the one million private police and security guards that work in residential communities.

Steve Southworth: We’re in a Southern Western Virginia where I work is Winter Green Resort.

Laura Sullivan: Steve Southworth is a private police officer.

Steve Southworth: We’re on the Appalachian trail right where it crosses Reeds Gap, mile marker 13.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Laura Sullivan: Winter Green Resort is a community of fancy vacation homes sprawled out on the snowy mountain below. The residents here pay for his salary and for his car and for the lodge lake police headquarters with eleven other police officers. Residents say the cost is worth it especially when a burglar hiked right past where Southworth is standing.

Steve Southworth: He came in off the trail which runs very close to Wintergreen and within two days ending up breaking into four homes.

Laura Sullivan: Southworth spends six months tracking the mans path, from New York down to Wintergreen.

Steve Southworth: We actually intercepted an e-mail that he sent and through some things that were said in the internet we were able to zero in on his location a little closer.

Laura Sullivan: So where did you finally catch him?

Steve Southworth: It was in Macon, Georgia.

Laura Sullivan: All that to catch one burglar. That would have been unheard of in his former job as a county police officer just outside Richmond, Virginia.

Steve Southworth: I wouldn’t have had the time. Here the crime is considerably less and it gave me time to concentrate on this case. This was the most major case at the time.

Laura Sullivan: In the past remote communities like this one far from state police were ripe for thieves, but since residents started paying their own private officers, crime dropped 70 percent, and many of the residents also did something else. They installed burglar alarms. One in four homes nationwide now has one. Add that to an explosion in other devices like steel bars, stronger doors, security glass, and criminologists say homes are just more of a hassle to break into. Even the most basic anti-burglary device has undergone major changes since the 1970’s.

Ron Bunnag: Good Locks make all the difference.

Laura Sullivan: Locksmith Ron Bunnag is huddled in the back of his van rekeying a condominium lock in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ron Bunnag: This is Assa. It’s got a second set of cuts down the side, and then this is what I use on my house, this is Medeco. Looks like a normal key both sides, but when you look down at the cuts you noticed how they’re cut at an angle. There is a 98 percent chance that says you can’t pick it.

Laura Sullivan: Keys are more intricate, even electronic. The 1970’s also saw the wide spurt introduction of the dead bolt, but the biggest change when it comes to locks criminologist say is that people started using them. Of course police will tell you burglaries have gone down because they police better. There is no way to know if police are preventing burglaries but they’re certainly not catching many burglars. According to the Justice Department, police solve fewer burglaries than any other crime, around one in ten. They’re more likely to catch a car thief than a burglar and that’s something William Long always appreciated. In twenty years as a burglar he only got caught a few times, but he never enjoyed the work.

William Long: It’s definitely no fun. It’s stressful, strenuous, tiresome.

Laura Sullivan: Long lives now on a quiet street in D.C. with his wife. As he walks down his own block he still separates in his head the inviting houses from the ones he would have passed over.
William Long: All these got black iron gates, wood is easier than iron ain’t it. I mean some cases.

Laura Sullivan: He says he didn’t care much about alarms or locks or police patrols. He says he was no cat burglar; he just looked for open doors and windows.

William Long: If you got somebody who really want go in something, nothing can stop them, I don’t think.

Laura Sullivan: His biggest problem, people don’t seem to keep cash in their houses anymore. Everyone uses credit cards and bank cards, only diamonds have any real payoff and he says they take too long to find.

William Long: There’s no future in it. It’s a headache for you.

Laura Sullivan: Recently, Long had something stolen from him. He was devastated when a thief stole a brand new video camera from his car. It isn’t the camera he misses. He knows where to get a new one for just a few dollars. It’s the tape inside he wants with footage of his dying step-father.

William Long: They could’ve had the camera, just give me that film. I want that film of that moment we had and that’s pretty much it.

Laura Sullivan: Do you ever wonder if you took something sentimental that belonged to somebody else?

William Long: I never thought of it that way. Never thought of it that way.

Laura Sullivan: Long stepped back inside his house to grab his janitor’s uniform before heading to work. On his way out he stopped on the front porch and locked his door. Laura Sullivan, NPR news.

Melissa Block: This is NPR National Public Radio.

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Offender Reentry: A Police Perspective

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/?p=21

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See http://media.csosa.gov/blog for the “DC Public safety” blog.

(Audio begins)

Steve Madsen: When people come back out of prison they’re coming right back into the same neighborhood, the same group of people they hung out with.

David Spenner: They’re just going to go back to doing the same things that they did before they were locked up. We need to break that cycle.

Terri Lee Danner: The typical offender in this program is an offender who is violent.

David Spenner: Whatever we can do to invest in those people is going to make a difference.

Terri Lee Danner: You cut down on crime. You give the most dangerous people coming back to your communities a real chance to succeed and it costs you very little.

David Spenner: We used to be sending two out of every three people back to prison for violent crime and it’s down to one out of three. That’s what I call success.

Offender Reentry: A Police Perspective

David Spenner: The city of Racine is located between the cities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. It’s a community of about 82,000, 16 square miles. It’s a very diversified community. We have some significant crime issues. The typical participant in the community reentry program is someone who has committed violent crime, probably used a gun, probably shot that gun in the commission of the crime, and is involved in some form of drug deal.

Terri Lee Danner: The offenders don’t choose to join the program; we choose them based on their criminal behavior. We work with them while they are in prison. When they come out, we explain the program to them; we explain they are going to be held accountable. If they commit a crime with a gun, they are going to be convicted in federal prison, not state prison. So, we’ve got accountability and we also offer them services.

David Spenner: I think the keys to a successful reentry program is pre-planning before the participants come back into the community and a core team that is really steering the whole effort. Everybody at that table has to have an equal voice and it’s made up of a cross section of all kinds of agencies. The faith-based community is there; the workforce development center is there; corrections is there; the police are there. The core committee is critical to the success of this program.

Speaker: I would like to say good evening,.

Terri Lee Danner: The community meetings are held once a month for all of the offenders that we’ve chosen for the program coming out of state and federal prison. Community members attend; members from the faith community; the law enforcement community; and we tell them about the program.

David Spenner: The prosecutors, the police, corrections stand up and say “We hope that you make good use of the resources that are being afforded to you, but we are not going to allow you to re-offend.” I explain to them that because I use the same city that they are using, the safety of the city becomes very personal to me. Then I’m going to go up and shake their hand and I started doing that for a couple of reasons. One is I wanted them to understand they are on even keel with everybody else here in this meeting. But then I wanted the officers to also understand that we’re going to respect these people too; not go lightly on them; not treat them with kid gloves; but just hold them to the same standard that you hold everybody else to.

Steve Madsen: Accountability brings to this program respect from the law enforcement community.

Terri Lee Danner: Accountability has to be there for the credibility of the police department and my department and for the safety of the community. Home visits; urine screens; getting a log of collateral contacts; getting them employed; seeing that they are paying their financial obligations; all that has to happen to be accountable.

David Spenner: The community and the social services agencies are going to be sharing information with us so that you are held accountable all of the time. If they are in their house, the families are part of this effort. The neighbors are holding this person accountable because they are watching what this person is doing. Employers are going to be able to share information as to whether the person is going to work or not. You are completely wrapped around in an environment in this neighborhood to make sure that you do not re-offend.

David Spenner: We use the COP houses as an anchor point in those neighborhoods that are extremely fragile. So we’ve built upon the fact that there is some trust between police officers who work out of those houses and the neighbors surrounding that house.

Steve Madsen: All of the people coming out of prison that are in the community reentry program have agents that work out of the COP houses.

Kathleen Krause: I value the collaboration with probation/parole agents because we get to exchange information on a daily basis. I can see things on the streets sometimes that’s important that they might want to know about so that they can adjust their rules for that particular person in the program.

Terri Lee Danner: The police officers and the probation/parole agents from the COP houses do home visits together. That’s very important. Credibility for us is accountability.

Steve Madsen: When a police officer can accompany them to that home visit, we can settle any problems that arise out of that surprise visit.

Officer driving car: Does he have any kids?

Passenger in car: He has two.

Steve Madsen: When the officers are with these agents, they are showing the community that we are a partnership working to help participants in this program.

Woman at door: Hello. How are you doing?

Terri Lee Danner: The community reentry program needs to keep people active in non-criminal activities; work is the biggest of those. The workforce development center is key to that and in addition, they’ve partnered with us. They are now providing specialized training to people in our program who can then go out and start in jobs at $14 an hour.

Dwayne Windham: We’re developing life skills that some of them probably never had and build a rapport with family members and members in the community.

David Spenner: The reason an agency needs to implement a reentry program is because we cannot afford not to. In times of declining dollars and shorter resources, we need to make what we have stretch further. It cost you a little bit in terms of time and staff initially, but as the program begins to develop and other people become involved in it, that investment really begins to diminish. I think one of the biggest difficulties is to just make sure that your agency stays focused on this program; and that’s really finding key people in your agency that can keep this program going for you. People really need to get behind the officers that are going to be in the front lines of this program and allow them to make a difference. A recommendation I would make to the law enforcement executives wanting to bring this program to their community is that if you are going to start it, you’ve got to commit to it. You’ve got to stick with it. All of us are going to face budget cuts and this can not be one of the programs that just drops off the table when times get tight.

Steve Madsen: Our participants do re-offend. We’re not perfect. But that number statistically is only 22 percent compared to the national average of 66 percent.

Terri Lee Danner: We succeed either way. We believe the person changes their behavior and they stop committing crimes and the community benefits and so do they and their family. Or they continue on the ways that they were, but because we are monitoring them so closely and there are so many of us involved with them, they are taken back into custody and returned to prison.

Steve Madsen: And we are proud of the fact that so far we have not had any of our participants charged with a gun crime.

David Spenner: I think one of the other benefits we have is that the community really sees us in a different light. Rather than an occupying force or something that’s to be threatened of, they really see us as a partnership to try to keep their families stable; to try to improve their particular neighborhoods.

Terri Lee Danner: You cut down on crime. You give the most dangerous people coming back to your communities a real chance to succeed and it costs you very little. What it does cost you is time of your staff to get it going, but that’s our job and it works.

David Spenner: The way I measure success in this program is how many people are we putting back in jail; are they staying clean and what we’ve found here in Racine is that we use to send two out of three people back to prison for violent crime and it’s down to one out of three. That’s what I call success.

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CBS News: Reentry and Sanction Center

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/?p=20

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See http://media.csosa.gov/blog for the “DC Public safety” blog.

(Audio begins)

Reporter 1: Of the 600,000 inmates America’s prisons release every year, almost two-thirds are expected to be back behind bars within 3 years. Proof corrections experts say that we need new ways to prepare inmates for life beyond the prison walls. That’s tonight’s weekend journal, an exclusive look at a program officially launched this month that seems to be working.

Reporter 2: That’s Decarus Wardrett wielding the trimmer. “Little Man” as he’s known at the North East Washington, DC Barber Shop where he works long days. He’s also working hard at staying clean and out of prison.

Reporter 2: Were drugs a big part of your life?

Decarus Wardrett: Yes, marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine, PCP. I’ve used it.

Reporter 2: Wardrette is like most offenders. Up to 70% have substance abuse problems, constantly in and out of prison. 42 year old Wardrett has been locked up 10 times; his last stint, more than 7 years for robbery. His repeated incarcerations put him here,

Decarus Wardrett: I didn’t really want to come,

Reporter 2: In DC’s innovative Re-entry and Sanctions program. Hard core federal inmates spend 28 days preparing for their release back into the community by focusing on the drug problems that likely began their downward spiral in the first place.

Male 1: Yeah, I do have a problem with authority figures.

Reporter 2: Counseling plays a big part and includes psychotherapy, fatherhood training and anger management with specialized treatment plans for each resident.

Paul Quander: It forces you to look at yourself. It’s difficult to go back and talk about what happened in your childhood. It’s difficult to talk about your mother and your mother’s substance abuse. It’s difficult to talk about how the first time you saw someone use drugs it was your grandmother.

Reporter 2: The approach used here is part of a growing trend across the country, preparing inmates for re-entering the community and staying out of trouble. That’s a major shift from the philosophy of the last two decades when the focus was on building more prisons. But a significant push came in 2004 when President Bush proposed funding for re-entry programs and Congress approved the Second Chance Act.

Paul Quander: The bottom line is people are going to come home. And we can have them come home from hardened without any resources, without any hope, or we can invest the money and we can invest in the people and we can invest in our communities. It’s not treatment versus lock them up. It’s treatment to enhance public safety. That’s the key.

Reporter 2: Decarus Wardrett knows that.

Decarus Wardrett: So I’m tired of going to jail.

Reporter 2: It’s not going to happen again?

Decarus Wardrett: No, I pray to God it won’t. You know, we can never say never, but each and every day is a struggle so I pray.

Reporter 1: The Second Chance Act is still pending in the House of Representatives.

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DC Fugitive Safe Surrender Press Conference

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=57

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See http://media.csosa.gov/blog for the “DC Public safety” blog.

(Audio beings)

Paul Quander: There is this great program that they’ve run in Cleveland whereby they were able to ask the community and the church to come together in an effort and that effort was to invite men and women who were on fugitive status to come into the church to surrender to a man of God in his house. And what that meant was that you didn’t have law enforcement officers going out knocking on peoples doors. You didn’t have people running and chasing. You had people of their own volition coming in and the one constant was the church. Safe refuge. So, when Marshall Conboy brought that to us, we decided as a group that we wanted to do that and on November the 1st and the 3rd, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to invite citizens of the District of Columbia, those individuals who have outstanding warrants for nonviolent felony, misdemeanor and traffic offenses to turn themselves in. Not to the police station, not to superior court, not to my office, but right here, in this church, in this building, in this place of God and we’re hoping that if they do that, they will get a second chance at life. It’s the first step towards a new beginning and a second chance. We’ve come together as a community and one of the things that we wanted to do was to reach out and so I’m going to ask at this time, if Tim Barnes can play for you a public service announcement that the church has undertaken in support of this effort with us and then I’m going to invite Apostle James Silver, the pastor of Bible Way to come forward.

TV PSA: Are you running from the law? If so, you will soon have an opportunity to start anew. I’m Apostle James Silver of the Bible Way Church and from November the 1st through the 3rd, we will open our church to nonviolent offenders. Surrender in safety at our church. Talk to your lawyer and judge and you will receive favorable consideration for your surrender. For more information, you may call 202-585-SAFE.

Paul Quander: Let me introduce to you, Apostle James Silver.

James Silver: Thank you very much. Praise the Lord everybody everywhere. I’m so happy to be here today to greet you in the name of the Lord. All of you who are assembled on this great occasion today, we thank God for the opportunity to be able to host Fugitive Safe Surrender. To those of you who don’t know me, I’m Apostle James Silver, the pastor of the church and I’m proud to have been pastor here, being pastor here 16 years. I’ve been in this church 50 years, so we are very grateful to the Lord for what he is doing. Now my task today is to tell you why we accepted this challenge. Brother Lavelle Jenkins came to my office one day and he told me about it. I don’t think I had previously heard about it and right away as he finished talking the Lord said to me, go for the gold. This is a great even here in Bible Way and we are happy to host it in the name of the Lord. Now, Bible Way is people helping people and one person who was going to climb a mountain was asked why and they said because it’s there and we’ve accepted this challenge because this is a part of Bible Way ministry and many of you perhaps don’t know it so I’ll apprise you of the fact that we have been involved for many years now in prison and drug ministry. We have people in our congregation who have been delivered from drugs as a result of our ministry and we at Bible Way, this is not an inhouse thing. We go from here out into the various areas of the community to help people who are in distress and whatever distress they are in. Now our ministry in Bible Way in regards to prison ministry goes beyond the boundaries of Bible Way, the District of Columbia, Maryland. We go to Ohio and all around down North Carolina and different places and the institutions in the nearby areas of the District to provide that degree of spiritual support to those persons who are in need so we invite you to come to Bible Way. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. If you have a warrant against you in the District of Columbia, we want to provide the facilities here at Bible Way for you to come and voluntarily turn yourself in and we will have people here from our assembly who will be able to pray for you and not only that but after, after this is over, we will be able to minister to you and help you anyway we can. Now, the late Bishop Smallwood Williams left on a regular great legacy of community helps and helps meaning in various areas of life so he’s gone on to be with the Lord and here we are. We’ve picked up the banner and we are moving forward with great dispatch trying to help people in our community and the outlying areas in whatever area of life they find themselves. Now you need to understand that you can come in here, walk freely in, and present yourself to the judges. You’ll be able to talk with judges and with the attorneys and we will be here as a community effort to help you and to give you great comfort. Now you can come in to our facility anytime in November the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from 9 until 5 and we will be here to greet you. We will provide facilities that will make you comfortable while you’re waiting for your name to be called. So as we go farther with this program, Amen, we’re happy that we’re able to host it. In terms of space that we have and we’re happy to provide this space and we’re happy to host it in terms of what the ongoing commitment for the church will be. We’ll be able to reach out into the communities after this is over and we can go into the homes and we can pray for people and we can tell people that serving the Lord will pay off after a while. Now I think my time is just about up but I’m happy to have had this opportunity and I’m grateful to the Lord that as pastor of Bible Way, that we can host this great event. Now let me give you a phone number that will help you. The phone number is 202-585-SAFE or 202-585-7233 and you will get all the information you need. So, I’ll be around here everyday keeping my eyes on you when you come in and we’ll have people here who will pray for you even before you go in that your case may be heard. In the name of the Lord, again I am pastor of Bible Way Church. Let me give you our address. We’re at 1100 New Jersey Avenue and we’re right in the heart of the nations capital with the welfare of you and yours in our hearts. God bless you. I bid you peace.

Paul Quander: Thank you Apostle. At this time, it’s my pleasure to bring forth and ask to come to the lectern Steve Conboy who is the United States Marshall here in the District of Columbia for Superior Court. Steve is the individual that brought this initiative to us and has been a true partner in every sense of the work. He’s worked very hard. This is his baby. Marshall Conboy, please come forward.

Marshall Conboy: Thank you Paul. Good morning and thank you for welcoming us here today. The message truly comes in many different forms and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, Apostle Silver, for welcoming us here. As Paul had mentioned, I took it to a trusted source. Both Paul and Nancy Ware are both partners in the criminal justice coordinating committee and they welcome this fully and I know that we have a lot of thanks to Lavalle Jenkins for bringing that to you. Apostle Silver, I appreciate that. The genesis for this program was the result of really 3 people. A reverend, a prosecutor, and a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio and since that time, we have taken that to over six cities. More than 6,000 offenders have voluntarily turned themselves in. We’ve been in Cleveland, Phoenix, Indiana, Indianapolis, Akron, Nashville, and Memphis and we’re very much looking forward to this operation here. This is a way to extend the olive branch to foster trust in the community and ask folks to do the right thing. Come on in. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be dangerous. The partnerships that exist here, the work that has gone into this. This has been a 2 year journey and the amount of work that has gone on behind the scenes has been truly incredible and it would not be possible if it were not for the work of this gentlemen seated right beside me, Paul Quander. Apostle, you’ve been anointed to take care of your flock, your community, and Paul has been appointed by the president to attend to this community and I know the hard work that he delivers these programs day in and day out here so you have caring people here and I especially want to thank the honorable Chief Judge Rufus G. King III, he has been fully supportive of this program. All the partners of the table had to agree to this before we got this far. This has been a consortium of a very unified effort. I would like to pay particular attention to the soldiers behind the scenes that have really toiled day in and day out and they’re not the people seated up here right now. If I could have just for a moment please, if you could come up and join me here. Theresa Howy, Cliff Keenan, Mike Kanu, Dan Zipulo, Quinzi Booth, Beverly Hill, Len Sipes, Tim Barnes, and Lavell would you please join us as well too. These are the men and women who have poured hundreds of hours behind the scenes planning this. This has been quit a journey. As I’ve been saying from day one, this ain’t Cleveland and this has been different from every city that we’ve attended. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point and we’re very very excited to put this operation on. If I could ask Nancy Ware, the Director of the CJCC to join me up here please and our other partner on the CJCC, Mr. Devon Brown. We simply could not do this without everyone that you see assembled up here but more importantly is that we could not do this without you. We are asking you to take that message out to the community and ask your brothers and sisters out here to please, here is a chance to come in and get this thing, this thing that is behind you, is come in here and peacefully resolve this issue and again I would very much like to appreciate your opening up your doors here Apostle and Paul thank you very much. Without Paul’s leadership here, you would not see the fruits of the efforts coming in place here especially with this staff. It’s been absolutely great. Thank you very much.

Paul Quander: Thank you Marshall. There is an old African proverb that says, it takes a village to raise a child and when you have an initiative like this, it takes more than just one agency. As the Marshall indicated, a number of agencies came together. There is approximately 20 thousand square feet of space in this church that we’re going to use on November the 1st through the 3rd and we want to use every bit of that space and we want to invite every person that has that outstanding warrant, that nonviolent warrant to turn themselves in, but to make this work, it’s been a journey of partners from the United States Marshalls Service to the U.S. Attorneys Office, the Office of the Attorney General, the Public Defenders Service, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Corrections, the Pretrial Services Agency, the Court Services and Defender Supervision Agency and the United States Parole Commission. It’s my pleasure at this time to ask one of our partners. I like to refer to him as the big partner because he’s the chief judge and I’ve had the opportunity to appear before the chief judge as a practicing attorney but chief judge Rufus King, would you please join us as director please. Thank you.

Rufus King: Thank you Paul. I didn’t take that last comment to indicate that you were surrendering. This is a very special occasion and I to want to join in the deep gratitude that all of us at the Criminal Justice Coordinating Counsel have for Apostle James Silver’s generosity and hospitality in making this possible by offering these great facilities in the community to bring this to fruition. I also would like to thank Steve Convoy who really was the spark plug that got this all started and he’s followed through with the initiative to bring everybody together and keep people going and of course it could not have gone anywhere without the exemplary leadership that Paul Quander has shown in not only reaching out to all of the people who have to be involved in this effort but also leading both by cajoling and by example. He’s put in countless hours as have those who you were introduced to just a moment ago. From the courts perspective, we’re really the, although we are the, one of the heavy partners in the criminal justice systems in the city, we are the light partner in this because we’re simply providing the judges who will hear the cases when they come in and what’s really different about this is it’s being done in the community where the level of mistrust and suspicion among those who we are hoping to reach out to can maybe be dropped down a little bit. Maybe they can begin to trust that not all persons in authority are always wrong. Maybe there’s a way they can reconcile with the community. Now there’s a bumper sticker that always caught my attention that says, if you want peace work for justice. What the courts do is to provide the fair and effective administration of justice in the hope that that will provide a peaceful forum for resolving disputes in the community and so get us to a place where there’s more peace in the community. This is a splendid opportunity for that to occur for people who have been at odds with the community to come in and deal with something that has been difficult for them, that has been difficult for us because they’ve been out of step, they’ve been invisible to us, and this is a chance to start on a road to fixing that in an environment where there will be more trust, more chance of really coming together with the community and with the church in whatever form that may take. So I want to thank everyone involved for the huge amount of effort that’s been involved and just say that we are looking forward to the opportunity to conduct our business here in the community to take care of the cases involving nonviolent offenders who want to come in. This is not an amnesty program. This is real. It will be real justice that gets administered here but there is always and will be here especially favorable consideration given to the fact that the person has come in and made the first step to say I’m here and I want to deal with this. We will recognize that so thank you and I’m looking forward to a very successful and constructive few days.

Paul Quander: It’s my pleasure now to invite another partner who’s been with us from the inception, Devon Brown who is the Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections to come forth.

Devon Brown: Good morning. The District of Columbia Department of Corrections is quite honored and pleased to join our criminal justice partners in the implementation of this wonderful program. But this program is not about us. Although the leaders of the program are here before you today, we all know that this program is about you, our community. Justice is best served when people of the community join with the government to insure that fairness is rendered and so it has been with that recognition that we came together to implement this program. I want to thank the pastor of this wonderful, wonderful place. A place of long history and deep respect in our community and throughout this great nation. Pastor Silver, your house like all houses of worship is a place of deliverance. We know that best. The role that the church has played in advancement of civilization and the advancement of our society. We also know full well, that sometimes a stumble prevents a fall and that all of us as part of this human society has stumbled as we have learned to walk and run. We cry out for those that have stumbled to come forward to prevent a fall. The Department of Corrections plays a minor role in this undertaking but yet a necessary role. We are hopeful that our services will not be necessary, that justice will rein and that those who come in this house, in this house, will see Gods work as well as the work of the criminal justice system in the name of fairness. I want to thank all of you.

Paul Quander: As Director Brown indicated, this is an effort not just amongst the law enforcement community but the community at large and this is an effort not only by law enforcement but by the community at large. At this time, what I would like to do is play a public service announcement that features a member of the community and then I’m going to ask for that individual, Mr. Alfred Williams to join us at the lectern.

Radio PSA: It’s kind of embarrassing to have the authorities come and bang on your door at 4:00 o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning because they have a warrant to serve, to pick up one of your sons. I’m not in this by myself. There are a lot of families going through what I’m going through right now. You know, this running and hiding and ducking is not living. Turn yourself in. Do the right thing. And I always used to sing it because I have a junior and this is who I’m really trying to call out to. Yeah, it’s a constant worry. You worry and you try to hide it, but when you sleep at night, it’s in the back part of your mind. I love my sons to death. It’s all I have. My sons and my wife, that’s my family. We all make mistakes. Correct your mistakes and when you make it right, you feel better about yourself.

Paul Quander: This is a human call and this is personal and it’s not about numbers, it’s about lives. At this time, I would like to invite Mr. Alfred Williams down. Mr. Williams.

Alfred Williams: Good morning. It’s kind of tough. I’ve been going through this for a long while. I have 3 sons involved. I’ve got 2 half straight now. My oldest son, they just picked him up last week so I don’t have to worry about him. A warrant or anything on him, they have him now so I hope he gets the help that he needs because he has a serious drug problem. This crack cocaine is vicious. Not alone this dipper these young people are using making them act like they act, but I think this treatment thing is the best thing because I know for a fact, the doors will shut in my sons face when they try to do straight to want to get a job, but because of their records, the door is shut. I bet this program could help them with their addiction and their pretty smart guys so it should be no problem but help them with the training, to get a job, and turn their life around and I don’t like to say to be a productive citizen. I would say do the right thing and help your family and yourself by being something positive and your children, your mother, your father, your cousins, your families because those kids watch what you do and I think that’s why I have to watch what I do. I don’t want to tell my sons, don’t you do this, if they see their father doing it. So, to say this to say that, I think I’ve been pretty good. Maybe not the best, but I’ve been more of a positive role to my sons than a negative one and like I said, I’m not a rich man and that’s all I have is my sons. I have all sons, no daughters, I’ve got grand-daughters and my oldest son is the one I really want to try to be a little better than what he is because he’s my children, he’s my first and I expect a little more out of him than I do the others and I just hope that this 8 to 12 months, whatever year, that he gets the drug treatment and the spiritual guidance that he needs in this program. Maybe I’ll have a new guy, new dude come out of that block when he comes out of that cell and I’m looking forward to this program to try to do and that’s to encourage anybody, anybody who will listen and listen to the commercial. Turn yourself in and do it now and get your life in a positive manner and I thank everybody.

Paul Quander: As Mr. Williams indicated substance abuse and employment are 2 major issues that factor into the lives of the individuals that we deal with. This program November 1st through the 3rd will have present in the church here representatives from Apra which is the District of Columbia’s drug treatment program. They will be on board here, physically located throughout. Also during the surrender period, the Department of Employment Services will be present here. Either they will have their van out front or they’ll be downstairs in the basement with us so that people who are turning themselves in can have access to these services right here and to sign up for the services. At this time, I’m going to invite Keith Campbell to come forward. You’ve heard from the law enforcement officials. You’ve heard from the father of an individual who was out on warrant status. Now, we want to speak directly to individuals who have been there. Who know what it’s like to have to look over their shoulder day in and day out. I’m going to ask Keith Campbell to come forward who is an individual who knows what it’s like to turn and look over their shoulders because there’s an outstanding warrant for them. Mr. Campbell.

Keith Campbell: Good morning. Yes, I was a fugitive and as Mr. Quander just said, there is nothing worse than having to look over your shoulder everywhere you go. You know you can’t get a job, you can’t do anything productive, nothing whatsoever, and you know the really crazy thing about it is that you’re still in the community and there are police all around you anyway so your just ducking and dodging all the time and I think that say for 70% of us offenders, the 2 major issues are substance abuse and just the court belief that I’m not going to turn myself in so I mean I was sitting here listening to the pastor and I was thinking what better mediator for me to turn myself in than the church. Back to the first point, 2 things usually happen, I’ve seen it time and time again when fugitives stay out. Number 1 you either get tired or number 2 you either get desperate and when you get tired, I got tired, you turn yourself in more than likely but when you get desperate, you put your community, the family, the law enforcement, everybody is at risk once the fella is desperate. This is a good place. I was sitting in the back and I saw the ladies of the church coming in and I was almost comparing this to turning myself in to my grandmother sitting here in a church so you can’t beat it. Thank you.

Paul Quander: Like Mr. Campbell I would like to now invite Lawrence Burley to come forth and to talk about this program and what it means and what his experience has been. Mr. Burley.

Lawrence Burley: Good morning. I would just like to thank my distinct Creator for allowing me to be here this morning and maybe give something back to the community. We need to give something back to the community that I kind of took a lot from. My involvement with the criminal justice system goes back to when I was maybe 14 years old and I don’t remember not being under some kind of supervision. I’m 54 years old now. Came off parole in 2004 and that kind of pretty much tells you somewhat about warrant issues. Living a life on the lamb as we call it in the streets, is not a pretty thing because you can’t really move on with your life and even if you do it’s not a matter of if, it’s when you’re going to have pay to the piper, it’s just that simple and can you imagine doing some things and kind of getting your life back on track if that happens for you and you have to be able to go look for a job and stuff like that. If you allow for these things to happen and while you’re out there. I know it could never happen for me because of as most people can attest to that have spoken this morning, my substance abuse issues had a lot, a whole lot to do with my involvement in the criminal justice system and it kind of magnified 10 fold. So I would always be involved and not doing what I needed to do and then when I went in subsequently, I never addressed my substance abuse issues after they asking me why I was in prison but I never did anything other than be abstinent and so when I came back out in the community, subsequently, I did the same thing over again and once I got involved and back into that kind of behavior again, the same process started to take place again. So, I would encourage anybody that has a warrant today. A lot of times, it’s been a lot of times people escalate some things that might not have occurred. You know if this program might’ve been in place during, my criminal life got kind of escalated while I was out doing petty crimes and more violent crimes and stuff like that. Things might not have evolved had I been able to come in and surrender at an early age and have some of these issues of mine addressed. So I would encourage anybody to, you’ll only have to do it once to come in and make an attempt, at least make an attempt to turn your life around because it’s not anybody fault about the way my life turned out. It was the bad choices and decisions I made at a very early age. So I don’t want to blame anybody or fault. As a matter of fact these people should be commended for what their doing and their efforts to bring in everybody that’s fallen including myself, to help the community out and get some of the people to get on track with their lives. Thank you.

Paul Quander: We’ve had an opportunity to show you two of the public service announcements that were prepared for television. At this time, now I would like to play for you two PSA’s that we have prepared for radio and at the conclusion of the broadcast of these PSA’s we’re going to open up the floor for questions for members of the panel up front, the other individuals who have spoken from the community as well.

Radio PSA

Male Voice: Do you know someone wanted for a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor and looking for a way out?

Female Voice: My son’s been hiding for months. We want him to turn himself in but he’s too scared.

Male Voice: Well now there’s an opportunity for him to turn his life around.

Female Voice: Sounds to good to be true.

Male Voice: There’s a 3 day program in D.C. called Fugitive Safe Surrender that will allow nonviolent felons and those wanted for misdemeanors to voluntarily surrender to the law in a faith based neutral setting.

Female: You mean he can turn himself in at a church.

Male: It’s a safe place where you’ll be treated fairly and receive favorable consideration. This program will be held at the Bible Way Church, 1100 New Jersey Avenue NW, November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd between 9 and 5. Call 202-585-SAFE or visit dcsafesurrender.org.

Female: My son just wants to start over.

Male: Then he needs to do the right thing, right now. It’s the first step towards a second chance. Brought to you by the D.C. Justice System and this station.

PSA

Male Voice: If you are wanted for a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor, there’s a 3 day program in D.C. that will allow you to voluntarily surrender to the law in a safe place where you’ll be treated fairly and receive favorable consideration. Just go to the Bible Way Church 1100 New Jersey Avenue NW, November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd between 9 and 5. For more information call 202-585-SAFE or visit dcsafesurrender.org. Do the right thing, right now. Brought to you by the D.C. Justice System and this station.

Paul Quander: Do the right thing, right now. We would like to take any questions that you may have if for the Superior Court, law enforcement partners or members of the community that are assisting us with this initiative. The question was what crimes are we accepting, individuals and which offenses are we not? The hallmark of this program are nonviolent offenses. They could be felony offenses that are nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses, and traffic offenses. We have put together a complete list of violent offenses on our website which is at dcsafesurrender.org under the frequently asked questions and by statue those offenses are identified. So, if I can direct your attention to that website, it will have the listing of the violent offenses that will not be a part of the main initiative but what we have found in Cleveland and in other jurisdictions is that individuals, even that have these non qualifying offenses, they turn themselves in because they are tired of the wait. The other thing is that they will still be given favorable consideration for turning themselves in, but this is targeted for that nonviolent offender because most of the individuals that will come in that fit that qualification, will walk out the same day with either the case resolved or a new trial date or a new probation date so it’s a way to get started again but we want to welcome everyone that has an outstanding warrant into the church to turn themselves in. I believe the question is, is this just for the District. Yes. It is only for those individuals that have outstanding warrants that we’re issued from the superior court of the District of Columbia or the U.S. Parole Commission so those individuals who are on probation or parole can participate but individuals who have outstanding warrants from our neighboring jurisdictions, Prince Georges and Fairfax, no, this is unique for warrants that are issued out on the District of Columbia. I think I got the essence of the question. The question was whether or not this initiative is for the entire District of Columbia or essentially Ward 6. This is an effort for the entire citizenry of the District of Columbia. We are making an effort to reach out to everyone in the district. All of the Wards, every quadrant of the city. This is the central location. One of the great things about this church is not only a strong heritage and commitment to the community but it’s a great location. Right at New York and New Jersey Avenue, so we’re hoping to get everyone in and we’ve reached out to all quadrants of the city to invite people wherever they are in the city to come and to participate on November 1st through the 3rd right here at Bible Way. This is the only site for those days only, yes.

Male Voice: What happens after the first, second, and third if someone wants to surrender, what would be done then?

Paul Quander: Well we would direct them down to the pretrial services agency which is located at 633 Indiana Avenue. That is the location where people, ordinarily everyday people would turn themselves in, and they use the services of one of our partner agencies pretrial services to do that and normally what happens is a person would come into the pretrial services agency. The agency would get the requisite information and then the agency, members of that staff, will actually walk that person over to Superior Court and have the matter resolved so if there is anyone that comes in after the end of the Fugitive Safe Surrender period, that they should turn themselves into the Pretrial Services agency that’s located at 633 Indiana Avenue NW.

Female Voice: One of the main appeals to the program is that you will receive very good treatment if you turn yourself in however, [inaudible] is that if you could receive very good treatment and after that [inaudible] a number of my cases [inaudible]
Paul Quander: One of the issues that we are working with is, we don’t know what is going to come in and we don’t know what history an individual has and this is a partnership to protect the community and so what we need to do is to get that individual in so that we can assess exactly what that person’s status is. There are no guarantees. This is not an amnesty program at all but one of the things that we have done is, we are using technologies. One of the technologies that is available is a GPS, a global positioning satellite tracking system. Some individuals who may come in the court or the United States Parole Commission may be somewhat leery so what we have decided to do is to make the GPS tracking systems available so that the court may say, I’m going to release you but with this condition and that way we know where you are. We know where we can go. We going to set another date so we’re trying to do things so that we can make sure that people know that this is a very good opportunity and that we’re going to be as creative as we possibly can to give favorable consideration without any guarantees because there’s no guarantee whether or not you go to court today, whether or not you’re going to come out but the thing that we will say is you will get favorable consideration and that it will be evaluated and if history is any testament in the other sites in which this has taken place, more than 90% of the individuals who have come in, turned themselves in, have walked out the door at the conclusion of the day. Yes sir.

Male Voice: Good morning.

Paul Quander: Good morning.

Male Voice: What type of services have your programs [inaudible]. How can you take [inaudible] and this may sound poor for the community does this step up the community partners program.

Paul Quander: As far as continuing the programs, one of the things that I’m most interested in as the Director of Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency is that I have a number of individuals who are on probation and parole and I have a number of services that we can provide to those individuals if they come back into the system. We do have drug treatment, we do have education, we do have job development programs. We have a number of programs that are available if we can get people to come off of the streets and to get back into the programing. I mentioned that Apra which is the drug treatment program for the District of Columbia and the Department of Employment Services will be present and participating. These agencies aren’t going away. This is what they do and they’ve been working with us so they will continue to be available. As far as any federal grants and things of that nature, that is something that is beyond the scope of this initiative but we may be able to get some information to you at a subsequent event or you can leave me your contact information and I can have a staff member to get back to you on the possibility of federal grants but I’m just not prepared at this time to speak intelligently on that. Yes, please.

Female Voice: I was just wandering about your communications [inaudible] come today because the public service announcements are brief by nature. Obviously there’s a lot of questions people will have. Are you passing flyers in the areas where the message is going to get to or are you going to go on the radio and interview [inaudible]? How are you going to get the full message to [inaudible] to spread out amongst those that truly might have personal concerns [inaudible].

Paul Quander: You’ve mentioned a couple of the areas. There is a campaign that has already been underway to provide flyers to may members of the community. For the past two Saturdays, staff members and individuals who are performing community service have been distributing flyers throughout the city. They’ve started at various metro stops and have moved out into the community. This past week, we concentrated on the areas in ward 7 and 8 along Southern Avenue, Eastern Avenue, Dean Wood and in that area. This week, there will be another effort to get the flyers out to the community. Our goal is to have a flyer in every beauty shop and barber shop in the District of Columbia. The other thing is, we will be going out and, that’s why I’m thankful that a number of the radio stations are here this morning, so that we can get the message out through talk programs and public service announcements. We are looking forward to speaking with and being interviewed on these programs. Deputy Marshall Bernard Graham did an announcement on Friday, an interview. So, we’re looking to do more and more of this. We’re going to be very busy as we go forward. One of the concerns that I had is that we have this great party planned and no one is going to take advantage of it and so I’m asking all of you to make sure that the word gets out, that we’re going to be here, that there is a great event and we need you to come in because we want you to take advantage of it because we want men and women who are on warrant status to come on in. Get out of the cold because we have programs.

Male Voice: I was just wandering [inaudible] program and maybe nobody else is concerned about this but I was just wandering at what ages are we expecting? Are we expecting the young, the middle-age, or senior citizens that meaning something happened a long time ago and they decided to come in. Are you expecting senior citizens to turn themselves in?

Paul Quander: Actually, yes. Let me give you an example. Last week, we had an individual who was wanted on a case that a warrant was issued in the early 1980s for theft of something from an automobile. That individual was riding in the District of Columbia and got stopped last week. He was arrested. He had that outstanding warrant from 1980. He had that warrant so he came in, the warrant was taken care of but he’s on with his life. So, there are individuals out there who have long standing warrants. They may have forgotten about it and we want to remind them. Come on in and take advantage of this. There will be no juveniles here so there will be only adults that will be coming in but it’s open to everyone and one of the good things about Bible Way, we have an elevator so we have handicap accessibility. It is just great. The other good thing about Bible Way is we couldn’t do this program just with the staff that we had, so Bible Way and some of the other churches will be sending volunteers and that volunteer is going to be the first face that that offender sees. As one of the young men said is that when he came in and he saw some of the members of the church, it reminded if of grandma, that’s what we want. We want people to have that same feeling. That same sense of comfort in doing the right thing as they come forward.

Female Voice: Do you [inaudible] that the number of people that will come maybe some that same day [inaudible] will certainly come. My question to you is what happens like I said, I believe that part of the problem in the number of people and why they’re “on the lamb” and why they’re running around. What types as they go for a jobs and [inaudible] housing and jobs? They can’t get jobs, they can’t afford to pay for housing. I understand there’s a reentry program [inaudible] basically a re-entry program. [inaudible] They’re stranded. There is no housing for them. There’s no food. First thing people tell me [inaudible]. So what do they do? Do you have services [inaudible]? Do you have something so that those kind of people [inaudible] if they come back to the system, hello. You don’t want them back in the system. However if they do come back to the system again [inaudible]. What’s available now. What do you have to help these individuals? In addition to loans, there are thousands [inaudible]. Legislation passed. [inaudible] of utmost interest to me [inaudible].

Paul Quander: Very good question. The issues that you articulated are issues that we confront everyday in this line of work. When you’re talking about social services, when you’re talking about housing, when you’re talking about employment, when you’re talking about jobs skills development, when you’re talking about how does an individual make that transition. These are the issues that I deal with and my agency and the men and women that do this work do everyday. I can speak about my agency and what we have. We’re fortunate in the sense that I have some additional resources that we were able to set aside for this program so I have some resources and it’s not unlimited. It’s quite the opposite. It’s very limited but we wanted to make sure that if we had individuals who were willing to take that first step, that there could be some support for them. I have a small amount of transitional housing that is available. Small amount. There are not many agencies in the district that have that, but I have that now. Again, it’s a small number. We have to continue to work on some of these problems with housing, with some of the other agencies. This program isn’t designed to tackle all of those. It’s a first step but once we get the person back into the system, we can work with it. There is one thing that I can guarantee you. As long as that person stays out in warrant status, there is nothing positive that is going to happen. First step, bring them in, let’s get right here and then we can tackle some of those issues that need tackled. The people here know this is just more than just a one shot program. We want to get people back in so we can get them the services that they need. I thank you for your question. I really do appreciate that. Are there any other questions? Yes ma’am.

Female Voice: [inaudible]. How do you get the message out to [inaudible] and if they [inaudible] closed caption. Also if the person who has a disability wants to turn themselves in do you have [inaudible] interpreters available for them [inaudible]?

Paul Quander: Yes thank you for your question. The exactly same services that are available every day at Superior Court for the hearing impaired will be available here at Bible Way. Any service that is provided at Superior Court will be provided here. I didn’t mention this but the same for translation for Spanish. We have flyers that are in Spanish. They’re actually radio advertisement that is in Spanish and so there will be Spanish interpreters that will be available in the court room and for communication with the defense attorneys that will be available. The Public Offenders Service will bring it’s own interpreters that will provide assistance to the Spanish speaking public so for the hearing impaired and Spanish and any other translative services, we’re going to use the resources of the Superior Court that has been mapped out already. Thank you for your question.

Male Voice: Good morning. If this proves to be successful, could there be another opportunity. Will this be an ongoing thing [inaudible]?

Paul Quander: Let me try to answer it this way. There are other cities that are scheduled to do Fugitive Safe Surrender after Washington, D.C. Being a native Washingtonian, we want to show them the right way to do it so we want to get as many people in as we possibly can. If this proves successful, depending on how many people we get in, with the services that we can provide and if we’re having that impact and if the church is willing and if God is smiling on us, I see no reason why we can’t do it again.

Female Voice: [inaudible] I wasn’t actually an offender. [inaudible] and then when it comes time [inaudible]. Heaven, that God will open the door. [inaudible]. I have my own place. [inaudible]

Paul Quander: Let me just before we close out, I’ll say a special thanks again to the United States Marshall Service for initiating this program and bringing it here to the District of Columbia. It’s a program that I think will benefit our community as a whole. I am really happy to see so many people where as well and Apostle Silver, again, we couldn’t do it without you and the church family so thank you very much and thank you to the Bible Way family. Thank you all very much. Have a good day and thank you very much for coming out.

James Silver: I appreciate the fact that many people, all of you rather have come to this press conference today. The point I want to make is this, this ministry will not end on the 3rd, the benediction will not be given because those persons who come in and voluntarily turn themselves in then we will go into the spiritual aspect of their lives and we’re going to chase them down with foxes and hounds and we’re going to help them to build a spiritual base in their life and this is why they got in trouble in the first place. The Bible says any man be in Christ, he’s a new creature, old things are passed away and we’re going to get their names when they come in. If they want us to visit their home and pray, they can come in our church and we’re going to begin to work with them, but another part I want to make is these old persons who are in trouble with drugs, they’ve got to be a major break, they’re going to have to work hard. They probably didn’t work that hard to get in, but they’re going to work hard to get out. They’re going to put forth some effort. Their delivery completely is not going to come over night. We don’t have any magic wand process, but what we can tell people is that Jesus Christ will help them and give them a new life. You want your life turn around you better get involved with Jesus because he’s the man with the plan. Thank you.

(End of audio)

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Media Coverage of Crime and Criminal Justice Issues

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(Audio Begins)

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I’m Leonard Sipes. Today’s guest is Ted Guest and he is the president of Criminal Justice Journalists. He used to be an editor for U.S. News and World Report and was a newspaper editor before that. Welcome Ted.

Ted Guest: Thank you. Good to be here.

Leonard Sipes: We are here today to discuss the whole concept of journalists covering criminal justice issues, crime related issues, crime reporters. And as being in the business for the last 30 years in terms of doing media relations for a variety of criminal justice agencies, I have had the joy and the thrill of being, I suppose, up against or dealing with the best reporters from the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times and elsewhere and its always fascinated me that of the whole interaction, the whole relationship, the give and take between journalists and those of us who represent the criminal justice system and Ted sometimes it’s adversarial and sometimes its very friendly

Ted Guest: Yeah. It obviously depends on what the story is. So yes, it depends on how cooperative both the source is and the journalist is how professional everyone is. But yes, in this field obviously we’re gonna have some conflict because, let’s face it, we deal collectively in what a lot of people might call bad news. So a lot to times by definition we’re gonna being talking about things that are bad, crimes that were committed and what either is or isn’t being done about it.

Leonard Sipes: And often times the lack of an adequate response on the part of the criminal justice system. So it becomes dicey, there’s no doubt about it. But, I’ll say this, my first 10 years were representing federal agencies, you know large, Department of Justice clearing house and the National Crime Prevention Council. I thought I knew something about public relations. I went to work for the Maryland Department of Public Safety which was corrections and the state police and the Fire Marshals office and Maryland Emergency Management and boy, what a education. I had no idea what real public relations was like until I represented an agency and was on the receiving end not of people who, nice people who wanted information on crime prevention or crime statistics. Now they’re really hammering me as to why did your agency do what it did and why did it screw up and yada yada yada. It was difficult.

Ted Guest: Yes. I don’t know if you want to get into some of the substance here but one I guess myth is that all journalists are alike and all media are alike and clearly that is not correct especially in this day and age we live in now with people on the web, people doing pod casts as we’re doing right now, people doing all sorts of media. So that’s one big basic point which establishes the beginning that like people in your profession, people in the journalism profession are gonna come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and I don’t mean that sarcastically, but people who are trained people who are not very well trained, people who might have some preconception about what a story is or what a story isn’t. But I think we should avoid although we are gonna be speaking in generalities, people in your profession should avoid generalities in dealing with the media such as you know all media people are terrible or all of them are great or all of them think that public agencies are bad because most of those things are not true. I think people, we find, deal, with things on a story by story basis. Let’s get into some of the specific things you want to explore here.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Well part of that is however a sense with representing the criminal justice agencies, representing government for the last 20, 30 years, there is a good degree of mistrust by people on the government side because they think the journalist is solely there to embarrass him. They don’t understand the fact that it’s a complex criminal justice agency, that there are budget issues, that there political issues or all sorts of things that are going on that I guess, considerations that the journalist never considers. It’s simply from their perspective, it’s a gotcha. It is simply an exercise to embarrass not educate the public. Now on the media side I think sometimes that they have the perception that we in the bureaucracy simply are not responsive to their needs. We too secretive, we don’t talk enough, we’re not open enough and somewhere in the middle of all that’s probably the truth.

Ted Guest: Right. Of course we in the media don’t cover things for the most part in terms of agencies. I don’t come to work in the morning, if I’m a reporter thinking for the most part, that my job today is to assess how an agency is doing. There are exceptions for that. There are obviously a lot of investigations throughout journalism history in how particular agencies work. But I think we should think about, the journalists are thinking about things more in terms of stories. What is a story? And a story can be a very generic story like what is happening with crime and criminal justice in our community or more likely it’s going to be a story about a particular crime that’s been committed. Either a crime, we may know a lot about that crime, we may know not very much, we might know that someone is being inspected or arrested in that crime and go from there. And I think that’s where most journalists are coming from and I think a lot of agency people may think wrongly, I’m coming to work in the morning; I’m going to do a story about how the police department is terrible. Well, I mean that could be the case somewhere, I’m not saying that isn’t the case but more likely I’m coming just to find out what’s going on and then to assess things. And it may be that part of that assessment will be how well the agency is doing but I think the first thing we start with is sort of the basic. We all know the cliché about the basic four or five Ws, you know, who, what, where, when, why. That’s what we’re trying to find out and we hope that agencies, government agencies, or private agencies can be helpful in trying to determine that. Now clearly we may want to get into this. There are going to be some cases in which there’s a question in which an agency handled a particular case but that’s not the focus of most journalistic reporting in the crime area, I don’t think.

Leonard Sipes: Well before going on to the content of the program. I do want to mention the fact that you are associated with what, two universities?

Ted Guest: Criminal Justice Journalists is an independent organization. We have a board of 50 working journalists. Journalist who have gone into academia or into law but yes we are affiliated with two places. The University of Pennsylvania Criminology Department and more recently John J. College of Criminal Justice, New York City and we have created there something called the Center for Media Crime and Justice. Which Criminal Justice Journalist is a part. The basic purpose in both of these institutions is to improve the media coverage of criminal justice. So, I want to set that out very clearly that we’re trying to improve things and of course that includes a critique of the media and a critique in many cases of public officials. Generically, we’re into journalist training but there’s also by definition includes training if you could call it that of public officials and people who deal with journalists. So one of our major things now is to put out a daily news digest of major stories in criminal justice nationally in the United States and sometimes in foreign countries everyday because of the format we have a limit of 12 stories but we try to get a variety of stories there from federal, state, local. Not obviously trying to cover every crime. There’s no way we could do that but major issues,

Leonard Sipes: It’s the best summary and I tell the people everyday, it is the best summary of crime and criminal justice issues on a daily basis bar none. How do people get it? People listening to this program, how do they get access to it?

Ted Guest: Well you have to go to a website. I don’t know if you actually want me to recite the web address.

Leonard Sipes: Sure of course.

Ted Guest: I’ll read it. One way to do it would just be to do a Google a search of our name, Criminal Justice Journalists or the name of the news service, Crime and Justice News. Because we are supported primarily by John J College, it’s free. You can get this once a day via email or it can be,

Leonard Sipes: And it’s an incredible resource.

Ted Guest: Or you could just look it up on the web. I mean I could give the exact name.

Leonard Sipes: No, no. I think if they Google Criminal Justice Journalists they’re going to be able to get access very quickly to your newsletter and anybody, especially, any citizen, anybody interested in a crime and criminal justice issues, this is the publication that keeps me up to date of what’s going on throughout the country regarding crime and criminal justice issues so you all should be congratulated for that.

Ted Guest: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: Ted, what are the major issues as far as journalists who cover the criminal justice system? Is it access? Is it being stonewalled? Is it the paranoia and distrust of the media? What is it that you think is the principle issue as far as criminal justice journalists are concerned?

Ted Guest: Well by issue, I mean, there are various ways you could interpret that. The major thing I think is just trying to cover the news in terms as I said of both general trends in crime and justice but also getting information about individual cases. And in most areas I think this works out pretty well, most areas. Now there are some exceptions, I mean and again a lot of this is anecdotal. I think you’re listeners on this know that in this country in the United States we have somewhere around, no one even knows, 17,000 or 18,000 law enforcement agencies, 50 state correction systems, of course the federal system so everything I say varies. In one area everything could be working out well and I hope it is in most areas. In other areas it’s not working out well. For instance, reporters who say anecdotally, I can’t get any information out of the police department or they will just tell me the bare amount of information. You got to remember with these 17 or 18,000 agencies and the limited number of reporters, a lot of information gathering is being done by phone, by internet, second hand so it’s not usually a case of reporters sitting down like we are now face to face doing interviews. And of course we’re talking about a 24/7 operation. Maybe someday way back when you could operate more or less on a Monday through Friday 9-5 schedule of course that was never really literally true but whatever was the case then now we’re in a 24/7 era so things could be coming up at any hour of the night and day so access to information is one of the major issues. It’s hard to generalize it. Again this can vary from place to place and from person to person. Obviously there are state laws, there are regulations but a lot of reporters dealing with sources, and by sources I mean not only government agencies but just private agencies, service providers, lawyers, etc. It comes down to personal relations.

Leonard Sipes: Yes, I’ve always said that.

Ted Guest: As the level of knowledge on both sides and as I said there are reporters who are knowledgeable and some that aren’t and public officials who are knowledgeable and some that aren’t and when you have a happy medium there of professional people dealing with each other with high level of knowledge generally it works out fine. The problems come in when one side or the other doesn’t have that level of knowledge and there’s a lot of dissatisfaction. I know among public officials, I get reporters who don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t know the difference between probation and parole, between jails and prisons, between,

Leonard Sipes: I’ll throw an observation out and that is when I first started this you had beat reporters, you had reporters who really were knowledgeable about the criminal justice system. You had hard nosed investigative reporters who made your life very difficult because often times they knew more about the subject matter than you did. Now, they were ordinarily fair. These real tough hard nosed investigative reporters, ordinarily I found them to be very fair. They ordinarily tried to cut it right down the middle. I think that’s changed. I think it’s changed dramatically because of the cut backs in newsrooms all through out the country. I think now you’re going to get a reporter who really doesn’t know a lot about the topic. And that is I think increasing. Your opinion?

Ted Guest: Well it’s hard to quantify this so, and again as I said earlier we have so many different medias especially some of the new medias and that certainly has proved true. On the other hand we still have quite a few very good newspapers and broadcast operations who have experienced reporters so it’s pretty hard to generalize but let’s assume whatever the actual number is; there are a bunch of journalist out there and any time who don’t know really the basics of what they’re talking about, about whatever subject. Whether it be agriculture or energy or criminal justice. So, our group, again to give a plug for us, we have some resources to help on this. I’m getting a little ahead of the game here but we have a course at a place called the Pointer Institute in Florida. Of course the basic course for police reporters and one for court reporters. We also have a guide online. You could see all of this,on our website a guide telling journalists the basics. But even then, even if journalists knew all of that, which they doing, they’re always going to be new reporters. People are coming out of journalism schools literally every year and thousands of them who don’t know this stuff so I would urge people in your profession to be patient which is sometimes difficult when people are on deadlines but be patient and if necessary err on the side of explaining the basics. If you start off again in a hypothetical case, if someone’s asking you about probation or parole you might say, do you know the difference. If they say yes I know the difference, well it may become clear that they do or it may become clear that they don’t.

Leonard Sipes: Or it becomes clear in their reporting that they don’t and they were just too embarrassed to ask.

Ted Guest: Yeah, so. Or you might have and I know, I think you do in this particular agency, but actual fact sheets either online or on piece of paper that you can hand people. A lot of people, again, just to use that very basic thing, don’t know the difference between a prison and a jail, it can seem pretty obvious but a lot of people say he was sent to jail for 20 years. You think, no wait a minute, jail is usually for people with sentences of one or two years.

Leonard Sipes: Or I’ve seen print reporters say it was a robbery when it was a burglary.

Ted Guest: Yes. So, be patient and don’t assume that people know that and most reporters again, there are exceptions to everything, most reporters want to learn the facts, want to get it accurately. Who wants to do an inaccurate story? So most reporters will appreciate I think efforts by public officials to get them the correct information. Now some of them still won’t get it right. By the way, this may be a little off the subject but I would feel free if I were a source of a story to call up a reporter who has screwed something and correct them later in a, again, in a positive way or if that doesn’t work, going to their superiors. I know you don’t want to do that very often but if there something really egregious and the reporter is either not returning your call or is continuing to make the same error, I think the superior of that reporter should know about it. Again, I’m talking about cases, extreme cases here in which someone really did something terrible. Unfortunately there’s a level of error in journalism.

Leonard Sipes: The best available version of the news. History’s first draft.

Ted Guest: Yeah, everyday, now this is good news. I think every day in most US newspapers there is a long list of corrections. Sometimes it’s 10 or 12 items. You might say that you could look at that either way, that it’s terrible they make 10 or 12 mistakes. When you think about it, a big newspaper of 50, 60, 70 pages, if they make 10 or 12 mistakes and some of them are very minor, I noticed just today I think it was the New York Times, ran a correction from a story from the year 2000 from 7 years ago but they were, they said hey we just learned about this, we are correcting it. Now granted some news media are not very good about making corrections but I think that’s good advice.

Leonard Sipes: You started talking a little while ago about the personal relationship between the public affairs officer or somebody representing the government, the bureaucracy and the individual reporter. I mean, you’re bureaucracy, the bureaucracy of the media, the bureaucracy of the government, we all mistrust each other. It is a bit of an adversarial relationship but in probably 85 maybe even 90% of the times it is nothing more than a personal relationship where that person asked you questions and you responded and in many cases go off the record and provide a full explanation as to what’s going on. I remember quite a few times I would say to the reporter, now you know everything I know. So you know there’s no question about you not knowing the facts and knowing exactly what the facts are even though I can’t give them to you for the record. Hopefully in a couple of days from now I’ll give them to you for the record. In many cases it’s that level of personal interaction. Or that reporter will come along and say look I’m under incredible pressure on the part of my editor to get this done. I think my editor is completely off base but I’m going to ask it anyway. I’m going to ask this embarrassing question and you can respond in an off the record basis. So much of this is that personal relationship and a matter of trust between that government representative and that journalist, correct?

Ted Guest: Yes. We just have to respect the different jobs that we have. I mean you have a particular job. I have a particular job. Some things you do I might not agree with but I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. Some things I do you might not agree with. I presumably have a pretty good sense of what my audience wants and they might or might not…

Leonard Sipes: Well you also have a first amendment right to do whatever you want.

Ted Guest: It might or might not correspond with yours so that’s just another bit of advice I would give to again, to public officials. You may not appreciate the way that something was portrayed in the news media but you’ve got a job to do.

Leonard Sipes: I’ve wrote an article and I sent it to you in advance to this conversation and part of it again was, not to beat a dead horse, but the mistrust that we in many places in government have. And I’m talking about 30 years of being in government and there’s this inevitable mistrust. People saying Leonard you just don’t understand that X is just out to get me. They’re being very unfair in terms of their reporting. They’re not placing facts in context and if you talk to that reporter, that reporter in many cases is saying hey I’m reporting on what I know. If you know something beyond that you need to tell me. So there’s in many cases there is this, and I know from going to a lots of parties with reporters and having reporters as friends, they refer to me as the flack. They refer to me as uh oh here comes government. They have this perception of us as being stonewalling bureaucrats in many cases so there is that mistrust there and I don’t think that that mistrust is ever going to go away. I think it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon in terms of government and media.

Ted Guest: That maybe true but I wouldn’t characterize the relationships as primarily in terms of mistrust. I would say 80 or 90% of dealings between reporters and public officials in the case of a normal day or week are sort of normal professional dealings that don’t involve mistrust. I think the problems come in when there is a story and often it’s a very big story in which there is some either a hint or a possibility of malfeasance and I think that’s where the problems come in. Just to take an example that’s common in this profession. There are always going to be cases in which a former, and someone with a criminal record, could be a former inmate, a former parole or a probationer,

Leonard Sipes: Goes out and does something terrible.

Ted Guest: That’s going to do something bad. So that’s going to happen, we’re going to report on it and I know there’s this big debate which I don’t really sympathize with about good news bad news, why don’t you people ever talk about good news, and we do talk about good news but those kinds of stories are going to come up. So, and some reporter might have, and I don’t know if this is in a category of mistrust but might have the preconceived notion, well if some one who was on probation committed another crime that means that there was a mistake made in putting the person on probation. Well it’s conceivable there was a mistake and there have been many cases in history in which people, officials, judges, professionals have said in retrospect, yes that was a mistake you know we shouldn’t have put that person on probation or parole but there is an equally good argument in many cases that yes there’s just an element of risk in life in general and that yes there was a risk taken. We take risks every day. We released X number of people, most of them thankfully don’t do anything bad when they’re on probation or parole,

Leonard Sipes: But some do, that’s inevitable.

Ted Guest: Anything meaning committing a major crime. But some do and a perfectly good answer in a hypothetical case might be yes, we took a risk, we took many risks in 2007 and some of them didn’t turn out very well and this was one of them and of course that can sound very self-serving or it could be portrayed that way. But those I think are the kinds of stories again where sometimes we get into professional disagreements or the public officials might not think they were portrayed very well. But I don’t think in most cases it’s the case of the news media coming in with a preconceived notion that someone made a terrible mistake. Although that could be the case and again sometimes mistakes were made.

Leonard Sipes: Well I always maintain that I think reporters, generally speaking, have opinions of agencies and I think that often times that spokesperson is responsible, either good or bad for that opinion of that agency. One of the things that I advocate is that agencies get out and interact with media far before something like this happening so the media has an understanding of what is going on. Has the contextual understanding of that agency or operation. I remember representing the state of Maryland. We had our home detention program and the home detention program had uniformed correctional officers and parole and probation agents armed in marked police cars and they’re out there supervising people involved in home detention and every member of the media that covered the criminal justice system in the Baltimore metropolitan area and a Washington Post reporter had ridden along on a home detention program. So when we had somebody go out and do something stupid, it wasn’t terribly stupid, but it was news worthy. It was interesting that most of the media came to our defense explaining that this is one in 500 who had been part of the program and actually promoted the program as something good and something with in our best interest. I think that’s the context that a lot of people in the criminal justice system are looking for or the government in general and I think that’s what they think is missing in a lot of coverage that contextual understanding of the situation.

Ted Guest: Yes and you’re right. You’re describing, a good practice would be to basically know the media in your area and make sure to the best of your ability that they do have this background information. I remember on the other side of the spectrum. I remember running into one state corrections director a few years ago at a social event, at a conference who basically told me Mr. Guest I never talk to the media because all they want to do is negative stories. Well I think I told this gentleman and certainly what I feel is that’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you start from the idea you’re never going to talk to the media. What that means is the only time they will call you probably is when there is a big problem and it’s sort of a vicious circle and so if this man is never going to talk, probably the only time I’m going to call him is when there’s let’s say a riot in the prison or an escape because I know I think if I call him just on a random day and say hey I would like to do a story on one of your rehabilitation programs. If that’s really his policy that he’s not going to talk to the media I might as well not make that call. So, yeah and again as you said it doesn’t mean even if the best effort you make to prepare the media you’re still going to get occasionally a negative story because someone is going to screw up sometime but again that’s part of the game.

Leonard Sipes: And again that’s inevitable. I mean government is not perfect. Lord knows governments not perfect and we’re going to make our fair share of mistakes. I think with people from our end, all we’re looking for is the context. Placing it in its proper context and I think that all of what you guys are looking for is access and fairness and some information about your program and not being unjustifiably jerked around.

Ted Guest: Right.

Leonard Sipes: I think that’s the heart and soul of public relations and I think that sums up 80, 90% of public relations right there in terms of what I’ve just said.

Ted Guest: One thing I just wanted to add to what I’ve said before. This thing about good news or bad news. It’s not true that the media never do so called good news stories. In fact I deliberately ran one in my digest the other day in which there was a story out of Tennessee about a, I think it was a graduation ceremony for some convicts who had been through a rehabilitation program and how one of them had won an award because he had got the job and stayed out of trouble and the media did do a story. Now was that on the front page, no it probably wasn’t, but it was a positive story and a lot of people say why don’t you do more of those stories well one answer is that sometimes they can be hard to do because as we know a lot of the possible figures in those stories actually don’t want publicity.

Leonard Sipes: No news is good news, I’ve heard that like 500 million times in 30 years.

Ted Guest: Yeah and but a lot of people as we all know who have been through these programs actually don’t want publicity because if they’ve gotten their life back together that’s wonderful but they probably don’t want a story about how as a former convict they’ve finally have gotten a job. You know they don’t want to jeopardize this so but still it is still true and I’ll just say it flat out here. We are going to do more stories that you might classify as bad news stories. But for the same reason that when the plane crashed,

Leonard Sipes: That’s the nature of news.

Ted Guest: We do the stories about the plane crash we don’t do the story about all the planes that didn’t crash and it’s basically the same principal.

Leonard Sipes: It’s the nature of the news and I think from the government’s point of view that as long as it’s placed in the context it’s fine. It’s pretty easy to generalize. It’s pretty easy to simply say this is wrong and link it to 5 or 6 or 7 other unrelated things. I think people in government are simply looking for fairness and journalist are simply looking for access and not being jerked around. I still think that that’s the bottom line behind 80% of public relations

Ted Guest: Right.

Leonard Sipes: Ted Guest the president of Criminal Justice Journalist, former editor of US News and the World Report. If you’re looking for again a dynamite news summation, every single working day of the week, the best news summation on crime and justice, Google Criminal Justice Journalists and you can get yourself on that list. You don’t have to be a journalist to get on the list. Ladies and gentlemen this is D.C. Public Safety. I want you to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

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