Archives for January 2009

Former Offender Writes Guide on Reentry

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This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=84

[Audio Begins]

Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. Back at our microphones is Eddie Ellis. Eddie has a front page article in The Washington Post. He’s been at our microphone before. I’m going to read a little bit from The Washington Post:

“I did half my life in jail,” said Ellis who turns 33 this month, “It’s easier for me to go back there and live because it’s less responsibility. Out here, things are harder.”

We’re going to talk about this whole issue of re-entry as we have in the past, but one of the things, and one of the reasons why The Washington Post did the front page article on Eddie Ellis is that he put together a pretty good resource manual to assist offenders when they get out of prison. What are the things that they should know? Where can they go for help? What should they do?

In my 40 years within the Criminal Justice System, I am not aware of anybody coming out of the prison system that turned around and reached back to the people who are still in the prison system, and tried to help them in terms of this manual, so Eddie, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Eddie Ellis: Thank you Len.

Len Sipes: Alright, Ladies and Gentleman, we are receiving 122,000 requests for these programs on a monthly basis. Every month it seems to go up and up and up, and we appreciate your comments. We respond individually to all of your comments, and we work your comments into these programs. You can find us at media.csosa.gov or the website, which is the main website for the agency, www.csosa.gov. Media.csosa.gov is the podcast site where we have the radio and television stations and where we have transcripts and a blog, and we are just receiving an award for television production from a county television association, so I appreciate your comments, and I appreciate everything you are doing to make the show a success.

Okay, Eddie, back to you. So, we have this Washington Post article, and you know the President of the United States gets on the front page of The Washington Post, the Mayor of DC gets on the front page of The Washington Post, and you are on the front page of The Washington Post. How does that feel?

Eddie Ellis: It’s an honor. It’s an honor. It means I’m doing what I gotta do. You know, I had the life in prison, and I’m just trying to make my community better, and I think people are recognizing that, and that’s what’s important to me.

Len Sipes: Now, you are out there, even as of today, you are coming from a job interview. How did that go?

Eddie Ellis: It went well. It went well. I went there and pitched myself and hopefully I get another job soon.

Len Sipes: Alright, good, and that’s one of the things we want to talk about, this whole issue of reentry. Again, reading from the article, at 15 he was sent to the Oakville Detention Facility in Laurel, which is the Juvenile Justice Facility for the District of Columbia, and Laurel in Maryland, on an armed robbery charge. He said he was innocent and the court agreed, dismissing the case, but on December 20th 1991, months after his release, he shot and killed another high school student during an argument, and Eddie said it was self-defense, but he was convicted of manslaughter, and the next paragraph goes on to say that while in prison he was implicated in another slaying and sent to a super maximum prison in Florence, Colorado, and one of the things is, that I read this solely from the basis of we want to understand that a good number of the 700,000 individuals that come out of federal and state prisons, every year, a good number have -and when I say a good number, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of them -have violent criminal history backgrounds, and Eddie I ask this question of you just about every appearance, what do you say to the people that say, “Man, you know, with that kind of violent history, I don’t think that you should be out of prison at all?”

Eddie Ellis: Well, you know, people have their opinions, and my thing is this, if we paid our debt to society, we should be given another chance to prove ourselves, and I’ve made some bad choices in my past, and I’ve taken responsibility for those choices, and unfortunately, you know, somebody lost their life, in 1991 when I went to jail.

Len Sipes: That was the school shooting?

Eddie Ellis: No, it wasn’t at a school, but he was a high school student, you know, selling drugs like I was, was in the street like I was, and he pulled a gun, and I pulled a gun, and he was shot, and unfortunately he lost his life, but I can’t bring that back. So, what I want to do now is give back to my community with the resources to help people come home and change the outlook on life, and I want people like ex-offenders to see that a lot of us can do right, and I want people in the community to see the same thing.

Len Sipes: You know, there is a larger issue here, excuse me, both in terms of the ex-offender community, and in terms of the community at large because, again, nothing more than what you and I have talked about repeatedly in the past, is that I go back to the two most influential people in my life, my mom and my wife, and my mom, God rest her soul, simply said, “Leonard, you can advocate for offenders all you want, I’m telling you the money should go to the elderly.” She had been through the Great Depression, and the Second World War, you know, they’ve paid their debt and should be taken care of. You can’t argue with that.

My wife, who was a vice president of a county PTA basically said, “Leonard, the money needs to go to kids,” so that’s one of the reasons why I brought up your charges, is that the reality is that people are just going to have a hard times coming to grips with reaching out to Eddie Ellis, putting a human face on Eddie Ellis and doing what we would say is probably the right thing to do, solely from a pragmatic point of view, because the programs indicate that the more we help you guys that are coming out of the prison system, the less crimes you commit.

Eddie Ellis: That’s true, and I am not going to argue the opinion of your mother or your wife, but I’m just, and I want to say this, we’re here. We’re not going anywhere, and without the help with things, it will get worse, but with help things can get better. Things won’t change fully, but things can get better.

Len Sipes: And I think that’s the heart and soul of it, because people do this, advocate for reentry for a wide variety of points of view. Some do it from a biblical point of view. Some do it because it is mandated either by the Koran or, if you are part of the Jewish religion, I am told that there are great similarities in terms of Jesus’ sense and command, if you will, of going into the prison system and reaching out, and going into the jails and reaching out to criminal offenders. Some people do it because they believe it’s a moral duty. Some people do it because it’s a religious duty, and some people do it as I do it, from pure pragmatism, because it is, and this is what I tell people, exactly what you tell people, they are there. They are a ten-minute drive from where you are, thousands, tens of thousands, and if you are in any metropolitan area in the United States, and we have listeners in Australia, England, New Zealand, and I don’t care where you are, there are thousands of offenders with violent criminal histories within a ten-minute drive from where you are right now, 15-minute drive tops. They are there, and so the question becomes whether or not you want them to be a taxpayer, or whether or not you want them to be a tax burden, and whether or not you want them to victimize family and friends and community, and whether you don’t. To me, it’s just that direct, and that pragmatic.

Eddie Ellis: Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from, but the problem I have is the negative attention that the media gives to ex-offenders all the time, and I’m saying that to say that 90% of the things that you see on the media screen, or in the newspapers, is negative. You know, it’s rare that you actually see us out front and doing good, even though it’s a lot of us out here doing good. We can’t change what we’ve done in the past, and so the only thing that we can do is move on and try and help our community, and I’m doing what I’m doing because I want to help my community. I don’t want see someone kill my little brothers, or my little cousins, or rape them and beat them. I don’t want that, and so if I can give these men and women this information, it’s very important for me.

Len Sipes: And that is your point and my point. It is, and I have a full respect for people who look at this, either from a moral point of view or a religious point of view. I fully respect them. I also fully respect people who say, “You know, Leonard, they should be locked up and the key thrown away, and that’s what’s going to make society safer,” because there is good solid research that says incarcerating people makes the community safer, so I understand everybody’s point of view, but I’m stuck with your point, you are here. I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of people like you that are here, so what do I want them to do? Do I want them to be a pain, or do I want them to contribute, and the research is, I think, pretty clear that you can have a 20-30% reduction in recidivism which for some states, by the way, that means not having to build an entire prison. I mean, you’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars to build and hundreds of millions of dollars each year to maintain a prison. That’s money that could be going to colleges. That’s money that could be going to the elderly, or to school kids, so you can have a big financial incentive to do these programs and more and more states are looking at it that way.

But still, I mean, we both acknowledge that society is just not jumping up and down and saying, “Welcome home, how can I help you.”

Eddie Ellis: And that’s the problem I have, because they say we must pay our debt to society, right? I’ve paid 15 years of my life, to society, right, for doing what I did, and I’ve taken my full responsibility for what I did, so what am I to do now, come out here and just sit back and just allow society to turn its back to me after I’ve done and paid my debt? That’s the problem that I have, you know, because you have a lot of people out here that make bad choices and make bad decisions and my thing is, like I say, I can’t change what happened, but I will continue to do what I need to do to help those in my situation, so those who are not in my situation understand how can they help us.

Len Sipes: I’m going to give Eddie Elllis’ email address, and it’s in the article in The Washington Post, so if you don’t remember this address, you can go to our main website, which is www.csosa.gov for the Court Service of Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, which is a federal executive branch agency, and you can go onto the website and look at the article. It’s like the fourth paragraph down, and I’ll repeat this throughout the program. His email address is eddieellis_ede@yahoo.com, or again go to our website and it is right at the top of the page www.csosa.gov

Eddie, we’ve been talking a little bit today about the fact that in Washington DC and cities around the country, every summer you come across the issue of violent crime, of people shooting other people, and there’s been quite a stir in DC lately about young people being involved in acts of violence. There was a 13-year-old shot and killed just the other day in the Trinidad neighborhood, not terribly far from where we are right now, do you have any thoughts on all of this? I mean, you’ve been in the street, you’ve been part of the gangs, you’ve been part of the lifestyle, you’ve been incarcerated, and you’ve been around people who have done a lot of things. What is your opinion on this whole issue of violent crime and young people?

Eddie Ellis: Well, to be honest, it’s sad that this stuff is continuing to happen, but I feel that the lack of programs and recreational centers in those areas for these kids could lead to a lot of this stuff, and I’m not, you know, making any excuses for anybody’s actions, but I think that government officials need to be held for these programs not being there for these kids. Where do they have to go? Where is the recreation center? I used to play football on Florida Avenue for the #9 Boys and Girls Club. It’s no longer there, and 90% of the people in that Florida Avenue area played for this boy’s club. It’s no longer there. They don’t have nowhere to go, and the only problem I have with the checkpoint thing is ,

Len Sipes: By the way, let me explain that. The Metropolitan Police Department is setting up checkpoints in the neighborhood. They did it before and crime went down. The neighborhood was ambivalent about it. Some supported it and some did not, but as soon as they pulled out, you had shootings all over again, not just the murder of the 13-year-old, but other shootings there as well, and so they’ve restarted the checkpoints where they are asking for identification for people moving by vehicle in and out of the community, and if you don’t have a legitimate reason for being there, then they will not let you in, and so go ahead Eddie.

Eddie Ellis: The problem I have with that is, as a taxpayer, why don’t I have the right to drive anywhere in my city? I have a real problem with that. I understand what you are trying to do, but for the same time it’s like you violated my civil rights in not allowing me where I want to go, you know, and I clearly understand what they are trying to accomplish, but I also understand that some of these people have given away their civil rights by allowing them to just do that, because if I want to take someone through the city that’s visiting here, and take them through the city, why can’t I do that? Why am I being stopped?

Len Sipes: I guess the larger issue, and I’ve been wrestling with this issue, and everybody in criminology is wrestling with this issue for 40 years now, is that, as you have just said, it’s frustrating that it continues. I mean, the recreational programs, fine. I grant you that. There should be recreational programs, but the problem itself, is it a matter of programming, or is it a matter of parenting? Is it a matter of the community? I mean, at what point does government say, “You know what, this really is a matter for the community. It really is a matter for the parents. It really is a matter for the individuals themselves and the decisions that they make.” Now, some people will say that’s blaming the victims, but in Criminology 101, the most powerful influence over anybody is going to come from their immediate peer group, and that’s parents, and that’s family and that’s community.

Eddie Ellis: Well, I don’t get it. I’m putting blame all across the board. I’m not, you know, dismissing anybody, but the problem I got to say, if the person normally got to do with this child, and that’s like my mother, I know for a fact that my mother done everything she could to keep me out of trouble and away from trouble. You know, and ,

Len Sipes: Your father wasn’t there.

Eddie Ellis: My father died, right, when I was a kid, right. But my mother did everything that she needed to do to keep me out of trouble. I went to school. I played sports. I went on family vacations. I done what I was supposed to do. I went to see my doctor when I was young when I needed to see him, and all that, but my thing is this, I chose to step out of line and make that choice, so I’m not blaming my mother, and I’m not going to allow anybody to blame my mother.

Len Sipes: Right, but I’ve talked to, and so have you, dozens of people caught up in the game, and the research substantiates this. The research is pretty clear on this, a lot of them, they raised themselves. A lot of them, they raised themselves, and they’re angry about it, and a lot of them started alcohol and marijuana at 9, 10, and 11, started crime at 11, 12 and 13, and a lot of them got pushed around in the process, physically, by whatever parent was there and whoever was in that house, so a lot of these kids who are caught up in the game, you know, they had a terrible upbringing.

Eddie Ellis: Yeah, but that’s but that’s not paying attention to them.

Len Sipes: Well, that’s my point. Why isn’t it paid attention?

Eddie Ellis: Because it’s easier to deal with surface stuff, and I always say this, because I think a lot of these men and women are dealing with a lot of mental issues, and I think that is not addressed.

Len Sipes: 50% of all offenders claim issues of mental health, mental health issues.

Eddie Ellis: And I don’t deal with stats myself, but I believe that, and my problem is this, I’ve lived in Montgomery County, in the suburbs.

Len Sipes: And Montgomery County is a wealthy county suburb of Washington DC.

Eddie Sipes: And I witnessed a lot of my classmates that had a lot of problems, and worst problems than the kids I’d been hanging with in DC, but I’ve never around anybody in DC that said they going to kill themselves, and your parents are making all this money, and your house is as big as two or three of our homes in DC, and I’ve never saw this before, so the issues that they deal with out there, it’s a little different, but they are addressed in a different way out there, than it is in the city, and I say this, as to say, when someone shoots somebody in the suburbs, you know what a lot of the times they say? They had mental health issues. He or she was abused when they was young. They have mental health issues. But in the city it’s the blame of the parent. It’s the blame of the lack of something, and I have a problem with that, because it’s like you are overlooking the mental health problem that these kids may have, but out in the suburbs you are not doing that, you are accepting it as a mental health issue, and that’s the problem I have.

Len Sipes: Alright, where does it lead to in terms of the larger issue of offenders coming back out of the prison system? We are going to shift gears from the younger people getting involved in all of this. Most crime is not reported. Most reported crime does not end up in arrest. In some cities throughout this country, there are a sizeable number of crimes that, when they are arrested, they are not prosecuted, and most people who end up being prosecuted do not end up doing prison time. They may go to the local jail for a small amount of time, but they don’t end up in the state prison. They don’t end up in the federal prisons. So, the folks who end up in prison have somehow and some way gone through this funnel, and most of them have some real issues in terms of their own criminal issues, or they would not have gone to prison to begin with, so with that knowledge in mind, these people come back out, and it’s inevitable that they come back out; there are very few people that stay there for life, and virtually nobody is executed, and so they come back out and they have the same issues that you and I have been talking about, you know? That they’ve raised themselves at age 9, 10 and 11, and they had early onset of criminal and drug activity at 12, 13 and 14, and they started doing crime at right around the same age, and they graduated to more strenuous drugs, they dropped out of school, they don’t have a solid job history, and that’s a lot of issues to deal with. Now, tell the audience how we can deal with that?

Eddie Ellis: Well, I think , first of all, I think a lot of mental health issues need to be addressed while they are in jail. You know, when I was in Florence, Colorado, in the supermax …

Len Sipes: A federal prison.

Eddie Ellis: Yes, a federal prison. I saw the doctor once every 30 days, “Are you okay?” and this is the first prison I had ever been in that now I’m behind double doors, and I actually felt like I was locked up, and I’m just fortunate enough that I didn’t lose my mind behind my doors, and a lot of these people come out of there dealing with these issues. A lot of people have drug issues and don’t have nowhere to go. They don’t have the support that I had. A lot of people don’t have the will to say that I want to do right and I’m tired of doing wrong.

Len Sipes: But everybody that comes out, looks straight you in the eye and says, “I don’t want to go back. I do want to do the straight and narrow,” and then five days later they’re shooting up.

Eddie Ellis: I really believe that there are a lot of people who believe that.

Len Sipes: I really believe that a lot of people believe that too, but as far as the reality of coming out, it’s harsher than they imagined.

Eddie Ellis: That’s right, and that’s one of the reasons why I created that book, because a lot of us don’t know about the programs that are available for us, and I’m just explaining to a person. It’s like a hypothetical situation, and a guy comes home after doing ten years, and he has a child, and he’s been communicating with his child through the phone and through letters at the prison. Okay, but he actually never the physical, beyond the prison wall, physical contact with his child. Now, there’s parenting classes in this book. These parenting classes can help this man and this woman now know how to adapt and be a parent. That’s important, and a lot of things are missing when we get out. When we get out, things are moving very fast.

Len Sipes: You know, look at it this way, and this is what different people have told me about parenting, is that they had a lousy childhood, and I’m not saying every person in the prison system had a lousy childhood, but you know I’ve heard it from the great majority of people that they did. The stats back it up. So, you go through this experience and then you have kids, because the majority of people inside the prison system are parents, 70% in some cases, so you come out and suddenly you’ve got this kid. You don’t have any really good background in terms of raising a kid because you weren’t raised right to begin with. How do you suddenly become a parent? I mean, that’s, and different people have told me, you know, it is a matter of housing. It is a matter of having a livable roof over your head, where the house is not filled with people who are doing the things that are going to get you in trouble again, and we have so many things, just with the parenting issue. You come out, and you are a parent. Instant parent! Yesterday, you were behind bars and today you’re a parent. How do you become a parent when you really don’t know how to become a parent?

Eddie Ellis: Well, that’s true, but that’s no different than a new parent that’s on the street, because they can give you a book and a manual on how to be a parent, but actually will that manual work for you. You know, and that’s the same way when people come home from prison, and that’s why these programs are very important for them before they come home so they can understand certain stuff, understand how to take certain steps to learn how to be a parent.

Len Sipes: One of the things that is always confusing to me is why this is a difficult concept because it seems to me that the mental health issues need to be dealt with in prison. The GED issue, reading certificate or whatever it is, should be dealt with in prison. Everyone should come out and know how to work. Everybody should come out with a plumbing certificate or an electrical certificate or whatever, whatever it is that they want to do, and where they are going to find work. So, you have mental health, you have the GED and you have the plumbing certificate, and you have the parenting classes or whatever else there are. The research seems to indicate that you can lower the rate of recidivism considerably if you do these things. According to the statistics and according to the people that I talk to, very few people ever get what I’ve just mentioned.

Eddie Willis: Yeah, all of those are really important, but unfortunately a lot of prisons don’t offer these things.

Len Sipes: That’s my point, or they offer them in such small numbers that the waiting lists, or you’re a short-term inmate, and you are only there for 1-1/2 years, and by the time you get in these classes, it’s almost too late for you to ,

Eddie Willis: They won’t put you in there, and that’s the problem I have when people are complaining about these people who are not prepared. Well, when the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is making all this money for housing these men and women in prison, people think, you know, they don’t get anything. They do get something for housing people.

Len Sipes: Tax-paid dollars.

Eddie Willis: Yeah, it was like 52 dollars a day for like housing me, do you understand what I’m saying. That’s six years’ worth of money, and my problem is this, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is making all this money off these people, which is lower than minimum wage money that these people are making to make the things that they are making.

Len Sipes: Okay, so you are talking about the UNICOR which is what is loosely referred to as factories in prison where the offenders go and theoretically learn a skill and work while they are in the prison system?

Eddie Willis: Yeah, that’s what I’m referring to. They are making less than minimum wage payment, but they are making things that are being sold in government buildings and passed out in other institutions and things like that, and the problem I have is this, why do these men and women not qualify for these things when they come home and then they wouldn’t have such a hard time finding jobs? They’re qualified for something, but most of them are not qualified for it, and if they are qualified for it, they can come home and go to these places and say, “I’m qualified.” That doesn’t mean the place is going to hire them, but it can make their search more easier with their paperwork in their hands.

Len Sipes: And it’s also the inevitable issue of, the guy looks at you and says, “But, no man, you’re an ex-con. I don’t need the hassles.” Now, he may not say that out loud, but it’s there. I understand why that happens with some jobs, but I’m not quite sure it needs to happen with plumbing or welding or laying concrete, or there are a lot of jobs people in the prison system can come out and occupy to make real good money, driving a truck, that really don’t involve ,

Eddie Willis: Being a lawyer. I know people that came home and got law degrees, so it’s just ,

Len Sipes: I know people that have got out and are in sales and are making more money than I ever hoped to make, and that person, by the way, who has a wife and kids and a house in the suburbs was there for a violent crime. He still won’t come on and do my radio show, to this day, but he is a very interesting transformation. I want to mention the fact that you can read the Washington Post front page article on Eddie Ellis. You can go to our website www.csosa.gov, which stands for Court Services Offender Supervision Agency, www.csosa.gov, and it will be somewhere near the front of the page. You can contact Eddie at eddieellis_ede@yahoo.com, and Eddie does sell these things because he does not have the financial wherewithal to give them away, and I don’t have the financial wherewithal to give them away, but there are reductions for multiple copies and we use them here at the Court Services and Defender Supervision agency, as other places do.

Eddie, any final comments? Every time I’ve gotten you on the microphone, it just goes by like wildfire, and I always feel that we never have enough time to fully explore this whole issue. Anything you want to leave with the citizens, the taxpaying hardworking citizen who support the both of us. They supported you while you were in prison and they support me through my paycheck, but is there anything you want to say to those individuals, and not necessarily about you but about people coming out of the prison system?

Eddie Ellis: Well, the first thing I want to say is, you know, those who are coming out of the prison system, most of them are convicted, whether they were innocent or guilty, have made some bad choices, and whether you want to or not, you are going to have to give them the chance to show that they can do good. You know, and I think that it’s important that people, you know, talk to their local council people about what effort can they make in their neighborhoods to make things better for these people, and a lot of citizens don’t understand that they can go to these local council people and request programs or ask them what can they do to better their neighborhood and allow these ex-offenders to be a part of these programs and allow yourself to see that some of us will do right, and just don’t turn your back on us because we need you all as well as you all need us, whether you want to believe that or not.

Len Sipes: Yeah, that’s an interesting observation, once again, we are all in this together, whether we believe it or not, whether we want to believe it or not, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are stuck with each other. And some people are out there, way out in the ‘burbs saying, “I’m not stuck with it.” Yes, you are. Ten minutes away are a lot of people who have been in the prison system.

So, Ladies and Gentleman, this is DC Public Safety and our guest today has been Eddie Ellis. You can reach Eddie via email in terms of his new book, a resource guide for offenders coming out of the prison system, so that eddieellis_ede@yahoo.com and again we are up to 122,000 requests for these radio and television shows every month. We greatly appreciate your input, and we greatly appreciate your suggestions for a better program. I’m Leonard Sipes your host. Have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=81

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety, and I’m your host Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Caroline Harper, Chief of Staff of the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia, in Reentry, and we have Dr. Keith Lee Park and he is with the Lenfest Foundation. He is on loan to the Lenfest Foundation through the City of Philadelphia, and Caroline and Keith, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Keith Lee Park: Thank you.

Len Sipes: Before going on with the program, Ladies and Gentleman, I do want to remind everybody that we are now up to 88,500 hits and listeners on a monthly basis. We appreciate your input. One of the things that I want to get across to everybody is that we respond to all emails, we respond to all suggestions and incorporate those suggestions into the show, and you can leave us messages on our website, and access the program and leave messages via a direct email to me or to the “comments” section, and after that introduction, and that little bit of a commercial, we are back to Caroline and Keith.

Caroline, why are you here in the District of Columbia?

Caroline Harper: We came down to DC to observe the CSOSA, which is your Court Services and Offender Services Agency, and also to meet with some of the entities in Washington DC that are doing reentry work. We are trying to learn some of the best practices, the documented evidence that we’ve seen in the past and their participation, and therefore, we want to just observe that and incorporate what might work in Philadelphia.

Len Sipes: Okay, what’s happening in Philadelphia at the moments in terms of reentry?

Caroline Harper: The Mayor has made reentry a major part of his administration, and as a part of the Mayor’s office we are looking at how we can increase public safety, and we do specifically some actual managed integrative network of services.

Len Sipes: Do you have citizens’ support? Do you think there is support-support across the board, or is this just coming from the Mayor’s office?

Caroline Harper: No, I believe that the citizens are supporting it because they understand that we have over 14,000 individuals returning to Philadelphia and we want to make them a factual viable part of the community, and in order to do that, we have community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and most importantly the people of the community supporting the Mayor’s efforts.

Len Sipes: Because, as you know, it is interesting as you go throughout the country, and getting citizens’ support is probably one of the hardest things. We, within the Criminal Justice System believe in this. We believe that reentry is possible and do-able, and either through a moral investment or through a criminological investment, in terms of cutting backs on rates of crime and making the city safer, or from an economic investment so taxpayers don’t have to pay that much to operate the correctional system, there are all sorts of issues on the table where we, in the system, and criminologists throughout the country, support the reentry concept, but one of the things that I have found is that in a lot of cities, the average citizens are not supporting it. Their view of people coming back from prison is probably far down the list. They’re going to say, “Let’s support schools. Let’s support the elderly. Let’s support lots of programs,” but their support for offenders seems to be way down on the list, and is that any different in Philadelphia?

Caroline Harper: I think that the people in the community understand that if we continue to spend money on sending people to prison, and not spend the money on helping them reintegrate back into the community, that it is money wasted. We understand that by helping them reintegrate, we also have to help them with their education and the literacy piece, and we have to help them with the workforce development piece, and we have to help them really reintegrate back into society as productive taxpaying citizens, and that therefore, our economy will be increased and the budget will be increased in terms of the revenue that comes in because they will be contributing to the taxpaying base.

Len Sipes: Dr. Keith Lee Park, I want to go over to you for a second. Basically, the same questions. You are with the Lenfest Foundation. You are on loan to the City of Philadelphia. What do you think is happening in the City of Philadelphia in terms of broad base support for prison reentry? Again, one of my favorite questions is, how do we gain the support of citizens, because I don’t find a lot of citizen support for reentry. I find it way down on the list. I find it a hard sell when we are going out there in the day and age of limited dollars, and people don’t want their taxes raised, and I go out and say, “You know what, it’s in our collective best interest to provide mental health treatment while in prison, while in the community,” and now who is going to argue with that? Who is going to argue with providing mental health treatment? I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you are on. Nobody is going to argue with providing mental health treatment, but then again, where is the money coming from? So, isn’t that the heart and soul of what we are talking about? We sort of know what to do in terms of what the research tells us, but we lack the political will for the money?

Dr. Keith Lee Park: I think that part of it, and just to answer your question, I think it’s a great time in Philadelphia in regards to the support in the areas of reentry. The Mayor has come in and made Public Safety a major piece of his platform, and people such as Jerry Lenfest, who is Chairman and Founder of the Lenfest Foundation, a wealthy businessman in this city, has jumped on board and decided to support the Mayor’s vision. Mayor Nutter is someone who has great support within the business community, so they have a special willingness to support anything that he wants to do, and he has made this one of his top three priorities, or top three ads of the business community, as far as opening up their doors.

Len Sipes: So the business community recognizes that this is a priority.

Dr. Keith Lee Park: They recognize that this is a priority. Of course, there is still work to do, but they recognize because everywhere he is at, he is making this a major focus of his administration and what he has done by restructuring the government and now creating a Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, he has now placed under this deputy mayor, Police, Probation and Parole, the Public Defenders Office, the District Attorney’s office, the Mayor’s Office of Reentry, and this has allowed for much better communication across the board for all of these agencies, and so we have begun to really put together our plan, and they’ve said to us, “We want you to go out and learn about best practices all around the company. We want you to visit the New Yorks, the DCs,” and the national models and the opportunity to come and sit here and learn has been great.

From a citizens’ standpoint, I think the citizen support is there. The recent statistic came out that Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country. Every 100,602 people in the city are incarcerated, which means it is a broad problem, which means that typically your neighbor, or you, or your family member has been affected.

Len Sipes: There’s a connection. Somewhere down the line, there is a connection to people being inside of the Criminal Justice System, and what does that mean in terms of the larger society? The question I always ask is, two things, two questions. Who do you want to occupy that prison bed? Do you want the rapist, do you want the robber or do you want the violent person who hurts other people, or do you want a nonviolent non-offender? That’s the choice for society to make. I’m not going to tell society what choice to make in terms of who occupies that prison bed, but personally I’d rather see the person who is truly a danger to society occupy that prison bed. And, number two, how do you want them to react when they get out? I have never quite understood, and that’s why I always go back to mental health treatment, because no one can argue with it, that the person coming out of the prison system, coming back into our communities, if that person has a mental health issue that is not treated, the probability of him hurting or bothering other people, or costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars more goes up beyond calculation if left untreated. So I understand there is a certain controversy with drug treatment. I understand there is a certain controversy with everything that we do and everything that we touch, in terms of trying to make a case for offenders. But, nobody is going to argue with drug treatment.

Caroline, we are going to go back to you, and one of the things that Keith said about the support of a business community. At these microphones, just a couple of weeks ago, we had the people from the National Home Builders Association, and they made the same point, interestingly enough. Here is the National Association of Home Builders, and they are coming in and basically saying, “We train ex-offenders.” And I’m saying, “Why do you train ex-offenders? You are all supposed to be out there putting up homes, what does putting up homes have to do with ex-offenders?” and they said, “We need the workers. Our workforce is getting older, and we need new people to come in, and so we want to train people caught up in the Criminal Justice System to come in and build homes for us.”

That was a piece of support from the private sector that, quite frankly, I did not expect. I did not think that anybody cared about these issues beyond the professionals in the fields and the advocates. So, Keith his saying they have the business community support up there. Do you want to talk about that?

Caroline Harper: Yes, recently, last month we actually had our first annual summit and it was employer-focused, and we had over 143 companies actually attend, support interests, and looking at a program that would allow the labor market to build capacity for some of the very same things that you are saying. The employment field right now is open, and there are not enough people to fill it, so what we are doing in Philadelphia is to understand what the economy is asking for, our workforce development and job readiness training for the incarcerated persons is geared towards the labor market, so we are not training them to be, for instance, accountants when what we need are carpenters.

Len Sipes: Isn’t that amazing, because they can earn a heck of a living. We place a lot of people here in the commercial driver’s license program, and you know what, I mean, okay, the dropout of high school in the 9th grade, and the couple stretches in prison, and they go out and they get their CDL and they are making $60,000 a year. I mean, we are not talking about entry level, we are talking about a real good solid living wage with benefits.

Caroline Harper: And that’s because what they need. So if we prepare them and we train them according to the demands of the marketplace, then we put them in a better position. The last thing that we want to do is train them for something that is obsolete, and then they get finished with the training and we can’t place them in a job.

Len Sipes: Right, but do you think, and let me ask you a broader philosophical question that applies to Seattle, Philadelphia, Canada, England, Australia, it doesn’t matter. Do you think that we in society, do you think in Philadelphia, in particular, will ever come to grips with the holistic approach that is necessary. I mean, we are talking about more than just a couple of dollars. Fifty-percent of offenders (quoting the national research) are all claiming mental health problems. Now, before, it was 16% was the diagnosable figure. We were saying between 12-15% diagnosable mental health issues, but in terms of their own self-assessments, 50% are claiming mental health problems. Substance abuse, easily 70-80% of people having substance abuse histories. Educational inefficiencies. The overwhelming majority are drop-outs. Job training. The overwhelming majority do not have steady job backgrounds or a marketable skill, a portable skill that they can take.

Now, those are four things right there that are enormously expensive. To come out and provide mental health treatment, to come out and provide drug treatment, to come out and provide job skill training and placement, and to come out and provide education and literacy services, that’s a package that should happen when they are incarcerated, and should continue in the community when they are released. Virtually every criminologist in this country would buy into what I’ve just said, but that’s enormously expensive.

Caroline Harper: Well, I will let Dr. Lee Park talk about the mental health issues, but I would say that we will pay for it in one way or another. I think the most important thing is that we realize that the cost of incarcerating someone at over $30,000 for the average stay in Philadelphia or in Pennsylvania, and the cost of providing them with mental health, or providing them with literacy training, or providing them with job skills, I think if we provide those in the long run, we do reduce the expenses to the economy. I think that the other part of it is that you will see more and more correctional facilities providing prerelease training and allowing that to take place, in the prisons, behind the walls, as opposed to just waiting until they come out. But, I will let Dr. Lee Park speak on the mental health issues.

Len Sipes: Okay, Keith, do you want to take a whack at that, and then I have a follow-up question for you, not necessarily in mental health, but there is the broader philosophical stuff that we all struggle with. The mental health part?

Dr. Keith Lee Park: The important thing is, when we talk about the resources and the cost of it, the fact is that there is money spent on mental health that may not be directly geared towards ex-offenders, but if you did the reverse and said, “This mental health money that we are spending, how many people are being serviced by the Department of Behavioral Health, say in Philadelphia?” How many of those individuals, adult people, are ex-offenders? And then you can look at the rationale in saying that, and I don’t know the numbers, but I’m sure it’s a significant portion. We’re saying 50% of these individuals inside of the prison diagnose themselves as having mental health issues, and then on the outpatient side, they may not be coming directly to the Mayor’s office for a reentry for mental health services, but they may be receiving those services independently. So, we need to, and the point I’m getting to, is that we need to coordinate the resource distribution, in saying that, “Listen, money is being spent for mental health issues, and if 25% of the mental health patients also have a criminal background, then we need to find out ways to streamline those services, the resources, and the funding streams to help support the Mayor’s office of reentry and other ex-offender-related industries.”

Len Sipes: The difficulty in that is that so many people in the Social Services industry do not like our offenders.

Dr. Keith Lee Park: But they are still treating them. I mean, you may not like them.

Len Sipes: But the degree of treatment becomes a critical issue. I mean, there is a certain point where we say, and we firmly believe, all three of us sitting in this room firmly believe that education and helping the person get their GED, helping the person getting their plumbing certificate, helping the person dealing with their mental health problems, and helping the person in terms of substance abuse.

When I worked for the Maryland Department of Public Safety, with prisoners, with law enforcement, and with corrections, the Public Safety Secretary asked me to personally intervene with the employment people and the unemployment people, and with the rationale of, they are servicing our folks anyway, or offenders, so what’s the deal? I mean, what’s the big deal? If they are going to service our offenders anyway, why can’t they devote specialized people to do that? And there response was, “Well, sure. We’ll put up the specialized people to help you to give you the individualized services that you say that you need,” and which most offenders do need. I don’t think many offenders take well to standing in line for three hours at a time waiting for services, and I think people need to be aware of the unique needs of offenders.

But, they said, “We’ll do that for you,” at the cost of %7 million a year. I didn’t have $7 million. So, the concept of redistributing services is tough because, quite frankly, they don’t love our offenders.

I had a person in the District of Columbia tell me, “Leonard, if I had a choice between a woman who was strung out on cocaine with three kids, and one of your guys coming out of the prison system, I want to help the woman with three kids, because your guy is going to give me a rough time. Your guy is going to recidivate, and he’s going to take him two or three events, and this woman is ready for change, and she’s got three kids, so I am going to help her.” So, part of it is the complexity that offenders bring to us, or bring to any of us in the Criminal Justice System, anywhere in the country.

Dr. Keith Lee Parks: I don’t think that it’s just the complexity of an ex-offender, and what they bring. I think, it’s the overall of what you talked about, the holistic issues, and not the ex-offender is complex. It’s the fact that, you know, they don’t have jobs. They don’t have tangible skills. They were probably poorly educated growing up. Now, they’ve entered the prison system and they come out, and they are now trying to get into the workforce. When they come out, they are very well-intended, and they are saying, “I want to go to work. I want to do right. I’ve changed my life. I want to do right.” And then they go through the system and there is a stigma attached to them being an ex-offender and you just articulated from the standpoint of the service provider, from the mental health provider, the stigma of saying, “I would rather deal with a woman with three kids, than an ex-offender.” It’s going to be displayed that way in their interactions, so the ex-offender probably feels that and then rebuts, and then at the same time, while they work with them on their mental health issues, they are looking for employment, and they have this stigma of being turned away then. So, there are a bunch of issues around this.

Len Sipes: That’s what they tell me, and we had in Maryland the boot camp program where they were provided with their GED, and provided with drug treatment and provided with their plumbing certificate or job/occupational training, and I was talking to a couple, and this is like three months after getting out of boot camp, and they basically said, “You know, if I’ve got to go through one more rejection. You know, there is no problem with me becoming a plumber’s assistant. I’ve got the skills. I’ve got the training. Yeah, I screwed up, but you know, if I don’t start getting some respect from somebody, I’m going to go back,” and I’ve heard that over and over again. It’s just not the services, and the availability of services, it’s the understanding of the people who provide those services and understanding from employers that they may want to give this person a second or third look. If it’s not a security issue, why not? A lot of these people do want to make that break. The question is, and as it has been posed to me by a lot of offenders, and we put a lot of offenders up on this program that we supervised, and some off of supervision, and the question becomes, “How much disrespect can you take?” That’s basically what they are telling me before they simply given in and go back and cost us, as taxpayers, an additional $100- or $200 thousand dollars, plus the fact that they victimized another human being. Isn’t that the question, Keith?

Dr. Keith Lee Park: Well, I think that the way we need to look at the assessment or the risks of an ex-offender, to me, it is similar to a credit score. Someone, who when I was in college, and did some things, got some credit cards and messed up my credit score. It was pretty low, and so over time with me paying my bills on time, and being more responsible financially, and seven years passing, and these things dropping off my credit report, because I somewhat stayed out of trouble financially, I have a good credit report. Banks don’t look at me the same as they did seven years. For ex-offenders, you do something 17 years ago, and that still carries the same weight 17 years later as it did when you came out of prison, and it shouldn’t be that way. You’ve been clean for 17 years, and you are in your church, and you are in your Mosque or whatever, and you worship, and you are a good person in the community, and they are still looking at you the same way. We really need to re-evaluate the way we risk stratify someone as a risk to public safety.

Len Sipes: But every time that person turns on the evening news, every time that person reads the newspaper, every time that person puts on the radio and listens to the news, it’s a story about somebody doing somebody terrible, and when you say ex-offender, that’s what comes across in their mind, what they read in the newspaper, what they see on the television. This is one of the hardest gigs I’ve ever had. I’ve done McGruff the Crime Dog years ago. I’ve done burglary campaigns. I’ve done robbery campaigns. I’ve done carjacking campaigns. In terms of former offenders, people have a stereotype. You are an ex-con, and you are right, Keith, that label stays with you forever. At the same time, I had a guy at these microphones just a short time ago, a former offender, doing very well, and he talked about his anger towards service people who provide services to him. He could tell instantly who cared about him, and who didn’t care about him, and he simply said that too many people in this industry, if you will, where the serve former offenders, don’t care about you and they let you know they don’t care about you.

Caroline, do you want to take a shot at that, because I think that’s a pretty difficult question, because it gets beyond, first we have to provide the service, and secondly we have to provide services that are geared towards former offenders for this to work.

Caroline Harper: Okay, I would like to answer two of your questions. The first one, when we talk about the label that is associated with being an ex-offender, I think it is also how you position it. Let’s talk about employment. If I was, I think Clark Construction is one of the big construction companies here in DC, that hire a lot of former offenders. They are looking for 100 laborers and not necessarily 100 people that are formerly incarcerated, so if I can present to them 100 men and women that can lift 75 pounds and know how to take orders, that will be on time, that come with wraparound services, knowing that they are going to be randomly drug tested, and so less likely to be indulging in drugs. They are concerned about can I get 100 people that can do this job. So, after the job development and our reentry program, I am not selling an ex-offender. I’m giving you and I’m offering you some labor, and so we look to build capacity and not do it based on labels. Once we get away from labeling people, then I think we have a better shot at being more successful in helping them succeed and not allowing them to fall back on the label crutch. But it’s a mindset change. You have to change the mindset.

As far as it relates to supportive services, one of the things that I’m excited about in Philadelphia that we are doing out of the Mayor’s reentry office, is that we are going to be credentialing service providers, and so we are going to look at the organizations that provide mental health and substance abuse treatment and transitional housing, and we are going to attach them with a certain standard, so that if we recognize that they are treating our individuals wrong because they are ex-offenders as opposed to being a service provider that is addressing the issues that they have, regardless of their circumstances or regardless of the fact that they were formerly incarcerated, then we are not going to credential them. We are going to go in and we are going to do our due diligence on how do they perform. What are the services that they are providing? Are they, and there is an expression that a lot of people use, and I don’t know how to say this on the radio, but there are lot of poverty pimps out there, organizations that call themselves service providers, but they are not providing quality service. So when Philadelphia, under the Mayor’s new structure in terms of the Mayor’s Office of Reentry, we are actually going to go out and do this due diligence and investigate those service providers that are wanting to do business and provide mental health and substance abuse, and say that you are part of the organization that provides the service, and we are going to look for their performance, and how they perform, so we are excited about that. That’s one of the major things that we are going to be doing in Philadelphia and we are really excited about what that outcome will look like.

Len Sipes: Okay, we are going to wrap up a little bit, and one of the things that I want to get to in all of this is that we have talked about the fact, that within Philadelphia you’ve got the support of a Mayor’s office, and what will be the benefit? Dr. Keith, we do all these things. We discuss all these things about the Mayor and the fact that the Mayor supports this initiative, and the fact that the business community supports this initiative, and there is the sense that the citizens of the city support the initiative. We talked about the complexity of the initiative, and we talked about service providers and the fact that it’s just not entirely simple. We have attitude towards ex-offenders and some of them are quite justified and some of them quite frankly are not. I’m not going to preach to people in terms of what it is that they should be believe, and I do believe that people should consider this because it’s in their best interest, because if we put this whole package together, if we really provide comprehensive services, what happens?

Dr. Keith Lee Park: It’s the overall fact. It starts of with a stronger family unit, because now we have employed men, which leads to stronger neighborhoods, which leads to a stronger city, and a safer community for the people of Philadelphia.

Len Sipes: Does it mean less crime? Are fewer people going to be victims.

Dr. Keith Lee Park: Safer streets. And the Mayor often says, and always says, people who are working and are tangibly employed are not apt to commit crimes.

Len Sipes: So it is fewer crimes, and in the final analysis, it is fewer tax dollars spent on people who get caught up in the Criminal Justice System, correct?

Dr. Keith Lee Park: Instead of spending almost a quarter of the $4 billion dollar budget in Philadelphia on public safety issues, we can take and transfer some of that money into education. If there is less crime and less need to spend those resources, we can transfer them to education and mental health and those other things that we talked about earlier.

Len Sipes: Do you carry that from governors all throughout the United States that are now spending more money on corrections than colleges, and they would like to have additional money to spend on the colleges rather than corrections because that’s why they are doing reentry.

This was a very interesting discussion. I really hope that you all have a pleasant stay in Washington DC, and I hope that you come back to this and discuss what’s happening in Philadelphia at some time in the future.

Ladies and Gentleman, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. Our guests today are Caroline Harper. Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office on Reentry, Philadelphia, and Dr. Keith Lee Park, and he’s with the Lenfest Foundation, on loan to the city of Philadelphia. Again, Ladies and Gentleman, it’s 88,500 hits a month on DC Public Safety. If you have any suggestions for us, we would love to hear them. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Attitudes of Offenders on the Job-National Asso. of Home Builders

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This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=77

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. At our microphones today, back at our microphones is John Hattery. He is with the National Association of Home Builders, and the Home Builders Institute and also we have Will Parker from the CSOSA staff. Will is a senior program analyst and the person in charge of finding employment for offenders within the DC area, and to John and Wil, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Male Voice: Hi, Len, glad to be here.

Len Sipes: Alright, first I want to thank our audience, and that’s something I don’t do enough. We have 80,000 people coming to this site on a monthly basis, 80,000, and we are really grateful for all of the comments and we want you to know that we respond to every individual comment that you send us, either in the comments box, or in the email address directly to me. Either way, every comment is responded to and we work your comments into our shows. So, we wanted to thank you. If you have suggestions, go ahead, and as you are listening to the show, look for the email address, or look for the comments box and give us your feedback and we welcome your feedback, and we do incorporate your feedback into every show.

Alright, with that introduction, we are going to go back to John Hattery and when we had John last time, we talked about a variety of things that they have found. The National Association of Home Builders has these training institutes all throughout the country dealing with offenders, and hard to employ people, and they came up with six individual principles that lead to their success, and one was individualized services for offenders. Number two, was have a job development coordinator for offenders so you don’t have staff doing job development, you have a completely different person doing job development. Number three, when they did not do well on the job, the first job, you put them on another job site, and that’s a routine part of the experience. Number four, is to be sure that they have hands on experience, and that they actually know how to do the job. You know, when we are talking about bricklaying, that they do know how to lay brick, which seems commonsensical, but that was a key principle. Programs with a future. We’re talking about, in many cases, jobs in the building trades where you can go ahead and do magnificent careers where you can float from being an electrician to a plumber. You can bring on a variety of experiences and a variety of training. And number six was having a caring staff, and that was the success of the Home Builders Association and specifically the Home Builders Institute that John Hattery directly works for. John?

John Hattery: Hi Len. I wish I could say it all that quickly. My boss wishes I could say it all that quickly.

Len Sipes: Well, the point is that the Home Builders Institute and Home Builders Association, you’re are at multiple locations throughout the country and in many Job Corp centers throughout the country, and people who listened to the first show knew that I worked at Job Corp at one time, dealing with the Jail or Job Corp kids, and I was amazed at how comprehensive Job Corp was and the wide variety of services. Anything else to add about the Home Builders Association that you want to talk about before we get into today’s topic?

John Hattery: As you mentioned, there are two sides to the training house. We have our Job Corp program which is larger than our individualized customized program, the Workforce, Training and Employment Department, but both deal with hard to serve populations and both try to give what we try to call the five pieces of the employment puzzle to try nod toward making sure you have training, making sure you have linkages to jobs, making sure that you have the credentials, be it a trade’s credential or a high school diploma or a GED, and also do you have transportation, or have you planned for transportation because, you know, many times our clients don’t have cars of their own, don’t have driver’s licenses on their own. However, you have to take into count those kinds of logistical and operational things when you’re trying to link somebody to employment. So, essentially, the lessons we learn from our long history of Job Corp, my boss Dennis Torbett, created a model that we’ve been able to replicate across the country where we try to attend to these needs, to these five pieces of the employment puzzle that I call it.

Len Sipes: Okay, Wil Parker, you are the person in charge of finding jobs for offenders here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency in Washington DC. And for those of you who have listened to the program over this year-and-a-half, and wow, close to 100 programs now, radio and television programs have heard what we do. We’re a federal Parole and Probation agency. We provide services exclusively to Washington DC. Wil Parker, I’ve talked to him 100 times about this whole process of finding jobs for ex-offenders, so Wil, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Wil Parker: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Len Sipes: And tell me what it is that you do as the person in charge of finding employment for former offenders.

Wil Parker: Okay, back in January of 2002, the agency had the wherewithal to convince congressional membership of the merits of placing a unit whose principal charge would be to provide education, employment and vocational opportunities for those individuals under our supervision. Since then, on average, we serviced on an annual basis roughly about 4000 individuals each year and we have collaborated with the Work Force Investment Council here within DC and also the DC Chamber. We are also working with the Department of Employment Services, as we speak. And we are making in-roads. We are not where we need to be, but by the grace, we will get there.

Len Sipes: Nobody is where they need to be. That’s one of the things that I’ve found out about this whole thing. But DC government provides the bulk of the training, correct?

Wil Parker: DC government does. One of the things that the mayor is currently working on is an initiative with the private employers as well. We want to plug them and peg them to see if we can have upwards of about 200 jobs this year in which we can plug our offender population into.

Len Sipes: Right, but the point is that if you, and I was interviewing a person about four weeks ago, who went through a job development course here in the District of Columbia, and now he is out there working on a regular basis, so we do the assessments. I mean, we do educational programs. We do the assessments, and we suggest different occupations for that person to plug himself/herself into, but they are essentially DC government programs that provide the job training, right?

Wil Parker: Yes, by and large.

Len Sipes: All right, in just going through the tremendous and long introduction, to talk about just what I want to talk about today, and this is a topic of some controversy. It is a topic, I think of great importance; the attitudes of the ex-offenders on the job. So, what do I mean by the attitudes of the offenders on the job. Well, I’ve talked to people who have construction companies here in town, commercial construction, and John represents the National Association of Home Builders, and so they do individual homes. They do apartment complexes, condominiums, that sort of thing. So, I’ve talked to various people on various sides of the construction industry, and the thing that I hear more than anything else is that it is not so much , you know, don’t necessarily bring me a person who knows how to lay brick; I can teach that person to lay brick. I don’t necessarily need that person to know how to pour concrete. Send me a person who will show up every single day, who will not use drugs, who will not use alcohol, who has the ability to learn, has the right attitude, and that person can go from $0 to $60,000 a year in one year.

Now, and I’m saying to myself, wow! That’s an amazing concept, and John Hattery, we are going to talk to you about this first. That’s an amazing concept, don’t you think? Contrary to popular opinion, it may not be the issue having massive job training programs. Is the construction industry at the place now where they are simply saying come one and come all for the person with the right attitude and the right set of willingness skills? Can that person make a good living, John?

John Hattery: Well, you’re talking about the balance between soft skills and hard skills. You’re talking about the balance between workplace behaviors, appropriate workplace behaviors, understanding what they are, being able to demonstrate them on a consistent basis for a long time, and also being able to combine that with technical skills. We try our best, maybe not always as well as we’d like, but we try our best to attend to those needs, so people understand the nuts and bolts of getting to work on time, and having a plan B, and understanding that bosses have bad days too, and occasionally you have to listen to a boss that’s having a bad day event, and life isn’t fair, and all of those kinds of things, along with how do you handle your paychecks and all those other soft skills that go into being a successful employee.

You know, I run training programs and so I’m going to lean toward talking a little bit about the value of training as it relates to the soft skills only in that many of my clients, and I think you’ll agree with me, and Will agree with me, that many of our clients have so many needs, have so many esteem needs and so many opportunities from their prior lives where they failed that they are not used to being successful, and so even if you talk about the soft skills general terms, and you give them the opportunity to practice those soft skills, if you don’t combine that with hard skills training, you walk into a situation where they may not feel the same confidence they would feel otherwise.

If, for instance, and to use your analogy as a bricklayer. If I send someone who has really demonstrated great soft skills, but really doesn’t know much or have much confidence with brick and a trough, or a mixer or anything, okay? And I send him to a job site where they are expected to work and be productive as a bricklayer or a mason’s tender, or a mason’s helper, but they don’t have that hard training behind them to bolster their confidence, you know, that’s where I think that you could also run into a problem. I think the training and the certification and the six months or 12 weeks, or whatever the length of the training program is, that gives the person the hard stills and bolsters their confidence as do the soft skills.

Len Sipes: But here’s my question, and it’s going to go over to Wil. Is the industry at the point where, and I’m talking specifically the construction industry. Is the industry to the point where it’s saying to all comers, not just to offenders, but all comers, that, “Look, we can train you. You don’t have to have prior training. We can train you. Just for the love of good God, show up every single day at 5:00 a.m., show up ready work every single day. I don’t want to hear about baby-mama drama. I don’t want to hear about anything else besides you are going to give me eight good hours today of work. Do that. Put a smile on your face, and I can show you how to make really good money in a fairly short amount of time.” Is that where the industry is, Wil?

Wil Parker: I think so. What we’ve come to recognize, particularly with the employers here within DC is that they are telling us that they need someone with great conflict resolution skills, a good work ethic, and a desire to succeed. Having that as a building block, and that mindset will provide the platform on which they can also provide the technical skills, so that’s pretty much what we’ve been hearing from the employer and our community. Give us an individual who has a strong work ethic, and is willing to work, has a desire to succeed, and we can give them the technical skill to succeed on the job.

Len Sipes: Okay, when I was with the State of Maryland for 14 years, Public Safety and Correctional Services, with law enforcement and corrections, we had the Maryland Prison System under our department, and I talked to the guy in charge of what they call State Use Industry, which was just basically factories in prisons, and he said the most important skill that he teaches, that his people teach, to these thousands of offenders on a yearly basis was just what we are talking about. This is a prison, now. Showing up, every day. Being on time. Working cooperatively. No taking off sick when it’s not necessary. Working as a team with no feedback, no fuss and no muss, and if you’ve got to skip lunch to make a production quota, that’s exactly what you do, and he would routinely fire people, off these prison jobs, because there was a waiting list for these jobs. And then two months later the person would come back, and he would mouth off at somebody and he’d get fired again, and then two months later he would come back and to begin to understand that this is not going to work. Mouthing off to your supervisor is not going to work, and so he said that those were the most important skills. The bricklaying was important, and the plumbing was important, and working on a printing press was important, but that was the most important thing.

So, are we at the point where we need to focus on attitude as much as we are focusing on bricklaying skills?

Wil Parker: I think, really and truly, that the two go hand in hand. One of the things that we are starting to recognize, and we are in the process of trying to build a strong curriculum for is the core skills, which is a combination of the life skills, the work ethic and the job readiness, so we teach individuals how to interview, we prepare their resume, but we also talk about a sense of right and wrong, a sense of dedication and a good work ethic because we realize that in order for a person to succeed, they need to have a reasonable sense of self esteem and a desire to be successful, so we believe that those two complementary components go into the equation. When you provide those technical skills, you have a well-rounded individual and someone who can, in fact, not only be on the job, but can also experience career enhancement at the same time.

Len Sipes: I’m going to give contact points for both of you. For John Hattery, you can go to the website, www.hbi.org, Home Builders Institute, and I’ll repeat that at the end of the program. For Wil, you can go to www.csosa.gov, and that is the website for the Federal Court Services and Supervision Agency here in downtown DC or (202)220-5300 for the main number.

John, going back to you. Now, okay, I want to acknowledge the fact the District of Columbia, the metropolitan area, not the city but the standard metropolitan statistical area has the lowest rate of unemployment in the country. From what we’re discussing about it’s more important for the attitude than it is for the hard skills, or they are equally important, and I’m not quite sure what the message is, is that going to apply in San Diego? Is it going to apply in Minneapolis? Is it going to apply to Cleveland, or is it just unique to DC?

John Hattery: I think that having a good employee with good relational skills to their coworkers is a universal concept. The difference comes, and where we will probably be able to bear this out, in down economies, like we are having in most of the rest of the country, it takes HBI, the Home Builders Institute, it takes our placement staff a longer than it did a couple of years ago to hook someone up with a good job. Wages in certain parts of the country are backing up due to the economy. However, the concept of having good soft skills, having a good employee, combined again as we will mention with good technical skills, are good universal concepts and concepts that are not going to change from region to region.

Len Sipes: Okay, why would this even be an issue, and I know why. So many of our offenders come from histories of abuse. I’m not making excuses for those people who are about to climb on email and tell me that I’m making excuses. I’m not making excuses for criminal behavior, at all, but to say that the bulk of offenders come from histories of abuse and neglect is like saying today is the 29th of May, and it’s just factual, and I understand that. And that is, in my opinion, where most of the attitude issues are coming from, the fact that if you raise yourself from age eight, and you get involved in substance abuse at age 10, and you’re smoking a lot of marijuana at age 13, inevitably that is going to lead you to a lot of issues.

John Hattery: I would say this, Len. I would say that I agree with everything you said right there, and you can even take the word offender out of that sentence, and put “potential worker,” and there are a lot of business owners who are around talking, going to the Department of Labor, or other places, and talking about the readiness of folks.

Len Sipes: That’s true, there are a lot of civilians, and that’s a terrible way of putting it, but there are a lot of non-offenders for who the issues are just the same. But, I mean, what does that say? When we take a look at offenders and it is clearly what’s in society’s best interest to help people and they are coming out of the prison systems, and they caught up in the Criminal Justice System, and there is just study after study that will say that this is true, then what is our magic formula here? And I know it’s not a one-stop concept. I know there are many other things to focus on, but should we be dealing more with attitudes and sending out the message, and this is the message my father gave me, when I went out into the workforce, and he arranged my first job at the age 16, and his advice was, “Shut up. Listen to the people. Give them a good eight hours. Don’t screw off,” but more than anything else, “Yes, sir, and no, sir, and just shut up and listen.” Now, that seems to me that the advice my father gave to me when I was 16, and I was pushing paper products through the middle of the hot humid summers in downtown Baltimore, from place to place, and that advice seems to apply today.

Wil, do you want to try that?

Wil Parker: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think that one of the things that Mr. Torbett, my boss, shared with us in terms of analyzing the mindset and culture and mores of our prisoner population is that contrary to what we initially thought in terms of rehabilitation, that often times, these individuals need to be habilitated, and that is to say that they have not encountered a household in which mom and dad got up every morning and went to work, and was dedicated to the propositions of making provisions for their family and extended family. So when you couple that mindset with individuals who in the case of CSOSA, only 39% of our population actually has a high school diploma, you’re talking about some problems with their skill set, but also with their mindset, and I think that both of them have to be addressed, and fortunately, I’m very proud to say that CSOSA has understood the necessity of trying to address both of these issues within the curriculum that it has in place for the offender population.

Len Sipes: Because a lot of that curriculum is very comprehensive. The Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency is lucky, and we are lucky because we are a federal agency, and we are lucky because we have money that other parole and probation agencies simply do not have, so we can send our folks to anger management. We can send our folks for a GED assessment, and we can send our folks for a job assessment to figure out what that person is going to be good at, and another occupational area that we have been very successful in, in terms of placing offenders, has been the commercial driver’s license program, and I think that’s a wide open area for people with criminal histories, as long as they are not driving secured loads, and that sort of stuff, and they are making very good money.

I guess my point is, and I keep coming back to the same point, that there are an array of offenders who can come out from the prison system and not work at McDonalds.
We’re talking about real jobs with not just a living wage. We are talking about way beyond a living wage. We’re talking about real jobs with a real future.

John Hattery: If we can get people to understand the opportunities in front of them, and one of the things my mind went you were talking about pushing paper around downtown Baltimore, was that one of the ways that we attack that Home Builders Institute, is that we hire instructors from the field. We don’t hire vocational educators. We hire guys who have poured concrete for a living, who are carpenters for a living, electricians for a living, and then we give them skills through some course work and some other things to teach them how to teach, but essentially what we ask them to do is run their shop, run their group like it is a job site. That includes, frankly, behavior stuff. If this young man, and this young man are having a hard time, and they are not getting along, and it’s affecting the production of the shop because, as I told you last time, we do a lot of community service, and we do a lot of work out in the community ,

Len Sipes: A lot of the Habitat for Humanity buildings, actually going out and building homes. You are just not laying bricks. You are now laying bricks in a house.

John Hattery: Right, and although we are not production, we are training, and occasionally we run into a deadline, and occasionally we are able to use that as another teaching point, and so some of the soft skills that we have discussed and agreed are so important, one of the ways that we teach them is we have a guy who has done nothing but make his living, or a woman in many cases, and they have done nothing but make their living as a tradesperson, teaching young people who are trying to be a tradesperson, the importance of working together and the importance of teamwork, and the importance of being able to get along, even with somebody that you don’t particularly like.

Len Sipes: That’s right, but you know, that’s just the difficulty, I think, and either one of you can take this. It’s that if you have a person who is struggling with getting along with other human beings, and one of the things that you mentioned before, John, I think is extremely important, you will take a person who you have trained through the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute, somebody who you have trained, and if they don’t work out in the first job, you’ll find another job placement for them. It’s not just a one-shot deal, and I think that’s also extraordinarily important.

John Hattery: You touched on it earlier, and Will touched on it earlier, your story about the gentleman who runs the prison job system and how there was improvement after he had to let somebody go and bring him back a couple of times. We tell people all the time, they must show up on time, they must show up every day and put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage, and if they choose not to do those things, they may find themselves with out a job. Young people, especially, they look at me, or they look at their instructor, and that all becomes kind of noise to them.

Len Sipes: And I understand that, just simply having young daughters, and you try to instill the values of an occupational attitude and to find out that one of my daughters did not communicate well with one of her employers, and basically said some inappropriate things, and I’m going, “What in the name of good heavens are you thinking?” So, I understand it’s young people, generically, but I also understand that with a lot of people coming out of the prison system, or even people who are on probation, they don’t get a lot of shots. You know, my daughters can fail, and yet they’ve got a soft landing waiting for them, up to a certain point. But, if you are out there coming out of the prison system, you don’t have a lot of soft landing points. If you go out and screw it up the first and second times, that may be a lifelong decision that you’ve just made. My daughters, you know, they are remedies, but you’ve got to be able to somehow and some way convince people that you don’t have a lot of bites at the apple when you’ve come out of tough living situations and you, generally speaking, do not have a high school diploma, and generally speaking you do not have a job history. It may be now or never. I don’t want to be that melodramatic, but it may be that. Wil?

Wil Parker: I think you are absolutely right. Not to discount what John is saying, and I think that I have to applaud a system in which an individual can be fired and then rehired a month or two later. I think that is great, but one of the things that we are trying to focus on is preparing an individual by way of his mindset in which he has an opportunity, she has an opportunity and we are trying to make sure that the individual makes the most of that situation.

So, as such, what we instruct them is that this very well could be your only opportunity for a long, long time so please make the most of it.

The other thing that is worthy of note is that often time employers are not willing to take a second chance on a referral agency such as CSOSA. So, to the extent that we send someone and that person doesn’t work out, we often times do not have the luxury of sending a second person because the employer just says, “Look, we gave you an opportunity, and that person didn’t show well, so we need to think about it before we make another overture towards your company in terms of actually hiring someone.”

Len Sipes: Sure, and we are in the final minutes of the program, and I want to give the contact points once again, but I do want to over-emphasize the fact there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of offenders who do come out of the prison system and who are on probation who do make the transformation, who do understand their circumstances in life, and so I don’t want to make it all negative now. They do understand the circumstances, and they do understand what side is up, and they do understand their circumstances, and they do well. They go out and go to Miller & Long and go to another construction company, and they learn how to pour concrete, and they go onto good careers. Wil, that’s correct, right?

Wil Parker: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay, and I just wanted to end the program on an upbeat and optimistic note, but I think this has been an extraordinarily interesting discussion, and I thank both of you for participating. Our guests today have been John Hattery and he is with the National Association of Home Builders Institute. I think this is an extraordinarily powerful program all throughout the United States, and they should be congratulated for their involvement. It’s www.hbi.org, and John thank you for being on the program.

John Hattery: Thank you very much, Len. Thanks for having me.

Len Sipes: Wil Parker, Senior Program Analyst for the Federal Court Services and offender supervision agency here in downtown DC, (202)220-5300, for the generic number and just ask for Wil. The website here is www.csosa.gov. Wil, thanks for being on the program.

Wil Parker: Thanks, it was really a privilege to be here and share my comments as they relate to occupational, educational and employment opportunities for our offender population.

Len Sipes: Okay, and I thank you, the listener. There are 80,000 of you every single month who come onto the website and to listen to these programs at DC Public Safety, and we are extremely appreciative of your involvement. This is Len Sipes. I’m your host, and please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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National Asso. of Home Builders-Offender Job Training Programs

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.

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=76

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Okay, that is the other big lesson here, real world experience, meaning how, so they actually build things while they are part of the program?

John Hattery: They build. We do not talk about building house. We build houses, or we do things related to building houses. There is something on the order of 150 occupations or specialties involved in building a residential home right now, anyway from the landscaping guy, to the closet guy, to the drywall guy, to the painting guy, to the carpentry guy and so on and so forth.

What we do is that we reach out to the nonprofit governmental community in the surrounding area where our programs are located, and we say, if you are willing to buy the materials and pull the programs, we are willing to supply the labor as a learning opportunity for the inmates. With our youth programs, often times, we take them away from our training sites, outside the fence, and we take them to Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, and a whole lot of other folks where we go and do this work, and it gives people the opportunity to get their hands dirty.

You know, it’s very easy to get a young person a job as a roofer, if I’ve got a picture of them on a roof, putting down a roof. Within in correctional environments, where access to the community is not an option, such as Sheridan, we bring that work in. In fact, we right now are working our third, just for this year, our third Habitat for Humanity house where the wall materials are coming in the sally port, into the prison.

Len Sipes: They are building a house inside the prison.

John Hattery: We are building the panelized walls, including the electrical rough-in for the Habitat of Humanity for Southwest Chicago. The walls go back on a tractor trailer, go out the sally port, go to the community and get set up.

Now, it would be wonderful if I could get the guys to go help set the walls, but it is just not , they are in prison, there is a problem with that. Apparently, they are very interested in keeping people inside the fence, and that’s okay with me.

Len Sipes: That’s the funny thing about the prison system.

John Hattery: But invaluable experience. I mean, here is a picture here, and I know this is radio and you cannot see a picture, but there is a young woman from our Project Trade Program in Pinellas County Florida who is on a roof, who is going to be, if she wants to be a roofer in Pinellas County Florida, I am pretty sure we can get her a job doing that, just on the strength of this picture.

Len Sipes: So many questions, and we are running out of time. We are going to do another program immediately after this. Now, I am assuming that these individuals, in many cases young individuals, and in many cases who have been battered by life in a hundred different ways, and I’m not making any excuses in terms of their own criminality, but the honest to God correlation of crime, and connection to crime, is that they have a substance abuse history, that they raised themselves, and that they were in many cases victims of abuse and neglect as kids. I mean, they carry an edge with them because of all of the difficulties. Some of these young individuals caught up in crime almost are veterans of war zones.

Again, they are unique individuals. Is there something here about the building trades where they say to themselves, “You know what, son of a gun, I’m not doing very well in life, but I can be a bricklayer, and from what these guys are telling me I can earn 30-40- 50-thousand dollars a year being a bricklayer if I go out there and do the apprentice program.” I mean, what it is it that allows them to cross the bridge to be successful in terms of the building trades? What is it about the building trades that attracts success in terms of this particular clientele?

John Hattery: Well, I think, particularly with men, many of them are athletes. Many of them like being active. Many of the, you know, the classroom was not the scene of their greatest success, and so the opportunity to learn while doing experiential learning, contextual learning, I think, is an advantage that the construction trades have over some of the other more classroom-based training programs that might be available to them, but beyond the fact that we’ve got this industry-validated curriculum, and we’ve got this great opportunity to sweat and be dirty all day, and that’s appealing to a lot of guys, you also have caring staff members who reach out and, you know, a lot of it is really based on the really excellent committed professionals that we are very lucky to find in all the places where we operate.

I mean, for example, we have a youth program in Hartford, Connecticut that had its inaugural graduation yesterday, and I was privileged to be there. Nine young people, including two young women, got pre-apprenticeship certificates in facilities maintenance. The real telling thing was ,

Len Sipes: And we are not talking about months. We are talking about ,

John Hattery: No, we are talking about wiring and plumbing ,

Len Sipes: We are talking about skilled, high-paying jobs.

John Hattery: Yes, we are not talking about making people janitors. That’s not what it is about. However, the real telling thing for the program was the way that our instructor there, Marty, really connected with the young people and made them understand how much he cared about them, and even when they made mistakes and ended up , you know, one person, for instance, spent some time in detention because he did something silly when he was actually still part of our community-based program there, but Marty did , you know, Marty did an excellent job of pulling in/reeling that young person back in, getting him reconnected and recommitted to the program, and then ultimately was able to get him to a place where we can give him a Department of Labor recognized certificate of pre-apprenticeship attainment.

Len Sipes: And then they go out and apprentice?

John Hattery: Well, it used to be that a pre-apprenticeship program was connected to an apprenticeship program, and that was the only avenue, right? That has kind of changed in the landscape. Tony Swoop, who used to run the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Office of Apprenticeship in the US Department of Labor, is now on record as stating that pre-apprenticeship is a great first step, and it can take you in a number of directions. It can take you to an apprenticeship program. They are out there, and they are great, and they do wonderful things for kids.

Len Sipes: But this can take you to a job?

John Hattery: It can take you to your first job. It can take you to continuing education, and in some cases where, you know, the present administration has put some resources towards articulation agreements between trade organizations, community colleges, you know, there are some cases in the world where you can actually finish an apprenticeship while at the same time getting an associates degree and finishing high school kind of all involved in the same set of activities.

So, you know, it really, going all the way back to your original question, the activity, building a house, that’s a lot of fun. If you like using tools, that’s a lot of fun. Beyond that, it’s really fun if you’ve got an adult there who is willing to believe in you and who is willing to walk into a business with you and say, “This young person, or this person has worked with our program for six months, and yeah, they got themselves in trouble, at some point, but let me tell you about what they have been doing for six months, and I think that maybe you can give this person a chance as a helper in your business.”

Len Sipes: We only have three minutes before the end of the program, and I’ve been really remiss. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is John Hattery, and John is with the National Association of Home Builders, and specifically the Workforce Development arm of the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute. The web address is www.hbi.org, and I’m going to summarize John.

What you have told me is this, the Home Builders Associations throughout the country, they are doing a very good job of taking the “hard to employ” and they are training them and placing them on jobs, and what you are telling me is this, that there is an individualized approach, that you have a person and there soul job is job development. You’ve replaced them if necessary, because in some instances a person decides not to be a carpenter, but now he wants to be a bricklayer. The job involves hands on experience and they know what to do by the time they are done with the program. These are programs with a future. There is a clear job progression on that, and they are good paying programs, or good paying occupations at that, and it sounds like the major point that you are making is that there is a caring staff, and that caring and professional staff seems to reach out to these individuals where you guys have success, where in many instances a lot of similar programs do not have success.

John Hattery: Well, you know, and I don’t want to talk about other programs. I just know that we’ve got some folks that work very, very hard and we’ve had some really good success, and we’ve had some really excellent success stories, and some folks that are getting out of jail.

Now, we started this conversation by talking about some of the times and some of the feedback that we get back from the business community about ex-offenders and their performance on the job sites. You know, we have those stories too. We don’t knock every pitch out of the park, but our batting average will keep us in the major leagues for a very long time.

Len Sipes: Okay, John Hattery, from the National Association of Home Builders. Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening to DC Public Safety. The Website for the National Association of Home Builders and his particular program www.hbi.org and have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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First Person to Surrender During Fugitive Safe Surrender: Follow-up Interview

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.

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=75

See www.dcsafesurrender.org for information on Safe Surrender in Washington, D.C.

[Recording Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to Fugitive Safe Surrender, my name is Len Sipes from the Federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. I am here talking with Mr. Willie Jones. Mr. Jones was the first person who surrendered at the Fugitive Safe Surrender program here in Washington D.C. at the Bible Way Church at New York and New Jersey Avenue. First of all Mr. Jones, tell me why you came in today.

Willie Jones: Because I had an outstanding warrant.

Len Sipes: And what was the warrant for.

Willie Jones: Distribution of heroin.

Len Sipes: And you told me earlier that you were out on this warrant for approximately a year.

Willie Jones: Yes sir.

Len Sipes: And what happened on that year’s time.

Willie Jones: I was looking over my shoulder. I was very uncomfortable. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t drive my car. I was just stagernating.

Len Sipes: So you were always concerned, needless to say, that you would be picked up.

Willie Jones: Yes sir.

Len Sipes: Now, what happened today? So you came into Fugitive Safe Surrender. You were the first in line. You came in with family members?

Willie Jones: Yes I did. I came in with my sister, my brother, and my girlfriend.

Len Sipes: Now, what we’ve found out in other Fugitive Safe Surrender cities is that it’s often time a family affair, it’s a family decision. Did you all make this decision collectively, together?

Willie Jones: Yes we did.

Len Sipes: And what, tell me a little bit about the process.

Willie Jones: When I came in the door Bible Way staff greeted me; then we went downstairs to a sitting area; they filled out some paperwork; then I met with an attorney. I talked with her for a few minutes; then we met with the Chief Judge in Washington D.C. He gave me personal bonds, got rid of the warrant and I’m back in the street and I don’t have to look over my shoulders now.

Len Sipes: And how does that make you feel?

Willie Jones: It make me feel real, real good. Only by the grace of God, I keep him first. First in my life and prayer.

Len Sipes: Now, what would you tell everybody who is going to be listening to this today, both media and people who are going to be hearing this who are considering participating in Fugitive Safe Surrender. What would you tell them?

Willie Jones: That this is a very, very good program and anything that’s going on in the house of the Lord, you can trust it, walk on in. Anybody that know me, my name is Willie Clayton Jones, some people call me Squid. Anybody that know me, that know that I’m here, this is a very good program.

Len Sipes: Because a lot of people are going to be skeptical about coming in. A lot of people are going to be skeptical, a little bit disbelieving until they hear solid evidence from people like yourself.

Willie Jones: Yeah, well they can take it from me, like I said, my name is Willie Jones, some people call me Squid. This is a very good program, it’s a safe program. You have nothing to worry about unless you have a violent crime like armed robbery, kidnap, sexual to kids, something to that nature. If you just have something that’s a misdemeanor you’ll walk in and walk right out. I’ve only been in here like 40 minutes before my process was taken care of.

Len Sipes: Okay, anything else you want to add?

Willie Jones: I’d just like to say thanks for the Safe Surrender program, whoever started it, and also I’d like to say thanks for my family but let me put God first, without Him I can’t do anything. So I’d just like to say thanks and thanks for the interview and thank you too sir.

Len Sipes: Willie Jones I thank you very much too sir. Have yourself a pleasant day.

Willie Jones: You too.

[Recording Ends]

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