Offenders Assigned to Day Reporting-DC Public Safety-228,000 Requests a Month

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This radio program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2009/11/offenders-assigned-to-day-reporting-dc-public-safety-228000-requests-a-month/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

– Audio begins –

Len Sipes: From our microphones in downtown Washington, D.C., this is D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. We have, I think, a really interesting program today. Day reporting: These are individuals who come to my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. They go to Day Reporting when they haven’t done all that well and there are problems in their supervision or they’re not getting jobs and what we do is we say, well, you’re going to have to go to the Day Reporting Center on a day-to-day basis and you’re going to be talking with Mr. Walter Hagins. He is the program manager of the Day Reporting Center and we’ll also have two folks who are currently under our supervision. Again, we are a federal agency providing parole and probation services in Washington, D.C. and I’m not going to use their real names. I’m going to refer to them as Pookie as the first person and Cool as the second person. Ladies and gentlemen, before we get into the gist of our show, want to remind everybody that we are again very, very pleased with the amount of people who are listening to the show. We are up to close to 200,000 individuals, 200,000 requests I should say, for D.C. Public Safety radio, television, blog, and transcripts at media M-E-D-I-A.csosa C-S-O-S-A.gov. Really interested in your comments in the show, suggestions, criticisms; feel free to give them. You can either comment in the comment box at D.C. Public safety; again, media.csosa.gov or you can get to me directly by email, which is Leonard L-E-O-N-A-R-D.sipes S-I-P not T, P-E-S@csosa.gov or you can follow me by Twitter. It’s Twitter.com or Twitter.com/lensipes (without any separation). So, back to our program. Walter Hagins, the program manager of the Day Reporting Center. How ya doing, Walter?

Walter Hagins: Good morning, Len. How are you today?

Len Sipes: I’m all right. You know, Walter, I’ve been to the Day Reporting Center maybe three, four times in the past and I remember we were doing fugitive safe surrender, which was a program designed to get people who are wanted on criminal warrants to voluntarily surrender. So, I did a couple focus groups with the folks at Day Reporting and, boy, were they an interesting bunch of folk. You really got the sense that a lot of these individuals were on the edge that they’re in the community today but they may go back to prison the following day. And I just did not get the sense that these were the most disciplined bunch of folks on the face of the earth. Walter?

Walter Hagins: Well, Len, part of that is partially true and the reason I say that because at the Day Reporting Center it is sort of a one-stop shop to try to get folks back into compliance as well as to try to get individuals to become more employable and that can range from anything from dealing with issues of substance abuse, dealing with issues of homelessness, dealing with issues of literacy, dealing with issues of mental health, dealing with a lot of host of things; personal problems. And so that can trigger one’s supervision that causes them to make decisions that places them at risk. So, the Day Reporting Center, so you do get those folks and it’s our job to kind of mow them back and get them refocused in order to be productive, not only in their lives but in the community.

Len Sipes: But they’re close to going back to prison.

Walter Hagins: Well, yeah, a lot of them because if you don’t follow conditions of supervision, you will go back to prison if you don’t follow those conditions.

Len Sipes: Uh-huh. If you keep pulling positive drug tests, if you don’t show up for drug testing, if the neighbors keep complaining that you’re out on the corner at 1:00 in the morning smoking reefer and raising hell, you’re close to going back to prison.

Walter Hagins: And that’s correct and, fortunately, for us, CSOSA understands that there is a way to kind of intercede, to give another opportunity, another resource, and still hold accountability to try to avoid that going back to prison.

Len Sipes: The bottom line in all of this, and this is the larger question for parole and probation agencies throughout the country, Walter, is the whole concept of maintaining individuals in the community as long as they are not a threat to public safety. So, if the person is arrested for a violent crime, he goes. Nobody’s questioning that. If he’s arrested for a burglary, he goes. But the point is that there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the middle, in between, and the larger sense for all of us in parole and probation in Canada, in England, and, believe it or not, in China because we’ve provided technical assistance to China on this very issue, is how you maintain folks in the community safely, not threatening public safety, and help them basically stop the drug positives, get the job, clean up the attitude. Am I right or am I wrong? Am I in the ballpark?

Walter Hagins: You are right on point and I think CSOSA is unique because I believe that we are on the right path because what you’re talking about is in a time of financial constraints. Roughly we have anywhere from 40 to 50 that’s always in the Day Reporting Center. Now, to house a federal prisoner, it’s $22,000. So, if you take our 50 guys, that’s roughly over $1,100,000 and my math might be a little bit off but it’s roughly over $1 million. So, what CSOSA has done with this Day Reporting Center is offer a one-stop shop, a place where folks on probation can come and (1) can get structure, can get programming, and can get discipline as well as get the resources from our community partnerships, from what we have in-house to kind of try to combat that so you don’t have to deal with folks returning to prisons and giving them an opportunity. So, that’s been the dilemma and CSOSA’s answer is to let’s not bring folks in who may be drifting and bring them, if it’s substance abuse, bring them substance abuse education. If it’s dealing with structure, have a place where these individuals can come in and they report in for five to six hours, but make that time constructive, make that time where they can receive positive information as well as have a positive support system.

Len Sipes: Okay. Got it. And, just for the record, I want to tell the listeners that there are a variety of programs here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency where it is, oh, I don’t know what we call all of the different programs that we have, but they are designed to provide a variety of activities, a variety of, I don’t know what the word is, opportunity, a variety of modalities based upon the offender’s unique individual needs all the way to a 30 day placement in a treatment center to deal with either mental health or substance abuse or other problems. So, this is just one of a variety of programs where we try to do the best to protect public safety and, at the same time, try to get that individual to understand that he’s got to work every day, he’s got to stop pulling drug positives, he’s got to cooperate, and he’s got to lose the attitude.

Walter Hagins: You’re right on point.

Len Sipes: All right. Cool. Pookie, we’re going to go over to you now. Really appreciate your being here. Now, you are part of the Day Reporting structure now?

Pookie: That’s correct. How ya doing, Lenny? You doing good?

Len Sipes: I’m doing good. The interesting thing, Pookie, is that, boy, you don’t fit the stereotype. Last time I was at Day Reporting, everybody was young and dressed young and looked young. You’re an older gentleman.

Pookie: Well, consider old

Len Sipes: Well, in a suit and tie, you look good. You look like you’re president of a bank.

Pookie: Well, half my battle has been because of my appearance.

Len Sipes: You know what? Who said that? Somebody said, oh, I forget who said it, some famous celebrity, Woody Allen, I think it was, who said that 80 percent of life and life’s battle’s just showing up. And then somebody came along and said, well, it’s 80 percent just showing up and dressed in a suit or dressed appropriately and that’s 80 percent of life, 80 percent of the success in life is just showing up and looking good. And that’s, you figured that out.

Pookie: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: All right. How’d you get into the Day Reporting program?

Pookie: Well, I got into Day Reporting program because I violated conditions of parole. I came home, I tried unsuccessfully to get a job and it’s been, like, four months. Me and my parole officer decided to try something new, which was he referred me to the Day Reporting Center. I’m not there because of sanction because my urine is positive. I’m not there because I failed to report to his office and I’m not there because I failed to be at my home when he had a home visit. So, I’m basically there to try something new, to try another avenue, to try to get myself back in the mainstream of a job.

Len Sipes: What’s your background, by the way? Somebody listening can, hopefully, get you a job today.

Pookie: Well, my background is being raised in a juvenile institution from the time I was 8 up until, let’s say, 47, I’ve always been a leader, even in prison. I’ve always been able to motivate. So, I say, okay, I’m going to try to use these skills when I get into the community. I got a job cleaning the streets. Made me feel good. The pay wasn’t that great, but I felt good about making an honest dollar. I advanced from team leader to supervisor to senior supervisor to acting project manager. Right? And I normally motivate and I talk to my co-workers.

Len Sipes: What happened? Something happened.

Pookie: However, I did come up with a dirty urine.

Len Sipes: Ah! Okay.

Pookie: Over a 5-year period in the community; first I’ve ever had in my life.

Len Sipes: First dirty urine under supervision?

Pookie: Not my first dirty urine.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Pookie: But what I’m saying is that my first dirty urine, kind of, it had a conflict between me and my parole officer because my dirty urine was alcohol and, see under conditions of parole, you can’t drink alcohol but in moderation, not in excess.

Len Sipes: So, but you’re out of work now, right?

Pookie: I’m out of work now.

Len Sipes: And why’s that?

Pookie: I’m out of work now because I just came home last year in November.

Len Sipes: From prison.

Pookie: From prison.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Pookie: Right? I had to go through the Reentry Center program.

Len Sipes: Right, which is another of our alternative programs.

Pookie: Correct.

Len Sipes: Or not in the case, not an alternative program, but a mode of transitioning being back into the community through intensive drug treatment, mental health; that sort of stuff.

Pookie: In-patient. I also went through drug treatment, which is Second Genesis.

Len Sipes: Cool. Okay. So, you went through the whole she-bang.

Pookie: The whole she-bang.

Len Sipes: Our drug treatment, by the way, ladies and gentlemen, is not what most people think of drug treatment. It’s not twice a week for an hour in a group setting. It is pretty intensive.

Pookie: And it’s all day.

Len Sipes: A thorough analysis of the individual and then placing this person into a residential group setting and a plan for follow-up, relapse prevention for when the person gets out. Correct?

Pookie: Correct.

Len Sipes: Okay. Did it work?

Pookie: It worked. I successfully completed each and every component of the Reentry Program.

Len Sipes: All right. So, you’re not doing drugs?

Pookie: I’m not doing drugs. Matter of fact, I haven’t been home since November 28 of last year and all my urines are negative.

Len Sipes: Okay. So, you’re one of our success stories. So, instead of throwing you back in prison, you’re back in the community and you’re trying to make it.

Pookie: I’m trying to make it. I’m not asking for welfare. I’m not asking for a hand-out. I’m just asking for an extended hand, you know?

Len Sipes: Uh-huh.

Pookie: I’m asking for, give me an opportunity, because my last job, I was given an opportunity.

Len Sipes: But why’d you lose the last job?

Pookie: Because I was violated, not because of anything on the job.

Len Sipes: Okay. But you went back to prison.

Pookie: I went back to prison.

Len Sipes: What’s your skill set? What do you do? What are you good at?

Pookie: Well, I’m good at scrubbing floors. I’m good at carpentry. I’m good at motivating. I’m good at supervising. I’m good at fixing small equipment; lawn mowers, weed whackers. I’ve been able to use

Len Sipes: So, you’re a “hands on” sort of guy?

Pookie: Because I learned each and every phase of my job; that’s why I got to the point of acting supervisor.

Len Sipes: Okay. Cool. And you were working for the city at the time?

Pookie: Well, I was working for a private company but it does work for the city.

Len Sipes: A private company that works for the city. Okay. Anybody out there that’s got a job for Pookie, let me tell you, he looks like a bank president sitting here. I mean, he just looks like a bank president. We’re going to go over to another gentleman who came in today. He’s currently under supervision and we’re just going to call him Cool. I’ve heard the name 40 years in the criminal justice system; Cool Breeze, Cool Man, Cool Kid. I’ve heard about every variation of Cool on the face of the earth. How ya doing, Cool?

Cool: I’m doing good. How ya doing?

Len Sipes: All right. Now, you look like a rock star. You look like you’re just fresh off of MTV doing something or other. You’ve got this fresh face, young man look going about you. And tell me a little bit about your involvement in the Day Reporting system, Cool.

Cool: Well, the Day Reporting Center has done very good for me. Instead of my CSO sending me back to jail, she send me to the Day Reporting Center, which is good.

Len Sipes: Right. And the CSO’s the Community Supervision Officer, what most people would call a parole and probation agent throughout the rest of the country. So, what did you do that got you instead of going back to prison you went here?

Cool: Well, I participated. I mean, I could have said, no.

Len Sipes: Now, what did you do? What was your violation?

Cool: Oh, I didn’t catch any violations. I had no violations. It was because I didn’t obtain employment.

Len Sipes: All right. So, you’re not out there finding work.

Cool: Yes.

Len Sipes: Do you have work now?

Cool: No, not at all, sir.

Len Sipes: All right. But you’re getting work?

Cool: Yes.

Len Sipes: Cool. All right. What’s your impression about the Day Reporting Center? Is it a huge pain in the rear? Is it helpful? Is it, what’s your gut perception of this?

Cool: Well, the Day Reporting Center to me, it offers a lot of good programs. I mean, everyone has their own opinion, but for me, I think, the Day Reporting Center is a good program. I can relate to, I’m down at the Day Reporting Center five days a week, so out of those five days a week, I can relate to at least about 4 1/2 classes out of there. I say 4 1/2 because at one point in time it’s from 1:00 to 3:00. So, it’s a certain speaking at 1:00 till 2:00 and then from 2:00 till 3:00.

Len Sipes: I’m going to reintroduce all three of you because, believe it or not, we’re halfway through the half hour program. Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety. Walter Hagins is the program manager of the Day Reporting Center for our agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Walter brought in a couple gentlemen with him today who are part of the process of the Day Reporting Center and we’re not using their real names. We’re calling just one, Pookie, the bank manager, and Cool, the gentleman from MTV, and that’s how I’ve got them all figured out in my mind. Let’s have a larger discussion for the last 15 minutes and I’m going to go back to you, Cool, because I didn’t give you a lot of time. What society is saying and the emails I get and the communications that I get from people who hear these shows and I’m also teaching a class at the University of Maryland right now and I’m giving sort of, like, half down the middle where half the folks are saying, you know, these individuals try to do what you can to keep them in the community. If they don’t have to go back to prison, I really don’t want to pay all the money to send them back to prison, but I want to be protected. That’s the bottom line. So, if you can figure out, Mr. Sipes, you and your agency, if you can figure out who’s going to do well in community supervision and who needs to go back to prison, well, then cool, but I’m not really quite sure I trust your judgment. Pookie and Cool, Cool, we’ll go with you. How do you respond to people on the outside who basically said, look, my man, you’ve been in prison. We expect you to work and pay your taxes and don’t have any dirty urines. We don’t want you doing drugs. We want you to be a model citizen and that’s what we want out of you. How do you respond to that?

Cool: I mean, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a model citizen. It’s harder for certain people. They do say most of the time a person that’s been convicted, go to jail for five years and come back home and stay on the streets for six months and then go right back to jail for another 5 to 10 years.

Len Sipes: Uh-huh. Prison on the installment plan.

Cool: Yes. When I’ve totally went over that opinion, like, I’ve been out on the streets longer than I’ve been in prison.

Len Sipes: Okay. And how long you been out on the streets?

Cool: About two years now and I was locked up for about 20 months.

Len Sipes: All right. Why aren’t you employed?

Cool: Well, because, I mean, I’m not going to say because people aren’t hiring. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing my best, to be honest with you. I’m trying, but I’m not doing my best. There’s a lot of other things on the outside world as far as financially, other things.

Len Sipes: See, the thing that blows me away and this is something that deals with some stereotypes and I apologize for those stereotypes, nevertheless, they are there. When the public out there hears the word, “criminal,” somebody’s caught up in the criminal justice system, they have a prearranged vision in their minds as to who that individual is. I’m looking at both of you and both of you look and sound like anybody else that you’re going to find on the street. I mean, there’s not an ounce of stereotype in either one of your presentations. So, the public is now sitting back and going, okay, well, I’m not quite sure what Len Sipes is looking at and I’m not there so I can’t make my own judgments, but, daggone it, I want people who come out of prison to toe the line and not go back and to be responsible. So, that’s their emphasis. Now, is it that we don’t provide enough programs, society provides too many temptations, you don’t have enough self-discipline. I mean, speaking for yourself and people who you’ve been in contact with out on the street, what’s up with the folks who go back? Because there’s no hope for them? What’s the issue?

Walter Hagins: Let me jump in for a second because you talked about, and I liked what you said, but keep in mind, these two gentlemen have had a place to practice. Okay? You have the DRC. You have this haven where, we have this saying, the lion’s den, where you can have a place where you can bring up those issues into this forum and we discuss it and

Len Sipes: As a group.

Walter Hagins: As a group or individually. We do some things individually. Part of that is when society is talking about the whole rehabilitation and we want you to get a job and things like that. I think enough attention is not paid to the steps to get a job. Do I have the sort of skills as far as my dress, communication? Can I deal with conflict? When my boss says something or my supervisor says something I don’t like, do I go off the handle like I’ve seen growing up if I didn’t have structure and role modeling? Or do I go and deal with that person and use some of the skills; conflict resolution, pull my supervisor to the side and do the things that we’re talking about in group. See, I think a lot of that stereotype is because not everybody has had the benefit, maybe not everybody has had a positive role model, maybe there’s not been that type of intervention like the DRC. So, to stick someone into a job and say, be successful. What does that mean? If I’ve never been successful and never had that type of training, then what are we talking about?

Len Sipes: And that’s something the public struggles with because our reality is that recovery, let’s just say drug treatment, an addict wants that drug, an alcoholic wants that drink every single day of their lives. How they cope with that every single day becomes a learning process. And they’ve got to be taught how to do that, but relapse, which means positive urines, is a daily reality for us because it’s part of the addictions process and it’s part of the recovery process, where the average person says, man, he’s out of prison. He’s got three positives for cocaine. Please send him back to prison. And that’s what we have to struggle with every single day. And the other part of it is what we call, cognitive therapy, where it’s thinking through stuff and thinking in a different way. And you’re right. How many people have been fired because they simply mouthed off to the boss?

Walter Hagins: That’s right.

Len Sipes: I mean, how many times do I want to tell bosses, not my current boss certainly, but in the past, how many times did I want to tell him or her to go do something? And I came close more than a couple occasions, but that’s in me; that’s in everybody. That’s in these gentlemen, that’s in you, that’s in me, that’s in everybody listening to the program, but how you respond to that provocation is what makes the difference and, within your program, what I hear is you teach them how to respond.

Walter Hagins: And we role model. I mean, and these gentlemen will attest, we actually do scenarios where we may do mock interviews or we may role-play that we’re on a job and someone might make an inappropriate response when advanced and you’re under the microscope or understudy and how do you respond? And then we’ll stop it and we’ll get critiqued. So, now that becomes a part of your muscle memory or your experience. So, if I’m ever placed in that situation before, at least I have a frame of reference.

Len Sipes: It’s automatic in terms of how you respond. Instead of responding with a mouth, you respond appropriately.

Walter Hagins: Exactly.

Len Sipes: Because, Lord knows, we all have difficult bosses.

Walter Hagins: Including myself.

Len Sipes: Everybody on the face of the earth has a difficult boss. Why is that? Pookie or Cool, either one of you, I mean, what we’re saying is that a lot of folks under supervision. You don’t have to talk specifically for yourself but talk specifically or generally in terms of the people that you’ve been in contact with. What we’re saying is we’ve got to retrain a lot of human beings that may not have been brought up correctly, I don’t know if that’s an appropriate term to say, but people get my drift, and people have got to learn basic skills in terms of how to work with other human beings throughout life. I mean, how many people in the domestic violence unit, which is another one of our programs, I mean, you can’t hit your wife. You can’t even raise your fist to your wife and that is something that they didn’t know. Now, people sitting there are going, well, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that folks don’t know this. There are a lot of folks that we supervise who don’t know this stuff. Cool, you’re trying to say something and say it into the microphone.

Cool: Okay. Well, as you all were just saying, I mean, there’s some people who were brought up with different views. If someone grows up as a child seeing their mother being hit on all day or seeing someone selling drugs around them their whole life being brought up, they think that’s the right thing to do to make money or the right way to treat a female. I mean, in this program, in the DRC, they get to know you. You have open discussions, scenarios that other people can relate to. I mean, I think with your CSO, my CSO, she gave me a chance. She introduced me to the DRC and it’s helped me a whole lot. It’s motivated me to go on job interviews and go seek out employment because I’ve never really had a job so coming here gave me the skills to know what I needed to do to obtain the job. And, if you don’t know a person, if you don’t know why they’re acting the way they’re acting or why they speak the way they speak or their behavior, I mean, you can’t really help them unless you get to know them. You’ve got people out here who are on drugs their whole life, who are abused their whole life and certain people don’t know that so, of course, you’re going to have people going back to jail and violating probation because after awhile they’re going to say, I don’t care anymore. But with the DRC, man, you get see that the stereotype isn’t always right. Like, as you said about me, most people look at me on the street and say, hey, there’s this young looking guy. He’s probably out here selling drugs. He’s probably, I’m not doing any of that.

Len Sipes: But your presentation is somebody that has a college degree. I mean, the way you present yourself is pretty daggone impressive. So, I’m sitting here going, okay, if you’ve got the look. If you’ve got the whole thing down in terms of how to interact with people, why can’t you get a job.

Cool: Good point. That is a good point. That is a good point. Well, to be honest with you, I mean, maybe, like, the stereotype. They look at me, they see me, and they’re, like, unh-huh, and they look at my past, my criminal record and they’re, like, I’m not going to hire this guy before they sit down and have a conversation with me. I think if someone was to actually sit down and interview and have actual conversation with me, I think I’d have 100 percent shot at getting the job.

Len Sipes: Uh-huh. Pookie, one of the things that always astounded me is two things. I understand that there is discrimination. In some cases, when I’m talking about discrimination, I’m talking about law, saying that you can’t hire a person with a particular background. So, if you’re going to go into a day care center, you can’t hire somebody who’s a sex offender. I mean, that’s pretty obvious. But the overwhelming majority of people under supervision are employed at a certain point in their lives. I mean, guys with criminal records get jobs all the time. So, how do you frame this to the American public and 20 percent of our audience is beyond the shores of the United States, so what do you say to the folks in China and France? And what do you say to folks about this whole sense of succeeding?

Pookie: Well, I can only look at myself. It seems like most employers now are asking for resumes. It’s not like a personal, you go in the office and you have an interview, and you sit down with somebody and you explain and you tell them your story about why you need the job. It’s about resume. Resumes are just basically built on what is your criteria for this job. What else do you have to offer? Because you are looked at as commodity.

Len Sipes: Right.

Pookie: So, if you don’t have that experience or that knowledge of, let’s say, working or that work ethic or that motivation, you’re not going to get the job. I mean, you can write anything on a piece of paper, but they can always just put that piece of paper on the side. I have walked these pavements for the last four months each and every day. I had to bring my parole officer verification that I went to this business, to the point where I had blisters on my feet

Len Sipes: And basically nobody hired you is what you’re saying.

Pookie: Nobody has hired me, but that hasn’t really folded up or thought about using drugs or thought about committing a crime; all I need is a job.

Len Sipes: I hear you.

Pookie: That’s all I need is a job. Now, because I’m in the DRC program, that program is another avenue into maybe, let’s say, training me in various apprenticeship programs. As a matter of fact, I’ve been referred to CDL, the greater Washington, is a component of CSOSA community.

Len Sipes: Are you talking about commercial drivers licenses?

Pookie: Oh, yeah.

Len Sipes: Because there are a lot of guys who have served heavy-duty time in prison who are now out there driving trucks and there are some of them out there hiring other truck drivers. They’re doing extraordinarily well. The half hour has gone by way too fast, but what I’d like to do is invite you all back, the three of you, come on back in three months and give me a progress report and I’d love to have you back on the radio because we really haven’t gotten enough time to discuss all the different things I wanted to discuss. Our participants today: Walter Hagins, program manager of the Day Reporting Center for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We have Pookie, not his real name obviously, but the gentlemen looks like a bank manager. He’s looking for work, has lots of skills, hard skills. And Cool is somebody who you would upfront impress everybody because he’s got that look going on. And, gentlemen, I wish the best of luck. Anybody out there looking for what seems to be wonderful individuals to hire, we’ve got them right here. Contact me, leonard.sipes@csosa.gov. Ladies and gentlemen, I really appreciate everything that you’ve done for the show, 196,000 requests last month. Have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

Walter Hagins: Thank you, Len.

– Audio ends –

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