Archives for November 22, 2010

Offender and Victim Advocacy: Is there a Middle Ground? DC Public Safety-220,000 Requests a Month

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  We have, what I believe, is another very interesting show.  We’re going to be talking about crime victims, and I know we’ve been talking a lot about crime victims lately, but this time, we’re going to do it from the faith based perspective, the fact that my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency really has what I consider to be one of the best faith based programs in the United States in terms of reaching out to criminal offenders, volunteers and churches, mosques, synagogues to help them readjust from prison, or even on probation, but in this context, we’re going to be talking about it in terms of the faith based initiative.  Anne Seymour is one of our guests today.  She is with Justice Solutions.  She’s a national expert on the issue of victims and victimology.  Anne’s website is  I’ll be giving that out again all throughout the program.  Reverend Bernard Keels, the director of the University Memorial Chapel at Morgan State University in the great city of Baltimore, Maryland, where I am from,, he’s also joining with us today.  He’s a mentor and facilitator in terms of faith based groups.  Before we begin the show, our usual commercials, we’re up to 200,000 requests a month for D.C. Public Safety, television, radio, blog, and transcripts.  That’s media, M-E-D-I-A – dot-CSOSA – C-S-O-S-A – dot-gov.  Your input into these shows is what makes the show enjoyable, and what makes the show come alive, and we really appreciate every email, every comment on our comments box, your responses via twitter, and your responses, once again, via email.  If you want to get in touch with me directly, it is Leonard – L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-Sipes – S-I-P as in Peculiar-P-E-S –, or you can follow us via twitter at  Back to our guests, Anne Seymour and Reverend Bernard Keels.  Welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Anne Seymour:  Thank you.

Bernard Keels:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Anne Seymour, now I’ve read your resume and been on your website, Justice Solutions,  You’ve done a ton of work with the U.S. Department of Justice in terms of victims’ issues.  You are, what I was told by Christine Keels, the person who heads up our faith based program, truly one of the national experts when it comes to victims’ related issues.  We’re approaching National Victims’ Week in April.  Give me a sense as to what’s happening with the victims’ movement throughout the country.  Is there a way of summarizing that in a couple minutes?

Anne Seymour:  Yeah, I think, boy, summarizing the victims’ movement, we’re a very, very diverse movement.  So it’s hard to summarize, but I will say that, you know, we’ve got 32,000 laws across the states and the Indian country at the federal level that protect crime victims.  A big issue now for victims is making sure that these laws are more than just rhetoric, and so we’re looking a lot at compliance issues.  For me personally, one of my big issues is also making sure that we’re identifying victims who choose not to go through the justice process, which is the majority of victims who don’t report crimes, and they never know that services are available to assist them, and so I’m working a lot now with victims who choose not to report, as well as with agencies like CSOSA, which has been really a national model in terms of the work they do with crime victims.

Len Sipes:  And I think, and I thank you for that, and I think Christine Keels, the person who heads the faith-based program, really deserves a lot of credit for that and really has re-invigorated the whole faith based initiative. It’s interesting you talk about people not reporting crimes.  Most crimes are not reported to law enforcement.  40% of property crimes and about 50% of violent crimes are reported.  So I’ve oftentimes wondered what happens to those people who float through their victimization without going through the formal criminal justice system; that you’ve just brought up a very interesting issue.

Anne Seymour:  It’s interesting, and I think it’s also very sad.  I mean, one of the things we need to do is to make sure that everyone in a community knows about victims’ services, because I may not report to the police, but I may talk to my hairdresser, to my child’s student, or if I’m at school, I may talk to the school nurse and still not want to report.  That’s my choice, and I support victims who choose that, but we still want them to know that they can access services for mental health counseling, for medical services that they may need.  There’s a lot of services that do not require reporting and going through the system.

Len Sipes:  Okay.  Reverend Bernard Keels, director, University Memorial Chapel, Morgan State University in the great city of Baltimore, again, where I’m from.  Morgan,, one of the well known institutions of higher learning in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.  You’re a mentor and a facilitator in terms of faith based organizations where, here in D.C., in Baltimore?

Bernard Keels:  Yeah, with the Family Reunification Program in D.C.  One of the things that I think Anne has touched on that is so powerful is that the whole issue of the rhetoric that is present in our society, churches and faith based organizations oftentimes had to separate the historical imperative from what’s happened in contemporary times.  Going back to the Cain and Abel saga, where the first, probably the first victim was Abel, I think churches have to really begin to understand that there is a duality, if you will, with how people who are victims of crimes need to have restitution, need to have restorative justice that happens to them, and many, many times, churches tend to be so caught up into the dogma of worship that they forget the everyday issues that affect the people who are worshipping, i.e. crime victims, and yes, people do report crime victims to hairdressers and to strangers, and sometimes, the last place they come is a faith based institution because of the built in negative images of what it means to accuse, for instance, a cleric of abuse.  Some of the institutional abuse you hear about, pedophilia in some of the mainline denominational churches, so faith based churches and institutions need to really broaden their understanding that it’s okay to leap out with your faith, but to understand the very basic issues that affect people, because people, after all, bring the whole idea of parishioners, and I think that’s where we have to become more relevant.

Len Sipes:  The, especially when it applies to women victims, most, in most cases, women know who attacked them.  In most cases, there is prior knowledge or a prior relationship.  That is extraordinarily difficult when your best friend/brother/husband/friend of five years/somebody that you’ve known for the last 30 days victimizes you, and thereby the struggle, and we understand that, in terms of people not reporting crimes, they see this in many cases as a personal event, not necessarily an event that you would report to the criminal justice system, but she’s a victim nevertheless.  So I would imagine, I can see that person going to their Imam.  I can see that person going to their priest, going to their minister, going to their rabbi, and saying, although I don’t want to report this to the criminal justice system, I am reporting it to you, I need spiritual counseling in terms of best, next steps.  What should I do, correct?

Bernard Keels:  Yeah.  Not only are you correct, but it’s so incumbent upon that spiritual director to recognize the boundaries of their ability, his or her ability, to become a meaningful mentor, a meaningful person that could intervene in it.  So many times, people will go to their cleric, the imam, the rabbi as a way of sort of ameliorating the situation and saying that prayer will change that, or the fact that I’ll come to church will make it easier, and it takes a very strong and well-trained cleric to realize that it’s okay to be able to access those governmental, or organizations like a CSOSA, to be able to partner with those governmental organizations and partner with Anne’s group, and to be able to say, help me learn how to translate what I do so that a victim actually has a face and a person they can believe in in the process of healing.

Len Sipes:  Now before going on in the program, to cretae clarity, some clarity out of all the issues we’re dealing with over the course of the next 25 minutes, we have to deal with the faith based component, and the faith based component, ordinarily, is one of mentoring people under supervision. So we’ve got to be dealing with the fact that there are people under supervision, and we use the faith community to mentor to them, to help them regain their footing, not do drugs, get together and take care of their families and not continue a criminal lifestyle.  We’ve got to deal with that.  We’ve got to deal with that in the context of the victims’ movement, and we’ve got to deal with the victims’ movement across the board.  So that’s three gigantic topics that we now have, oh, 20 minutes to deal with.  Do we want to start off with the mentoring to people under supervision/criminal offenders?  Do we want to start off with that component and how that interacts with the victims’ movement?

Bernard Keels:  Yeah, one of the ways that we started was to be able to help offenders understand that there’s not that much difference between a mentor and a mentee.  So many times, we draw an invisible yet concrete barrier between those who have transgressed society and those who are nice, normal people.  I’ve found that it’s important to tell your story and be a very good listener so that a person realizes that no matter how far you’ve gone, you can come home.  The Hebrew biblical story of the prodigal son comes to mind.  It’s important to realize that if we live against society, rehabilitation and restorative justice is possible, then that offender has to have the very realistic goal that if he or she can begin to first seek some forgiveness within themselves, their higher being, whatever it might be, then and only then can they begin to go to that person that they’ve transgressed and try to be able to create a more helpful and hopeful dialogue.  So mentors have to be very careful not to prejudge a situation based on their own concept of morality, their own concept of religion.  Religion becomes so narrowly defined sometimes that it can become dangerous when we begin to judge people from a unidimensional yardstick that says, if you’ve done this, then this is the result.  I don’t know a person’s story, but I can hear who they are and interact with who they’ve been, and then share a bit of my own story.  So I think that that mentoring thing, in the faith based community, has to be able to step outside of its own power, if you will, its own sense of history, and look in the universal sense of, what does it mean if I have offended Anne, to know that Anne has the right to come to her own terms of forgiving my offense.

Len Sipes:  All right, so basically what I’m hearing is, first, the individual has to heal themselves.  The faith based mentor, whatever religion that persons happens to represent, can’t be too judgmental.  He’s there to help that person cross a bridge, but there is a certain point where he or she needs to acknowledge that they’ve done a tremendous amount of harm to another human being, they need to acknowledge they’ve done harm, a tremendous amount of harm to the community, so it’s just not that particular act in isolation.  There’s no such thing as a burglary.  There’s no such thing as a rape.  It is multiple, multiple victims.  It may be one person that the state uses to prosecute, but there’s an entire family, there’s an entire community that’s been harmed, and that offender needs to come to grips with that community –

Anne Seymour:  And their own family as well.

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Bernard Keels:  Good.

Len Sipes:  Go ahead –

Anne Seymour:  Oh, I was just going to say, that’s the whole concept of restorative justice, is that you really need to look at the harm you’ve done to yourself.  I really agree.  You’ve got to go to yourself first.  It’s not about me first as a victim advocate, or as someone who’s a probation officer, it is really looking at you and the harm that you did, but how I hurt you and your family first, and then your victim, and then your neighborhood, and then your community, so it’s very, very important that we understand, it’s almost like a tidal wave that occurs.  It may start out as a little wave, but when you think about the impact of crime, it goes so far in our society, and I think traditionally, a lot of folks that are under community supervision, we’ve never made them think about it, and a big part of what we’re talking about today is that we want them to think about it, and we’re going to give them help to acknowledge that they have caused harm to people, and that we’re giving them an opportunity to make up for the harm that they’ve caused.

Bernard Keels:  From a spiritual point of view, acknowledgment is only part of it, Leonard.  Understanding becomes an even deeper part, because when you understand something, there’s a possibility for transformation to take place.  So many times, people carry on the label of being an alcoholic or a drug addict or a recovering drug addict.  I try to get a person to the point where they both acknowledge and understand they can become a delivered person so they don’t go that pathway again.  They discover new pathways to conflict resolution, new pathways to understand that their personal issues don’t have dominance over someone else’s issue because of their role or their gender or their relationship or their wealth, and so many times, society begins to casually assign value on crimes based on who’s committing the crime.

Len Sipes:  Well, the society puts labels on each and every one of us for a thousand different reasons, whether you’re African American, whether you’re white, whether you’re short, whether you’re tall, whether you’re Hispanic, whether you’re a male, whether you’re female, whether you’re from the United States, or whether you’re from Germany, we all tend to provide stereotypes.  So the stereotype of the criminal offender, or the stereotype of the person under supervision, however you want to describe that person, doesn’t that come with the territory?  Anne?

Anne Seymour:  You know, I think it does.  I think we are judgmental, even though we’re all mamby pamby and say we’re not supposed to be, but we do judge.  We very often do judge a book by its cover.  But it’s the same thing when, you know, when we talk about victims, people see victims as weak, as someone who might have been partially responsible for what happened to them.  We make judgments about victims, and when we talk about why crime victims don’t report crimes, it’s because they are afraid that no one’s going to believe them, and they’re afraid of being blamed, and the thing that you mentioned, Leonard, I think is so important.  Very often, they know the person, and so they don’t want to get that person in trouble, or they’re fearful of that person.  So we need to recognize that we do judge people who have committed offenses, and very often, I think our judgments are way off, just as they are with crime victims, that we should not make assumptions that anyone is a certain way because they committed an offense, or because someone committed one against them.  With victims, for me, it’s always so important to, despite all the research that tells us about domestic violence victims, and kids who are child abuse victims, everyone is unique.  Every single person has their own story.  Every person came to the path of victimization with a lot of stuff that came before that we need to recognize, which is going to affect how they cope with the victimization.

Len Sipes:  I want to reintroduce my guests halfway through the program, and it’s going by like wildfire.  Anne Seymour, Justice Solutions,, national expert in terms of victim assistance.  Reverend Bernard Keel is director of University Memorial Chapel at Morgan State University in grand and glorious Baltimore, Maryland,  We go with the research, and you go with a certain sense of pragmatism, and I just want to touch upon this whole sense of labeling very quickly and then move on.  If I don’t introduce that, if I don’t introduce the anger on the part of the crime victims, if I don’t introduce the anger on the part of the average citizen who happens to listen to this program, they don’t see the program is relevant.  They say, Leonard, for the love of good god, at least acknowledge the fact that we are suffering and the community is suffering.  Yeah, I do understand that programs need to be there for offenders/people under supervision.  I need, I understand all of that, but somewhere along the line, you’ve got to acknowledge the harm.  Okay, so if we acknowledge the harm, then we can move on and say that the research is pretty clear that these programs, and programs run the gamut from drug treatment to mental health treatment to finding jobs to dealing with a wide array of other social issues, do have a way of lessening recidivism, which means fewer offenders go back to the criminal justice system, which saves a) victims from being victims, and b) taxpayers from having to pay additional taxes.  The research indicates that there’s approximately a 10-20% reduction in recidivism, so Reverend Keels, by mentoring to individuals, helping them cross that bridge, that’s accelerating that process, is it not?

Bernard Keels:  Not only is it accelerating the process, but it really assures that recidivism does not become the revolving door that so many times is in the criminal justice system.  Apart from the understanding of the offender, I want to really talk a bit about the victim.  So many times, the victim, in his or her silence, has been shunned by all of the institutional support.  Most of the institutional support in America is for offenders, and so the support, there’s parole, probation, there’s –

Len Sipes:  98% of it is focused on the person, the participant within the criminal system.

Bernard Keels:  This is where the community becomes important.  The community becomes the holistic vehicle by which we can rally around the whole adage about, it takes a village to heal something, can rally around and begin to say that it’s not your fault, that there is a way of you being able to come to grips with your own hurt, and maybe someday, at your pace, forgive, but not to put the victim in a sense of being revictimized.

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Bernard Keels:  So many times, faith communities make that mistake, Leonard, to revictimize the person.

Len Sipes:  And that’s part of the problem here, in terms of the calls and letters that I get, or the emails, is that, don’t revictimize people who are victimized by crime.  We do understand that you’re advocating for more programs for criminal offenders, and we understand that, but somewhere along the line, you have to advocate for us, which is the reasons why we’re doing these radio shows in.

Anne Seymour:  I just remember, as a young victim advocate, and this was 25 years ago, I was training probation officers, and a woman lingered afterwards, and told me about being a battered woman.  She was a probation officer who was in a chronic battering, and she told me about going to her minister, and he said to her, if you would just be a better wife and think about your children, it’s important that you stay with him for the sake of the family.  And I remember her crying, and I remember crying myself thinking, oh my gosh, we have to do something if that’s the advice that faith communities are giving to victims, and that’s why I’m so happy to be addressing this subject today, because people do not, they’re not mean to victims intentionally, but they say the wrong things, and the faith community, in trying to keep the family together and trying to stick with, especially the Christian requirement forgiveness can be extremely hurtful to victims.  So we have partnered, over the years, and developed wonderful training programs, and a lot of work like the mentoring that the reverend is doing, that helps them understand that they have two options: they can help victims, or they can hurt victims, and we’re kind of hoping that everyone sides on the help part, because there’s a lot of help needed by victims.

Len Sipes:  There is middle ground.  From what I’m hearing from both of you, there is a way of mentoring to victims, and to be sure that their rights and responsibilities are constitutional rights in most of the states, so there is a constitutional right in terms of the federal crimes, they are, they have constitutional protections.  There is a way of taking care of the victim, and at the same time, being sure that the people under supervision, by my agency or any other agency out there, we’re talking about five million human beings, seven million people caught up in the criminal justice system and the correctional system, but the vast majority of them belong to us, the people who provide community supervision.  There is a way to take care of the victims’ issues, and there is a way to take care of the people under supervision to provide them with that bridge, and in many ways, and I’ve seen it first hand in the 20 years that I’ve been dealing directly with the offender community, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have crossed that bridge, who do come to an understanding that they’ve done a tremendous amount of harm, who have gotten the programs and the services necessary to help them go from tax burden to taxpayer.  So we can do it all, is the point.

Bernard Keels:  Traditionally, institutions like faith based institutions have done, by every means necessary, to protect the pristine image of being perfect.  Nothing bad happens here.  Everything that walks through this door gets returned to a perfect relationship with the creator and all those kinds of things.  One of the things that I try to do personally and professionally is to realize the need to be able to acknowledge brokenness with the victim, and to talk about those issues both biblically, historically, interpersonally, where broken does, when it becomes uncared for, brokenness becomes a characteristic, if you will, or a habitual cyclical thing where people feel to be broken.  Case in point, and Anne reminded me so much, you’re talking about that crime victim went to her pastor, I had a young lady come to me some years ago, battered and bruised, and told me that she needed to be a better wife because she knew her husband loved her, and I said why, because he beat me.  And you know, for her, that was her Judeo-Christian training in terms of wives, submit to your husbands.  Property issues.  And I said to her that, let’s rethink that again.  If you remain in a state of brokenness, normally, you do not become well, you might pass that brokenness on to your offspring.  So your children may begin to understand that that’s the role of a woman, to be battered, not to be made, self-actualized through her own abilities, her own talents, and when pastors and imams and rabbis are not properly trained, they will almost always go to maintain the integrity of the institution, and not the integrity of the individual who’s hurting within an institution, so it’s critical to do that.

Len Sipes:  These are all extraordinarily sensitive issues, and I think we’re tackling them rather well.  We’re not avoiding them.  We’re not being a bunch of bureaucrats.  Let me throw in one more.  The great majority of, according to research, especially women caught up in the criminal justice system, they’ve been crime victims themselves.  Males, I mean, there’s a strong piece of research, series of research articles out there talking about the fact that everybody caught up in the criminal, not everybody, the majority caught up in the criminal justice system are subject, have been the recipients of child abuse and neglect.  The instance of women offenders being sexually assaulted, especially as children, especially by people they know is astounding.  I understand why, after 40 years in the criminal justice system, why so many people do take to drugs, why so many people, in fact, it’s 50%+ claim mental health issues, not diagnosable mental health, but they claim their own mental health issues.  I understand a lot of that, not trying to rationalize the criminal behavior or excuse the criminal behavior, but when you come from that sort of a background, I understand why they get into drugs, and I understand why drugs, in many cases, leads to criminal behavior.  Who wants to tackle that?

Anne Seymour:  Well, I’m happy to tackle that, and thank you for bringing up female offenders.  I think a real theme of what we’re talking about is that, in the old days, we would have the people who worked with offenders, or people in prison on one side, and the victim people way on the other side, and we have come to a rightful conclusion that it is not black and white.  We are all gray in this, and you raise a great example of women offenders, at least 90% of them have victimization and trauma in their background, which causes them very often to use and abuse, to cope with the trauma, which puts them in dangerous situations, which sometimes lead to criminal situations.  Now tell me that’s not a victim assistance issue!  And I actually am starting  to work on women offender issues, but similarly, I think of CSOSA as a great example.  Why does CSOSA have a victim assistance program? People go, they’re supposed to be working with people on probation.  It is great!  Every probationer, and people talk about victimless crimes.  I’ll make the case that there is no such thing as a victimless crime!  For every probationer, someone is hurt by that.  So they need to be having victim services to be able to recognize that fact, and I will give you another example.  Prison rape is an issue.  That’s a huge concern now in this country.  Who is stepping up to the plate to work with people who are incarcerated, men and women and youthful offenders?  It is victim advocates.  We have a moral obligation to not say, this person’s a criminal or a murderer, or they raped themselves.  That doesn’t matter to us.  They’re a victim in need of help, and so I just say that, because we not only judge people, as we said earlier, but we tend to pigeonhole people, and the beauty of what CSOSA is doing, and I hope a lot of other programs out in this country and internationally is recognizing that we’ve, we can’t box ourselves in anymore.  We just can’t.  Everyone is or knows a victim of crime.  Everyone knows someone who has been through some sort of criminal or juvenile justice supervision, so let’s look at it from that perspective.  This affects every single one of us.

Len Sipes:  It’s a massive amount of suffering, whether you’re the victim, whether you’re the person caught up in the criminal justice system, whether the person caught up in the criminal justice system who was victimized when they were young, there’s just a massive amount of pain going on out there, and I guess it’s our job, in terms of the victims’ community and the faith based community and government, I sort of have to laugh when you say government.

Anne Seymour:  No, it’s a big role.

Len Sipes:  Well, we would like to, but I think the leadership is going to come from the victims’ community, and I think the leadership is going to come from the faith based community, quite frankly, because you all can say and do things that we can’t in government.

Anne Seymour:  The giant sucking sound we want.

Len Sipes:  The giant –

Anne Seymour:  – to get wrapped into what we’re doing.

Len Sipes:  The giant, the giant sucking sound.  Well, but we also want, at the same time, we want to convince people that it’s all shades of gray, that there’s very little black and white here, that it’s very little E=MC2, that there is a massive amount of suffering.  If the faith community steps up to the plate and provides the leadership which they’re so capable of doing, and can mentor to individuals in a way that government, quite frankly, cannot.  I’m paid to do what I do.  So that person, regardless of where I spent my career, part of my career in terms of helping people caught up in the criminal justice system, I’m still paid to do it.  The mentors are there because they see it as God’s work.

Anne Seymour:  And the keyword in all that is servant leadership.  Leadership by itself does not hold, I think, the true sense of what can be accomplished by serving others, a servant leader takes, at the very center of his or her setting to meet a person at the point of their need, and the need of victims, the need of offenders, the needs of the secondary and tertiary victims who sometimes feel helpless because someone they love has been victimized are really, really important, and one of the things that I try to consistently understand is this marvelous study in the Hebrew scripture about Nathan, the friend of David.  David had victimized people without realizing, because his authority said you can do it.  You’re the king, take Uriah and kill him.  You know, you’re the king, do whatever you want to do, and Nathan appeals to the core of who he is, and here through the friend, the king, who has an influence over his subjects, comes and writes one of the most powerful restorative psalms that you can read in Hebrew scripture.  So I think that it’s important that that victim realizes, never be forgotten, that Anne and I are crucial to what you do, but you are crucial too, because a part of the government, the rules and the issues become subtle and arrived at, and we’ve got to be able to go into institutions and say, for instance, the homosexual rape, indeed, is victimizing people.

Len Sipes:  Okay.  Anne, I’m going to give you the final 30 seconds of the program.

Anne Seymour:  I just want to reiterate that I think we’re all in this together where we are victims or people who choose to victimize others, everyone’s going to have needs, and we as a community, I think, have an obligation to identify the needs of victims and try to meet them, but also recognize, I really appreciate what we’ve said, this whole thing is that, I think a lot of offenders, not all of them, a lot of them deserve a second chance, and the only way they can get that chance is if a community is willing to accept them and accept the fact that they have done something terribly wrong and give them opportunities to be held accountable to their victim and to their own community.

Len Sipes:  Our guests today have been Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions,, a national expert on the issue of victimology.  Reverend Bernard Keel is director of the University Memorial Chapel of Morgan State University, www.morgan – M-O-R-G-A-N – dot-edu, a mentor and faith based group facilitator.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety.  Once again, we are extraordinarily appreciative of all the contact that you provide us, either through the show notes, the comments, and our four websites at media – M-E-D-I-A –, or reach me directly via email, Leonard – L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-sipes – S-I-P-E-S –, or follow us by twitter –  I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Hiring People Under Community Supervision-An Employer’s Perspective-Andre Marr

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From our nation’s capital, this is D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  We continue our conversations about employing people under supervision.  We have, before our microphones today, Andre Marr.  Andre is the CEO and President of A&E Heating and Air Conditioning here in the nation’s capital.  He is also involved in something pretty serious.  Andre at one time was caught up in the criminal justice system.  He wants to give back.  He started Product of the Product, which is, to train individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. Before getting on to the interview, our usual commercial: thanks everybody, thanks to everybody for listening and all the comments, the letters, the emails, and sometimes phone calls.  If you need to get in touch with me directly, you can do so via email: or follow us by twitter, that’s, and again, before our microphones, Andre Marr, the president and CEO of A&E Heating and Air Conditioning in Washington D.C. to talk about hiring people under supervision.  Andre, how are you doing?

Andre Marr:  I’m doing great, thank you.

Len Sipes:  Now you’ve had this company for about 14 years.  At one time, you were caught up in the criminal justice system.

Andre Marr:  Absolutely.  At one time, I was part of the criminal justice system, and was, last time I was incarcerated was 1984, I’m glad to say.

Len Sipes:  And you crossed the bridge, as I like to put it.  You went from being a tax burden to a taxpayer, and now you’re hiring people, and you’re hiring not just people under supervision, you’re hiring all sorts of people, but you’re here today to talk about what it takes to hire people, what employers are looking for in terms of hiring somebody who is under supervision, what goes through their mind, but what caused you to make the break, to go from a tax burden to taxpayer, but to business owner?

Andre Marr:  Well, just the old adage, sick and tired of being sick and tired, was tired of doing the same thing, getting the same results.

Len Sipes:  Yep, and I’ve heard that, in 40 years in the criminal justice system, I’ve heard that about 10,000 times.  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Somehow, some way, this is my refrain, or my response to that, somehow, some way, we’ve got to be able to reach the 25 years old, the 20 year old, and whoever figures that out is going to win the Nobel Prize.  You know what I mean?  Instead of reaching that guy when he’s 40 when he’s sick and tired of being sick and tired, reach them when they’re young when they’re still full of pee and vinegar.

Andre Marr:  Well, actually, it’s not all that difficult.  What we decided to do was become a product of what we were trying to create.  An example is the best, the best teacher.  Don’t ask me to do something you’re not doing yourself.

Len Sipes:  Amen.  Amen.  Example is the best teacher.  All right, now you hire people being supervised by Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, and you also are involved in the training program, product of the, but that’s been three years.  You’ve been doing heating and air conditioning for 14 years.  What do you look for when you’re hiring somebody?  So one of, a person comes out of the prison system, and he’s in Washington D.C., and he comes to you, and so he did five years for assault or armed robbery, and he comes to you, and he’s looking for a job.  What’s going through your mind?

Andre Marr:  Well, what’s going through my mind is, are you able to maintain clean urines?  Do you have a drug problem?  Punctuality and attendance.  Those three major factors, and the biggest barriers that I find in employment in any sector, not just the ex-offender, people coming out of the criminal justice system, but people in general all suffer from these three major infractions.

Len Sipes:  Andre, do people have to be trained to come to you and find employment?  I mean, do they have to know heating and air conditioning, or with the right attitude and the right motivation, you will train them?

Andre Marr:  Well, attitude is very important.  Preferably, we would like for them to be trained.  A&E is no different from any other heating and air conditioning company.  If you come to us green, in other words, with little or no experience, then our investment in you wouldn’t be reaped for 2-3 years.

Len Sipes:  Sure.  So there has to, so in your mind, you’re looking for a little bit of training.

Andre Marr:  I’m looking for a little bit of training, but I’m looking for a lot of good attitude.  Yes.

Len Sipes:  You know, I was told a long time ago by a construction company here in town is, and they put it real bluntly, and some people are turned off by that level of bluntness, but they’re, when they were talking to a group of people they were thinking about hiring, they said shut up, show up, no baby mama drama.  I expect 8 hours for 8 hours pay, and if I need you to work overtime, if I need you to put in 12 hours that day, that’s what you do.  That’s what I’m looking for, and if you do that, I can give you a good career.  What’s your response to that?

Andre Marr:  Well, my response to that is generally the same.  However, different people come with different circumstances, different problems.  We’re living in a different world today.  Supervision in itself is a challenge.  The urinalysis, the reporting to the parole officer, probation officer, a lot of employers aren’t very lenient when it comes to allowing employees to fulfill some of these responsibilities.

Len Sipes:  Sure.  They want a clean urine, they’ve got to show up sober every day, of course.

Andre Marr:  Well, not so much wanting the clean urine, but having to take off to go and –

Len Sipes:  I hear you.

Andre Marr:  – participate in urinalysis –

Len Sipes:  I hear you.

Andre Marr:  – go off and participate in this.

Len Sipes:  What can we do as a bureaucracy?  We’re a federal agency with a local mission here in Washington D.C.?  What can this agency do to make it easier for you to hire our people?

Andre Marr:  Well, I think what the agencies need to do is to continue to provide the close supervision that they’re providing, the structure, the urinalysis, I can’t emphasize that enough.  If we could just stop burning up these cups, a lot of us could become gainfully employed, but the supervision and the structure overall, I think, is great.  The prospective employee just has to learn a little patience, and to remember that everything’s happening the way it was designed.

Len Sipes:  Is my agency a help or an impediment?  I mean, are we there working with you to hire the right person and to come to you and say, look, there’s not an issue in terms of dirty urines, the guy’s going to show up on time, if you have problems with him throughout the course of the day, the week, the month, the next year, come back to us.  Are we a help or are we a hindrance?

Andre Marr:  Well, in all fairness and honesty, I would have to say there are pros and cons to both sides of that question, but through my experience, I’ve found that your agency has been very helpful, very cooperative when they could.  They try to understand when they don’t, and they put forth a great effort.  I really do believe.

Len Sipes:  One of the things I do want to remind everybody that you can go to our website,,, again, stands for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, a federal parole and probation agency serving Washington D.C., and you can go to the section on “Hiring people in community supervision,” and you can provide your own comments, and we really are looking forward to people, and getting their opinions, crowd sourcing this issue from the employment community, the business community, in terms of what it would take for us to do a better job of hiring the people under our supervision.  Andre, just a couple minutes left.  What’s the bottom line for us as an agency, in terms of convincing people to take another look at our offenders?  We have a stereotype, and people look at the evening news, and they read the newspaper, and it’s, a lot of it is people doing terrible things to other people, and so people are skeptical about hiring somebody who’s served time.

Andre Marr:  Well, this is true, and that stereotype is going to take a while to suspend.  Surely it doesn’t always turn out great, but I believe in most cases that most people deserve a second chance.  I guess a lot of us could look at our own lives and say, but for the grace, there go I.  It could have been me.  A lot of us have committed crimes, just haven’t been caught for them, so it could definitely go the other way, but it’s been my experience that most of these young men and women who have been caught up in the criminal justice system just want the opportunity to provide for themselves and their own family, and you know, to live a productive –

Len Sipes:  And that’s rather startling, and that’s a point that a lot of people don’t quite understand that virtually everybody that I’ve ever talked to coming out of the prison system, they desperately don’t want to go back.

Andre Marr:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  They desperately want a clean and sober life for themselves.  In some cases, they’re not quite sure how to get from point A to point B, and they continue within the criminal justice system, but people like you, it’s, I don’t want to say everybody’s got to serve time, everybody’s got to come from that life to be part of this.  But if you give them an opportunity, in many cases, with our help, with the, the bonding program, and the tax benefits of hiring somebody under those circumstances, and again, with our assistance, I think they’re going to end up doing well.

Andre Marr:  Absolutely.  I would concur.  Absolutely.  Someone gave me a chance, and so now it’s just my turn to do the same for someone else.

Len Sipes:  I appreciate what you’ve done.  Our guest today is Andre Marr.  Andre is the CEO and president of A&E Heating and Air Conditioning of Washington D.C.  He also, now he’s been doing this for 14 years.  He also has a training opportunity that he uses to try to give back, and to train individuals for jobs who have been caught up in the criminal justice system.  That’s   The telephone number for A&E Heating and Air Conditioning in Washington D.C. is (202)608-1349, (202)608-1349.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety.  Again, we appreciate all of the comments that you’ve made to us throughout the last 3½ years.  We’re up to 225,000 requests on a monthly basis for the radio, television show, blog, and transcript, and we want you to have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Hiring People Under Community Supervision-An Employer’s Perspective-Darryl Hallman

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  We continue our conversations with a series of employers about what it takes to get employers to hire individuals under community supervision.  We are the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, a federal parole and probation agency here in Washington D.C.  Today, we are talking to Darryl Hallman.  He is the director of the AYT Institute.  They, interestingly enough, have 110 employees, they train auto technicians in six locations throughout the District of Columbia, and virtually all of them have been caught up in the criminal justice system, and that, I find, is really interesting.  He also trains individuals.  He has about 30 people involved in training right now, again, to be a auto technician.  Before we get into the interview with Darryl, our usual commercial, thank you very much all of you for contacting us and listening to us and watching us and interacting with us.  We’re up to 225,000 requests on a monthly basis for D.C. Public Safety radio, television, blog, and transcripts.  If you need to get in touch with me directly, it’s Leonard – L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-sipes – S-I-P-E-S –, or follow us by twitter, that’s  Back to Darryl Hallman, director of the AYT Institute.  Darryl, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Darryl Hallman:  Thank you for having me.

Len Sipes:  Okay.  Now this is interesting.  Virtually everybody you got employed at six places throughout the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland, they’ve been caught up in the criminal justice system.

Darryl Hallman:  Not completely 100% of them, but the majority of them.

Len Sipes:  But the majority of them.  Okay.  Why is it that you have decided to reach out to people caught up in the criminal justice system?  I mean, quite frankly, the stereotype is, let’s avoid these folks.  And what you’re doing is embracing them.

Darryl Hallman:  Well, we find that AYT has been in the community for a while, actually 20 years, and we felt like we wanted to give something back to the community, and one way that we could do that is to bring in the local citizens and train them where they could have a career, and decided to start a school, and that’s how we got where we are.  We went after the people that had supported us for so many years.

Len Sipes:  But again, when I’ve talked to employers in the past, some of them have expressed dismay over hiring people under our supervision.  About 53% at the moment are hired, which means that many are not.  Now some of them are caught up in prison, and some of them are caught up in jail, and some of them are not available for supervision, but we have literally thousands of people who are months, if not years away from their last dirty urine who are literally years away from their criminal activity, they’re pretty much solid citizens, but that criminal history is holding them back from getting a job, so that’s one of the reasons why we’re talking to you today is to get the employer’s perspective as to what it takes to hire folks, but it doesn’t sound like you need much convincing.  You did this because you wanted to give back.

Darryl Hallman:  Well, we feel that everyone needs a second chance, and if no one else is willing to give them a second chance, then we are.  So when everybody else is finished with them and throw them away, then we open our doors and say, okay, we understand.  And we have an opportunity that we’d like to introduce you to.

Len Sipes:  What happens when you give that guy a second chance?  So he shows up for work with this dumbfounded look on his face because he doesn’t know what he’s getting into, and you all do what with him?

Darryl Hallman:  Well, we actually train them first.  They have to come in for an interview, and we talk to them and let them know what’s expected from them and what they can expect from us, and upon that completion of the interview, if it’s something that they want to do, then we set them up for training, and we put them in the class, and upon completion of the class, we give them an apprenticeship, and the rest is history.  They’re all working right now.  Right now, we do have 100% retention rate and 100% job placement, so –

Len Sipes:  Which means they’re all getting jobs elsewhere if you work with individuals to place them elsewhere, or they’re all working for the AYT Institute.

Darryl Hallman:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  That’s amazing.

Darryl Hallman:  Yes, yes.

Len Sipes:  Now why is it that you do so well when the rest of us fail?  Well, I don’t want to say the rest of us fail all the time, but the rate of failure –

Darryl Hallman:  There are some successful businesses out there as well.  However, we understand our community.  We have compassion.  We make them feel like they’re important, and we give them a future and a career, so when they see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and they do have a second chance, and someone do believe in them, then it motivates them to do the best that they can, because we’re going to give them our best.

Len Sipes:  A lot of individuals, or the people that we talked to, they have a hard time hearing this and understanding this.  I’ve met very few people coming out of the prison system.  There are some that are going to go straight back.  And they know it.  They’re going to go straight back and hit those streets, and they’re going to be high within half an hour getting there, and they’re going to be thugging and mugging within a fairly short amount of time.  But the great majority of them don’t want to go back.  The great majority of them want a straight life.

Darryl Hallman:  That’s true.

Len Sipes:  But a lot of them literally, literally do not know how to accomplish a straight life.

Darryl Hallman:  Well, I think that with our company, with our company and your company, if we are able to give them the information that they need and to make their transition smoother by providing them and assisting them, things would be a lot better, and you know, just giving them the information that they require, a lot of them don’t know what they want, and you have to lay it out on the table for them, and once you do that, they make a decision as to what they want to do, and if you can accompany them, then the rest is pretty easy.

Len Sipes:  The website for the AYT Institute is www.ayti – that even rhymes!  Darryl, what can we do?  The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, what we’re telling employers is that, look, I mean, if you’re looking for that individual who’s drug free, we’ll give you that individual who’s drug free.  We can prove they’re drug free.  If you’re looking for that individual who has a good attitude, who simply wants to go to work, or a person, we have a ton of people with skills, with hard skills.  I mean, what can we do to make it easier for the private sector to hire our folks?

Darryl Hallman:  Well, I think CSOSA’s actually doing quite a job right now, and if they continue to do what they’re doing and let the public sector know what’s available and let the employers know what’s available, I think your rate will go up.  I wasn’t aware of a lot of things that CSOSA did until recently, and I’m pretty happy with the responses I’m getting from CSOSA, and it’s been an experience for me to work with CSOSA.  I think that if they went out after more employers, and there’s a lot of small companies like mine as well as other companies that just don’t know what you guys have to offer.  If the individuals coming through your program know that we’re out there, and we’re willing to take a chance, and CSOSA knows that we’re out there, and we’re working together as partners, I think things will go a lot smoother.

Len Sipes:  What does it take for an employer to hire somebody under supervision?  I would imagine, honesty about the fact that he’s committed a crime, he’s not going to hide that, he knows that he’s got to show up every single day, he knows that he’s got to show up sober, and if he’s under CSOSA’s supervision, we drug test the dickens out of our folks, so we’re going to know if the person’s doing drugs or starts doing drugs.  That’s what people want, right?  A good attitude, show up every day, show up on time, whatever drama’s going on in your life, leave it at the doorstep, give me a good solid 8 hours, and we can help them find those sort of people.

Darryl Hallman:  Yeah, I think that’s, that goes a long ways.  You know, you want to be able to sell yourself.  You don’t want to oversell yourself, and my experience is that some of the people who are looking for jobs oversell themselves.  Where you do that, you take back, take a step back and you look at these people, and they’re like, well why are they trying to convince me, it’s not necessary.  So if they know to go out there and tell the truth and be honest and say, hey, it is what it is, and this is what it is, it would be a lot easier for employers like myself, or as a school to enroll these students, because we see that you’re genuine.  Not trying to corrupt anything.

Len Sipes:  Isn’t that the issue of how genuine the person is?  I mean, some folk, when they come out of the prison system, they’re not going back, and they’re just filled with faith and they’re just filled with whatever, and god bless them, but you know, I mean, sometimes you wonder if they’re truly in control of their own destiny, because they’re being so stoic, they’re being so self-righteous.  I mean, sometimes I think what an employer’s looking for is honesty and genuineness.

Darryl Hallman:  Absolutely.  That’s what I look at, and that’s what I listen to when I interview any potential student that’s coming to my program, I just tell them, be real with me, I’m going to be real with you, let’s lay everything on the table, let’s make a decision, let’s be honest with ourselves and if you know that this is what you want to do, and you have faith, you will succeed, and that’s how we got to the point where we are, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to really want it.  Don’t do it for me, don’t do it for your probation officer, don’t do it for your wife, do it for yourself.

Len Sipes:  Do it for yourself –

Darryl Hallman:  And if you do that for yourself, then you can believe in yourself.  We’re going to make sure that you have everything you need.  We’re going to give you what it takes to be successful.  It’s just up to you –

Len Sipes:  Amen.

Darryl Hallman:  – to take control of it and to run with it.  We’re even going to try to place you.  So it’s up to the individual that really wants it.  There’s a lot of people out there that want it that’s been neglected, but there’s also a lot of people that want it that’s not aware that it’s out there for them.

Len Sipes:  And the point is, and we have to close the program, is that if we can increase the level of employment, especially those people that have been off drugs for a long time, been away from criminality for a long time, they’re not thugging and mugging, they’re just regular Jane and John Doe citizens that are looking for a job, the crime rate would go down, and our tax paid dollars would go down.

Darryl Hallman:  Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.  And that’s why AYT is in the business of training to give people not just a job, but a career.

Len Sipes:  Got it.  Darryl Hallman, director of the AYT Institute.  I love the address, the website address,,  Thank you for being with us.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety.  Up to 225,000 requests on a monthly basis for radio, television, therefore, the blog and transcripts, if you want to get in touch with me directly, Leonard, L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-sipes – S-I-P-E-S –, and I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Hiring People on Community Supervision-DC Public Safety

Welcome to DC Public Safety – Radio and Television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today we’re going to be interviewing Alex Vincent.  He is with the D.C. Department of Employment Services, Manpower Development Specialist, but the interesting thing about Alex is that he is currently under the supervision of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.  He came to us with an armed robbery charge out of prison, and he has an amazing story of leaving the prison system, struggling within himself in terms of the employment issue, gaining employment, eventually becoming, again, the Manpower Development Specialist for the D.C. Department of Employment Services, and this is all part of a series of radio and televisions shows that we’re doing here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency on the Employment Issue.  We are crowd sourcing this issue, if you will.  We are asking employers or anybody else who has an opinion to give us information as to what it takes to hire somebody under supervision, and with that introduction, Alex Vincent, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Alex Vincent:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Alex, again, you’ve served time in prison, you came out, and you came under our supervision here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, you’re charged with armed robbery, and you hit the streets, and what happened in terms of your issue regarding employment?

Alex Vincent:  Well, in terms of my issue in searching for employment when I came home, it definitely was a struggle.  I went to several places, tried to find gainful employment.  Unfortunately, I was turned away or turned down for the same reasons that a lot of ex-offenders are turned down or turned away from employment.  The stereotype that’s attached to ex-offenders is that they’re not going to work, or they’re serious, they’re still dangerous people, and of course, a lot of times, when you fill out an application, they do ask, have you been convicted in a certain amount of time.  Some ask the basic question: have you ever been convicted.  And with that being said, I definitely answer the question honestly saying yes, and when you answer that question yes, the next question behind that is, give some details about your conviction or whatever you were incarcerated for, and a lot of times, as you said earlier, coming back with an armed robbery, which is considered a violent crime, definitely the employers look at that, or that’s definitely an obstacle, and employers immediately, that’s a negative, and something’s negative attached to that.

Len Sipes:  Of course.  And you know, at the same time, in the 20 years that I’ve been doing this and talking to people under supervision, you know, most of them end up with employment, and some of these folks have had some fairly serious charges in their lives, and yet, they’re selling insurance, they’re driving trucks, they’re hiring other people to drive trucks for them, they’re business owners, somewhere along the line, they do make that transition from tax burden to taxpayer, and what we’re trying to do in the 10 minute program that we’re doing today is to figure out what are the key issues that help a person go from tax burden to taxpayer.  So what do you think, Alex, in terms of, because right now, you not only had this personal experience, but now you help people just, who are in the same shoes that you were in when you came out of prison.

Alex Vincent:  Definitely, definitely.  I do help others that’s under supervision as well, but one of the major things that help others to make that transition is that support: family support, some religious, religious background, upbringing, those are things, are key things to help individuals, but one of the things I think that, community support, and what I mean by community support is those employers, because you have a sense, you feel a sense of confidence when you can go get up and know that you’re a taxpaying citizen and feel that the community supports you coming back to the community, and gaining employment gives you that sense of confidence, especially if you go to an employer, you do an application, and right away, that’s not realistic, but the first person you go to employment gives you an opportunity, and you get it, that’s definitely a confidence booster that makes you want to do the right thing.

Len Sipes:  All you hear on the evening news broadcast, or if you read the paper, are the negatives about people who are from the prison system out in the community, and they commit other crimes.

Alex Vincent:  Exactly.  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  Yet at the same time, I’ve talked to, in 20 years of doing this, literally hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of individuals who have the same charge you did who are out there gainfully employed, and so what do you say to employers?  I mean, they have that stereotype?  They read the paper, they watch the evening news, and so suddenly, someone representing that demographic, if you will, person out of prison is standing in front of them and is asking them for a job, and to overcome that stereotype is probably pretty difficult for some employers.

Alex Vincent:  Yes, I would find it being difficult for some employers, but what I would say to those employers is that some of the problems or issues that you think you may be faced with are not so much, you won’t be faced with as much –

Len Sipes:  It’s not as bad as they’re making it out to be.

Alex Vincent:  Exactly.  And I mean, it’s not very different from hiring employers or hiring employees or hiring persons from the regular community, from the street.  You’ll get some of the, some of the people that come from supervision or come from those backgrounds that’ll work just as hard, if not harder, and be more dedicated to doing, you know, doing the job and being, you know, a productive, and definitely make your business organization, be an asset to it.

Len Sipes:  The website is where we talk about tax credits depending upon circumstances, bonding programs, incentives to hire people under supervision,, and Alex, you know, it is, the point is this, is that I’ve talked to employers who have basically said that in some ways, hiring somebody under supervision was preferable to hiring from the larger community, because they had an ally in that parole and probation agent, what we call community supervision officers here in the District of Columbia, they had an ally that, if there was an issue that they could turn to to help them with this individual, and some people really like that combination.

Alex Vincent:  Exactly, and I agree, some people do like that combination, because one of the things that we know that clients that’s under the supervision, one of the main things to remain in society under supervision is that you have employment, and a lot of times, most persons coming from incarceration, they want to get to the lowest supervision that they can get to, and how you get there is through employment, and so when they go to employers and they try to seek employment or find employment, they try to maintain that employment just for those reasons, and as you said also, employers know that as well, and they know that if this guy’s coming to work, or if he on supervision, he’s going to see his probation officer, or his parole officer.

Len Sipes:  And all he has to do is pick up the call, he or she has to do is pick up the telephone and call the parole and probation agent or the community supervision officer, in our case, and basically say, hey, I have an issue, can you help me solve this issue?

Alex Vincent:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  And that could solve whatever’s going on real quickly.

Alex Vincent:  Exactly.  Get right to the point.

Len Sipes:  But the bottom line is, and again, getting back to the stereotype, the overwhelming majority of people, regardless of the recidivism rates, the overwhelming majority of people who come out of prison don’t want to go back.  They don’t want to go back to mugging and thuging, they desperately want to be able to be part of regular society.  Am I right, or am I wrong?

Alex Vincent:  I think it, very right.  I think you’re right.  But one of the things that I think leads to a large, that leads to the recidivism rate being so large is that most persons under supervision find it so difficult to find employment, and like I said, that’s also a confidence booster for those persons.  If you come to society, if you come back to the community, and you have that support of local businesses, government agencies, nonprofit, whomever it may be that you’re seeking employment from, it gives you the confidence to say, you know, okay, the community accepts me, that I’ve done my crime, I’ve paid my debt to society, and I’m being accepted back into the community.

Len Sipes:  But at the same time, the people who we encounter under our supervision, or you with the Department of Employment Services with the district government, basically what you’re saying is no bullcrap, show up, be quiet, give 8 hours work, give 10 hours work, give whatever’s necessary, we don’t want to hear whatever issues you have.  You’re there to be employed, and you’re there to do a job, and that’s basically, you need to show up ready for work.  No issues, no bullcrap, no nothing, you need to go to work and show up for work and do whatever the employer wants you to do.  Is that our message?

Alex Vincent:  That’s definitely our message.  Show up, be ready for work, and be ready to go to work.

Len Sipes:  And I think we’re going to leave it there, because I think that that’s probably the best advice that you can give, and at the same time, we’re telling employers, look, please give our folks a chance, we can lower the crime rate, we can make a safer society, we can, we’ll spend less money out of our own pockets in terms of our own tax dollars by hiring people under supervision.

Alex Vincent:  Yep.

Len Sipes:  And that’s the bottom line.  Alex Vincent, the DC Department of Employment Services.  He is currently the manpower development specialist, currently under our supervision here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, again, the ongoing series of radio shows talking about employment.  We will be interviewing people under supervision, talking about their struggles, and we will be interviewing employers.  The website is where we’re asking you to go there and either call or leave messages for individuals telling us why you will either hire or not hire people under our supervision.  We want your opinion, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


American Probation and Parole Association-Update-35th Annual Training Conference

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today’s guest is Diane Kincaid.  Diane is the Deputy Director for the American Probation and Parole Association.  They are the leading organization promoting the issues in parole and probation in this country. They are at the forefront of virtually everything that’s going on throughout the United States, and for, to some degree, throughout the world in terms of anything involving community supervision services.  Their website,  Before talking to Diane, our usual commercials.  We’re up to 200,000 requests a month for D.C. Public Safety, radio, television, blog, and transcripts.  Once again, we are really appreciative of all the guidance that you give us, and we will take it all, criticisms and guidance, whatever is on your mind, please get back in touch with us.  If you want to get in touch with me directly, it’s Leonard – L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-sipes – S-I-P-E-S,  CSOSA is the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, a federal parole and probation agency in Washington D.C.  You can follow us via twitter at, or you can comment, as most of you do, within the comment boxes of, again, D.C. Public Safety at Media, M-E-D-I-A,, the radio show, television shows, blog, and transcripts.  Back at Diane Kincaid, Diane, how’ve you been?

Diane Kincaid:  Good, how are you, Len?

Len Sipes:  I’m fine, fine, fine.  Diane, you know, one of the things that I said when you, I’m a member, by the way, of the American Probation and Parole Association, and they were kind enough to give us, Tim Barnes and myself an award for our community outreach efforts, and from the podium, what I did was to thank Diane Kincaid because there are people all throughout the United States who depend upon Diane Kincaid to answer their questions and provide them with information and feedback about parole and probation, so she’s probably better known than anybody in the country in terms of parole and probation issues, and I thanked Diane from the podium, because she’s been there for years, and she really does know more than anybody else in the country regarding parole and probation efforts, so Diane, once again, thank you for everything that you do for those of us in the corrections community.

Diane Kincaid:  Thanks, Len, I really appreciate that, and I want to say, too, that doing what I do.  I truly appreciate the job that you do as far as outreach, because that’s not easy, and you do a wonderful job, so our association certainly appreciates it.

Len Sipes:  Well, compliments are going both ways, but without APPA, we wouldn’t exist.  We wouldn’t be there, and we wouldn’t have the strategies that we have today.  A variety of things that we want to talk about today, the 35th annual training institute coming up in Washington D.C. on August 15-18, that’s why I’m going to be repeating the website address throughout the program,, and talking about the training institute, talking about the marketing strategies, talking about a variety of resolutions that the American Probation and Parole Association has on their plate.  Parole and Probation Officer Week is coming up on July 18 through July 24.  A force for positive change is a logo that APPA produced a couple years ago to help the rest of us out in terms of our public relations effort, and also support for the second chance act, so that’s a long list of different things we have to do within a half hour.  First of all, let’s talk about the 35th annual training institute in Washington D.C. on August 15 and 18.

Diane Kincaid:  Yeah, we’re really excited about being in the capital.  We’ve never had one of our annual institutes in the capital of our nation, so it’s going to be really exciting.  We have a lot of wonderful activities planned, and CSOSA, as co-host agency is doing a wonderful job in helping us bring in some wonderful workshops and good presentations.  It’s going to be really good.  You know, we’re hoping to have a good crowd.  With the travel situation the way it is for many agencies, it’s difficult, and we understand that.  You know, it can be hard to have a budget for training, let alone for travel as well.  Hopefully, the location there in D.C. is going to be easy enough for people all along the east coast to get to, many people are going to be able to drive in, so that’s going to help out a whole lot.

Len Sipes:  If people have an opportunity to come to Washington D.C., bring your family if at all humanly possible, there are, you can spend days and days and days in Washington D.C. going to all of the free events, the Smithsonian, the Air and Space Museum, the World War II Memorial.  My wife and I, just the other day, were talking about going down and seeing the Holocaust Memorial.  I mean, there are an endless array of things and events that are all free.  D.C. is a very family oriented place, and did I say free?  So if you come to D.C., there is just a ton of things to do, cultural and historical and otherwise, it’s just an amazing city, and I’m privileged to work here, so I really encourage anybody to, who’s listening to this program, to pay attention to the website, in terms of the 35th Annual Training Institute.  Diane, I think one of the real wonderful things about your training institutes are the courses, but more importantly, just the ability to network with other people just like yourself.

Diane Kincaid:  Absolutely.  You have multiple opportunities at our conferences to go into the expo hall, to look at some of the new technologies coming out for supervision, just to talk to people, just to meet people, just to make contacts from people across the country who, more than likely, are facing some of the same situations that you are.

Len Sipes:  I spent time at the last training institute that I was at, I spent a half hour with an individual who was involved in promoting their parole and probation agency and representing that agency, and I just sat there and listened to this person for a half hour talk about his experiences, and it was just fascinating in terms of the different things that he was doing and employing, and I came out of that with, wow, saying to myself, wow, if I would just have this opportunity more often, just to talk to different people and pick their brains for ideas, the exhibitors area is always amazing, because you have people who set up their wares, commercial companies and otherwise, who set up the different booths, and talk about the technology and how it’s having an impact on parole and probation, correct?

Diane Kincaid:  That’s correct.  We generally have a couple or three new ones come in, the technology is always advancing, so there are a lot of new things coming out, and our exhibit hall, unlike some other conferences, is not huge.  Attendees absolutely have every opportunity to visit every booth and speak to the representatives of those companies.  So it’s not overwhelming, it’s not a huge crowd, we have a very friendly crowd, and what amazes me is how excited people are about the work that they do.  That really helps people do my job, just to see how involved they are, and how much they do really want to help people.

Len Sipes:  Well, this is a hard job.  I mean, working directly with offenders, working with people under supervision, it’s a hard job, and sometimes you come out of it reinvigorated when you talk to other people and strategies that they’re using and listen to their experiences, I think sometimes it’s an opportunity to recharge your batteries when you go to an APPA conference.

Diane Kincaid:  I think so, and you know, we have the opportunity as well, joining committees on a number of different topics.  Our website will give you an idea of the different types of committees that we have, just join up, get involved, and you can get a lot of information in our conferences.  It’s only a few days long, but you meet a lot of people, and you get a lot of new ideas.

Len Sipes:  And it’s in Washington D.C. which, boy, if you bring your family and you bring your kids, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of seeing everything that D.C. has to offer.  Again, all of this is on the website,  Also wanted to tell you that we will be on the floor doing recordings, radio recordings of people on the floor of the conference, who are going to be, in essence, asking people why are they successful, or why their program is successful, or why their programs contribute to public safety, and so we’re just going to have a smorgasbord of people on the front lines, the parole and probation agents, and the other people who work on the front lines of community supervision and just get a sense as to why they’re successful, so if you want to be included in that, please show up and track us down.  Also, what we want to do, Diane, is talk about the marketing strategies part of it, the fact that we have a force for positive change as being the logo, and we have a website, an entirely different website.  Now you can gain access to the website, the marketing website, through the main website of APPA, or you can go to, and I’ll repeat this a couple times, – one word – dot-org, that’s I would imagine CC is Community Corrections?

Diane Kincaid:  Correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay.  And why did we do this, Diane?

Diane Kincaid:  Well this is a project that began several years ago, and of course, you remember being a member of the working group that got together to decide how we would best approach marketing community corrections as an outreach activity for agencies across the country, and one of the final deliverables that we had on this project is this website.  We have a number of different target groups that we use examples of tools that you can use for these groups to create outreach opportunities for your agency.  We also were able to produce a number of really nice videos.  There are videos of officers speaking about their job and what they do.  There are other videos of offenders speaking about their experience being on community supervision, so we were real excited to get those out, and we hope that people will take an opportunity to look at it.  I want to mention to that this entire project was funded through the bureau of justice assistance.  It was a small grant that we received to do this work for them, because they realized that outreach for community corrections agencies was sometimes difficult.  You simply don’t have time or the budget to have a full time public information officer, and many smaller agencies simply don’t have that.

Len Sipes:  And in essence, the website makes it easy for you to gain new ideas and to, more or less, figure out for yourself what it is that you can do within your agency.

Diane Kincaid:  That’s correct, and alongside that, as a sort of partner project, we did one on our own where the force for positive change came from.  That’s also available on our website with other tools.  They’re kind of linked projects, but they are pushing that same idea that you want to be prepared in your community for questions about the job that you’re doing.

Len Sipes:  Now it strikes me that the most important part of all this, because I’ve talked to, and you’ve talked to a lot of people throughout the country, and we’ve had people throughout the world, I mean, we’ve had a big contingent from England to come in and take a look at what we were doing with radio shows and the television shows and the blog, and talking about, this is something that we want to do.  But two things come to mind, it strikes me, in terms of marketing, community corrections, and marketing parole and probation.  Number one, most of us don’t do it, and I would like to ask your opinion as to why we don’t do it, and I suppose the second part of it is, well, let’s just stick with that for a moment.  Why don’t we market?

Diane Kincaid:  Well, it’s a difficult job to market yourself in a profession where it sometimes is difficult to actually explain what you do, and the professionals who do this type of work, for the most part, are just too busy to do outreach.  They keep their heads down, they take care of their clients, they report to a judge, they’re going to court, they just don’t have time to sit down and think about what they need to tell the community, or what they need to tell the media, but it’s very important that they do that, because unfortunately, situations will arise where something happens.  You may have an offender who does something on supervision, and everyone will turn around and look at that probation or parole department and want to know, you know, how did this happen, why did this happen?  But if you have that background, if you have that support of your community or support of the media.  They understand more about what you’re trying to do, and they understand that, while you’re trying to help offenders straighten out their lives and get a second chance, some people just have a lot harder time doing that than others.

Len Sipes:  Well, look.  Parole and probation agencies, it’s difficult.  You and I are going to agree to that, and everybody else listening to the program is probably going to agree to it, because it is inevitable that people coming out of the prison system, whether by parole or by mandatory release, are people who are on probation, they’re going to go out and do some terrible things.  It’s been that way in the 20 years that I have been associated with community corrections, and so it really doesn’t matter.  It, from the standpoint that, whether you want to market, or whether you want to work with the media or not work with the media, about 5 or 6 times throughout the course of the year, the media is going to say, why did that parolee, that parolee who committed that murder, was he properly supervised?  How many times did you come into contact with the individual, did he go to drug treatment, I’ve read his pre-sentence report, and he was supposed to get treatment for mental health treatment, did he?  I mean, that’s a difficult process for most parole and probation agencies, and what we’re saying is transparency is probably the best way to go, and there’s nothing more transparent than to explain what it is that you’re doing throughout the course of the year rather than what you’re doing within the context of something terrible happening.

Diane Kincaid:  That’s true, and in the community, and policymakers need to understand that none of this happens in a vacuum.  Funding must be provided for programs to help offenders.  You can’t simply release someone out into the community who has a substance abuse problem, who may have a mental illness, and expect them to just, do just fine.  They do need services, and the funding for that has to be provided.

Len Sipes:  Right, but I mean, to explain that whole process, it’s a lot better to explain that process in the context of, not being in the context of all heck breaking loose.  When a parolee goes out and commits a series of murders, and he may have been properly supervised, not properly supervise, to explain all of this in that context, your message never gets across.  All people want to know is, are you protecting my safety.  Where there are hundreds of other issues that we should be talking about throughout the course of the year, so the media and the public has a better understanding of what it is that we do on a day to day basis.

Diane Kincaid:  Well, and a lot of times, reporters will write these stories without speaking to anyone, any of the officials, or any of those authorized to speak to the media from community corrections.  They assume they know facts that may not be true.  They glean reports from here and there, but they really need to have that contact to get the correct information.

Len Sipes:  Diane Kincaid is the deputy director of the American Probation and Parole Association.  She’s been with the organization, how long, Diana?  150 years?

Diane Kincaid:  I’m not quite that old!

Len Sipes:  No!

Diane Kincaid:  But about 10 years or so.

Len Sipes:  But you’ve been there, you’ve been there for a solid decade, and she is, in essence, what all of us need information as I needed information yesterday, somebody was asking me what the average caseload of parole and probation agencies throughout the country was, I said contact Diane Kincaid.  I don’t know if the person has contacted you as of yet, but Diane is the, when somebody says, I need to know this information, my response is, Diane Kincaid, and here’s her telephone number. is the website.  Again, we’ve been talking about the 35th annual training institute coming up in Washington D.C., August 15th through 18th, and we’ve also been talking about the new website APPA has put up in terms of promoting community corrections,, all one word,, or to access the site through the website address that I’ve given probably now a dozen times, but I mean, a force for positive change.  What that says from APPA and for the rest of us is that we’re there to improve your life.  We’re there to have a positive impact on the community.

Diane Kincaid:  And to also support public safety.  That’s one of the primary functions of community supervision.

Len Sipes:  Right.  And that’s one of the things that I find most difficult, because when our response to practically everything, why are you doing this, and why are you doing that, it’s all a matter of public safety, it’s all a matter of keeping people safe, how many times throughout the 20 years that I have been speaking for both, you know, in some cases, both law enforcement and correctional, and community correctional organizations, I mean, the common theme is safety.  I mean, reporters want to know what you’re doing to keep them safe, their families safe, their communities safe.  Everybody wants to know what you’re doing to create a safer environment for them, correct?

Diane Kincaid:  That’s right, and they really need to understand that community corrections does provide that function.  You know, without them, I can’t imagine what types of things would happen, and how ill people, some of those offenders may be, and you know, it’s keeping the community safe, but also providing opportunities for offenders to change their behavior.

Len Sipes:  And the weird thing about it is, I think there’s research from the bureau of justice assistance – I’m sorry, statistics, bureau of justice statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, talking about the fact that I think one in every 40 Americans is under some form of community supervision, either probation, which is probably 85% of them, or parole or supervised release, which means you come out of the prison system, or on pre-trial, or on some sort of juvenile supervision.  I think it’s 1 out of every 40, now that’s currently under supervision.  If you count everybody who’s been in contact with the criminal justice system, it’s got to be at least 1 out of every 20, so the point is that anybody living in any metropolitan area anywhere within the United States or anywhere in this world, they’re going to encounter on a day to day basis a lot of people who are either currently caught up in the criminal justice system or been somehow some way have had contact in the past with the criminal justice system, and I suppose the question is, is that if that person has a mental health issue, do you want that person under treatment being, you’re interacting with that person every day, or do you want that person who needs treatment without treatment?  Isn’t that the question?  Isn’t that the inference that with these programs, we are safer?

Diane Kincaid:  That’s absolutely true.  For those people with mental illness, unfortunately, a lot of times, they are caught up in situations where they’re arrested for a crime, they’re jailed, if they were on some sort of medication, they’re more than likely not going to have that when they go to jail, so their situation deteriorates.  Back and forth, that entire process of going through the criminal justice system is difficult for a lot of people, so having that support system in between, you know, we’re talking about pretrial supervision, investigations, all the way through, they need that support to help them as well as to help the community.

Len Sipes:  I’ve seen a variety of research on drug treatment, and it’s not encouraging, that out of people caught up in the criminal justice system, I have seen figures ranging from 1 in 11 to 1 in 20.  I’m sorry, let me go back.  Either 11% get drug treatment, ranging from between 11% and 20% of people who need drug treatment caught up in the criminal justice system get drug treatment.  So what that’s saying is, very clearly, is that the overwhelming majority of people who need drug treatment don’t get it, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the bureau of justice assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice funded the American Probation and Parole Association to create, so it’s just not them who are talking about these issues, it is us here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, it is the people in Albuquerque, the people in Amarillo, the people in San Francisco, the people in Minnesota, all of us collectively are talking to our media about the need for programs.

Diane Kincaid:  True, and you know, a good place to find out about these programs are in, our website has some examples of these things, there are a number of federal websites for all sorts of programs that have been, they’re evidence based, they’ve been proven to work, and can be altered if they need to be for various agencies across the country.  It never hurts to ask questions.  You know, it goes, everything from technology and information sharing, the global justice information sharing project is a fabulous place if someone is looking for sharing offender information across jurisdictions with law enforcement, with, from community corrections to jails and prisons, there’s so much information out there that all you need to do is look for it or ask for it.

Len Sipes:  And I think that’s one of the interesting things, because we have you, and now you’re a membership based organization, and I am a member, have been a member for the last couple years, but so, you don’t have to be a member to go to the website, and to take a look at either APPA’s website, or the marketing strategies website, and to glean an awful lot of good information just from the websites.

Diane Kincaid:  Right, and I provide information to nonmembers as well as members.  I don’t, when somebody gives me a call, I don’t look them up and say, oh, you’re not a member, I can’t help you.

Len Sipes:  There you go, and that’s what I like about APPA.  You help everybody, but I did not want to put those words in your mouth, so I appreciate the fact that you guys do that, believe me.  Okay, so the parole and probation officers week, I’m, do I have that correctly, July 18-24, that’s what I call it, but it’s had another name?

Diane Kincaid:  We refer to it as the probation, parole, and community supervision week.  We want to include as many groups involved in a very detailed profession as we can.

Len Sipes:  Right, because you have pre-trial, you have juvenile.

Diane Kincaid:  Right, right.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and what is that all about?

Diane Kincaid:  Well, we celebrate a week every July, it’s generally the second week in July, second or third week, looks like.  We produce a website, we produce a new poster every year with a theme, this year’s theme is support for a second chance, reflecting, you know, all of the funding that has come from the federal government into the second chance act, and it’s, you know, most people think of the second chance for parolees, but unfortunately, there are a number of people who need a second chance who have been in and out of a jail, a community jail, or community transitional housing, so those services are needed for others besides just parolees.

Len Sipes:  Well, the second chance act, did you want to explain what the second chance act is?

Diane Kincaid:  The second chance act is a federally legislated funding program, was first passed through Congress, and then a year or so later received some funding from the U.S. Congress to provide grant funds for various agencies for things like jobs programs for offenders, treatment services for offenders, mental health programs, just a myriad of programs to assist offenders coming out of prisons and jails, just to get their lives on track and to make sure that they are getting the services that they need to become law abiding citizens.

Len Sipes:  And I think that that’s an amazing thing, because you have legislation from the federal government.  We’ve had bits and pieces of it in the past, but certainly this is significant.  There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved for community organizations, for parole and probation agencies, for a wide variety of groups to actually apply for funds, and to do reentry programs, offender reentry programs in their own communities, and it doesn’t, to my knowledge, I don’t think it has to be limited to solely to people coming out of the prison system, although I may be wrong about that.  IT has to do with community supervision across the board.

Diane Kincaid:  Pretty much.  I mean, they, the first set of funding proposals that were sent out, have covered a number of different programs.  I think, like I said earlier, most people do think about parole, parole release as that second chance, and giving services to parolees to get back into the communities, but I don’t know that it is specifically limited just for that.  It’s a pretty wide net.

Len Sipes:  But I think it is significant that there are hundreds of millions of dollars now coming from the federal government that weren’t there before, and hopefully, we can evaluate some of these programs and get a sense as to, a) do they work as well as everybody suggested that they do, and b) what are the specific strategies that make programs, some programs stronger than others?

Diane Kincaid:  Right, and what the federal government also urges is that these programs be evidence based, so that they are replicated, they can be replicated across different agencies and different areas, different jurisdictions.  You know, there are some pretty stringent rules on when they hand out money, and what the reporting process is for that.

Len Sipes:  Diane, we only have a couple minutes left in the program.  I did want to touch upon the resolutions.  You have one, on pre-trial supervision, victim restitution, restitution of voting rights, and felony tax refund intercept.  These are four resolutions that are going to be sent out to the membership of APPA?

Diane Kincaid:  We have recently had several of these resolutions passed on and reviewed by our executive committee and board of directors.  There are a number of different things that come out of federal initiatives that we support, oftentimes, our representative or a senator at the federal level will introduce a bill, and we will see that as something that is encouraging for community corrections, and we will write a resolution for our membership supporting that.  That happened for restoration of voting rights, and actually, our executive director was in D.C. a month or so ago, actually a couple months ago, and presented testimony in front of a House subcommittee supporting that legislation and emphasizing how important restoring rights is to offenders.

Len Sipes:  Sorry we didn’t get to the other three in terms of an explanation, but we are out of time, and I would, Diane, again, I want to thank you for all of the services that you provide to thousands of individuals every year, simply in terms of answering the questions and being sort of the front person for the American Probation and Parole Association, so we are grateful.  Ladies and gentlemen, today we’ve been talking to Diane Kincaid, the Deputy Director of the American Parole, Probation and Parole Association, two websites, is the principal website.  The marketing website is  Ladies and gentlemen, like I said before, we’re up to 200,000 requests on a monthly basis for D.C. Public Safety.  For the television shows, for the radio shows, for the blog and the transcripts, you can go to media – M-E-D-I-A – dot-csosa – C-S-O-S-A – dot-gov to access those four services.  You can comment in the comments section, and we do get about 10-12 comments out of the comments section every single day.  You can contact me directly, Leonard, L-E-O-N-A-R-D – dot-sipes – S-I-P-E-S –  You can follow us on twitter at, L-E-N-S-I-P-E-S one word, we’ll take all of your comments, whether they are positive or negative, and we appreciate your suggestions in terms of future programs, and you have yourselves a very pleasant day.

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