Archives for March 7, 2013

A Constitutional Amendment for Crime Victim Rights-NOVA-DC Public Safety

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphones, Will Marling, he is the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance – – We’re going to be dealing with a variety of victims’ issues in the United States, number one, an upcoming Constitutional amendment, something that NOVA has been pursuing for quite some time. We’re going to be talking about mass shootings throughout the country and victim response, and we’re going to be talking about victim trauma, and Will, I can’t imagine three more complicated, more difficult issues to talk about. Let’s talk off with the Constitutional amendment. This is something that is near and dear to the heart of the victims’ community because there are a variety of state constitutional amendments that provide protection to victims of crime but there’s nothing at the federal level, correct?

Will Marling: Len, thank you so much for have me on. You are exactly right. 23 prescribed rights for the accused in our Constitution, our United States Constitution, all of which are very appropriate. We need to pursue justice thoughtfully, deliberately. Someone accused of a crime needs to have that level of justice applied to their situation. We want the guilty convicted and the innocent not; but there are zero rights for victims in the United States Constitution, and we think the balance needs to be adjusted there. There’s not one right for victims in the United States Constitution.

Len Sipes: How many states have Constitutional amendments now, Will?

Will Marling: Thirty-three.

Len Sipes: Okay, so there are 33 states out there with Constitutional amendments. Embodied within the state Constitutions are very specific protections for victims of crimes, correct?

Will Marling: That’s exactly right, and you’ll see a parallel to commonly the accused rights, for instance appropriate due process related to the trial, communication, an understanding of proceedings – very similar rights that we would offer to the accused of course in the course of justice, we believe, and the states also acknowledge that victims should have that level of right as well.

Len Sipes: And do you know, considering that those of us in the criminal justice system, we come into contact with victims all the time, it is profound to me that victims need Constitutional provisions that somewhere along the line, starting back in the 1970s, there was simply a recognition that the criminal justice system did not really take victims’ issues into consideration, that we basically ignored the victim. The victim was supposed to be this anonymous entity off to the side. We were supposed to plug them into the criminal justice process when necessary by taking information, by bringing them into court and having that person testify, but beyond that, there was no real recognition of the rights of the victim of crime, the rights to information, the rights to being properly, the right to be kept informed as the proceedings went down the line. I mean, it’s pretty clear that at a certain point victims were almost, shall I say, disrespected by the criminal justice system.

Will Marling: Well, that’s a fair statement. The balance that I would offer – and your insights are very true. They reflect a seasoned professional law enforcement professional who’s been part of this process and worked with many victims. Historically, just a very simple historical primer, basically historically, victims themselves were charged with prosecuting the case, and of course that made the system very balanced toward people who had the resources to do that so the state too, on that burden. The state said, okay, this isn’t fair especially for people who don’t have the resources. It’ll now be the state versus the accused, the state versus the perpetrator. Well when you have that, the victim actually was assumed to be a part of the process but was not official unless the victim was testifying on behalf of the state; the victim was a witness for the state. So in one sense in wanting to think positively or at least looking at it from an expected angle, the victims were excluded but not intentionally. But what we’ve realized over the years is we’re a rule of law society. We inculcate into a written document, whether that’s state code or federal code or the United States Constitution, we inculcate in that what we believe. So we say, you know, “We hold these things to be self-evident,” whatever they are, and we have of course prescribed ones but that’s what’s missing. Most people when asked, “Well, do you have rights as a victim,” even under the Constitution, you know, it’s as high as like 80% will say, “well, yeah” because their assumption is that that will be the case. In reality it’s not the case so it’s not just not the fact.

Len Sipes: And because that is the heart and soul of it, regardless as to how individuals in the criminal justice system feel regarding victims’ issues, regarding how society feels about victims’ issues, they need to be, as you say, inculcated. They need to be in writing. They need to be within the body of law, and that’s the whole idea behind a national or a federal Constitutional amendment. In the same way that we amend the United States Constitution for any other issue, which is a long, drawn-out, very complicated process. It’s not easy to amend the United States Constitution. But we feel at this stage of the game that we need those rights articulated within the United States Constitution so that everybody within the federal criminal justice system and consequently the state criminal justice system honors the rights of victims.

Will Marling: You are spot on. I mean, I could not say it better. You’ve articulated exactly what we believe we need to do, and in reality, judges, lawyers, whoever is at work in the system, even a police officer, as you know, is going to look at the law. They’re going to look at what is written. So we might say, “Well, I’m sympathetic to your situation, ma’am or sir, but under the law, this is what I’m obligated to do.” You know, so we could argue about the right thing to do for victims and, you know, in reality many people in the system would say, “Yes, I see your point, I believe you, but I am obligated by law to do certain things,” and that’s what need to change. The recent history issue is we have 33 states with Constitutional amendments, as I mentioned. We also now have a really good test case, which is the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, okay, that’s a federal statute within the past ten years, and so we’ve learned from that. The equivocation for an amendment during that period was, okay, we don’t want to amend the Constitution casually, of course who can but having amended it, what are the implications? Well, we couldn’t get it amended so folks said, “Well, why don’t you try this at a federal level? Work on a statute and see what happens.” Well, we’ve been working that statute and we’ve discovered that giving victims rights at a federal level works, and the states have learned this. It doesn’t break the bank. It affirms things that we know to be true, and it gives people respect because they have rights, and of course enforcement of any right is always an issue in a free society but we have that data.  So some people might argue, “Well, we shouldn’t amend the Constitution because it’s just not meant to be amended” and I would say, “Well, rarely is it.” I think James Madison said that, “Rarely are we to amend it” but we can amend it and sometimes should, and this is a case where we’ve learned that victims under the law, even a federal statute, even under state statutes, even under 33 state Constitutional amendments, victims still are not treated with respect. It’s not enough. It hasn’t done the job.

Len Sipes: So the whole idea is that, well, first of all let me clarify that there is a federal law now that deals very specifically with the rights of crime victims, and that applies to the federal criminal justice system, the state criminal justice systems, or both?

Will Marling: It only applies to federal victims, yeah. The Crime Victims Rights Act only applies to official federal victims.

Len Sipes: Okay. Now the whole idea behind doing a Constitutional amendment would to, again, apply to the federal criminal justice system, the state criminal justice systems, or both?

Will Marling: Well, a United States Constitutional Amendment represents the law of the land.

Len Sipes: Right.

Will Marling: So certainly it can be argued, when you have a federal statute or a United States Constitutional issue, there are lower-court issues and decisions and the process that goes through but there is ultimately an appeal to the highest court in the land. Victims don’t have that standing. The only standing they have – and I’m not minimizing our appreciated commitment by states to do this – but ultimately they can only go to the state level. Now let me give you an example of where that’s a problem. You are an Ohio resident, and under Article 10 you have victim’s right. You go across the state line to Pennsylvania and you are a crime victim. Let’s say it’s a serious harm, whatever that is, and under Pennsylvania, you don’t have crime victim’s rights. I’m not minimizing state statutes and commitments at that level, of course, but you can’t appeal to the – you can’t even appeal under a Constitutional amendment to Pennsylvania to say, “Hey, I’m being mistreated,” and it didn’t happen in Ohio where you do have rights. So even just on the borders, the amendments for each state are different. They’re similar but different so it’s a patchwork. Enforcement is different. California is kind of our gold standard for victim’s rights under what’s called Marsy’s Law but again, you go across the border to another state and what are you going to have? You don’t even know.

Len Sipes: It’s a different set of circumstances. Now my question is this, will a federal Constitutional Amendment apply to the states and make it uniform, victim’s rights uniform throughout the entire country? – So it would apply to the federal government, and will it apply in a de facto to state government as well?

Will Marling: Well, yes. It should bring conformity, appropriate conformity, because commonly what do the states want to do when it’s a federal issue and a federal Constitutional issue; there is compliance at that level. So we have this thing called “Miranda,” and my kids, I’ve got teenagers, and they know what Miranda is because they’ve seen enough cop shows. Well, Miranda started with a traffic stop kind of thing and went all the way up. Well, every state in the union now talks about Miranda and works to apply it at some level in the state.

Len Sipes: And I think this is a fairly complicated subject for a lot of people who are listening to the program today because the Constitutional rights were gradually incorporated into state law piece by piece by piece by Supreme Court decisions so the Constitutional rights say in terms of a speedy trial, the Constitutional rights in terms of search-and-seizure were gradually incorporated into state law through a variety of Supreme Court decisions over the course of several decades so that’s why I’m asking. Will it take on that process again if we have a Constitutional Amendment to protect victim’s right or do you think it will be automatically adjusted and inculcated and adopted by the states that do not have a Constitutional Amendment, or maybe states that have Constitutional Amendments that are not nearly as stringent as a federal Constitutional Amendment to protect victim’s rights. It’s a legal question but it goes back to the history of the nationalization of the Bill of Rights.

Will Marling: Yeah, again, you’ve hit an important issue. I would say – and I’m not speaking as a lawyer. I’m speaking as a citizen who’s thinking about my children’s future, and I am not kidding about that. This is as much about the future of our nation and the future of my kids and my potential grandkids. Will it take hold immediately? – Not likely because being in a free society, we have different values and perspectives and we argue those out in courts of law. So what would happen most likely is that we’d have this Constitutional Amendment and somebody would challenge it at some level, which is all part of the process, and through the course of a local court proceeding or a state court proceeding or a federal court proceeding and then a Supreme Court proceeding, we finally get a rendering and then we make a decision. What could that mean? It could mean ten years. But again, in human history, it’s important.

Len Sipes: Let me see if I can summarize it. It sets the stage to take rights for crime victims and to – it sets the stage for the incorporation of rights for crime victims in every state and every territory throughout the United States. Am I right or wrong?

Will Marling: You’re right. I mean, it affirms that we all believe in rights, for one. Potentially it could help states that want still their own crime victim’s rights in their state Constitutions to embrace those, but it would also give another measure of protection for every citizen of the United States including the United States Military, that’s these —

Len Sipes: And considering all – go ahead, please.

Will Marling: No, that was enough because you’re asking great questions.

Len Sipes: No, no, no. I’m just thinking to the second topic of today’s program, mass shooting, and we’re going to take a break to reintroduce you in a couple minutes, but the issue of crime and the issue of victimization, as we speak there are hearings going on in Capitol Hill talking about mass shootings, talking about what can be done so this is a very timely topic. The issue of crime and victims, and respect of crime victims, is now taking center stage after being absent for quite a few years and so there obviously does seem to be a need to reemphasize the rights of crime victims not just at the state level but at the national level. Now seems to be the time. Again, am I right or wrong?

Will Marling: I would agree with you that there seems to be a coalescence or energies and focus and efforts. My simple testament to this is I had to kind of come to this myself. I not only had to be educated but you know, I wasn’t excited necessarily about amending the Constitution. It’s served well. We know it needs to be amended. But then I realized in thinking through it personally and then listening to very seasoned legal scholars in the victim’s rights world that we inculcate what matters. So some would say, “Well, it’s just policy and it’s just what goes on in Washington,” and of course I could understand that because I was kind of thinking that way in the beginning for me but then I realized no. We articulate in that Constitution what we believe is important. Rights are important and then it comes down.  So the Constitution is a reflection of our cultural commitments, and our cultural commitments are reflected in our Constitution, and that’s why we need both. We can’t just change the Constitution. I would suggest that the discussions about this violence also reflect a need to discuss cultural change but that’s just kind of general out there, I mean, things need to change. Well, that’s not really helpful, it’s just too general. Well, we can start with a discussion, a national discussion about, “Well, do these people even have rights after this has happened? What is their legal standing?” And then let’s talk about how we respect them, and then let’s keep going. How do we protect people? The number one thing that everybody agrees upon is community, public safety, and security. – Everybody. You know, you poll anybody and the most violent gang member wants to live in a safe community.

Len Sipes: Everybody wants to live in a safe community, but let me reintroduce you. We’re more than halfway through the program. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re talking to Will Marling, the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance – – The National Organization for Victim Assistance has been around for decades. When I first entered the criminal justice system, there NOVA was, and we always paid a lot of attention to NOVA because it seems as if the victims’ community carries a certain moral authority to the rest of us within the criminal justice system in terms of how we should be treating people. So Will, let me get back and ask also, before we get on to the issue of the mass shootings, you know, the chances for a Constitutional Amendment happened, again, it’s extraordinarily difficult to modify the United States Constitution. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest chance, what do you think the possibilities are of actually getting a Constitutional Amendment? Do you have the people within the House and the Senate and the White House lined up behind it?

Will Marling: Well, we need to line them up, I will acknowledge that. We’re on the front end of a new phase of synergy here; I will acknowledge that as well. We have attempted this a couple other times, and actually we came quite close, and that’s just with a grass roots impetus, with just people just giving grit. There is some indication that, again, from the coalescing standpoint, we have a commitment of resources and expertise and capacity that, all things being equal – and you’ll probably hate me as a journalist for this kind of response – but all things being equal, I think it’s a 10. Now, can I predict all those things to be equal? – Ah, no. But based upon what you’ve already described and what I know about the momentum that we can generate in this particular Congressional session, and the needs that victims have that have come to the forefront, and the commitment of some in our community – and I mean that specifically the victim’s community – to put forward significant resources, time, and energy, I believe – I’m a little idealistic, I’ll acknowledge that – but I actually believe we can get this done. I really believe we can do it.

Len Sipes: NOVA and a variety of organizations did try this in the past and you came fairly close in the past, correct?

Will Marling: Yeah, we came very close. The last time it was tried, we came within 2 votes of it moving – 2 full Senate votes. We needed 60 but we came within 2 votes because once things get to the floor of the House or the Senate on these kinds of issues, it’s very rare that they get voted down because it’s just, you know, it doesn’t make any sense for anybody who wants to be in political leadership.

Len Sipes: Sure.

Will Marling: So that was with just folks, you know, calling and trying and volunteering but we have decided that the time to move forward is now, and we have some folks who were not part of that impetus before who are making the commitment, it seems, and so there’s going to be a real, real effort put forward. There’s going to be significant momentum that’s going to build shortly.

Len Sipes: And the emphasis needs to be on the Senate, correct, for Constitutional Amendments?

Will Marling: Both.

Len Sipes: Both the House and the Senate.

Will Marling: We need two-thirds of the House and two-thirds, two-thirds of the Senate, and two-thirds of the states, I believe.

Len Sipes: Okay, and then it goes to the President for signature, and then two-thirds of the states need to approve it.

Will Marling: Actually in this context, the President does not sign it.

Len Sipes: Really?

Will Marling: No. The President is not really involved. We hope the President would want to speak out for victim’s rights, we would expect that, certainly, but in reality it needs to pass the House and Senate, and then it goes to the states for ratification, at least two-thirds of the states.

Len Sipes: Ah, and two-thirds of the states need to ratify it, then.

Will Marling: That’s right, so we need 37 states to ratify, and of course, you know, realistically speaking, we think we’ve got at least 33. You know, you don’t know. Times have changed since they passed their amendments but you want to believe, if they’ve already gone that pass, they’re going to firm it up for the United States Constitutional Amendment. So we’d need 5 more states and where Congress, the things they’re struggling with at this point, you know, honestly we know that that’s a challenge there but we do have some commitments particularly in both sides of Congress to at least push forward. We know the folks that know this needs to get done, and you know candidly, they’ve got other things they need to do as well so we recognize that.

Len Sipes: Okay. And the details regarding the Constitutional Amendment are on your website at, right?

Will Marling: They are, yes. There is a Crime Victims Rights. There’s one on the front page that rotates but if you get to “I’m a Victim” and you find the crime victim’s rights, you will see the amendment that has been drafted and really, by consensus, agreed upon by the Victim’s Rights the Victim’s Services Organization and movement, and it’s nicely written. I mean, every lawyer’s going to argue about every word because that’s what lawyers do, right? I mean, words matter, but it’s a great piece of work, I would say.

Len Sipes: Within the context of the conversation – and we’ve chewed up probably two-thirds, more than two-thirds of the program dealing with the Constitutional Amendment, which is extremely, but if it’s done within the context of mass shootings – and again, as I mentioned before, as we speak there are hearings on Capitol Hill only about a mile from where I sit talking about mass shootings and what can be done. Mass shootings, when it comes to victim’s issues, becomes extraordinarily complex. I do know that the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, their Victim’s Unit does go overboard to try to provide money and support to the Department of Justice, try to provide money and support to local organizations in terms of mass shootings, but the larger issue here are the individual victims themselves and whether or not the individual victims are protected when you have the world descending upon Sandy Hook, when you have the world descending upon Aurora, California, when you have the world descending upon all of these places that experience these mass shootings. I mean, I just could not imagine what it would be like to be a victim, a crime victim, in the midst of all that whirlwind of media coverage and a police investigation. So how do we protect victims’ rights during mass shootings?

Will Marling: Well, let me give you a little bit of context for the work we do in this area so that your listeners understand out of which I speak. For over 25 years, we have been training people and at certain times deploying people to respond to these situations. Now when you have a mass-casualty crime, you’re going to have first responders. You’re going to have law enforcement fire, EMS, investigators, obviously appropriate and necessary and part of the process. Our particular [PH 0:24:46] trade and modality is the second responder so you’ve got commonly incredible amounts of trauma. You need crime victim advocates in there and so they might be part of the system as well that, you know, we’re not training necessarily but probably we could well have trained them. And then they might request, because of the nature of the mass casualty resources that are needed, they might request a crisis response team. So we will send in teams and there’ll be trauma mitigation. They’ll serve to consult and guide and help in terms of managing the emotional aftermath of these kinds of things, and we’ve been doing this, as you heard, for quite a while, and we’ve also trained over 10,000 people. So we have people all over the nation who’ve been trained to do this kind of things and they might be wearing a NOVA hat when they go in or they might just be NOVA-trained and they’re an advocate, a first responder, work out of the prosecutor’s office. Who knows. So that’s the context in which we speak. When it comes to this kind of thing, we call it convergence. Specifically with a mass-casualty crime, we call it convergence where so many things converge. You might have some media interest on, you know, a horrible homicide that goes on but, you know, we are unfortunately kind of used to that and now it has to be scaled, so you’ll even hear the media unfortunately kind of setting these barriers like, you know, “This is the worst shooting in U.S. history” or whatever. Well what that does, of course, is that creates the opportunity for then the next one that becomes the bigger or the greater, you know, to somebody who might want to do it but even in our thinking, unfortunately we might be drawn to say, “Well, until it goes bigger than that, it doesn’t matter because I’m used to hearing this stuff.” And what we contend is along with the horrible things that happen in these mass-casualty shootings, just with the issue of homicide, there are basically 48 homicides every day in our nation, you know. They happen individually or maybe they happen in a small scale, but those represent tremendous loss to the loved ones.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple of minutes left. The bottom line in my mind, the bottom line question is do you think that the families, the individual victims themselves, their families, their friends, their community who are all just unbelievably traumatized when one of these mass shooting occur, do you believe that the system, whether it be through NOVA – I mean, you trained thousands of people, you trained the Victim’s Response for the Department of Defense. A lot of people need to understand that. I mean, you’ve been doing this for decades. Do you think that through state government, through NOVA, through local government, do you think they get the services that they need or do you think there’s room for improvement?

Will Marling: Well, there’s always room for improvement because kind of the definition of a disaster or mass casualty is it’s chaos. There’s rarely enough resources and even if there are a lot of resources, getting those resources to the right place at the right time is all part of the logistical challenge so there can be gaps. What we contend is first of all we need to be thinking about it. That’s why we train, so we help communities identify we call them risk or affinity groups that might not even be on the radar with trying to respond. We call them the “walking worried,” in other words they’ve been impacted by this but they’ve not been physically harmed, but emotionally, psychologically, even financially they could be impacted, and the focus is of course at the epicenter, naturally upon the dead, the survivors, the injured, their family members. And so what we contend is that as we educate people about the nature of trauma, first of all that helps us better support, recognize that there’s a lot of trauma. There are a lot of victims in these situations, not just the ones that are most readily identified but also many others that kind of transcend out in concentric circles.

Len Sipes: And Will, I’m going to have to ask you to wrap in about ten seconds so we can close.

Will Marling: Gotcha.

Len Sipes: So what do you think the final thought is?

Will Marling: Final thoughts are victims face loss and we need to respect the fact that with those losses, we want to be there to serve and help them recover as much as possible.

Len Sipes: And certainly one thing in terms of mass shootings and in terms of the everyday shootings, one thing that can help would be a Constitutional Amendment.

Will Marling: We believe, yeah, it is at a high level but it certainly reflects that.

Len Sipes: All right. Well, I’m going to have to stop you there. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We’ve been talking to Will Marling, Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance – – We appreciate your calls, letters, and your comments, one way or the other, and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Reinventing the Criminal Justice System-Justice Reinvestment-Urban Institute-DC Public Safety

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, is Reinventing the Criminal Justice System, Justice Reinvestment; I think one of the more important topics that we’re going to be discussing and one of the more complicated topics we are going to be discussing this year. Dr. Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Justice Policy Center for The Urban Institute is our guest today. – We’ll be making reference to that website throughout the program because, ladies and gentlemen, this is, again, an extraordinarily difficult concept to understand, complicated but unbelievably important to the future of the criminal justice system. I’ll try to summarize it and then turn the entire program over to Nancy. Number one, states and locales all throughout the country are complaining of budget cuts, and it really has impacted the criminal justice system. And I’ll read a passage, a quick passage from a publication, “What can county and city managers do reduce these costs without compromising public safety, they can engage in Justice Reinvestment. Justice Reinvestment can help prioritize local justice spending for those who pose the greatest risk to public safety while also informing which individuals would be better off in the community, where services and treatment are more readily available.” And then bottom line, I’m thinking, about Justice Reinvestment are the savings. If there are savings, a portion of those savings go back to the states and local jurisdictions to even provide more programs. Nancy, am I somewhere in the ballpark of even beginning to describe what Justice Reinvestment is all about?

Nancy La Vigne: Yes, you are, and you did it quite succinctly, I will say. It’s a multi-step process and so it does take some time to explain but perhaps we should start with a little bit of history. You did refer to the fact that the impetus behind a lot of states and localities getting on the Justice Reinvestment bandwagon is because of the budget shortfalls, and that’s definitely accurate, but there were other issues as well. First of all, as I think we all know, a lot of those budget shortfalls are being fed by rising criminal justice costs. They may not be the entire – as a matter of fact they’re a rather small, 8% to 10% of the total state budget in any given state but still we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars so with states and localities thinking, “What can we do? How can we save money? How can we deal with these budget shortfalls,” it’s a natural inclination to look at the criminal justice system because those costs continue to rise because the populations have been rising historically. Now you may be aware of recent studies that show that state prison populations are on the decline but actually, as my colleague Jesse Jannetta recently blogged about, that’s driven almost entirely by California.

Len Sipes: By the state of California, that’s right, and those overall declines are not all that dramatic.

Nancy La Vigne: They’re marginal, but states realize that this is an issue and they’ve been grappling with it for a while, and many have tried different efforts to control the growth of the prison population that have been maybe mildly successful but not sustained over time, and arguably it’s because they haven’t engaged in this Justice Reinvestment process which requires a couple of things to be place. First, you need to have all the people in the system, all the key stakeholders at the table and on board. If you only work one end of the system, it’s just going to bulge out somewhere else kind of like squeezing a water balloon so you need everyone at the table. At the state level, it’s critical that you have representation from both sides of the aisle, and you’ve got the support of the Governor and the House leadership, the Senate leadership, minority, majority, as well as the Head of the Department of Corrections, and parole and probation and so forth, and judges, prosecutors, everyone who drives the system. If you don’t have them all on board, it’s not going to work because either changes will be made and they’ll be fought and they won’t get through or they won’t be sustained over time because you don’t have this joint buy-in.

Len Sipes: You’re as good as your weakest link.

Nancy La Vigne: Exactly. Exactly. Some of those weak links are quiet powerful, as you may know.

Len Sipes: Yes! Yes!

Nancy La Vigne: So there’s that. It’s having the right people at the table. And then it’s guiding the decision-making process with hard empirical data, and that data is often supplied by the state or the locality but typically in the Justice Reinvestment model, it’s analyzed by a technical assistance partner, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs —

Len Sipes: Thank you.

Nancy La Vigne: — in partnership with the Pew Center on the states for the state-level initiative, they together have funded this initiative and supported four technical assistance providers, two that work with states, two that work with localities. I can share who those are if you wish.

Len Sipes: 17 states are doing this?

Nancy La Vigne: 17 states right now are engaged in this process. Some states early on have already engaged in the process and declared victory and moved on. A lot of people point to Texas as an example of that. They were the earliest adopter I can think of, and they were looking towards the future and had planned to spend billions of dollars on new prison construction —

Len Sipes: And did not.

Nancy La Vigne: — and did not. They chose not to.

Len Sipes: And the crime rates have basically gone down in Texas.

Nancy La Vigne: And they took some of the money they would have spent on prisons and funded treatment beds.

Len Sipes: And that is the heart and soul of Justice Reinvestment, is it not? – Using data, doing things differently. If there’s cost-savings, those cost-savings are shared with the states and localities, and they buy more treatment options for people in the criminal option system.

Nancy La Vigne: That’s the way it’s been playing out, not only treatment options or programming. Sometimes it’s to shore up supervision. In some states they’ve identified that the wrong people are being supervised and some people are not being supervised at all so, you know, folks who are maxing out and are exiting after often serving time for pretty serious crimes without any supervision, and of course with supervision comes support. It’s not just about surveillance; it’s about support and providing the necessary programs and services, so shifting who gets supervised, how long they get supervised. You know, some low-level offenders perhaps shouldn’t be supervised at all or certainly shouldn’t be supervised for the length of time that they are. That can save money. But also with those savings, putting it into implementation of graduated sanctions to prevent revocations and other best practices that are supported by evidence.

Len Sipes: One other person – I won’t name this person – this is what he told me, not knowing it, but he said it with all the conviction in the world, that every governor in every state in the United States has had a discussion with his or her Correctional Administrator basically saying that costs have to be reduced. That was his proposition.

Nancy La Vigne: So do you know what I find really frustrating about that?

Len Sipes: Please.

Nancy La Vigne: The assumption that the head of the DOC has control over that population. I mean yes, they are housed within his or her domain or control but that suggests that they’re the ones that drive the growth in the population, and what we’ve learned from the experiences in the states is that’s not really the case.

Len Sipes: True.

Nancy La Vigne: Revocations, often technical revocations, are driving that growth.

Len Sipes: That’s why everybody’s got to be on board.

Nancy La Vigne: Sentencing decisions, sentencing low-level drug offenders, low-level property offenders to increasingly lengthy terms behind bars – that’s not under the control of the head of the DoC. That’s a decision that prosecutors and judges make.

Len Sipes: But after 42 years in the criminal justice system, we are stodgy. We are bureaucrats. We are round-peg in a round-hole kind of people. We’re not used to people coming along and saying, “We’re going to basically readjust/reinvent/change the way that you conduct business.” The criminal justice system, when I joined when I was 18 as a cadet for the Maryland State Police, is basically 90% of the criminal justice system I see as I’m looking at the end of my career.

Nancy La Vigne: Yeah, and I agree with that. You are stodgy. However – however – when you look at this process, how it plays out in action, it’s a wonder to witness. The Urban Institute is in a role as the oversight coordination and assessment entity for this project so we get to kind of go to all the states and localities and observe how this works, so the Counsel of State Governments, for example, they’ve been leading the charge on the state side. They literally embed people in a state and develop the relationships and share the data and engage in intensive policy conversations and work a tremendous amount of time behind the scenes, getting people on board, educating people, identifying folks that may be reticent to get on board, and finding ways to persuade them that it’s not just in their best interests but in the best interests of the system. They are that neutral outside entity that can speak with authority based on extensive experience working in many states, and presenting the data that can just kind of dispel a lot of the anecdotes that you hear that nay-sayers often argue based on stories rather than fact. They can demonstrate how it is a system-wide problem not just owned by one player, and that can really nudge some stodgy people into action.

Len Sipes: Yeah. Yeah. Let’s give some examples because I’m afraid some of our listeners possibly could be confused with the process. We are talking about in essence focusing our resources on those people who pose the greatest risk to public safety and doing “something else” with those people who do not necessarily pose a great risk to public safety.

Nancy La Vigne: Well, that is one of the many interventions that states have chosen to implement. Really, the interventions should be guided by the identified drivers of population growth so in some states it may be one driver and in some it might be another, and across the 17 states, the most common drivers are revocations, both probation and parole revocations, and a high, high percentage of them being technical.

Len Sipes: In your report, you cited one state with 50% as having histories of parole and probation revocations coming in through their prison system. I spent 14 years with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. At one point for us it was 70%.

Nancy La Vigne: 70%.

Len Sipes: 70%, yes it was.

Nancy La Vigne: Well, I would call that low-hanging fruit. There’s a lot that could be done there. So certainly with the revocation issue, the response to that is to look at what sanctions are in place, do people need to be returned to prison for technical violations, can you create graduated sanctions, can you create incentives for not engaging in technical violations, can you return people for shorter periods of time or return them to local jails rather than to state facilities. All of that saves a ton of money.

Len Sipes: And Project Hope basically said those short, meaningful interventions of a day or two days or three days were effective enough to dramatically reduce recidivism, dramatically reduce technical violations. It was wonderful across the board. So Project Hope is the epitome of an example as to the effectiveness of that approach.

Nancy La Vigne: That’s exactly right, and several of the states who are grappling with high revocation rates did choose to implementation Hope models or Hope-like models. That’s exactly right. But then there’s other drivers, and I mentioned before, sentencing practices and the incarceration of low-level offenders. In Louisiana, for example, non-violent, non-sex offenses represented over 60% of prison admissions so, you know, what can we do with that population? Some may need to go, some may could be diverted, and also what’s stunning to me is that there’s also been a trend in many states of increased lengths of stay for these low-level, non-violent, property and drug offenders So that’s another place where you could look to see making changes. Sentencing reform is tremendously challenging.

Len Sipes: It’s a huge issue.

Nancy La Vigne: It’s very challenging, so most states don’t choose to go the sentencing reform route. They usually look at some kind of back-end way to – although some do pass statutes to change the thresholds by which people should be —

Len Sipes: The research on specialty courts has been very encouraging, diverting people out of the prosecution prison route and going into the specialty courts, and specialty courts have had good returns basically in terms of recidivism and cost-savings.

Nancy La Vigne: Um-hum, uum-hum. It’s true, and then another common driver we observed across states is the issue of delays in parole processing or reductions in the parole grant rate, and these too are relatively simple changes, figuring out what’s slowing things down and how can you speed them up, or how can you change or guide parole boards in a way that they’re incentivized to make decisions to grant parole, perhaps supported by evidence, and the most obvious evidence would be a risk assessment that gives them more comfort in knowing who they should release. In other cases, the parole grants get stalled because people don’t have a home plan. Well, that is an issue of resources often behind bars. If you don’t have a case manager that can help line up a home plan then no one gets released, and then you have this backlog which is really unnecessary.

Len Sipes: And the interesting data in terms of parole is that those paroled have consistently much less of a rate of recidivism than those not paroled, so fewer people coming back to prison, once again, as long as they are released with conditions and those conditions are enforceable.

Nancy La Vigne: Exactly.

Len Sipes: So what else?

Nancy La Vigne: What else?

Len Sipes: It’s very complicated.

Nancy La Vigne: Yes. Well, so what’s complicated about it is how long it takes to explain why it’s called Justice Reinvestment because up till now what we’ve discussed is data-driven, collaborative approaches to reducing the prison population and saving money through identifying the drivers and developing responses to the drivers. Where does this word “reinvestment” come in?

Len Sipes: Yes.

Nancy La Vigne: That comes in at the very, very end with the anticipated savings associated with making all these changes. Now this is very complicated because the savings might not be hard cold cash that you have in your hands and you can put elsewhere, as a matter of fact it’s rarely that. A lot of the savings are projected savings that aren’t realized until several years into the future however the process still encourages states to think about upfront reinvestment. So in looking at prison projections had they done nothing and then the projections associated with the changes that they plan to make, they can anticipate that, you know, five years down the road they’re going to save however many millions of dollars – why not reinvest some of that upfront into programs, supervision, services that help support the entire system and reduce recidivism?

Len Sipes: So the reductions in terms of the cost outlays to the criminal justice system are actually reinvested to make the system even better, so it’s a win-win situation across the board.

Nancy La Vigne: Um-hum.

Len Sipes: All right. Let me reintroduce you, and ladies and gentlemen, we’re a little bit more than halfway through the program. We’re talking about reinventing the criminal justice system – that’s my title – Justice Reinvestment, Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute, – Again, we reemphasize that this is a joint project of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, the Pew Center on the states and the – I’m sorry, the Centers for State Government, correct?

Nancy La Vigne: The Counsel of State Governments.

Len Sipes: The Counsel of State Governments, I’m sorry, my apologies, but this is a massive undertaking on the part of 17 states, a lot of different jurisdictions, with the understanding that people have been talking about reinventing the criminal justice system, doing “something different” with the criminal justice system for a multiple of reasons but budget, in my opinion, seems to be the principle driver behind all of this. People are more than welcome to disagree with my assessment but I do think it’s budget that’s pushing an awful lot of this, and this is exciting stuff because what it does is bring an awful lot of people in one room, data-driven, taking a look at an awful lot of data and saying, “What can we do to reduce the amount of people flowing through the criminal justice system without having an adverse impact on public safety and saving money and taking those savings and reinvesting those savings in terms of either more prosecutors, more parole and probation agents, more programs, more resources for the criminal justice system so they can do a better job to begin with so it can be data-driven in the future so we can continue this philosophy down the road, right?

Nancy La Vigne: That’s right – data-driven and evidence-based.

Len Sipes: Right.

Nancy La Vigne: Before we continue, I do want to acknowledge all of our partners in this initiative.

Len Sipes: Please. Please. Please.

Nancy La Vigne: We mentioned, of course, the Bureau of Office Assistance and the Pew Center on the States are the funding partners. The Counsel of State Governments and the Vera Institute of Justice have both been working with states, and the way that works is that the Counsel of State of Governments helps identify the drivers and the policy options, and gets states to the point where they pass legislation, and then Vera comes in and helps implement. And then at the local level, it’s the Center for Effective Public Policy and the Crime and Justice Institute that are working with counties across the country.

Len Sipes: Oh, lots of different people, lots of jurisdictions involved in this.

Nancy La Vigne: Yeah, a lot of players, a lot of very, very seasoned criminal justice professionals, often former practitioners and/or data analysts that come into states and localities and, as I said before, really embed themselves in the system, develop the relationships and the trust, and really make things happen.

Len Sipes: This is, in my mind, the most significant story of the criminal justice system as we move into the 21st century and yet it gets zero coverage. There’s nobody from the Boston Globe, there’s nobody from the New York Times, there’s nobody from the Washington Post, there’s nobody looking at this systematically, and yet this, in my mind, is a fundamental change in terms of how we within the criminal justice system operate. Why is that? Is it just a bunch of policy wonks sitting with a bunch of budget-cutters and saying, “Hey, what’s the best way we that can rearrange the deck chairs?” or is this really a substantive, hard-nosed examination of the fact that we can do this better without imposing so much of a fiscal burden on the states and counties and cities?

Nancy La Vigne: It’s definitely the latter because it’s not just budget-cutters and policy wonks. It’s all the key players in the system that have a shared interest in doing things differently and getting more bang for their buck. I mean, the return on investment has been really poor. If you look at the increased expenditures on corrections across the country —

Len Sipes: Massive.

Nancy La Vigne: — massive, with no real discernible change in the recidivism rate.

Len Sipes: But isn’t it interesting of how you take a look at conservative politicians – not to touch upon politics in any way, shape, or form – but conservative politicians are demanding that the criminal justice system prove its cost effectiveness, demanding that we get a bigger bang for our criminal justice dollar. I mean, I find that to be interesting.

Nancy La Vigne: This is why it’s been so popular an initiative, it’s because it garners support on both sides of the aisle. The left has always been more sympathetic to rehabilitation spending and perhaps diverting people from prison. The right has observed that this is not just a wise use of taxpayer dollars, and they do, they want to see a better return on the investment and that’s what we’re seeing. You know, we talked at the end of the first segment about the projected savings and how they get reinvested. Across the 17 states that are currently engaged in justice reinvestment, they’re projecting between 9 and 438 million dollars in savings.

Len Sipes: That’s amazing. Now is that per state or is that total?

Nancy La Vigne: An average of $163 million per state.

Len Sipes: An average of $163 million cost savings per state.

Nancy La Vigne: Yes. Um-hum. Yeah. It’s huge!

Len Sipes: Who’s getting the Nobel Prize for this?

Nancy La Vigne: I’d love to see it. Well, we have to see those savings, realized, right?

Len Sipes: Of course. Of course.

Nancy La Vigne: A lot of these are projections and we hope they’re accurate but even if they’re off by 50%, that’s still a tremendous savings. Across all the states, in five years the projected savings is $2.12 billion.

Len Sipes: $2.12 billion.

Nancy La Vigne: And that speaks volumes, I think.

Len Sipes: Well, it does speak volumes if we can hold down the rate of recidivism, if we can ensure public safety, if we focus on those people who pose a clear and present danger to our well-being.

Nancy La Vigne: Well, the beauty of this model is that a lot of the policy responses to the drivers of growth embody those principles. Every single state that engages in Justice Reinvestment is refining their risk assessment tools and validating them, and using them to guide decisions on diversion, on supervision, on everything including on needs and who should great treatment, and everything in between; and that is evidence-based, and we know that that’s tied to better outcomes in terms of recidivism rates.

Len Sipes: In essence what we’re saying is that there’s a certain portion of the population that comes into the criminal justice system, again, recognizing there’s been an almost continuous 20-year decline in crime per the National Crime Survey in crimes reported to law enforcement agencies and through the FBI, there is still a certain portion of the population coming to the criminal justice system that is better served from a public safety point of view and from a recidivism point of view not to process them in the way that we did ten years ago.

Nancy La Vigne: Um-hum. I think that’s right.

Len Sipes: And that’s taking risks, and that’s why a lot of the people at the local level, at the country level, are saying, “Well, why should we take those risks? Those risks have a way of blowing up in our face.” I think that would be the greatest point of reluctance. Why change it? Why take that risk? Why not simply incarcerate that person for a year or six months instead of putting that person into drug court?

Nancy La Vigne: Well, because it’s just not sustainable, that’s why. There’s just not enough room. There’s not enough money to build more prisons and so if you don’t make these hard decisions now, essentially you’re not making strategic decisions about how to use that space most wisely. You want to free up that space for folks who are really a danger to society but if you don’t make hard decisions about who needs to be in and who shouldn’t be in, those decisions should be backed up by risk assessment tools, then you’re actually engaging in really bad practice.

Len Sipes: And isn’t California the poster child for this whole movement where the courts have ordered the release of tens of thousands of offenders from their prison system in California because of the fact that they could not fund properly their health care system? – And they’ve released massive numbers of offenders, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

Nancy La Vigne: Right. Exactly. When you said “poster child” I paused for a section. “No, no, don’t hold up California as the example of Justice Reinvestment!”

Len Sipes: No, no, no, I’m not. I’m not.

Nancy La Vigne: No, this is what could happen to you if you don’t engage, yes. Right. Absolutely.

Len Sipes: If you don’t. Right. Right. Right. There are consequences for not managing your population better. There are consequences for not managing your dollars better.

Nancy La Vigne: Exactly.

Len Sipes: And states, I mean, and one state that you looked at in terms of one of our reports, 12% of their overall budget was the state correctional system. That’s astounding!

Nancy La Vigne: That’s right, I think that was Oregon.

Len Sipes: That’s astounding, that 12% of the budget is Corrections. It raised from I think 4% to 12% in terms of the various states but you’re talking about billions of billions of dollars, and if you can divert individuals from coming back into the criminal justice system, you are saving literally billions dollars in terms of future prison costs, building and operating those prisons. That doesn’t have to happen if you manage your population carefully.

Nancy La Vigne: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Len Sipes: Okay, but we can, through a data-driven process, assure people that this is not going to have an adverse impact on their public safety.

Nancy La Vigne: Again, states, localities, are using risk-assessment tools – some, not all. The ones they are using are not always validated which means they’re not always accurate. By using these tools, and using them in a way that can guide decision-making, I think that they should have confidence. I have confidence that this is no threat to public safety, in fact it’ a wiser and more efficient use of scarce criminal justice resources.

Len Sipes: Right, and the alternative is billions, billions, billions more or the alternative is what’s happening in California with tens of thousands of offenders court-ordered release so if we don’t manage our resources carefully, if we don’t make data-driven decisions, evidence-based decision, we’re not serving the public.

Nancy La Vigne: That’s right, and getting back to the concept of reinvestment, the ways in which states and localities are looking to reinvest a fraction of the savings is in evidence-based programs that are designed to reduce recidivism so you really are getting at recidivism reduction in two ways. You’re getting at it through better use of risk and needs assessments and you’re getting at it through enhanced programs to help people succeed on the outside.

Len Sipes: Um-hum, and that goes all the way from who do you prosecute to what programs do you provide at the end of it because the criminal justice system has done basically a terrible job in the opinion of many in terms of I think, what, 10%, 12% of people get substance abuse treatment while in prison. The numbers for mental health treatment are even smaller. The percentage getting mental health and substance abuse treatment on community supervision is also small, and that’s come back to bite us.

Nancy La Vigne: Yeah.

Len Sipes: To a certain degree, that’s not cost-effective.

Nancy La Vigne: Agreed.

Len Sipes: And the numbers need to drive that in terms of that larger policy discussion with hard-bitten criminal justice people like myself.

Nancy La Vigne: That’s right. We’ve got to get you out of your stodgy ways, Len.

Len Sipes: I would love to do a bit of the fly-on-the-wall for so many of those meetings where people are saying, “Hey, if we don’t do this, we just have the courts release lots of people, and we don’t have the money to continue doing what we’re doing.”

Nancy La Vigne: Right.

Len Sipes: Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. I really applaud Urban, I really applaud all the partners, and I applaud the Department of Justice of really trying to take a really unique and different approach, and this is why I called the program Reinventing the Criminal Justice System through Justice-Free Investment. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Your guest today has been Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Justice Policy Center of the Urban Institute, – And we thank everybody for their time and efforts in terms of all the input that you provide for the radio shows here at DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls. We appreciate your letters. We appreciate your emails, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Women Offenders-CSOSA Reentry Reflections 2013-DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, the program today is going to be about women offenders, always one of the more popular programs and one of the more interesting programs that we do. We have three guests with us today – Dr. Willa Butler, she is the Clinical Supervisor for Temple of Praise-New Day Transitional Home for Women. She used to run groups and in fact invented groups for my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We have Patricia Bradley, and she is going to be off of our supervision this September, thank God, and she is doing extraordinarily well. Marcia Austin is another person doing well, off in April, and we are here to talk about women, and women and crime, women and the criminal justice system. There is going to be an event coming up in Washington, D.C., on February 9th from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 in the afternoon discussing the Women’s Reentry Forum, 700 Southern Avenue in Southeast D.C. It’s part of the larger Reentry Reflections events held over the course of January and February. You can find more information about all of the events about Reentry Reflection, www. – my agency –; and to Will and to Patricia and Marcia, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Women: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Len Sipes: That was a very long introduction. Willa Butler, boy, have you been around. You invented practically our women’s program here at the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency, even to the point where it is now a priority for us to be sure that gender-specific programs are integral to what it is that we do on a day-to-day basis. You’ve invented groups, you’ve expanded groups, you’ve expanded services to women offenders. Why is the emphasis on women caught up in the criminal justice system so important, Willa?

Willa Butler: Well, I want to say thank you for having me back, Leonard. The most important thing to me, I have such a compassion for our female offenders because so long ago, when you look at the history, women have gone unnoticed or forgotten. As far as men are concerned, women were never intelligent enough to commit crimes therefore the system was not designed for them, and when you look at basic traditional counseling or even the system is designed for men by men.  And then over the years, in 1998, when the drug trafficking laws increased and women started going to prison for little petty crimes that listed them in the area of a king pin, then we had an over-flux. We had an over-flux of women to enter the penal system and it was like, well what are we going to with these women? Where are we going to put them? And it just gave us an understanding that as a parole officer during that time, how do we work with women? We knew it was something different but we didn’t know what the difference was, and I just studied it. I studied it and I investigated it, and I found out it’s that women are not needy, it’s just their needs were never met. And through law investigations and studying and having groups, gender-specific groups to address the vulnerabilities of women, we were able to develop the gender-specific programs for CSOSA, and from that came the Temple of Praise-New Day Transitional Home for Women which is a reentry program for women coming home from prison because housing is a very big problem for women coming back home – housing, employment, it’s whole plethora of things that affects the female offender, but I could go on and on. I hope I answered the question.

Len Sipes: I think I just about cried when you retired from the Court Services and  Offender Supervision Agency and you went over with New Day because I had been dealing with you for the last ten years and it’s like what am I going to do without Willa Butler?

Willa Butler: Oh, thank you.

Len Sipes: So ladies and gentlemen, people listening to this program, I have had literally hundreds of women in the ten years that testify to the fact that Willa Butler has changed their lives, and Willa, I will always be grateful for your involvement in the criminal justice system. Before going on to the ladies who are our guests, I do want to very quickly run over some statistics. Men compared to women, women compared to men caught up in the criminal justice system – women have higher rates of AIDs, higher rates of mental health problems, much higher rates of physical and sexual abuse, much higher rates of physical or sexual violence. Approximately 7 out of every 10 women caught up in the criminal justice system have children, and women have higher rates of substance abuse. So there’s a bit of statistics or a series of statistics that does taught about, Willa, the difference between men and women offenders. Women offenders, they come out of the prison system or they come off probation, they have a wide array of problems that male offenders do not have, in fact they have more problems than male offenders, correct?

Willa Butler: Yes, it is correct. It just that they have more in a sense that although men go through the same things – of course they don’t have children – it’s just that women process it differently. When we start off at an early age, when you look at the criminogenic gender risk factors, when you take mental illness, we’ll look at that first because a lot of times mental illnesses stem from the trauma that the women have experienced as children and it was never addressed, or if it was addressed, it was addressed in a very negative way meaning that we’re not going to talk about it, we’re going to push it under the rug, what part did you play in it, it was your fault, and things off nature. And so what the women do as children, they carry that baggage with them. They carry at a young age the guilt and the shame that I have experienced that was placed on me. I did not cause this. I have no refuge, and the refuge that they find usually will come with the drugs or the substance abuse, somewhere, or in other relationships, somewhere where I can feel this void, where I could be loved, where I could be really taken care of. And a lot of times they get hooked on the drugs and then, like I said, the trauma goes unaddressed, and the trauma which can stem into mental illness, and then that’s not addressed.

Len Sipes: Sexual and physical violence is a common, common occurrence in the life of women offenders, and the vast majority of that takes place before the age of 18. Am I correct or incorrect?

Willa Butler: Yes, that is correct.

Len Sipes: All right. Before getting into the ladies, again, a reminder, our Women’s Reentry Forum, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, is going to be on February 9th from 8:00 to 3:00 at 700 Southern Avenue in Southeast Washington, D.C. You can get additional information about all of the events that we have here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency on Reentry Reflections, a whole series of events dealing with the concept of reentry at Patricia?

Patricia Bradley: Yes.

Len Sipes: How are you doing?

Patricia Bradley: I’m doing great. How are you?

Len Sipes: I’m fine. Now, you’re off supervision, correct?

Patricia Bradley: That is correct.

Len Sipes: And you’re off supervision as of September 2012.

Patricia Bradley: That is correct.

Len Sipes: Congratulations.

Patricia Bradley: Thank you.

Len Sipes: What did it take to come off supervision successfully? All we ever hear are the negatives. All we ever hear from the media is the fact that the person did not do well. You’ve done well. What was the key ingredient in you coming through the criminal justice system, you coming from an incarcerative setting and doing well?

Patricia Bradley: It was easy for me. I can’t speak for a lot of the other women. For me it was real simple – support. A lot of women don’t get just moral, simple support. I had requirements. I had a one-year probation, that was my sentence, and it was simple. I was to report to CSOSA to do weekly [PH 0:08:41] urinals. I was going twice a week, and then I got a once-a week, and then it went to a month, and then it was phased out, and it’s just simple requirements. And sometimes, if you’re a substance abuse user, it can be difficult. First of all, you’ve got to get yourself together and stop using your substances first, you know. That’s step one. For me it was going to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, meeting with my probation office regularly. I was scheduled to meet with him. And it just wasn’t hard. It was just something real simple, you know, and then me being a resident at out New Day too, Temple of Praise Transitional House. They helped also because that was one of my support mechanisms because without support, in some cases with some women like me, with not only just substance abuse issues, I also have mental health issues as well but you have to address all your issues.

Len Sipes: But look, to me the idea of a woman coming out of an incarcerative setting, coming out – she has kids. You have kids, correct?

Patricia Bradley: Yes, I do.

Len Sipes: Seven out of 10 have kids, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, not a lot of money, not a lot of support, that almost seems to be impossible to overcome all those odds, and the fact that you did it to me is courageous.

Patricia Bradley: Very – very courageous because there was a time, like I said, with the issues, because you can run into different issues. Just simple, something basic, is transportation to get to and from these places. I’m not embarrassed to say one of my sons was helping me with transportation. New Day, they helped, they had a transportation van that would take us to our appointments and different things that we had, and I think that’s where women, one of their biggest issues and biggest problems is just having their basic needs met, you know? Without that, you can’t be successful. You need help in a lot of these areas, and a lot of these programs that we do have, I think with the very few that we do have, in order to be successful, a lot of these women, including myself, they need help, you know, just simple resources, and for me, that’s how I became successful.

Len Sipes: How many kids?

Patricia Bradley: All together, six.

Len Sipes: Okay, that’s a lot of kids.

Patricia Bradley: Yes.

Len Sipes: And they’re going to depend upon you either for financial or emotional support.

Patricia Bradley: Yes.

Len Sipes: So it’s just not you, it’s seven human beings – six kids and you.

Patricia Bradley: Yes.

Len Sipes: A lot of people out there listening to this program are going to say, “Hey, Patricia, I’m really sorry. You did the crime, you did the time, you committed a criminal act. I’m not putting a lot of money into you. If there’s money to be put, I’m going to give it to the school. I’m going to give it to the elderly. I’m going to give it to people from Hurricane Sandy. I not going to give it to you because you’ve been in the criminal justice system. You harmed yourself and harmed other human beings in the process. Why should I support programs for you?” So, that’s the question. Why should people support programs for people like you?

Patricia Bradley: I think we should be supported so that we can, you know, I know a lot of people don’t believe in ex-offenders being given a second chance. They think it’s a waste of time, it’s a waste of taxpayers’ dollars, but I’m here to tell them today that that is not true. Really, that’s kind of a tough question to answer but why not? I mean, one day, you never know, the persons who are saying that, they could be on the other side of the fence too because I never thought I would be an offender. When I had my incident, when I got arrested, I was like 44 years old. I’m now 46, and who would have thought I would commit a crime but I did, you know, so you never know. People really shouldn’t be so, you know, judgment because you never know.

Len Sipes: You never know.

Patricia Bradley: You never know.

Len Sipes: You never know. If you did not have the support either from New Day or from Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency – if you did not have that support, where would you be today?

Patricia Bradley: Being 100% honest you, I probably would have re-offended.

Len Sipes: You probably would have gone back to the criminal justice system?

Patricia Bradley: More than likely, I would say 100% yes.

Len Sipes: All right. Marcia!

Marcia Austin: Hey, Len.

Len Sipes: Hey, how are you doing?

Marcia Austin: I’m good.

Len Sipes: Good, and you were telling me before the program that you’re on supervision now. You’re going to be off supervision in April, and first of all congratulations for that.

Marcia Austin: Thank you, thank you.

Len Sipes: And what was your experience, Marcia? Again, this is a very emotional issue for so many of the women that I’ve talked to throughout the actually 20 years of sitting down and interviewing women caught up in the criminal justice system. They tell me often times very emotional stories, and you basically did the same thing before we hit the record button. Tell me a little bit about your background.

Marcia Austin: My background is coming up, you know, I was abused. I was told I was dumb and I’d never amount to nothing. I grew up with that, you know. I started using drugs to fit in, to have somebody to love me. I started going to jail. I started going to jail early in life because I thought being bad was the way I needed to be because that’s what I was told. I got locked up in 2008 for a stolen car and violation of probation. I got out in 2010. When I got out, I was homeless. I had nowhere to go. I was broke and lonely. I was sad. I was depressed. It wasn’t until that I met my probation officer, Miss Hunnigan, who introduced me to New Day 2. When I got to New Day 2, my emotions was going crazy because I felt caged in. I felt like I couldn’t get no help from them but I was wrong. I had a 30-day black-out period; a 30-day black-out period helped me to be able to map out my long-term and short-term goals. The 30 days allowed me to seek mental health and it helped me with anger management. We took parenting classes in New Day 2 and we prayed often. We had Bible study and we had church, and it helped me with my spiritual side of life. The love that I got from New Day 2, they encouraged me to go to school. They encouraged me to connect with my family, and that’s what I did. I went to school. I went to school for construction and I never thought that I would complete it because I was told I was dumb all my life. I did complete that class and I graduated, and the New Day team, Dr. Anderson and some of her workers, they came to my graduation. They gave me flower and candy, they gave me love and hugs, and I said, “If it feels this good being in love just by doing something good, if I can get this kind of attention, I’m going to keep going,” and that’s what I did. I’m in GED classes now and then I’m in SRO. SRO helps me save money, teaching me how to manage my money, and it’s the next step to getting my own apartment.

Len Sipes: I have two very quick questions for you and then we’re going to go for a break. So before you got involved in CSOSA and in New Day, you felt like what? Give me a quick answer.

Marcia Austin: I felt broken, lonely, on my own.

Len Sipes: And now you feel?

Marcia Austin: I have hope, you know. I feel smarter. I think that I can do anything. My probation officer – I have a probation officer, her name is Farmer, and she shows me much love. She encouraged me and let me know that I can do it, and that’s what I’m doing.

Len Sipes: Let’s go for the break. Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to DC Public Safety. We are doing a program on women offenders. What we’re trying to do is support the Women’s Reentry Forum that we have every year in the District of Columbia. It is going to be on February 9th from 8 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon at 700 Southern Avenue Southeast in Washington, D.C. Again, it’s part of our larger Reentry Reflections, a wide variety of activities taking a look at reentry in the District of Columbia and throughout the nation. is the website to get additional information. Dr. Willa Butler, she is a Clinical Supervisor for Temple of Praise-New Day Transitional Home for Women, and she used to run groups and invent groups and invent the women’s program here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Patricia Bradley and Marcia Austin are our guests who have been caught up in the criminal justice system. Marcia, let me quickly get back to you. Many of the women that I’ve talked to over the decades felt as bad as bad could possibly be, as hopeless as hopeless could possibly be because of the abuse, of the sexual violence, of people calling them names, of people not lifting them up, and I see hundreds of women at this stage of their involvement real human beings. They go from not being human at all to being fully functioning human beings. Is that where you are? Is that where you’re headed?

Marcia Austin: Well, right now I’m right where God want me to be, you know. I’m peaceful, you know. I’m going through some changes but I can deal with it. I can deal with it because I talk about it. I have a psychiatrist. I can always call the staff at New Day 2 and get any kind of information and encouragement that I need. Like I said, I have a probation officer who just smiles when I come in, you know, that makes me want to continue me to good, who encourages me, who hugs me, something I have never had out of a probation officer before. I just want to give a shout-out to Ms. Farmer because she’s an awesome probation officer first, and Ms. Ishiman. But my biggest challenge this year was kind of like leaving New Day 2. I felt like when I leave there, that there was no more love and support but that’s a lie. I call them all the time and they still support me in everything I do, and I’m just going to keep on and letting the women know who’s in the criminal justice system that we need help and we can get it, you know. We just got to keep pushing on. We got to keep the hope.

Len Sipes: And if these programs were not there, where would you be?

Marcia Austin: I would be homeless right now. Without New Day 2, I would have been homeless. I was homeless before I got there. I was broken and depressed. I mean, I was going from house to house to house, you know, and I just thank God for Bishop Staples and Dr. Anderson and Dr. Butler for New Day 2 because I would be in the streets. By now I would be locked up, you know, because when I’m homeless, I steal, I have no food to eat, so when they accepted me into the program, I was the first female there, I mean, I just was shown incredible love.

Len Sipes: Well, I want to go back to you. Okay. So how many times have we done this sort of radio show? This is what, our tenth, eleventh, twelfth time we’ve done this sort of radio and television show, and every time you bring me women who were broken human beings and you’re now at the end of their supervision, at the end of their treatment programs. You bring me women who are repaired human beings. They’re taking care of their kids. They’re taxpayers. They’re not tax burdens. They’re not committing crimes. How in the name of heavens do we convince people that these are programs worthy of support?

Willa Butler: First of all, just listening to the stories here, it’s very rewarding for myself and to have the understanding, and I want people to have the understanding that a second chance is what it is. It is a second chance. We talk about keeping the community safe and reducing recidivism, and the only way you’re going to do that is to ensure that our women, they have jobs, that they’re able to sustain themselves, they can take care of themselves and their families. Just like both Patricia and Marcia were saying earlier, if they didn’t have a place to go, if they didn’t have income, they would go back to committing crimes again because that’s the way they know how to survive and that’s the only way that they have learned how to survive, and if we keep pushing them down and stereotyping them and saying that we’re not going to help you, all we’re doing is what, we’re throwing fuel into the fire, and we can’t do that. When a person is productive, you build self-esteem, they’re building their residual strengths, and like Marcia said and Patricia, “I can do all things,” you know, and that’s what we are promoting here, letting people know that we need their support. And while they’re at New Day 2, we have a lot of wrap-around services that they are getting involved in, they get their needs met, and then they come out and they’re working and they’re productive citizens again.

Len Sipes: The question becomes do we want a more dangerous society or do we want a safer society?

Willa Butler: Right.

Len Sipes: Do we want people paying taxes or do we want people taking our tax money?

Willa Butler: Right. Right. That’s right. We want what? – We want more people paying taxes. We want a drug-free and crime-free environment especially here in the District of Columbia.

Len Sipes: And we want kids to be taken care of.

Willa Butler: We want our kids to be taken care, and not only that, once we do that, we break that cycle of pain because it’s only going to continue to the next generation, you know, and that’s what we’re trying to stop. We stop here, as they say, the buck stop here, right now and here, and this is beautiful for me to hear these women and to know that not only have I played a part working with CSOSA but also at the Temple, at the Transitional Home, because we brought the same I guess techniques that I’ve used before over there, the Wicker Program, empowering women, and building them up, and letting them know, hey, I can do it. I can really do this thing this time. And like I always say – I know I talk a lot, forgive me – I always say that women are not needy. We always look at women as being needy. No, they are not needy. Their needs have never been met, and if you are constantly in a position where nobody is hearing you, nobody is giving me what I need to survive in this world; of course I’m going to appear to be needy. Of course I’m going to appear to be less vulnerable. Of course I’m going to seem like no, I can’t do it, but I can. I can.

Len Sipes: But the astounding thing to me is that it takes the criminal justice system to intervene in the lives of women? What about everything that happened beforehand? – And Patricia, I’m going to go – I keep giving you the touch questions, Patricia, so get closer to that microphone. I mean, you know, what is it? I mean, we’re the criminal justice system. I mean, it takes us to save you guys and get the programs together to allow you people to cross that bridge to being productive human beings?

Patricia Bradley: Unfortunately, it does, and that’s not really to me a good or bad thing because without it, somebody has to – we have to start somewhere and unfortunately it’s with the criminal justice system. The problem is in society, again, nobody wants to take responsibility for how everything is with the criminal justice system, the criminals themselves, but at some point we have to draw the line, you know.

Len Sipes: And at some point you have to either have the programs or it just continues and continues and continues, and then it affects the kids, your own kids, and then it continues with them. Somewhere along the line it’s got to stop.

Patricia Bradley: It has to stop. We could stop it now before it gets to the kids. The kids are our future, you know. If we don’t stop it now and if society try to get a grip on this, then the kids will be doing the same thing as the parents are doing.

Len Sipes: And this is something that we in the criminal justice system and in criminology have seen decade after decade after decade – women ignored, their problems ignored, and it just continues unabated.

Patricia Bradley: That’s right.

Len Sipes: So, okay, so I’m going to Marcia. We’re in the last couple minutes of the program, so speedy answers. I’m going to give you the same terribly rough question that I gave to Patricia, and that is so people are going to say, “Look, we’ve got all these fiscal difficulties. We’ve got all these budgets cuts. People are asking more of my tax money. Damn, I’ve got to give money to you all? Why? I’ve got schools it should go to. I’ve got my grandmother; she’s getting old, give the money to her. Why give it to ‘criminals’?” So answer that for me, Marcia?

Marcia Austin: Well for me, I am a criminal, I was a criminal, and I changed my life around through help. I mean —

Len Sipes: But you’re not a criminal now.

Marcia Austin: No, I’m not a criminal now but I’m a work in progress every day, first of all. I’m enjoying my life today but what I’m saying, without the support of the United States, we we’d be lost. Without the support of transition homes, without shelters and churches, we’d be lost. We need support, you know, because it goes deeper than just being a criminal. It comes from how we was being raised and what we was taught and the things that happened to us, and we just need support.

Len Sipes: Do you understand how much courage it took for you to do what you did in terms of your background and in terms of all the things that you suffered through. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am full of courage” because it does take immense courage to overcome what you’ve overcome.

Marcia Austin: Only by the grace of God. Only by the grace of God, only by the programs and the help of the probation officers that encourage you. That makes a difference, it really does.

Len Sipes: The final couple minutes of the program, and either one of you can jump in – so we are going to be doing the Women’s Reentry Forum at 700 Southern Avenue Southeast on February 9th from 8:00 to 3:00, and we’re going to be bringing together hundreds of women caught up in the criminal justice system, and those hundreds of women, they need to hear what, for them to do the same thing, to have the same accomplishments that you two have had. What do they need?

Marcia Austin: They need hope. They need transition homes to be open. They need shelter. They need mental health help. They need clothes and the ways to get around to look for jobs. They need education whether they’ll be able to get it online, to put resumes online. Education is very important because a lot of us don’t have education, and we just need somebody to love us and to guide us and to take a chance with us, you know?

Patricia Bradley: I attended the Forum last year, I was there, and it was very nice. When the women come, what they need, they need information, and that’s what the forum has there. They had a lot of information because a lot of women don’t know, you know. You’re not going to get your answers until you get the information so when they come out; the information is there available for them. That’s what they really need is the information, and then they can pretty much take it from there once they’ve received the information.

Len Sipes: You’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. The program today has been on women offenders. We have been talking to Dr. Willa Butler, the Clinical Supervisor, Temple of Praise-New Day Transitional Home for Women, Patricia Bradley, off of supervision, and Marcia Austin, soon to be off of supervision. And ladies and gentlemen, thank you all very much for the extraordinarily powerful stories that you tell, and it’s always the most enlightening and heart-warming of all the other interviews that I do, Willa, these programs on women offenders. We thank everybody for listening, we really do.

Willa Butler: Yes, thank you.

Len Sipes: We appreciate your comments. We appreciate your criticisms. We appreciate whatever information that you have to give to us in terms of new programs or suggestions for how we can do this better, and I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Internet Safety-Internet Keep Safe Coalition-DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes, for the first show of 2013, and we have at our microphones, back at our microphones, she was once with us a long time ago, Marsali Hancock. She is the CEO and President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, the website – I invited Marsali back to our microphones to discuss internet safety, and it’s an issue of extreme importance to just about everybody within the criminal justice system and everybody out there listening to my voice. Marsali, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Marsali Hancock: Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.

Len Sipes: You know, I can’t imagine a topic with more universal connection to those of us within the criminal justice system and everybody else who happens to be listening to this program. You and I, before we hit the record button, we were talking about a good friend of mine and she was cyber-bullied. She received threatening messages via Facebook, and this was not an easy event for her. This was not something that she sloughed off. I won’t tell you all the different things that she did and the reactions but she took this very personally, very emotionally, I mean to the point, well, you know, somebody knocking on the door and I’m not there, I mean, it was a very frightening event. So cyber crime, cyber bullying, cyber safety just has an impact, an emotional impact, a strong emotional impact, and it’s probably affecting millions of Americans.

Marsali Hancock: Well, you pull up a very interesting point that there are strong emotions with technical devices, and it’s because people emotionally connect with them. So when you look at the types of communications people send, either through Facebook or text messaging or the photos they sent back and forth or the videos, this is how people emotionally connect and when something goes wrong, that sense of unrest and insecurity is really heightened. So lots of people in the world are trying to navigate, how do I have a good, healthy relationship with my technology, and when something goes wrong, it’s very hard to know how do I navigate it, where do I go, how do I prevent it, and what’s my plan when something does happen.

Len Sipes: Let’s talk about this for a second because I’m not quite sure if people have an understanding of this. They use their smartphones, they Facebook, they Twitter all with their smartphones, they go home to their computer, they do LinkedIn, they do a variety of social media sites, but they see it as having this huge impact on their world. The digital space means something profound to the people involved in it, correct? There’s more to this than meets the eye. It’s just not use of Facebook. It is now pretty much a lifestyle. It is now pretty much something that permeates our day-to-day existence.

Marsali Hancock: Well it absolutely does, and when you look at how often people check their phones, when you look at a mobile device, people feel it’s an extension of themselves so emotionally they’re problem-solving often through that medium, so when things go wrong, it feels very – that you’re space is invaded. It’s a very unnerving experience. Often people forget that the digital world is always public, it can never be private, so what we do online absolutely impacts our future academic and employment opportunities. It impacts our relationships, our future relationships, and you can never fully pull off what has been sent digitally, and anything that can be sent can be tracked and stored and resent by anyone.

Len Sipes: Is there any such thing as Internet privacy?

Marsali Hancock: No. No. You can try to reduce the amount of exposure, you can be very careful by what you post, but you can never plan on anything being fully private, ever. It’s just not to be expected. Sometimes in this space when you work with parents, they’ll feel like, “I want my child to know I trust them, and I want to give my child privacy. I don’t want to look into their private communications,” and that parent is completely mistaken about the reality of technology. The reality is if it’s done through digital technology, it is not private, there is no assumption of privacy, and anything sent can be capture and resent by anyone else.

Len Sipes: But you go on the Facebook and the settings are immensely confusing, and the pundits have complained about the fact that they’re immensely confusing. I’m not quite sure that there’s anybody out there, whether it’s a parent or a child or a professional, that has a full understanding of the fact that what you post on Facebook, you may have it geared for friends only but it’s still searchable and it still is pulled up into feeds of other people within your timeline. There’s nothing private about your use of Facebook.

Marsali Hancock: You can reduce what others see but you cannot ensure that anyone who can see it does not also publish it. You can go to and we do have a guide for parents on Facebook so there are some ways that you can minimize your risks by being able to identify those 9% of fake sites, you know, sites that are just set up by someone to be impersonating or to inflict harm, that’s out there which ends up being 80 million some odds sites that are fake, but learning how to navigate privacy setting is a convenience, it’s not a guarantee. It’s not encrypted. Sometimes people will feel like, “Well, the same type of protection I have from my bank is what I have with privacy settings,” and that is not the case. Encryption is a totally different procedure, technical feature, than privacy settings which are just literally a convenience.

Len Sipes: You put on a variety of training programs for the Department of Justice, and I met you through U.S. Department of Justice contacts. Why you? Why did Justice put their faith and trust in I Keep Safe?

Marsali Hancock: Well first, I Keep Safe is a nonprofit. We’re a 500c3 but we align ourselves easily with industry to help industry make better choices but then also for industry to be able to communicate how can you best use that site. So we’ve done many projects with law enforcement agencies across the country and even outside of the country, so in Pennsylvania the Attorney General, in Michigan the Attorney General, in multiple states. We’ll help to customize and localize what are the key topics that are important to that law enforcement organization, and then what’s the capacity within that state to deliver, and how can we help reach consumers with the things they need to know about how to stay safe online.

Len Sipes: How the criminal justice system can do a better job of Internet safety, again, I have been involved in the digital world from the very beginning of the digital world. I mean, I put up my radio shows on the Internet decades ago. I put my radios up and responded to different people via email, and yet as we proved this morning, I have this first radio show of the year, and I struggled to put all this equipment together. I think I’m intimidated by the digital world. I think all of us are intimidated by the digital world. We within the criminal justice system, I’m not quite sure we fully get it. I’m not quite sure we fully know what to do in terms of advising parents and advising children, in terms of keeping themselves safe. So what do we need to do within the criminal justice system to do a better job?

Marsali Hancock: Well first of all, you’re right, everyone’s dealing with this through their own lens and there’s big challenges, and some of the biggest challenges are the technology changes and the application changes on how we gather information, how we handle an investigation, what’s the communication channels and those lines. So for the criminal justice system, there’s a continual learning curve, and the capacity for professional development needs to be increased. What helps us when we get down to the victim side, all right, what’s hard sometimes for particularly law officers who have not had training in actual digital devices and how they navigate that investigation, there’s an enormous amount of support law enforcement can offer that no one else can. If you’re in a school or a family setting and you’ve got something on Facebook or YouTube or on SnapChat that’s making you really nervous, law enforcement has the capacity to connect with industry much faster than anyone else. There are ways to report abuse and there are things that consumers can do but it’s really law enforcement that has the shortest path to getting to someone on that platform who can be helpful with content.

Len Sipes: On this program however we’ve discussed either from the law enforcement or the correctional side the shortcomings, the budget cuts, the fact that there are a lot of agencies out there that are doing much more with much less over the course of the last five years or so with the budget cuts. Do we really have that capacity at local law enforcement? If you go to them and say, “I’m being cyber bullied,” they really do know what to do?

Marsali Hancock: You know, to be honest, not very many do. I recommend that when a family’s in that situation, if they talk to the Internet Crimes Against Children’s Taskforce, they’re going to find someone that’s at the A-game around digital evidence.

Len Sipes: Right, and how do they contact the Internet Crimes Taskforce?

Marsali Hancock: You can just do a search online to find out your exact state, so every state – its –.

Len Sipes: Every state in the United States has an Internet Crimes Taskforce, and you need to go and use the search engine of preference – see, I didn’t say Google – use the search engine of preference and find the Internet Crimes Against Children’s Taskforce. What about if you’re being bullied as an adult?

Marsali Hancock: Same thing, so they’ll be able to point you, and when you look at the landscape of law enforcement officers, everybody has their niche and their specialty, and some people are really up-to-speed on gang recruitment or some on child victimization, but you need to have someone who can help you know what’s the landscape of opportunities I have to find out who’s behind the types of communication and what do I do to support them. Can I just connect them with the victim’s rights? Has anything actually criminally happened, or, you know, where do I cross that threshold? And from that piece, it takes somebody who knows the ropes about digital evidence, and unfortunately there’s not that many yet but because the digital road grows so fast – every day, 900,000 new Android phones are activated.

Len Sipes: Every day?

Marsali Hancock: Every day.

Len Sipes: Isn’t that amazing? – 900,000 Android phones throughout the world, and they’re all little computers.

Marsali Hancock: Right, and with full-functioning computers with various levels of apps that have the capacity to take a wide range of personal data and spread it to a wide range of countries and developers.

Len Sipes: Yep. They’re more powerful than my desktop five years ago.

Marsali Hancock: Ah, yes.

Len Sipes: Some are more powerful than my desktop three years ago.

Marsali Hancock: Well, and it’s not just the capacity of the device, it’s the types of behavior you use with that device.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: So what you used to do on your laptop was pretty limited but when you talk about mobile applications, and the global positioning, and your online banking, and your social networking with your closest friends, and your work friends through LinkedIn, I mean, there’s an enormous amount of activity that we never did on a desktop that we do every day with our mobile devices.

Len Sipes: Now I hear from the pundits that all the emphasis within the last ten years has been in terms of cyber attacks – cyber attacks on your own computers, cyber attacks on corporate computers. It is not shifting over to cyber attacks on cell phones.

Marsali Hancock: Mobile devices, so not just cell phones, that’s also your tablets.

Len Sipes: Mobile devices, I’m sorry, mobile devices, your tablets, yes.

Marsali Hancock: It’s anything that connects to something of value, so when you’re looking at the potential for victimization, your value can be your unused credit. So for children, their unused credit is used by criminals and it’s not until you apply for a student loan that parents really recognize so learning what is it of value on my device that helps me to better prepare. So unused credit is a value, so everything around identify theft and protection, you need to have some confidence and competence.

Len Sipes: And all of this you can find on, correct?

Marsali Hancock: Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay, and guidance for parents, guidance for children, guidance for law enforcement – its all there. You can start off with that.

Marsali Hancock: Yes, so prevention and then post-incidence response, how do I better manage?

Len Sipes: Okay. Now also the FBI has a huge cyber-crime unit. I’ve advised people in the past to simply Google – oh, I’m sorry – use the search engine of your choice and to look for FBI/cyber crime or FBI/computer crime, and you will come up with the proper unit within the FBI who will provide guidance in terms of cyber crime as well.

Marsali Hancock: Yes, it’s a great resource and like every government agency, everyone’s pressed for resources and time. If you’re the victim, you want to find someone who can help you with your next step and find out what are your rights as a victim and what’s something that’s rational that you can do to prevent it next time.

Len Sipes: What do we say to parents and law enforcement? There has got to be some balance here because their children are going to be on the internet, they are going to be on the internet, and we hear these endless horror stories, and it’s sort of remote and sort of academic until it happens to you as it happened to be me in terms of a woman who’s very close to me, the fact that she was cyber-bullied, and it becomes personal at a certain point. It’s not academic. It’s not remote. What do we say to people in terms of putting all of this in balance and keeping it in perspective because our kids, our 9-year-olds are going to be using the internet, our 14-year-olds are going to be using the internet. Yes, there are literally billions of people throughout the world trolling for them, either to defraud them or to engage them in nefarious acts or even sexual acts. They are out there but we’ve got to put into perspective, do we not?

Marsali Hancock: Oh, absolutely, and when you look at most communication by youth, it’s not problematic, but there is always going to be that’s a challenge, and Danah Boyd in her research calls it “digital drama” because it doesn’t necessarily fit into a criminal act or into necessarily bullying or cyber-bullying where some details about it’s repeated, it’s from a position of power. Digital drama is when somebody’s really upset because of something that s happened online.

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: So you absolutely have to address it. If we pull kids off – so let’s take the Draconian approach. I’m going to keep my child safe by not letting them have a Facebook page or a mobile device, then the expectation is at 18 when they go off to college, they’re going to have to figure it out on their own plus, how about this one? – Often websites are set up or social networking sites are set up for someone who doesn’t have one so let’s look at a couple of different areas, so let’s just take reputation and maybe cyber-bullying. If I don’t allow my child to have a Facebook page, then someone else could create one for them and post all sorts of horrendous things on it, and it takes quite a while – you can get it down but it takes some time. Also about the online reputation, so if I have nothing on the web, then if we’re done with this show, you write, “Oh, that Marsali Hancock, she was just such a bore,” then that’s the 100% of what’s on the web if you’re the only one who’s posted. So really when you look at the web as a potential positive and reducing negative, it means you actually get involved, you get engaged, you create your own online reputation that’s an asset rather than a liability proactively, and we have to look at the digital world as a place where we want our children to succeed. They can’t succeed if they are not prepared and practiced.

Len Sipes: Okay, well let’s go back to the criminal justice system and let’s align some things up. Well, we’re already halfway through the program. Let me reintroduce you. Ladies and gentlemen, our guest today is Marsali Hancock. She is with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. She is CEO and President – – Marsali, for the criminal justice system, they need training, they need background, but there is in every state in the United States an Internet Safety Taskforce. So if you searched Maryland or Iowa or Montana Internet —

Marsali Hancock: It’s actually Internet Crimes Against Children.

Len Sipes: Internet Crimes Against Children, but they will also help you with other internet-related areas, correct?

Marsali Hancock: Yes. They can help point you in the right direction so it’s a real voice, they have a real number, and they will be somebody who can point you in the right direction.

Len Sipes: Okay, so there’s a local contact for people and there’s a national contact for people through the FBI, their Internet Crimes Taskforce; but local law enforcement needs training, do they not?

Marsali Hancock: They do need training, and it’s very helpful when they recognize they can literally be the golden ticket for their schools. So when you are looking at a principal who’s dealing with let’s take a situation of sexting. It’s very helpful for that principal to have a network of law enforcement, attorneys/psychologists, people who are up-to-speed in how to manage a digital experience like this where you minimize the risk to the victims and you minimize the risk to the perpetrator and you reduce the risk to the bystanders too who are just caught up in the experience.

Len Sipes: Okay. So the bottom line is that there are places for local law enforcement to go, and they can go to your website,, and begin the process of finding out what resources are available to them.

Marsali Hancock: Yes. And for children, you can also report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They are the center, if you are seeing online exploitation; they are set up and ready to gather up that information. If you are a victim or you are a parent at home and you’ve got something that’s concerning you, you’re not sure it crosses that threshold; it’s very nice to call an Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce officer.

Len Sipes: Okay. For parents, it is a matter of what? It is a matter of, again, going to your website and websites like yours to learn how to deal with their children and what access to give, what age to give it, and how to guide your children in terms of keeping them safe?

Marsali Hancock: Well, will help parents get the picture, so what are the big key issues? What are the areas where, if I don’t help prepare my child, there could be a very big pitfall?

Len Sipes: Right.

Marsali Hancock: So where’s the big gaps, and then how do I talk to my child in a way that I’m just not talking about all the pitfalls because kids glaze over, just like when you talk about awesome cars, the car-owner doesn’t want to hear about how they can be killed in their car. They want to talk about their awesome car. Kids want to talk about their awesome technology.

Len Sipes: That’s a good analogy. That’s a good analogy.

Marsali Hancock: So looking at how can we help them better balance the ethical, be careful with their privacy, manage their online reputation, have healthy relationships, and understand the importance of online security. You cannot miss one of those topics.

Len Sipes: Young people do not separate themselves from their digital identity so they see Facebook, they see Twitter, they see the other social sites as being integral to who they are. They don’t see themselves as being different from their digital presence, correct? – And that applies to not just kids, that applies to just about everybody today, correct?

Marsali Hancock: Well, it does, but to youth, because they have grown up with this ubiquitous access often, they connect emotionally with and through their digital device, and they define their relationships on web platforms, and that’s different than those of us who have a few grey hairs.

Len Sipes: So if they’re bullied or if they’re attacked via the Internet, they take it as seriously as if it happened on the street.

Marsali Hancock: It’s actually in many ways, emotionally, it can be more serious because if I viewed bullying in the old days on my bus, I’m going to get off that bus and I’m going to go home, and I’m not continually seeing that bullying on the bus. If it’s online it goes on and on, and what to use to just involve maybe 5 students or 100 students or 200 students now can be 100,000 or 2 million or 5 million students, and in that process as people are viewing digitally the bullying experience, they are either becoming desensitized or they have a sense of ethics that help them to know, “I need to flag and tag this. Whatever platform this is on, I can send an anonymous tag so that this type of behavior is better monitored by the platform.”

Len Sipes: Bullying, cyber-bullying, the topic, the individual topic that we’ve touched upon throughout the program, again, law enforcement, if I’m John Doe police officer and I get a call to go to a house and to deal with an issue of cyber-bullying, I’m going to be stumped.

Marsali Hancock: Well, you don’t have to be stumped, first of all. First know that at, which is set up for law enforcement, there is a research and it’ll be on our website. We have a blog that when we post about this show, we’ll link to it. It gives you the law enforcement entry point, so it’ll give you either a phone number or it’ll give you an email that’s fast-tracked through the company. So here’s an example: in Maryland we were at a school and they were having an issue with cyber-bullying. Some of it was anonymous, some of it involved a few students at the school, but they were assuming it involved quite a few more because of the anonymous posts. So the school resource officer was able to connect with the law enforcement community, get a warrant. They were able to identify the IP addresses of all of the individuals involved so they could go back to the principal and say, “Well, okay, here’s what we have. Here’s the evidence. These are the students’ homes that we know the digital communication was sent from these households.” Now you can’t ensure, we never know for sure who’s actually on the other end of the digital communication. It could be a mother, it could be a friend at that home, but it narrows this huge, giant universe of the web down to, okay, here’s these 12 homes that were involved in actually sending content.

Len Sipes: You really don’t live anonymously. Now there are all sorts of fraudulent sites out there and we haven’t even discussed cyber fraud. My heavens.

Marsali Hancock: Another day.

Len Sipes: Another day, another time, because they originate in Russia and send their messages through —

Marsali Hancock: China.

Len Sipes: — China, and they end up through Burma, and then they end up on your computer, so it’s very hard to track them down but the local cyber-bullying is something that can be traced back to various IP addressed, various computers and various addresses.

Marsali Hancock: It’s difficult to be totally anonymous. To be completely honest, it can happen, but it takes someone very skilled.

Len Sipes: And I think that’s pretty reassuring for a lot of people listening to the program, and I think it’s hopeful to the criminal justice personnel that they can do something about it. So again, they have to work through their task forces, and again, if they have any questions, they can go through the website Suicide – one of the things I do want to get into is the emotional trauma – it’s just not emotional trauma for a 12-year-old, a 13-year-old to be bullied in a massive setting and that spreads through the school and literally hundreds, if not more, students have access to these messages. So that’s got to be profoundly difficult to deal with, and that’s one of the things we have to – parents need to sit down with their kids, and we in government need to be prepared for the emotionally trauma of what happens when you are bullied and the possibility that suicide could be a result.

Marsali Hancock: Well, Len, you bring up the point about suicide, and what kids are posting online can be incredibly traumatic. I think one of the areas – there are not that many cases that show bullying and online bullying lead to suicide but there are many cases of students who are considering suicide who post about it online, so for the criminal justice community to recognize that we’ve never had the capacity that we have now for intervention and early intervention, so here’s a couple of examples. This one doesn’t involve suicide but my second one will. We were at a school in North Carolina. One of the teachers had picked up a cell phone because they were texting in class. When she picked it up, it was actually an image of his private parts, so now that image is a sexting image of a child so it is child pornography. She wasn’t sure where she takes that and how she manages that. At the same school, another phone she picks it up, and it’s a gang paraphernalia on a 12-year-old with handguns, so she’s going, “Oh, no. Now what do I do? What do I have to do? What’s legal? What’s ethical?” She took it to the law enforcement officer there connected with the school, they pulled the child out. They found a stash of weapons near the school, but the best thing – and here’s my point – is now this 12-year-old is in a gang intervention program before he’s in the criminal justice post-crime.

Len Sipes: Why is it that so many people create that presence on the digital world? The mass shootings – not to deviate into that – but they oftentimes leave digital trails. They oftentimes basically tell people in subtle ways that this is what they’re going to do. I’m not quite sure if everybody recognizes that. How do you recognize a child in trouble? How do you recognize an individual in trouble through their digital presence?

Marsali Hancock: Well in the UK, there was a young woman who had posted she was going to commit suicide. She had over a thousand friends on her Facebook where she had posted it – no one did a thing. So they found her the next day, passed away.

Len Sipes: What are you supposed to do?

Marsali Hancock: You’re supposed to notify, so if you know that person for real, then you call the police. My nephew had a very painful situation where he was instant messaging on the platform MySpace, and as he was instant-messaging with her, he realized she was creating her goodbye communication. There were three people that she was instant-messaging with, saying her goodbyes, it was her birthday, she was in high school. He only knew her from high school so he only knew her as a school friend. He did not know her parents’ name or landline, and in today’s world, you don’t call landlines. So if I ground my child from their cell phone, nobody calls a landline and goes through mom. They don’t have that communication. So he didn’t know how to find that information, he wanted to call 911, so he starts doing reverse searches, he’s working, working. By the time he figures it out, law enforcement goes, she’s in a coma, and it’s a week before she passes away. But in his mind he will always wonder, “How do I report potential suicide when I don’t know what we used to know which was people’s parents’ names and their home address?” – Because digital friends don’t always know where you live. So part of the criminal justice charge in this generation is to help people learn how to report and respond when they see something. Now not ever case is tragic. There was another one last year where there was someone, a teen, a youth in the UK who had reported that she was going to commit suicide, and her friends did report to law enforcement, they reported to the State Department that sent a message to the UK that found the child and there was intervention just in time.

Len Sipes: Parents need to have age-appropriate conversations with their kids about digital safety and about the digital world because it’s obvious that kids do not separate the real world from the digital world, and I’m beginning to believe that’s applying to more and more adults.

Marsali Hancock: Well, see, we call it the real world and the online world but youth, there is no difference because which they do online is just like hanging out at their friend’s house. What they used to do at the corner store now is done in a group digital experience, either creating or they’re sharing instant messages or it’s on the texting, so there is no on-and-off line for kids. There’s just life.

Len Sipes: But you agree with me that the first line of defense is that parent having that age-appropriate with their child throughout the process and recognizing this, that maybe the digital world did not exist for them just a couple of years ago but it does exist for their 9-year-old, it does exist for their 12-year-old, it does exist for their 17-year-old, and regardless as to how much they protest it, they have to be involved in the child’s digital world.

Marsali Hancock: It starts when they’re 2 and they’re on an iPad. It starts when they’re 3 and they’re 4. Some interesting statistics from Rochester Institute of Technology – by second grade, kids start to harass each other online so that cyber-bullying message needs to happen before second grade. By fourth grade, they’re downloading illegal music and game files. By seventh grade, they are hacking into and out of servers where they don’t belong. So the time to prepare a child to be responsible and ethical and resilient online is as they experience technology. It will never happen by accident that we will have ethical and responsible children in the digital space. Adults must help them through how they navigate it. They don’t have a frontal lobe. They need us.

Len Sipes: Prevention is key from the standpoint of parents’ involvement with children and getting criminal justice personnel trained so they know what to do in terms of providing preventive messages and knowing what to do in terms of an adequate response.

Marsali Hancock: Well, and one thing that everyone can take from the show today, one of the most hurtful thing is when someone says to a parent, “Well, kids will be kids.” What they need from the criminal justice system and from other adults is, “We are here for you. We recognize it was traumatic. We’re going to help you navigate this” rather than “Oh, it didn’t cross criminal barriers. You’re out on your own.”

Len Sipes: You know, that’s just it. I think people need to understand that it is a complex world and they need to know they’re not on their own. There are places that they can go, like your organization,, the FBI, the local taskforces. That’s the bottom line in terms of the messages for today.

Marsali Hancock: And the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Len Sipes: And we’ll put those in the share notes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We really appreciate your listening to today’s program on internet safety. Marsali Hancock, she is the CEO and president of the I Keep Safe organization, We really appreciate the calls, the letters, the emails, and we hope that you will have a wonderful listening experience in 2013. Please keep the comments coming in, and have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Jobs in Corrections-Discover Corrections Website–DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes, and ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to be talking about jobs in Corrections. It’s an issue of great importance because the vast majority of people in this country who the criminal justice system supervises are supervised by Corrections personnel. They’re supervised by parole and probation agents or they’re supervised within prisons, they’re supervised within jails, but the overwhelming majority are again, in the community being supervised by parole and probation agents.  We thought we’d do a radio program about jobs in Corrections. We have a new website that is created by the American Probation and Parole Association called “Discover Corrections,” and “Discover Corrections,” there’s a league of agencies involved in this with the American Probation and Parole Association taking the lead. Our guest today is Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt. She is a Research Associate for the or with the American Probation and Parole Association., and Mary Ann, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Thank you, and good afternoon.

Len Sipes: Yep. I’m looking forward to this conversation because, you know, this is a very important topic. The quality of our criminal justice personnel means the quality of justice. It correlates exactly with the quality of justice that we end up providing, correct?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Oh, exactly, exactly, and this website offers career-based resources for students and graduates as well as our military veterans and other individuals who are seeking their first job in this career, and for those individuals who may be trying to look at Corrections as a second career.

Len Sipes: You know, and one area during this recession that has always been hiring, and that’s Corrections.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, and not only individuals who are seeking positions as parole officers and probation officer but positions that you may not always think of as positions that are in the career field, like registered nurses.

Len Sipes: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there’s an endless number of individuals with individual specialties that corrections agencies throughout the United States whether they be federal, whether they be state, whether they be local, they need a wide array of people to staff these positions.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, exactly.

Len Sipes: Okay. The website for “Discover Corrections” is – Mary Ann, give me a sense as to all the different agencies that are involved in the “Discovery Corrections” website project.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay. Just to give you a little history, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in an effort to address workforce development issues in Corrections – community Corrections, jails, and detention centers, as well as prisons and institutions – provided funds to the Counsel of State Government, the American Probation and Parole Association, to develop and implement this exciting website. So this innovative project is a collaborative effort overseen by APPA, and our partners are the American Correctional Association, the American Jail Association, and the Center for Innovative Public Policies.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of people involved in this and it’s funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, so you’ve got federal funding and you’ve got the biggest and best correctional agencies, and very well-respected correctional incremental justice agencies deeply involved in the project, and the American Probation and Parole Association is taking the lead.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. Yes. You know, I can’t say enough regarding our partners and the tremendous amount of work that they put into this project as well, and they really should be commended for all of the material they provided and expertise.

Len Sipes: This will be the first time in the 40-or-so years that I’ve been in the criminal justice system that if you were interested in a career in Corrections, regardless as to where you are in the United States, I mean, you could be sitting in American Samoa and access the website and say, “Son of a gun, that’s something I would like to do in New Mexico” and go for that job.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, yes, and I think when you look at the website, there are four components or key sections to the website. The first one is “Why Corrections”; the second one is “Explore the Field”; the third is “Career Resources”; and then finally you come to “Post your Job and Find your Job.” When you’re looking at the jobs that are available across the country, you’ll find that they’re in Bismarck, North Dakota, Pine City, Minnesota, East Baton Rouge, Idaho. So no matter where you’re looking, there are jobs that are being posted.

Len Sipes: And one of the things that I do want to say, Mary Ann, about the folks who are in Corrections – again, I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over 40 years, started off as a police officer, and I’ve done a lot of different things both on the correctional side and the law enforcement side, and I want to give a shout-out, I suppose, or recognition to people in Corrections. I don’t think there’s any more difficult and exciting job than being a main-stream correctional officer. I’ve been in and out of literally hundreds of prisons, or prisons hundreds of times, and I understand how difficult and how challenging and how exciting that job is; and people, I don’t think correctional officers get the respect that they deserve. I think as far as I’m concerned, as far as a lot of people are concerned in the criminal justice system, correctional officers deserve a huge amount of respect. Parole and probation agents, what we here in Washington D.C. call community supervision officers, again, that is an extraordinarily difficult job. They’re out in high-crime neighborhoods dealing sometimes with people presenting really unique challenges. These are exciting jobs. These are really interesting jobs. These are not boring jobs at all. They pay well in many instances and they have good government benefits behind them so people looking around and they’re uncertain about a career in Corrections, I’m not quite sure they need to be uncertain. I think a life in Corrections is a life of, you know, not just pure excitement from the law enforcement point of view but I think they’re very exciting, very challenging jobs. They’re never boring.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yeah, I agree. My first job – I was in the field for approximately 28 years based out of Minnesota – and my first job was at the Women’s Facility here in Shakopee. I believe that my first job as a Corrections officer gave me the foundation that I needed for a career in Corrections.

Len Sipes: Well, I have first-hand experience inside of prisons. I have first-hand experience riding along with parole and probation agents, and they have my endless, endless admiration in terms of their ability to protect public safety and their ability to try to help the individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. Okay, so we have a website, “Discover Corrections” – – and you’ve got the mainstream criminal justice agencies, correctional agencies involved in it. It’s both on the jail side, the prison side, and the community Corrections side. We’ve said it’s funded by the BJA, the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice. So how has it been? I mean, have you been successful? Has it placed a lot of people? Do you think that you’re getting the interaction that you’re looking for?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: We’re beginning to analyze some of those key outcomes that you’re pointing out. We believe that people are beginning to go to the “Discover Corrections.” It’s a fairly new website. We are marketing through Facebook and other avenues but we do have close to 200 agencies that have listed jobs on the website.

Len Sipes: That’s great.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: And that also then, you know, when you post jobs, then it brings job candidates, and you see more and more people then accessing the website. But based on our initial surveys, both the job-seekers as well as the employers have provided us with very positive feedback.

Len Sipes: And you said before that there were four primary sections to the website. I’m not quite sure that I gave you full time to explain what they are. Could you give them to me again, please?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Oh, certainly. “Why Corrections” is the first section when you’re looking at the website.

Len Sipes: What is that designed to do, “Why Corrections,” because people are confused about a career in Corrections possibly?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Well, possibly confused or maybe wondering, “Is this the direction should I take and really what does it involve?” It explains the three components. It talks about Corrections as a critical component of the criminal justice system, and that it requires dedication, integrity, and commitment to working with individuals who come into the criminal justice system; and that also that there are rewards and that it can be highly gratifying to work in this field and help people make real life changes.

Len Sipes: Well, I’ve seen it firsthand. I have seen especially on the community correction side with parole and probation agencies, with the treatment side, within prisons, I’ve seen people turn the lives around of people caught up in the criminal justice system. It doesn’t happen every time but certainly it is just amazing to see people go from tax burdens to tax payers, and we owe, again, a debt of gratitude towards the people in community Corrections and mainstream Corrections who helped that person get there.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum, um-hum.

Len Sipes: Now you also have personal stories on the website that I find really interesting. You’ve got some personal stories about people from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and you’ve got personal stories from people throughout the country talking addressing why they got involved in Corrections.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly, and that’s I think a very important part of the website. It’s real people telling their stories, and that is in the “Explore the Field” section of the website.

Len Sipes: Okay, so that’s a good segue.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay, and there are stories from wardens within our prisons, and there are probation officers. There are other positions such as there’s a nurse, there’s a teacher, and a variety of individuals who are working in our field, both in community Corrections, jails and detention, prisons and institutions.

Len Sipes: You know getting back to teachers for a second, I remember when I was representing the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which was Law Enforcement and Corrections, and we had the unfortunate privilege I suppose, I can say that now, of taking over the Baltimore City Jail. The state took over the City Jail. And what was truly amazing to me is that the teachers who worked in the Baltimore City Jail who were providing educational services to juveniles and young adults, they had the second highest increase in test scores in the city of Baltimore. Maryland has, I think, the highest test score ranking in the country, and they had the second highest for the city of Baltimore in the Baltimore City Jail, and I was amazed.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Wow.

Len Sipes: I would sit down and talk to those teachers and say, “How did you accomplish this ?” – And working with the correctional officers and working with the teachers, they told me their game plan, and then years ago I interviewed them for the radio with I was with the State of Maryland. Here are teachers working in a correctional setting, producing the second highest increase in grade average scores for an entire city. I thought that that was phenomenal, so again, it’s a wide-open field. We need lots of good people to come into Corrections not just necessarily as correctional officers but as you said, teachers and nurses and administrators and bean counters and accountants and plumbers and lawyers and ten tons of people.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly, exactly, and so then when you’re viewing the website, then you can also then go on to the third section which is “Career Resources,” and that really is designed to provide specific information. So you’re looking at a state and say you’re interested in going to Montana. Well, it will give you a snapshot of how Corrections is organized in that state.

Len Sipes: Oh, that’s great.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay, and also then it provides a glossary of common terms, and also there’s a whole list of national links that you can click as a resource.

Len Sipes: So if I want to go to Hawaii, I can go to Hawaii and just work as a correctional officer. I can work as a parole and probation agent.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: You could.

Len Sipes: I could.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: There’s some openings.

Len Sipes: There are some openings. I’ll think about that in the dead of winter. All right, so have we covered three of the four sections of the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, and then the last one is “Post your Job and Find your Job.”

Len Sipes: Okay, and that’s pretty simple. Now anybody within the criminal justice system can post jobs?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Correct, both private and public.

Len Sipes: Private and public. Thanks. I was going to ask that. And so anybody, a 17-year-old searching for his or her future can go to that website and say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to go to Wyoming and they’ve got openings for parole and probation agents in Wyoming.” I mean, it’s open to anybody.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly.

Len Sipes: All right. I think it’s an exciting concept. I’m going to give the website and we’re going to move into the second part of the program. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about jobs in Corrections with Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt. She is a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association. She is the administrator of “Discover Correction,” a really unique website funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, in league with some of the biggest criminal justice agencies in the country, and she is with the American Probation and Parole Association. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association is – The “Discover Corrections” website again is

Mary Ann, what has been the response of people seeking jobs o the website? Do they find it useful? Do they find it easy to navigate?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: They find it easy to navigate. I think what they would like is to see more job openings but that’s throughout the country, and of course we would like to see more job postings but more jobs are coming available, and if you’re willing to consider relocating, there are positions throughout the country that are available.

Len Sipes: Well, I remember talking to a couple of nurses decades ago who spent five years in Alaska then spent two years in Hawaii, and I’m not quite sure I’m encouraging leaving criminal justice jobs but I would imagine this gives you the same opportunity to travel the country and work for a career in Corrections. The people coming to the website, can they find what they’re looking for? That’s the bottom line. Are they satisfied with their experience?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and have they written you back saying, you know, “Gee, I’d like to see more jobs listed,” or “I’d like to see it easier,” or what’s been their feedback?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, that’s in some of the feedback, and also, you know, I respond to individuals who use other social media outlets such as LinkedIn, and of course people will talk about, you know, it would be nice to be able to stay where they’re at however, you know.

Len Sipes: Yes.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: And then also a number of people throughout the country really recognize the need to be open to be mobile and to consider job opportunities in other areas of the country.

Len Sipes: Sure. It gives you a chance to see the nation and to get a sense as to what’s happening in other areas. If I was a young man, I would love to be a parole and probation agent in Alaska, so there you are. If anybody up in Alaska wants to hire an older individual, please contact me when I retire.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Well, and there are openings. So when you go to the site, there is a U.S. probation officer opening in Bismarck, North Dakota. Pine City, Minnesota, there is a probation officer opening. It’s a lovely part of the country if you like northern Minnesota where it’s very outdoorsy, close to Duluth.

Len Sipes: And I’m glad you brought that up. There’s a lot of federal positions in here. There are federal parole and probation issues that are administered by the individual district courts within the federal system, and there are federal prisons, I’m assuming, that are within the system. So again, if you want to be a correctional officer and have a federal job with all of that security and all the pay that comes with it, and you want to go to a certain area of the country, boom, it’s there for you.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly. And not only are there entry-level positions but there are management and administrative positions as well, so like Salt Lake City is looking for a trial court executive. There’s the Sheriff’s Volunteer Coordinator, which can be an entry-level position. There is also the superintendent of Mental Health Services in Maine; also the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter is looking for a facility director, and a business analysis out of Arizona, the Arizona Judicial Branch. So there’s a variety of positions.

Len Sipes: Well, you know, I’ve been on the website several times and I’m just discovering the full complexity of all the different jobs that are available especially, you know, some of these jobs are really interesting. I mean, you can make a career, an exciting career, a very interesting career in any of these. How does an agency get on your website? Is it simply a matter of calling up and saying, “Hey, I’ve got these 20 jobs I want to advertise?”

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: No, you don’t even have to call. You go to the website and where you see “post your jobs,” you simply click on that and you will be able to create a login, you know, there’s a password etc., register your agency, and then begin posting your jobs.

Len Sipes: And is there a cost to agencies in terms of posting information on the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Is there, I’m sorry, what?

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, is there a cost to post information on the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Is there a cost?

Len Sipes: Yes.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: No. T his is free. This service is free so it’s no cost to your agency.

Len Sipes: Mmm, neat, okay. And I guess one of the final questions is launching the “Discover Corrections” website; it is an important enhancement to the field of Corrections, why? Explain why that is. In the past, you sort of were limited, I suppose. If I’m living in Baltimore, Maryland, where I currently live, the only opportunities I’m going to be exposed to are going to be those advertised in the Baltimore Sun. Now suddenly it’s the entire world opens to me, and I would imagine that’s the heart and soul of it.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. And one of the other things, when we really began to examine how we wanted to impact job searching in the Corrections field, was considering some of the feedback that we receive from students. For many students, they do not know now to access career or job information in the field of Corrections. I mean often, at least in the past, you would have to know exactly what agency you wanted to consider employment in, and then you would have to go that agency’s website, where this really allows individuals to go to one website.

Len Sipes: And have it all done right there and see all the varieties of jobs that are open to you.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum. And it also allows employers to search resumes of registered job seekers.

Len Sipes: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum, so that’s I think a very positive feature of the website.

Len Sipes: That is a very positive, so I can throw in my own resume upon retirement and then the good folks in Alaska would reach out and say, “Hey, Leonard, come on up. We’d love to have you,” and then my wife would divorce me but that’s beside the point.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: That’s – yes. You know, they can look for the right person because I think oftentimes in this field it is about looking for the right person in that specific position.

Len Sipes: And like any other criminal justice endeavor, we really do have to go through quite a few people to find the right person. It takes a unique human being to be successful in Corrections. Either in mainstream prisons or in terms of community corrections, it takes a unique individual to be able to do these jobs.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: I would agree. It can be challenging yet also very rewarding.

Len Sipes: Mary Ann, did we cover all the topics?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: I believe so.

Len Sipes: All right, good. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been DC Public Safety. We did a radio show today on jobs in Corrections with Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt, a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association talking about what I think is an extraordinarily good idea website, a national website, or an international website there at – Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We do appreciate your calls. We appreciate your letters. We appreciate your comments. We appreciate your criticisms. And we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]