Archives for 2014

Comcast Interview with Nancy Ware

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Yolanda Vazquez:  Hello, I’m Yolanda Vasquez, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I am joined now in the studio by Nancy M. Ware, she is the Director of the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency. Nancy it’s a pleasure to have you here in our studio.

Nancy Ware:  Thank you, Yolanda.

Yolanda Vazquez:  So, I was asking you earlier to give us a little brief history of CSOSA as you call it, and I was saying you established in 1997 by the US Congress but you said actually, that was part of an Act. You were established a little bit later. Tell us a little bit about how you were formed initially.

Nancy Ware:  Sure, well originally in 1997 actually, we had the Revitalization Act at Washington DC, which federalized a lot of the law enforcement agencies. And CSOSA was one of those agencies. So they moved probation and parole from the courts and from our parole board, which was in DC, over to this federal executive branch agency. And that’s how CSOSA was formed and we were formally put in place as an executive branch agency in 2000.

Yolanda Vazquez:  And the reasoning behind that was to kind of lift some of the burden from the state level agencies?

Nancy Ware:  That’s right. That’s correct. And also to consolidate a lot of the functions under one branch, one area of government. We also have other parts of the federal government that have take over responsibility like the prison system which is under the Federal Bureau of Prisons and our US Parole Commission which is part of the Federal US Parole Commission now. So we have a number of functions that have been federalized.

Yolanda Vazquez:  It’s good to get a good overview like that. So tell us a little bit more about CSOSA, and what are some of the things that you do and the population that you serve?

Nancy Ware:  Well, we’re responsible for supervising men and women who are on probation/parole. We supervise release in the District of Columbia. So although we’re a federal agency, we’re focused specifically on DC code offenders. And although we also have responsibility for interstate, which means that we also work with other states who have people who are on probation/parole or who are also in the District of Columbia, so we have relationships with other states. But primarily we’re focused on those individuals who live in the District of Columbia. And we have about fourteen thousand individuals under our supervision on any given day, and about twenty-four thousand throughout the course of a year.

Yolanda Vazquez:  How do you go about prioritizing your list of services to the various populations?

Nancy Ware:  Well, we really use a lot of research and evidence based practices in our practice throughout CSOSA, so what we do each year is to take the pulse of emerging trends and emerging issues across the population and also across the District in law enforcement. And as a result of that we’ve put in place specialized units throughout our agency to focus on emerging trends like mental health issues, which we’re finding to be more and more a concern among our population. Mental health and substance abuse have become an issue as well. Well, substance abuse has always been an issue, but we also have co-occurring disorders that we’re working with. And so we’ve put in place specific units and well-trained staff and contractors to work with that population. We also have units for women, domestic violence, we have specialized units working with youth and that’s a new one.

Yolanda Vazquez:  Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Nancy Ware:  Yeah, that’s one that’s particularly of interest to me because we were having a lot of challenges with our young men in particular under twenty-five. And it was very difficult to get them to comply with their conditions of supervision. So we formed two campuses we call them, the Northwest and then Southeast and Southwest to serve that population better.

Yolanda Vazquez:  And it’s been a wonderful experience, the past two or three years for you, working with this?

Nancy Ware:  It has. It’s a great agency.

Yolanda Vazquez:  It sounds like it is. Well Nancy, we really appreciate you coming in. We had the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Thank you so much for your time and explaining so much to us about what you do.

Nancy Ware:  Thank you.

Yolanda Vazquez:  Thank you so very much! And that’ll do it for this edition of Comcast Newsmakers. I’m Yolanda Vazquez. Thanks for watching everybody. We will you see you again real soon.


Warrantless Searches-APPA-Washington State University

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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Len Sipes:  From the Nation’s Capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, warrantless searches of probationers and parolees. We have three people from throughout the United States via Skype at our microphones today. Craig Hemmens, he is the Chair and Professor to the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the Washington State University. We have John Turner, he is a doctorial student, again Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. And we have back at our microphones Adam Matz. Adam is a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association and Council of the State Governments. And to Craig, and John, and Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Craig Hemmens:  Thank you!

Adam Matz:  Thank you! Glad to be here.

Len Sipes:  Adam, start off the conversation please, warrantless searches of probationers and parolees in terms of the document that’s yet published. I found it to be fascinating. There seems to be a lot of controversy in terms of not when Parole and Probation Officers can go in and do warrantless searches of probationers and parolees, but when police officers can; and there seems to be a mixed bag. Every state in the United States gives parole and probation agents the right to do warrantless searches. It’s different when it comes to law enforcement doing those searches. So law enforcement and parole and probation seems to be coupling up to do searches of people on parole and probation without a warrant. Have I summarized the beginning of the program correctly?

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I think that’s a pretty good summary. And I think it might be useful too, I can kind of provide a sort of short background as to why this topic’s sort of been an interest for us and has been increasing in interest as well. And we’ve obviously done, talked about police and probation and parole partnerships before, and we know that they started to become more formalized. There’s always been a lot of partnerships and, you know, law enforcement and probation and parole officers working together sort of informally, but really in the kind of early mid ‘90’s and then up to today there’s been even more of an interest in formalizing those partnerships. And part of that, when they’re working together they’re sharing a lot of information about the probations of parolees, you know, where they live and their conditions of supervision. And depending on the state that they’re situated in, law enforcement can do different things with that information.

In the case of some states they can actually conduct warrantless searches of probation or parolees, completely independent of being around the probation or parole officer that’s responsible for that individual, so it presents an opportunity. And in the other case it could also present some possible abuses perhaps, but you know, it really depends on the state. And so one of the things, and really want kind of generated our focus here, was to get some help, some guidance on really what is the legal case law out there. Because there’s several different articles that talk about the Federal level, sort of Federal case law, but we really wanted to get down more into the weeds and look at the state law, which is where Craig and John have really been helping us out.

Len Sipes:  Well Craig, this has a bit of a dilemma, does it not? I mean we have parole and probation and you mentioned this in the paper, always has had this mixed message – this mixed mission; from the standpoint on one side of the ledger we are law enforcement officers who are as the paper points out, we’re duty bound by law, by state law, to provide surveillance activities, and on the flip side of that ledger is the fact that we are there to help them to reintegrate into society, to do better. So on one side the literature is telling us to form a bond with these individuals and to do cognitive behavioral therapy and to try to help them through the process so they can successfully reintegrate, and on the other hand we’re being told that, “Well go in, and even without reasonable suspicion, you can search that person’s house at any time that you want, with or without a police officer.” So does that bring an inherent conflict in terms of the schizophrenia that comes with so many parole and probation agencies?

Craig Hemmens:  I think you’ve summarized it well. I’m not sure I’d use the term schizophrenia, but you’re exactly right. There’s a real problem with what you might call role distortion. As they said probation and parole officers are really expected to be almost all things to all people – to be out there providing public safety but also to be assisting the offender with reintegration and rehabilitation; and when you ask them to both help them and essentially have the potential to hurt them by investigating their criminal activity, which of course could mean potentially be having their parole revoked, being sent back to prison, I think that does create a great deal of mission distortion, role distortion for the officers. I think it’s something that is very difficult for them to deal with.

Len Sipes:  And John, what is the basis behind the research? So we are looking at this issue of warrantless searches, of probationers and parolees, why? Why is this important?

John Turner:  I think it’s important because initially the roll of probation and parole officers was to sort of help offenders reintegrate back into society and now the role has evolved into more of a law enforcement role. And each state has different guidelines and different policies. Some states allow law enforcement officers to conduct searches on parolees and probationers without probable cause, as to where others allow only probation or parole officers to do these searches. So I think it’s kind of important that we look at the differences between each state and try to analyze why that is.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Adam, now tell me a little bit about this. It’s mission creep to some degree, the idea that you know, the parole and probation agents throughout this country, again there is this, I won’t use the word schizophrenic, I won’t even use the word bi-polar, just this schism. On one side of it he is there to help this individual, on the other side he is there to provide surveillance, to provide what some would refer to as a public safety surveillance role. We have many parole and probation agents throughout the country who carry badges and wear guns; so in one sense the warrantless search is part and parcel to a law enforcement function and one sense it doesn’t lend well to creating a positive interaction with the person that he’s supervising.

Adam Matz:  Yeah, there’s a couple different ways I think you could look at this. Obviously there is potential for mission distortion, particularly if you look at this in terms of partnerships where the emphasis when folks are working with law enforcement, might tend to kind of put more emphasis on the enforcement aspects, surveillance aspects, versus more of the rehabilitative part of it. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case and some of the research does talk about you know, the police officers can kind of help reinforce, sort of referrals, or treatment those kinds of things. It’s a little bit suspect. The research isn’t very definitive on that. It really tends to imply that there’s definitely a surveillance aspect to it.

Now the other part I want to talk about that, to kind of build on what John was saying earlier too, is the idea that part of the issue and part of the reason why partnerships are important and they’re beneficial is that it’s really kind of an issue of coverage, you know? We know that there’s excessive case loads, you know, excessive workloads for probation and parole, so what partnering with law enforcement does, because law enforcement has a greater street presence, it really increases sort of that reach, that extra level of supervision that simply just isn’t possible. So there’s sort of a logistical part to it as well. One more thing I wanted to say too is mission distortion and mission creep, there is a slight distinction there. Mission creep is really where you’re taking on tasks that are beyond what you would normally do. So I think this kind of leaning towards maybe enforcement, that’s definitely more distortion. But the creep would be more like collaborating, sort of the meetings that you do with law enforcement. So there’s multiple aspects to it.

Len Sipes:  We meet within Washington DC, we meet with members of law enforcement every day. Everyday we’re sharing intelligence. Every day we are out there working side by side with law enforcement. We do law enforcement assistance in terms of the serving of warrants, and we just don’t work with the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington DC, we work with the housing police officers, we work with the FBI, we work with the Secret Service. So we’re constantly working, exchanging information. I’ve been on, joint patrols with our people. We call them community supervision officers here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. So, all of this is supposed to be a good thing because as you just said Adam, it extends the presence of the parole and probation officer.

He or she is not out there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but that police officer is. So oftentimes those police officers will, after going into the home, after identifying who that person is, identifying his risk level or his needs level, will come back to us and say “Look, he’s hanging out in the street corner. We think he’s hanging out with the wrong guys. We think he’s smoking pot. He’s definitely bothering the neighbors. Can you please intervene before we have to intervene?” So there’s a helping role plus a surveillance role all at the same time. Anything I’m saying Craig, that creates problems in terms of your research concerns, worries?

Craig Hemmens:  Well I think you’ve hit on all the issues. I think once we recognize that the probation and parole officers now are expected to again do more than perhaps historically they did, to have a law enforcement or a supervision function, I think that’s there, it exists. I think the partnerships with the police, as Adam had pointed out, have tremendous benefits to the community. So I think those are here to stay. I think what our research was trying to focus on was what are the variations? What are the things that some jurisdictions will allow police officers to do rather than probation parole officers? Of course, probation parole officers generally are permitted to conduct warrantless searches. Usually that’s a condition of probation for the probationer, parolee. So that’s not an issue but it’s extending that sort of warrantless search ability to police officers, who traditionally have not had it. In that sense it’s kind of turning, it’s giving them the greater authority that the probation parole officers have always had to interact with their clientele, but extending it to the police.

Len Sipes:  What was, any one of the three of you, what was after doing this research, what did you come out of it, what were your impressions, what were your fears, your hopes, your dreams when you took a look at this? I mean every state in the United States except Maryland who I’ve represented for fourteen years, every state in the country except Maryland has the right for their parole and probation agents to conduct warrantless searches of the person and of the residence of a probationer or a parolee. So obviously this is something that is in law. That certainly gives the impression that this is something they want done. What’s your impression after doing the research?

Craig Hemmens:  Well I think you’re absolutely, it’s correct, I think you’re absolutely right. For probation and parole officers, this is, they’ve always had this authority and in virtually every state. What we found that is new here, or relatively new, is extending that authority to police officers. Currently it is still only a minority of states that allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches. These thirty-three states do not allow officers to do that. But we found that at least eleven states provide police officers with essentially the same search ability, same search authority as probation and parole officers. Another four states have it in limited situations. So I’d say that while it’s a minority of jurisdictions it’s a pretty significant minority and I think it suggests there is a trend there towards extending the search authority for police officers. Again, giving them…

Len Sipes:  The right to search on the part of parole and probation has been upheld by no less than the Supreme Court, correct?

Craig Hemmens:  Absolutely. There’s no question about that, that they have that authority under the Constitution.

Len Sipes:  And courts are beginning to allow police officers essentially to do the same thing?

Craig Hemmens:  Well, it’s courts and it’s legislatures. In fact in this paper what we’ve found are that there are at least fifteen states that have statutes that have conferred some authority on police officers to conduct warrantless searches in some situations. So it’s not just the courts who sort of extended the authority of probation officers had to police officers but it’s the legislatures who obviously I think are responding to this need to have a greater presence, a greater ability to supervise offenders in the community; and I think that’s why they’re writing these statutes.

Len Sipes:  Well, then it’s probably the third time I’ve been to this point, and but it’s sort of astounding to me at the same time. Part of me understands this, part of me understands this from the standpoint of being a former law enforcement officer, part of me understands this in terms of representing Parole and Probation Agencies for a quarter of a century. So I understand how all this flows. I understand the fact that this is something you probably want done, probably something that needs to be done. But Adam, once again, how do you form that cognitive behavioral therapy relationship with a person under supervision while you’re knocking on the door saying “Hey, I’m going to bring in a cop and we’re gone to search your home, and we’re going to search your presence?”

Adam Matz:  Yeah, actually, you know what, I think a good way to think about this too is who needs to be targeted with these kinds of partnerships, particularly with law enforcement. Where does that apply particularly well? And you mentioned the risk/needs responsivity principles, and those should apply here. I mean these partnerships should really be focused on the folks who need that, you know, that real intense level of supervision. That’s really where this needs to be focused. One of the things that’s kind of interesting, this is just kind of anecdotal comments from some of the literature, but there tends to be this assertion that the presence of law enforcement officers with the probation officers, say when they’re doing a home visit, tends to solicit more respect from the probationer or parolee. In other words they tend to take their supervision a little more seriously.

So if you have an issue with a particular individual that’s sort of out of control, then law enforcement can help sort of support probation and parole. And that’s really where I think these partnerships needs to is law enforcement sort of supporting probation and parole ideally. Not for the other way around. You know, the intent shouldn’t be to give law enforcement more authority, if you will, or more inroads. It should really be based on supporting the Probation and Parole Agency. I think it’s important to keep that distinction.

Len Sipes:  We’re halfway through the program. We’re doing a program today on warrantless searches of probationer and parolees. We have three experts at our microphones today. Craig Hemmens, he is the Chair and Professor, departmental Chair and Professor at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. John Turner, he is a Doctorial student, again Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State. And Adam Matz has been by our microphone several times, always enjoy having Adam doing a program with us. He is a research associate with the American Probation and Parole Association Council of State Governments.

So Adam, I’m glad you brought that up. What we’re trying to do is focus on high-risk offenders. And that’s something that’s well substantiated by the literature. I’m assuming that even though the document really didn’t address this, I’m assuming that most of these activities, as they are in Washington DC, really are directed towards people who we’re concerned about, who pose a possible risk to public safety and that’s where the police, parole and probation interactions are the strongest, work the best and yes you’re right, in the ride alongs that I’ve been on you really do get the attention of that person under supervision when you bring a police officer into the mix.

Adam Matz:  Yeah and you know, to follow up on that, you know, really from the conversations I’ve had  and from some of the different trainings we’ve done you would think it would be based on the risk level but what I find sometimes is that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it can depend, sometimes folks just like to share a lot of information, or they do these collaboratives, and they don’t really have that focus. So really it depends. And we always have to be careful not to assume that everybody has a risk assessment or fully developed risk assessment. A lot of times that assumption’s made but it’s really not true when you get to some of these really small agencies, so it really depends.

Another thing that’s kind of interesting that I’ve noticed it’s sort of been a development is, there’s some jurisdictions, and this is pretty rare, I haven’t heard of this very much, but there’s some jurisdictions where they’ve used law enforcement as volunteer probation officers and they’ll do like curfew checks for example. That I think is kind of interesting and I wonder if that is maybe a bit too much. And I don’t know, I think that is kind of open for debate.

Len Sipes:  Well John, in the research you talked about the fact that there were some rather successful programs where, that depended upon law enforcement and parole and probation coming together as a joint endeavor. So, you did point out within the research that some of these programs have worked. I don’t think they focused specifically on warrantless searches but philosophically they’re basically saying that parole and probation and law enforcement together as a team provide some value to the community.

John Turner:  Right. That can be the case. But also it had been problematic in that there have been times when law enforcement have tried to persuade probation and parole to work with them in order to conduct warrantless searches. So that’s been one of the problems that we’ve found.

Len Sipes:  Okay, but philosophically parole and probation and law enforcement coming together, we’re basically saying it’s a good thing, Craig?

Craig Hemmens:  Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment. Again, I think information is so important to all Criminal Justice Agencies, and I think that what folks have recognized is that working together you can get a lot more accomplished, you can learn a lot more about what’s going on. Probation and parole officers are able to share a tremendous amount of information with police officers and vice versa; so I think, and they’re working to the same end, which is both, obviously assisting the offender in the community, but also providing public safety.

Len Sipes:  And Adam, you’re the one who brought up the fact that most Parole and Probation Agencies, and we’ve done shows on this in the past, have extremely high caseloads. When I talk to my counterparts throughout the country, they’re telling me a hundred and fifty to one is not unusual. Here in the District of Columbia it’s fifty to one and below for specialized case loads. But we’re a Federal Agency. We have Federal funding. Our caseloads are much more manageable than what I find throughout the country. In some cases I’ve found there to be two hundred to one. So when you have large case loads throughout the country trying to leverage whatever resources you have in terms of either supervising or trying to help the person under supervision, in many cases I can see where that Parole and Probation Agency would say, “Hey let’s partner up with law enforcement in terms of the surveillance role because there is no way that we can do an adequate job keeping everybody under tabs without the Law Enforcement Agency being involved.”

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I think that’s exactly right and I think it’s a good point. You know, that’s really what kind of brought I think, probation and parole and police agencies together, again if you will, ‘cause originally if you go back in the past a lot of the functions kind of overlap. But really it’s kind of brought folks together and I think the partnerships is a perfect opportunity. It makes complete sense. You can look at sort of the pulling levers’ ideology or methodology behind bringing different Justice Agencies together so everybody’s working together as a coordinated system. So definitely partnerships make sense, and they’re definitely a positive thing. The real thing that I think agencies need to be careful of or pay attention to is just to make sure that when they’re forming these partnerships they have some, you know, agreements together, some MOUs, something to kind of outline what the expectations are, provide some measurable goals, and really make it a coordinated approach. Not you know, sometimes informal stuff’s fine, but it’d be much more preferable if there was some structure around these, ‘cause they can be productive. There’s limited research. We’d like to know more about, you know, how or what makes them effective, what doesn’t work, and you really can’t do that unless it’s formalized. So definitely we support partnerships, we just want to get them to the next level.

Len Sipes:  The document itself, again not published as of yet, Is It Reasonable? A legal review of warrantless searches of probationers and parolees. Now help people understand this because again you’re going to get people who are very familiar with parole and probation listening to this program and you’re going to get students and professors and aides to mayors, governors, even congressional aides, in Washington, who are going to listen to this program. Part of this involves some very specific legal terms. You know, I was trained in probable cause, what leads a reasonable person to believe a crime has been committed, then you have reasonable suspicion. What some police officers use who search people on the street if they have a bulge in their pocket and they’re in a high crime area and the person is known to have been involved in criminal activity before, you can, that can provide you their reasonable suspicion in terms of searching that person. Do these terms have an impact when it comes to warrantless searches of probationers and parolees either by parole and probation agents or law enforcement officers?

Adam Matz:  They do. They’re still very much in play. If I can reference the most recent Supreme Court cases dealing with this. In US versus Knights the Supreme Court allowed police officers to search a probationer, to search his home, so because the condition, the probation condition allowed it, and they had reasonable suspicion rather than that probable cause, which as you said is a greater amount of evidence or a greater amount of indication of criminal activity. So the Knights’ decision allows police officers with just reasonable suspicion to conduct a very thorough search of a probationer’s home. In the Samson case, decided a few years after that, that came out of California, which is one of the sates that has a statute which allows police officers to conduct completely warrantless searches without even reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a parolee. And a police officer took advantage of that statute, used that statute to stop a parolee and conduct a search, again, without reasonable suspicion or any indication of criminal activity. So while most states still require at least reasonable suspicion or sometimes probable cause, there are a handful of states at this point that have eliminated that altogether and just said that warrantless searches by police officers, and this is without probation officers present, warrantless searches by police officers on their own of somebody on parole, is fine.

Len Sipes:  Do they have to have, does a parole and probation agent, and I know we’re talking about all fifty states now except the state of Maryland, parole and probation agents, do they have the right even without reasonable suspicion, they do it simply because they’re there, do they have the right without reason, without any justification to search that individual and to search the residence?

Adam Matz:  The answer in general is…

John Turner:  Some states.

Len Sipes:  John?

Adam Matz:  Go ahead John.

John Turner:  Oh I was just going to say we’ve found that in some states they do. In some states they’re allowed to search the residence or the person or even the vehicle without reasonable suspicion at all. But in the majority of states they have to have some sort of reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a search.

Len Sipes:  Okay, so in most states they do have to have reasonable suspicion. They just cannot go into a house or search a person.

John Turner:  Right.

Craig Hemmens:  Unless, and there are those states which have conditions of probation and parole which say that would include allowing warrantless searches, so if there is a probation or parole condition where essentially the offender grants his consent in advance to a warrantless search, those provisions, those conditions have been upheld by courts.

Len Sipes:  Now, but for the law enforcement side of it there seems to be a gradual increase in responsibility unless the state or the local jurisdiction specifically provides legislation saying that they can do warrantless searches without reasonable suspicion, without probable cause. There seems to be a graduated list of reasons as to whether or not police officers can do a warrantless search of the individual and of the premises.

Craig Hemmens:  That’s correct. At this point the majority of states, the mass majority, I think at least thirty three, do not allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches. But that’s thirty three out of fifty. There are at least fifteen states we’ve found, who do allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches in some situations without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Len Sipes:  But what if they have probable cause? Do they have to wait for a warrant? Can they say “I know this person’s on parole. I have probable cause but rather than play it safe and go and get a warrant, I’m just going to go into that person’s house now because I know he’s on parole and I have probable cause?”

Craig Hemmens:  Well unless the jurisdiction specifically authorizes a warrantless search, if you have probable cause, I would say no. The courts would still, typically courts allow warrantless searches if there’s probable cause and an exigent circumstance, some justification for not going and getting a warrant. I don’t think the courts have yet moved to the point where the fact of the person who’s on probation or parole is in and of itself an exigent circumstance.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Adam, in the final minutes of the program when we only have two or three minutes left of the program, does this get us back into the debate of what parole and probation officers could be, should be? I mean the overwhelming majority of the literature I read and the conversations I have are along the lines of helping that individual cross that bridge, breaking down barriers, finding a way to find the right programs for that person, ending the rate of recidivism. And on the flip side here we are talking about in many states badge carrying, gun carrying, parole and probation officers doing warrantless searches. So this will be the fourth time I’m bringing it up and the last time I’ll bring it up, but again, does this again get back to the conflict of what a parole and probation officer could be or should be?

Adam Matz:  Well, I think what it really gets at is, and what you’re getting at really is a need for a balance in the approach that officers take. And I think as you pointed out and most people know, it really does vary across the country. You have some states where it’s very much a law enforcement kind of Probation or Parole Agency and then other ones it’ll be very much social work. And we know some agencies are, you know, armed with firearms and other non-lethal weapons but other ones are not, so it really varies but I think regardless…

Len Sipes:  Just a couple seconds.

Adam Matz:  Sure. Regardless though, the opportunity here, this presents an opportunity for law enforcement and probation and parole to work together and it’s beneficial on all fronts when it’s done correctly and methodically. So you can increase protection of not only the probation and parole officer but you can also increase safety for the law enforcement and you can also help ensure the safety of the probation or parolee.

Len Sipes:  Adam, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve done a show today on warrantless searches in parole and probation. Our guest today Craig Hemmens, Chair and Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University. John Turner, a doctorial student there at Washington State, and Adam Matz, Research Associate from the American Probation and Parole Association. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Community Corrections Technology-National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center

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, back at our microphones, Joe Russo. The program today is focusing on community corrections technology. Always a joy to have Joe back at our microphones. Joe is with the University of Denver and he currently serves as the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. Joe, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Joe Russo:  Hi, Len, always a pleasure to be with you.

Len Sipes:  Always a pleasure to have you. You are by far I think one of our most popular shows that we’ve had in the past. So, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be talking about a variety of issues today, satellite tracking, we’re going to be talking about drug and alcohol testing, leveraging video conferencing, which I find really exciting, officer safety developments, and social media, the development of an issue paper with the American Probation and Parole Association. Joe, let’s start off with satellite tracking. What’s happening there?

Joe Russo:  Well, I just want to make your audience aware that NIJ, National Institute of Justice funded a project to develop standards for offender tracking systems is ongoing and approaching completion. This standard is the first of its kind and was designed by practitioners, practitioner informed process, to establish performance standards, robustness standards, safety and circumvention detection standards around these systems. These systems have been in existence for quite some time and there is no industry standard for these devices. And so NIJ thought it was important based on practitioner input and created a project to develop these standards and these are nearing completion in the new future. And the next step is we’ll be evaluating some of the test methods that we’ve developed to make sure that they’re efficient and effective and the most appropriate way to go about evaluating these tools and making sure that they’re up to par for public safety use.

Len Sipes:  And we at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, here in Washington DC, we’ve been instrumental in developing those standards, correct?

Joe Russo:  Yes. In fact Carlton Butler, who I believe recently retired from your agency was one of the members of our special technical committee and he was very instrumental in that process. Carlton was one of a number of community corrections professionals from across the country who came together regularly to discuss their needs around offender tracking technology, where the technology was lacking and what standards should be in place to protect the public.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is that, let me throw out a couple observations and tell me if I’m correct or incorrect, satellite tracking, GPS satellite tracking is exploding within this country in terms of supervising people on supervision, right?

Joe Russo:  It’s growing rapidly. I hesitate to agree that it’s exploding. I think depending on who you talk to, certainly the vendors wouldn’t say it’s exploding, or their bottom lines would be exploding as well, but it is growing, it’s definitely growing. One of the key issues in this area and one that associations or government should take a look at is really getting a good sense for the market, how many offenders are on tracking. It’s very difficult to get that number. If you talk to experts from across the country the best that they can give you are just estimates based on previous surveys and formal surveys. So that’s something that I think that the field needs. But overall when you compare it to the number of people who’re on community supervision, it’s a very small percentage. So, again, there’re many ways to answer that question, whether it’s growing, but it could be fully utilized for sure.

Len Sipes:  But I’m thinking of two major research reports, one out of Florida and one out of California that indicated dramatically lower rates of recidivism, dramatically lower rates of technical violations, and reduced rates of arrest while under supervision. So satellite tracking research, GPS research seems to be promising.

Joe Russo:  Absolutely. As you say, both the Florida studies and the California studies show reductions in recidivism. I think that like any technology or like any program, things evolve and things are dynamic. And these two studies should not be considered the be-all and end-all. I think we still, there’s still a lot of room for us as an industry, as a field, to grow academically, to understand better how GPS can best be applied to achieve the outcomes that we desire. For example, I don’t believe either study took a look at how GPS performed with or without treatment services and we might learn that GPS providing lifestyle structure combined with treatment services where needed produces an even greater effect. So, yeah, the initial research has been very promising and I think that further research is needed and it can only probably be better applied in the future.

Len Sipes:  But a standard, as I understand it from most of the research done on community corrections, is that if there is a social services component, and I know that’s vague enough to drive a bus through, but if there’s treatment involved along with the supervision package, it’s been the treatment component of it that has been particularly successful in the past. So that’s a good point. Satellite tracking combined with treatment, depending upon the quality of the treatment and the intensity of the treatment, could have us real implications for keeping people out of further activity and keeping them out of the prison system.

Joe Russo:  Absolutely. And it touches on issues, for example, in terms of dosage, what’s the appropriate dosage of satellite tracking, do people need to be on satellite for extended lengths of time, is there a point of diminishing returns. The more research we have, the more we understand the dynamics, the better we can apply that technology and get better outcomes at a better cost.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is that I’ve read a draft copy of your report in terms of the development of the technology standard, it was pretty doggone comprehensive. It was large; it was very detailed, very technical. So this is the first time that GPS and satellite tracking has been examined by the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence under the National Law Enforcement and Correction Technology Center’s system. I mean this is the first time it really has been systematically examined in terms of how people use satellite tracking, GPS tracking, and possibly what are the best uses of satellite and GPS tracking.

Joe Russo:  Yes. And we deal quite a bit on the issue in what we call the Selection and Application Guide, which is designed to help agencies interpret the technical standard and use the information in their programs across the country. So the technical standard would speak more towards performance metrics of how the technology should work in the Selection and Application Guide, as you allude to, address more of the potential applications, how is the technology used to address or to achieve the outcomes that are desired.

Len Sipes:  Is that available yet –?

Joe Russo:  Drafts are –

Len Sipes:  To the public?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Drafts are available. But all of the documents that were produced, the standard Selection and Application Guide, were recently put out for public comment in January of this year and they’re all available.

Len Sipes:  All right, so they’re still available for public comment.

Joe Russo:  The public comment period has concluded.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Joe Russo:  But those drafts I believe are still on the web somewhere.

Len Sipes:  And how do they get them?

Joe Russo:  I would go to the NIJ website.

Len Sipes:  Okay. The National Institute –

Joe Russo:  National Institute of Justice.

Len Sipes:  National Institute of Justice Website. And we’ll have the link in our show notes regarding that. Okay. The efforts to promote information sharing, one, this is I think unique, because now for the first time we’ve had literally hundreds of organizations around the Unites States and beyond, from what I understand, talking to each other in terms of how they use satellite tracking, what the pitfalls are, what the difficulties are, what the remedies are. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that came out of your effort, the fact that now people are talking to each other.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. The best way to learn is from your colleagues and from your colleague’s experiences and whatever network can kind of occur on that level is just tremendous. There’s no sense reinventing the wheel. There’s much we can learn from our colleagues, as you mentioned, across the country, across the world. The National Institute of Justice has funded some specific projects to further information sharing of the data. That’s pretty interesting. They funded the development of information exchange packet documentation, which will allow for technically data from different systems to be integrated and shared so that it could be utilized more effectively.

Len Sipes:  Really?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Yeah. And this, again, came from recommendations from our practitioner groups. And they recommended that this be developed to address two major issues, one is public safety, and the other is resource allocation. The public safety element comes into play and was illustrated very well on the recent case in Orange County, where you had two homeless sex offenders recently arrested for the murder of a prostitute, and they found out that they had committed four murders over the course of time. Now, both offenders were tracked via GPS, they were supervised by different agencies, one by the Federal US Probation, the other by California Parole.

Len Sipes:  Oh, I remember that case.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. And they were monitored by vendor equipment. But obviously living in the same area, they were both homeless, both kind of tented up together, and they had been associating for some time prior. Now, technically there’s no reason we can’t share that information, but this information currently resides in individual jurisdiction’s databases, individuals and their databases. And so part of the effort in developing this [PH 00:10:19] IETD, this information sharing mechanism, is to allow or facilitate better sharing of information. Again, it’s not the answer, but if we have a better way to share information then we can more readily make some of these connections and someone can say why are these two offenders associating for so long regardless –

Len Sipes:  Interesting.

Joe Russo:  Of who’s supervising them –

Len Sipes:  Now, also –

Joe Russo:  And regardless of what vendor.

Len Sipes:  This point of working on an automated analysis. If you talk to parole and probation people throughout the country they will tell you that GPS is really a tremendous amount of difficult work in terms of sifting through all of that data and analyzing all of that data. What does it mean? So working on an automated analysis system, what is that?

Joe Russo:  Well, basically as you say, the point is well taken. GPS is a tremendous tool, but it provides an overload of information for most agencies, too much information. And so there are techniques, there are tools that have been developed to help officers figure out what’s important and what’s not. One is the National Institute of Justice funded effort through the University of Oklahoma to develop a toolkit to help officers identify patterns of movement within their offender population that are of interest.

A lot of agencies across the country are required to review location points of their offenders on a daily basis. I mean literally point by point by point. Part of the goal of this study from Oklahoma was to develop a toolkit that would allow an officer to approve a pattern of behavior, so a daily record of location points, and then store that approval, and so the next time or the next day, if the offender has the same general pattern there’s no need to review those points. However, if there’s a divergence in that pattern then the officer is alerted to that divergence and they can look further into what divergence occurred, when did it occur, where did the offender go, and usually that is a starting point for gathering more information.

Len Sipes:  Really interesting, really interesting. The potential for protective analysis, that all falls into that in terms of what you just said.

Joe Russo:  It’s part and partial. I think that for some time agencies have been looking into thinking about big data and data mining to help them make better decisions over the years. And I believe your agency has used GIS systems to better understand how the issue of place has the relevance and a context in offender’s lives and where they work, where they live, are there services that are in those areas, can they get to services, is there public transportation for example. Use of predictive analysis has not yet reached the point of dynamic input. So we have all this wealth of information about GPS, we have a lot of offenders on GPS; we have a lot of location points not only in one jurisdiction, but across the nation; a lot offenders. So is there a way to mine all of the data to make some determinations, to create some hypotheses about is there a pattern of movement that correlates to success through revision, is there a pattern of movement or behavior that correlates to failure, are there dynamics factors that might tell you that a person is headed for failure or success.

Len Sipes:  Well, I think considering the amount of GPS being used currently and people interested in it and people looking at it, I think all of these are pretty interesting developments and really fascinating. Before we get to the break let’s start with advances in drug and alcohol testing. Fingerprint analysis?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This is an interesting approach. It was developed by a company in the UK, and basically what they’re using is a portable way of measuring the secretions from fingerprints, so fingerprint oils, sweat that gets released through your fingerprint. They’ve developed technology that’s able to analyze those secretions for drug use. So it could provide a very noninvasive, easily used, low cost alternative to your analysis.

Len Sipes:  Huh, through fingerprints?

Joe Russo:  Through fingerprints. Yeah.

Len Sipes:  That’s really interesting. Remote mobile breath analysis?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This an area that’s gained a lot of traction in recent years. There’re number of different products that have just been introduced to the market. And the idea was to kind of provide a less intrusive, less costly alternative to the secure transdermal monitoring bracelets that are existing now that are on offender’s legs. These are basically handheld units that an offender was prompted to breathe into and it takes an alcohol sample remotely. The technology confirms the identification of the offender either through photograph or facial recognition or breath print, depending on the technology, and it can note the offender’s location point via built-in GPS chips.

Len Sipes:  Now –

Joe Russo:  So –

Len Sipes:  Is this mobile breath analysis simply for alcohol or both drugs and alcohol?

Joe Russo:  Currently it’s just for alcohol.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Joe Russo:  But –

Len Sipes:  And considering the alcohol problem that we have in terms of people under supervision that’s a fairly considerable advancement.

Joe Russo:  Oh, absolutely. Alcohol’s a major contributor to crime as you know. So it’s a very important tool.

Len Sipes:  Facial thermo-patterns, tell me about that, and we’ll go to the break.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This is kind of interesting, as we go through our research in finding emerging technologies, this one crossed our desk. Basically it’s a development in alcohol testing that came from researchers in Greece. They’ve looked into thermal imaging as a way to determine whether a person is inebriated or not. So basically they’ve taken heat maps of people’s faces, people who’re sober and people who’re inebriated, and they’re able to tell through different algorithms what the characteristics of an inebriated person are. For example, they’ve determined that a person who is drunk, their nose tends to be much warmer than their forehead, and they can tell this through the thermal imaging.

Len Sipes:  Well, I can think of about a thousand bars that probably could use that equipment. Joe, let me quickly reintroduce you. Ladies and gentlemen, we were talking today Joe Russo. The show is on community corrections technology. Joe is with the University of Denver, he’s currently the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System. Joe, go ahead and continue. And like I said, I can think of not a thousand, but probably 100 thousand bars that need facial thermo-patterns technology in that bar to tell whether or not they’re drunk or not.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. Yeah. I mean it’s a pretty innovative approach, and obviously if you can make a determination about intoxication from a distance, perhaps that provides greater advantages. And there’s no telling as this technology develops whether this can be deployed at a short distance or a longer distance to determine inebriation patterns among crowds. For example, after a sporting event it might help law enforcement agencies kind of focus potentially problematic groups. So really it has a lot of potential.

Len Sipes:  How would you employ it?

Joe Russo:  I didn’t see anything in the material that talked about how this was structured. I assume it’s a thermal imaging camera, but with a telescopic type lens maybe this could really work from a wide distance. Certainly in a community corrections application it would just be a camera in front of a person, you can get a reading very quickly. So, yeah, we’ll be keeping an eye on that technology.

Len Sipes:  Now, the Holy Grail here is, I would imagine, remote – because what we’re talking about in many ways is not only dealing with technology that tells either through the fingerprints or facial thermo-patterns, but remote devices, specifically on GPS and satellite tracking devices, that could tell whether or not a person is using alcohol or is inebriated. Does any of this apply to substance abuse yet as to whether or not people under supervision whether or not you can instantly tell they’re using drugs remotely?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. There have been some companies who have delved into that area. I don’t think that they’re mature as yet. But as you mentioned, that is the Holy Grail, that’s sort of the next horizon. We’ve kind of conquered that for alcohol use and substance use is kind of the next level. And really, beyond that, I know that the practitioner groups that we talk to are going beyond illegal drugs, but they’re interested in monitoring prescription drug use, both for abuse, using too much, or not using enough, because particularly with mental health clients if they’re not on their medication –

Len Sipes:  Oh, that’s a great point.

Joe Russo:  That causes a whole myriad of problems that could easily be avoided. So one of the kind of the futuristic thinking approaches that we’ve been looking at is how do we develop tools that remotely monitor prescription drug use, again, levels to make sure that they’re taking the appropriate amount and we can avoid unfortunate situations later.

Len Sipes:  In the same sort of conundrum that we currently have today in terms of synthetic drugs, where the combinations change from time to time, I mean it would be nice to have remote devices or new devices to deal with that issue as well. Because we could be testing for cocaine, we could be testing for marijuana, we could be testing for opiates, but testing for synthetic drugs, again, when the drugs constantly change, having some sort of new devices coming in and especially mobile devices, that would be an extraordinarily interesting development.

Joe Russo:  Yeah, exactly. I mean the industry, drug testing industry, is coming with tests as quickly as they can. Obviously new tests are very research development intensive so the costs of these tests tend to be very high. But when the target keeps moving, I don’t know the answer to that. How do you develop tests fast enough to detect these ever changing compounds?

Len Sipes:  All right, I find this interesting. Leveraging video teleconferencing, people under supervision reporting in via teleconference and also the treatment and service delivery via teleconference, talk to me about that.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. We’ve seen this more and more in rural or remote settings. Agencies are exploring ways to more efficiently and effectively connect with their clients. There’re many parts of the country where clients live miles and miles away from probation offices, and this obviously becomes a very resource-intensive proposition for officers to spend hours of time traveling to see one client. Compounding that, if they live in remote areas, there’re typically no services available for them to capitalize on. So agencies across the country are looking at video teleconferencing services to try and bridge this gap. There’s one agency in rural Kansas that serves a six county area, and rather than driving miles and miles every day, they’re trying to use Skype to connect with their clients and do reporting in that way.

Len Sipes:  So we’re talking about, in terms of video, we’re talking about using their Smartphones, using their tablets?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Tablets, home computers, as long as they have internet connectivity then they can connect with their probation officer via Skype or another service.

Len Sipes:  And the same questions that that probation or parole agent would ask the person directly when they see them could be asked in terms of the provision of treatment and service delivery. I mean in terms of our own mental health caseload one of the principle questions we ask is, “Are you taking your medications? Show me your medications. Are you taking them every day? Are you taking them as prescribed?” So I would imagine that would enter into it.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. You can go through very much the same protocol that you would in an in person interview. I would imagine the only thing that might be lacking is that direct in person kind of look for effect and then things that just would not translate very well via video. But for the most part the interview protocol would remain the same.

Len Sipes:  So, but the treatment part of it, are we talking about providing treatment services via teleconference?

Joe Russo:  Well, we’ve learned that Nebraska Judicial Services is using in exactly. Again, they have a very remote rural section of their state, and rather than having offenders, again, drive miles to a central location to get services, they’ve set up video conferencing systems in the county sheriff’s departments, and offenders can just go to their local sheriff department and there’s a video set for them to take –

Len Sipes:  Ah.

Joe Russo:  [OVERLAY] classes, parenting, cognitive skill therapy, and –

Len Sipes:  Oh, that’s exciting.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Yeah. So it’s interactive and it’s a very innovative approach to a difficult problem.

Len Sipes:  And I had a recent discussion this weekend with somebody who is, and I shouldn’t identify the group at this stage of the game because they’re just developing it, but they’re talking about remote classes for correctional institutions, so all of this is really exciting. The last two issues in terms of the program, officer safety developments and a social media issue paper that was developed with the American Probation and Parole Association. Tell me about those.

Joe Russo:  Yes. Officer safety, we’ve come across two interesting items. One is the use of GPS technology for lone workers. These are workers who are out in remote settings by themselves and where safety could become an issue. These systems are deployed in industry across the spectrum. Minnesota Department of Corrections has recently explored using this for their parole agents who work out in the field by themselves. These are typically GPS tracking devices as you would think of them on an offender, but the officer carries them, they have a man-down function, a [PH 00:24:25] duress alert, where the officer can communicate back with a central monitoring station, and the officer is tracked and located throughout their travels out there in the wild. Communications are achieved either through cellular, the network, if that’s not available the technology can communicate via satellite communication so that the officer is never truly alone out there.

Len Sipes:  But that’s fascinating because it could apply to urban environments as well.

Joe Russo:  Any environment, exactly, particularly where officers are working by themselves it’s a critical concern.

Len Sipes:  And I really like the fact that it has a man-down concept to it so if a person goes into a prone position there is an immediate alert sent to a central monitoring station.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. The other neat officer safety tool that we came across, and this might be a little futuristic, but we’ve heard a presentation from researchers at MIT who developed clothing that can be used as a personal protective device. Basically they embed electronics into a jacket or outer garment that conducts electricity and energy. So the wearer is insulated, but if they activate their jacket, for example, and an aggressor touches them, they receive a shock.

Len Sipes:  Amazing.

Joe Russo:  And the idea is to provide the officer enough space and time –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Joe Russo:  To get out of a hand to hand combat type situation. So, again, for people working in the field alone, officers who don’t carry firearms, this might be an interesting to consider in the future.

Len Sipes:  Final issue – and we only have a couple minutes left – social media. Again, you’re working on in a paper with the American Probation and Parole Association about social media use. I see dozens of examples almost daily of people not just under supervision, but criminals or people of interest, going out and sitting in front of a, doing a YouTube video sitting in front of a stash of drugs and guns and talking about their exploits. So this is becoming rather common.

Joe Russo:  There’s no doubt. Social media is well established as a part of our lives in this day and age, whether we like it or not, particularly with the younger generation. So many of our offenders have this virtual presence. They maintain presence on social media. And to some extent it’s irresponsible for community corrections agencies not to explore and look at how offenders are using social media because it is such an ingrained part of life. So this issue paper that we’re developing is designed to help agencies understand what social media is, why it’s important, what offenders are doing online, again, why it’s important to monitor that activity, and some issues that they need to consider as they develop a policy about how their officers should use social media.

There are some pitfalls about social media privacy issues, how to authenticate information that they may obtain via Facebook pages, for example, of their offenders, whether to do covert investigations, for example, where the officer might pretend to be someone else, establish a false identity. All of these are issues that agencies need to consider strongly, compare them to their missions and their goals, and really develop policies so that when officers do engage in this activity it’s in direct alignment with the agency’s mission.

Len Sipes:  We were talking before the program about being able to geocode, or all photos, if you GPS enabled on your phone or tablet, evidently the photos are geocoded. So we can figure not only what he was doing, because he’s making a YouTube video, and I mean there’re all sorts of other examples, but YouTube certainly does come to mind, but also figuring out exactly where he is.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. Yeah. That’s a little known feature, and if you use a digital camera with location systems enabled you could very well be giving up your location, which of course works very well in the favor of probation and parole officers who’re trying to determine if their offender is outside of jurisdiction.

Len Sipes:  In the final 30 seconds or so. The bottom line behind all of the technology that we talked about today, Joe, is to ensure compliant behavior; is to keep people out of the prison system; is to prompt their good behavior, reduce technical violations; reduce rearrest, and reduce return to prison. So this has a fiscal note to it that could be very favorable to state and local agencies and it has research behind it that in essence says that people when they’re monitored in these ways are far more compliant and they are just doing much better on parole and probation supervision, correct or incorrect?

Joe Russo:  Exactly. It’s all about outcomes. Technology is a tool and we have to be careful not to overuse it and over-supervise low-risk offenders. Ideally, we’re using the appropriate level of technology to supervise offenders and dedicate more officer’s valuable time on those high-risk cases that demand that interpersonal connection.

Len Sipes:  And I’m really glad you brought that up, because the real focus of most of this would be the high-risk offender.

Joe Russo:  Exactly, exactly. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of applying technology across the board, but we have to really be more intelligent about how to use our limited resources.

Len Sipes:  Well, Joe, as always, I really do appreciate you coming onto the show today. And ladies and gentlemen, we did show with Joe Russo on community corrections technology. I always find it fascinating. We did discuss satellite tracking and alcohol and drug testing and teleconferencing and social media and lots of other things. Joe is with the University of Denver and currently serves as the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even your criticisms, and please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


The Impact of Criminal Justice Funding-National Criminal Justice Association

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 Lenard Sipes. Today’s show is the impact of criminal justice funding, produced by the National Criminal Justice Association. We’re going to be addressing the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. The National Criminal Justice Association represents the states and territories as the statewide criminal justice planning agencies. Today we’re looking at the tremendous impact of federal funding as to innovative programs across the country. We have three guests spread throughout the country at our microphones via Skype. We have Carlton Moore; he is the Director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. We have Jeanne Smith; she is the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice the Colorado Department of Public Safety. And we have David Steingraber; he is the Senior Policy Advisor for the National Criminal Justice Association and former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. All three, to Carlton and to Jeanne and to David, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Carlton Moore:  Thank you.

Jeanne Smith:  Happy to be here.

Len Sipes:  All right.

David Steingraber:  Yeah. Thanks, Len.

Len Sipes:  Look, this is an extraordinarily important program. We have funding, and I know there’s all sorts of different aspects to this funding, and when we say federal funding. But today we’re addressing specifically the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. This is absolutely vital to the proper functioning of criminal justice agencies throughout the country, specifically at the state and local level. And so the National Criminal Justice Association is the association that’s been fighting for these funds for decades. And the National Criminal Justice Association finds out what works, what’s innovative, what’s new, what can reduce recidivism, what can protect police officers, what can lower crime, and feeds that information to the rest of the country. David, do you want to start with it?

David Steingraber:  Sure. Lenard, as you correctly noted, there are a number of other federal justice assistance funding programs, they tend to come and go over the years, but the Byrne JAG Justice Assistance Grant Program has endured perhaps the longest and it offers the most flexibility and versatility to the states. It’s currently authorized by Congress at over one billion dollars, but the actual funding appropriations have been closer to 500 million over the years, and in recent years it’s dropped due to primarily the deficit reduction efforts on the part of Congress to something just under 400 million. But that may not, in the grand scheme of things, reflect a large portion of the funds spent across the country on the justice system. As a matter of fact, calculations would probably run somewhere around 1% to 2% of all the money spent in the justice system. But it’s that marginal money that really can make a difference in terms of allowing states to address emerging problems and to particularly deploy more effective and innovative strategies to improve the justice system.

Len Sipes:  Project HOPE in Hawaii comes to mind. This is a program that really provides drug treatment and accountability, strict accountability to people caught up on probation, the riskier probation population who was in need of substance abuse treatment. But they’ve been able to do something tremendous, they reduce recidivism tremendously, they reduce technical violations tremendously. They have a wonderful impact in terms of people successfully completing probation, not going back into the prison system. And states throughout the country are starting to pick up on this and to run with it. And they ran with it because they found out about it because of the National Criminal Justice Association and it was funded by the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. So that’s just one example of what’s happening throughout the United States in terms of innovative criminal justice programs. Jeanne, do you want to come in and talk about others? Jeanne Smith –

Jeanne Smith:  Sure.

Len Sipes:  Director of Criminal Justice Colorado Department of Public Safety.

Jeanne Smith:  Hawaii HOPE is an excellent example of a program that on its face you think this has to work, but going in and getting taxpayer money to fund it without being able to prove it works yet is the challenge. And that’s why JAG funding is so important, because it gives us an opportunity to experiment with something to be able to prove to the taxpayer entities for funding that it works. In Colorado, for instance, we wanted to change the way that probation officers and parole officers work with offenders, once again, trying to reduce recidivism. And we found that their interviewing techniques were critical to developing a rapport that would cause the offender to want to change their behavior. So we were able through JAG funding to start a center that really trained criminal justice professionals in how to work with offenders, which is not something you generally get in school. It has been proven successful to the point that the state has now come in and adopted it and it is funded through the state general fund, but it never would’ve happened if we couldn’t start the implementation as an experiment with grant funding.

Len Sipes:  Carlton Moore, you’re the Director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. Tell me and tell the audience what happens at the state level that’s the process of bringing everybody together, the process of planning jointly, everybody at the table, everybody taking a look at as to what the research has to say and using federal funding to plan for innovative programs. Tell me about that process.

Carlton Moore:  Okay. First let me just say something. We have a fire alarm going off in our building right now. So I’m going to answer your question and then see if I actually need to respond to this fire alarm or not.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Carlton Moore:  But I just want to kind of build on what Jeanne said about the ability to use Byrne JAG funds to implement things that you don’t otherwise have budgeted in local government or in state government. So here in Ohio we have a number of large cities across our state who have gang issues, whether we have gang homicide issues or felonious assault issues or gangs are responsible for a wide array of criminal justice problems that exist across our state. And so what we were able to do, one of the things that we used Byrne JAG for was to take a strategy that had been tried and true in other parts of the country and implement that here in Ohio. In some places it’s been called ceasefire or pulling levers, it’s been known as The Boston Miracle. It was first implemented here in Ohio in Cincinnati. It was called the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence. It caused a substantial reduction in gang related homicides. All these years later we’re still looking at about a 41% reduction in overall gang related homicides in the city of Cincinnati. Not only did we take Byrne JAG to copy that intervention from another state and then to implement in a single city, we then took what we learned from that city and implemented it all across our state. So in places like Toledo, in Youngstown, in Canton, and Dayton, these cities have all seen tremendous reductions in gang related homicides, and that’s all a result of, one, the network that exists actually learned about this strategy at the NCJA forum in Baltimore, and our ability to make funding decisions with Byrne JAG because of the flexibility that it provides to us to be able to quickly put programs into practice all across the state.

Len Sipes:  So the bottom line in all of this, and this is something I want the audience to know, it’s not Washington DC that’s coming up with the true innovation and the true driving force within the criminal justice system, it’s what’s happening in Cincinnati, what’s happening in Baltimore, what’s happening Honolulu, what’s happening in the different states, and to have the money to try different things, to try new ways of doing things, to be creative, and that innovation is going to come from the county level, that innovation is going to come from the city level, and that innovation is going to come from the state level. But that innovation is only possible if the money is there to try new things, correct?

Jeanne Smith:  That’s right, Len. And you touched on another point that I think is very important. That it’s not the federal government coming in and telling you how to do something. It’s giving locals and states the ability to develop their plans around what the needs are, what the challenges are in each region. Carlton just mentioned a number of cities in Ohio that were able to benefit from a particular program. There may be some cities in Colorado that could benefit from the same thing. But there are others, particularly our rural versus our more urban areas that have completely different challenges. And what they need is the flexibility to plan around their local resources and their local criminal challenges.

Len Sipes:  I noticed in the report that that’s exactly what was happening in one state in particular, assisting rural or local law enforcement agencies in less populated areas to deal with drug dealers coming out of urban areas where they’re catching some heat and going into these areas that are considered safer. Heroin comes to mind, meth comes to mind, the fact that this is happening throughout the country and this is they’re trying to figure innovative ways of taking those resources or these strategies that happen in larger urban areas and applying them to rural areas. I thought that that was pretty doggone interesting.

The report is called The Impact of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, How Byrne JAG Is Changing the Criminal Justice System, read the report from the National Criminal Justice Association. So what I’m also finding is that there’s a lot innovation, a lot of effort on two areas, number one, high crime areas, what can we do to focus police and other law enforcement resources, community resources, collaborative resources, and number two, this whole issue of offender reentry, to stop the flow of people going back into the prison systems and to see if we can safely maintain them in the community. There’s a lot of innovation around those. Project HOPE, again, in Hawaii certainly does come to mind. But there are dozens and dozens of others.

David Steingraber:  Well, Len, let me add, I think as both Jeanne and Carlton had implied, one of the great force multipliers is the fact that through the National Criminal Justice Association, information about successful programs can be made available to states who’re experiencing some of the same problems. And clearly I doubt there’s a state out there that isn’t experiencing the strain of correction budgets, their state corrections budgets and local corrections budgets. So, something like a justice reinvestment initiative that really focuses on reducing recidivism can deliver substantial benefits and I think everybody needs to learn about those success stories and be able to adopt that strategy and the programs that accomplish that.

Len Sipes:  But there is a state of the art, right? I mean the bottom line is that we at the state and local level, we are coming up with a collective sense as to what it is we should do, what is the state of the art, and we’re learning how to adapt and do better through application of state of the art related programs, through the application of research, through the application of best practices. But, again, the point is, if you don’t have the money, the budget problem within this country regarding criminal justice agencies has been tremendous. Somebody asked me a little while ago what was the most significant issue facing the criminal justice system over the course of the last ten years and I had a very quick response, budget. Law enforcement, community corrections, mainstream corrections, prosecutorial offices, juvenile justice agencies have all taken a huge hit. If it wasn’t for federal funding I don’t think we would have the innovation, because locals and county agencies and state agencies are strapped for funds. So these grant programs from the Department of Justice as coordinated through the National Criminal Justice Association they’re just not important, they’re essential.

Carlton Moore:  Yeah. I think you’re right about that. The budget problem that most states have gone through really to me it serves as a great opportunity for us, because the responsibilities that folks had prior to the budget problems have not been reduced, those responsibilities are still there. And so what we need to figure out a way to do is to take the limited resources that we do have and figure out how to make smarter investments in criminal justice. And that’s one role that the SAA can play, not only as kind of the clearing house of innovation, but at the same time, the convener of solving problems and making sure that you’re bringing all the right people to the table.

I want to give you just one little example of something that we’re doing in Ohio. Earlier you talked about smaller and rural communities and some of the difficulties that they have. The reality is that in large communities, while they do at times need a push and they certainly need support. If they’re aware of evidence-based practices or if they need analytical support, very often that is available to them if they choose to make that a budget priority. Where we see that difficulty is in smaller communities who don’t have that type of budget flexibility. So what we created in Ohio, it’s called the Ohio Consortium of Crime Science, it’s a partnership between my office and colleges and universities across the state who have expertise in implementation of evidence-based and promising practices.

And basically what we have done with this program is if you are, if, Len, if you’re the chief in a small community and you’re having a specific crime problem and you want to know if there’s something out there that can address your problem you can submit that request to my office, we have a team of experts who will review that, we’ll identify the best practice to solve the particular problem that you’re dealing with, then we will take it a step further, because we have concerns about implementation. We will hire someone to come to your community and help you implement the solution, because the one thing that we want to make sure of is this. If people have the will to implement evidence-based practices, we want to make sure that knowledge and resources are not the reasons that they don’t get an opportunity to do that.

Len Sipes:  We’re more than halfway through the program. Let me reintroduce our guests. Jeanne Smith; she is the Director Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety. We have Carlton Moore, Director Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. And you’ve done a great job, Carlton, through that smoke alarm. And we have David Steingraber; he is a Senior Policy Advisor National Criminal Justice Association and former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. The program today, ladies and gentlemen, is funding, the impact of criminal justice funding on the states, on the counties, it’s produced by the National Criminal Justice Association. But we all agree, ladies and gentlemen, that the point in all of this is that there is a state of the art.

After decades and decades of research we are coalescing around a variety of things that we believe do work, have the best chance of working. So it’s a matter of making sure that everybody at the state level, the county level, the local level, larger agencies, rural agencies, are aware of what the research has to say and the best way of implementing that and, again, that is happening because of the grant system, the federal grant system, specifically today, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. The fact that that exists allows the states to help local agencies and allows local agencies to develop innovative programs, and that’s all based upon an acknowledged state of the art, and that’s all based upon pulling in partnerships, collaborations, everybody coming together, everybody looking at the table, having that argument, having that discussion, and coming to agreements, right?

Jeanne Smith:  Absolutely.

David Steingraber:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  You know? And where do we go to from there? I mean when I started in the criminal justice system as a Maryland state trooper 40 years ago, we had no clue as to what was happening in Ohio, we had no clue as to what was happening in Colorado. And so we have now this general consensus in law enforcement, in corrections, in juvenile justice. Within the court systems here seems to be an emerging bubble of knowledge that all of us can pretty much agree on.

Carlton Moore:  [OVERLAY] –

Jeanne Smith:  I think that’s –

Carlton Moore:  I’m sorry. Go ahead, Jeanne.

Jeanne Smith:  I think that’s really true to the extent that there are certain practices that have been shown to be very effective; others along the way have been discarded because they’ve been shown to be ineffective. One of the benefits for Byrne JAG funding is that it can be used for assessment and evaluation. You talked earlier about the budget limitations and how that has really caused a new look at the justice system and how we’re spending our funding, but it is also constrained funding things beyond direct services, because when you only have one dollar you’ve got to make sure that dollar is going to get a direct benefit.

Len Sipes:  Sure.

Jeanne Smith:  So you discard things like assessment planning and evaluating, because those don’t have the immediate payback that you see for a direct service. So with the JAG funding we’re able to go in and assist with dollars that will assess a program and evaluate whether or not it’s working, and then through the auspices of NCJA and others, share that information, not just on the successes, but on the failures, so we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.

Len Sipes:  And that’s so important, because that’s what we’ve done throughout the criminal justice system, is we’ve been on our own. And now through federal funding and now through the National Criminal Justice Association we know what’s going on in probation or law enforcement or juvenile justice. So if there’s, if Juneau, Alaska needs to come to grips with a law enforcement issue, they could turn to the National Criminal Justice Association, they can turn to the other statewide criminal justice planning agencies and find out what the best fit is for their particular situation. David?

David Steingraber:  Well, I, like you, have a long history in law enforcement. And I do have to say this, the situation we’re faced with today offers a great deal more in at least a potential ability to share information. I think that where there’s a willingness to kind of look at innovative ways I think the tools are there to do it. I think Carlton kind of summed it up. The budget constraints we’re dealing with right now are likely to become the new normal. And in that context we’ve got to kind of reinvent the way we approach things and that provides the motivation to look for innovative and evidence-based practices. And at least it is my hope and my belief that the National Criminal Justice Association, which is really a collective effort by all the state planning agencies, to kind of provide that resource, both in the way of direct technical assistance in areas like planning and evaluation, and then just sharing information about successful programs such as the document that you’ve referred to several times, is a good example of highlighting the programs that have worked across the country.

Len Sipes:  But there’s been an almost continuous 20 year reduction in crime. Now, for those of us who lived through the 60s and the 70s and the 80s, for those of us who were in the criminal justice system the entire time, it almost seemed at a point where it was hopeless, crime rates were going up year after year after year, and now for the last 20 we’ve had an almost continuous decrease. And I understand fully that in some cities throughout the country and in some urban areas throughout the country, people just have no recognition of any crime reductions at all. And I understand that crime is still a problem within the United States, but there’s been a huge reduction across the board, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and according to the FBI, two national measures of crime in the United States, has been, again, both indices indicate an almost 20 year continuous reduction in crime. And I think that’s because we’ve gotten smarter, we’ve gotten better, we’ve done a better job of passing information on. And, again, that’s one of the reasons why I like the National Criminal Justice Association as much as I do. You’ve got to share the successes as to what’s happening. If you’ve got a great program, again, not to beat the horse to death, but Project HOPE in Hawaii that has huge reductions in recidivism, if you have a program like that you need to get the word out.

David Steingraber:  Well, and let me say that National Criminal Justice Association really delivers the message in both directions. We like to let those out in the field know what’s working. But Congress and the funders of this program also need to know what’s effective and the importance and significance of the Byrne JAG funding. And I think NCJA is the collective voice of not just the state planning agencies, but the broad criminal justice community as a whole is really important, because Congress needs to learn about what’s working.

Len Sipes:  But does everybody understand that? Carlton, go ahead.

David Steingraber:  Does everybody understand what [INDISCERNIBLE 00:24:08].

Len Sipes:  Carlton, go ahead, please.

Carlton Moore:  Oh, I was just going to talk on a little bit of a different topic, kind of piggybacking on what David was talking about. And that is, you know this movement towards looking at the research and the movement towards evidence-based practices, that movement in terms of the grant programs has also the effect of changing the field. So it’s kind of a cultural shift in terms of people saying, “Well, look, this is the direction that criminal justice is moving, and so I need to move in that direction, because that’s also the direction resources are moving.” And we want to be responsible to those who provide the funding, to Congress, to let them know that we’re making good investments out in the field and that we’re doing our best to reduce funding of programs that do not work and continue to fund programs that do work. And I just want to talk about just one program in Ohio called the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium. And this is a collaboration of the eight largest cities in Northern Ohio. And when we started this program back in I think it was 2006 or 2007 that this started very few of the agencies had analytical support.

And now when we go to a meeting and start talking about implementation of some strategy, it’s not me, it’s the chiefs in the room, it’s the sheriffs in the room, it’s the people from the US Attorney’s Office. And the first thing that we’ll talk about is how to identify this as a problem, so where’s the evidence that there is a problem, what is the solution that we’re looking at, if we have a solution in mind, is it evidence-based, and we’re also looking at what – and we’re getting that information from the analysts; the analysts who in many of these organizations didn’t exist six or seven years ago, and now all of these organizations have made this change where the analysts play an important role in the organization. Not just people who’re off in a room together, but they play a role in terms of when the cops in the street are asking for analytical support and, “Where’s the proof and where do we need to go?”. So this has made an enormous change or impact in resource allocation as well, not just in funding, but where do people put their people in order to solve problems in their communities.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s it, information sharing, getting the word out to everybody else throughout the country. We only have a couple minutes left. Any final conclusions from everybody as to what this means in terms of federal funding, what the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program means to everybody, what planning means to everybody, what everybody coming together and sitting at the table and forging an agreement and getting that information out to states and localities throughout the country, anybody have any final conclusions as to all that?

Jeanne Smith:  Len, just to get back to the point you were making about the crime rates in the 70s and 80s and how that drove public policy – generally, the policy it drove was incarceration, and that’s a very costly remedy. What we have done with a lot of the programs funded through Byrne JAG is to show that there are other alternatives at various points in the criminal justice system, from prevention all the way through to reducing recidivism after a prison sentence. What we’ve done is be able to show that there are alternatives, there’s a better way to do things. We don’t have to do it the same way we’ve done it for the last 20 to 30 years.

Len Sipes:  Well, we do want to improve the criminal justice system, we do want to lessen the burden on taxpayers and yet at the same time create a more effective criminal justice system, and I think that’s what we’re beginning to do. David?

David Steingraber:  Well, let’s remember the criminal justice system needs to be measured in qualitative terms as well as quantitative terms. I mean it’s a unique system in that we are really needing to function within a constitutional framework, guarantees the rights and due process for everybody. So I think there’s, I think we’re in an environment right now where it’s sort of the perfect storm where we can make all this happen. But I think we still have to, I think the reality is there still is some dogma out there in terms of what works and how to deal with crime, and I think we just have to keep hammering away at it. I hope Congress gets the message that the investment, however limited it is in Byrne JAG funding, is a great investment in helping the states address their criminal justice issues.

Len Sipes:  We only have like ten seconds. It’s essential. The funding level is essential, correct?

David Steingraber:  Absolutely.

Carlton Moore:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  All right, I want to thank everybody for being with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, our guests have been Jeanne Smith, a Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety; Carlton Moore, the Director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services; and David Steingraber, the Senior Policy Advisor National Criminal Justice Association and former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Office of Criminal Justice. I’d like to thank everybody. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Pretrial in America-Pretrial Justice Institute-Pretrial Services for D.C.-National Award Winner

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. Today’s show, ladies and gentlemen, pretrial in America, and a topic that I think has great importance to each and every one of us in the criminal justice system. Cliff Keenan the Director for Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia, he’s here, Spike Bradford, he is the ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, And to Cliff and to Spike, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Spike Bradford:  Thank you, Leonard.

Cliff Keenan:  Glad to be here.

Len Sipes:  All right, this is a topic that is misunderstood, this is a topic that I think a lot of people do not have a clear sense. But the bottom line behind the pretrial services movement in the District of Columbia and throughout the country is that the person is innocent until proven guilty. A wide variety of conferences, people came together back in the 60s to establish the fact that unless it’s necessary from a public safety point of view, a person should be released before trial. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  Leonard, I think you’re absolutely right. In fact, the conference you’re referring to was convened by then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who in May of 1964, so almost 50 years ago, convened judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, scholars, academics to look at the issue of bail in America. And this is what he said on the opening day of that conference. He said, “There is a special responsibility on all of us here, a special responsibility to represent those who cannot be here, those who are poor, those who are unfortunate. The 1.5 million persons in the US who are accused of crime, who haven’t been yet found guilty, who are yet unable to make bail and serve a time in prison prior to the time that their guilt has even been established; for those people, for those who cannot protect themselves, for those who are unfortunate, we here over the period of the next three days have a special responsibility.” On the last day of that conference this is what he said. And keep in mind, this is Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and this is five months after his brother was assassinated –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  Focusing America’s attention back then on the issue of bail in America. This is what he said, “What has been made clear today in the last two days is that our present attitudes towards bail are not only cruel, but really completely illogical. What has been demonstrated here is that usually only one factor determines whether a defendant stays in jail before he comes to trial. That factor is not guilt or innocence, it is not the nature of the crime, it is not the character of the defendant, that factor is simply money. How much money does the defendant have?”

As a result of that conference, Congress back in 1966 passed the Bail Reform Act, which greatly changed at the federal level and for the District of Columbia the way persons were going to be treated in their pretrial context. They were moving away from money as being the sole determining factor and looking more towards whether or not a person posed a danger either to the community or a flight risk. As a result of the Bail Reform Act, the DC Bail Agency, the precursor to the Pretrial Services Agency, for which I’m now the Director, was created, and we have seen many changes over the years. And here in the District we’re happy to say that money is not a factor in terms of persons who’ve been charged with the crime but not convicted yet. Those persons are not being held at the jail because they don’t have money the way Bobby Kennedy recognized. Those persons are either detained because a judicial officer has found that the person is a flight risk or a danger to the community, or more likely, they’re released on personal recognizance or released to Pretrial Services and we provide the supervision and services that the need.

Len Sipes:  And I do want to go over the fact that within the District of Columbia the people who remain arrest free for any crime, 88%, people who remain arrest free for violent crimes, 98%, people who make all scheduled point appearances, all scheduled court appearances, because there are many, 87%. Your statistics indicate that you can provide that constitutional mandate of innocence before guilt, of pretrial based upon dangerousness rather than the ability to post money, and at the same time, making sure that people show up and that they show up arrest free during that period of supervision. So the Pretrial Services Agency in the District of Columbia has proven itself time after time to be certainly one of the premier pretrial services agencies in the country.

Cliff Keenan:  That’s correct. I mean we are unique, because we are a federal law enforcement agency, so we do receive our funding through OMB and from Congress. Unlike many other jurisdictions where either a county or state is responsible for this responsibility, under the DC Revitalization Act of 1997, our function, as well as probation, parole functions, the court functions, those all became part of the federal system. However, what we have found, as you point out, is the system that we have is not only fair to the individual arrestees, i.e. the defendants who are pending trial, but it’s also proven to be safe for the community as well as for the fair administration of justice.

Len Sipes:  Spike Bradford, Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, you’ve heard Cliff go off on his monologue, which I agree with. I buy into single word.

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Do you have any response, any reaction?

Spike Bradford:  Well, first of all I mean we know that DC Pretrial is a stellar organization in doing things that so many other jurisdictions across the country are not. And at Pretrial Justice Institute we typically frame the issue as what are the problems in pretrial in America, which, unfortunately, there are many, and what are the solutions. And there are two primary problems as we see them, both of which DC has been able to mostly overcome. The first one is that in jurisdictions across the country most of the detention and release decisions pretrial are based on money.

Len Sipes:  Right. Now why is that? Considering everything that Cliff’s just run through, the majority of pretrial releases within the United States are not based upon dangerousness to the community, and not based upon a monetary bail, but in the majority of the country they are. So why is that? Is it the rest of country doesn’t get it?

Spike Bradford:  I mean I wouldn’t say that they don’t get it, they just don’t get it yet, we hope in our work. We have a long history of associating money with pretrial release in this country and, unfortunately, we don’t have a huge bank of research that shows that that works. Really, when we do the research we find that there’s no correlation between the amount of money someone can pay to the court and the risk that they pose either of not coming back to court or being rearrested during the pretrial period. So, so much of the release and detention decision is made on money and not risk, which just has numerous outcomes, you’ve got over 60% of local jails in the country are full of pretrial detainees, those people who’ve been arrested and booked but not convicted of that charge yet. So that’s a lot. I mean that’s over 60% of people in jail who are also associating with convicted people in jail are of a pretrial status. But the converse side of that is that you have high-risk defendants, people who when we do test them score a higher risk of being rearrested or not showing up to the court, they’re getting out.

Len Sipes:  Because they can make the monetary bail.

Spike Bradford:  Because they pay their bail. Yeah.

Len Sipes:  So then I mean in the District of Columbia we take a look at dangerousness and everybody else is taking a look at the dollar unless there’s a no bail provision?

Spike Bradford:  I wouldn’t say everybody else. I mean there are definitely jurisdictions across the country, some states, some counties that are doing it closer to the way that DC does it. And that’s the way that we’re hoping things are moving across the country is that people are realizing, one, jail is expensive and our jails are full of pretrial detainees, so how can we change that, and two, there’s new science out that shows that so many high-risk defendants are getting out just because they pay their way. And there’s wonderful new research that shows that even a short stay in pretrial detention, one or two days, increases negative outcomes like being rearrested, recidivism, up to two years after your offense is cleared.

Len Sipes:  But when we have 98% of people in the District of Columbia who have been charged with violent crimes, they remain arrest free through that process, 98%. I mean that’s basically showing that you can manage these individuals on pretrial and not have them get involved in a lot of crime. Some crimes it’s inevitable. Some of our people who are supervised by us on a pretrial basis or on a parole and probation basis, through my agency Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, it’s inevitable that some individuals are going to find their way back into the criminal justice system by arrest during their periods of supervision. But this is astounding. 98% arrest free for violent crimes in the District of Columbia. So it can be done, it’s being proven in the District of Columbia. Is it a matter that we are federally funded, Cliff, and we have the resources and we have the staff and we have the ratios? We even have money for treatment. We have money that other pretrial agencies will never have. Is it a matter of money, or is it a matter of philosophy, is it a matter of management, or all three?

Cliff Keenan:  I think it’s all three, but it’s also culture, Len. Many jurisdictions, as Spike alluded to, have been using a money bond schedule probably for generations, and it’s very hard for judges, many of whom in some jurisdictions are elected, so they’re worried about making a decision that a person who he or she releases may end up doing something bad on the outside. Many judges are probably reluctant to move away from a system that they have been using for many, many years. The Unites States and the Philippines, as far as I know, are the only two countries left in the world which still utilize some form of commercial surety. And commercial surety, for those who don’t know it, that’s where if a judge imposes a $5,000 bond and if the person doesn’t have the $5,000 personally they could secure the services of a commercial bond company to put up, usually for 10% of the bond amount, an insurance policy in order to get the person out of jail. So it’s very, very much a commercial activity, which has, again, been in place for many, many years. Our jurisdiction, Kentucky, Colorado, there are number of jurisdictions which are moving away from a straight up bond schedule. But once again, you’re dealing with judges and prosecutors and defense attorneys who are accustomed to doing things the way they’ve always been done and changing that culture along with having the resources to put in place probably contribute to some of the length of time it’s taken to get change.

Len Sipes:  There’s a wide variety of organizations out there that have contributed to the pretrial movement since the 1960s. But in essence, it says the standards use the least restrictive conditions of release that reasonable will assure the defendant’s appearance in court and protect public safety. Now, is that a constitutional right to the least restrictive pretrial arrangements? Or it’s obviously not, because we have hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the country being in violation in of the constitution. Where does the constitutionality of pretrial stand for pretrial release?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, the constitutionality, again, I mean at the federal level, that what you just read is basically written into the federal law as well as the DC law. Many jurisdictions, if not most, also have the same language within the statute, which give to the judicial officer who has the responsibility for making that release or detention decision. There should be presumption of starting point that release because of the presumption of innocence should be what is triggered first. Once again though, in many jurisdictions, which do rely upon schedules, if the charge is burglary, the bond schedule which has been put in place by that court system could be $5,000 –

Len Sipes:  Right,

Cliff Keenan:  And the judges don’t look at the individual, they don’t look at the individual’s ties to the community, they don’t look at the individual’s potential risk based upon substance abuse, mental health issues, prior criminal record, doesn’t look at the employment history of the individual. They see the 5,000 dollar amount as being tied to that charge and that’s what they go with.

Len Sipes:  So, Spike, you think that this is simply the way that we’ve done business throughout the Unites States for the last couple century and we’re so inculcated with that way of doing business that we can’t see a pretrial release model?

Spike Bradford:  I think that’s a lot of it. I mean a lot of the questions that I get when I start talking about moving away from a money-based release decision are just, “Well, if we don’t charge them money, what do we do?” And the answer to that really is a number of things. We sort of we measure their risk along those two measures. Are they going to come back to court and are they likely to be rearrested pretrial? And then we have a graduated system where really low-risk people can just get out on a promise to return, maybe they get court date reminder via text or e-mail or something like that. Medium risk folks might have supervision or monitoring. They have to someone like Cliff in Cliff’s office. They might have GPS monitoring and ankle bracelet. Really, truly, people who measure to be dangerous, and particularly for violent crime, we support preventive detention. And a lot of states don’t really actually have that statute where you can detain someone without bail. So what they typically do in lieu of that is they just throw out a huge number and hope that that person can’t meet it.

Len Sipes:  In essence what we’re saying is, “Let’s judge that individual who’s been arrested based upon his or her dangerousness, let’s not judge that person based upon their ability to put up 10% of the bail amount.” Is that what we’re saying?

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely. And –

Len Sipes:  Well, that seems to be awfully commonsensical.

Spike Bradford:  Well, you would think so, but there really is a tie to money. I think people just really, really are tied to using money, and we want to move that towards the understanding of risk.

Len Sipes:  We’re more than halfway through the program talking about pretrial in America. We’re talking to Cliff Keenan, Director of Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia,, . We’re also talking to Spike Bradford; he is the ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute,, Gentlemen, in most of the conversations I’ve had with individual citizens throughout my 25 years representing correctional agencies it has been, “Why in the name of God is this person back on the street? He was arrested. I saw him assault Mr. Smith five hours ago and he’s back in the community. Why in the name good God is he back in the community?” And then they pick up the phone and then they call me and then we have to get into a discussion as to what pretrial is and what pretrial is supposed to be. So what do we say to people? I mean the guy’s back in the community five hours later. We saw him assault Mr. Smith down the street, but he’s been released on pretrial. Cliff, how do we justify that to the average person?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, I’m going to ask Spike in a moment to address it, because I know that PJI has actually done some market surveys asking regular people their impressions about pretrial release and the use of bail and risk assessments and that sort of thing. But I know here in DC we have a number of community courts. So we have the community court judges, we have the prosecutor, the defense, and pretrial, and other actors in the criminal justice system go out to community meetings. And that question is often first on the mind of the citizen –

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Cliff Keenan:  Saying, “This person continues to come back time after time.”

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  The most important thing is making sure that citizens understand and appreciate the American criminal justice system, starting with that presumption of innocence. And the judges and the defense attorney and the prosecutors and we at pretrial remind them, “If you or one of your family members were arrested and charged with an offense, wouldn’t you want that same presumption of innocence? Wouldn’t you want the ability to be able to be free pending the case’s disposition in court in order to be able to help prepare your defense, in order to continue working, to continue caring for your family, without having to worry about putting up thousands of dollars for a cash bond or a surety bond that you may not be able to meet?” And when you put it in that perspective, they say, “Well, I could see it in that situation, but, again, this guy who continues to litter my property –”

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  “Or deposit trash.” They don’t have the same tolerance level for that. So I think in a philosophical way most people would agree. But when they’re talking about the recurring nuisance or the frequent flyers we call them here, that’s a separate issue, and I’m not sure that that’s the vast majority of people who’re being held without bond in the jails around the country.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you want to take a shot at what seems to be on every citizen’s mind, the idea of people who just get out time after time after time and come back to the community?

Spike Bradford:  Well, sure. I mean Cliff had mentioned the polling that Pretrial Justice Institute did almost two years ago, and we’re getting ready to do that polling again in this next year. So we talk to just normal people and ask them questions about pretrial and risk and commercial bail bonding and that kind of thing. And what I think was most surprising from those findings were that, yeah, people want dangerous people to stay in jail and people understand we can’t hold everybody in jail. But when you say to them, “What do you think about using a risk assessment to measure a defendant’s risk and then base their release on that measure?” They say, “Isn’t that what you’re doing? How are we doing it now? Why aren’t we measuring risk?” They’re really surprised.

And, again, I think there’s a tendency to associate money with risk, but we know that that doesn’t correlate. So it’s not a really hard sell, once you do the sort of ground level education to people, say, “This is what we’re doing now. This is what it looks like with risk.” And you get a lot better outcomes and you don’t have our jails full of primarily poor people, low-risk poor defendants who are just there because they can’t afford to get out.

Len Sipes:  Our bottom line is to individually assess every person that comes into the criminal justice system and to individually assess that person on a variety of factors, but certainly one of them being the danger to community. If the person presents a clear and present danger to the community there’s no problem in terms of detaining him until trial, but that does not apply to the vast majority of people that come into the criminal justice system. Very few people fall into that clear and present danger category. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  You’re correct. And, again, when we did a very informal analysis last year to try to address this very question, at the time there were 2,300 persons who were detained at the jail and its various facilities, including its halfway houses. Out of that 2,300 we estimated about 300 were true pretrial defendants who had a single charge pending against them. And for the most part those were individuals charged with murder, assault with intent to kill –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  Serious, serious violent offenses.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  The rest of the individuals so 2,000 of them were charged with already having been parole violators, they were being held for probation violations, they were multiple offenders, there were things other or they were sentenced, there were other factors holding them. And when you compare that number, so slightly more than 10%, with what PJI statistics show that over 60%, if not more, of jail arrestees around the country are pretrial defendants, that’s astounding, it’s astounding.

Len Sipes:  Yes. It is. All right, so the bottom line is if done right it works the vast majority of the times. It’s never going to be perfect. We understand that. We in the criminal justice system understand that it will never be perfect better than anybody else. But the overwhelming majority of the people who are on pretrial throughout the United States do show up for their court appointments. And that’s the whole idea, right, Spike?

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely, absolutely. I mean I think we instantly sort of get an image of an arrestee that’s the worst of the worst, but honestly you or I could be arrested today and the chances are overwhelmingly that we’re going to make our court appointments. We don’t want any more disruption in our lives than possible. One thing I wanted to say about risk assessments, pretrial risk assessments is that what’s exciting right now is there’s a whole bunch of new science about how to do them and what’s important. And the way that they’ve been done and created previously has been consensus based.

So a bunch of players from a jurisdiction all get around a table, judges, prosecutors, everybody in the system, and they say, “Well, what do you think is important? What are important factors for returning to court or for community safety?” And these people have wealth of experience. That’s fine. But when you sit down and you actually take data from previous cases and you run that and say, “Well, who came back? Who didn’t? Who got rearrested?” Those set of factors from the consensus model towards the evidence-based model are quite different. For example, how long have you been in the community? You would think, well, a stable community person, that makes you more likely to comply.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Spike Bradford:  Scientifically, that’s very low on the list. How many kids do you have? Nope, doesn’t really show up statistically –

Len Sipes:  What does show up?

Spike Bradford:  On the list of factors. Sort of there’s a short list of static factors that are the most relevant, and they are. What’s your current charge? Have you been arrested for a violent felony? Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor? How many failure to appear warrants have you had? And how many convictions have you had? And there’s a few more that I can’t recall right off my head. But what’s interesting is that they’re all static factors that most jurisdictions keep data. And you can really just punch it in a computer and get a score. Now that score should be used to inform a decision by a person about what happens to that individual.

Len Sipes:  What percentage of defendants, what percentage of jurisdictions are individually assessing defendants as they walk in through the door, do you have a guess?

Spike Bradford:  If I had to guess, I mean it is a very small percentage, I would say 10%. There’re over 3,000 counties in the United States, and we did a survey a few years ago that showed there were 300 pretrial services programs. Now that’s different from using risk, they had a legitimate program. And it’s not just the small percentage that are using risk, there’s even smaller percentage that have a validated risk assessment tool which has gone through a process to really show that it’s reliable and replicateable.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you want to come into the conversation?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, one important thing that I think we need to keep in mind when we’re talking about a validated risk assessment or any risk assessment instrument is the fact that this is a predictive tool, it is not something that will guarantee a person will not fail while on pretrial release. It’s a predictive tool, and many judges, many prosecutors, even though they understand the science associated with having an evidence-based statistically validated risk assessment, still ask the question, “Well, can you assure me, can you promise me this person is not going to screw up if released?” And then answer is no.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s impossible.

Cliff Keenan:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  It is utterly and completely impossible to make a promise like that.

Cliff Keenan:  But there are expectations, and for some jurisdictions, who have relied upon the way of doing business, they’ve always done it, they’re willing to basically go with the way they’ve always done it, because nobody can make a promise or an assurance that would necessarily satisfy them.

Len Sipes:  Well, when I take a look at your report, which is up on your website, when I take a look at people who remain arrest free doing pretrial release, and it’s violent crimes in 98%, that’s pretty close too. I guarantee that 98% of the violent remain arrest free doing the period of pretrial release. And that the overwhelming majority close to 87, close to 90%, 87% make all scheduled court appearances. So once again, gentlemen, I ask the eternal question. If we’re doing this in the District of Columbia and we’re doing it well, again, we’re not promising 100% accuracy 100% of the time, that’s impossible to deliver, but if we’re doing it this well and we’re not relying upon monetary bail, why isn’t everybody else throughout the country embracing what it is that we’re doing? There’s got to be a reason.

Spike Bradford:  I think what we’ve got already.

Len Sipes:  Tradition.

Spike Bradford:  Tradition, sort of cultural norms. And I think it’s institutionalized. And pretrial reform I think is moving faster than a lot of sort of other institutional reforms, healthcare, education, things like that, where we know there are a group of people with science behind them that have a good direction. It’s just a matter of education, getting out there. Exciting thing that’s happening is Bureau of Justice Assistance and PJI is the initiative coordinator for this project called Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative and applications are being accepted now for this pilot program. So they’ll be going to three jurisdictions in the country to sort of set up a model system to get a risk assessment tool going and to use supervision and monitoring as well as some other conditions that are in that program. So we’re pushing out the good model and it’s just going to reach critical mass soon I hope, especially with the increased awareness of over-incarceration and all the money that gets wasted. And we spend over nine billion dollars every year detaining pretrial defendants when a vast majority of those could be supervised in the community.

Len Sipes:  We’ve got a minute and a half left. I hear this all the time from everybody within the criminal justice system. It costs millions; tens of millions of dollars to run jails, only put the people who pose a clear and present danger to the community in the jails, everybody else put out under pretrial supervision. That will save cities, counties, states literally billions of dollars over time. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  You are absolutely correct. And the unfortunate thing is it is taking 50 years since the first bail reform conference, but I do applaud Attorney General Eric Holder who three years ago now convened the second bail reform conference, and a lot of the pretrial reform that you’re seeing taking place recently is certainly due to him and the work of the Pretrial Justice Institute in making sure that this stays on everybody’s radar.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you’ve got 30 seconds, you got the final word. What’s your sense of all this, conclusions? I’m sorry, Spike.

Spike Bradford:  Okay. Oh, wow! So, yeah, I mean I would agree with Cliff that the tide is moving in the right direction, it’s been 50 years. We have a group called the Pretrial Justice Working Group along with BJA. It’s over 150 organizations that are all working towards this same goal of moving from money to risk safe effective pretrial systems.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, I can’t tell you how important this topic is, pretrial in America. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had Cliff Keenan the Director for Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia,, and Spike Bradford, ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]