Archives for February 2016

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Successful Parole and Probation Practices-DC Public Safety Television

Successful Parole and Probation Practices-Transcript

DC Public Safety Television

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Nancy: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Nancy Ware. Today’s show focuses on successful supervision practices across the country. We have four directors of state parole and probation agencies attending a conference at The National Institute of Corrections in Washington, DC and they are here to discuss what works in parole and probation to prompt successful case completions and to protect public safety. My guests for the first half are, AnMarie Aylward, the Assistant Secretary for Community Corrections Division at the Washington State Department of Corrections.

She has several decades of experience in the criminal justice field in varying capacities and has expertise in the transition of offenders and the management of sex offenders. We also have Russell Marlan, the Deputy Director for Field Operations in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Deputy Director Marlan has over two decades experience in corrections including servicing as a former probation officer and working inside a correctional facility, where he served as a department’s public information officer. AnMarie and Russell, welcome to DC Public Safety.

AnMarie: Thank you Nancy.

Russ: Thank you Nancy.

Nancy: We want to start the show today, first of all talking a little bit about what is community corrections exactly and what is it that you two do? Then we go into some of the barriers, some of the successes that you’ve had. Can you tell us a little bit about what you see community corrections, how we should define it?

AnMarie: I can start by just talking that community supervision is a host of different activities whether someone is releasing from prison after a period of confinement, releasing from jail or releasing directly from the courts and in my experience in Washington State and talking to other states across the country, is that it’s a very complex system. When any of us and even today when we are talking about community supervision, we are really talking about very different pathways, very different practices from state to state and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It’s important that we articulate and be more specific about what we are talking about. In my case we are talking about the supervision of persons under our jurisdiction in the community across the State of Washington.

Nancy: Okay and in Michigan?

Russ: It’s pretty much the same in Michigan. We have people on parole after they leave prison transitioning back to their home communities, after they’ve served a prison sentence. We have probationers, people who are placed on probation supervision instead of prison or after a prison sentence. We have a variety of people we supervise in Michigan as well.

Nancy: In your capacity, how do you see the whole re-entry of initiatives you’ve put in place benefiting those folks who are under your supervision? We start off with you Russ.

Russ: Re-entry is something that’s key. When I started with the department, 23 years ago, we did not have a re-entry program. We had no re-entry services. The philosophy was, you’ve served your time in prison, you are out, do the right thing. Follow the rules, follow the conditions. I knew there were people that reported to me as a parole officer that I knew when they left my office they were going to do something that was not pro-social and I had no resources to address that. In the era that we are in now I think most states have prisoners re-entry programs, where we identify what the key barriers are for people who leave prison and are returning home.

We provide services to help them address those barriers. Some of those for us are housing, a safe stable home environment, transportation to get to job interviews and other scheduled treatment appointments, and to see your parole probation officer. Mentoring is something that is important, to have a mentor that helps them engage in some pro-social activities when they are not at work or doing other things. Substance abuse treatment and other kind of cognitive based programs are also very important.

Nancy: AnMarie?

AnMarie: I think Russ is absolutely right. Re-entry has been with us for a long time and there’s been a lot of fits and starts about what re-entry really is. I think in this period of time, we are really at that place where data is driving us and data is really leading us to make good decisions and good use of resources. I know Washington State is very concerned about our finite resources and how we can use them to the best effect as are other states in the country. We are at a point in time where data can really inform our practices and inform our decisions and that really translates to best use of referrals, best uses of resources that are available in the state which really improve re-entry services across the continuum.

Nancy: Given that, what are some of the barriers that you face every day in trying to work with that population?

AnMarie: The barriers are as many as there are opportunities. I think sometimes Nancy, the issue is that it’s hard and depending on what pathway the person on jurisdiction is from, it maybe fear. It maybe the fear of falling back. It maybe not really knowing what the right thing is to do and that gives community supervision officer, community corrections officer, the opportunity to really assist and to help someone be pro-social and make some good choices. In other cases you really need to be on accountability and surveillance. There is really multiple rules which make a pretty complex system a little bit more complicated, but I think at least I’m familiar with staff who really take that to a level of professionalism, are really proud of the work they do and the work hard they do every day.

Nancy: Yeah, I’ve heard great things. Russ?

Russ: Well, in Michigan, our mission statement for the Michigan Department of Corrections is to create a safer Michigan by holding the offenders accountable and promoting their success. I think for years we were very good at the holding offenders accountable part and something that has been kind of an evolving thing for us is the promoting their success part. We’ve learned, I think, from the days many years ago where it was let’s get tough on crime but that didn’t work so much and now you hear the smart on crime tag line. We also recognize the mental health issues, the substance abuse issues, the abuse that’s happened in the homes of these offenders that the encouraging their success and targeting the data and using that data to drive our decisions and programs to something that we are seeing equate to lower recidivism and safer communities.

Nancy: Well, you both mentioned data. I think I’d like to hear a little bit more about how you use research and data to guide some of the work you do both for those folks that are coming out of prison but also for folks who are just under supervision, in the community already.

AnMarie: It’s a great question and one of the basic ways to do it is just to be able to instill a level of data collection across the continuum so that you can take a pulse point. You can understand how is this practice or policy being implemented in different areas so that we can learn best practices from other areas. If someone is being successful, then what are they doing specifically and how can that be shared with other entities that are really struggling with whatever the policy or practice is. At some level just having data available to line level staff as well as policy makers making that decision is useful, so it’s all kind of outcome measures as well as those demographics on how often is an offender coming in? How often are they being tested? Are you meeting your context standards? Et cetera.

Nancy: You want to add anything to that Russ?

Russ: Well, I think that that’s what is exciting about this time in the criminal justice world is that data is something that comes very quickly, and I think the conference we were at today a lot of states get together and we talk about programs that we are doing. Practices that we are doing, supervision strategies that we are using that are working and that we’ve run the data on those and as I said it’s leading to lower recidivism, safer communities and so you can get data and feedback very quickly in this era and that’s very helpful in deciding where to invest your funding because we all have limited resources and we want to make sure we apply the resources to where it works most effectively.

AnMarie: I’m sorry but there is really is a double edged sword though because staff might be really attracted or happy about a program or referral opportunity that doesn’t show best practice, that isn’t effective. You need to extinguish that opportunity which ends up being difficult and so as often as it is to use data to really bring in new resources that will really work, sometimes it’s hard because you have to stop resources that will stop showing any improvement.

Nancy: Well, but I think that’s the most useful piece because I wanted to … One of the things we’ve been talking about with NIC, the National Institute of Corrections is best practices and evidence based practices. Can you talk a little bit about some of the practices you’ve seen as successful and some of the things that you’ve had to kind of let go as you said AnMarie, to be sure that you are really getting the right formula for the clients that you are serving.

AnMarie: We could probably talk for a couple of hours on that alone, so it’s really difficult but again one of the things, and again we were just talking about it today at the conference that really we are just focusing on high risk mean and how do you do that across a state or at a line level consistently and with some fidelity to the principles, and those basic ideas are done very differently across the country and so implementing an evidence based practice is difficult to hold true. I know in Washington State, we’ve implemented a number of practices and when we look at the data and something doesn’t hold up, we’ll pull that program and start another or we’ll pile at another opportunity but again it’s a difficult change to do on data alone.

Nancy: Have you found that based on some of the practices across the country, that we’ve shared at NIC that you’ve been able to use some of those shared successes in your jurisdictions?

Russ: I believe so and I think NIC is a great resource for us and they have a whole catalog of evidence based programs that have been tested and shown to work. We tap into those but I think for states like ours, it all starts with a validated risk assessment instrument and that’s something that’s not static, something that’s dynamic that changes as apply programming and resources and we use one and have used one for nine years. We have the data to support that those that are low risk on that screen out with the lowest recidivism rate and those that are high risk on that are the ones you need to focus your resources and your programming and your resources to and your attention to because those have, through the nine years that we’ve done it, those have the highest recidivism rate and those are the persons out in the community that are causing crime and victimizing people. I think it starts with that in need of validated risk assessment instrument and states use different types. We use one and that kind of guides where our resources go.

Nancy: Are there other practices that you’ve found that you’ve implemented in Washington, for example, that you really feel excited about?

AnMarie: Yes, of course there are, one of the things we’ve done three or four years ago, we implemented swift and certain response to violations of condition, we implemented it state wide. We did it fairly quickly as it was a law and we had a target date and just recently had an independent review of our implementation and our program. It really showed not only did we decrease confinement of persons on supervision, but it also decreased the recidivism of those persons which was not what we were intending but you certainly don’t to say no to a decreased recidivism rate, so, swift and certain response to sanctions is response to sanctions is a huge win for the State of Washington.

Nancy: That’s good. Anything less that you want to add to that Russ.

Russ: When we started our re-entry program our recidivism rate in Michigan was around 50%, so around half the people we release from prison came back to prison within three years and by utilizing our re-entry program, our risk assessment instrument and some of the applying resources to these areas of need as people leave prison, we’ve dropped our recidivism rate to now 30%. We’ve had a tremendous impact on reducing crime on the State of Michigan. We’ve also looked at the swift and sure program obviously that, Hawaii’s program, it’s got a lot of attention around the country. Every state is different and we have to do some educating with our judges. The swift and sure program is about people are going to violate, they are going to violate several times and you use the sanctions that are forwarded and sometimes the judges in our state were very quick to say, “Okay, you’ve had three strikes. You are out. You are going to prison.” It’s a process of educating them on how to use programs that have been successful in other states.

Nancy: I think that’s a good point because all of us have to deal with our criminal justice partners, and judges are very much a part of that, so we always have to make sure that we are including them when we introduce new initiatives into the practice. Ladies and gentlemen it’s been my pleasure to talk to AnMarie Aylward of Washington State Department of Corrections and Russel Marlan of Michigan Department of Corrections. Stay with us for the second half as we continue our discussion on successful probation parole practices with two additional leaders of state parole and probation agencies. We’ll be right back. Thank you so much.

Hey and welcome back to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Nancy Ware. We are continuing a conversation on successful supervision practices with two additional leaders of state parole and probation agencies as they attend a national conference here in DC. This segment will focus on criminal justice reform. President Obama recently called the Criminal Justice System a profound barrier to opportunity in too many communities. He also spoke about the nation’s high prison population, saying that mass incarceration rips apart families, it hollows out neighborhoods. It perpetuates poverty.

He repeated his intention to back legislation to address unjust sentencing laws. To discuss this important topic, I’d like to introduce Gerald Washington, the Regional Operations Chief for the Western Region at the Virginia Department of Corrections. Where he has served over 40 years. He has overseen the implementation innovations guided by evidence based practices. We also have Anne Precythe, the Director of Adult Community Corrections for North Carolina Department of Public Safety. She oversees more than 2,500 employee workforce, who supervise the more than 105,000 offenders on probation parole or post release supervision. She currently serves on the National Institutes of Corrections Advisory Board. Anne and Gerald, thanks for joining us on Public Safety TV.

Anne: Thank you.

Gerald: Thank you.

Nancy: I’d like to start by talking a little bit about how these reform efforts that you heard us discuss a little bit earlier, and also that the president is going be promoting, how they affect the work that you do and how you fold in your work into those reform initiatives.

Gerald: Well, the reform work has helped us based on the evidence and the science of the work that we do. With evidence-based practices, we can examine what works and what doesn’t work and then we can provide the service, the things that we find are not working we can provide those, the attention to those services to make sure that we are tailoring the programs to individual needs.

Nancy: Right, right, Anne?

Anne: The reform overall  and what we’ve heard this week in the conference, is that it’s impacting states differently but I think collectively we would all agree that it is a major cultural shift for how we supervise the offender population. Things like using a validated risk instrument, really understanding how to categorize the offender population so we spend more time on the high risk offender and less time on the low risk offender. It presents a significant number of challenges to change the mindset of the workforce but the evidence clearly shows that if you can begin to make these changes, you will have less recidivism which is ultimately what we are all after.

Nancy: The role of the administrator in all of these changes that you described, we talked a little  bit about the size of your workforce, I don’t know how many people are older or millennium workforce and how that affects the work that you do. What is role of an administrator?

Gerald: The role of the administrator is to understand, is to insure that everyone understands the mission and the focus of the agency. Again, we always to make sure that we keep public safety first and foremost in mind but we have to make sure that we educate our staff as well as stake holders who can help us move forward with our initiatives and to make sure that the offenders or returning citizens are getting the treatment and programs, the cognitive programs that they need. Also we look at it from the standpoint that every offender that does not return to our system also does not create another victim.

We try to make sure that all of our staff understand that, but sometime it’s a little bit of a challenge with change in the culture, before we use this approach we did a lot of things just because there were programs that we thought worked and we didn’t know and didn’t have the science. Now that we do it’s sometimes harder to shift the older employees to that way of thinking. The new employees coming in seem to be or are tuned to that with newer workforce and I think you don’t have to un-educate them of what has been done in the past.

Nancy: That’s a good point, Anne?

Anne: Again, Gerald is correct and there are lots of rules for the administrator in changing the culture but I think the communication aspect and communication not only with staff but also with the public and the judiciary and the legislators. Understanding why changes needed and how we go about it because you can the best legislation but if you can’t implement, well then it won’t be successful. Not only do you need to educate but you need to sustain that change and it takes constant communications, advocating for your staff. What are the tools that they need? How many additional staff do you need? An administrator can be their staff’s greatest cheerleader and that’s really what a good administrator needs to do as well as balancing that workload for the employees.

Nancy: You both made great points. One of the things we mentioned, I think Gerald mentioned, was the stakeholders and educating stakeholders that not only are your stakeholders the legislators and the other law enforcement partners but are other stakeholders that you think are very important in your work? You mentioned educating the public.

Gerald: Yes, I think other stakeholders, judges, prosecutors, not only law enforcement, the public at large as well as your community service providers because they are the ones that we look to for a lot of our support but I believe by educating especially judges and prosecutors, and showing them, based on evidence, what works and what doesn’t work and how it equates to dollars, I think you get a lot better response but they can also help develop a plan that works in conjunction with what not only our department of correction is doing but also with local probation and parole.

Anne: In addition to that you also want your treatment community, you want your employer, the business community because they are the ones we look to, to provide jobs for these offenders under supervision. Also your education community because there a lot of young kids, young adults in the school system whether it’s the high school, the community college or even the university. It takes the whole the whole community to be aware of these population and what their needs are. It’s the housing community, the transportation community, there are so many resources out there and going back to the administrator, part of their role is to tap into what is available locally and then how do they communicate that both the message to the community stakeholders as well as their staff so that they are making that connection.

Nancy: Yeah, because they really become an extension of the work that you do and, of course, your agencies can’t do it all, so you are going to have to rely on some of those other external stakeholders to help you with the success that you are looking for and the success that these reform initiatives are looking for. Those are good points. Are there methods that you use in gaining allies for change? How do you do that?

Anne: Communication, communication, communication, and the frontline officer is the officer that is out in the field more than anybody so it’s so critical for them to understand the philosophy of the department, the mission of the agency that we are about helping offenders be successful under supervision not just catching them when they are doing something wrong but using an exclamation point when they do something right. Part of that and understanding them and being able to communicate that message to the treatment providers and how do you show a peer chronological order of all that that person has been involved with, good bad or otherwise.

Nancy: That’s a good point. It’s good to hear you talk a little bit about maybe some incentives, some needs assessments because we often rely heavily on sanctions but more and more we are finding that people respond to needs assessments and to incentives. Are you seeing any changes to the population as a result to those initiatives?

Gerald: Yes, with substance abuse programs and certainly I think one of the bigger initiatives is the need for mental health services or the gap in the funding for mental health services. Often time, I think, a lot of time the offenders that come to us really have mental health needs than they have basic needs or as far as they should probably be not be imprisoned they should be in mental health programs. I think the funding for mental health programs, there is a large gap there. I think it’s a matter of educating the courts and the prosecutors of those needs and also securing resources to help support those, so that the folks are getting the right treatment that is needed as opposed to just coming to prison where we can monitor them but that hasn’t changed their behavior.

Nancy: Right, and we don’t have a lot of control over the front end of them coming into our system with criminal activities but in front end I know your rest side and some of those other parts of our system are definitely in need of a lot of education and support.Have you seen special populations that are particularly troublesome to you?

Anne: Yes, Gerald mentioned the mental health population which I think we are all struggling with especially as we begin to learn more, but I know the sex offenders returning to the communities and homelessness and the issues with that, and trying to educate the general public that housing needs to be provided for that population because if not they literally will be living under a bridge and there is no public safety in that. It is a very sensitive issue. It is a very difficult issue to talk about with people but I think at the end of the day, the regular citizen would rather know where the sex offenders are that the people are employed, that they have the basic needs that they need taken care of which can help the probation officer keep them on the right path for …

Nancy: Those are very, very challenging populations and I think often the public is not aware of all of the needs of the populations that we serve. How do you work with your legislators and your funders, the people herald your budget to get those resources. Is there a way that you found that successful in getting the resources that you need or are there barriers that you think might be making more difficult for you to do the things that you need to do?

Gerald: Well, we in Virginia, we’ve started a program where we meet with judges annually, especially new judges, but we meet all the judges annually so that we can share with them some of the results we’ve gotten from a lot of the programs we have. Also make them aware of other programs and sanctions that maybe available that may be used across the state and other jurisdictions that others may not be aware of. Basically educating the judges and prosecutors, I think, that has been of help but also again talking to the legislators and we encourage our staff not just from the agency stand point but when they are in the communities because they are part of the community that they are ambassadors for our agency. They should be asking those questions informing those legislators who they’re their constituents and making sure they are aware of what their needs are and what’s available.

Anne: I’ll say in North Carolina we are very fortunate, our legislature has been very engaged over the last few years with the passage of justice reinvestment. We as a department for adult correction and juvenile justice have benefited greatly from their involvement.

Nancy: Can you just tell us very quickly what justice reinvestment is and how it’s helped you?

Anne: Justice reinvestment was a series of legislative changes that were wrapped in one package that really helped reduce our prison population and push a lot of the population back into the community yet they gave us the tools to be able to supervise this population in a much more effective manner. To try to keep the offender population in the community rather than in the prison system. We are seeing great success with that overall and we are very, very pleased with what we are accomplishing in North Carolina.

Nancy: Ladies and gentlemen it has been my honor to talk to all today’s guests about successful parole and probation practices. I want to thank Anne and Gerald, AnMarie and Russell and thank you, our audience, for watching today’s show. Please watch for us next time as we explore another important topic in today’s Criminal Justice System. Have a great day.


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Mental Health and Recovery – DC Public Safety Television

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Nancy Ware: Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Nancy Ware. Today’s program is on mental health and recovery. There are approximately 700,000 people leaving prisons throughout the country every year and it’s vital for public safety to make sure they successfully reintegrate into society. But reentry is complicated by the fact that so many have either diagnosed or self-reported history of mental health challenges. Today’s program provides an overview of mental health issues within the criminal justice system from the DC Department of Behavioral Health and the Jail and Prison Advocacy Project of University Legal Services, plus we have interviews with two CSOSA experts. What are the lessons learned from research and application? What should society do about mental health within the criminal justice system? My guests for the first half are Stephen T. Baron, Director DC Department of Behavioral Health. Welcome, Steve.

Stephen T. Baron: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy Ware: And Tammy Seltzer, Director of Jail and Prison Advocacy Project, University Legal Services. And to Steve and Tammy welcome to DC Public Safety.

Tammy Seltzer: Thank you for having us.

Stephen T. Baron: Thank you.

Nancy Ware: We’re really, really excited about this segment, because, as you know, the mental health system is a great partner to the criminal justice system, but we still have many challenges that we’re trying to overcome as we try to address the needs of this population and when they’re reintegrating into the community. So first I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the challenges that we see here in the District of Columbia, and I want, Steve, for you to talk to u about exactly what does the Department of Behavioral Health do and what are some of the challenges that you see as you move forward with your vision and your view of where we need to go.

Stephen T. Baron: Thank you, Nancy, and it’s great to be here. The Department of Behavioral Health is a year old tomorrow.

Nancy Ware: Wow!

Stephen T. Baron: A year ago the mayor and the DC Council created the Department of Behavioral Health as a merger with the Department of Mental Health and the Addictions Prevention and Recovery Administration, which was previously in the Department of Health. So we’re a brand new department, even though we bring a legacy of both APRA and DMH of many, many years of service in the District. But we as the Department of Behavioral Health oversee a network of providers that serve over 20,000, over 30,000 individuals –

Nancy Ware: That many. Wow!

Stephen T. Baron: For both mental health and substance abuse disorders. Our biggest challenge with folks in the criminal justice system is that we need to be there when people need the services and provide the range of services people need. We’ve put a number of things in place in the District. I’m proud to say that one of the most intensive mental health services is called Assertive Community Treatment, or ACT, and nationally probably in most states or most jurisdictions about 2% or 3% of the people in the public systems are getting ACT, which is an evidence-based practice, in the District between 8% to 10% of the enrollees in our public system for mental health are getting Assertive Community Treatment. We also realize we have to have strong partnerships, both of course with your agency, helping work with folks once they leave incarceration, with the Department of Corrections, and also with the Metropolitan Police Department, the District’s police department, where we have worked very collaboratively to establish the District’s Crisis Intervention Team program, CIT –

Nancy Ware: Yes.

Stephen T. Baron: As it’s known nationally. We call it here Crisis Intervention Officer, CIO, and we’ve trained over 600 MPD officers.

Nancy Ware: Now, is that throughout the whole police department or just certain teams?

Stephen T. Baron: No, throughout the whole police department.

Nancy Ware: Which is excellent.

Stephen T. Baron: And at all levels we basically focus on the patrol officers, but their emergency response teams have been trained, sergeants, some operational folks have been trained, and it’s a very popular training, and it’s been going on for five years now.

Nancy Ware: That’s excellent.

Tammy Seltzer: And I would add to that DC is a jurisdiction that has other law enforcement agencies involved and you all are involved in training them as well.

Stephen T. Baron: Yeah. Thank you, Tammy. Also Capital Police have participated, Amtrak Police, Georgetown University Police, Housing Authority Police, I think there’s 30-some police departments in the District and we’re trying to include as many of them as we can.

Nancy Ware: That’s possible.

Stephen T. Baron: But our primary customer has been the Metropolitan Police Department. And they work very closely with, we have a mobile crisis team that’s available seven days a week, every day, for 16 hours a day.

Nancy Ware: Which is, you know, the training across these law enforcement agencies is so critical, as we’ve seen in the news, because you never know who’s going to be the first responder and who will come in contact with someone who has mental health issues, and it’s so critical that we take the responsibility here in the nation’s capital to be sure that we equip our law enforcement and our first responder officers with the tools that they need to recognize some of the symptoms of mental health and mental illness in particular. Tammy, I want to ask you a little bit about some of the challenges that you see in DC, because you’ve worked as an advocate, and we’re very pleased that we have a partnership with you to make sure that we do our due diligence in meeting the needs of this population. As you know, as we talked about earlier, there are approximately 700,000 people coming out of our prisons and jails with mental health issues, and many of them have major depression, manic mania, serious psychosis, so some of those challenges are things that we have to take into account as we deal with reentry. Can you talk a little about your experiences with the District?

Tammy Seltzer: Certainly. The DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project has been around about seven years and it was created to help DC residents who have serious mental illness, and in that case we’re talking about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, to help them with reentry. And initially it was started to help with reentry from the jail and the correctional treatment facility, which is where women are housed here in DC. But DC is a unique animal, we don’t have a state prison, and so DC residents who are serving a longer sentence, more than a year, end up in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. And so their challenge, on top of being incarcerated and having a criminal record and having a mental illness, is also that they are being held in facilities that can be anywhere in the country, there’re over 100 facilities. And this can mean that they’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their families. So whatever supports they may have had in the community and with their families, they don’t have that, and then it makes it much more difficult to plan for that discharge planning piece.

I would say that most of the people that we work with, our clients have difficulties with housing. We know nationally that people with serious mental illness are twice as likely to be homeless at the time that they’re incarcerated, and then they also have a difficulty with having some sort of a stable income. Most people with serious mental illness who’re involved in the criminal justice system are not employed and they really depend on disability benefits. So the challenges we see for people are getting them, for some people getting linked to mental health services, some have been linked before, but that link has been severed by being sent so far from home. For other people, like a young man who called me yesterday, he’s in his 20s, he’s been incarcerated for four years, he didn’t know he had a mental illness until the behaviors occurred that caused him to get arrested in the first place, and so he’s never been linked to mental health services, and those are the, we will help him get linked to mental health services. But those are the kinds of challenges that our clients are facing, and some of them are unique to DC, but I think a lot of the reentry issues, people with serious mental illness are coming out of the Federal Bureau of Prisons every day –

Nancy Ware: Yeah. That’s true.

Tammy Seltzer: And so those are issues that apply in every state in the country.

Nancy Ware: Yeah. And I’m really glad you brought up the young man, because we know that sometimes some of these symptoms don’t really materialize until their 20s, their early, late teens, early 20s. And so we’ve had a lot of challenges in dealing with young men and women in our system. Have you seen special issues coming out with women in particular as you’ve been working with that population?

Tammy Seltzer: Absolutely. We have a special project right now to assist women who have mental illness in getting their disability benefits from Social Security before they come out, because it’s really critical. If you don’t have a place to live, you don’t, you’re not, if you don’t have a steady income you’re going to have difficulty finding a place to live. It’s really hard to take advantage of services and treatment unless things are stable for you. So that’s something that we’re working with. And as part of that we’re serving more women. And we had a woman the other day who after coming out of prison she became unexpectedly the custodial parent of her one-year-old.

Nancy Ware: Oh, wow! That’s a whole [INDISCERNIBLE 00:09:56].

Tammy Seltzer: And so all of the sudden on top of trying to take care of herself and meet her own basic needs for housing and income and making sure she keeps up with her terms of supervision and stays clean and sober and goes to mental health treatment she has to worry about, “How am I going to take care of a baby?” And actually it was really wonderful that her community supervision officer at CSOSA was able to help her with parenting classes, because she said, “I’m getting frustrated.”

Nancy Ware: Don’t know what to do.

Tammy Seltzer: “I’m getting frustrated. I don’t know what to do.” And wonderfully a parenting class was starting that provided childcare and food so that she can attend these series of classes and gain confidence at being a mom, which she hasn’t been –

Nancy Ware: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:10:42] –

Tammy Seltzer: Because she’s been incarcerated.

Nancy Ware: That make or break their success, so that’s excellent. Now, the two of you have really worked closely together, and I know that University Legal Services has also worked very closely with the Bureau of Prisons, as has the Department of Behavioral Health, and we’ve been really as a system here in DC trying very hard to make sure that there’s prerelease planning for folks who are coming out of prison. Can the two of you talk a little but about some of the work that you’ve done together on this?

Stephen T. Baron: Yeah. Well, the most important thing of course is transitions from people leaving incarceration after a couple years, even leaving the DC jail after four or five months these transitions back into the community are just so important, and the more upfront planning you do the better it is, the more likelihood it is it’ll be successful, really putting you heads together to look at housing opportunities. I think in the District the real challenge is around the affordable housing.

Nancy Ware: Yeah.

Stephen T. Baron: We have worked very hard to increase the intensive services, like I spoke about earlier, through assertive community treatment and other types of services. But it is around the housing and having the time to plan for it and have the person participate. I do know we’ve worked with, I’m sure University Legal has been involved, but definitely your office, the Bureau of Prisons, and some of the offsite facilities, like in West Virginia and North Carolina, to do some offsite tele-meeting –

Nancy Ware: Teleconferencing.

Stephen T. Baron: Teleconferencing –

Nancy Ware: Yeah. That’s true.

Stephen T. Baron: To do some planning.

Tammy Seltzer: Yeah. The best situations are when we get advanced notice –

Stephen T. Baron: Yes.

Tammy Seltzer: That somebody is coming out. And we have a great relationship with some of the psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers who work in some of the Bureau of Prison facilities. Allenwood, for example, we have a psychologist or psychiatrist who calls us practically every week giving us cases with advanced notice. And when we have advanced notice and it’s a situation, a lot of these situations are people who’ve never been successful in the community with their mental health treatment, and so we have taken advantage of the Assertive Community Treatment teams that you’ve been talking about, the ACT teams, Steve. That’s been very important for our clients to be successful, to have that level of intensity in the community. And so when we get advanced notice that we –

Nancy Ware: It makes a difference.

Tammy Seltzer: It really makes a huge difference.

Stephen T. Baron: It makes a big difference. It’s critical, the Friday at four o’clock mandatory release.

Tammy Seltzer: Those are the cases that keep me up at night are when people come out at the last minute –

Stephen T. Baron: Yeah.

Tammy Seltzer: That we don’t know and they don’t have a place to stay and they’re releasing to a shelter and –

Stephen T. Baron: Right.

Tammy Seltzer: And what’s the best thing that we can do. And definitely working together, our three agencies, to try and come up with an emergency plan and then a longer term plan is what we try to do.

Nancy Ware: I want to thank again Steve and Tammy. And, ladies and gentlemen, please stay with us as we continue our discussion on mental health and recovery with two new guests. We’ll be right back.

[ Commercial Break ]

Nancy Ware: Welcome back to DC Public Safety. I’m Nancy Ware. I stated during the first half of the show successful reentry from prison is vital for public safety and strengthening our communities. To continue our discussion on mental health and recovery we have two new guests from our agency CSOSA, Associate Director Thomas Williams and [PH 00:14:21] Ubah Hussein, a social worker in the mental health unit. And to Tom and Ubah, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Ubax Hussein: Thank you, ma’am.

Tammy Seltzer: Well, glad to be here.

Nancy Ware: Glad you’re here. To start off, Ubah, I’d like to ask you to talk a little about what you’re seeing in terms of mental health issues among our clients who’re coming into our system on probation and parole and supervised release.

Ubax Hussein: I think that people are coming home with a lot of co-occurring behavioral health conditions, some of which Director Baron has already talked about. The other subpopulation of concern is that as is happening with the rest of society the returning citizens are also aging. So we’re seeing a higher number than I remember last year of people that have onset of dementia, for example, and who are needing nursing home services. So the coordination of reentry planning has really focused on those people that have age related dementia, the population that we’re familiar with working with that have the co-occurring schizophrenia and maybe a PCP addiction or something, and then another population of people that are coming home with significant medical conditions, renal failure, diabetes, HIV disease. And so planning around all of those service needs, both behavioral health, age related services, and medical services, has been a challenge that I think CSOSA is meeting very well in terms of partnering with our community providers.

Nancy Ware: That’s quite a menu.

Thomas Williams: Yeah. And I think one of the reasons that we’re seeing this change or this shift in the population has to do with the number of previous periods of incarceration that happen over time, five and seven year periods of incarceration, and then the individuals are coming back. We’re trying to do the best that we can when they are in the community and then something else will happen and they go right back again.

Nancy Ware: So they go in and out of the system.

Thomas Williams: So there’s almost, you hate to kind of say revolving door kind of a situation, but the multiple periods of incarceration are leading to the things that we’re seeing now in the population. That makes it a little bit more challenging for us to try to address adequately and then try to get the service needs accomplished, both on the mental health or the behavioral health side, as well as on the physical health. Now they got two different issues that we’re trying to address simultaneously.

Nancy Ware: So what is our best approach as a supervision agency to all of these challenges that you’re seeing with this population coming out of prisons and jails?

Thomas Williams: Well, first and foremost it’s the qualities of staff that we’re able to bring within the organization, and we can’t say enough about the quality of the staff that we have working for us. Number one, they have, several of them have advanced degrees, they’re really dedicated to the population, and they have a passion to work with the groups that we are charged to supervise, and I think that’s one of the key things. The second thing that we have to do is to ensure the level of training is at a level which is highly functioning, so that we’re able to identify the help that is needed for the population and then make sure with that training and the passion that the staff will bring to the job, that we can then identify what is actually needed at the appropriate time and then have a strategic plan to work with that individual through the course of the supervision period. And we can’t stop without having first the assessment, that’s so fundamentally important and getting information from the institution or the jail that the person was in, in terms of what was happening while they were there, and then making that plan consistent when they actually come out, so it’s not a disjointed effort, but something that’s really consistent.

Nancy Ware: So that continuity of care, are you seeing some changes now over the course of the last several years? We heard from our guest from the first segment some of the work that they’ve been involved in, in trying to help CSOSA, which is Court Services and Community Supervision Agency, to better meet the needs of this population. Ubah, do you want to speak to some of the things that you’ve seen?

Ubax Hussein: Sure. I think one of the most important things that’s happened is we’ve always had reentry planning in place as an informal kind of setup, but two and a half years ago Mr. Williams took the initiative really formalize that into a working group. And so within that working group we do a monthly telephone conference, we have a forecast, for example, our October telephone conference is going to be on who’s coming home February 2015.

Nancy Ware: And this conference is within whom again?

Ubax Hussein: The conference is with the Bureau of Prisons; it’s with Department of Behavioral Health, and CSOSA.

Nancy Ware: Excellent.

Ubax Hussein: And so this three core working group, we know what the needs are, we know what the deficits are, and when appropriate someone might need the advocacy services, for example, of ULS. So we’re able to get – early planning is the best. So we get the releases of information signed, we get in contact with families, we confirm the releasing address, we have them in many ways initiate Medicaid before they come into the community, referral to ACT teams, all of that paperwork, which takes time to work its way through the system, we can get started on individual reentry planning 120 days ahead of their release date.

Nancy Ware: That is critical.

Thomas Williams: It is. But one of the things that, with the process that Ubah just discussed is a real challenge for us is that the system itself within the District of Columbia is one that were dependent upon to try to help this transition smoothly, because unfortunately a lot of times the family members aren’t there –

Ubax Hussein: That’s right.

Thomas Williams: To try to pick up – as Ubah had mentioned, some of the population is aging a little bit and some of the activities that happened while the individual was in the community –

Ubax Hussein: Yeah.

Thomas Williams: The families are saying, “I love him, but he can’t stay here.”

Nancy Ware: Right.

Thomas Williams: Or –

Nancy Ware: And this population is particularly challenging alone without being involved with the criminal justice system. Many families abandon family members who are having mental health problems, because they’re so difficult to manage, and then you couple that with being in the criminal justice system.

Thomas Williams: Justice System itself.

Nancy Ware: It puts a lot more weight on I guess the probation, parole [OVERLAY].

Thomas Williams: It does. And that’s, as I mentioned, that’s one of the challenges that the staff are facing is that the person needs to live somewhere, and a shelter is not the appropriate place for any individual who has mental health issues, and we had, would be worried about medication management. It’s not an environment for which we could have that’s supportive enough to support the individual in some of the things that they’re actually facing.

Nancy Ware: So, Tom, tell me a little bit about what CSOSA has done to address this population.

Thomas Williams: Yes.

Nancy Ware: I know you’ve had some innovation over the last few years. So what are some of the things that have been put in place to address this population better?

Thomas Williams: Well, one of the things we did we hired Ubah, and that was something that was on the planning stages for a long while, because what we recognized is that the line staff, the CSOs, the community supervision officers, albeit while meaning and compassionate about the work, we were needing someone else to help them in terms of being a consultant to what they were doing.

Nancy Ware: So Ubah’s job is to…?

Thomas Williams: Ubah’s job is to bridge the gap between the agency and the stakeholders and –

Nancy Ware: She’s like a coordinator?

Thomas Williams: Yes. And also it’s to act as a consultant to the line staff as they are dealing with difficult cases. So pretty much what Ubah will do for us, as the staff are working out assessment issues with the individual in terms of what that plan is, they will then call Ubah and then use her as the consultant and say, “Look at this plan. Does this plan make sense based on this individual?” And we’re looking at the prior history of the individual in terms of the prior episodes that the individual may have had with regards to hospitalization, medication management, and all of them Ubah will then give input into the plan. And then what the staff will do will coordinate with Steve Baron’s group, the Department of Behavioral Health, in terms of what is the best plan for this individual while he’s in the community and what do we see as potential barriers for that person in terms of trying to get that individual healthy enough to operate basically on your own, and that’s really the goal that we’re trying to get to. There’s one if the person can navigate within the society on their own with some assistance or they need to identify where they need to go to get assistance when they need it and also to have a supportive environment to help them when they do have difficulty.

Nancy Ware: So, Ubah, you work with who in the, within CSOSA? Do you have teams that you’re working with? And talk a little bit about that.

Ubax Hussein: I work closely with the behavioral health supervision teams for the men and women, and I partner with the treatment specialist for the sex offender teams sometimes, because the population’s needs overlap. In the community really my primary partnership is with DBH, Department of Behavioral Health. There’s two cases that actually we’re working on. There’s a lady we’re trying to bring home, her release has been delayed from September to November, 71 years old, wheelchair bound, onset of dementia, only family member is her older brother.

Nancy Ware: Wow!

Ubax Hussein: And she has a senior apartment, but she’s not at a place where she can live independently. I mentioned that because I think regardless of the innovations and the planning and the collaboration that we’re doing, there’s a limit to the available community resources in terms of continuum of housing services, supported housing, and especially in terms of sometimes we have another gentleman whose release has been retarded more than a year, because the recommendation from his BOP team, Bureau of Prisons team, is that he needs to be in a secure setting, based on his high risk, as well as his high need.

Nancy Ware: Now, let me ask you about secure settings. Does CSOSA have a secure setting that addresses co-occurring disorders? You’ve talked a lot about that being a challenge. Tom, can you talk about that?

Thomas Williams: Sure. We have been fortunate in terms of the funding that we receive from Congress to have a reentry sanctions center, and basically that’s a location on the grounds of DC hospital, DC jail complex that is there, and we’re able to address mental health issues, as well as those individuals who are in the community and having some difficulty. Instead of having the court or parole commission revoke that individual, we actually can kind of do like a timeout, if you will, work on those things that got that person into difficulty with precaution and noncompliance and then bring them back.

Nancy Ware: That’s great.

Thomas Williams: Unfortunately for us though, the group that Ubah is talking about, which is a subset, are those that we classify as severe and persistent mental health, these are persons who have very severe issues with regards to their mental health functioning and they have some physical issues as well. And we don’t have a facility, a really secure facility currently in the District that can handle that and that’s not a negative for the District, it’s like national –

Nancy Ware: Yeah.

Thomas Williams: That the severe and persistent mental health population unfortunately we don’t have a place for them to go.

Nancy Ware: So we’re still working with DBH, Department of Behavioral Health, and others to figure out how we can get through that.

Thomas Williams: Yes.

Nancy Ware: So you have two units in the Residential Reentry and Sanctions Center?

Thomas Williams: Actually it’s five floors. We have two for males and then one for females.

Nancy Ware: Okay. And that’s where co-occurring?

Thomas Williams: That’s correct.

Nancy Ware: Okay.

Thomas Williams: And one of the innovations that we did within the organization several years ago is that we, as Ubah mentioned, we split the population. We recognized that the female population –

Nancy Ware: Yeah.

Thomas Williams: With mental health needs is a little bit separate and needs to be separate from the male population. So we had three teams, one is general supervision, and two are mental health or behavioral health for the female population, and we have five teams for males. And unfortunately, as Ubah had mentioned, with the increase that we’ve seen in the mental health population we had to create another male team. So we’re going to have eight teams all total.

Nancy Ware: So let me ask you. Within the total population under supervision are you seeing an increase in the behavioral health needs of that population?

Thomas Williams: We are. We have about 18,000 cases under supervision with the new organization and about 20% of that population –

Nancy Ware: Yeah.

Thomas Williams: Is now, have behavioral health issues.

Nancy Ware: My goodness.

Thomas Williams: So I’ll be able to have units; our branch basically has really expanded. And about a year and a half ago we actually split that behavioral health branch, because it was becoming too large.

Nancy Ware: Yeah.

Thomas Williams: So our average we have about a seven to one ratio, one supervisor to seven staff members working with the population.

Nancy Ware: Good. And in closing, Ubah, can you just tell us very briefly what some of the challenges are with the women that you’ve been working with, very briefly?

Ubax Hussein: Research shows and our experience shows that women come with really complex psychosocial needs, including history of childhood sexual trauma, many of them may have lost their children, custody of their children, and so in addition to supervision and behavioral health needs, there’s family rebuilding that they’re engaged in, and that requires a lot more support.

Nancy Ware: Well, I want to thank our two expert guests from CSOSA. We’re very proud of the work that you’re doing in our agency and we look forward to some of the new innovations that you come up with as you meet the challenges of our population. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching today’s show on mental health and recovery. Please watch for us next time as we explore another important topic in today’s criminal justice system. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day. Thank you for joining us.

[Video Ends]


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Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys – DC Public Safety Television

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[Video Begins]

Nancy Ware: Hello, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Nancy Ware. We have a very special program for you today. We will be discussing the justice experience of black men and boys from a congressional view, which we’ll provide an opportunity for two members of the U.S. House of Representatives to address one of the most important issues facing the country. Also discussed will be efforts to assist people with skills and programs to successfully re-enter society from prison.
I am honored to have with us today the honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia and the honorable Danny K. Davis from Chicago, Illinois, who are the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, and true leaders of change within the justice system. As you know, we’ve had a lot of discussions across the nation about what’s been happening  with black men and boys related to Ferguson, New York, and other parts of the country, so I want to ask you to talk a little  bit about the mission and creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. And we can start off with Eleanor  Holmes Norton. Congresswoman Norton.

Congresswoman Norton: Well, this is, this, we think, is an important development in Congress to focus the entire Congress on this very special issues facing black men and boys across the country. We know that black people generally have issues of their own, but black men and boys have not been given, shall we say, equal treatment. I’ve had a commission on black men and boys in the District of Columbia for more than 10 years, and I have seen how important it has been to bring out issues that simply aren’t being discussed in the public. Because Danny has been a leader in re-entry, and in trying to ameliorate incarceration of black men, we were a perfect partnership when it came to deciding to form the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.

Congressman Davis: Well, let me just tell you how great of an opportunity it is for me to work with someone who is as esteemed  and has such a long history of advocating for the rights of all people, but especially for African Americans, and taken a  good look at African American men and boys. This issue is so intricately webbed into the history of our country, and lots of  people don’t like to look at it that way. They don’t wanna think that slavery and everything that has happened up to this point is part of the cause, part of the problem, and part of the need. So, working with Delegate Norton is just great because she has those kind of insights and know what it takes, and we are having some good experiences with the African American men and  boys and with other entities really, that are emerging and developing and are part of this movement.

Nancy Ware: And it is a movement, and I wanna just also second the fact that you’ve brought this conversation to Washington  D.C., Congresswoman Norton, in terms of pulling together a network of men and boys and women to discuss, you know, the ever-increasing domination, unfortunately, or disproportionate confinement of men and boys in our prison system, and under  the criminal justice system at large. Can you talk, both of you, either one of you, talk a little bit about the mission and  the creation of the Caucus on Black Men and Boys?

Congressman Davis: Well, I think the mission is to create an environment and an atmosphere at the highest level of thinking  in our country so that issues surrounding the why, why are there so many African American men and boys who get caught up in the criminal justice system? Why is the treatment so disparate? So different? How do we have justice when in so many  instances, people end up spelling it just us? I mean, when you go to certain kinds of judicial proceedings, even if it’s  traffic court in many places, it is just us. If you go to child support court, it is just us. When I visit penitentiaries  and jails, as I do often, every Christmas for the last 20 years I’ve gone to the Cook County jail to visit with the inmates, and I can tell you, it’s generally just us.

Nancy Ware: That’s a good point. I know that you’ve definitely, Congresswoman Norton, been focused a lot on some of the institutional issues that face black men and boys going into the criminal justice system. Do you wanna speak a little bit  about how that has influenced this movement of sorts?

Congresswoman Norton: Certainly, and first of all, we, our own Commission on Black Men and Boys in the District began with a  commission consisting of black men who have credibility in the African American community, and we decide which kinds of issues  are cresting in the community and need discussion, but before we get to the notion of incarceration, we’ve got to get to why black men, black boys, and notice it’s called Black Men and Boys, both in Congressional Caucus and our own local Caucus, it’s ’cause you gotta begin with boys, and because you see these disproportions from the earliest years. You see them in
drop-outs. You see them before drop-out. You see them in suspensions. You finally have come to a point in our country where there is a huge disproportion in almost every phase of life between black men and black women, for example, in those who finish  high school, in those who finish middle school, in those who go to college. You’re going to have a people where, as we finally  see, marriage becomes less often. Because if you have black women who’ve finished high school, going to college, and you have  black men who got cut off somehow in the early years of life, you are not gonna have marriages of a kind that have been  traditionally in the African American community. So this runs up and down the line, and by the time you get to a young man, then the notion of whether he can remain out of prison. For example, just let me give you the latest situation in the District, I’ve gone around fighting now, because the Council of the District of Columbia passed a bill to legalize marijuana. Now,  nobody wants anybody to smoke dope, even these weeds. Of course, people tend to outgrow marijuana. But why did they pass that? Unlike in the four western states that have passed similar laws, they passed it because of two independent studies that show  that blacks and whites in this town, and by the way, throughout the United States, use marijuana at the same rate, and the
progressive District of Columbia, 90% of those who are arrested are African Americans, and most of them are African American  men or boys. Now, think of it. You are now 18 years old. Your drug conviction is for a small possession of a small amount of  marijuana. On your record, when you go to apply for a job, you have a drug conviction. You have black skin. Forget about that  job. That then sentences you, if you will forgive the use of a word, I think it’s apropos here, to the underground economy, or worse, unemployment. And we wonder why our jails are just us, Danny.

Congressman Davis: Oh, no doubt about it, and there are just so many factors which contribute. I mean, we still have the  problem of parents too soon. That is, of young individuals who aren’t ready for parenting to continue to produce children. We have the enormous problem of poverty. We have a lack of opportunity. For example, I cite the fact that finding an African American male teacher in early childhood education is practically nonexistent, and so many boys grow up, for example, with the idea that education is a girl, female, kind of thing, and so by the time they’re third grade, many of them have sort of  decided that this formal education thing is not for them. That becomes another factor, and so we have to find a way to cure
that element of causation.

Nancy Ware: Those are really cross-cutting issues and cross-cutting concerns that are often overlooked by, you know, the general population. People don’t always appreciate the gateways to the criminal justice system for men and boys, particularly  African American men and boys. So that’s quite a big charge that you have ahead of you for the Caucus to embrace, for public  policy to begin to speak to. Are there any policies, specific issues that you wanna present to our audience that you’ve begun to see coming out of the Caucus?

Congressman Davis: Well, one of the things that we recognize is that, if individuals, say for example those who’ve been incarcerated, once they get ready to return, if they receive assistance, if they receive help, that will have a great impact on whether or not they go back, which means that one of the first things that you can really do is try and reduce recidivism for those who have already done, what society calls, offended in some kind of way. So if you can keep them from going back, that’s going to help reduce the numbers who are incarcerated. It’s also going to help them become productive citizens so that  they can get a job, they can earn money, they can pay taxes, they can become contributing members of society.

Nancy Ware: Well, you have both been powerful role models for the nation in terms of this issue. Are there any things that you think our viewers should consider in terms of supporting the work that you’ve done? You spoke about the hard work that you’ve done in the District of Columbia, and across the country, quite frankly. Are there things that you’d like our viewers to hear that you’d like us to consider?

Congresswoman Norton: Well there is a hunger for people to participate in this work, and one of the things we wanna do with  the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys is to encourage communities to do what we’re doing. First, to air the issues.  Some of these issues are painful to air, but if black people step up and air them, then the community is very much open to hearing them, and then you can work on remedies. But if you won’t even talk about them, such as the kinds of discussions we have in forms of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys, then of course, they disappear, they don’t exist.

Congressman Davis: Everybody can help. I think that’s the key. Churches, organizations, groups, fraternities, sororities, every kind of group you can mention actually has the potential of helping with this process.

Nancy Ware: Well, I wanna thank you both. We’re going to take a brief break from our first segment and we’ll be moving into our next segment in just a few moments. So thank you both, and we’ll take a break now.

[Commercial Break]

Nancy Ware: Welcome back to the D.C. Public Safety show. I’m your host, Nancy Ware, from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia. We have today the honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton and the honorable Danny K. Davis, and they’re back with us on the second half of our show as we discuss the justice experience of black men and boys from a congressional view. A separate topic of prison re-entry will be our focus for the second half. I’d like to start with talking about the needs of juveniles within the justice system and why that’s important to the two of you.

Congresswoman Norton: There’s beginning to be some horrific exposure of what happens to juveniles in the justice system. For example, we know that solitary confinement is, should be forbidden for adults. Now we’re finding that it happens, some of the time, for children. If a child gets into the criminal justice system, you have a magic moment to make sure that child does not progress in that system the way he progresses in school. But I’m afraid juvenile justice systems too often become escalators to the next segment of criminal life for a child, ’cause it usually means there’s been some family disruption, some failures in the community that led this child into the juvenile justice system.

Nancy Ware: And it’s a pretty challenging issue. Congressman Davis?

Congressman Davis: Of course, in some jurisdictions court systems have come up with programs to avert or to keep individuals out of incarcerated situations to the highest level that they can. That is, finding alternatives to incarceration, and those work quite well where judicial systems have made a determination to really do it, and so we have to prevent to the extent possible our young people from getting into the culture of incarceration. I mean, things that you learn there, in many  instances, just causes them, when they get out, if they get out, to be in worse shape than they were when they went in. So I think there has to be a comprehensive approach to the extent that they can be developed, and I think all units of government,
that is, from the municipal level, to the county, to the state, to the federal level, have to put resources into activities. If there is no money, there is no fund, and if you don’t put in resources for programatic efforts, then they’re not going to take place and you’re just going to see the continuation of what we see now, and that has to stop because it’s non-productive, it costs money, and it creates more reliance on a prison or incarcerated system rather than having people be out learning to be productive citizens.

Nancy Ware: And both of you have touched on some of the indicators that often lead young men, and particularly juveniles, into the justice system, such as educational deficits, mental health issues and challenges, economics. Can you speak a little bit about what you see as some of the remedies for addressing some of those issues?

Congresswoman Norton: Well it’s no accident that those who most often find themselves in the criminal justice system are among the poorest in the country. And by the way, it’s been that way when there were immigrants in this country, it’s that way now, when you have black and brown people in the system. So you’ve got to look at who your population is and while they’re in this system where they, I must say, tragically may have resources that they will not even have in the community. It seems
to me those, you’ve got to take advantage of that period, but the notion of diversion that Danny was talking about is so very important, but you don’t want to divert ’em back into what may be the kinda culture that brought them to the attention of the authorities in the first place. So, how do you divert children so that when they just begin to surface in the criminal justice system you’re able to guide them away? I mean, this a very complicated issue because they’re not moving out of that community. They’re not moving out of poverty. Takes a lot of social work, and yes, a lot of surrounding of resources from various segments of government itself.

Congressman Davis: We know that political advocacy is always appropriate and greatly in need, and political types do that, but then there are things that others can do. I mean, one church, one family. One church, one child. One Boy Scout. I mean,  Boy Scouts is a way if we can get young, I advocate that there ought to be a Boy Scout troop on every block. On every block. That boys should be able to get that experience. But you’ve gotta have mentors. You must have volunteers. And so people who  don’t wanna get their hands and feet and their minds dirty doing politics, they can do other things. They don’t necessarily just have to do the hard-nosed political work. They can be engaged at their own level of comfort, and that helps. You can’t measure how much mentoring actually will help young people.

Nancy Ware: And I’ve seen that work, but I have to say that it is really a tribute to both of you to have you as advocates on the political level because leadership is so critical and bringing this issue to the forefront is so critical because  otherwise there wouldn’t be the kinds of discussions that we’re having today, which you mentioned earlier. And so, I don’t  wanna underplay the importance of that political advocacy in kinda guiding people towards some of those remedies that you discussed. Are there programs in particular in prison that you’d like to see increased? Things that you think while people are imprisoned, either in the juvenile system or the adult system, that you think would help to increase opportunities once people are released?

Congressman Davis: There are indeed. Of course, once again, it becomes this question of putting resources in place and not cutting everything to the bone. I mean, we’ve seen over the last several years, I can think of programs that used to exist where individuals, for example, who were incarcerated, all they could actually earn college degrees, they could come out with, you know, skills that had been developed, and then we go into this business of cut, cut, cut, cut, and you don’t have those resources in play and in place, so we have to be smart in terms of what it is that we fund and where we place money, and we can’t take the idea that these individuals are going to somehow or another emerge as good, solid citizens without the  help that need to be provided.

Nancy Ware: Are you beginning to see these kinds of reforms taking place?

Congresswoman Norton: There’s a very important period of reform emerging now. It’s led by the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, who was of course U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. You see him beginning what is real reform  it seems to me. For example, in this leadership that is producing a cut-reduction in the sentences of low, of those who are incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes, so we’ve had the over-incarceration of African American men that they’re bringing down. We even see some on the Republican side calling for less incarceration and beginning to understand, as Danny says, that
without resources, very little will happen. Now, one of the things that’s driving less incarceration, saves the government money. Fewer people, you know, being held in high-cost prisons, ’cause it’s very costly to keep someone on a daily basis in prison. Now, what Danny and I share, despite the fact that prison systems are state systems, is that all of our constituents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia will be in federal prisons. Now, of all the prisons, of federal prisons, the Bureau of Prison has the best reputation. I would like to see some of the programs of the federal prisons more often in state prisons. For example, one of the things that the United States Congress keeps the Bureau of Prison from doing, state prisons allow, and that is that you cannot get a college degree in a federal prison, though you can in some state prisons. We got
somebody who wants to get a college degree while he’s incarcerated and we’re denying him the opportunity to do that? Now, I’m not sure, Danny, whether you can even get a Pell Grant now when you get out of prison if you’ve been in prison. I know at one point you could not.

Congressman Davis: Depends on the kind of crime that you have been convicted of and all of that. One of the other things I think that I certainly want to commend the Attorney General for has been convening all of the agencies, the departments, of the federal government as part of the implementation of the Second Chance Act for all departments to take a look at what it is they can do. How can they be effectively involved in reducing the prison population? In reducing recidivism? And that’s something that I certainly hope that whoever becomes next will continue that effort because every agency can do a little bit.

Nancy Ware: To help towards…

Congressman Davis: And if you get a lot of people doing a little bit, that becomes a whole lot.

Nancy Ware: That’s true, that’s true. And our agency has been involved in that, so I’ve seen first-hand some of the  opportunities for federal agencies to participate in resolving some of these issues. I do want to ask a little bit about what you think we need to think about as we move forward in the correctional arena in terms of addressing some of these areas that you’ve mentioned, substance abuse, I mentioned mental health, economics you talked a little bit about, education, beyond opportunities for folks to get their college education there, are there other things that you can think of that we might wanna push for in our prison systems, and even in our community corrections and under probation?

Congresswoman Norton: Well I think one of the most important things the Bureau of Prisons does, and it doesn’t have enough resources to do it for every incarcerated person, is to help people get rid of and no longer want narcotics. Because one of the first things that will happen, if you go back in the community that you’ve just come from, is you’re exposed to the drug culture. So to the extent that we can wean people off of drugs while they are in prison, we have done a great service to them and to the society to which they are returning.

Congressman Davis: And we know that an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure, which means that those things that we can do of a preventative nature obviously will reduce the likelihood and the possibility that people will get caught up. One of the things that we’ve been doing lately has been, and it was very pleasant, taking children to actually visit their fathers who were in prison. We did that just before Father’s Day, and it was just a great experience in terms of what individuals themselves feel and can do, and if they’re motivated, stimulated, and activated, yes, there are things that each person can take the responsibility of doing for him or herself, and that does not let society off the hook, but there has to be, and there need to be a partnership existing between the individuals and the systems.

Nancy Ware: And the communities that they come from.

Congresswoman Norton: You have all the things, studies show, of all the things that work in keeping people out of prison, it is providing that kind of relationship with a support system or their own families while they are in prison.

Nancy Ware: Well, I wanna thank both of you, and ladies and gentlemen, I wanna thank you, our viewers, for watching today’s show. Please watch for us. Next time we explore another important topic in today’s criminal justice system. Again, I wanna thank Congresswoman Norton and Congressman Davis for your leadership and guidance in this area. It has been so critical to the African American community and to helping to resolve these issues that are very complex facing men and boys entering the criminal justice system. Again, thank you and have a great day.

Congressman Davis: Thank you.

Congresswoman Norton: Thank you.

Nancy Ware: Thank you very much.

[Video Ends]


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Corrections Technology-GPS-Officer Mobility-Driving Restrictions

Corrections Technology-GPS-Officer Mobility-Driving Restrictions

DC Public Safety Radio

Radio Show available at

Len Sipes: From the Nation’s Capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphone is Joe Russo, Director of Corrections, Technology, Center of Excellence at the University of Denver, which is part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, www.justnet,, talking about community corrections technology. Joe, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Joe Russo: Thank you Len, always great to be with you.

Len Sipes: Well it’s always a pleasure to be with you Joe because you’re one of the most popular programs that we have. Everybody is really interested in corrections technology, what it could be, what it really means to the rest of us. You’re on the cutting edge of it. So we have a variety of topics to talk about today. We’re talking about offender tracking and realistic expectations. We’re talking about correctional officer mobility, parole and probation agent mobility, virtual offices, the use of tablets, keeping our folks in the field and technology and driving restrictions. Those are the three topics. So why don’t you kick it off talking about GPS offender tracking, satellite tracking and realistic expectations.

Joe Russo: Absolutely. Yeah, I wanted to talk about this topic because, you know, over the last year or two there’s been a series of high profile cases across the country where offender’s tracked with GPS bracelets are committing horrific crimes. And this is very tragic and it’s set off in motion a number of investigations in California. There’s a state senator who has launched or asked the inspector general to investigate offender tracking. In New York state, a U.S. representative from New York has asked the government accountability office to investigate offender tracking, monitoring and after a heinous crime in that state. And this is all, you know, obviously appropriate scrutiny after such horrific crimes that have occurred. However, it really illustrates the importance of realistic expectations of the technology in managing those expectations with stakeholders in the public in general. When I think most of your audience understands the limitations of the technology, they’re well documented, there are inherent limitations to any technology, there are environments in which, you know, satellite tracking, GPS tracking just doesn’t work well. That’s a known. We know that these devices can be defeated, they can be cut, they can be jammed. Offenders can put aluminum foil on them and block signals or they can simply not power up their devices. So it’s, you know, fairly easy for a non-cooperative offender to get around this system. Again, these are well-known, well-documented limitations.

Len Sipes: But for the rest of us in the field, we’re fairly puzzled by the negative publicity because we understand the inherent limitations on GPS satellite tracking technology. We understand that it’s not full proof and we understand that just because the person has satellite tracking technology on doesn’t mean he can’t simply snip it off, doesn’t mean that he’ll stop committing crimes. And we’re sort of puzzled when we see the various negative stories coming out in the newspapers and TV stations because we’re saying to ourselves why doesn’t everybody else understand the limitations on this equipment. So I spoke to some reporters throughout the course of years and they said, well, you all in the community corrections fields are sort of overselling the promise of GPS. And I’m not quite sure that’s true. I mean, inherent within any technology, as you just said are limitations.

Joe Russo: That’s exactly right. I don’t know that community corrections agencies are necessarily overselling or vendors are overselling but there is a, you know, interesting kind of dynamic. Whenever an agency is looking for budgetary funds to implement a program, obviously they’re going to highlight the, you know, the positive parts of that technology and how that technology can benefit overall supervision. But as you alluded to, you know, the affects of any technology or any program are measured in the aggregate, you know, does the input, does the program or the treatment create a benefit to an aggregate population. Obviously, you know, they’re going to have individuals who are determined to continue their criminal ways. And regardless of whether it’s GPS monitoring or, you know, anger management training or any kind of high intensity supervision, it’s less of a reflection on the program as it is of the individual. So it’s, I think, you know, folks need to step back, understanding we’re dealing with a criminal element, understanding we’re dealing with, in community corrections, we’re not dealing with [PH 00:04:38.1] John Augustine’s’ Day, you know, or probationers or debtors or public drunkards.

Len Sipes: Mmm-hmm.

Joe Russo: A lot of these folks are serious offenders.

Len Sipes: Yep.

Joe Russo: And so agencies across the country are doing their best to implement technology, to implement programs to achieve positive outcomes but there will be failures.

Len Sipes: The two things that come to mind is, number one, the research from a variety of sources does indicate that GPS/satellite tracking does reduce offending, does reduce technical violations, does reduce the amount of – or the numbers or the percentage of people being returned to the correctional system. But there is a fairly strong corrective incentive in terms of GPS satellite tracking done well, correct, per research?

Joe Russo: Absolutely. There is that and even, you know, if you take the most negative view on it. You know, in those cases where offenders are determined to continue their criminal acts, GPS has been, you know, instrumental in making these offenders accountable. GPS location data is able to match the crime, you know, incident locations and the folks who ultimately are accountable for their actions. And in many cases, you know, they probably would have committed those crimes with or without tracking.

Len Sipes: Mmm-hmm.

Joe Russo: At least with tracking there’s an ability to hold these folks accountable.

Len Sipes: And we’ve been able to track down some fairly serious offenders through GPS tracking and so that is a huge plus. Number two, we train law enforcement, not just the metropolitan police department here in Washington, D.C., but we train the FBI, we train the secret service, we train a lot of law enforcement agencies in terms of the use of our GPS tracking device so they can see the offenders who they’re interested in, in real time. So there’s a lot of promise in terms of GPS satellite tracking but it is a huge drain on manpower. And I’m not quite sure people understand how difficult it is to keep – to watch all the tracking marks of an offender on a day-to-day basis and the fact that most of us in parole and probation are not 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. We’re basically Monday through Friday, 9-5. Now there are variations on that theme and there are some offenders who we do track in real time but those are problems. Take the first one. The fact that this is very – it involves a lot of intensive manpower, person power to keep track of all of the data that comes in.

Joe Russo: Absolutely and if there’s nothing else your listeners hear today is that the resource issues are paramount. Agencies need to be clear about why they’re tracking offenders, what purpose and what they hope to achieve and they need to dedicate the appropriate resources to accomplishing those goals. You know, far too many agencies compare the cost, the equipment cost of GPS to a day in jail and make cost-effective based decisions based on that. But the labor costs far exceed the equipment costs. And, you know, and that’s probably the biggest pitfall that agencies face. They don’t dedicate enough resources to maintaining programs, addressing violations, dealing with alerts and that’s where program integrity falls. And that’s where if a case goes really bad and an offender goes off and does something heinous that’s where the agency really has a difficult day explaining to the press why certain actions were not taken.

Len Sipes: Now we have here at the Court Services of Offender Supervision Agency, we use our vendor to track 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but just because they’re tracked 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, doesn’t mean that we have personnel at the ready to respond. So that’s the case as it is in virtually every parole and probation agency in the country, correct?

Joe Russo: Oh absolutely, absolutely, even for agencies, police agencies that operate GPS programs. And you would think they theoretically are the best situated to respond to alerts and cuts. Even they can’t be everywhere at every time. So obviously probation and parole agencies, you know, have much less resources, are much less able to react in a timely manner. So, again, these are understood limitations in technology, these expectations need to be managed. I think better education needs to occur between agencies and the public and judges and the media, frankly, so that we understand what we’re dealing with.

Len Sipes: Now the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence there at the University of Denver, again, part of the National Law Enforcement Corrections Technology Center, you all came out with guidelines, rather technical guidelines, rather complete guidelines in terms of the application of GPS, correct?

Joe Russo: We’re developing a standard right now for the performance of offender tracking devices. But more recently we published a guideline for agencies to think about GPS devices and GPS information as potential evidence. We thought that too many agencies don’t see these devices in that light. So the goal was to educate them to start thinking more about how they use these devices. And how potential evidence might end up in a court room if, for example, an offender who’s tracked is accused of committing a crime.

Len Sipes: Mmm-hmm. Now, the other thing that we’re talking about is not necessarily using devices that we currently provide, which are anklets strapped around the person’s ankle. We’re talking about going to a cell phone based system.

Joe Russo: Well we see that in the industry, there are vendors now who are offering basically SmartPhones with GPS chips to offenders and they can be tethered or not tethered, you know, wirelessly, and basically tracking is occurring through the phone. So there’s no device strapped to an ankle in certain applications. And this seems like it might be a trend for the future and may lead to, you know, one day where the offender brings his own device to be supervised and can bring in their own SmartPhone and the officer can install tracking software and accomplish tracking that way. Now this is a little far out thinking but it certainly seems to be a direction.

Len Sipes: Well everybody has always said that we’re looking for the day where the tracking device is not the size of a cell phone strapped to the offender’s ankle but the size of, I don’t know, a pen. And that device will automatically take blood pressure readings, will automatically take readings as to whether or not the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And so is that still pie in the sky or are we moving towards something along those lines?

Joe Russo: You know what, in different areas there are certainly components of what you described that are being developed but as you envision it or as I’m interpreting how you envision it, it may be a chip, an RF chip that’s embedded in the offender and has the ability to –

Len Sipes: Well no, not in the offender himself, but the device that they’re wearing.

Joe Russo: Oh absolutely. I mean, that’s even easier to do. So yeah, as these technologies mature and are developed, you know, then we’ll definitely see that in the future. I mean, obviously right now we have devices that can track transdermal alcohol expiration from the body, that’s one device. We have devices that can track movement. There are certainly physiological devices, you know, that Fitbit movement is opening up a whole lot of doors in terms of using machines and computers to monitor physiological activity. So certainly, you know, blood pressure, respiration rates and we can match that information to where a location is. Or if a sex offender is near a school and his heart rate is pumping, you know, that obviously tells a supervision officer something. So yes, right now it’s all theoretical but there are pieces in place and they’re growing. And one day maybe we can put it all together.

Len Sipes: Well the technical podcast I listened to this week in tech, Leo Laporte, on a weekly basis, religious basis and they talk about this stuff. Not necessarily in terms of tracking people on criminal supervision but they talk about the Fitbits, they talk about other wearable devices, they talk about taking blood pressure, they talk about monitoring pulses, they’re talking about whether or not a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol in terms of safe driving. So that conversation is taking place not within the criminal justice system, that conversation is taking place in the tech industry in general.

Joe Russo: Oh absolutely. People are fascinated with understanding their own physiology, their sleep patterns, increasing performance. And you’re right, this is well established and growing. But you’re right, there are applications for offender management there that can be tapped into.

Len Sipes: Okay. Before we go to the break and start talking about correctional officer mobility, parole and probation, agent mobility, virtual offices, office tablets and technology regarding driving restrictions, one of the things that we wanted to talk about was analytic capabilities.

Joe Russo: Yeah, absolutely. You know, in previous calls we’ve talked about the need for analytics to better analyze, understand and act upon all the data that GPS generates. And we talked about a couple of different initiatives that were going on across the country and I wanted listeners to know that since our last conversation one of the GPS providers has actually acquired a company that specializes in sophisticated analysis and interpretation of data. This company has a long track record working with intelligence agencies and defense agencies to make sense of big data. And recently they’ve been working with community corrections agencies to explore how their techniques might work with offender tracking data. This is very encouraging at least, you know, one company has taken a big step to provide their customers with this important capability and I think the trend will be that other, you know, other vendors will follow suit and provide similar support.

Len Sipes: What sort of things are we talking about tracking?

Joe Russo: Well, for example, link analysis, where offenders, who they are near, other tracked offenders, are there patterns that develop in terms of the locations that they tend to frequent, are they associating with other offenders? You know, can we establish other patterns of behavior based on other folks who are being tracked? So can we establish a drop point or a chop shop based on the time that offenders are spending in a particular location where there are patterns of movement.

Len Sipes: Interesting.

Joe Russo: So the idea is to take all of that, you know, aggregate data that GPS provides and move from the inclusion zone, exclusion zone kind of scenario to really digging deep and establishing patterns of behavior and really supporting the officer. Letting the officer know what types of information might need to be acted on.

Len Sipes: So everything that we’re hearing in terms of big data as it applies to Google, big data as it applies to IBM, big data as it applies to Wal-Mart, that same application is coming to corrections.

Joe Russo: Very much so. Very much so.

Len Sipes: Interesting.

Joe Russo: And GPS is one of the – kind of the easiest forays into this because we do acquire so much data in that area.

Len Sipes: All right Joe, we’re halfway through the program. Let me introduce you before we’re getting on to the other topics. Ladies and gentlemen, our guest today is Joe Russo, he is the Director of the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence at the University of Denver, part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, www.justnet,, www.justnet, Okay Joe, let’s go into the other topics that we are talking about. And I find this to be fascinating, so many companies now are moving away their own vehicles, moving, I’m sorry, moving away from offices and putting people out in vehicles all the time and it sounds like that’s what we’re talking about with parole and probation agent correctional officer mobility. Talking about virtual offices, talking about tablets, talking about giving that individual all the tech they need to stay in the field.

Joe Russo: Yeah, exactly, and this is something that’s been discussed, you know, for some time now. There’s been a movement against getting away from the ivory tower of probation and parole work, getting away from central office and headquarters, making the offender report downtown typically to the officer.

Len Sipes: Mmm-hmm.

Joe Russo: But in recent years, and in part prompted by economic issues, but a lot of agencies are looking at ways to get the officers in the field where the offenders are, where they live and work and where they exist. Georgia, perhaps, is the leader in this in terms of, you know, actually shutting down offices and requiring parole officers to maintain virtual offices out of their cars. And the agencies provide the officers with everything they need, SmartPhones and tablets and laptops so there’s really to come to a physical office. And in this way the early reports are that they’re seeing success because they’re able to make more contact with the offenders, more sustained contact in their environment and the outcome so far have been very positive.

Len Sipes: Well I remember years ago when I worked for the United States Senate, one of the folks there gave me a laptop computer and then a couple weeks later said, you know, is the use of the enhanced technology of a laptop computer changing the way that you work? And I’m going, well, no, I mean, just because you gave me a laptop doesn’t mean that I’m any more proficient. I mean, I report to the office every day and there is a desktop. How exactly is the laptop going to assist me beyond office hours? I mean, I understand beyond office hours, having a direct link to the computers but, you know, so sometimes I get the sense that we provide technology, laptops, tablets, cell phones, mobile fingerprint readers, again, sort of like with GPS, unrealistic expectations. So I would imagine this parole and probation agent, this correctional officer is well versed in terms of what mobile technology can do for them.

Joe Russo: Well that would be a necessary, you know, prerequisite obviously, you know, officers need to be somewhat tech savvy, be open and willing to learn perhaps new tools for them, you know, not everyone grew up with this technology certainly. So I’m sure there’s a learning curve for some officers. But certainly there needs to be openness. But it sounds like, you know, the agency made a decision from the top down that this is what they want and this is what they want to see. They don’t want to spend their resources paying rental space throughout this, they want to spend their resources where they can make the most direct and positive impact on outcomes and that’s the direction that they took. And, you know, just looking at it objectively, not having to come and go from an office increases efficiencies over and above the, you know, the cost savings for office space. Folks need to be in the field, officers need to be in the field where the action is. And that’s just common sense and I think that, you know, more and more agencies are coming to that realization and acting on it.

Len Sipes: Is mobile fingerprint readers involved in this, drug testing equipment, I mean, how far are they taking it?

Joe Russo: Well I think that that might be part and parcel. I’m not aware, but the primary objective is you take the office and you put it in the car.

Len Sipes: Okay. And that makes a tremendous amount of sense to me because why be in the office when you can be out in the field especially if you’re doing surprise visits. And I understand that a lot of the visits need to be scheduled because, you know, the mother or the father, the family member, the sponsor, volunteers can be there and work with the parole and probation agent and work with the offender, so I understand that. But the idea of a spontaneous visit to that person’s place of work or where that person lives or where that person socializes, especially in the evenings, makes an awful lot of sense to me.

Joe Russo: Well particularly with, you know, as GPS grows in terms of tracking offenders or if, you know, one day offenders are bringing their own device and we’re tracking offenders by their phones and, you know, phones are pretty ubiquitous at this point and it’s only going to grow more so. You know, perhaps we have the capability in the future to go where the offender is and not go necessarily to the house or the workplace.

Len Sipes: That would be interesting. So, in other words, GPS tracking, you know exactly where that person is and suddenly, voilà, you pop up and say hi.

Joe Russo: Well and that’s part of the larger, you know, internet of things, movement that’s going on in society is that, you know, we have all these sensors that are out there. We have all these machines that can be connected to the internet. They all can be networked and provide useful information. So, you know, if a GPS tracking device is linked to an officer’s GPS tracking or a GPS system in their car, which tells them what route to take to get to the offender’s location, if these systems link up and communicate and tell the officer, you know, don’t bother making that home visit because the offender is not home.

Len Sipes: Interesting, very, very interesting. I mean, so we’re talking about really moving community corrections well into the 21st century and really bringing a sense of the internet of things, of big data, of mobility, of tracking, of, you know, as some people have hoped for, the mobile ability to say, hey, this person is now using drugs, this person is now using alcohol. I mean, it does bring us into contact with the people on supervision to a much more powerful degree than we have in the past, which, you know, when I was in the state of Maryland any sense of intensive contact or intensive supervision was two face-to-face contacts a month. Now we’re talking about almost continuous contacts if we choose to do it and if we have the software through big data to analyze what’s going on.

Joe Russo: Yeah, absolutely and within that capability obviously comes challenges, right. We have somewhat privacy issues although those are mitigated because of the status of our offenders but you have the information overload issues and we’re already seeing that with just GPS technology and the need to manage that data. So obviously, you know, the more sensors we try to tap into, the more connection of machines we try to leverage, the natural result is we have exponentially more data to sift through and figure out what’s important and what’s actionable and what’s not.

Len Sipes: And that’s why I’m hoping whoever’s developing all of this develops the algorithms to allow us to make sense of the data because there’s no way an individual parole and probation agent, I would imagine the average caseload in this country is somewhere in the ballpark of 150 individuals per parole and probation agent, if you had half of those under these enhanced sensors, so you’re talking about, what, 75 individuals where data is coming in on a day-to-day basis. That would easily overwhelm that human being, that parole and probation agent, that correctional officer. That person could never keep up with all that data. So somehow, some way, somebody’s got to figure out a way of making sense of that data.

Joe Russo: Well exactly, there’s no question about it. And then the worst possible scenario is you’re overloaded with so much of this data and we don’t know which of this data is important and which is not, that the officer doesn’t have time to do the direct contact interventions that we know are so important.

Len Sipes: Exactly. So we have to plow through the invention of new data and we have to plow through the invention of new algorithms to make sense of all that data.

Joe Russo: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay. Technology and driving restrictions, we have say in the final five minutes of the program. Once again, everybody has hoped for that piece of technology to the point where the car simply would not start for those on drinking and driving programs, that the car simply would not start. Now there are cars out there with locking devices that they do blow into the tube and if they blow over a certain level that car will not start. So that exists now, right?

Joe Russo: That exists now and that works, you know, quite well. One of the biggest ways or the most common ways for an offender to work around that type of a scenario is to simply install Interlock on a car and meet the judge’s requirement and then drive another car.

Len Sipes: Yeah, drive another car.

Joe Russo: So that – it’s pretty simple to get around. One of the Interlock providers has recently bought a patent on technology that’s been around for a while but is only now being seriously evaluated for viability. And this technology basically looks to identify driving behaviors. And so what we’re looking at are ankle bracelets that can detect the movements that are consistent with driving a car. So essentially there’s a unique physiological signature that’s associated with driving. So if you think about the foot movements that you do without thinking, your acceleration, your braking, sensors can determine your speed. And all of these things put together, you know, you mentioned algorithms just before, these algorithms are designed to identify those signals that are consistent with a driving episode and then alert officers that this is occurring.

Len Sipes: Sort of like a black box for automobiles or a black box for human beings?

Joe Russo: Well it would be for human beings because, again, with the Interlock system we don’t want to monitor the car. We want to monitor the offender. So these as envisioned, these would be ankle device, ankle bracelets that detect the movements of the foot.
Len Sipes: Oh, that’s interesting. So all of that is not necessarily biologically based, it is foot based.

Joe Russo: Yeah, it’s more mechanically based.

Len Sipes: Oh.

Joe Russo: It’s based on the physiology of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. So if you think about it, there are very few actions or movements that you would make that are consistent with driving that are not related to driving. So you’re not necessarily pressing down, for example, on an accelerator.

Len Sipes: That is interesting. That is really interesting. So the bottom line is that, you know, right now we have breathalyzers, right now we have blood tests in terms of substance abuse, but you’re actually talking about something that actually measures the movement of the foot. I would love to be in court to establish that – to establish the legal basis of that. I would imagine that’s going to be a fight from the very beginning. But if you could introduce that it would be revolutionary.

Joe Russo: Well exactly. I mean, any new technology obviously faces those legal hurdles. And certainly that would just be one piece of evidence against an offender and our standards of evidence are much lower than a new criminal case. But if you have indication that this offender is driving when he shouldn’t be driving or he’s driving a car that’s not – that doesn’t have Interlock installed in it, then that provides an investigative lead for officers to go and find other information. So it wouldn’t necessarily be the nail in the coffin but it would be one piece of evidence.

Len Sipes: Being it’s not physiologically based, that could also apply to drugs as well.

Joe Russo: You know, the same thinking and theory. Another example that comes to mind is folks have developed handwriting analysis as a method of determining impairment. And so what they’ve looked at is, you know, the way that you sign your name physiologically is altered if you’re impaired. Now it may look exactly like your signature sober but the movements, the signals from your brain to your hand create very distinct and minute differences in the signature. So if we capture a computerized signature of an impaired person, there’s research that suggests that you can tell if someone is impaired simply by the way they’re writing their name versus how the name looks.

Len Sipes: I’ll tell you Joe, it’s always a fascinating conversation when you and I talk about corrections technology. That’s one of the reasons why this program is one of the more popular programs that we do. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been talking today to Joe Russo, the Director of the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence at the University of Denver, part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, www.justnet,, Ladies and gentlemen, this is talking DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms. And we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.


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Criminal Justice Information Sharing-NCJA

Criminal Justice Information Sharing-NCJA

DC Public Safety Radio

Radio Show available at

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety; I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen today we’re doing a show on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, brought to us by the National Criminal Justice Association, the voice of the nation’s public safety community at In essence what we’re going to be talking about today is information sharing between states, to improve public safety, to improve officer safety. By our microphones today we have Tammy Woodhams, she is a senior staff associate with the National Criminal Justice Association, we have Mannone Butler Executive Director of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and we have Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. To Tammy, and Mannone and Ed, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Tammy Woodhams: Thank you.

Mannone Butler: Thank you.

Ed Parker: Hi.

Len Sipes: I really appreciate you guys being here, because information sharing is one of the hardest things that we within the criminal justice system do, brings immense difficulties, and I’m going to read very quickly from a report sent by the National Criminal Justice Association.

Over the past few years leaders from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia have been working the share information on offenders who move freely across jurisdictional boundaries to this end. These four jurisdictions form the Mid Atlantic Regional Information Consortium to secure justice information systems. These four jurisdictions as well as Virginia, New York, now exchange arrest information with Maryland to identify offenders who are on parole and probation who are arrested outside of that jurisdiction. Given the density and mobility of the offender populations in these jurisdictions, the sharing of justice information was deemed critical to the Administration of Justice and Public Safety, in this multi-state region.

The average person I think, and I’m going to start off with you Tammy, would believe that this is something that we do all the time. They watch a lot of television, and they see a lot of criminal justice people, on television shows, fictional television shows, sharing an immense amount of information with everybody. Is that the way it really works?

Tammy Woodhams: No it doesn’t, we fondly call this the CSI Effect. We wish it were that way, and we wish we could share information, and solve crimes as quickly as they’re able to in a 45 minute television show, but in reality it just doesn’t happen like that. The states that we work with have various information sharing at many, many levels, and we through NCJA have a grant to help advance information sharing with the states. That’s what we’ve done over the course of the last couple of years, to work with the nearest states as they move forward with their efforts.

Len Sipes: Well the National Criminal Justice Association, and again they’ve been around as long as I’ve been around in the criminal justice system, which is 45 years. You basically bring the states and jurisdictions, and county, and cities together to share information with each other. You’re essentially the information sharing experts within the criminal justice system, within the United States correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Right and we do that, we convene stakeholders from all across the country, justice leaders, practitioners and researchers, to advance information sharing and best practices. One of the specific areas that we’re working on is in the justice information sharing field. Specific to public safety.

Len Sipes: But we’re going to start off with one example, and that is, in, you know, I represent a parole and probation, federal parole and probation agency here in Washington DC. You go across the line in Maryland, you go across Southern Avenue, it’s right there, I mean it’s just walking across the street, and you’re in an entirely different jurisdiction. At one point, you know, people who were arrested in Maryland may not necessarily show up on our radar screen, what we do, is go in as a parole and probation agency, we do go in periodically and take a look at the National Crime Information Center system to see if somebody has been arrested. We now have a protocol in place where if the person’s arrested in Maryland, a person’s arrested in Virginia, we’re immediately notified. Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office in Crime Control and Prevention, essentially that’s what is flowing through your state, the surrounding states feed information to you about parolees and probationers who have been arrested, and you disseminate it to everybody else?

Ed Parker: Yes Len that’s absolutely correct, and just to go back briefly and touch on a point that you made earlier. I think that there is, you know, a widespread belief and assumption that this type of information is seamlessly shared and coordinated, on a routine basis. It really is not, unfortunately there are a lot of information silos that need to be broken down. If, at least in my opinion, we are to be as effective as we can be in reducing crime, and supervising violent offenders. That’s a challenge both inside your own state, and it becomes even more problematic, as you can well imagine, when we’re talking about sharing information across jurisdictional boundaries, but to get back to your question about the arrests. One of the things that we learned, starting back in 2007, in conversations with our counterparts in Washington, is that a lot of offenders under supervision here in Maryland, were being arrested in Washington DC. And a lot of offenders under community based supervision, in DC, were being arrested here in Maryland. The problem was that offenders were essentially on the honor system to tell us about those new arrests and obviously it wasn’t working out very well for us. So we needed to come up with another tool. The solution that we came up with, was to initially exchange a daily arrest feed with our counterparts in Washington DC, and to match that arrest data against our parole and probation supervision files. If there’s a match between an arrest in Washington and somebody under parole or probation supervision in Maryland, an email alert is automatically sent out to the supervising agent, so that appropriate action can be taken. To just real quickly put this into some kind of context or perspective, since we started this process with, initially with Washington DC and now with Virginia, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, we’ve been able to identify over 15,000 offenders under parole and probation supervision in Maryland, that were arrested outside the jurisdiction.

Len Sipes: Now that’s amazing, that is absolutely amazing. 15,000 individuals arrested outside of the state of Maryland that you would have been under the honor system, before this information sharing exchange was in place. If they had lied to you, you wouldn’t know unless the parole and probation agent in the state of Maryland ran a National Crime Information Center check?

Ed Parker: That’s exactly correct, I mean theoretically yes it would have been possible to run a record check each and every morning, on every supervisee. But Len as you know through your own experience, that’s a practical impossibility.

Len Sipes: Yes you can’t do that. I understand that, but I mean this is the heart and soul in terms of protecting public safety, because you could have, I mean it’s a stereotypical example. But you could have a sex offender who basically says, you know, I’m pretty well supervised in Washington DC, I think I’ll do my crimes in Maryland, and with the idea that if he comes into contact with the criminal justice system or gets arrested. He thinks that he may get away with it, because his crimes were in Baltimore and not in the District of Columbia. But now what we’re saying is that he can’t, if he comes into contact with the criminal justice system, if he’s arrested, everybody else knows about it instantaneously.

Ed Parker: Yes correct.

Len Sipes: Right, Mannone Butler, Executive Director of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Mannone you and I have known each other for quite some time. Your point is, has always been that we have to share information beyond the District of Columbia, we’re a city in essence. We I know, within the District of Columbia feel that we are a state, but we are a city, and at the same time we’re surrounded by Virginia, we’re surrounded by Maryland, Pennsylvania is a hop skip and jump away. We’ve got people commuting every day from West Virginia into Washington DC. So offenders being mobile, they can go any place, information sharing is a really important goal of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Mannone Butler: Absolutely critical Len, as you know working with our partners here in the district, it’s been one of our priorities, we are unique in that we’re working with both federal and local partners. So our partners have come to the table understanding, and also acknowledging that the fact that we have to work through as Ed put it, you know, through information sharing silo. So justice, our justice information system was really designed with that in mind. So locally the goal is to share information and work towards breaking through information sharing silos, but with MARIS this is really the opportunity to cross borders. We are a hop skip and a jump across, away from Maryland. Pennsylvania is right down the 95 Corridor, so it’s critical for us to really figure out how to more effectively and efficiently share information, in as real time as possible, so that we can address these Criminal Justice issues that are right in front of us. So working with our partners in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, who all really recognize the importance of the issue, we really do think that we’re making a lot of headway. But we also are real clear about some of the challenges that are not uncommon within a jurisdiction. We are now facing those things, the policy issues and the like, that have come up when we’re talking about trying to address information sharing, outside of our jurisdictions as well.

Len Sipes: I do want to remind our listeners that I think Mannone and the other people who have been in charge of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, are probably best suited for the State Department, after they have done their gig here in the District of Columbia. Because Mannone has to deal with my agency, which is a federal agency and the courts have been federalized, the prosecuting attorney has been federalized, the Public Offenders Office has been federalized. You combine that with a local DC police department, a local juvenile initiative, again at the DC level, and the jail which is the District of Columbia. So you have this combination of federal agencies and District of Columbia agencies, and now, you bring into the mix, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the other states, and that becomes extraordinarily complex in terms of keeping everybody happy, and keeping information systems up and running. So Mannone you’ve got a real task on your hands.

Mannone Butler: Yes but you know I think at the end of the day, there’s some real common goals, and it really is to make sure that we’re focusing on public safety. That’s really our north star, so appreciating the fact that we have different audiences and I share this with our partners in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, and in Delaware, and we’ve been meeting. So folks understand that, you know, DC we have our unique, our composition is unique, but the reality is that at the end of the day we want to make sure that the public is safe. Information sharing is critical to get us there, so there are some real nuances to the information sharing realities that we’ve embarked upon with this project specifically. So we can’t be deterred by the jurisdictional issues that come up, internally or externally to be certain.

Len Sipes: I think Mannone you’re being wonderfully diplomatic and — but I’ll go over to Tammy Woodhams of the National Criminal Justice Association. Something before we hit the record button, Ed mentioned, Ed Parker from the state of Maryland, mentioned that look, you know, we’re the Criminal Justice system, we’ve been pretty secretive and we’ve been criticized after the events of 9/11 for not sharing information. We have basically kept all this information to ourselves, so I do, in the second half of the show want to get onto to the other parts of information sharing in terms of the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, but that’s true correct Tammy? That we traditionally have not been embracing of each other?

Tammy Woodhams: Oh definitely and you have the separation of powers that are involved in that. You have turf issues and traditionally in the criminal justice system, a sheriff did not want to necessarily share his information with the prosecuting attorney’s office, or the courts didn’t want to share that information. I think that, they’ve been very protective of that information, so the fact that Mannone has been able to pull off, getting all her partners together and willing to share information, really bodes well for Washington DC and with Maryland, and Delaware, and Pennsylvania and all of their stakeholders, who are willing to share. A lot of it really boils back down to traditional turf issues that have been invited [PH 00:14:29] in the criminal justice system for years.

Len Sipes: Well also there are information sharing issues in terms of the technology that everybody can embrace, and everybody can share information on. So it’s just not a matter of turf it’s a matter of implanting the right technology, the right information sharing technology, so everybody is not just onboard philosophically, but onboard technologically, correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Right and for many years the technology wasn’t there to be able to share, and in recent years, the Federal Government has been making a big push to encourage the adoption of the National Justice Information Caring Standards and Tools for their global advisory committee and they have come up with information caring standards, such as the National Information Exchange Model, Global Reference Architecture, Global Federated ID and Privileged Management. In essence a lot of acronyms and basically they boil down to the ability to be able to guide, and provide tools to allow that information sharing to occur. Promote cross boundary information sharing as well.

Len Sipes: Let me reintroduce everybody, because we’re right at the halfway point, and I’ll get back to you just momentarily. Ladies and gentlemen we’re doing a show today on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, but we’re really talking about information sharing within the criminal justice system. The show is produced today by the National Criminal Justice Association, our guests today are Tammy Woodhams, senior staff associate for the National Criminal Justice Association, Mannone Butler, Executive Director, DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Office, Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Ed go ahead with your point please.

Ed Parker: Well Len I was just going to point out, we were talking before about some of the barriers to establishing effective information sharing protocols. One of the issues that came up was technology. I just wanted to point out, that it’s always been my experience that the technology barriers are the easiest ones to overcome. There’s always some very smart, you know, IT person out there who can work out a technological solution to almost any problem. But the policy issues in my opinion are far more challenging to overcome when you’re doing something like we’ve been trying to do over the last several years. Again, breaking down that culture of secrecy, addressing the policy and potential legal issues involved. Who can access what, and under what circumstances for example. The security concerns, controlling access to make sure that the inappropriate people don’t have access to sensitive information. Making sure that audit trails are built in, so if something does go wrong, we can track back and figure out who accessed what and when. Then the privacy issues to try to make sure that we are protecting the privacy of citizens so that no sensitive information is shared inappropriately with anybody, including law enforcement.

Mannone Butler: And Ed has actually just, I’m sorry, Ed really just has outlined I think critical areas for us as we again, we focus within your jurisdictions on issues around information sharing, those are hallmark issues for us. Now you’re talking about policy and jurisdictional lines, they are then, they become even more critical because we’re talking about policy issues that have implications that, here before, they may not even have been mapped out. So I think that we really, the technology piece oftentimes heard from our IT folks in my office, in the district, we can take care of the technology, it really is making sure we have the business, the privacy, the policy, issues mapped out. That’s really where the rubber meets the road.

Len Sipes: Well that’s difficult, and it’s fairly complex, I guess I just keep going back, you know, what I always try to phone a couple of people before doing shows. One person was, telling me, he said, you know you want NCIS, you watch all these television shows and you have the sense that there’s information flowing. There’s information sharing, a portion of it is free flowing, it happens every day, it’s seamless and there really are no issues. In reality we’re just beginning to set up these technological and legal, and ethical protocols between states, we’re just starting this movement to be sure that the right information is shared, and that it’s ethical, and legal, and that we have the technical pieces in place. We’re just beginning this process, am I right or wrong?

Ed Parker: I think you’re absolutely right Len.

Mannone Butler: Yes.

Len Sipes: Let’s talk about some of the things that we are talking about because somebody listening to this program is going to go, okay I get it, the offender, A who is being supervised in Washington DC, goes to the state of Maryland, goes to Pennsylvania, goes to Virginia, goes to Delaware and then DC wants to know whether or not he’s been arrested. Fine I’ll give you that, but in this day and age of privacy concerns, I just want to give people a sense as to what else that we’re talking about. There’s law enforcement data, there’s intelligence data, in some cases a license plate recognition, fusion centers, where law enforcement and correctional people get together and share information, and make sure that the right information is being transferred from one jurisdiction to another. Scrap metal, pawn and secondary property databases, I mean these are all some of the things that I’m reading from in terms of the executive summary of the report on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative. So something as simple as, somebody steals a tremendous amount of metal, and crosses the state line to sell it, it would be nice for that police department in Pennsylvania to be able to say, ah it went into Virginia, and that’s where they sold it, and now we can follow up. I mean that’s pretty commonsensical stuff.

Ed Parker: Absolutely Len, I mean it would be critical to know that someone with a Pennsylvania address is pawning materials in another jurisdiction. It would also be interesting to note frequent pawners, if people are going to multiple pawn shops in a relative short period of time, which maybe innocent, but then again it could be indicative of criminal activity. So it’s a perfect example of why we should share yes.

Len Sipes: You know offenders float, people involved in crime, are going to float from one jurisdiction to another. Especially when you’ve got — you know you can go from the state of Maryland to the District of Columbia, into the state of Virginia and what, Mannone, 15, 20 minutes?

Mannone Butler: That’s right.

Len Sipes: So there has to be information sharing.

Mannone Butler: Yes there has to be information sharing, and so we talked about some of the challenges, but I also want to just highlight that as we’re going through this process for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Information Sharing Project, we also are really in the process of identifying, so what does it mean, what are the policies that you have within your own jurisdiction? That’s really critical and we want, we can’t lose sight of, you know, Ed mentioned privacy. We can’t lose sight of some real practical issues, the goal is to ensure public safety, right?

Len Sipes: Right.

Mannone Butler: But we also need to be real clear about what it means when we’re talking about sharing information. So each of our respective portals, our IT systems have rules of the road if you will. So part of the work here is mapping our systems so that the rules of each jurisdiction, can be followed in a way that really is appropriate. So that is no small feat, we’re not going to be deterred by that, but we want to make sure that folks really understand, that that work is something that also has to be done. You’re balancing our public safety with privacy, the information sharing piece is something that we can’t lose in this conversation.

Len Sipes: And the Federal Law to remind everybody, we being a federal agency, in terms of medical information, psychological information, that is protected, it’s protected by the Federal Privacy Act, which means that I can sit down with the police department in the metropolitan police department in Washington DC. Or the Maryland State Police, or the Virginia State Police, and discuss this offender, and what he’s doing right, and what he’s doing wrong. But there are certain things by Federal Law we cannot violate, and there’s certain information that we cannot transmit. So that’s what you’re talking about Mannone correct?

Mannone Butler: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And whether people like it or not, that is the Federal Privacy Act is something, I mean we’re a law enforcement agencies, we’re supposed to uphold the law. So for those people out there listening to this, and saying well gee this is just another example of big government sharing information on individuals. We take those privacy concerns very seriously, Ed?

Mannone Butler: And it really does —

Ed Parker: Yes?

Mannone Butler: — I’m sorry it just goes to the purpose of this really for us is to figure out, and it’s kind of you’re threading that needle. How do we get to sharing information as we started this conversation in a way, that really makes sense for all our jurisdictions. So we can address the information that’s out there, and so that we can again protect the public. But in the same token there are basic policy and privacy considerations that are federal in nature, but there are also some local jurisdictions, or local laws that we also have to be mindful of, and that’s a process that we have to navigate as well.

Len Sipes: But if you’ve got somebody who is considering an act of terrorism, you want that information shared with the state that it happens to be right next door to you. So there are all sorts of benefits to making sure that Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and all the other states involved in the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, that we are sure to share the right information with the right people.

Ed Parker: Len, you’re absolutely right Len, I mean in this day and age, we have more information available to law enforcement and public safety agencies, than we’ve ever had in history. You’ve been in this business a long time, and so have I, and the technological advances that we’ve made recently are just phenomenal. I mean, to give you an example, we have our law enforcement, or criminal justice dashboard in Maryland. It’s a web based data consolidation tool that’s accessible to anyone with a valid NCIC user ID and password. It enables a person with the appropriate credentials to search information from over 115 different data sources, but Pennsylvania has a similar system, Delaware has a similar system, their Deljis System. The district has a similar system, their Justice System, but linking all these systems together to share information in a seamless way, is challenging and Mannone just pointed out, one of the big challenges that there are legal differences between the laws that govern DC, and the laws that govern Maryland, and the laws that govern Pennsylvania and Delaware for example. So when we first started embarking down this road, we finally came to the realization that we were not going to be able to share everything with everybody. Instead each jurisdiction was just going to have to make available the information that it could make available, pursuant to their own policies and laws. That’s fine, it’s a start, and we can build on that.

Len Sipes: Now somebody has to coordinate all this, somebody has to bring everybody together, and again Tammy that would be the role of the National Criminal Justice Association. I’m assuming that somewhere along the line, the Department of Justice, through probably the Bureau of Justice Assistance is involved in this correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Yes correct. DJA funded, NCJA to serve as a convener, and advance the information sharing efforts throughout the country. We’re working closely with MARIS, to staff the meetings, bring them together, track what’s going on, we have bi-weekly calls with the technical team for MARIS. Document all of that and track the decisions that are made along the way. So we’ll be hosting a MARIS meeting in the near future in Baltimore to sign up a government structure for MARIS. We provide that guidance, we also bring in other training and technical assistants provided to help us move this along, and ensure the implementation and standards along the way.

Len Sipes: Well we’ve got just about a minute left, anybody want to add in on this, because we could — just license plate recognition, if there is a license tag wanted by Pennsylvania, and they’ve just abducted a child, and they’re found in Virginia, again that’s yet another example, when I’m taking a look at your executive summary, as to the power of information sharing. Of getting that information back to the state of Pennsylvania immediately.

Ed Parker: Len you just hit the nail on the head, it’s immediate access to the information. If the detective working that case that you just described in Pennsylvania, has to wait until nine o’clock the next morning to pick up the telephone and call somebody in Maryland, or the District or Delaware to get the information. It’s not very effective, but instead if a search, an automated search can be launched, a federated search against all of our jurisdictional databases, to pull back that information instantaneously. Then that’s a real accomplishment for all of us that are involved in trying to reduce crime and improve public safety.

Len Sipes: The state of Pennsylvania could say to the state of Virginia, don’t stop that car, follow them, and lead us to where we believe that other children are held. So that information flow could be just operational, it could be conclusion or it could be ongoing.

Ed Parker: Yes.

Len Sipes: Alright so, I really do appreciate all three of you being here by our microphones today, because I think this whole concept of information sharing is so important to the criminal justice system. Tammy Woodhams, senior staff associate National Criminal Justice Association, Mannone Butler, Executive Director of DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your compliments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.