Workloads in Parole and Probation-APPA-RTI International-DC Public Safety Radio

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Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, today’s program is on Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two experts with us today. Dr. Matthew DeMichele, he is with RTI International, commonly known as Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist. The website at RTI is And Adam Matz from the American Probation and Parole Association is back at our microphone. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments. Again, American Probation and Parole Association, the website for Adam, And to Matthew and Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Adam Matz: Thank you, Len.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Len Sipes: All right, gentlemen, this is a very important topic, this really is. I was watching a CNN program today, a big report about California and their problems in terms of prison realignment. We did a radio show with Joan Petersilia on the California prison realignment issues, and we have employees basically saying that they don’t have the wherewithal to deal with people who violate. They don’t have any options. There’s a real struggle in the state of California for what’s happening in terms of dealing with criminal offenders coming out of the prison system.  I’m not going to get into the details of that, but what’s happening in California is somewhat illustrative of what’s happening in a variety of states throughout the United States. The question is do parole and probation agents have sufficient resources, do parole and probation agents have appropriate staffing levels to deal with the offender population in such a way to help them get the services they need, and at the same time to hold them accountable. Adam, I’m going to start with you. Did I summarize the issue correctly?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think you did a pretty good job of summarizing it. It is true that across the nation in various pockets, there are obviously issues where folks have exorbitant case-load sizes that are far beyond what’s generally recommended.

Len Sipes: And the problem is that when we’re talking about case loads, now here at the Court Services of Offender Supervision Agency, we’re a federal parole and probation agency here in Washington, D.C., our case loads run on average 50-to-1. Our specialized case loads run anywhere from 20- to 30-to-1, for our high-risk case loads and for our specialized case loads, and we have lot of them, so we have the luxury of having federal funding but in many states throughout the country, ratios of 100-to-1, 200-to-1 and above that are not uncommon. Matthew, am I in the ballpark?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, I think that’s exactly the situation that’s going on right now.

Len Sipes: So what do we do? I mean, we have parole and probation. I think parole and probation agents throughout the United States are doing an extraordinarily good job of protecting the public and providing services to people under supervision. We understand that there has to be a combination of services as well as accountability if we’re ever going to lower rates of recidivism, if we’re ever going to protect the public in terms of reducing the number of crimes, but how can a parole and probation agent be effective if he or she has case loads beyond any sense of workability, beyond any sense of efficacy?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, I would say they can’t be successful. I mean, if we’re not going to correctly fund and staff probation and parole agencies, then they’re going to come short of the goal of reducing recidivism. I think what has to happen and what I’ve written about with Adam and with another co-author of mine, Brian Payne, who’s at Old Dominion University, is the idea that we have to look at the things that probation and parole officers are doing and how long it takes them to do those things, and then prioritize them of what we need officers to do, and we can’t continually use probation and parole as kind of the dustbin to sweep up the burden of mass incarceration and then not fund those agents appropriately, and essentially it leaves the officers kind of there holding the bag as they’re trying to struggle to keep cases from going bad.  And just as you had described with the California situation, I mean, while California may be an exaggerated case of what’s going on around the country, it’s definitely not an isolated incident. I know I’ve been doing some workload studies and evaluations in a couple of different states and some different departments, and you do see similar sorts of issues in that officers have these very large case loads, and even while CSOSA has the luxury of having 25 offenders on specialized units, in most departments or at least the departments I’m working with, that’s not the case. That’s what it’s supposed to be but very often it’s more like 50 or 60 offenders.  And so it’s just like your job and my job and anybody else’s job, if they give us too many things to do, we’re either not going to get them done or we’re not going to get them done correctly.

Len Sipes: I want to set this up with a question and that is this, is that California is an extreme case but we know that states throughout the country are working with the Department of Justice, or they’re working with the Council of State Governments or they’re working with PEW, and they’re taking a look at sentencing policies, they’re taking a look at corrections across the board; and the sense that I get from reading these reports is that parole and probation is on the frontline of public safety more than ever before. The time pretty much is now.  Parole and probation, whether we step up to the plate or not, whether we have the proper case load ratios or not, parole and probation is not coming center stage because what these states are basically saying is that we can no longer afford the level of incarceration that we’ve had over the past 10 or 20 years. For the first time, Department of Justice research states that over the course of the last 3-years, prison populations are decreasing not increasing – at the state level, not the federal level, but at the state level – and these individuals are going to be coming to parole and probation agencies in greater numbers. Am I correct in that assessment?

Adam Matz: Yeah. I can take a response to that, if you don’t mind. Yeah honestly, you’re right, there is kind of this realization that probation and parole is a big part of this sort of correctional tie, if you will, and some of the PEW research, some of the BJS data, the Bureau of Justice Statistics data, shows that most of the people under correctional supervision are under some form of community supervision. So most of the folks in the correctional population are under probation or parole supervision, specifically about 4.2 million probation and about 850,000 are under parole. First, there’s about 2 million under prison or jail supervision.  So I think folks have kind of realized that there’s a big part here with community corrections, a lot of potential here that’s not really being tapped into, it’s not being fully realized, and so it’s great to see kind of these resources being directed at sort of the back end of the justice system, if you will. Historically it’s sort of been focused either on police or maybe in the last decade more institutions, so I think that’s a good point to make.

Len Sipes: Well, and the question is are we up to it. The overwhelming majority of people who are in the correctional system first of all, who are in prisons, are going to come out. 97%, 98% of the people in prisons are going to come out, and generally-speaking, they will be on parole and probation supervision. On any given day, what is it, Adam, 75% of the correctional population is under some form of community supervision? They’re not behind bars, they’re with us, and that’s like 7 million human beings combined with parole and probation and mainstream corrections, so we’re talking about what, about 5 million under community corrections, under parole and probation?

Adam Matz: That’s right.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right.

Len Sipes: All right, so when we’re talking about corrections in America, even though all the television shows we watch are about, you know, if you go to A&E and the other cable networks, they’re all talking about being inside of a prison, looking at life inside of a prison. The overwhelming majority of the people under correctional supervision belong to us within parole and probation, right?

Adam Matz: Yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right. Yeah, definitely, I mean 5 million out of 7 million.

Len Sipes: So the question becomes, are we up to it? Are we up to the task? Do we have the sufficient training, resources, and work loads to again, the research says that the need programs, if they’re going to be successful, whether it be work programs, mental health, substance abuse, GED, whatever we have to do to get them involved in programs, that’s a big part of it; but at the same time we have to hold them accountable for their actions. So for that helping role and for that accountability role, are we sufficiently equipped with the work loads to allow that to happen? – And I think the answer is very quickly “no.”

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, yeah, Len, I think you did a good of answering your own question. I mean, I think as we’re doing it now, I mean the way things are going now, as we just said, if we’re not going to correctly staff and fund probation and parole, it’s not going to work. – And it goes back to this idea of Martinson’s research back in the ’70s of corrections rehabilitation programs don’t work, and I think a lot of times when a parole leader or a probationer goes bad, everybody’s really quick to point the finger at, you know, probation and parole is soft on crime and it’s not the right way to punish people, but nobody talks about, you know, do prisons work.  I mean, do we really expect that prisons are rehabilitating folks the way that we’re putting them in there, and that we’re not programming folks while they’re in there, and we’re not addressing criminogenic needs or any of the rehabilitative needs? Instead we’re cycling people in and out from prison on to parole and back into prison, and then continuing to just do this revolving door of churning offenders back and forth.  So I think that as policy-makers and different organizations like APPA, CSU,  PEW, and other places have been working with the Department of Justice, because people have realized that this mass incarceration movement that we started from the ’70s till now has not been working. And as you said, we know almost all the people that are locked up today are going to be out one day and they’re going to be walking around our streets, and it’s how best to kind of redefine and reconceptualize what probation and parole is because I think that while your listeners are very aware of what probation and what parole and what those things are, most of the public aren’t. I think most of the public and even a lot of policy-makers don’t even know the difference between probation and parole, and that’s kind of what myself and Brian Payne and Adam, that we worked on with BJ, and BJ gave us two different grants to complete this work, to look at workload and then to actually develop some templates for folks to actually kind of start to measure their workload, how long it takes, because the first thing is to identify what are the things that probation and parole officers do. I think really quickly – not to dominate the conversation —

Len Sipes: No, please. Dominate.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, we all know what cops do, or at least we think we know what cops do, and we think we know what judges do. They sentence people, and cops arrest people and give tickets and those sorts of things. But if you ask people or policy-makers, “What does a probation or a parole officer do?” – I don’t know that people know, and I think that with that said, and I know APPA’s been working to bring about more of a national kind of conversation around this, but then even within probation and parole, the things that happen are so different.  You know, I’ve worked with different agencies and looked to measure the amount of time it takes to do PSIs, and pre-sentence investigation, and in some agencies it take 8 to 10 hours and in other agencies it takes 30 to 45 minutes. So it’s like the same task but when you drill down into that task and look at the specific elements, you see that there’s very different things going on. And I think that what needs to happen and is starting to happen is that more and more agencies are beginning to look at the very specific things that they have to do to meet the conditions of their standards – or the standards for their conditions, rather – and that when we start to apply at least some average or some rough estimates on how long that takes, then you can just add them up and look at the number of offenders you have that fit those criteria and say, well, we either do or we don’t have enough folks to meet this need.  I mean, it’s just like if you have a surgeon and he or she can only do so many heart surgeries in a day or a week or a month or a year, and if you give him or her more than that number, then there’s going to be problems, you know? – And you can kind of use that metaphor for any position, whether it’ a car mechanic, a hair dresser, a professor, an individual doing radio talk shows – it’s like you can only do so many talk shows – and the same with officers. So I think as policy-makers and agencies start to realize this, that we need to start actually identifying, charting, measuring, and timing what it is that probation and parole officers are doing, and then that information can be used to feed back in not only to the officer, to let them see what they’re doing and what’s expected of them and about how long it will take them, feed back into their supervisors and then their agency administrators so that they know how many people they can realistically supervise, stratified by risk and need sorts of issues, right?  And then also that information can continue to go up the chain of command to policy-makers and to funding agencies because right now while whatever the number was, you know, 60^% or 70% of the criminal justice folks are on probation and parole, we know that – and I’m only guessing, and I worked with PEW to collect this data some years ago – I mean, probably 70% or 80% of corrections funds go to prisons, and one of the biggest cost that goes to prisons is the building of prisons. It’s super expensive, and we know that we’re spending $30,000 and $40,000 and upwards, thousands of dollars on average per offender, and we know that probation and parole is much cheaper, and what we need to come to is whether we continue, as PEW is doing and CSU is doing, to continue to divert some of those institutional dollars down into the community so that we can put some bang for our buck behind what probation and parole officers are doing. – And I’ll let Adam or you talk now. I apologize.

Len Sipes: Well, I want to go our break and reintroduce you but the question I want to come back to is, is it fair for society to expect parole and probation agencies to perform these miraculous interventions in terms of providing the services that are necessary and providing the level of accountability that’s necessary to lower rates of recidivism and to keep citizens safe? But ladies and gentlemen, we’re more than halfway through the program.  Again, the program today is in Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two extremely qualified to talk about this – Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is at RTI, International Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist – We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association. – And also, in terms of the research we’re talking about, I’ll put a link to that research in the show notes.  So we have a public expectation. I’ve been representing parole and probation agencies for a quarter of a century now, as well as law enforcement agencies and correctional agencies, but parole and probation, people have an expectation. They are going to say that if this individual goes out and commits a crime while under supervision, the first thing they’re going to do is call me and say – or call my counterparts and say – “What did you do and what didn’t you do? Did you hold this person to certain standards? Were they in compliance with the rules of the supervision? If they weren’t in compliance, why not?”  And so there’s a finger pointing at parole and probation agencies throughout the country immediately, and in some cases justified, but in some cases I’m going to guess unjustified because the workloads and the resources that those parole and probation agencies have are simply inadequate to the task. Either one of you?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I’ll kind of comment a little bit on that. I think it’s an interesting point and this happens all the time, actually. You might have maybe one bad case or one person goes out, maybe it’s a homicide or some other sort of violent offense, and they happen to be on probation or parole, and then it really lights up the news waves and gets a lot of media attention, and then that really adds the stress on the probation and parole agency in terms of, you know, did they hold them accountable and was the supervision adequate and things like that; and then it usually ends up turning into some kind of “get tough” type policies which tend to make things worse, so kind of one bad egg ruins it for everybody.  But I think one thing we have to think about too is the reality of probation and parole, and particularly for probation and parole officers, is that they’re working with a difficult population. I mean, this is a criminogenic population and a lot of them have very disadvantage backgrounds that they’re coming from, and their ability to sort of get their way out of maybe poverty or whatever other issues they have can be difficult, and so some failures in some way is almost inevitable.  We know recidivism rates have historically been pretty high, and it depends on sort of how you measure it and what sort of research you’re going to look at, so you could look at anywhere between 30% and maybe 60% recidivism rates, depending on where you look. So even in the best cases, you’re still looking at about a third failure rate, so that’s kind of a reality in this field. That’s a difficult thing to convey to the public and so that obviously ends up creating some issues.  The other thing I wanted to mention too from the conversation earlier in terms of workload assessments, and really where those pay off for the probation and parole agencies is they provide a numeric, a quantitative sort of look for probation and parole agencies to show to their legislature and show them sort of definitively, you know, this is what we’re lacking, this is what we need. Before it just sounds like people complaining and maybe it doesn’t sound legitimized so what the workload assessments really do is they legitimize this argument that, you know, we’re really overworked and understaffed.

Len Sipes: And Matthew, that was the point of the research, correct? The whole idea was to quantify exactly what parole and probation officers do, how much time it takes to perform specific tasks, and then to look at your overall resources and align them correctly, or go to the state legislatures and ask for additional funds?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, definitely. I think it had a two-part kind of agenda. The first part was to actually find out what is that probation and parole officers are doing, and I think that when you do any task analysis – and quite frankly, workload studies have been going on for a very long time. Other fields have been doing them all the time. You look at industry, manufacturing, you look at the medical field, there’s tons of workload studies going on – the nursing field, and if you think about how nursing works, it is pretty similar to the nature of work for officers. So this isn’t something that I created or Adam created. I mean, this has been going on for over a century.  What’s ironic is that we’ve not been doing it in probation and parole but instead what we were doing is we were doing a case load sort of approach where it was like, you know, you had a certain number of offenders, it didn’t matter risk level. You were supposed to do a certain number of contacts with them, it didn’t matter whether that offender needed that or not. Whereas now what we’re calling for is just to fit into what other organizations are doing as well as we’re using this idea of evidence-based practice, we’re using this idea of stratifying offenders based upon their probability of risk, based upon the characteristics that those individuals carry, and we’re seeing that not each offender is going to have the same amount of time spent on them. You know, to do a risk assessment or a PSI on somebody that it’s their first offense versus somebody that this is, you know, on the eighth page of their acts sheet, those two people are going to take very different times.  It’s the same for a surgeon that’s getting reading to remove tonsils as opposed to doing some sort of heart surgery, you know. We have to get to a more nuanced and refined way of looking at what probation and parole officers do, and I think that – to come back to your question that you had just asked – this idea that we are blaming probation and parole over and over again for failures that happen within the correction system, and I think that Adam made a very good point that in some ways – I mean, we can’t expect that recidivism is going to go to zero, you know, and not to continually use a medical metaphor but at the same thing, it’s the same thing, that medical procedures aren’t 100% effective. Well, neither are correctional programs.  But what we do know – and you talked Petersilia, you talked about this, and I know you talked about it with other folks – what we do know is we do know that there are a set if things that can work to bring about behavior change, and by specifically targeting those things on the correct populations, we can maximize corrections dollars.

Len Sipes: Well, if we reduce recidivism rates by 10% to 20%, which seems to be the norm for those programs that are successful, recognizing that not all programs are successful – for those that are, a 10% to 20% reduction in the recidivism rate fiscally saves any state literally tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars, so there seems to be certainly a fiscal incentive for states to do it right, to provide the services that are necessary for these individuals to do well while under community supervision, and it seems to be a fiscal reality that you have to provide enough people out there to administer these services and to contract out for these services.  So if all of us are in total agreement that this reduces recidivism, it dramatically reduces costs to state government and local government, and we recognize that we have to place our resources on higher-risk offenders and do less with lower-risk offenders, if there is this criminological assessment across the board that these are the things that need to be done, why aren’t they being done?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, that’s the golden question, right? I mean, criminologists have been talking about this for a long time, and policy-makers have been extremely slow to respond. Adam kind of alluded to the nature of CJ research and policy-making with knee-jerk reactions based upon media-high types of instances that happen that are very dramatic and get a lot of attention, and then we use those single instances to revolutionize the criminal justice system and create new policies.  But as a public, we’re pretty slow, and politicians are slow to push for becoming more lenient in criminal justice areas. Instead it’s, you know, “we need more prisons, we need more cops,” but nobody is ever saying “we need more” – I don’t know, maybe you have or Adam has heard policy-makers saying, “We need more probation and parole agents.” That’s not something I’m hearing. It’s not palatable to the public, I don’t think. That’s my opinion of why.

Len Sipes: But why is that? That’s the thing that puzzles me because if you go and talk to the American Probation and Parole Association, if you talk to the Council of State Governments, if you talk to PEW, if you talk to the leaders within Community Corrections within this country, if you talk to folks at the Department of Justice – all are going to say the same thing, that we need the resources, we need the person power, and with that we can do things that are very helpful to the states’ fiscal bottom line and save literally tens of thousands of people from being revictimized every year. So I go back to the original question, if there is this massive consensus, is it our fault that we’re not sending out a clear enough message?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, well, I don’t know that that’s the issue so much as, I mean, in some ways I think for the public it’s like, you know, punishment feels good. Punishment, that sounds like the right thing to do on the face of it because I think it’s packaged in such a way that the only thing people think about is that punishment and sentences, that it’s always for these extremely violent people. What’s this guy, that he kidnapped and was holding those women hostage in Cleveland?

Len Sipes: In Cleveland, yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: I mean, that’s our image and those things are horrible but those are very rare events. The bulk of our criminal events aren’t anything like that, and I think the public’s perception of it is much different. So for the public, this idea of punishment, it seems natural and it seems like the right course of action to do for criminals because they are others, you know. The criminals aren’t us. Criminals aren’t voting populations, you know, is the way we conceive it. We think of them as these other people that we don’t know and that we don’t meet throughout our lives but the reality is is that most all of us know criminals, or have them in our families, or meet them at the gym or the grocery store or whatever. I mean, these are people that we are around, people that have committed criminal offenses, and they’re not all these hyper-dangerous folks that we need to lock up and throw away the key as we started doing throughout the ’80s.  And I think now as the drug war is kind of coming to a halt, this might help kind of start to push folks out of prisons and into the community. And as we start to recognize that probation and parole can be effective, but they can only be effective if they are given the correct resources and if we really understand the staffing needs, and I think that like you said, PEW, CSJ, APPA is an excellent training and technical assistance resources for agencies, and I think that as the government and agencies start to realize the benefits from those folks that they can start to tap into, you know, what those organization can offer to states.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple minutes left. Is the research going to provide a formula for states basically saying, “If you do this, the ratio needs to be that?”

Adam Matz: No, just to comment on that, it will be difficult to make a blanket statement sort of like that particularly with probation and parole just because there’s so much diversity across the states and even within the states. I wanted to point that out that one of the reasons maybe that – because you know, when I’ve been out in the field, there’s instances where folks are just starting to really get into risk assessment now, and we’ve been talking about risk assessment for a long time. It’s not a new thing.  But for some agencies, that really is new, and there’s some very rural areas where they have to deal with maybe four-hour trips to do a home visit. So there’s so much disparity in the field, and also the way the agencies are organized, whether they’re under the executive or the judicial branch. All these sort of nuances just complicate the whole process sort of from a global perspective, or maybe a national perspective. So I think that really complicates, it makes it really difficult to have sort of the unity across the field that I think we’re sort of advocating, if you will.

Len Sipes: Well, let’s end the program on a positive note. I have been in this system, like I said, over a quarter of a century, working with parole and probation agents. I love them. I respect them. I admire them. I think they’re some of the bravest, most dedicated people. They’re generally well-educated, and they’re out there doing a really good and difficult job, and they’re enthusiastic at least when they first come into Parole and Probation, and I think they really do add to public safety, and I think it’s something that, if we’re going to retain these individuals and if we’re going to keep a viable community corrections in parole and probation system in this country, I think first of all we’ve got to thank them, which is the cornerstone of what the American Probation and Parole Association and the Council of State Governments is trying to do. So we can all agree that they are good people doing a good job. They simply need the resources to do a better job.

Adam Matz: I agree completely. In fact actually, just to dovetail into that a little bit, is obviously increased workload and having too much work or too much on your plate, that’s associated with all kinds of other issues too when it comes to workplace stress, burn-out which you’re kind of alluding to, and those have not only consequences for on-the-job sort of performance but also a person’s personal health. So obviously folks need to have the resources to be able to do their job, do it well, and actually also live a high-quality life in general, so definitely.

Len Sipes: Well, in the final seconds of the program, again, the community supervision officers here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, I am just so impressed with them. I’ve been out with them dozens and dozens of times, and I think they’re miracle-workers, and I’ve been with parole and probation agents throughout the country on trips, and again, they have my admiration.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Our show today has been on Workloads in Parole and Probation. Our guests have been Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is with RTI International, Research Social Scientist –; and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association –  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls, we appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Homicides in DC and the US-The Urban Institute-DC Public Safety Radio

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes, back at our microphone. Ladies and gentlemen, John Roman, he is a Senior Fellow with The Urban Institute – We’re here to talk about homicides in the District of Columbia and throughout the country. There’s been, generally speaking, a heck of a decrease not only in the District of Columbia but throughout the United States. I want to read three quick paragraphs from an Associated Press article, and then have a discussion with John. “The crack epidemic that began in the 1980s ushered in a wave of bloodletting in the nation’s capital and a death toll that ticked upward daily. Dead bodies, sometimes several in a night, had homicide detectives hustling between crime scenes and earned Washington unwelcome monikers such as the nation’s ‘murder capital.’  “At the time, some feared the murder rate might ascend to more frightening heights but after approaching 500 slayings a year in the early 1990s, the annual rate has gradually declined to the point that the city is now on the verge of a once-unthinkable milestone. The number of 2012 killings in the District of Columbia stands at 78 and is on pace to finish lower than 100 for the first time since 1963, records show.” Then it goes on to talk about other cities, the fact that there have been generally-speaking declines. We have had some increases such as Chicago. It’s fascinating, John, that generally-speaking across the board throughout the United States, but especially in the nation’s capital, homicides have decreased, and decreased to levels that we did not expect. The question is why.

John Roman: That’s a great question. If you are 40 years old, you’ve never lived in a safer country, and I think a lot of people find that sort of hard to believe, so I think the first step is in convincing people that this decline in violence in the United States is real, and it is, but it’s not just the District of Columbia, it’s not just the United States, it’s the whole world – Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe have also seen these declines, so there’s some clues in all of that.

Len Sipes: But isn’t that the norm that ordinarily, you’re not going to get the same increase in the level of decreases but within the Western industrialized world, whether it’s New Zealand, or as some people would consider Japan part of the Western industrialized world, Australia, Europe, Canada – ordinarily crime rises or decreases not at the same volume but the trend lines are generally the same.

John Roman: That’s true; the trend lines are the same. What’s different here though is that if you look at the top explanations that most people apply to the violence decline, what you see is that in the United States, it’s about rising prison populations, mass incarceration, and it’s about the crack epidemic; and if you look at England and Canada and Australia, they didn’t experience either of those things. So for the trend lines to stay the same even when the experiences about how they’re trying to fight violence epidemic were so different sort of really has led to a lot of head-scratching in the criminology community.

Len Sipes: Okay, we’re going to launch way beyond homicides, then, because people have been talking about this for years. I remember leaving the Police Department decades ago, going through my first criminology classes, and having the professors saying, “Do you understand that what goes up in the United States goes up in Germany, goes up in Australia, goes up in New Zealand, goes up in Japan, and comes down basically – again, not at the same levels?  All these other countries have had – well, the United States generally speaking at one time had much higher rates of violent crime than other countries but the trend lines are basically the same. So, what is explaining that? So the explanation for rising and falling crime is more Western industrialized than it is just for the United States.

John Roman: I think that’s right. I think that pattern still holds true, and I want to come back to mass incarceration the crack epidemic and talk about what it means here.

Len Sipes: Sure.

John Roman: But when you look at international patterns, I think what you’ve seen is over the last 25 years, Graham Farrell, who is a professor at Simon Fraser University, wrote a really compelling paper that said, “What’s changed is security, private security and public security, that it’s so much easier to secure your possessions, to secure your business, to secure your car in ways that make it very difficult for them to be taken. It makes people less attractive as targets to be robbed, which is the taking of something by force or threat of force off your person, or have theft of a vehicle or a possession, and that’s driving a lot of the crime decline.” And what Graham would say is, “What’s really driving the crime decline is the decline in motor vehicles thefts.” So take New York City —

Len Sipes: That’s interesting.

John Roman: Yeah, this is great. It’s a great theory. I think it’s partially true. I don’t think it gets the whole thing.

Len Sipes: Okay.

John Roman: But in New York City in 1990, there were over 100,000 vehicles stolen. People had the sign in their windows saying, you know, “No radio,” or never leave it unlocked. By last year there were 11,000, so from over 100,000 to 11,000. It’s a 90% reduction in motor vehicle theft, and it’s two things. It’s a crackdown on insurance fraud where people would report their car stolen when it wasn’t, and it’s much better technology to detect stolen motor vehicles through license plates readers, through low jack electronic stuff, and so what that means is there’s a lot fewer cars to steal to use to get to a crime or to get away from a crime.

Len Sipes: That is so interesting. I mean, my head is exploding because I want to get to homicides, and we can move in a thousand different directions with this discussion. Homicides ordinarily are a proxy for crime across the board, correct? So ordinarily if homicides are up, crime is up. If homicides are down, crime is down. That’s generally-speaking the way it’s been, right?

John Roman: That’s right. So there’s four kinds of homicides. There is domestic violence; there is parents killing infants, infanticide; there is strangers killing strangers; and there is —

Len Sipes: The non-stranger —

John Roman: — non-stranger stuff, so gangs, crews, beefs within the crew as much as beef between crews; and I think it’s really that stranger homicide that is what people are really afraid of, and it’s sort of a declining percentage of all homicides, right, and so that’s really the key indicator there. So anytime there’s an assault, there’s a chance it could become a homicide. Any time there’s a robbery, I take my gun out and tell you I want your wallet, there’s a chance that could become a homicide. So it’s really those stranger-on-stranger events that are really, that’s the indicator, and they’re way down.

Len Sipes: But any time there is an encounter, there is a chance for a homicide. I mean, I sat in front of a group of 100 kids being adjudicated for homicide at the Baltimore city jail, and we had long extended discussions with them, and they were basically saying that these were all heat of passion crimes where there was a perceived insult, and they just could not take it one final time, and the person did this in front of his girlfriend, his mother, his friends, whatever, and he felt that he had to do what he had to do. I mean, sometimes we have these hugely complex understandings of homicide. Sometimes it can be as simple as a perceived insult.

John Roman: Right. So it’s interesting, if you look – there’s two ways I can go here – but different populations respond have different drivers of homicide, right. For white-on-white homicides, it’s almost always something other than an argument going bad. It’s domestic violence, it’s kid killing kids. In African-American homicides, about half the time it’s a disagreement that escalates into a homicide so it’s got different causes there, and this is where the security hypothesis, I think then it sort of doesn’t work really well. You can say, “Well, there are fewer people stealing cars and fewer people possessing stolen cars, and so there are fewer getaway cars, and that could mean fewer drive-bys, for instance.” And I think there’s some of that, but there is clearly other stuff going on.

Len Sipes: Well, the beefs that go down and end up in homicides, they seem to be getting fewer and fewer. I think that’s the most impressive thing. People are using more restraint in terms of settling those beefs, and I’m sort of wondering why that is.

John Roman: Okay, so there’s a lot of —

Len Sipes: I’m asking you a lot of question that you probably can’t answer but I’m going to ask them anyway.

John Roman: So what I’m going to say in response to that is an opinion that’s informed by data but I don’t think there’s really any way to do a data analysis that would really tease this apart. I mean, the world is so complex when you talk about human behavior and when you talk about rare events like homicides. They’re extremely rare events, right? – 82 in a city of 615,000, that’s a pretty rare event but still way too much. So a lot of people propose that the end of the crack epidemic had a big effect.

Len Sipes: The 1980s.

John Roman: Right, and I think there’s something too that you don’t have the open-air drug markets you used to have, which is a place where you’re bringing together people and money, and they’re under the influence, and all of those things together are really conducive to violence, and a lot of that has gone away. One of the primary reasons why it’s gone away is the cell phone. You don’t have to go an open-air drug market. You can call your dealer and meet him somewhere, and so you don’t have large numbers of people gathering in a volatile environment, so that I think is an explanation.  And the most controversial one is of course mass incarceration, so from 1980 until 2009 —

Len Sipes: Huge increases.

John Roman: Right, quadrupling, right, four times as many people in prison.

Len Sipes: Highest rate of incarceration in the world.

John Roman: In the world – 2 million. You’re talking about, if you’re an African-American between the age of 20 and 29, you’ve got something like a 1-in-8 chance of going to prison at some point in your life. I mean, that’s just crazy. So a lot of people have posited that having all of those people in prison has reduced crime, and I think there’s an argument to be made for that, and the argument sort of goes like this: if only 1 out of 100 people who you incarcerate are the really high-volume dangerous people who do 25, 50, 100 crimes a year, and you’ve incarcerated 20,000 of those people, you’re talking about like a million violent events that you’ve prevented by incarcerating them, so I think that is part of the explanation.  I can think of no less efficient mechanism to reduce violence than prison. It is enormously expensive. Most of the people who are incarcerated are not violent, won’t be violent, you haven’t really prevented any crime. You’ve just spent a fortune, right. There’s a study that came out today that said that they changed the rules about the disparity between prison sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine, and they retroactively reduced the sentences of lots of prisoners by an average of 29 months, and they estimated that that change alone will save half-a-billion dollars, right? And so we’re not preventing much crime with all of this incarceration because we’re incarcerating way too many people who aren’t going to be violent but it probably does explain a little bit of the decline.

Len Sipes: Washington, D.C., when I was working here – this is before the last 10 years with CSOSA, and I spent 14 years in the state of Maryland, and then before that I was with the National Crime Prevention Council – I can remember back in the ’80s, getting out, working late, trying to catch the last subway available so I could get home to Baltimore, and literally walking in the middle of the street – walking down the yellow line because there were so many homeless and it was just, Washington, D.C., just had such a reputation for violence, it was affecting business, it was affecting construction, it was affecting tourism, it was affecting everything. Washington, D.C., is basically a changed city, a dramatically changed city.

John Roman: A dramatically changed city, and I think the lessons about how it changed are really instructive in thinking about why it’s changing in other cities and why it’s not changing in some other cities.

Len Sipes: All right, I do want to get to that, yes.

John Roman: So in 2000, I moved to Capitol Hill, right, so I lived six blocks from the U.S. Capitol Dome and the Supreme Court, and I would walk home from the Verizon Center, which is about a mile-and-a-half away, and it was entirely brown fields and boarded-up buildings, and it was a scary place.

Len Sipes: Yep, I remember it well.

John Roman: If you did the same walk today, it would take a lot longer because it’s so developed with new condos and new stores and new restaurants, and you cannot find a boarded-up house on Capitol Hill where there used to be one on every street. If you go down H Street, which was really the most thriving African-American commercial corridor, it was about 13 blocks long, and it was really devastated by the riots in the ’60s, and in 2000, you know, 12-block corridor had 600 vacant or abandoned properties.

Len Sipes: And that section of H Street hadn’t recovered yet.

John Roman: It had not recovered yet, and 40 are now vacant.

Len Sipes: So basically we’re saying that a ton of money was poured into the District of Columbia that realigned the place economically.

John Roman: And the question is why, why did it happen then, right? Why didn’t it happen in 1990 or 1980, and I think the answer is sort of three-fold. One is that you had some brave people, like Abe Pollin, who built the Verizon Center at 7th and F, which was abandoned warehouses and boarded-up buildings, and he poured his own dollars into the city, and that was a signal, right? That was a very strong signal that people were willing to invest in the city.

Len Sipes: A symbolic image.

John Roman: A symbolic image, and then there’s, you know, First Movers, and so people started moving into communities they hadn’t previously been in, and then you have this wave of immigration, right, and I think underestimate how good it is for city to have immigrants. Immigrant neighborhoods, if you look at the average rates of poverty and you think about how much crime you would expect to see given how poor they are, you see much lower rates of crime in immigrant neighborhoods than you see in native neighborhoods with the same demographics. They bring with them energy and a cohesion that doesn’t exist in native communities, people who grew up there.  So they come in, and then what happened here is there was a wave of immigration in the ’80s into the city, and people forget now but there were riots in the early part of the 1990s in Columbia Heights, which is the part of the town that was really the focus of a lot of this immigration, because the police weren’t prepared to interact with a community that had different norms. The riot actually began because the police arrested some young men who were drinking beer on their own stew stoop, which is illegal but not where they came from it wasn’t.  So the police department really learned from that, and they changed how they related to the immigrant population, and this city became a very friendly place for immigrants, and that has brought with it a lot of safety in areas that weren’t safe before. So that’s, you know, improving police, immigration, and as these two things happened sort of in concert, you get this First Movers strong signal, you get some migration of people from close-in neighborhoods to place like Capitol Hill and a little further out into parts of the city that have been traditionally non-white.  And then you get sort of this virtuous cycle where all these things sort of build and create momentum and that sort of spurred the economic development and the gentrification. And so let’s talk gentrification because it’s controversial, right?

Len Sipes: Yes. Yes, it is.

John Roman: A lot of people think gentrification is a really bad thing for a city because it changes its historical makeup because it forces poor people to move, it dislocates people, it changes the culture of a place – and that’s all true. But what it also brings with it is enormous safety, and it can bring some wealth to people who were poor, right? If you own a house on Capitol Hill that your grandma owned, she probably paid, you know, $20,000 for it, and you probably sold it for half a million.

Len Sipes: Right, and you know, half a million, it’s more like $800,000 or $900,000.

John Roman: Exactly, and so you have some wealth generation. And then the other thing that happened at the same time at the end of the 1990s was that there were a lot of public housing projects around the city, that there was a federal program called Hope Six, and it was a program to tear down dense, public housing and replace it with garden-style apartments, and that happened in a number of cities, parts of this city and other cities – which we’ll get to in a minute – and that I think dislocated a lot of people, a lot of them came back, but the places where they went, they didn’t take the violence with them. The violence was about that place that had poisoned it, and when they left, they were safer and the place itself became safer.

Len Sipes: That is so interesting. Our guest today, ladies and gentlemen, is John Roman. He is a Senior Fellow at The Urban Institute – I sat and watched a live feed as John did a dissertation to a variety of media throughout the country on research that he and Urban had done on homicides, D.C. homicides and throughout the rest of the country, and this is a topic that you can barely scratch the surface of within a half-an-hour.  John, I want you to come back to continue this conversation, but in the say 13 minutes we have left, all right, it’s a very complex set of circumstances that gradually, through osmosis it almost sounds, not necessarily through planning but through osmosis, gradually builds to a point where you have a much safer city here in Washington, D.C. We’ve seen lots of cities throughout the United States that have also accomplished that moniker of a much, much safer city; but then we have a whole slew of cities that have not reached that point – Chicago, big increases in terms of homicide, Baltimore continues to have a homicide problem.  You may find decreases in certain cities throughout the country but residences there can’t taste it, touch it, feel it, and smell it. In the District of Columbia and in New York City, you can really get a sense as to the incredible changes in terms of how safe those cities have become. In other cities, not so much.

John Roman: Right, so let me put some numbers around this because that’s what I do. In 1990, if you rank order the top 25 biggest American cities from most crime to least crime, you would see Washington, D.C. at the top of that list, right?

Len Sipes: Right.

John Roman: And you would see New York City and Dallas in the top ten, for instance, and you would see Las Vegas at the bottom of the list. And if you go fast-forward to 2000 and you look at the rank orderings, every one of those 25 cities experienced a crime decline, and the rankings didn’t really change much, and that’s led people like Steve Levitt, the economist who wrote Freakonomics, which I suspect a lot of people have heard of, to posit that it was really national phenomenon, that whatever was happening was happening everywhere. It was better and worse. Some places it was down 20% homicide, some places it was down 80%. Then between 2000, if you rerank everybody in 2010, you see really big changes, right?

Len Sipes: Right.

John Roman: New York drops 8 spots on a ranking of just 25.

Len Sipes: Phenomenal decrease!

John Roman: Huge! Dallas drops 8 spots, and then you see other places like Memphis and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore that you mentioned moving up the rankings, and so what is it about places like San Diego and D.C. and Houston and Dallas that differentiates?

Len Sipes: And New York, yeah?

John Roman: And New York City – I’m going to put New York City aside for just a second because I want to come back to it.

Len Sipes: All right.

John Roman: What differentiates those cities? – And this is also true for New York. And I think what differentiates them I that prosperity is more diverse across places in those cities, right? D.C. is interesting. It used to be almost perfectly segregated by Rock Creek.

Len Sipes: By Rock Creek Park.

John Roman: That’s correct, where it was white on the west side and African American on the east side, and that is not true. D.C. is a far more diverse place. There are far more neighborhoods that have a mix of people by race and ethnicity, and if you look at a map of New York City, one of the big advantages New York City has is it’s always been a pretty diverse place, right, and there’s lots of Hispanics and African Americans in Queens and Brooklyn, and now an increasing number of whites in some neighborhoods, and so it’s a pretty diverse place. It’s still more segregated than I think anybody would like to see it but there aren’t like big areas of the city where you’re never going to see somebody of a different race.  There are big areas of Chicago that are almost perfectly segregated. There are big areas of Detroit, there are big areas in Philadelphia, right, and what people are beginning to speculate is this crime decline is about places, and it’s about economic segregation.

Len Sipes: That’s interesting. That is really interesting.

John Roman: And one of the things that I’ve argued is if you can have less wealthy people living next to more wealthy people, in effect it vaccinates people who would have been at risk of being poisoned in the violence epidemics when they roll through, like we had around crack cocaine. And so if you can find ways to keep people who live here while you have gentrifiers coming in, it creates sort of this vaccine and it makes lots of places safe that otherwise would be less safe.

Len Sipes: Economic and ethnic and racial integration is paying off in terms of stabilizing larger cities, that’s what you’re saying.

John Roman: I think that’s right, and I think there have a number of studies that have come out recently and they’ve shown really – and it’s hard to talk about this on the radio – but really interesting visualizations of color-coded block-by-block, how likely you are to have a neighbor who is of a different race or a different socio-economic status, and you can really see it, and it’s really vivid, you know, how much integration there is in these cities, and it’s not a coincidence that the cities that are more integrated across all of these things are the ones that are moving down in the rankings, and the cities like Chicago and Baltimore that are very segregated are not experiencing the same declines in violence.

Len Sipes: But a bit part of this, at the same time, would be the efforts on the part of the criminal justice system, but I understand that there is a huge criminological debate that would take us the next five years to talk about, whether policing is effective or whether it’s not effective, whether incarceration is effective or it’s not effective. We talked about that a little while ago – parole and probation, the impact of it, drug treatment; I mean the whole spectrum of what it is that we do in the criminal justice system, so I’ll ask you an impossible question. Talking about gentrification, talking about economic, racial, and ethnic integration, I understand that. Does the criminal justice system have a real role to play in terms of holding down crime rates or crime totals?

John Roman: I said bad things about our sentencing policy, right, which I think is really misguided, but I have good things to say about all the other actors in the system. I think all the other actors in the system have gotten substantially better over the last 20 years. So the story begins with this guy who works for the state of New York whose name is Martinson, who famously in 1974 reviewed everything that was available at the time about how effective rehabilitation programs and corrections were, and famously concluded that nothing works in rehabilitation.

Len Sipes: He’ll say he didn’t say that but I understand, but the bottom-line message was nothing works.

John Roman: Right, and I think that that “nothing works” message really dominated the national debate for 20 years.

Len Sipes: Yes, it did.

John Roman: And I think it was only in the ’90s, it was really – I think a lot of it starts with Janet Reno in Miami, where she’s the prosecutor in 1989, and her city is overwhelmed with criminals involved in the drug trade but she doesn’t have the resources to catch everybody and lock everybody up, so she creates this thing called Drug Court, and she treats people and says, “Look, what we’re going to do is get people into recovery because when you get people into recovery, some of them will not commit the criminal acts they would commit if they were drug-seeking or high,” and it really seemed to work. – And now these Drug Courts are, you know —

Len Sipes: All over the place —

John Roman: — everywhere.

Len Sipes: — and uniformly successful.

John Roman: And they’re successful, and they’re in every medium to large county and city in the United States, and they’ve spawned a whole generation of sort of spin-offs that are trying to address other problems between alcoholics who get DWIs, and returning veterans who have PTSD, and a whole range of people, and we’ve been much more successful in treating the underlying causes that make people turn to crime, and we’ve done it in the court system, and we’ve done it may be less effectively in the correctional system. We’re doing it much better for people under community supervision, and I think it’s really mattered.

Len Sipes: And we’ve excluded a lot of lower-risk people so we could focus our resources on the higher-risk people. What about the law enforcement side?

John Roman: So the law enforcement story is really interesting. So the New York story really was about disorder, and the idea that places that looked really disorderly are more dangerous. So famously there were the squeegee men, and when you came in over the bridge or the tunnel, they’d be there at the traffic light, and they’d break off your antenna if you didn’t pay then two bucks to —

Len Sipes: They’d graffiti everything else.

John Roman: Right, to spit on your windshield and, you know. And so a lot of places went for this real hardcore law-and-order model, and those guys went to jail, and if you jumped the turnstiles you went to jail, and now they do stop-and-frisk, right? So if you’re carrying something and you’re not doing anything suspicious other than mainly being black or brown, of which a lot of people thing is really bad policy, they’re going to frisk you.  Other places like Washington, D.C., have really gone the other way, and especially under Chief Lanier here. Now what she’s done is she’s moved into a really proactive community policing model where she really wants to see – she wants people in a neighborhood to trust her officers, to talk to them, to tell them about beefs before they happen, to be willing to say, “Yes, I saw somebody shoot this other –.”

Len Sipes: So they can get the information they need to stop crime.

John Roman: That’s exactly right, and then around the country there are these other models, they call them like “the interruptor models.” There’s a documentary out now called “The Interruptors” that I would tell people to go see. It’s quite good. And what these people are, they’re people who work with gangs and crews to get in the middle of beefs and to end the cycle of retaliation, because it’s the cycle of retaliation that really is where the violence occurs, and so they get in the middle of it and they try and stop it. – And especially in places like D.C., the police have been more and more open to having these people involved, and are willing to give them the information that they need to get into the middle of these things and stop it.

Len Sipes: More open to a collaborative approach by everybody involved in the criminal justice system. We’ve got a minute left. Homicides have gone down tremendously in Washington, D.C., violent crime has gone down tremendously. Homicides have gone down in the vast majority of cities in the United States, so has violence crime. What percentage of it is societal, what percentage of it is the criminal justice system?

John Roman: Wow.

Len Sipes: Within one minute.

John Roman: Okay, so I would say it’s at least two-thirds societal and maybe a third interventions, and I think that’s good because I think the part that’s the criminal justice system intervention is increasing and the part that’s societal I think is decreasing as a percentage of the explanation.

Len Sipes: But somehow some way we as a society, whether we had this conversation with ourselves or not, whether we realized we were having this conversation with ourselves or not, somehow society has come to grips with its own problem and solved its own problem outside of the criminal justice system.

John Roman: And I think the group that deserves the most credit for it is the one that gets the most blame, and that’s the African American community because they deserve the credit for it. That is a community that said, at the height of the crack epidemic, “This is destroying our communities,” and they are a population that is by race the least likely to be consumers of illegal substances, even though they’re disproportionately the ones going to prison for drug possession and sales, the least likely to use it, and the least likely to tolerate open-air drug markets, and more and more engaged with community policing to help make their cities safer.

Len Sipes: As somebody who’s been reading the African American press for a quarter of a century, it strikes me as interesting that they are sometimes the most conservative voices for the issue of crime control, the ones who are crying out the most for interventions, contrary to some critics. So the bottom line is that society can have a wonderful way of controlling itself outside of the criminal justice system, but the criminal justice system does supply that degree of stabilization to allows them to do that. Am I in the ballpark?

John Roman: You’re exactly on target. So the societal explanation is about places. Places poison people if we let them. The criminal justice system is about helping people achieve their potential.

Len Sipes: John Roman, Senior Fellow at The Urban Institute – We could go for five hours, John. I love you by the microphones. I learn more from you in a half-an-hour than in two criminological degrees.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We really appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Transforming Offender Employment-National Institute of Corrections-DC Public Safety

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to be talking about Transforming Offender Employment – what’s new, what’s interesting in terms of finding individuals under community supervision jobs, what correctional systems throughout the country are doing to prepare individuals from coming out of the prison system into the community and lowering the recidivism rate.  Back at our microphones today is P. Elizabeth Taylor, Pat is a Correctional Program Specialist, Community Services Division, National Institute of Corrections – Pat, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Thank you, Len. Good to be back.

Len Sipes: We’ve done a television show on this, and it’s very popular. We’ve had lots of different states who are using the television show. It’s a really big topic, making sure that individuals in the prison system, that prison inmates are trained occupationally before they come out of the prison system, and that we’re doing the right things when we get them on community supervision. That’s the heart and soul of this topic, correct?

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly, doing the right things for the right reasons.

Len Sipes: Okay. We know that this is a problem, a big problem in terms of recidivism. We know that generally speaking from national data – which is getting old now, and the Department of Justice is saying that they’re going to be updating it fairly soon – but we’re talking about two-thirds re-arrested, and we’re talking about 50% going back to prison. Those are the current national statistics, and I find looking at state statistics that it’s not all that unusual.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly.

Len Sipes: A lot of the people that I talk to tell me that unemployment is a principle driver of people going back to the prison system. Is that true?

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: It’s unemployment and underemployment, and I’m going to say it’s not just the process of being unemployed or underemployed but it’s the inability of the population, the justice-involved adult, to address those issues that resulted in them being attached to the criminal justice system in the first place.

Len Sipes: Now the National Institute of Corrections has a large program on DVDs, a large program that is accessible, available to people, and training which is available to people all throughout the country on this topic.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly, and what I like to let people know, you know, the misnomer is that the training is for free. No. Your tax dollars have already paid for the training so it’s to your advantage to take advantage of it, and our call is specific to workforce development, offender workforce development, the employment series. – And when you think about it, it’s a university model, so what does that mean? Well, it means that we start pretty much at the beginning. What are some of the best practices associated that we know works well in working with the unemployed or underemployed offender or justice involved individual getting attached to the workforce?  And if can just say right here, in terms of employment or workforce development, we’ve changed, we’ve broadened the definition, if you will. Traditionally, employment is – okay, I’m paid; I’m receiving a paid salary. If you redefine it in that whole transformational process, we’re talking about gainful attachment to the workforce, which can be via paid employment, of course. It could be a structured training program. It could be an academic pursuit. It could be by way of volunteerism. So we’re focusing on helping this population have some type of attachment to the workforce.

Len Sipes: Well, we had a program a couple of days ago here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency where we invited unions in, and the gentleman told a very passionate story about how he was caught up in the criminal justice system years ago, and I think he said he spent the majority of his teenage days incarcerated. He went to a presentation, the same presentation, a similar presentation that he gave yesterday, that how he became a cement-layer, and how that started him off on a career – good pay, good fringe benefits, and how he rose in the ranks of the union and union politics, and how he has developed into a union official today, but he started off as a former offender.   Somebody gave him an offer that he felt that he could not refuse. It was dirty, long, hot work, but the unions, the various unions basically said to the individuals at the seminar, “We don’t care what your criminal background is. We don’t care.” That’s one of the very few professions I’m aware of where they say that “we don’t care.” If you are willing to come in and work hard, you can rise up through the ranks and become a skilled carpenter, a cement layer, a steel worker all the different – I mean, so that’s still possible today.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: It is, and there’s this process of business necessity, and so if there is a close connection between an individual’s conviction and the known duties and responsibilities of the said position they’re applying for, they may not qualify for it. But aside from that, it is a red carpet, if you will, for possibilities, but to get to that possibility, you have to be evaluated and/or assessed because you just don’t want to go for a position because you know it’s available. Are you suited for it? Are the duties and responsibilities something that you can life with? And do you have enough information about the process that you’re willing to take it step-by-step because what you mentioned in your story is that this individual started at the beginning.

Len Sipes: Right.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Now quite frankly, most people, they want to start at the top. They are that impulsive, “I want it yesterday” type of person, and so they have to learn the benefit of taking it, you know, we say one day at a time but taking it one step at a time.

Len Sipes: Sure. Well, the prison systems throughout the country, are they doing a better job of preparing individuals to go out and find work? – Because that has been a big problem in this country. You know years ago, I was with the Maryland Department of Public Safety so there were three correctional systems, and one of the things that when re-entry finally came into vogue, and re-entry was part of the issue that was put on the table, and reduction of recidivism, our folks basically said, “Look, we’re funded to run constitutional institutions, and yes, we do have some vocational training, we do have educational training, we do have this, we do have that, but we don’t have very much of it, and it certainly doesn’t touch all the individuals caught up in the prison system.”  And yet suddenly, prison systems were now given the responsibility of training people and lowering the rate of recidivism. I still get the sense that states throughout the country are struggling with that capacity issue.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: It is improving. I will admit that if you look at the history of offender workforce development specific to corrections, that you had people working in rock quarries breaking bricks, you had them in sewing houses, you had them doing menial-type work where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for advancement. Well, we have this organization, this process connected to correctional industries, and it provides the real-life work experience for people that are incarcerated. So depending upon where the state is, you have various types of career options, training options, again, the ability to learn that position from the ground-up, and quite frankly as the nation is moving forward, there are a lot of correctional industries that are in alignment with some of the trades’ industry programs.

Len Sipes: Well in Maryland, I was amazed because we had a printing press operation, which was huge. It did all the printing for the state of Maryland, and it was a female-owned company who hired every person who got out of prison because her equipment was exactly our equipment. She didn’t have to do any training at all. These were individuals who had been using this equipment, cleaning the equipment, repairing the equipment, maintaining the equipment for ten years, so they’re in a perfect position to seamlessly move over and work for this individual.  Now it’s funny because she would tell me stories as if the people who were there, they were wonderful workers, but they were saying, “Ma’am, can I go to the bathroom,” and she would say, “Sam, you can go to the bathroom any time you want. You don’t have to ask my permission.” Part of the institutionalization process carries over into the work process. So there are many great opportunities within the prison system. I just don’t get the sense – and other people have said this, not just me – but there’s just not enough of them.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: We’re sometimes the best-kept secret, and I think that there are organizations – you have the National Correctional Industries Organization, they are industry programming in each of the 50 states, so I would encourage people to Google NCIA and find out what’s going on in their state. Now, I’m not suggesting that it’s a perfect process. It is not. We are still, as an industry program, we’re still on our learning curve, but it’s much better than it was, and you have the situation where an individual can say, “You know, I have skills and abilities now, and professional expertise,” and like you say, that conviction no longer becomes a big – it’s no longer an issue. That employer sees what the employee can do, not what they did.

Len Sipes: True, but states are beginning to recognize their role in lowering recidivism.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly.

Len Sipes: States are beginning to recognize that it’s an economic issue, it is a taxpayer issue, it’s a matter of lessening the burden on taxpayers to provide individuals caught up in the criminal justice system, incarcerated, in prisons – it’s in everybody’s best interest to provide them with vocational training.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: And state to state, they need to determine how they define recidivism. Once they come up with that definition, then the goal is to support that person’s self-sufficiency. Now I will say that a job or a connection to the workforce will not necessarily keep you out of the system, but when done correctly, these job training programs, these industry programs identify those issues. – And, you know, the bigger word is the criminogenic risk. Well, it’s a lot to say, well, what does that really mean? Well, it means that those thought processes, those —

Len Sipes: Well, the bottom line behind what NIC is trying to do is to do it right.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly.

Len Sipes: That’s the thing that I get from all of your materials and from doing the television show with you. You’re talking about assessing the individual, using research, using data, being sure that the best person is put in the best possible job, so it’s a matter of training those people. When we talk about training in this case, we’re not talking about necessarily training inmates in prison. We’re talking about training staff to assess that individual, to find out who’s the best fit for the best job, and to use cognitive skill behavioral training, which is basically teaching them fundamental issues of right and wrong, how to respond on the job, how to act on the job, what’s expected from you on the job – that all of this needs to be systematic. It needs to be scientific. It needs to be evidence-based.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Right, right, and when you look at it, and that’s the transformational piece. So with the transformative workforce development system, you’re looking at the relationship between that practitioner and the offender, or the court or justice-involved individual. So on the practitioner’s side, what type of communication skills, how am I relating to this individual? Do I see the possibility that they can change?  Will I willingly develop a relationship with them, and then guide them through a process where they can let’s say challenge – not attack – but challenge their core belief, because the reality is if you are incarcerated and you are unemployed, and you say, “You know, I don’t like this,” but you say, “but you know, it’s all right for me to be in jail,” well, there is some type of dissonance right there, and so with proper training as a practitioner, you get the skills to be able to guide that person through to address those issues, those self-perceptions, the impulsivity, the inability to respond to a work-with-authority figures. You address the issues of, you know, “My friends aren’t working but that’s all right for me. I’ll hang out with them.”  So if you can challenge and work with that person, then they can go from a point of unemployed – and I keep saying underemployment – to a point of self-sufficiency.

Len Sipes: Because it strikes me that you can train a person to be a carpenter, you can train them to be a plumber, you can train them to be a bricklayer, you can train them to be a printer, but that doesn’t necessarily deal with the issue of an unreasonable boss saying unreasonable things, making possibly unreasonable expectations. All of us go through that. Everybody listening to this program, we all go through all of that sort of stuff but we don’t blow up.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly. Exactly.

Len Sipes: And we don’t strike back verbally, and we don’t stomp off the job. – And so many of our individuals caught up in the criminal system, they need to be taught that, and so that’s what you’re talking about, right?

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: We’re talking about problem-solving skills. We’re talking about decision-making skills. So like you say, the reality is, as an employee, I will have someone that will tell me, “You need to do A and B,” okay? Well, let’s just say that my work ethic or lack thereof tells me, “I get to do what I want to do.” That type of thinking helps me become unemployed. It supports my detachment from the workforce. So if you can work with me as the practitioner to help me understand the relationship between my values, my beliefs, and how they relate to my behavior.

Len Sipes: And that all part of this larger from the National Institute of Corrections of training staff to work with the offenders in terms of their cognitive development. It’s just not a matter of teaching bricklaying. It is a matter of helping that person cope with the realities of the day-to-day work world.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Touching that emotional IQ.

Len Sipes: And that is just as important as giving them hard skills and give them training.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: You know, I’ll tell you that it’s more important. I mean, we can find, the employer, he can find people that can do the job, okay, but do they have the type of attitude, temperament that will help them stay connected.

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, we’re more than halfway through the program. P. Elizabeth Taylor is our guest today, Correctional Program Specialist, Community Services Division, with the National Institute of Corrections – I can’t do that without screwing that up. – part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice.  Pat, so the bottom line in all of this is that we, you know, we keep thinking about that the focus is on the individual caught up in the criminal justice system, the offender. That’s where all the focus is. The focus needs to be on us as criminal justice practitioners to properly asses that person, get that person into the right job, something he or she is going to stock with throughout the years, and give him or her the skills to survive on that job and thrive on that job. That’s the package that you’re talking about.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: That’s the package, and the other part of it is that we need to, when you think about our current situation in these United States – cut-backs, programs are just being abolished, we have less funds now – so how can we do more with less?

Len Sipes: The best possible job with the resources that we have.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly, and so with that understanding, we have the training that we provide, and part of the training is to help the practitioner to know, to get the best out of your current resources, identify those people that are highest at risk, however do you define recidivism, to recidivate. Now once you have that determination, well then let’s go ahead and do a reassessment and re-evaluation, and that’s what our training provides.  So we’ve gone from best and promising practices, at the next level we have theory-based career-assistance. So how do you help that individual, now that I’ve identified that they’re at risk for recidivism, and I’ve identified their needs and their barriers, so how can I assist them in that process for their attachment to the workforce? Well, it’s not just about placing them, though, and so with the transformational workforce development, we know that the focus is not on the face-em-and-place-em, it’s on the retention. – And so combining that hand-in-glove, motivational interviewing techniques with cognitive behavioral principles supports long-term attachment to the workforce, and if it’s not the job per se that keeps a person out of the criminal justice system, it’s the process of getting that job, because in that process you’re addressing those barriers and those issues, those isms if you will, that make it easy for the offender to be caught up into the system.

Len Sipes: Motivational technique, I mean, there we’re talking about making sure that the person is finding out what it is that makes that person tick, and motivating that person to stick with it, to stay the course, finding out as much as you can about that individual and using motivational tools to keep that person engaged and keep that person enthused with the cognitive behavioral therapy skills, which is basically what is an appropriate response, how do you handle stress. So it’s a combination of all of those skills.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly, it’s hand-in-glove, yes.

Len Sipes: So it starts in the prison system and it’s handed off to parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers here in the District of Columbia. They have to have those skills to move that person from prison to community supervision to a job, and to do it successfully.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: So what you’re saying is that you need that collaboration, and what we’re referring to now is that continuum of care. So from the prison system or jail system to the community, everyone that would touch the life of that offender or justice-involved individual needs to be aware of what works. Based on research, we know that motivational interviewing techniques, where you’re developing a positive relationship of guidance, supports the offender. We know by the research that any cognitive-based programming, where you’re able to help the offender make that connection between their values and beliefs and their behaviors, actions or reactions, is proven effective. We need to make sure, though, that everyone, all of our stakeholders within that continuum of care, have similar training to support case management and that case planning.

Len Sipes: And that’s what the National Institute of Corrections is trying to do.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly.

Len Sipes: Now take this training today, because I saw – and I spent a lot of time when we did the television show, looking for video footage that best illustrates what it is that you do there at NIC – is this a course where they go on campus and take the course, or is this a course where they can view the video tapes separately?

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Well at the first level, the offender employment specialist training – or building bridges – that is a multi-disk set where you can self-train, if you will. I encourage people, though, to make sure that they identify good partners to bring to the table to walk through that process.  Now the next level is the offender workforce development specialist training, which is about 180 hours. It is a train-through-partnership, so once an application is made for the training, then we will go to your jurisdiction and we will facilitate the training there, whatever state or situation where it’s located.  Now at the next level, the offender employment retention specialist training, that’s facilitated or people are trained at our training academy in Aurora, Colorado. So that’s a 40-hour blended training. You come to our site. There is pre-training work. There is training definitely while we’re there, but then that was not enough because now we’re talking about new skills. We’re developing new skills, new ways of working with people. So once the 40-trianing session, and we go back to our respective states, and we’re all really good about these new tools in our toolbox, through the OWDS training, if I can call it that, we provide coaching. We want our training to be dynamic, and training is the on-going process, and I think when people develop – I’ll mention one, is a skill of reflection. If I’m not really using it, if I’m not giving back what you’re saying and that’s not a regular part of my daily work, I’ll lose the skill.  So we have quarterly coaching sessions that we’re providing, and I think at this point there may be 99 people since the pilot that have completed the offender employment retention specialist training that is sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections.

Len Sipes: Now will these individuals go out and train everybody else in their agency because we have hundreds of people here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, I mean those who are directly supervising people on supervision. They’re not all going to be able to take that level of training.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Right, right, and through the partnership, through the OWDS, it is a train-a-trainer type process, so through the partnership, the expectation is that once that core training group is identified, then they will assume responsibility for training others. I will say with the retention training and as you are kind of alluding to, there are a lot of people out there that may not be part of the OWDS knowledge block process, so what then? Well, we’re developing a standalone with best practices in retention training that a person can access similar to the OES. It’ll be a multi-disk set that you can facilitate at your particular site.  Now NIC, the National Institute of Corrections, will provide a technical support to make sure that the training goes as it should but it’s an ongoing process for us to make sure that we’re meeting the training needs of those individuals that are part of Corrections proper, but then also they’re stakeholders.

Len Sipes: It’s a very comprehensive program.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Yes.

Len Sipes: I mean, what you’re talking about is a very comprehensive program that eventually, where we train trainers, and you also provide support material where they can carry that information back to their own agencies because it strikes me as this, is that if you have an individual parole and probation agent anywhere in the country and he’s trying to get that individual interested in a job, he’s trying to find out who that individual is, what they’re interested in, where they would like to go, what they would like to do, develop motivational interviewing, get that person involved in some sort of job training activity or a job.  I mean, again, these apprenticeship programs through the unions are just extraordinary, especially considering they don’t care about the person’s criminal history. So it’s a wonderful opportunity to do that but you’ve got to do it right to get the right person into the right job if that person’s going to have any chance of holding on to that job any length of time.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: And it’s not so much that any employer may not – it’s not that they don’t care about the conviction, they want to be aware of it.

Len Sipes: Oh, of course.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: And again, and then business necessity would let you know how much weight that particular conviction carries.

Len Sipes: Right.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Now through the cognitive behavioral process, we can train or teach court and justice-involved individual how to talk about their conviction in such a way where they are assuming ownership for the reality of the conviction but they’re making that segue right to those skills and abilities that make them marketable.

Len Sipes: That’s such a great idea. I mean, of all the fears that individuals have coming out of the prison system, the biggest fear is how to deal with that question. What’s your crime? What’s your time? Where did you do time? Who are you? Are you a menace? Are you going to be a good worker or are you going to cause any problems? I mean, and how to deal with those question, and how to deal with them comfortably and how to deal with them successfully become a key ingredient as to whether or not they’re going to be successful.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Through cognitive behavioral-based programming, the individual is able to understand and acknowledge the fact that the charge represents behavior is what they did, it’s not necessarily who they are, and through that restructuring they’re developing a new sense of who I am. – And part of that who I am is a taxpaying citizen that’s actively involved in my community —

Len Sipes: Takes care of my kids.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: — assumes responsibility, exactly.

Len Sipes: Responsible taxpayer.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Exactly, yes.

Len Sipes: And that’s what people want to hear, taxpayer not a tax burden.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: That’s the bottom line, yes. Exactly right.

Len Sipes: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so if we did this, if we had this sort of a program, let’s just say that 50% of offenders caught up in prison systems had some sense of meaningful job development training, cognitive behavioral training if they went through all of this, and if they came out and they were met by parole and probation agents who understood these skills, knew these skills, knew how to apply these skills – would it make a substantial impact? Would there be a substantial impact on recidivism, on future criminal behavior, and consequently would that save taxpayers an awful lot of money?

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: That is the argument that we’re making. We’re starting now to do the research. Through the employment retention training, we develop an ERI, and Employment Retention Inventory, and the research that’s going to start next fiscal year is looking at that whole workforce development process. If you provide career assistance, if you provide cognitive behavioral-based programming, what will the impact be?  And so it requires that all of our partners – and our partner is anyone that’s gone through our training, any training provided by the National Institute of Corrections – at that point, that partnership is developed. So we’re looking for our partners to help us capture the data, that let’s just say for instance that if our program that’s being offered is not necessarily hitting all the right buttons, then we can modify that because the goal is really to make that impact.

Len Sipes: But we only have about a minute left. One of the things I did want to point out is the fact that there already is good data, some of the most encouraging data that I’ve seen in terms of offender re-entry of individuals being trained in correctional systems, a multi-state study including the state of Maryland where I was at, and their rate of recidivism was considerably lower than the comparison group. So there I data already out there that says “Job training programs in prison systems do work.”

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Right – when structured properly.

Len Sipes: When structured properly.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: Yes.

Len Sipes: And if you have the support system on the outside.

Pat Elizabeth Taylor: And the collaborative relationships from the – the only way I can say it is from the handcuff key to the door key. We’re looking at those relationships with the stakeholders involved.

Len Sipes: Pat, you’ve got the final word. P. Elizabeth Taylor, Correctional Program Specialist, Community Services Division, National Institute of Corrections. Let me see if I can do this right this time.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Cyber Safety-National Organization for Victim Assistance-DC Public Safety

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphone is Will Marling. He is the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance. Will, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Will Marling: Len, thank you. It’s always great to be with you.

Len Sipes: Well, the show today is on cyber safety. We’ve done a variety of shows on cyber safety but two things first. What is the National Organization for Victim Assistance? I’ve been working with NOVA for well over three decades. So first of all, give me the overall view of what you have done in the past, and then I’m going to ask you why you got involved in cyber security.

Will Marling: Yeah, thanks. NOVA started in 1975. It came out of the Victims Rights and Services Movement, and it stands as the oldest National Victim Assistance Organization of its kind in the nation. So we’ve been involved in crime and crisis, and serving those harmed by those two issues. Of course criminal justice is our specific focus here, and dealing with criminal victimization and victim assistance, and so that really is the heart of what we’ve done. We work with victim advocates and training. We also of course want to educate political leaders and community leaders on policy issues related to the needs of victims. So that is our core, that is our history, and it remains as such even as we move into the cyber age.

Len Sipes: And the core has been garden-variety street crimes, rapes, robberies, burglaries, those sorts of things, violent crime. That’s been the principle point of NOVA, and NOVA acting as an advocacy organization for victims of crime, and anybody who hears this show can simply contact and they will be assisted, correct?

Will Marling: That’s exactly right, yeah. They can go to our website. We try to have a healthy amount of information on there but we also have a toll-free victim assistance number – that’s 800-879-6682 – and for victims specifically, we would rather they just call us if they’re able to because email itself, you know, it’s not efficient when talking about the complexities of criminal victimization.

Len Sipes: I agree.

Will Marling: And it’s not secure, quite frankly, for especially people at risk, domestic violence victims and the like.

Len Sipes: I agree.

Will Marling: So that’s why we encourage that, you know, when they get to a safe place, to give us a call, and we’re happy to help them.

Len Sipes: We’ll give that number again — 800-879 –?

Will Marling: Yeah. 800-879-6682

Len Sipes: — 6682.

Will Marling: And that’s 800-trynova. 800-T-R-Y-N-O-V-A.

Len Sipes: Okay. Why did NOVA get involved in cyber security?

Will Marling: Cyber security, cyber safety, came on our radar really about three years ago, a little over three years ago, when we started taking calls and we were getting victim assistance calls in this arena. It started with kind of identity theft and some other things, and we were looking at this issue not really knowing how to help people directly, not knowing what to do with them specifically.  We had some idea but, you know, it’s a complex issue, and we moved into that arena and we started training up ourselves, our staff, and then training victim advocates out in the field. We go out and we provide training on victim assistance, cyber crime remediation techniques, and then we’ve moved into an education of consumers as well because we know that we need to get on the front end of this and not just deal with the back end of it because of the scale.

Len Sipes: Everybody has cell phones, everybody has computers, everybody has tablets, or a lot of people have a combination of those, and so these devices are not part and parcel to our lives, and when we use them, we place ourselves at risk.

Will Marling: We do. I want to keep it in perspective because I don’t want to create an unnecessary sense of fear. It’s awareness of risk just like anything we do but what people don’t realize is for us, we kind of principlize these things to help people get their head around them because it can get murky especially for people who aren’t tech-savvy or tech-focused but we are today, we are our data. You are your data, and that means that we have to think about ourselves as electronic bits. When we start thinking about it like that, then that kind of changes our perspective about how we protect ourselves in this arena with technology.

Len Sipes: Well, it’s extraordinarily complex because I consider myself as tech-savvy as the next person and yet it confuses me to no end, and I’ll give an example in a little while about how one of my websites – I can’t give it out doing this broadcast – but one of my personal websites was hacked and I had to go through a process of getting it unhacked, and it was a real pain in the tuckus. But before getting to that, before getting to a larger discussion on cyber security, I always am interested in NOVA’s take on the Constitutional amendment, a U.S. Constitutional amendment for victims of crime. There are a wide variety of state constitutions that have amendments for victims of crime, not all of them. I think the last time we discussed it, it was like 32, 33 states have state constitutional amendments, but there is a need for a United States Constitutional amendment for victims of crime. Can you give me a two-minute summation as to where we are regarding that?

Will Marling: Sure, and thanks for asking about that. It’s is an important issue for the nation. House Joint Resolution 40 was introduced into the House of Representatives during National Crime Victims Rights Week, the third week of April of this year, and House Joint Resolution 40 is a proposed Constitutional amendment for victims’ rights. So with the introduction of that amendment – or, I’m sorry, with that resolution – there was a hearing, and it’s kind of the basic I don’t want to say perfunctory but in a sense that’s where it has to start, and then it’s going to need to move from there. So we are currently seeking co-sponsors in the House of Representatives who would sign up to co-sponsor that and to build momentum. You know, we both live in the Washington, D.C., area, we work here, and so you kind of get a sense of this. Other people certainly who track would know this as well but it really is – there are over 10,000 bills that are introduced in any Congressional session, and so people think it might be the greatest but that doesn’t mean anybody even knows about it because there are so, so many bills that can be introduced. So what we’re trying to do is educate our Congressional leaders on the bill that is as a resolution, and then have them sign on as co-sponsors so that we can build momentum and move it forward.

Len Sipes: Okay, so it’s starting in the House.

Will Marling: It’s starting in the House, that’s right.

Len Sipes: And I would imagine if there’s any non-partisan issue out there, it’s going to be protection of victims of crime.

Will Marling: It’s a totally bi-partisan issue if you’re talking politics. For the rest of us who aren’t representatives, it’s a non-partisan issue, and it touches every aspect of society. A simple primer on this is if you get accused of a crime in this country, you could have up to 23 protections that you could seek as rights for justice of your case. If you’re the victim of that very same crime, under the Constitution, the United States Constitution, you have no rights and yet you’ll be drawn into that system most likely as a witness or trying to track it in the justice process because of yourself or your loved one who was harmed, and so we believe that it is clearly appropriate to address this from a Constitutional level.

Len Sipes: And something that would apply to the federal criminal justice system but in a sort of a de facto way would eventually apply to all the rest of the states that do not have constitutional amendments, or their constitutional amendments are not as strong as a U.S. Constitutional amendment.

Will Marling: That’s right. Yeah, that’s exactly right, and I would add one key area is the military because the military, you know, sexual assault is a big issue.

Len Sipes: A huge issue.

Will Marling: It’s being discussed right now and it’s very important that we should be discussing it but most people don’t understand that specific to this issue under the Military Code of Justice that there are not victims’ rights as such, so this would afford a very important population that we all respect —

Len Sipes: A very good point.

Will Marling: Yeah, and they would fall under that category as well.

Len Sipes: That’s a very good point.

Will Marling: So it touches every American.

Len Sipes: And I thank you for that segue. Okay, let’s get back to cyber safety. Somewhere along the line, I do want to do an update, an entire show on the Constitutional amendment for victims’ rights because I think it’s so extraordinarily important, but back to cyber safety. Again, I go back to what I said before – all of us are electronically connected. Our grandparents are now on Facebook, they have computers, they have cell phones, they have smart phones.  The last data that I saw, that smart phones now exceed feature phones or regular phones, and I think now 60% of all phones in the United States are smart phones. They are the equivalent of the computer sitting on my desk just a couple years ago. They are that powerful. So now we have implications, we have real implications in terms of our day-to-day lives as to the devices that we have, and it strikes me that as we go through a 20-year decline in crime in terms of the crimes reported to law enforcement and as reported by the FBI and the National Crime Survey done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice, basically if you take a look at the last 20 years, there’s been an overall decline in crime. I know it’s blipped up slightly this year in terms of FBI data but while that’s been going down, cyber crime has been going up, and I’m not quite sure that anybody has any real idea as to how much it’s increased over the course of the last 5, 10 years.

Will Marling: Yeah. It’s a difficult statistic to track specifically because it’s not tracked. It’s not part of uniform crime reporting unless it falls under a category that is already there. So if it’s, you know, some kind of bank fraud and then attached to it is the use of a cyber tool, then that could be part of it, but in terms of good, consistent data, we know we have to extrapolate from a lot of different sources, and there are good sources but they’re showing that it’s a huge problem, and the FBI would affirm that.

Len Sipes: Well, I think the FBI and everybody else who’s been measuring it would affirm it. Okay, so on a personal note, I have a website, and I can’t give out the website address because I can’t mix personal with federal, but it received malware. I had to clean it up. I had to have somebody go in and be sure that it was cleaned up, and that cost me more than a little bit of money, and now it’s clean and up-and-running, and I won’t get into the details of that but I was hacked. My website was hacked. They had malicious malware installed on the site, and it was brought to my attention, and like I said, I had to go through more than just a couple of dollars to get it cleaned up. So, I mean, this happens to us all! I have this conversation with my wife about electronic banking. I can’t talk about the specifics and I shouldn’t be talking about the specifics – I’ll give out one, Google Wallet – but all the different internet providers have a version of Google Wallet so I’m just not promoting them, whereby you can take care of all of your monetary transactions from your smart phone, from your computer, from your tablet. Banks have them as well.  And I’m always concerned, very concerned, about having my entire financial history either hacked by somebody because I or my wife uses a WiFi shared by lots of other people and they can easily get into our data and they can easily get into our pass codes, or we would lose the phone, or lose the tablet, or somebody would break into our house and steal the computer. They just don’t have our photos, they just don’t have our documents, they have our financial history.

Will Marling: That’s right, and you know one of the principles is if it’s convenient for you in terms of use, it’s probably convenient for a perpetrator to access, and we have to think differently about this. For instance, we encourage people with this principle: if it has a lock, use it. Use it. 33% – and it varies depending on who the population is – but cell phones, smart phones, have a lock-screen on them, and 30% to 33% of people don’t actually use that.

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, 33% don’t use it or do use it?

Will Marling: Don’t – don’t use it.

Len Sipes: Oh, I thought the majority didn’t use the locks.

Will Marling: Well, people are getting smarter but that’s still 1 out of 3 just on that issue so that tells you that just from something so basic as locking our phone. Now when we think about all of our physical keys, Len, I mean, do you have one key that unlocks your office, your car, your house, your bank?

Len Sipes: Nope. Nope.

Will Marling: No! We have multiple keys. Why? – Because we want to make it a little more complex than having a master key but what happens is – and this is kind of that password thing – password attitudes are, “Well, it’s a master key.” We use the password for everything, or we use the same email address as the identity, and we’ve just simply got to change that. Why do we do that? – Well, it’s convenient. Why do we need to change it? – We need to create a little bit of inconvenience for ourselves, yes, but more so for a potential perpetrator.

Len Sipes: The bottom line is that we’re making it ridiculously easy for people to rip us off.

Will Marling: That’s it! That’s it.

Len Sipes: By weak passwords, by not locking our phones, by not locking our tablets, by having, again, weak passwords in terms of our computers.

Will Marling: That’s right, and so it really is changing our thinking. I believe we can do that because once we realize that it doesn’t have to be always this complex and always this inconvenient, but sometimes it’s just changing our behavior slightly like, you know, I quickly now unlock my phone. It automatically locks after a minute. I can quickly unlock it. Is it an inconvenience? – Well, only slightly because I don’t think anything about it now. It’s rote muscle memory, and so boom, I unlock it.  We had a phone that was lost by actually the repair company that was fixing it, and that’s a completely separate irritating story. It’s my teenage son’s phone that we had repaired and they lost it, and you know it was interesting that his reaction to that, he immediately got the implications of somebody having his phone. He was concerned that they would put information on his, you know, Instagram and social networking information and this kind of thing. I mean, he was far more concerned about that threat to his personal information as he was to the actual device. I, of course, was thinking about both because these devices, you know, can cost us some money.  But there is this emotional concern, and it’s an understandable one, and when we get that as a victim assistance organization, we get that this stuff creates trauma for people and that’s why we’re always very validating. – And in our world today, quite honestly, sometimes when people hear about a cyber crime, they call it a white-collar crime or a paper crime as if it’s less harmful, and quite frankly we’ve dealt with victims of these things that their lives have been absolutely destroyed.

Len Sipes: Yeah, and that’s a big part of it that we’re not recognizing.

Will Marling: That’s right.

Len Sipes: But let me re-introduce you, Will. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re halfway through the program, Will Marling, the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance – www.trynova. org. – 800-879-6682. 800-879-6682 for the National Association for Victim Assistance.  We’re doing a show today on Cyber Safety but what we’re talking about is fraud. We’re talking about personal safety. We’re talking about child safety. We’re talking about computer safety, and when I say computer safety, your Smartphone is a computer. Your tablet is a computer. It’s just as powerful as the PC that sat on my desk just a couple of years ago. So we’re talking about a brand new day and age and, you know, when we are talking about the old issues, Will, years ago regarding the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the solutions would be ridiculously simple. The most burglaries happened through unlocked doors and unlocked windows. When they used forced entry, the locks were inadequate or the doors were inadequate. So it was close your doors, close your windows, put on decent locks, take the key with you from car because a large percentage of car thefts involved keys in the vehicle.  So there were very, very, very simple types of explanations that helped you stay safe. There were simple explanations in terms of violent crime, that most rapes happened, the perpetrator knew you, you knew the perpetrator, and often times they happened at residential settings which means the victim often times willingly went into the house of somebody else or invited somebody into their house so the point was don’t do those sort of things unless you absolutely know and trust the person.  Does it become that simple in terms of cyber security? I know lock your computer, put on a strong password or pass code – those are the simple steps that people can take that really do help protect them from cyber security. Are there others?

Will Marling: Well, I would affirm what you’re saying that we can start with the basics and that is important. The unique dimension of the cyber world, of course, is that we can be attacked by somebody who lives 10,000 miles away while we’re sleeping. It happens overnight, just like you were describing with your website. So yes, it starts with that. More sophisticated criminal activity can result in sophisticated harm for victims just like with actually some violent crimes and other physical crimes. One thing I want to affirm in the process here is we separate out, like cyber crime is its own thing, and it’s whatever we want to say to the mystery of it, you know. We see the outcome. People think it’s just about lost money. The reality is that cyber crime is also used as a tool to create harm in other ways including violent crime. I talked with a woman who, as a professional victim advocate, she informed me that somebody had assumed her identity on Facebook and built a relationship with a man, and he came to her house and sexually assaulted her.

Len Sipes: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

Will Marling: Yeah, so there’s an identity theft, there’s a Facebook engagement, and then there’s a sexual assault, and she was telling me this, and I’m a seasoned professional like you, and I was working hard to keep my jaw up. Having thought that I had heard everything, this was standing in front of me. So there are risks there. I’m not trying to raise an alarm as if this is happening to everybody but it does happen, and so let’s start with the basics. Let’s, if it has a lock on our device, use it because this is the one day that we get out of the car and we drop the phone, and the wrong person picks it up, you know.

Len Sipes: Okay, we have an issue with personal information given out on Facebook, given out on other social media sites. I’m told by some pretty knowledgeable people that they no longer run algorithms to figure out your pass codes. Your pass codes can easily be figured out by what you place on your Facebook page and other social media sites. Sometimes we simply give up too much information on our social media sites. The best example of that is, “Bye, everybody. We’re heading out to Cancun for the next two weeks. We’ll talk to you when we get back.” If that’s not an invitation to go and burglarize that house, I don’t know what is.

Will Marling: Well, that’s exactly right, and we’re putting information on, as you described, at too high a levels, and people don’t realize what personal information means. Since perpetrators many times know that people use their pet’s name as a password, for instance, when you put your pet’s name on your Facebook page or your social networking site, you’re giving them that much more. There are algorithms as well but we also address the low-hanging fruit.  Since perpetrators know that if they hack an account – let’s say they hack a database of emails and they get passwords – they will find out where else you might have accounts and they’ll start with using that same information because a good percentage of people do that. That’s why we say, you know, not the same lock. Use a different pass code. And a simple tip, if I could give that since we’re talking about this?

Len Sipes: Please.

Will Marling: You can change your password for every account. You just need to use the right code in your own thinking. For instance, if you create a 10-number/symbol core password, and maybe it’s the first letters of your kids’ names and dates of birth in there all mixed up but you’ve memorized that, that becomes your core, and then you change the front and the back as it’s associated with a new account.  Just to be simple here by illustration, let’s say you have a Gmail account, so you can start with capital G on your password, your core of 10, and then at the end capital L. So you know you always have the core, but in every account you go to, you know that then if it’s a Yahoo, it starts with a capital Y and then the last word is capital – Yahoo – O. So you never actually have to remember anything more than your core because your account triggers, “Okay, I always do this with every new account.” So every password is different but every password is similar. You see how that works?

Len Sipes: Two-factor identification was introduced by Google and it really is wonderful. – And I’m not going to try to explain two-factor identification beyond the fact that once you’ve entered into two-factor identification, and they send you that code through your phone and you plug it in, it reads the cookies of your site so it doesn’t ask it for you again but so that means every time somebody comes into your Google accounts or your email or anything else, if you have Gmail, then that person not only needs a password, they need two.

Will Marling: Yeah.

Len Sipes: And Twitter and other organizations are starting to introduce two-factor identification.

Will Marling: Yep, and two-factor identification of course can be helpful. In the meantime, we’re recommending in dealing with this that people change, they have a different password for every account, and of course that’s when this discussion is, “Oh, I’ll never remember,” and hence the tip I’m giving – figure out the pattern that you want to use. The thing is a long password will be hacked eventually if somebody wants to camp on it or run a high-powered device to figure out what the password is but nobody’s going to bother because there’s so much low-hanging fruit with password as P-A-S-S-W-O-R-D and that kind of thing that, you know, people aren’t bothering.  So we tell people, “Well, raise your fruit. Just do even simple things to make yourself a little less obvious, a little less vulnerable.” You know, there are certain places in town that, you know, I wouldn’t go there at 2 o’clock in the morning, there are no street lights available, I don’t feel safe there. You know, you’d make a choice. And so it’s the similar parallel – let’s just make some choices to change our patterns.

Len Sipes: Well, in terms of the garden-variety of crime that we dealt with previously in terms of National Organization for Victim Assistance, it was, you know, the simple steps can keep you safe. They can dramatically increase the odds of you not being victimized by crime. The same message applies in terms of cyber safety.

Will Marling: That’s right. We commonly tell people too, especially with this data era that we’re in – and it’s different with that because of, like I said, the connectedness that we have – but we tell people when asked for – so people say, “I want some information from you,” it’s okay to ask them, “What for? Why are you asking for that?”  I go to hotels, I travel a lot, I check in, I’ve made a reservation or I might have prepaid – I want them to verify my identity but I don’t want them to take my driver’s license and make a color photocopy and stick it in a little plastic file box on the front counter, and that’s what I’ve experienced. I tell them, “I won’t let you do that.” Why? Because you’ve just taken that, and I ask them, “Why do you need to do that?” “Well, it’s just what we do here.” “Well, not with me. I’m not giving you a color digital copy of my driver’s license for somebody to steal.”  And when you ask for, we need to move into an age, without being belligerent, but we need to say, “Okay, since this is my stuff,” like if somebody said, “I want to borrow your car,” we would say, “Well, what are you going to do with it? Are you insured? When are you going to return it to me?” Or in the digital age, “How are you going to delete or destroy it when you’re done with it?” – And we/re not asking those questions.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple minutes left. The other part of it is that when somebody contacts you, regardless of what organization they say they’re from – and we all get these emails – then to disregard that email. Don’t go back and use them as contact points. But if your bank sends you an email, just go to the number in terms of looking it up on the computer or calling directory assistance. Call them up and say, “Okay, I supposedly have this email from you. What’s up with this?” Do not use the information provided to do the transaction. Call the organization directly through another channel.

Will Marling: That’s right. Yeah, that’s the age-old phishing but quite frankly, it still works. We’re a National Victim Assistance Organization, Len, and we get people that try to scam on a regular basis.

Len Sipes: Yes. Yes. Yeah.

Will Marling: It’s interesting.

Len Sipes: Just do not willy-nilly give out information just because somebody is asking for it.

Will Marling: That’s exactly right. Ask, “Okay, what do you want it for?” –Because we need to actually verify who’s on the other end of just a phone or an email. There are ways to trace emails, by the way. We can’t address that here but mostly, you know, if people are asking for something, they don’t really need to have it or they wouldn’t be asking, actually.

Len Sipes: Yeah. Well, that’s true but the weird part about it is the fact that I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over four decades. I am as cynical as a cynic could possibly be after 40 years in the criminal justice system and yet I was three-quarters of the way through filling out a form and realizing it was fraudulent, and I was just, “Oh, my God, what am doing? Am I an idiot?” So if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.

Will Marling: Yeah. Well for one, Len, I’ve known you for a few years now, and you are not a cynical guy. You’re skeptical.

Len Sipes: Okay, skeptical, skeptical.

Will Marling: There’s a difference because you have that hopeful spirit that we can get stuff done, which is why you have me on, which I appreciate. But, you know, the skepticism is a bit of what we need. There is nothing wrong with being a bit skeptical especially with strangers, unknown email, blank cold calls. We’re allowed to ask questions so let’s do it.

Len Sipes: All right. Will Marling, Executive Director for the National Organization for Victim Assistance, you had the final word. 800-879-6682. 800-879-6682.  What we talked about today is use good passwords. Lock your portable devices. Lock your computers. Do not provide personal information on social media sites. Change those passwords for every account that you have, and don’t comply with every request for information over the internet.

Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your calls, we appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Police-Parole and Probation Cooperation-Indiana University of Pennsylvania-APPA-DC Public Safety

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. The topic of today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, is Police-Probation and Parole partnerships. The question is whether law enforcement agencies cooperate with parole and probation agencies.  We have two guests today. We have Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology in Indiana, Pennsylvania. We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association. – And to Bitna and to Adam, welcome to DC Public safety.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Thank you for having me here.

Adam Matz: Yeah, thank you.

Len Sipes:  I’ve in the criminal justice system for 42 years, and I had 6 years of law enforcement, and in the 6 years of law enforcement, I do not ever recall ever having any contact with a parole and probation agent, and it really strikes me that parole and probation and law enforcement have been behind a line. They really haven’t talked to each other that much. They really haven’t cooperated with each other all that much.  Now within the course of the last 5 years, we see some real interest from the research and from the practitioner community as to law enforcement  getting together with parole and probation agencies, sharing information, looking at re-entry, looking at making sure that people who come out of the prison system do as well as humanly possible so they don’t re-enter the criminal justice system. Adam, I’m going to start with you. The American Probation and Parole Association has taken the lead in all of this.

Adam Matz: Yes, and actually what’s kind of gotten us sort of interested in the partnership specifically is we have various sort of grant projects that we work on for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and one of those programs is Project Safe Neighborhoods. Now Project Safe Neighborhoods or PSN has been around for a while, since 2001, but the interesting thing about that is that it’s heavily influence by prior programs, and one that stands out is the Operation Ceasefire that a lot of folks have heard of or are familiar with from Boston. Part of that Ceasefire or that gun project that happened there was really one of the first formalized partnerships between probation and police officers, and it was known as Boston’s Operation Night Light, and that’s really where we kind of tie together and that’s where APPA’s interest has really grown even more. – And then also IACP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, we’ve worked with them and they’ve had various focus groups on this topic as well.

Len Sipes: But the American Probation and Parole Association, certainly that’s the organization that has taken the lead in not just police and parole and probation cooperation but has taken the lead in terms of virtually anything involving parole and probation agencies throughout the United States, correct?

Adam Matz: Yeah, that’s true. APPA is a national and international organization. We have a membership of over 35,000 members. It’s comprised of probation and parole officers and executives from all over the country. We do two annual institutes, a lot of trainings, a lot of grant-based projects, so definitely a very big organization.

Len Sipes: All right. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association – Bitna Kim, Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania there at the Department of Criminology, you were involved in research in terms of police officers and parole and probation agencies working closely together, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And can you give me a sense as to what your research had to say?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Okay, so our research is – first I have to admit our limitation of the study so we focused on only probation-police partnership in Texas so it’s really hard to generalize what is involved in the United States however this study can be one of the good examples as the need for more research. So in terms of the research findings, what they found is – so this study generally test how police officers or the leaders from the police office or sheriff department, how they think about the partnership with probation or parole, so whet we found is actually they are very positive in their relations or positive experience with the probation and parole, the officer. That’s the good side for future.  However the negative finding, what we found is most of the partnerships we found in Texas is that they are informal.

Len Sipes: Is what now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Informal – so in other words, the partnership is never formalized across the agencies. This is based on just the individual personal relationship between police officers and probation-parole officers. The problem is even though sometimes we really needed those informal partnerships however once those key people in the agencies retired or moved to another agency, the partnership is gone as well.

Len Sipes: Okay. So in other words, what you found was more of an individualized approach between the parole and probation agents and the police officers in the state of Texas rather than an organizational approach.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s true. So what we found is actually we surveyed the random sample of almost 700 police office agencies. Among them, over 75% of the agencies had just the informal or no partnership at all. Only a few agencies had established the formalized the partnerships so that is one issue we need to look at for future study. So what they found is again the consent is the police are leaders. They think we need those partnerships between police and probation-parole however the current status of partnership what they have is informal.

Len Sipes: Okay. Well, let me see if I can summarize. You took a look at 700 law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas and you found that 70% of those agencies had an informal relationship with parole and probation, and about 30% had formal relationships, say even memorandums of understanding, and that it really comes down to the leadership of both the parole and probation entities and law enforcement as to whether or not these were really viable, working relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That is correct, but once they have – so those who had the formal partnership, they dearly enjoyed the partnership. They think that they got a lot of the good relationship with the probation and parole agency.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Matz: Yeah, actually if I can add just a little extra context too that’s been kind of interesting is when you try to look at, okay, ones that are formalized, sort of why are they formalized, and what you’ll find a lot of times is that there was some sort of federal funding, grant funding that supported that sort of formal partnership. So a lot of those maybe are left over, and I know Dr. Kim can speak to it more with Texas, but they had the Project Spotlight there for a while which sort of motivated those agencies to develop these formalized partnerships.  Now we’ve talked about the Night Light in Boston when it originated in the early ’90s, that was considered the first formalized partnership, but when you think about informal, there’s been these sort of individual associations between officers for, you could probably stretch if back to the ’50s or something. So these always been these sort of informal networks that kind of occur in just a natural sort of organization setting but it’s really the past sort of 15, 20 years where we’ve started to see these formalized partnerships, and that’s really important for a couple of reasons. One is if you’re going to evaluate it and determine what kind of impact it has, it has to be formalized. It has to have some sort of logic model, if you will, to go with that.

Len Sipes: Well, but it strikes me as something that is fairly recent, I agree with you. It’s probably been on an informal basis between individual police officers and individual parole and probation agents, but you know here in Washington, D.C., we have an extraordinarily highly-structured relationship with not only the Metropolitan Police Department. We have it with the U.S. Park Police. We have it with the FBI. We have it with the CIA. We have it with the Secret Service.

We have all of these very specific involvements in terms of them and us, and when I say all these other agencies it’s 80%, 85%, 90% going to be with the Metropolitan Police Department. We meet with them on a leadership basis. Our top leadership meets with their top leadership. Our people in the field, branch chiefs meet with commanders of police districts, and there is also, I’m very proud to say, a lot of interaction because of the fact that there’s leadership from the top, a lot of interaction between individual police officers and individual community supervision officers. That’s what we call parole and probation agents in Washington, D.C.  So in D.C. it’s very structured, it’s very robust, but I just get the sense that outside of the District of Columbia, there’s really not a lot of agencies that have this type of formalized structure in terms of the relationship with law enforcement and parole and probation. Am I right or wrong, either one of you?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: Okay. And why is that, Dr. Kim? Why is there a reluctance of law enforcement and parole and probation to sit down at the same table and to forge these cooperative understandings with each other?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Actually, that’s the need for future research. We did not find what prohibit the formation of a formal partnership so in the near future I hope we can initiate more research. However I can say what we found is those who had the formal partnership had a strong organizational culture within the agency which emphasized the importance of working closer with the other agencies, recognizing parole or probation as an integral part of the larger community rather than simply threat to public safety, the single greater predictor for success for police-probation-parole partnership.  And also the other important thing is implementing formal partnership requires strong leaders endorsement to change the organizational culture or implement the formal partnership, nurture them, grow, and be successful over the long-term.

Len Sipes: Well, that was the key finding, I think, out of the first summation that you gave of your research in the state of Texas, that it really was the leadership between law enforcement and parole and probation that really kicked off on these 30% or so of formal relationships and 70% informal. It was the leadership aspect of that that really propelled these formal relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Yes.

Adam Matz: I think that’s right too. The leadership aspect is really important. There was qualitative research actually where there were some interviews done with not only police chiefs but also probation chiefs to get an idea, and also the officers within those organizations, and what kind of came out of that research was basically that if you didn’t have the support from the top, then those partnerships were never going to develop, and I think that matches with Dr. Kim was saying.  The other thing too, to think about the police organizations and Dr. Kim mentioned culture. If you think about sort of the community policing movement that happened kind of in the ’90s, that really kind of opened the door for more dialogue between police and probation and parole.

Len Sipes: Agreed.

Adam Matz: That really kind of made police a little bit more flexible, a little bit more – what’s the word – accepting of the probation and parole officer’s sort of mission which is to help. I mean, on one point it’s accountability but on the other it’s also helping these folks kind of get their lives put back together, and so that’s a big part of that. – And I think what’s interesting with these informal and formalized partnerships, the formalized are kind of concentrated in more urban areas also; and then if you think about what sort of agencies are more likely to have sort of a community policing drive to it versus maybe militaristic – and there are still a lot of militaristic type of police agencies out there that may or may not be sort of willing to partner with probation and parole, or at least not in the aspect of re-entry as we think about it typically.

Len Sipes: Well, there is also a lot of parole and probation agencies that are organized amongst law enforcement lines. They are police officers, they carry guns, so there’s a lot of parole and probation agencies that fall into that category as well.

Adam Matz: That’s exactly right, and that’s exactly a good point, and that was my thought. You took it right out of my head. You’re exactly right on that. There is a lot of diversity in probation and parole across the country. There are some places that do have a law enforcement orientation whereas others have more of a social work orientation, and I’m not sure there’s any research that really gets at which one of those two sort of camps are more likely to partners. It’d be interesting to find that out.

Len Sipes: Yeah, I’d love that, because it would strike me that those parole and probation agencies with the law enforcement orientation would cooperate on a greater degree with the law enforcement agencies because the missions become very similar, and that’s what I want to get into in the second half but I’m going to reintroduce both of you with this whole question as to how good are these partnerships, and how good are these partnerships for people coming out of the prison system, and how well people on probation do but let me reintroduce my guests one more time.  Bitna, she is Bitna Kim, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology, Adam Matz, a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments and the American Probation and Parole Association, the leading agency in this country representing parole and probation issues. Adam’s website is  All right, so the question now becomes we have law enforcement and parole and probation cooperating with each other. You know, from the standpoint of warrant service, from the standpoint of enforcement, from the standpoint of GPS, from the standpoint of accountability, that part of it I get and that would flow back-and-forth. We work with MPD all the time on all those issues if there’s a high-risk offender or individuals under GPS supervision. By the way, the folks from the Metropolitan Police Department can track our people on GPS through their own computers in their own cars.  So from the law enforcement end of it, that I get; but from the reentry and from the assistance end, I mean it’s pretty clear from the research that successful parole and probation is one part accountability but a second part of treatment so I’m not quite sure that our law enforcement friends are going to be that supportive or that understanding on the treatment side of it. Now, am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: You know, that’s actually a really good discussion point and it’s a really broad discussion so it’s kind of tough to kind of narrow that down, and I think to just back up just a second too, there’s multiple different types of partnerships and multiple ways to even think about this. One of them is enhanced supervision which is a joint patrol, and that’s really where you get the police officers and the probation-parole officers who go out together to do these house visits and kind of —

Len Sipes:  That’s what we do in D.C., yes.

Adam Matz: Yeah, with the accountability tours, I believe.

Len Sipes: Yes, and very successful.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think in that sort of example if you can get the police officers, their presence kind of does help to provide a sense of accountability. It also helps to reinforce the probation’s authority, I guess, with the offender, or the probation or parolee, and that’s probably where I would see more of the assistance in terms of the reentry as well. There were some anecdotal accounts when it came to Boston that having the officer there, they could maybe help coordinate services, suggest services for folks, also with the families in those areas.  But it’s never really clear on anything that’s been documented so far how far that really goes, and obviously I think that’s the area that needs a little more examination because, like you said, it’s very clear that accountability, the police are used to that, and probation and parole working with police on that is really probably the easiest part of it, and a lot of that can be done just with information-sharing which is another type of partnership.

Len Sipes: Well, here’s the conversation I had with a friend of mine in the Metropolitan Police Department here in D.C when we had an offender who got himself into trouble. They said, “Well, he had several drug positives, why didn’t you revoke him?” – And my response was that if we revoked everybody with drug positives or if we revoked everybody who had problems under supervision, we would revoke a lot of people. We involve intermediate sanctions where we get in, and we are progressive in terms of how we respond to an individual in terms of what we have that person do, all the way from community service work to going to a day reporting center to putting the person under various forms of GPS, and those forms of GPS can be tightened and tightened and tightened.  And what we do is we take a behavior that is inappropriate or drug-positives, and we try to fix that problem. He’s not going to work and he’s not looking for work so fine. He’s going to be on GPS until he finds a job. We find that many people come under compliance pretty quickly once they’re on GPS, and they suddenly go out and get that job, so this whole concept of intermediate sanctions is something that is hard for my friend in law enforcement to grasp but intermediate sanctions is part and parcel to good parole and probation within this country, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct, I think. I agree potentially between the police and probation-parole agency offering new, really good benefit and opportunity but also both sides of the practitioner agree there are lots of challenges. One of the one is I think, as you mentioned, that this is a mission distortion which means the given professional orientation becomes skewed by the influence or ideology of the particular agency. So law enforcement and correction agencies share the common goal which is the public safety by the crime reduction however each pursue this goal from the different perspective.  So police agency takes the full concern being enforcers, protecting the community by the arrest of criminal suspects in traditionally. Probation-parole agency on the other hand, is expected to both protect the community, and they heavily tag offenders by monitoring offenders and guiding them through treatment to service. Probation-parole officer especially receptive to adapting a law enforcement orientation where official focus solely on the role of the enforcement as the opposite to the probation-parole reintegration need, although by say that police-probation partnership are anticipated to result in stronger mission distortion among probation-parole officer than among police officer. Working with the probation officer within the active partnership also entailed the risk of law enforcement officer suffering from role confuse.

Len Sipes: Suffering from what, now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Suffering from what kind of a role they have to play, in other words they’re confused in terms of their role. So I think the original research found, they examined the implementation of police-probation partnership and found that the police officer involved in the program, the partnership, they felt what they should do by this the partnership.

Len Sipes: I would imagine a lot of this is going to be an opportunity for the parole and probation agent to explain to the law enforcement officer what his or her job entails and what’s important to them, and the fact that the offender under supervision successfully completes supervision, that is extraordinarily important to the parole and probation agent. I would imagine to the police officer, he just does not want that individual to engage in any law-violating behavior at all. So it’s an opportunity for both to sit down and explain to the other person what their jobs are and the fact that those jobs mesh in terms of the long-run, which is public safety, but in the short-run requires a bit of understanding from each other.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think you’re right about the communication part there and the two agencies. They have to communicate which each other’s mission is, for one. I mean, they have to have some sort of inner-agency meetings to basically get to know each other and understand what the goals are. – And you mentioned intermediate sanctions, graduated sanctions, those strategies that probation and parole uses, well, the police officers are not going to be aware of that, and there’s going to be certain aspects of probation and parole that simply police just aren’t going to be in tuned to, and that’s where that communication is really important.  And part of the thing, and it’s kind of an interesting dynamic, is that for probation and parole, when you increase supervision, particularly if it’s not necessary, if it’s low-risk type offenders or moderate, however, you basically increase the odds that you’re going to revoke or there’s going to be a new offense, etc., and it’s sort of ironic in a way that if you do too good of a job, you actually make things worse for those offenders because when you revoke them, you put them back in prison, it’s like starting over, and you have to go through the whole process all over again.

Len Sipes: For those lower-level offenders in particular, yes.

Adam Matz: Yes, yeah, and that’s something I don’t think the police officers – I know they’re aware of it because there’s all kinds of examples where they’re frustrated with seeing the same folks go in and come back, go in and come back, the revolving door. You know, police officers talk about that pretty regularly, and I don’t think they quite understand everything from the probation and parole perspective on that, so really that’s just I think the communication between the two.  But I think if it’s communicated effectively, the way that the police officers can really help probation and parole – and this has been sort of talked about and written about – is really sort of functioning as extra eyes on the street because the reality is probation and parole, they’re not on the street. They do home visits somewhat regularly but it’s not every day, it’s not every week. It may not even be every month in some cases.  So the police officers, if they communicate with probation and parole, they’ll know who these folks are, and they’ll be able to reinforce with the probation officer so if they see someone out, they don’t necessarily act on it but they can report that back to the probation and parole agency, which is very helpful.

Len Sipes: Let me toss something out, and again I’m going back to the fact that I was a law enforcement office for six years and I was a spokesman for law enforcement agencies as well as correctional agencies. The Maryland Department of Public Safety was both Corrections and Law Enforcement. The average police officer wants to see the average person coming out of the prison system or the average person on probation, he or she wants to see them succeed, and will report to the parole and probation agent, “Look, Benny’s been hanging out on the corner, and we’re getting complaints from the neighbors that he’s being loud, and I suspect that he’s smoking pot again, possibly being involved. I’ve got intelligence that he’s involved in other things as well. You need to intervene in this person’s life and intervene quickly because I think we’re going to lose him.”  I think in many cases, that’s not an abnormal interaction with law enforcement officers. The vast majority of them, virtually all of them, want to see these individuals succeed under supervision and so they communicate strategies and issues to that parole and probation agent so that parole and probation agent can take the action necessary to get the person involved in treatment or at least, if nothing else, to get them off the corner.

Adam Matz: Yes.

Len Sipes: Am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: No, I think you’re right on that, and I think in most places that’s the interaction you’ll see. Obviously if the communication is there and they know who those offenders are – there are some places in the country where there’s no communication. They don’t know the difference between people who are on probation and those who are not.

Len Sipes: Right.

Adam Matz: So for those jurisdictions where they know that and they have that information, you’re exactly right. That’s exactly what I’ve seen and that’s exactly the kind of feedback that I’ve gotten.

Len Sipes: Well Bitna, from your research, are we to be encouraged by these burgeoning relationships? Is this something that is in the best interest of public safety, the best interest of the offender? Is this within society’s best interest? Do you think these have a way of increasing and getting better?

Dr. Bitna Kim: I think. I think because state and local government across the entire United States facing reduced budget so law enforcement agency, correction agency, experience residual effects by staff reduction or declining research. However community expectation do not decline with the economy, as you know, so because of that, agencies are challenged to find a new and creative way to more with less. One way, one best way is to share resource and drive control together. I think the answer is the partnership between police and community partnership. Definitely that can be one solution what we can do more with less.

Len Sipes: Well, I agree with you there. The fact that budgets are being cut throughout the country, they’re being cut everywhere, and at parole and probation agencies as well as law enforcement agencies, that’s one way of dealing with the budget cuts, that they’re talking more and they’re creating a more effective environment for public safety, and hopefully they’re creating a more effective environment for the individual offender.  If the that offender, the person under supervision, if he or she knows that they’re being carefully watched by law enforcement, I’m going to guess and suggest that they’re going to be more careful in terms of being involved in anything nefarious. Adam?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think, well, the budgets and everything, it seems like a few years back, it was particularly bad. It seems like —

Len Sipes: A couple of seconds left.

Adam Matz: — things have been improving but yeah, I would say particularly what’s focused here and where these partnerships can really be beneficial is with your sort of high-risk folks, and where these programs are really paying off with this is when they’re doing these sort of inner-city urban gang problems, street gang problems. That’s where I really see this coming together and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:29:16].

Len Sipes: Okay. So ladies and gentlemen, our guests today have been Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your criticisms, we appreciate your comments, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

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