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Attitudes of Offenders on the Job-National Asso. of Home Builders

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. At our microphones today, back at our microphones is John Hattery. He is with the National Association of Home Builders, and the Home Builders Institute and also we have Will Parker from the CSOSA staff. Will is a senior program analyst and the person in charge of finding employment for offenders within the DC area, and to John and Wil, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Male Voice: Hi, Len, glad to be here.

Len Sipes: Alright, first I want to thank our audience, and that’s something I don’t do enough. We have 80,000 people coming to this site on a monthly basis, 80,000, and we are really grateful for all of the comments and we want you to know that we respond to every individual comment that you send us, either in the comments box, or in the email address directly to me. Either way, every comment is responded to and we work your comments into our shows. So, we wanted to thank you. If you have suggestions, go ahead, and as you are listening to the show, look for the email address, or look for the comments box and give us your feedback and we welcome your feedback, and we do incorporate your feedback into every show.

Alright, with that introduction, we are going to go back to John Hattery and when we had John last time, we talked about a variety of things that they have found. The National Association of Home Builders has these training institutes all throughout the country dealing with offenders, and hard to employ people, and they came up with six individual principles that lead to their success, and one was individualized services for offenders. Number two, was have a job development coordinator for offenders so you don’t have staff doing job development, you have a completely different person doing job development. Number three, when they did not do well on the job, the first job, you put them on another job site, and that’s a routine part of the experience. Number four, is to be sure that they have hands on experience, and that they actually know how to do the job. You know, when we are talking about bricklaying, that they do know how to lay brick, which seems commonsensical, but that was a key principle. Programs with a future. We’re talking about, in many cases, jobs in the building trades where you can go ahead and do magnificent careers where you can float from being an electrician to a plumber. You can bring on a variety of experiences and a variety of training. And number six was having a caring staff, and that was the success of the Home Builders Association and specifically the Home Builders Institute that John Hattery directly works for. John?

John Hattery: Hi Len. I wish I could say it all that quickly. My boss wishes I could say it all that quickly.

Len Sipes: Well, the point is that the Home Builders Institute and Home Builders Association, you’re are at multiple locations throughout the country and in many Job Corp centers throughout the country, and people who listened to the first show knew that I worked at Job Corp at one time, dealing with the Jail or Job Corp kids, and I was amazed at how comprehensive Job Corp was and the wide variety of services. Anything else to add about the Home Builders Association that you want to talk about before we get into today’s topic?

John Hattery: As you mentioned, there are two sides to the training house. We have our Job Corp program which is larger than our individualized customized program, the Workforce, Training and Employment Department, but both deal with hard to serve populations and both try to give what we try to call the five pieces of the employment puzzle to try nod toward making sure you have training, making sure you have linkages to jobs, making sure that you have the credentials, be it a trade’s credential or a high school diploma or a GED, and also do you have transportation, or have you planned for transportation because, you know, many times our clients don’t have cars of their own, don’t have driver’s licenses on their own. However, you have to take into count those kinds of logistical and operational things when you’re trying to link somebody to employment. So, essentially, the lessons we learn from our long history of Job Corp, my boss Dennis Torbett, created a model that we’ve been able to replicate across the country where we try to attend to these needs, to these five pieces of the employment puzzle that I call it.

Len Sipes: Okay, Wil Parker, you are the person in charge of finding jobs for offenders here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency in Washington DC. And for those of you who have listened to the program over this year-and-a-half, and wow, close to 100 programs now, radio and television programs have heard what we do. We’re a federal Parole and Probation agency. We provide services exclusively to Washington DC. Wil Parker, I’ve talked to him 100 times about this whole process of finding jobs for ex-offenders, so Wil, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Wil Parker: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Len Sipes: And tell me what it is that you do as the person in charge of finding employment for former offenders.

Wil Parker: Okay, back in January of 2002, the agency had the wherewithal to convince congressional membership of the merits of placing a unit whose principal charge would be to provide education, employment and vocational opportunities for those individuals under our supervision. Since then, on average, we serviced on an annual basis roughly about 4000 individuals each year and we have collaborated with the Work Force Investment Council here within DC and also the DC Chamber. We are also working with the Department of Employment Services, as we speak. And we are making in-roads. We are not where we need to be, but by the grace, we will get there.

Len Sipes: Nobody is where they need to be. That’s one of the things that I’ve found out about this whole thing. But DC government provides the bulk of the training, correct?

Wil Parker: DC government does. One of the things that the mayor is currently working on is an initiative with the private employers as well. We want to plug them and peg them to see if we can have upwards of about 200 jobs this year in which we can plug our offender population into.

Len Sipes: Right, but the point is that if you, and I was interviewing a person about four weeks ago, who went through a job development course here in the District of Columbia, and now he is out there working on a regular basis, so we do the assessments. I mean, we do educational programs. We do the assessments, and we suggest different occupations for that person to plug himself/herself into, but they are essentially DC government programs that provide the job training, right?

Wil Parker: Yes, by and large.

Len Sipes: All right, in just going through the tremendous and long introduction, to talk about just what I want to talk about today, and this is a topic of some controversy. It is a topic, I think of great importance; the attitudes of the ex-offenders on the job. So, what do I mean by the attitudes of the offenders on the job. Well, I’ve talked to people who have construction companies here in town, commercial construction, and John represents the National Association of Home Builders, and so they do individual homes. They do apartment complexes, condominiums, that sort of thing. So, I’ve talked to various people on various sides of the construction industry, and the thing that I hear more than anything else is that it is not so much , you know, don’t necessarily bring me a person who knows how to lay brick; I can teach that person to lay brick. I don’t necessarily need that person to know how to pour concrete. Send me a person who will show up every single day, who will not use drugs, who will not use alcohol, who has the ability to learn, has the right attitude, and that person can go from $0 to $60,000 a year in one year.

Now, and I’m saying to myself, wow! That’s an amazing concept, and John Hattery, we are going to talk to you about this first. That’s an amazing concept, don’t you think? Contrary to popular opinion, it may not be the issue having massive job training programs. Is the construction industry at the place now where they are simply saying come one and come all for the person with the right attitude and the right set of willingness skills? Can that person make a good living, John?

John Hattery: Well, you’re talking about the balance between soft skills and hard skills. You’re talking about the balance between workplace behaviors, appropriate workplace behaviors, understanding what they are, being able to demonstrate them on a consistent basis for a long time, and also being able to combine that with technical skills. We try our best, maybe not always as well as we’d like, but we try our best to attend to those needs, so people understand the nuts and bolts of getting to work on time, and having a plan B, and understanding that bosses have bad days too, and occasionally you have to listen to a boss that’s having a bad day event, and life isn’t fair, and all of those kinds of things, along with how do you handle your paychecks and all those other soft skills that go into being a successful employee.

You know, I run training programs and so I’m going to lean toward talking a little bit about the value of training as it relates to the soft skills only in that many of my clients, and I think you’ll agree with me, and Will agree with me, that many of our clients have so many needs, have so many esteem needs and so many opportunities from their prior lives where they failed that they are not used to being successful, and so even if you talk about the soft skills general terms, and you give them the opportunity to practice those soft skills, if you don’t combine that with hard skills training, you walk into a situation where they may not feel the same confidence they would feel otherwise.

If, for instance, and to use your analogy as a bricklayer. If I send someone who has really demonstrated great soft skills, but really doesn’t know much or have much confidence with brick and a trough, or a mixer or anything, okay? And I send him to a job site where they are expected to work and be productive as a bricklayer or a mason’s tender, or a mason’s helper, but they don’t have that hard training behind them to bolster their confidence, you know, that’s where I think that you could also run into a problem. I think the training and the certification and the six months or 12 weeks, or whatever the length of the training program is, that gives the person the hard stills and bolsters their confidence as do the soft skills.

Len Sipes: But here’s my question, and it’s going to go over to Wil. Is the industry at the point where, and I’m talking specifically the construction industry. Is the industry to the point where it’s saying to all comers, not just to offenders, but all comers, that, “Look, we can train you. You don’t have to have prior training. We can train you. Just for the love of good God, show up every single day at 5:00 a.m., show up ready work every single day. I don’t want to hear about baby-mama drama. I don’t want to hear about anything else besides you are going to give me eight good hours today of work. Do that. Put a smile on your face, and I can show you how to make really good money in a fairly short amount of time.” Is that where the industry is, Wil?

Wil Parker: I think so. What we’ve come to recognize, particularly with the employers here within DC is that they are telling us that they need someone with great conflict resolution skills, a good work ethic, and a desire to succeed. Having that as a building block, and that mindset will provide the platform on which they can also provide the technical skills, so that’s pretty much what we’ve been hearing from the employer and our community. Give us an individual who has a strong work ethic, and is willing to work, has a desire to succeed, and we can give them the technical skill to succeed on the job.

Len Sipes: Okay, when I was with the State of Maryland for 14 years, Public Safety and Correctional Services, with law enforcement and corrections, we had the Maryland Prison System under our department, and I talked to the guy in charge of what they call State Use Industry, which was just basically factories in prisons, and he said the most important skill that he teaches, that his people teach, to these thousands of offenders on a yearly basis was just what we are talking about. This is a prison, now. Showing up, every day. Being on time. Working cooperatively. No taking off sick when it’s not necessary. Working as a team with no feedback, no fuss and no muss, and if you’ve got to skip lunch to make a production quota, that’s exactly what you do, and he would routinely fire people, off these prison jobs, because there was a waiting list for these jobs. And then two months later the person would come back, and he would mouth off at somebody and he’d get fired again, and then two months later he would come back and to begin to understand that this is not going to work. Mouthing off to your supervisor is not going to work, and so he said that those were the most important skills. The bricklaying was important, and the plumbing was important, and working on a printing press was important, but that was the most important thing.

So, are we at the point where we need to focus on attitude as much as we are focusing on bricklaying skills?

Wil Parker: I think, really and truly, that the two go hand in hand. One of the things that we are starting to recognize, and we are in the process of trying to build a strong curriculum for is the core skills, which is a combination of the life skills, the work ethic and the job readiness, so we teach individuals how to interview, we prepare their resume, but we also talk about a sense of right and wrong, a sense of dedication and a good work ethic because we realize that in order for a person to succeed, they need to have a reasonable sense of self esteem and a desire to be successful, so we believe that those two complementary components go into the equation. When you provide those technical skills, you have a well-rounded individual and someone who can, in fact, not only be on the job, but can also experience career enhancement at the same time.

Len Sipes: I’m going to give contact points for both of you. For John Hattery, you can go to the website,, Home Builders Institute, and I’ll repeat that at the end of the program. For Wil, you can go to, and that is the website for the Federal Court Services and Supervision Agency here in downtown DC or (202)220-5300 for the main number.

John, going back to you. Now, okay, I want to acknowledge the fact the District of Columbia, the metropolitan area, not the city but the standard metropolitan statistical area has the lowest rate of unemployment in the country. From what we’re discussing about it’s more important for the attitude than it is for the hard skills, or they are equally important, and I’m not quite sure what the message is, is that going to apply in San Diego? Is it going to apply in Minneapolis? Is it going to apply to Cleveland, or is it just unique to DC?

John Hattery: I think that having a good employee with good relational skills to their coworkers is a universal concept. The difference comes, and where we will probably be able to bear this out, in down economies, like we are having in most of the rest of the country, it takes HBI, the Home Builders Institute, it takes our placement staff a longer than it did a couple of years ago to hook someone up with a good job. Wages in certain parts of the country are backing up due to the economy. However, the concept of having good soft skills, having a good employee, combined again as we will mention with good technical skills, are good universal concepts and concepts that are not going to change from region to region.

Len Sipes: Okay, why would this even be an issue, and I know why. So many of our offenders come from histories of abuse. I’m not making excuses for those people who are about to climb on email and tell me that I’m making excuses. I’m not making excuses for criminal behavior, at all, but to say that the bulk of offenders come from histories of abuse and neglect is like saying today is the 29th of May, and it’s just factual, and I understand that. And that is, in my opinion, where most of the attitude issues are coming from, the fact that if you raise yourself from age eight, and you get involved in substance abuse at age 10, and you’re smoking a lot of marijuana at age 13, inevitably that is going to lead you to a lot of issues.

John Hattery: I would say this, Len. I would say that I agree with everything you said right there, and you can even take the word offender out of that sentence, and put “potential worker,” and there are a lot of business owners who are around talking, going to the Department of Labor, or other places, and talking about the readiness of folks.

Len Sipes: That’s true, there are a lot of civilians, and that’s a terrible way of putting it, but there are a lot of non-offenders for who the issues are just the same. But, I mean, what does that say? When we take a look at offenders and it is clearly what’s in society’s best interest to help people and they are coming out of the prison systems, and they caught up in the Criminal Justice System, and there is just study after study that will say that this is true, then what is our magic formula here? And I know it’s not a one-stop concept. I know there are many other things to focus on, but should we be dealing more with attitudes and sending out the message, and this is the message my father gave me, when I went out into the workforce, and he arranged my first job at the age 16, and his advice was, “Shut up. Listen to the people. Give them a good eight hours. Don’t screw off,” but more than anything else, “Yes, sir, and no, sir, and just shut up and listen.” Now, that seems to me that the advice my father gave to me when I was 16, and I was pushing paper products through the middle of the hot humid summers in downtown Baltimore, from place to place, and that advice seems to apply today.

Wil, do you want to try that?

Wil Parker: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think that one of the things that Mr. Torbett, my boss, shared with us in terms of analyzing the mindset and culture and mores of our prisoner population is that contrary to what we initially thought in terms of rehabilitation, that often times, these individuals need to be habilitated, and that is to say that they have not encountered a household in which mom and dad got up every morning and went to work, and was dedicated to the propositions of making provisions for their family and extended family. So when you couple that mindset with individuals who in the case of CSOSA, only 39% of our population actually has a high school diploma, you’re talking about some problems with their skill set, but also with their mindset, and I think that both of them have to be addressed, and fortunately, I’m very proud to say that CSOSA has understood the necessity of trying to address both of these issues within the curriculum that it has in place for the offender population.

Len Sipes: Because a lot of that curriculum is very comprehensive. The Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency is lucky, and we are lucky because we are a federal agency, and we are lucky because we have money that other parole and probation agencies simply do not have, so we can send our folks to anger management. We can send our folks for a GED assessment, and we can send our folks for a job assessment to figure out what that person is going to be good at, and another occupational area that we have been very successful in, in terms of placing offenders, has been the commercial driver’s license program, and I think that’s a wide open area for people with criminal histories, as long as they are not driving secured loads, and that sort of stuff, and they are making very good money.

I guess my point is, and I keep coming back to the same point, that there are an array of offenders who can come out from the prison system and not work at McDonalds.
We’re talking about real jobs with not just a living wage. We are talking about way beyond a living wage. We’re talking about real jobs with a real future.

John Hattery: If we can get people to understand the opportunities in front of them, and one of the things my mind went you were talking about pushing paper around downtown Baltimore, was that one of the ways that we attack that Home Builders Institute, is that we hire instructors from the field. We don’t hire vocational educators. We hire guys who have poured concrete for a living, who are carpenters for a living, electricians for a living, and then we give them skills through some course work and some other things to teach them how to teach, but essentially what we ask them to do is run their shop, run their group like it is a job site. That includes, frankly, behavior stuff. If this young man, and this young man are having a hard time, and they are not getting along, and it’s affecting the production of the shop because, as I told you last time, we do a lot of community service, and we do a lot of work out in the community ,

Len Sipes: A lot of the Habitat for Humanity buildings, actually going out and building homes. You are just not laying bricks. You are now laying bricks in a house.

John Hattery: Right, and although we are not production, we are training, and occasionally we run into a deadline, and occasionally we are able to use that as another teaching point, and so some of the soft skills that we have discussed and agreed are so important, one of the ways that we teach them is we have a guy who has done nothing but make his living, or a woman in many cases, and they have done nothing but make their living as a tradesperson, teaching young people who are trying to be a tradesperson, the importance of working together and the importance of teamwork, and the importance of being able to get along, even with somebody that you don’t particularly like.

Len Sipes: That’s right, but you know, that’s just the difficulty, I think, and either one of you can take this. It’s that if you have a person who is struggling with getting along with other human beings, and one of the things that you mentioned before, John, I think is extremely important, you will take a person who you have trained through the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute, somebody who you have trained, and if they don’t work out in the first job, you’ll find another job placement for them. It’s not just a one-shot deal, and I think that’s also extraordinarily important.

John Hattery: You touched on it earlier, and Will touched on it earlier, your story about the gentleman who runs the prison job system and how there was improvement after he had to let somebody go and bring him back a couple of times. We tell people all the time, they must show up on time, they must show up every day and put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage, and if they choose not to do those things, they may find themselves with out a job. Young people, especially, they look at me, or they look at their instructor, and that all becomes kind of noise to them.

Len Sipes: And I understand that, just simply having young daughters, and you try to instill the values of an occupational attitude and to find out that one of my daughters did not communicate well with one of her employers, and basically said some inappropriate things, and I’m going, “What in the name of good heavens are you thinking?” So, I understand it’s young people, generically, but I also understand that with a lot of people coming out of the prison system, or even people who are on probation, they don’t get a lot of shots. You know, my daughters can fail, and yet they’ve got a soft landing waiting for them, up to a certain point. But, if you are out there coming out of the prison system, you don’t have a lot of soft landing points. If you go out and screw it up the first and second times, that may be a lifelong decision that you’ve just made. My daughters, you know, they are remedies, but you’ve got to be able to somehow and some way convince people that you don’t have a lot of bites at the apple when you’ve come out of tough living situations and you, generally speaking, do not have a high school diploma, and generally speaking you do not have a job history. It may be now or never. I don’t want to be that melodramatic, but it may be that. Wil?

Wil Parker: I think you are absolutely right. Not to discount what John is saying, and I think that I have to applaud a system in which an individual can be fired and then rehired a month or two later. I think that is great, but one of the things that we are trying to focus on is preparing an individual by way of his mindset in which he has an opportunity, she has an opportunity and we are trying to make sure that the individual makes the most of that situation.

So, as such, what we instruct them is that this very well could be your only opportunity for a long, long time so please make the most of it.

The other thing that is worthy of note is that often time employers are not willing to take a second chance on a referral agency such as CSOSA. So, to the extent that we send someone and that person doesn’t work out, we often times do not have the luxury of sending a second person because the employer just says, “Look, we gave you an opportunity, and that person didn’t show well, so we need to think about it before we make another overture towards your company in terms of actually hiring someone.”

Len Sipes: Sure, and we are in the final minutes of the program, and I want to give the contact points once again, but I do want to over-emphasize the fact there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of offenders who do come out of the prison system and who are on probation who do make the transformation, who do understand their circumstances in life, and so I don’t want to make it all negative now. They do understand the circumstances, and they do understand what side is up, and they do understand their circumstances, and they do well. They go out and go to Miller & Long and go to another construction company, and they learn how to pour concrete, and they go onto good careers. Wil, that’s correct, right?

Wil Parker: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay, and I just wanted to end the program on an upbeat and optimistic note, but I think this has been an extraordinarily interesting discussion, and I thank both of you for participating. Our guests today have been John Hattery and he is with the National Association of Home Builders Institute. I think this is an extraordinarily powerful program all throughout the United States, and they should be congratulated for their involvement. It’s, and John thank you for being on the program.

John Hattery: Thank you very much, Len. Thanks for having me.

Len Sipes: Wil Parker, Senior Program Analyst for the Federal Court Services and offender supervision agency here in downtown DC, (202)220-5300, for the generic number and just ask for Wil. The website here is Wil, thanks for being on the program.

Wil Parker: Thanks, it was really a privilege to be here and share my comments as they relate to occupational, educational and employment opportunities for our offender population.

Len Sipes: Okay, and I thank you, the listener. There are 80,000 of you every single month who come onto the website and to listen to these programs at DC Public Safety, and we are extremely appreciative of your involvement. This is Len Sipes. I’m your host, and please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


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Lie Detector Tests for Sex Offenders

This Radio Program is available at

See for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See for the “DC Public safety” blog.

(Audio Begins)

Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host Len Sipes. Today’s guest is Matt Kiely. Matt is a supervisor with my agency, The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. He deals with sex offenders and I think we’re gonna talk about a very interesting topic today. We’re going to talk about poligraphy; polygraph tests for sex offenders. Most people are not going to understand what a polygraph test is. It’s basically a lie detector test. We use lie detector tests for sex offenders to be sure, as one tool to increase our level of supervision and increase the level and truthfulness and, if I understand this correctly, to really help the offender confront his own reality and to help in terms of his own treatment process. And with that long introduction, Matt Kiley. Hi. How you doing?

Matt Kiely: Len, good morning. How you doing?

Leonard Sipes: I’m fine. Now, did I get it right Matt in terms of my description or did I mess it up.

Matt Kiely: Correct. It’s an investigative tool which we use in part of to design the treatment plan of the offenders. It’s not trying to catch the offender in a lie, but more so trying to obtain information to deal with his sex offender treatment plan and sex offender treatment contract.

Leonard Sipes: But a lot of sex offenders, and let me state this for the audience because they’re going to ask; why are you supervising them out in the community. These are individuals either coming out of the prison system, the federal prison system, and they’re now under mandatory supervision or their under parole and they are ours to supervise at the end of their sentence. So say the person has a 10 year sentence and he serves 70 percent of it. Well the three years left of his sentence, he is accountable to us. If he gets a term of probation, which means he is under our supervision but didn’t go to prison at least this time, he’s still under our supervision for whatever amount of years the judge gave him. So, we get a certain amount of sex offenders. How many sex offenders do we currently supervise? It’s within the hundreds right?

Matt Kiely: Right. Currently in my unit we have about 198 total, that includes active, monitored and some warrant cases. There’s two other units, so roughly about 400 I believe.

Leonard Sipes: Total.

Matt Kiely: Total sex offenders that we supervise. There’s well more than that on the registry which is a separate issue.

Leonard Sipes: Right and that’s the sex offender registry and here in the District of Columbia and that is indeed a separate issue. But we did that an entirely different show on that.

Matt Kiely: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: On the sex offender registry. We had the Metropolitan Police Department and our own people in to talk about the sex offender registry. So here we’re talking about the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. But sex offenders are in essence, a lot of them are pretty much in denial. Correct?

Matt Kiely: Correct. Some offenders have been denying the crime for years. I mean you’re talking about some offenders who have been locked up 15, 20 years come out and they reach a point where they actually believe that they did not commit the crime.

Leonard Sipes: Well and also at the same time whatever crime they committed was justified within their own mind in the context she was my girlfriend or this was a consensual relationship or this was in her best interest or I was just simply trying to be her friend. But the hard cold reality that this is obviously illegal act against generally speaking women, in a lot of cases minor children. You’ve got to sometimes pound it into their heads of “look buddy you committed a crime, in fact you’ve committed a series of crimes and if you continue committing those crimes, we’re gonna put you back in prison.” I mean that’s the hard cold reality in terms of getting through that denial. Correct?

Matt Kiely: Right. It’s a long process, certainly isn’t overnight. It’s similar to drug treatment, most treatment providers agree that treatment cannot be successful until the offender breaks his or her denial.

Leonard Sipes: And that becomes a good segway into a lot of different arenas because when people, when we talk about community supervision; I did a talk radio show years ago and somebody said the first time the person screws up, put him back in prison and my response was you’d have to put everybody back in prison because these aren’t boy scouts and girl scouts in many cases. Some come out with immense problems, mental health problems, substance abuse problems, domestic violence problems and in this case– sex offender problems. And in some cases, the process of relapse in terms of all of these issues, whether it be domestic violence, whether it be mental health, whether it be drug treatment or whether it be sex offender treatment is part of our day -to-day reality. Correct?

Matt Kiely: Correct. It’s almost inherent in the system there’s gonna be failures, but it’s what you do when they do fail kind of dictates where you go from there.

Leonard Sipes: Right. Now, if there’s sufficient failures, needless to say, if we catch a child sex offender stalking another child or engaged in the process of trying to entice that person, we’ll put the person back in prison. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But there’s all sorts of other levels in between that we have to deal with and we cannot just send every person back to prison. The prisons would explode tomorrow. We would overload the prison instantaneously. Within a month we would overload the prison system. So we have to maintain these individuals in the community and protect public safety and at the same time to give him or her a opportunity to, whether it be a substance abusing offender, domestic violence, it doesn’t matter, mental health, we have to give them some opportunities to correct bad behavior.

Matt Kiely: Correct. And based on the levels of severity, we apply graduated sanctions. Like you said an offender alone with a minor who has an offense history against minors, who may be in violation of no contact with minors

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Matt Kiely: We have requested warrants; we have had warrants issued and quickly executed so we deal with the severity

Leonard Sipes: So public safety becomes first. I mean it’s our first objective needless to say. But, dealing with sex offenders, we are talking about a extraordinarily complex world because we started off the conversation that they make these endless rationalizations in their own minds in terms of their behavior and getting beyond those rationalizations and getting to the point where we know what he did in the past and we know how he is now, is an essential ingredient not only in terms of the supervision, but in terms of the treatment process.

Matt Kiely: Right. You need to confront the offender with that and we need to get to the point that we all agree that the offender takes responsibility for what he did. Not that he had sex with the 15, 16 year old, that he actually caused the harm in having sex with her because as you know, some offenders will cognitively distort their crimes, their violations indicate they cause no harm.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Matt Kiely: You know.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah. Understood. Now Matt, before you go into this whole issue poligraphy or polygraph tests or lie detector tests and we understand from the conversation that had at the beginning of the program is that they are not really lie detector tests, we have to explain that to the audience. How did you get involved, number one, in community supervision? Most people throughout the country that do this sort of job are called parole and probation agents. We call our folks community supervision officers. You’re a supervisory community supervision officer.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: You have a team of people who you supervise. But how did you get involved in this business?

Matt Kiely: I did my undergraduate work at a small school in western Maryland. Then right afterwards went into grad school up at University of Baltimore. I was lucky enough to catch this agency in its infancy in 98 as part of the first CSO class.

Leonard Sipes: Right. It’s a brand new agency and most people don’t understand that. we’re a brand new federal agency.

Matt Kiely: Right, so in 1998 was the first CSO class, was a CSO and general supervision for four years. Was promoted in 2002 initially was assigned to the diagnostic unit doing pre-sentence report on offenders, supervising a team over there and then I think it was in 2003 when they created a third, due to the numbers, a third sex offender unit that I took over the sex offender unit.

Leonard Sipes: By the way I graduated as well from the University of Baltimore as well.

Matt Kiely: Good school.

Leonard Sipes: It is a good school. It’s a wonderful school, wonderful experience, one of the best collegiate experiences I had. Okay, so you got involved in the sex offender unit why? Tough, tough, tough crazy unit to be in.

Matt Kiely: Right. Well I was asked. The Associate Director was creating a third unit, was asked if I was interest in leading that. I knew it would be an experience and something that I really wanted to eventually get into. I dealt with the general supervision offender, dealt with diagnostics and I wanted something more, somewhat of a tougher challenge, if you will.

Leonard Sipes: And it’s interesting because we have a high risk drug offender unit. We have the mental health unit. We have a sex offender unit. These are fairly small caseloads, generally speaking, and it’s always interesting that everybody wants to be in these units because they want the challenge and, my heavens, in terms of high risk drug offenders, people have had a long history of drugs and substance abuse and the mental health folks, the sex offender folks. People within the criminal justice system, throughout my years in the system, they just gravitate towards the hardest possible jobs. I’ve had wonderful conversations with police officers here in the District of Columbia as well as Baltimore City who patrol the highest crime neighborhoods because that’s where it’s really interesting.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: That’s where the challenge really is. And so you take on willingly this extraordinarily difficult group of offenders to supervise.

Matt Kiely: You deal with all types of offenders in the sex offender unit.

Leonard Sipes: Explain that, all types of offenders.

Matt Kiely: Well basically we want to cast a wide net in making sure that we’re supervising every type of sexual offender out there. So, for instance, if an offender has a previous rape conviction, does his jail time, gets off supervision and then 10 years down the road gets convicted of drug dealing, he gets assigned to our agency for supervision.

Leonard Sipes: Really.

Matt Kiely: That offender will be supervised by the sex offender unit.

Leonard Sipes: Interesting.

Matt Kiely: At that time, we want to have him assessed to see if he needs sex offender treatment. See if conditions are modified. So, we not only supervise those offenders who are currently on supervision for sex offense, but if they have a past

Leonard Sipes: If they have a sex offense in the past

Matt Kiely: In the past, we will also do that.

Leonard Sipes: When we’re talking about sex offenders, are we, and again I apologize for asking you this, I didn’t tell you before hand I would be asking you these sort of statistical questions. But in terms of what we call sex offenders, is our universe mostly of individuals who commit predatory attacks on adults or are we talking about principally people who are involved with children or those under the age of 18?

Matt Kiely: Probably say half and half.

Leonard Sipes: Half and half.

Matt Kiely: What’s more concerning once they get involved in treatment, you get those unreported crimes that no one ever knew about. He’s before us for rape of an adult, but you find out that he had three or four instances where he has had sexual contact with a minor.

Leonard Sipes: Right and that’s the controversy involved in all of this because you know, years ago when I left the Maryland State Police and went to college, one of the things that we were taught is that it’s all interconnected in one way, shape or form. I don’t know what the state of the art is now, but even pedophiles, the people who are just, I’m sorry not pedophiles, what am I talking about? The people who look in windows, the peeping toms.

Matt Kiely: Peeping toms, right.

Leonard Sipes: And the people who are exhibitionists, to expose themselves to other people. You take a look at a rapist and you take a look at a child sex offender and once you get into their psyches, you find an array of behavior that touches, in many cases, all of these things. Is that true or is there a way of stating that definitively or is that still in flux?

Matt Kiely: Well, you’re dealing with different types of offenders in our unit. You’re dealing with, as you mentioned, the pedophile who is probably the highest risk offender that we supervise.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Matt Kiely: Those offenders who have victims

Leonard Sipes: Well, it doesn’t strike me that the pedophiles may be involved in adult rape because his sexual disposition is towards children.

Matt Kiely: Correct and that’s what he focuses on. Then we have the offenders who are rapists and that’s all they’ve ever done is rape adults unknown to them. As you mentioned before, we have the exhibitionist, they are also at a high level to re-offend.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Matt Kiely: It’s a behavior that we see repeatedly. It’s not just one exposure. It’s multiple times, multiple places.

Leonard Sipes: And not to get too graphic about this, the sense here is that if you have a sexual predisposition and to me it doesn’t really matter what that sexual predisposition is, but if you have that predisposition, I’m assuming it is sort of like heterosexual disposition. I don’t think you’re gonna change your heterosexual predisposition. If you are predisposed towards children, I would imagine that’s pretty much a lifelong issue.

Matt Kiely: For some offenders yes and that’s what we hope in the course of treatment that by focusing on cognitive behavioral controls, i.e., where we’re trying to modify their behavior, modify their thoughts. Offenders recognize when they may be in a lapse so they avoid re-offending by recognizing their own cycle of abuses.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. But they recognize their own cycle of abuse from the standpoint that they really understand that it’s wrong and they’re not going to do it again or do they simply know how to control it?

Matt Kiely: I think it varies. Some offenders realize it’s wrong through the course of many months and particularly many years of treatment and I think other offenders are along for the ride.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Matt Kiely: Have no intention of changing.

Leonard Sipes: Which brings us right back to the topic of the program in terms of poligraphy/polygraph tests/lie detector tests.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: Now, lie detector tests are not, even though I titled the program lie detector tests for sex offenders, you explained to me at the beginning of the program that’s really a misnomer, that it’s not so much a lie detector test.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s the difficulty in terms of explaining this. But if I called the program poligraphy for sex offenders, nobody’s gonna understand what we’re talking about.

Matt Kiely: Right. No one’s gonna click on that.

Leonard Sipes: So I called it lie detector tests for sex offenders. What is the reality of these tests?

Matt Kiely: Well basically as noted earlier, it detects changes in one’s body. You’re not dealing with detection of lies, but you’re dealing with detection of indications of stress.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah. When I took lie detector tests when I was joining the police department, I took 2, one as a cadet and one before entering as a trooper. It was explained to me that you simply measure certain, I forget the word that they said, but physical responses to your questions. So in other words if I’m there and I’ve got these diodes or whatever the heck they are around my body and if my body gives off these impulses when you say Mr. Sipes have you ever committed a felony. Well then obviously I just had this huge reaction to that question so that leads the investigator to ask additional questions. Is that basically what we’re talking about?

Matt Kiely: Correct. Your body’s gonna react to something you know is incorrect. Similar story in researching this matter. You’re walking down the hall. You and me are walking down the hall having idle conversation. Someone reaches around the corner and fires a gun. Your body’s automatically gonna react.

Leonard Sipes: Right, your body’s gonna react. But lie detector tests are not used as admissible evidence in court correct? That is something that is a finding throughout the country. Do I have that right or wrong?

Matt Kiely: It’s actually incorrect. It is used in some jurisdictions.

Leonard Sipes: Really.

Matt Kiely: Both sides have to agree to it and both sides have to agree on the scientific reliability of it.

Leonard Sipes: Wow. But we do know that in general there are a lot of false positives regarding lie detector tests. To some degree?

Matt Kiely: To some degree certainly. That’s why it’s not on a wide scale approved in every courtroom in this country. Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s simply because if somebody is polygraphing me and they’re basically saying Mr. Sipes have you ever broken the law. Everybody has broken the law at some point either by speeding or when you were 13 years old you took a candy bar or whatever. None of us lives perfectly clean lives. So I could have a response to that, a physiological response. That’s the word I was looking for. I could have a physiological response where I would jerk and move and my eyes would get big or whatever because I’m worried as to how to truthfully answer this question. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m lying. It’s simply means that I have a strong physiological or physical reaction to that question.

Matt Kiely: Right and one of the important parts of the polygraph is the pretest. During the pretest, the polygrapher will over an array of questions with the offender. They could deal with supervision conditions, could deal with your sexual history or could specifically deal with the, as they call the incident of offense, could deal with the offense of record. What the offender was convicted of.

Leonard Sipes: And there what we’re asking are very straightforward questions, what is the time of day, is your name John Doe, were you convicted for this offense. These are pretty much yes or no questions. Correct?

Matt Kiely: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And you setup that baseline.

Matt Kiely: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And from that you can judge whether or not there’s a strong physiological reaction to the question that we ask.

Matt Kiely: Right. It will tell us in what areas that the offender is being deceptive and generally the contractors we use will run these reports, will forward their reports to us whether a deception was indicated or a deception was not indicated. If, in instances where deception is indicated, the polygrapher will confront the offender after the polygraph and say question number 1, question number two show signs of deception, do you have anything to say.

Leonard Sipes: Right. Is he still hooked up?

Matt Kiely: No. At that point, it’s basically a post test interview.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Matt Kiely: The “polygraph is done”.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Matt Kiely: It’s over.

Leonard Sipes: Alright.

Matt Kiely: With deception indicated or no deception indicated or in some cases inconclusive where the polygrapher could not get a good judge on the reading, which happens sometimes. But at that point the offender gets a chance to respond. For instance, if the polygrapher said there was deception regarding the number of minors, the polygrapher will kind of dig a little deeper as far as are you sure there were only two in history versus three or 4.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Matt Kiely: And in many instances the offender will admit additional victims. Which basically validates the polygraph test indicating that’s the reason why the deception indicated because it wasn’t two, it turned out to be five or six.

Leonard Sipes: So Matt, how many different kinds of polygraph tests are we talking about.

Matt Kiely: Len, we usually have three. We have the instant offense history which addresses the offense of conviction in conjunction with the official version. We have the sexual history which looks at the entire sex offending behavior of the offender. Then we have the maintenance or the monitoring polygraph which is given to those offenders already on supervision and during the course of supervision to review issues concerning compliance with treatment, compliance with supervision and may adjust supervision controls on the offender should new information come to light.

Leonard Sipes: That’s a lot of polygraph tests.

Matt Kiely: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: Can somebody beat the polygraph test. Now that’s the question inevitably that somebody is going to be asking themselves as their listening to this program. They’re gonna say, I can beat that polygraph test or I’ve heard of people beating the polygraph test.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: Can a person beat a polygraph test?

Matt Kiely: Yes anybody can do anything they see fit. We did have one offender that discussed his concerns about the polygraph in the pretest. Admitted that he purchased the book on how to defeat the polygraph. And again that showed his intent was to try to defeat the polygraph. Whether he could have or could not is a different issue.

Leonard Sipes: But somebody told me and this is, I think the advantage that we have in terms of a parole and probation organization, is that it’s not a one shot deal. We polygraph, as you just said, we polygraph these individuals in a variety of different ways. We put them on GPS monitoring which is satellite monitoring. We, in some cases, will have people follow them after hours, at night, that sort of thing. We work with local law enforcement. They’re in a treatment process. We use a, I can never say it correctly, a pisme.

Matt Kiely: Plethysmograph.

Leonard Sipes: Plethysmograph, which is designed to focus on the offender’s arousal mechanisms when he sees certain stimuli. So there’s a whole mess of things that is basically going to tell us whether or not this person is telling the truth and whether or not this person is being honest with us. We don’t rely upon on particular thing. We rely upon a totality of technology to figure out whether or not this person’s a straight shooter. Am I right?

Matt Kiely: Yes. Like you said, we rely on a whole bunch of things. The offender’s autobiographies, you know investigative interviewing, contact with family in conjunction with GPS, surveillance

Leonard Sipes: And in conjunction with his own criminal history.

Matt Kiely: Right.

Leonard Sipes: So we have a pretty dag gone good idea as to who this sex offender is, who this person is as a human being through polygraph tests, through lie detector tests and through all the other technology that we employ because he could lie to us all that he wants. But if he’s hanging out at a school after work, that GPS device is gonna tell us that he’s there and we go back and we find out why he’s there. We can also go in and take a look at his hard drive on his computer correct and we can do that remotely. We can do that from our own offices. So that’s another piece of technology. But I think there was an example one time of an offender who went to a local library and we come to find out that’s where he was trying to log on to sexual related databases. So, there’s a wide variety of tools at our disposal to figure out, you know, whether or not this person’s a straight shooter. Whether or not this person is trying to do the right thing or whether or not he is just another criminal trying to re-offend.

Matt Kiely: Right. And that offender Len, years later gets released, comes back out in the community. This time has additional special conditions placed on his certificate. One of which he could not access the internet. We questioned him in connection with GPS; the CSO questioned him about his location in Maryland. The offender admitted he was visiting an uncle. The CSO followed up, spoke with the uncle, spoke with the niece. They had a computer. Found out it had internet access. They both stated that the offender was on the computer. We brought our IT department up there. Could not find any internet access activity, but we did find a letter in which the offender was writing an inmate which is another violation of his conditions which clearly stated that he was about to give up and run. He was tired of the GPS tag on his ankle and so forth. Eventually that evidence in conjunction with everything else supported revocation which the offender was sentenced to two more years in the institution.

Leonard Sipes: Good. Good for us. Anything else that I have forgotten because part of the discussion has been on sex offenders generically, part of it has been on the lie detector process. So I guess I should ask am I missing anything regarding lie detectors or the larger issue of supervising sex offenders.

Matt Kiely: No, we kind of covered it. It is probably one of the best tools we have and I can show you in another quick example. When an offender who had completed treatment, he had gone through two plus years. He was a pedophile so he was extremely high risk. But he had gone through the whole treatment and part of treatment after care is maintenance polygraphs every six month.

Leonard Sipes: Oh really.

Matt Kiely: So he’s referred back to treatment.

Leonard Sipes: We don’t give up do we?

MATT KIElY: No. We continue to work with them because we realize this is with some offenders, it’s a cycle.

Leonard Sipes: Yes. It’s a sexual predisposition.

Matt Kiely: Right and the offender was referred back to the treatment provider for a few meetings with the psychologist to go over a pre-polygraph interview and when questioned if he would be able to pass the polygraph, the offender hesitated and said I don’t know. And this is an offender who had previously passed his two previous polygraphs which is a big sign of a problem. He engaged the offender in conversation and we learned through the psychologist later on that basically the offender had communicated with a 17, 18 year old on the internet. That was that Thursday. That Monday we conducted a search at the offender’s apartment. Found 150 individual MySpace page photos, pornography. Found a photo of the offender in New York City which is a violation of his conditions. We wrote the violation report on a Wednesday; the commission issued a warrant on Thursday. The offender came into the office on a Friday for his regular visit and the warrant was executed.

Leonard Sipes: Sure. Sure. So I guess the lesson is that you can fool us every once in a while, but you’re not going to be able to fool us consistently.

Matt Kiely: Certainly.

Leonard Sipes: Matt Kiely, supervisory community supervision officer with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, thank you, and ladies and gentlemen thank you for listening to D.C. Public Safety. Look at our website if you will,, for TV shows, other radio shows, and articles about our sex offender unit. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

(Audio Ends)


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Supervising Domestic Violence Offenders

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This Television Program is available at

[Video Begins]

Segment One

Leonard Sipes: Hi, welcome to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our show today focuses on domestic violence, and every one of us knows someone who has been a victim of this crime. The question is whether or not domestic violence offenders can be successfully supervised and treated? Can they end the cycle of interpersonal violence? To answer that question we have two individuals on our first segment; one currently under supervision by my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and the person in charge of supervising domestic violence offenders. They are branch chief Valerie Collins and Dennis Smith. And to Valerie and to Dennis, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Dennis Smith: Thank you.

Valerie Collins: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: All right, Valerie, you’re the person in charge, you’ve been around for 20 years, you’re the true veteran-give me a sense of your Domestic Violence Unit in the District of Columbia; how many offenders do you supervise, and how many staff are supervising people?

Valerie Collins: Currently we have about 1200 offenders under supervision for domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, so that’s one thousand two hundred?

Valerie Collins: One thousand two hundred.

Leonard Sipes: That’s a lot of people.

Valerie Collins: It’s a lot of people.

Leonard Sipes: And how many staff do we have to do that?

Valerie Collins: And right now we have about 50 staff-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Valerie Collins: -who provide supervision and treatment services.

Leonard Sipes: Well that’s a big staff and that’s a lot of offenders to supervise, and you just hit the two key themes of this show, which is supervising domestic violence offenders and treating domestic violence offenders. Tell me a little bit about the treatment.

Valerie Collins: Well, our treatment component is a 22-week psychosocial educational program; we follow the Duluth model for domestic violence, which is the national model-

Leonard Sipes: And the Duluth-the national model, yes.

Valerie Collins: -in the country. And basically what we do is we provide our services for the offenders, they come in once a week for a 90-minute period, they come into a group setting and they learn about domestic violence. They learn to take responsibility for their behavior. And then the key component is getting some skill so that they will no longer engage in this behavior.

Leonard Sipes: Right. At the same time, we do supervise the dickens out of them, we drug test them, we hold them very accountable, and we’ll get to that in a second. Dennis, one of the things that I wanted to do with you, Valerie mentioned taking responsibility, and in conversations that we’ve had, one of the hallmarks of where you are right now in terms of being charged with this crime is just that, taking responsibility, correct?

Dennis Smith: That is correct.

Leonard Sipes: Tell me a little bit about what happened to you and how you got involved in all of this.

Dennis Smith: Well basically I had an ongoing cycle with my wife. She was my live-in girlfriend for quite a while and we had many reoccurrences in the city of Richmond where I was charged with domestic violence, and I was given mild jail terms, suspended sentences. Moved to D.C. and within a ten-year period, we had no occurrences of that, once we got married the cycle picked up again.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So the cycle of physical violence between intimate couples is not unusual. One of the things, and this question can go to either one of you, one of the things that I read in a Department of Justice document the other day was that one in 300 households experiences domestic violence. So as ride the train or the subway, or as we ride through the District or Virginia or Maryland, it’s easy to see thousands upon thousands of homes, which means we’re looking at hundreds of victims of domestic violence-this is not unusual. Valerie.

Valerie Collins: You’re absolutely correct, Mr. Sipes. Domestic violence cuts across all racial and socioeconomic lines, and so it’s not just a problem that you would say is in one particular neighborhood or you know, one particular city, but it is a national problem.

Leonard Sipes: Right. But Dennis, going back to you set of circumstances, all right, so you were charged before, you moved the District of Columbia, and you were charged again in the District of Columbia. Now what happened-the judge gave you what?

Dennis Smith: The judge gave me an imposed sentence of conditionary probation, meaning if I completed all the requirements of the program that the record would be expunged-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dennis Smith: -and that I would be turned released in good standing.

Leonard Sipes: Now you went through-when you came to the program, is this what you ordinarily got in the past, or was this a different experience?

Dennis Smith: This was a totally different experience. In the past I might have gotten seven days in jail, weekend incarceration, or what they call weekend support where I would do detail work for the Department of Transportation cleaning up roadsides.

Leonard Sipes: But nothing was there to help you understand that pattern of domestic violence and the fact that it’s, you know, completely unacceptable, as you and I would agree today, and that it’s wrong and that’s the bottom line, correct?

Dennis Smith: Correct. The difference here was that in D.C. it is mandatory upon being charged, that you go through what’s called pre-trial drug testing. And from what I gathered, that gave them the basic information to set up certain programs to educate me in ways of dealing with the stressing, the relationship, the financial difficulties that they go through which possibly leads up a lot of the domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and basically talking about the triggers and how to deal with those triggers. In other words, when something happens in your life where in the past you would have reached out and hurt somebody or touched somebody, you know how to deal with those triggers without hurting or touching somebody, correct?

Dennis Smith: Correct. You implement what they call safety plans-they teach you how to implement safety plans and they give you fallback solutions, things that normally if you were caught in that cycle, you wouldn’t even think of, ‘hey, this is the simplest thing to do.’ You have a set of keys, walk out-walk away, turn around or just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ don’t react.

Leonard Sipes: Now I’ll express-the question can go to either one of you-I’ll express my own prejudice. There’s too much within our society that says it’s okay to hit women. I understand that it goes both ways, but the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators of domestic violence are men. So there is too much in our society-there’s too much in terms of music, there’s too much in terms of movies, there’s too much in terms of our attitudes that essentially says that it is okay for a man to physically assault a woman under those set of circumstances. And I think it’s very difficult because we in the larger society are sending a dual message; on one side we’re saying, ‘you do not touch your significant other, you do not touch your wife, you do not touch your spouse,’ and at the same time movies and music and the larger society for decades, for decades now has basically said, ‘no, it is okay to manhandle your significant other.’ Comments?

Valerie Collins: Well it was in the early 90s when things began to change regarding domestic violence, particularly in the District-1991, the mandatory arrest law, which indicated that, you know, when the police came to the home, we had to make an arrest. Previously, as Mr. Smith indicated, a lot times they come to the home and usually the male, 95% of battering is done by males, will be told to take a walk around the corner, go cool down, come back, there’s no intervention. And a week later the police are right back there to the same home.

Leonard Sipes: Over, and over, and over, and over again to the same home.

Valerie Collins: And over again-exactly. And the other thing with the treatment component is it’s the first opportunity for men to come and talk about what’s going on in terms of domestic violence-the issues of power/control, because that’s what it’s all about, domestic violence is power/control issues.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So you give them the opportunity to talk about, you know, take responsibility for their behaviors, identify the type of behaviors they’ve engaged in, and then also have that forum with other men to discuss you know, ‘well what are your emotions beneath the anger? What are your cues to violence?’ as Mr. Smith talked about, and, ‘when you have those cues, how can I go ahead and take that time out?’ Walk away. A lot of men feel like if you walk away that’s not something that’s manly.

Leonard Sipes: Well Dennis, I want to get to that-how difficult is it for a group of men to sit together and talk about these feelings and talk about these emotions? Because my guess is a lot of the guys who are participating in these sessions feel up to this point, it’s a private matter.

Dennis Smith: Well, a lot of the groups I sat in, I found that amongst ourselves we’re able to let down that guard, but it’s totally different when you are in the moment, right in the moment of that situation that just blew out of control. And you’re looking at it from your perspective-it could be I just finished putting in 12 hours and I don’t understand why she’s coming in at me like this, and there’s no trigger to think-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -at that point-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -you just react.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And before you know it, both of you are reacting and before you know it, it’s beyond reaction anymore. It’s gotten to the point where somebody, be it the male or the female, has reached out because no one had the ability to say, ‘okay, I can control this, I can stop this, this is gonna go way beyond where it needs to go.’ You’re reacting to that anger versus just kicking in a five-second, or a ten-second thought pattern and say, ‘why?’

Leonard Sipes: Do you feel that the folks within the group understand this, embrace it as you have? And you’re obviously very aware of what’s happened, you’re obviously very tuned into what’s happened, and I applaud you for that. But do you feel that the average man who comes into these groups is going to have the same sort of experience and thought process that you have now?

Dennis Smith: Initially I would say no, but the facilitators that y’all are using are the key role in establishing the control at that point. Some of the facilitators that I’ve worked with were able to break down that still present anger. You’re never gonna get rid of that anger until that individual accepts who he is, what he is, and accepts the change that y’all are trying to give him.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But once that facilitator sees that channel of anger and he directs how to release it-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -and within the group he tells us how to talk about it, how to get it out there. We don’t know-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: -we come at each other the same way we come at our mates in those groups.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But that facilitator then interjects key things that we don’t know from living that cycle for so long. And if we absorb what that facilitator is saying and not take it personal as an attack on our character, then we can sit back and have a channel of thought. Once we engage that channel of thought that, ‘hey, maybe I am this controlling guy,’ because for me, personally I said-I constantly said I wasn’t controlling.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And there were instances where I felt that the mate was the controller.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: But in all actuality what the facilitator taught me was I am the controller because I’m the one blowing it. I’m the one throwing steam.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and that you can control your own life, you can control set of circumstances, you can control those triggers.

Dennis Smith: I can also approach it, and that’s what he kept on emphasizing with me, the way I was approaching was the trigger.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: And her, not just my anger.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dennis Smith: What I was saying and how I was saying was making her mad, making her come back at me. And each time she came back, I came back stronger because I was the stronger of the men.

Leonard Sipes: Valerie, we don’t have a lot of time in this first segment, but do you think that Dennis’ experience is pretty much characteristic of the other men who get involved in domestic violence, counseling treatment?

Valerie Collins: Dennis has said a couple key things. The first thing he said that he learned this-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -you know, he says it’s something he’s been doing for a long time, so it is learned behavior.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So they come to the groups, this is what they know; this is what they’ve learned in their family of origin. It’s intergenerational, you know, this has been going on, has been passed down, you know, from generation to generation as I said. And the other thing is the whole communication piece, and that’s the other thing as Dennis talked about in the group, is that you come and a lot of men, and this not an indictment on men, but a lot of men aren’t able to come and express their feelings. They’re able to say, ‘I was angry,’ but they can’t identify that they felt disrespected by their mate, you know, that they felt lonely when she went out with her mother shopping-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -or something like that.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So it’s getting them to identify their feelings and take responsibility for those feelings and then communicate that with their mate.

Leonard Sipes: If not only ending violence, but it’s improving the quality of their life at the same time.

Valerie Collins: Exactly, yes.

Leonard Sipes: Would the same message that domestic violence is completely unacceptable-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and everybody knows that and everybody is comfortable with that after the treatment do you think?

Valerie Collins: Yes, I would say we have probably about 70, 75% success rate in terms of our group completion. So if people stay in there, they hang in there, it’s tough when you first get there.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: I would say those first three to four sessions no one wants to be there, they’re very angry, but if they hang in there and they bond with the group, then they’re able to move forward-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -they’re able to deal with their own issues and their emotions and express that in a group-and get the help, like he said, from the facilitators.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, we’re gonna stop you right there. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us on the first half of D.C. Public Safety as we discussed domestic violence. Stay with us for the second half as we continue this very, very, very interesting conversation. We’ll be right back.
Segment Two

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our next two guests are Valerie Collins, who you met in the first segment, and Mark Collins, a community supervision officer who supervises domestic violence offenders on a daily basis. And to Valerie and Mark, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety. Welcome, Valerie, you had a major role in the first segment with Dennis as Dennis was explaining this whole metamorphosis that he went through. Certainly 15 minutes does not give it enough time, but we have this unfortunate sense of mostly men batters who think it’s okay to take out there expressions, to take out their frustrations in a violent way towards principally female victims. And I understand it’s a lot more complicated than that. For the men watching this show, I understand that whoever have been in this set of circumstances, I understand that they’re far more complicated than that. But the bottom line is that they can not hit, they can not touch, they can not strike their wives-significant other. They go through this training process, this counseling process where they learn that, and what you’re saying is that most of them come out of that with a sense that they understand that they can not do this.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And that to me is a remarkable turnaround because isn’t a good part of the domestic violence problem cultural, that in many cases we come with this sense that it’s okay to do this?

Valerie Collins: Well it’s cultural, we’ve learned it just in society in general that you know, men are pretty much, you know, a king of the castle, that’s kind of in the historical point of view. And I can say it’s not changed until, you know, really the 90s when a lot of victims advocate groups got together and said, you know, ‘we have to make a change,’ and that’s because a lot of women were losing their lives as a result of domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: And they were being battered half to death in some cases.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: I going to tell you my experience, when I was a very young state trooper going to a house and finding the woman open the door and her face was twice its size-he had just beaten her with a frying pan. And my parents never-I never had this problem at home, and it was just completely flabbergasting. I can deal with horrible automobile accidents, I can deal with lots of different things, but that act of domestic violence completely threw me for a loop. That’s what we’re talking about in many cases aren’t we? The pushing and shoving and the hitting-in some cases, it can be pretty graphic.

Valerie Collins: It can be graphic but domestic violence is not only hitting and shoving and pushing. I think that’s important to understand that also, that there’s emotional violence, economic abuse, people threaten people with domestic violence. And the thing about domestic violence is if I threaten you, you know, maybe I point a gun at you or threaten to kill you, then I don’t have to hit you-it’s really all about power/control, it’s not just the hitting.

Leonard Sipes: All right. So larger issue-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s a very important point.

Valerie Collins: Yes it is.

Leonard Sipes: So just to reemphasize, not to beat the point to death, and so we can have offenders who come into our program and actually truly recognize all of this and deal with all of this, and the vast majority will walk away with a sense that, ‘I’m not going to do this again,’ and they’re successful?

Valerie Collins: And we have to teach them also not to replace the physical violence with another form of violence.

Leonard Sipes: Right, okay.

Valerie Collins: So we do go through the entire what we call, you know, wheel of different types of violence so that they will understand that there are many forms of violence. And that really what you’re trying to get them to the point is where they’re gonna have what you call a relationship that’s based upon equality.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Valerie Collins: And so they have to understand about what it is to be in a relationship and a healthy relationship.

Leonard Sipes: I’m just trying-

Valerie Collins: So we go much beyond just talking about the hitting part of domestic violence.

Leonard Sipes: And that was my point of the first segment, was not only are they taught how to deal with their raw emotions during this time, but also as in many ways a way of improving their relationships with their significant others.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Mark, you’ve been doing this for five years in the domestic violence beat, you’ve seen at this of the game just about everything possible. What’s your impression of the program and the sense of domestic violence across the board?

Mark Collins: Well I think CSOSA and the domestic violence program is doing wonders in the District of Columbia. Mr. Dennis Smith is one classic example of how the domestic violence-the treatment, the services that CSOSA has provided can actually impact an individual in a major way.

Leonard Sipes: And I think that’s one of the reasons why we have folks like Dennis on this program, was to, you know, whether the public hears it from me and hears it, sees it from you, I’m not quite sure it has the same impact if something like Dennis who has been caught up in the system, mature enough to understand that what he did was wrong and to learn from it and to move on and improved his life.

Mark Collins: Right, and that’s the key. We don’t want Dennis to leave or get off of probation this particular time and then to come back.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Mark Collins: We want him to be able to get off of probation and proceed with his life never to come back again, that’s our goal.

Leonard Sipes: In so many of these instances-again, as a young police officer, so many children are involved. You know, you go into a house and there’s an argument and a neighbor has called and you go in and there’s three or four kids. And the three or four kids are exposed to this, and you know that it’s not the first time that they’ve been exposed to it. So the other larger point that I wanted to make is that it’s just not these two individuals, it’s just not their relationship, it’s just not our statistics, it is the lives of multiple, multiple children who are caught up in this as well. And they are brought up with this sense of hitting and being hit and that this is the appropriate way to conduct their lives, then that propels them into acts of violence possibly in the future.

Mark Collins: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: You know, so I mean, is it-but a lot of our offenders if not most of our offenders, have kids.

Mark Collins: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: All right. When you supervise them, we do the normal supervision things where we go out to their home, where we join with the Metropolitan Police Department and we go to their home in terms of joint visits. In some cases we’ll put on global positioning system tracking devices on them to be sure that they stay away from their victims, you meet with them on a fairly frequent basis, you drug test them on a fairly frequent basis. Tell me about that experience.

Mark Collins: Well the whole experience, I think ever offender is different, every offender needs different services. A lot of offenders do have drug treatment needs, so we don’t want to just address the domestic violence needs-

Leonard Sipes: Oh, thank you for bringing that up, yeah.

Mark Collins: -we’ll address the drug treatment needs. And in Mr. Smith’s case, that was a service that he needed and it was addressed. And now Mr. Smith is drug-free, he understands-and one thing is important that Mr. Smith finally understood and was ready-his stage of change, he was ready to proceed on with his life, he was ready to be drug-free, he was ready to commit to the domestic violence, not just be in the classes, but commit to drug treatment, commit to the domestic violence intervention program. And one thing which is key, is the communication-Mr. Smith as well as other offenders, are very ready to communicate and ready to-I mean, sometimes me and Mr. Smith, we may sit down for a half an hour-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Mark Collins: -you know, an hour sometimes-we may have a conference with my SCSO. So we just want to make sure that he’s provided-that we can do everything possible so that he can go on and be productive.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s the key issue because I think-I go back to this cultural issue, I think it’s very manly of people like Dennis to look at his set of circumstances, to embrace the help that is there provided to him, and then to make that transformation. I think that that is gutsy; I think that that is manly. Obviously he knows what he did was wrong, but obviously he’s set now-and he was also telling me that he’s now employed as a contractor-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -as an independent contractor and he’s working on a regular basis. So his life seems to have taken a substantial progress.

Mark Collins: Right.

Leonard Sipes: He’s making substantial progress.

Mark Collins: Major progress, he’s not even the same person that he was-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Mark Collins: -back in February of ’06, not even the same person, just a totally different person.

Leonard Sipes: But at the beginning, I would imagine most of the offenders or most of the folks who come into our program aren’t that, they need to be restructured-

Mark Collins: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: -they need basically a wake up call-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -that we’re not gonna tolerate domestic violence-

Mark Collins: That’s right.

Leonard Sipes: -and we’re not gonna tolerate as Valerie put it, the larger psychological entrapment that many individuals use over their spouses, use over their significant others. Valerie, correct?

Valerie Collins: Oh, you’re absolutely correct, Mr. Sipes, and it’s because of people like Mr. Collins, their supervision, their extensive training in domestic violence, and using that special supervision to deal with this particular population. Always when they’re coming to the office talk to them about their relationships, doing a check-in with them, making sure that they are using the skills that they have learned in the treatment component. They generally end up completing their far before they complete their supervision.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: So it really is up to the CSO who has that-

Leonard Sipes: To continue that process.

Valerie Collins: -you know, day-to-day interaction with them-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -who is gonna ensure that they’re using these tools. And so, you know, there’s a lot of services that are available. The CSO, they develop a supervision plan for the offender. A lot of times it is other needs outside of the domestic violence, it may be employment.

Leonard Sipes: Right, it could be anger management-

Valerie Collins: Oh yeah.

Leonard Sipes: -it could be employment-

Valerie Collins: Employment, yes.

Leonard Sipes: -it could be educational-

Valerie Collins: Parenting skills, all types of things.

Leonard Sipes: -vocational, parenting skills, yeah.

Valerie Collins: Yes, and we look at the entire situation for the person.

Leonard Sipes: And you’re also interacting with the family, you’re interacting with the victim?

Valerie Collins: Yes, yes.

Leonard Sipes: Because we are pledged to protect the victim.

Valerie Collins: Right.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the things that we need to bring up in the final minutes of this show-

Valerie Collins: Exactly, yes, right.

Leonard Sipes: -that we work with the victim on a regular basis and we reach out to her principally, or him-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and we try to the best of our ability to make sure that they’re protected.

Valerie Collins: Yes, and a lot of the cases, there’s a stay-away order, so we’re mandated to, you know, check in with the victim, ensure that there’s some safety for the victim as well. And we work very closely just in the city in D.C., the United States Attorney’s Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Victim Services Unit, even with the court, you know, the D.C Superior Court. Domestic Violence Court-we meet monthly and talk about the issues, so there’s a lot of information sharing. And I believe that also with the success that we’ve been having. I’ve traveled around the country, met a lot of other people who work in various DV programs, and we’re light years ahead in the District of Columbia. And I think that really attributes to our success because we are really working at that coordinated community response.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the nice things that I find within the District of Columbia that you don’t find in lots of other cities-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -that level of cooperation between we and parole and probation, the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, other federal agencies, I mean, that level of cooperation really is there, and that’s what makes a big difference in terms of our ability to supervise, and if necessary, take action against people who violate the terms of their-

Valerie Collins: Yeah, they go out with the police on the accountability tours-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Valerie Collins: -so most of them, as Mark probably could tell you, they know the officers and the particular PSA that they work in, so there’s really close collaboration.

Leonard Sipes: And then the officers know that this individual is under supervision for domestic violence-

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: -and if they get that call, you get notified.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: So it’s just not an isolated incident, it’s just not, ‘well go ahead and-‘ In the District of Columbia, there’s no longer a walk around the block-

Valerie Collins: No, there’s no walk around the block.

Leonard Sipes: -if you’re involved in domestic violence, you’re arrested.

Valerie Collins: Yes, mandatory arrest.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, and that is a key issue.

Valerie Collins: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: All right. Thank you both, greatly appreciate you being with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us on D.C. Public Safety. Watch for us next time as we explore another very important topic within the criminal justice system. Have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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