Comcast Interview with Nancy Ware

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2014/11/comcast-interview-nancy-ware/

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you, Yolanda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you.

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

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

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/05/pretrial-america-pretrial-justice-institute-pretrial-services-d-c-national-award-winner/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Today’s show, ladies and gentlemen, pretrial in America, and a topic that I think has great importance to each and every one of us in the criminal justice system. Cliff Keenan the Director for Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia, he’s here, www.psa.gov. Spike Bradford, he is the ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, www.pretrial.org. And to Cliff and to Spike, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Spike Bradford:  Thank you, Leonard.

Cliff Keenan:  Glad to be here.

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

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

Len Sipes:  Right.

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

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

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

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

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

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Because they can make the monetary bail.

Spike Bradford:  Because they pay their bail. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Right,

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

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

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

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

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely. And –

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Yes.

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

Len Sipes:  Right.

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

Len Sipes:  Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  Serious, serious violent offenses.

Len Sipes:  Right.

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Right.

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

Len Sipes:  What does show up?

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

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s impossible.

Cliff Keenan:  Exactly.

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

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

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

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

Len Sipes:  Tradition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Audio Ends]

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Illinois Adult Redeploy Initiative-National Criminal Justice Association

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/03/illinois-adult-redeploy-initiative-national-criminal-justice-association/

[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 the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program. At our microphones we’ve got people from throughout the United States. Mary Ann Dyar, she is a Program Administrator of the Adult Redeploy Program in Illinois. Jack Cutrone, he is the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And we have Cabell Cropper, he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. This program is really interesting, ladies and gentlemen. Landmark legislation, it seeks to promote local alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent offenders. In order to meet this goal, the legislation empowered the Criminal Justice Information Authority to create the Adult Redeploy Program, which provides monetary incentives to help communities pay for evidence-based, rehabilitative and supervision services. In exchange for monetary incentives and technical assistance, localities agree to reduce the number of offenders remanded to the division of correction there in the state of Illinois by 25%. While the initiative is only a little more than two years old, it’s already diverted 1,200 offenders and it saved an estimated 20 million dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, again, Mary Ann Dyar, Jack Cutrone, and Cabell Cropper the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Welcome to DC Public Safety.

Mary Ann Dyar:  Thank you for having me.

Jack Cutrone:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, Jack, give me a sense of the program. You’re the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. You guys, by the way, have been doing this for decades. I can’t, I’m not aware of a state in the Unites States that has been more data driven than the state of Illinois through the criminal justice authority in the state of Illinois. You guys have been around for decades.

Jack Cutrone:  Yes. We have. And we actually have been doing the best job that we can to try and educate policy makers and legislators about the benefit of using evidence-based practices programs in the criminal justice area in order to produce the best results. And the Adult Redeploy Program was enacted through some landmark legislation in Illinois, which was the Crime Reduction Act of 2009, an act that our agency certainly welcomed. It created a much stronger database decision making policy for the state. And one aspect of that was the creation of the Adult Redeploy Illinois Program.

Len Sipes:  And so it’s been in existence for how long, a little over two years?

Jack Cutrone:  Actually a little – the act was passed in 2009. I think the first site went up in early 2011. Is that correct, Mary Ann?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Yes.

Jack Cutrone:  So it’s actually been in operation for about three years, but those were the earliest pilot sites. And Mary Ann has done a wonderful job of promoting the program to local jurisdictions throughout the state and has expanded it immeasurably.

Len Sipes:  And, Mary Ann, why don’t you talk to me about the process of redeploying or throughout the state of Illinois?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Well, the goals of Adult Redeploy Illinois are to reduce crime and recidivism at a lower cost to taxpayers and provide financial incentives to counties or judicial circuits to create effective local level evidence-based services and to encourage the successful local supervision of eligible offenders in the reintegration into the locality. Those goals are stated in the Crime Reduction Act. How we do that is providing grants to local jurisdictions. That might be counties; it might be groups of counties that come together, review the data as to the number of eligible offenders that they’re sending to the Department of Corrections, and when I say eligible, that’s nonviolent offenders, per the statute, that are going into the Department of Corrections on charges that would’ve been eligible for probation. And they look at the data, they look at the gaps in their services and their supervision capabilities.  When I say supervision, again, that would be probation, their probation departments, primarily, and they determine, if funds were available, who would be their target population to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders going to prison, and what would be the target intervention focused around an evidence-based practice. They submit to us a mini-strategic plan that basically gives the context, describes the data, describes their target population, and then what it is they want to do. And an oversight board, that was basically enacted by the Crime Reduction Act as well, reviews those grant requests and makes them in exchange for the commitment to reduce by 25% the number of people they send to prison from that target population they’ve identified.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, you –

Jack Cutrone:  And let me –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, please.

Jack Cutrone:  I’m going to lose track .

Len Sipes:  Go ahead.

Jack Cutrone:  I was going to pick up on something that Mary Ann was speaking about.

Len Sipes:  Please.

Jack Cutrone:  In terms of the local jurisdictions developing a goal identifying their target population, because the statute provides actually for a penalty if the local jurisdiction doesn’t meet its reduction goal, we through – and I’ll call the Criminal Justice Information Authority CJIA, because that’s a much shorter term that we usually employ – CJIA houses criminal history record information, and once they identify their target population, we run through our database and calculate how many individuals from that population they have sent to the Department of Corrections over the past, over the prior three year period. And that’s how we establish the goal number in order to beat that 25% reduction. So in a way it sort of keeps them honest, but, frankly, none of the jurisdictions have ever had a problem with meeting the goal. For the most part, they exceed it greatly.

Len Sipes:  Well, I do want to talk more about that in terms of how they met that goal and what percentage were and what were the issues, controversies, discussions that the different counties throughout the state of Illinois had. But I do also want to get in the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association, Cabell Cropper. Cabell, the whole idea here is that the project Redeploy has done something wonderful that the National Criminal Justice Association wants to bring to the attention of everybody else throughout the country. And I do want to point out to the listeners that the National Criminal Justice Association has been at the forefront of making sure that everybody out there understands what programs work, the fact that they’re throughout the country, they recognize good programs, programs that really do need attention. So the role of the National Criminal Justice Association has been rather profound in terms of bringing these experiences to the rest of us in the criminal justice system, agreed?

Cabell Cropper:  That’s correct. That’s right on target. And what we’ve been doing nationally as the representative of the state administrating agencies, those agencies in each state that’s designated by the governor to manage criminal justice systems coming from both federal and state governments, we provide support in terms of working with these agencies to put in place comprehensive multi-disciplinary stakeholder driven strategic planning processes. And specifically with the Adult Redeploy Program we have provided some support to Mary Ann and her staff in overall kind of the high-level of strategic planning. And also we then use our experience to bring that program to other state agencies, pointing out the effectiveness and how it is a good example of a data driven strategy that ends up saving money as well as providing better outcomes for both the offenders and the community. So, yeah, so we are, we look to state agencies like the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to lead the way on these kinds of initiatives. And this particular one is of national significance that we like to bring to the attention of other states.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, before we go back to our friends in Illinois. Am I right in saying that the true innovation within the criminal justice system doesn’t necessarily come from those of us in Washington DC, it seems to percolate up at the county and state and local levels, and that’s one of the real strengths of the National Criminal Justice Association, because you represent all of the criminal justice authorities within the 50 states and territories?

Cabell Cropper:  Absolutely. That’s exactly right. All the programs that we consider now best practices, the promising practices have come from a state or local level. Starting with drug courts back in the 90s all the way through now to the whole probation program in Hawaii –

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Cabell Cropper:  And now programs like Adult Redeploy. So, yes, definitely, it does not come from DC.

Len Sipes:  So, Jack and Mary Ann, basically we’re sitting here because Illinois has been (a) doing evidence-based research for how long, Jack? I mean I think my entire criminal justice existence, which spans 40 years, I can’t remember the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority not being there.

Jack Cutrone:  It’s actually been in existence a bit over 30 years. There was actually a predecessor agency that had a slightly different name, but, yeah, we’ve been around for altogether probably about 40 years.

Len Sipes:  And have the people in the state of Illinois, the criminal justice authorities throughout the state, the people in the legislature, the governor’s office, has it been your experience that they really pay a lot of attention to the evidence-based research that you’ve been producing for decades?

Jack Cutrone:  It certainly has been a growing movement, not only in Illinois, but nationally, towards applying the principles of evidence-based or empirically driven programming throughout the criminal justice system. It was something that was actually I think adopted from the medical field, initially, where they realized that some of the treatments they were giving there was no data to support their effectiveness. And that idea certainly has taken hold in the criminal justice field and among policymakers and legislators in Illinois.

Len Sipes:  Well, I just wanted to be sure that the evidence, rather, the audience really understands that Illinois was one of the leaders in this country in terms of moving into evidence-based practices. Mary Ann, talk to me about the experience of getting Adult Redeploy into the counties and jurisdictions throughout the state of Illinois. I would imagine at the beginning it was not the easiest of sells, was it or was it not?

Mary Ann Dyar:  There’s a lot of, well, first of all I should mention that the Adult Redeploy Illinois Program is based on a successful Juvenile Redeploy Illinois Program that’s been operating since 2005, and during that time has built up an impressive reputation for bringing down the number of juvenile offenders in the juvenile prison system. In fact, they have beat; generally, the Juvenile Redeploy Illinois sites have beat their 25% reduction goals and have been over 50%. In one site they went from sending 83 kids to juvenile prison a year to 11 –

Len Sipes:  Wow!

Mary Ann Dyar:  Through the interventions, the evidence-based interventions that were funded by Redeploy Illinois. So we were able to leverage that reputation and that understanding from the juvenile side and go into the communities and talk with them about how this might be replicated in the adult criminal justice system. And you’re correct; it wasn’t always an easy sell. Not only are we talking about the difference between the way juvenile offenders may be regarded by the community and their ability to be rehabilitated versus hardened adult criminals, but we’re also talking about the concerns on public safety that are very high-profile to elected officials, whether it be prosecutors, even in our state judges are retained through popular vote. So we did have to talk with them in terms of the evidence base that really does support that. They could be doing more harm than good by sending nonviolent offenders to prison. And this is an opportunity for them to invest in their local communities and get better results.

Len Sipes:  It sounds a bit like the Justice Reinvestment model. I just did a radio program with the Urban Institute, Nancy La Vigne. And we just did this program last week. And the whole idea was to do it smarter, do it better, do it evidence-based, take a look at who you’re incarcerating and why, who you’re putting into the criminal justice system. And that actually has a way of lowering recidivism, making it safer for the public, and at the same time, saving a tremendous amount of money and some of that money is reinvested back into the local communities to provide services. It sounds like what you’re describing with the Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Initiative is Justice Reinvestment.

Jack Cutrone:  Indeed. That is correct. It’s Illinois’ version of Justice Reinvestment.

Len Sipes:  And then that works for you. What I just said, that scenario of smarter, better, evidence-based, data driven, lowering recidivism, protecting the public, and saving tax paid dollars, that all applies here.

Jack Cutrone:  Absolutely.

Mary Ann Dyar:  Right. Yeah. And another thing that was mentioned in your program, which I thought was excellent, on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, is the cultural shift that we’re trying to promote is not only are we trying to demonstrate that you can get better results for less cost with this particular population if you utilize the best research out there and the technology that’s out there in terms of information sharing, but you can also have a different way of looking at the individual who is coming into this system on a nonviolent charge. Particularly if it’s driven by underlying needs in substance abuse, mental illness, even economic conditions can drive people to make decisions that are considered antisocial. If a community can look at that individual and what’s underlying their criminal behavior and then invest in proven practices to address those issues, then you’re talking about a cultural shift from send them away and throw away the key.

Len Sipes:  Well, what I want to do when – I’m halfway; we’re more than halfway through program. Let me reintroduce you and then, Jack, we’ll come back to your comments. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re doing a program on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program. Pretty doggone successful initiative as far as I can tell. Mary Ann Dyar, she is the Program Administrator, Adult Redeploy in Illinois. Jack Cutrone is the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And Cabell Cropper, he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Again, we’re indebted to the National Criminal Justice Association for this program, and bringing, again, a decade’s worth of exemplary experience from the States to the attention of everybody else, so we can mimic and we can copy. Jack, you were trying to get in a comment.

Jack Cutrone:  Well, I just wanted to amplify on what Mary Ann was speaking about and in response to the topic you brought up about a culture shift. Her job has been made much more difficult in Illinois by the fact that we have a non-unified court system. So each local jurisdiction is run by a chief judge who’s largely autonomous, staffed by a state’s attorney who’s an elected official, therefore, autonomous, answerable to voters. And our experience and our research shows that there is a widely varying point of view about appropriate sentences to be given on individual cases across the state. The same offense in one county might produce a much different sentence in another county, sometimes much harsher. And Mary Ann has done a great job in terms of promoting the idea of producing a better result through the use of proven  practices, rather than just keep going doing the same thing we’ve always done and getting the same results, and she’s a marvelous salesperson with that.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, but the experience that Jack just talked about is something that we’re going through throughout the United States, is it not? This whole idea of having this discussion at the state level, having it at the county level, having it at the local level, everybody coming together and having this grand conversation, which seems to be taking place in thousands of locations. Having a conversation as to how can we do it smarter, better, cleaner, crisper, how can we reduce the burden on state government, and at the same time, how can we create a criminal justice system that reduces recidivism, reduces reoffending, and save money at the same time? That’s a conversation that’s happening everywhere, right?

Cabell Cropper:  That’s correct. By the weakened economic situation in the country we’ve been through the past several years that were pulling out of, but that really provided the impetus to begin to look very critically at how we were spending money in the criminal justice system. And it’s really grown into this movement in terms of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and some of these other programs like Adult Redeploy that look at how are we spending the money in criminal justice and how can we do a better job of that and be smarter about it

Jack Cutrone:  Oh, sorry, Cabell.

Cabell Cropper:  No. I was just going to, yes, that’s happening in almost every state and now more and more the local communities.

Len Sipes:  Mary Ann, that’s –

Jack Cutrone:  Because I wanted to comment –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, Jack.

Jack Cutrone:  I wanted to comment on that too, because the Adult Redeploy Program is really exemplary in terms of using federal funding to stimulate pilot projects in the state. When the Crime Reduction Act was passed 2009 creating Adult Redeploy, given Illinois’ current budget issues, the legislature was unable to provide funding. Governor Quinn of Illinois was very interested in promoting the program and we worked with the governor’s office to use four million dollars in American Reinvestment Recovery Act dollars to form a pilot or provide pilot funding for the programs. Once we had it up and running, we were able through our capture of data to take it the Illinois legislature and said, “Look, this is our program. We are saving the state money.”  We were able to persuade the General Assembly even in extremely tight economic circumstances to start funding it with state money; initially a two million dollar appropriation to cover the time period in which the federal funding was running out, and then last year a seven million dollar appropriation, and the governor has requested another seven million dollars this year. So it’s kind of using federal money to create a laboratory in the States to identify and put into effect good practices and programs.

Len Sipes:  Well, I find it amazing, because we have this conversations at the national level, we have them at the state level, but then again, we have Mary Ann who’s done it all at the local level. And, Mary Ann, you were talking about the difficulty, the sea-change, the cultural change, trying to bring everybody onboard and the fact that it was not easy. What do you think the principle at the county level; the principle ingredient was in terms of bringing them on? Because you’ve got 1,200 offenders diverted, you’ve saved the state 20 million dollars, the locals get funding as result of that, but what was the magic ingredient, the secret sauce that actually made that happen at the local level? Was it your pervasive, you being so persuasive, or was it some policy initiative?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Well, I think there’re a number of things that I can point to other than my persuasive or persuasion practices. But essentially, one thing is that we were working from, as you’ve alluded to earlier, a situation where Illinois has been discussing evidence-based practices and has been training actually many players in the system throughout the probation system on evidence-based practices for over ten years. What we often found though, is these individual players in the system got excited about what was possible and excited about the research, excited about the new tools that they were provided, but there was no funding to support it. And in fact, funding continued to be cut back from county probation budgets over the last several years, actually quite dramatically, making it impossible to implement these practices.  When they found out that there was some funding available that would actually incentivize them to implement what they learned, I think we found a lot of players that were just really excited about the opportunity, and they really carried the ball forward on that. I can’t say though that we haven’t been really benefited from or have been benefiting from the national dialogue, and what the National Criminal Justice Association has done in order to promote these conversations about evidence-based practices and the opportunities for getting better results at a lower cost.

Len Sipes:  And that’s one of the beauties about Cabell’s organization, the fact that they act as a central clearing house for state criminal justice agencies to have this discussion. So, again, thanks to the National Criminal Justice Association. Jack, are you coming in?

Jack Cutrone:  Yes. I just wanted to amplify on some of what Mary Ann was saying in terms of how we make it attractive to the local jurisdiction. We are talking about a population of in the criminal justice system that traditionally had gone to the Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections in Illinois, unfortunately, has a three year return rate, recidivism rate, of almost 50%. These practices that we are talking about we know it’s going to produce a much lower recidivism rate. So when we’re talking to local jurisdictions, what we’re talking about is the basic product of the criminal justice system, which is public safety. And we can demonstrate to the local jurisdictions that these practices mean less crime. Data driven, empirical, empirically driven evidence-based practices, become somewhat esoteric, but if you talk in terms of, “You’re going to have less crime in your county as a result of this program.”

Len Sipes:  It’s less –

Jack Cutrone:  That becomes meaningful.

Len Sipes:  But we really haven’t dived into that point. It’s less crime because of the programs that you all put in place, whether it be drug treatment, whether it be mental health, whether it be vocational, whatever it is, they’re getting, the people diverted are getting the programs they need to stay out of the criminal justice system. There’re lower level offenders that get the programs that they need. Is that the bottom line?

Jack Cutrone:  It’s part of a bottom line. Mary Ann mentioned it earlier. When you take people who are nonviolent, who are low-risk, and you impose a very strong sanction, such as imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections, you are actually increasing the chance that they’re going to commit another crime.

Len Sipes:  Because of the research that –

Jack Cutrone:  So –

Len Sipes:  Says that you’ve got to pick the most dangerous that people that who really needed the high-risk offenders, and that’s where you put your services or your incarcerative resources, and to the lower level people you try to divert. But you divert them in the programs, right?

Jack Cutrone:  Absolutely, absolutely. And I don’t mean to pick on the Illinois Department of Corrections. They, as are all state agencies, being victimized by falling state revenues and lowered budgets. I’m sure the Department of Corrections, if it had adequate funding to put in enough programs in place, would have a much lower recidivist rate, but the fact is in this financial climate that just can’t be done. And Adult Redeploy offers an alternative.

Mary Ann Dyar:  And I should mention that our oversight board, which is defined and established by the Crime Reduction Act, is co-chaired by the Director of the Department of Corrections and our Secretary of the Department of Human Services. And I think that that sends a very strong signal about how the solution to getting better results to drive down crime and recidivism is a collaboration, requires a collaboration between supervision strategies, effective supervision strategies, and human services that address underlying causes of crime.

Len Sipes:  Well, Mary Ann, you’ve got the final word. I think the program, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program, again, it’s amazing’ 1,200 offenders diverted, saving the state over 20 million dollars, and at the same time, protecting public safety. That is a heck of a combination. Our guests today, ladies and gentlemen, have been Mary Ann Dyar; she is the Program Administrator, Adult Redeploy in Illinois. Jack Cutrone, he is the Executive Director of the famous Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And we have Cabell Cropper; he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Again, thanks to them for putting together this program. The website for the Criminal Justice Information Authority and the project Redeploy is www.icjia.org/redeploy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Reentry in D.C.-Upcoming Events-Interview With Nancy Ware-200th Radio Show

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 http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/01/reentry-d-c-upcoming-events-interview-nancy-ware-200th-radio-show/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes and for our 200th radio show, we started our programs, ladies and gentlemen, in 1996. The topic of today’s program is Reentry in the District of Columbia and reentry reflections, an array of activities here in the District of Columbia celebrating and discussing the successes and challenges of those returning from prison. Our guest today is Nancy Ware and Nancy serves as the Director of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. She leads 800 Federal employees in providing community supervision for over 14,000 adults on probation, parole and supervised release in the District of Columbia, that’s 23,000 individuals every year. Nancy has over three decades of experience in the management and administration of juvenile and adult criminal justice programs. She was the first Executive Director for the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council where, for eight years, she forged a cooperative relationship between DC government and Federal agencies to improve public safety. Miss Ware also served as the Director of Technical Assistance and Training for the Department of Justice’s Wait and See Program and as Director of the National Program for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier in her career she also served as the Executive Director of the Rain Coalition, the Citizen Education Fund and the District of Columbia Mayor’s Youth Initiative. Nancy, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Nancy Ware: Thank you Len.

Len Sipes: All right. We have some events coming up and I briefly want to go over those events before talking about reentry in the District of Columbia. On Saturday, February 28th, an event that I absolutely adore, the Women’s Reentry Forum where we talk about women coming back out of the prison system and also women who are currently under our supervision, Temple of Praise, 700 7th Avenue, Southeast from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00. We’ll mention these a little bit later. And on Thursday, February 20th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. a really interesting experience, a Citywide Reentry Assembly where we’ll recognize the accomplishments of our faith based initiative and our mentors and mentees of the year. That happens at St Luke Church Center, 4923 East Capital Street, Southeast, again, on February 20th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Nancy, you know, this concept of reentry, you know, this is being discussed all throughout the United States. It’s being debated all throughout the United States. So first of all, let me go into some basics, what is reentry and why is it important.

Nancy Ware: Well in the District of Columbia we look at reentry as a process through which an individual transitions from prison and returns back to their community. But what’s important about reentry for CSOSA is that we expand that definition to include individuals who are under supervision and we see reentry for them, not only those returning from prison, but also those who are under supervision returning to become constructive, positive members of their community and free of all crime and free of all the burdens that crime and the history of crime bring with it. So for us reentry and the definition of reentry and that process is a very broad definition.

Len Sipes: We need to do reentry in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States because it’s within everybody’s best interest to do reentry, correct?

Nancy Ware: Right.

Len Sipes: I mean, if we do nothing we continue the crime problem that we’ve always had in the past.

Nancy Ware: That’s true. And, as you know, our mission here in our agency is to reduce recidivism, to improve the successful reintegration of men and women who are under supervision and to transition them back to stability so that they can, again, as I said before, become productive members of their communities. But we also want to be sure that we address a part of the city’s population who are often the most disenfranchised and marginalized. And so it is an important initiative to look at reentry broadly and to embrace folks who are trying to get their lives back on track again so that they don’t feel that they have to return to a life of crime.

Len Sipes: Now this isn’t just an issue for the District of Columbia, this is an issue for the entire country. It’s an issue that goes beyond, in fact, the United States. These discussions are happening in France, are happening in Canada, they’re happening in Great Britain, they’re happening in Asian countries. So this whole concept of making sure that people have the services both in prison and after they leave prison to cut back on the rate of recidivism, that conversation is happening. Now it may be happening in some jurisdictions because states are saying, hey, you know, we just cannot, no longer afford the amount of incarceration that we’ve had in the past. It’s been done for that reason and it’s also being done because people simply see it as a more effective way of administrating justice.

Nancy Ware: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think that we’re in a time now that probably offers us some opportunities that we need to take advantage of as it pertains to reintegrating folks back into their communities constructively. Because, as you mentioned, throughout the United States, and I’m sure this is true in other parts of the world, but particularly here in the United States, we want to decrease the numbers that we’re placing in prisons unnecessarily. And by unnecessarily I mean those people who haven’t committed violent crimes, who are low level offenders, don’t need to be populating our prisons to increase over crowdedness because we really are not finding that prison is the most rehabilitative places for people to get their lives back on track. We feel that they have more opportunities for rehabilitation once they’re back into the communities and they can get those supports, treatment, housing and jobs that they need.

Len Sipes: And what you’re talking about is justice reimbursement, not reimbursement, what am I talking about.

Nancy Ware: Reinvestment.

Len Sipes: Reinvestment, thank you very much. And we’re going to be having the folks from PEW and the Urban Institute by these microphones to talk about that very topic in the upcoming near future. But the whole idea is that there’s safer, saner ways to administer justice and to keep our resources focused on higher risk individuals that do pose a risk to public safety and to do quote, unquote, something else with lower risk individuals, right?

Nancy Ware: That’s correct. And we definitely have to use our partners as part of our continuum of supports because we couldn’t do it alone, just as the police department can’t do it alone as far as protecting our citizens and providing public safety. We all have to be partners in this effort. Thus we talk about reentry reflections month because it is an opportunity for us to educate the public on why this is such an important effort and an important area to focus on. And we use that month to provide us an opportunity to reflect, to dialogue, to educate and to celebrate because we have a lot of things that we can celebrate, a lot of people that we can celebrate who make it possible for men and women to successfully reintegrate into the community.

Len Sipes: And we’re doing a better job here at CSOSA in terms of the 14,000 people, on any given day, 23,000, on any given year. We’re doing a better job of improving our success rate. So there are more people doing our period of time more successfully than before, correct.

Nancy Ware: That’s correct and, you know, CSOSA has done a yeoman’s job in supporting public safety in the District of Columbia because of our efforts in supervision where we hold offenders accountable but also provide them with opportunities through our risk and needs assessment, through our treatment and support services and, as I said before, through our partnerships with other agencies that provide those services as well, treatment, jobs, housing, education and the like.

Len Sipes: What’s your personal feeling on all this? I have seen you in action when you were in charge of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. And I’ve seen you in action in dozens of community events discussing this whole concept of doing it better, doing a better job and we’re talking about a better job. We’re talking about a better job in terms of reducing crime; we’re talking about a better job in terms of having a system that is fair, more just but more effective. That’s been, every time I’ve listened to you talk about reentry, those have been the themes that you’ve talked about. So talk to me about those cause you’ve been in the community a lot, talking to a lot of people about this.

Nancy Ware: Right. Well I think that, first and foremost, it’s important for us to educate the public on the promise of reentrance. We always talk about the failures, but we need to talk more about their needs and the promise of reentrance. And by that I mean that we need to shed a light on the fact that there are many men and women among us who are working in stores, who are lawyers, who are working with the legislative branch, who are on radio shows and who are empowered to promote the issue that or the notion that folks who return from incarceration or supervision can also be productive citizens and have a commitment many times to becoming productive citizens if allowed those opportunities.

Len Sipes: Seven hundred thousand people leave prison throughout this country every year according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. I think it’s seven times that number leave jail. Every year there’s about 2,300 people that come back to the District of Columbia from Federal prison. So what we’re talking about is something of enormous value and having an enormous impact on our day-to-day safety, our day-to-day lives. People coming from the prison system, people coming back from jails cannot be ignored. If they are ignored it is at our own peril.

Nancy Ware: That’s correct and we have to also appreciate that there are unique issues facing folks who return. There are unique issues facing women who oftentimes have had histories of violence, abuse, sexual and physical abuse and there are special issues related to young people who are of a different culture who often need programs that are really focused on what they can relate to and adhere to. And we also have to focus on our specialized population, those who’ve been involved in domestic violence, those who are mental health clients, so that we provide them with every opportunity for successful reintegration.

Len Sipes: And that’s one of the reasons why you’ve chosen CSOSA to focus on high-risk offenders, to focus on youthful individuals, to focus on women caught up in the criminal justice system. Those have been your three hallmark priorities after being at CSOSA, correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s correct and that brings us back to some of the events that have been taking place during this prestigious time of reentry reflections. One of the events that I recently participated in was on Sunday, January the 19th. It was our Justice Sunday. It kicks off our reentry reflections month throughout February and it was held this year at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church on Rhode Island Avenue, Northeast. And it was an awesome event under the leadership and guidance of Archbishop Owens and his wife, Reverend Owens. We had an event that must have had more than 2,000 people participate in his church.

Len Sipes: Amazing.

Nancy Ware: It was just amazing.

Len Sipes: Amazing.

Nancy Ware: And it was particularly inspiring because Bishop Owens, during the service, recognized his cousin who had just returned from prison several days before the service. And the struggles that they had gone through to get him released to Bishop Owens’ family and the struggles ahead for him, but the efforts that they were taking in committing themselves to personally to help him get on his feet again. And you could see even from his affect during the service that he’s already well on his way to getting on his feet again. But during the service we also the opportunity to observe a call out that Bishop Owens made to his congregation and we must have had over 200 members from the congregation come up on the pulpit to connect with Bishop Owens and to admit that they’d had involvement in the criminal justice system. So you see here in DC we have a huge population of folks who have come in to the criminal system one way or another and are looking to find ways to provide an avenue for themselves and their loved ones to get reconnected with their community constructively.

Len Sipes: But you’re talking to people throughout the United States, you’re talking to people in several countries overseas and I’m not quite sure there’s anybody amongst us who does not have a friend, family member, somebody close to us who has not been caught up in the criminal justice system. So I don’t think it’s just the District of Columbia, I think this is a national issue. I can’t think of anybody who is not personally involved in this topic simply because they have experienced it personally.

Nancy Ware: And that’s why since 2002 CSOSA has really committed our resources to promoting the reentry events during reentry reflection. Because we feel that one of the major things that we need to do is to increase public awareness and to engage the public in stepping forward, mentoring men and women who are returning or who are under supervision and need positive role models. So part of what we want to do throughout this month is to encourage folks to step forward and work with us to help men and women to retrieve their hope and to retrieve their belief that they can, again, become stable and reintegrate successfully.

Len Sipes: I do want to talk about those two issues in terms of women in the criminal justice system and our faith based mentoring program, but we’re halfway through the program and I do want to reintroduce you. Ladies and gentlemen, for our 200th radio show, we started this whole process back in 1996. Today’s guest is Nancy Ware. She is the Director of my agency, the Court Services and Offender’s Supervision Agency. We’re here to talk about reentry in the District of Columbia. But in particular we’re interested in talking about two, we’re promoting two events that are coming up in the near future. The Women’s Reentry Forum on Saturday, February 8th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 in the afternoon, Temple of Praise, 700 Southern Avenue, Southeast, extraordinarily interesting event. And the City Wide Reentry Assembly, which to me is one of the most colorful, interesting, sound, loving, you know, just really heartfelt events that I’ve ever witnessed in my years within the criminal justice system. That’s at the St Luke Church Center at 4923 East Capital Street, Southeast. That’s Thursday, February 20th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Nancy, let’s talk about women caught up in the criminal justice system, which is one of the reasons why we’re having the Women’s Reentry Forum. I had an individual, and I’ve had individuals beyond her at our microphone, had an individual in the previous show talking about the difficulty women experience when they come out of the prison system. I mean, you know, mental health is very high, sexual abuse is very high; substance abuse is high, higher than the male populations. Seventy to 80% have children. They come out and they need housing, they need to be reunified with their children. They have to deal with all these issues. They have to find work. As I said to my last guest, we were talking about the Women’s Reentry Forum, it sometimes seems almost impossible for them to overcome all the difficulties that they face.

Nancy Ware: But we’ve had some inspirational stories of women who’ve overcome a lot of those obstacles. And what we’ve observed is that a large percentage of women who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system, it results from domestic violence often and women finding—having to find ways to take care of themselves, often taking care of their children and often being easily pulled into criminal activities in order to survive. And that’s not an excuse but it is something that we need to take into account as we look at the history of many women who’ve been involved in the criminal justice system and their trials and tribulations and their odyssey towards reintegration. And so in recognition of the special needs of women we have a number of initiatives that we put in place to try to address their needs better under supervision. We have general gender specific supervision units that work exclusively with women on some of their issues and concerns and history. We have teams that have been created on special floors in our Reentry and Sanction Center, which is a residential facility for our returning citizens. And then we have a center that provides intensive assessment in a gender specific context. So we’ve done a number of things within our agency to better address the needs of women. And women with children is a whole unique area that we’re beginning to explore now through some of the work that we’re doing with the Bureau of Prisons to try to better connect women who are still in prison but scheduled to come out with their children through video conferencing. So we’re very excited about that new initiative and we’d like to keep our listeners posted on how we progress with that.

Len Sipes: Now it’s just not new initiatives, you reorganized the agency around women and around youthful offenders, correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And that’s extraordinary. We’re not just talking about introducing some new programs; we’re talking about changing things in a fairly substantial way, reorganizing, and making sure that we have the resources directed to the best possible people who really need them.

Nancy Ware: Yeah, I think folks need special training to work with these diverse populations. So that’s what we’ve done here at CSOSA to be sure that we have staff trained that understand the needs of their populations that they work with and that can do the best that we can do to help them as they move through their journey. One of the things that I love about this agency is that we have committed staff who work very hard to try to get folks back on track. But we also have the unique approach, which I think is very progressive, that we don’t see ourselves just as a law enforcement agency. Although public safety is our primary mission, we also see ourselves as an agency that addresses the needs of the individuals under supervision so that we can try to provide them as much as possible the resources that they are in need of to get them back on their feet again.

Len Sipes: I just looked at research from the Washington State Policy Institute. Now it’s a state agency but it does probably one of the best jobs in terms of reviewing the research and providing research summations. And new research came out the other day where they said just supervising individuals gets us no return from a dollar point of view. Supervising individuals, prioritizing their needs, prioritizing them in terms of risk and providing them with the services does have a huge impact—does have a huge payoff. So, in essence, what we are doing is employing the state of the art. There is nothing that we’re doing that has not been advocated. Now CSOSA’s been doing this for a long time, I do want to make that point, but everything that we’re doing is advocated by national experts, national criminologists and the Department of Justice in terms of doing risk and needs assessments, figuring out the best possible modes of supervision and treatment for individuals under supervision. And providing those who need services, providing them with those services or gaining partnerships with other agencies especially our faith based volunteers, lots of others, in terms of making sure that they have the services that they need. This is all basically state of the art, right?

Nancy Ware: It is and we base a lot of our practice on best practice around the country and around the world. Things that we can glean from the research that’s been provided in the field, we try to bring it into the agency so that we use the most up-to-date practice to address the needs of those under our supervision. And I think this also takes us to why it’s so important to have these partnerships. And one of the partnerships that I feel, as I mentioned earlier, is a very strong one is with our faith community. As you heard earlier we kicked off Reentry Reflections with our Justice Sunday at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church because they’re one of the primary partners that helps us with our mentoring program. And they have been exceptionally supportive to those men and women that we serve. But in addition to that we have other faith community partners throughout the District of Columbia who provide long-standing support for those returning from prison and those under supervision as well as other government agencies and community groups throughout the city who are able to provide some of the services that we are not funded for. Clearly we can’t do it all. So our partnerships have to engage other agencies, other community based organizations and our faith partners so that we can maximize, throughout the city, the resources available. And to that end, at the end of Reentry Reflections we always have a wonderful tribute to our partners and that’s done, as you mentioned earlier, on February 20th, Thursday, the City Wide Reentry Assembly, which is truly a celebration. It’s a celebration of those partnerships. It’s a celebration of the success of the men and women who’ve worked with mentors and tried to get on their feet again and have been successful. There’s song, there’s music, there’s speakers, we have food. We encourage the community to come out and join us to celebrate and to shed a light on this issue and the success of so many who’ve really made it.

Len Sipes: It is absolutely one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, events of my career. I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over 40 years and I can remember my first reentry celebration at St Luke’s. And I just sat there and stood there and I just said to myself, wow. If people could only see this, experience it, feel it, taste it, smell it, touch it, I mean, it’s just loud, it’s raucous, it’s interesting. We ordinarily have a choir there. It’s a very, very, very uplifting event.

Nancy Ware: Yes.

Len Sipes: And when we in the criminal justice system have an opportunity to do something uplifting, it is rare, but at the same time exciting and so people should come to this event.

Nancy Ware: And it is going to be held at another partner of ours, the St Luke Center, which is on 4923 East Capital Street, Southeast, which you mentioned earlier. And it’s in the evening so folks can leave work, come on over, get a bite to eat. We serve a full dinner. And we just would love to have as many members of the community who are interested to come and join us. It’s from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Len Sipes: Now the partnerships, before getting away from them. I mean, there are too many partner to mention. I mean, we have on our website, we keep track of the different people providing services and there are dozens and dozens and dozens of organizations here in the District of Columbia. And I would also remind everybody who’s listening beyond the District of Columbia; it’s in your city as well. It’s in your state as well. But it seems, in my mind, interesting that the District of Columbia seems to be really supportive of the concept of reentry. There are, again, I think the last time I took a look there were like 200 organizations in total. I mean, anywhere from the Salvation Army to dozens and dozens and dozens of churches and mosques and synagogues to lots of non-profits. I mean, I would guess that we may be better off in the District of Columbia on the topic of reentry than a lot of other cities through the country. There seems to be—we seem to be galvanized around that particular point of doing whatever it is that we can to assist individuals coming out of the prison system, caught up in the criminal justice system.

Nancy Ware: Well that’s very, very true Len and one of the things that I think is the beauty of CSOSA is that we’re creative. We definitely come with creative solutions. We’re constantly challenging ourselves as an agency to continue to grow and to continue to figure out ways to better address the needs of our population. For example, many of you know, in our listening audience that the District of Columbia no longer runs its own prison system, so we work with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. And that became a true challenge for us when that change occurred because it meant that men and women who committed crimes and were sentenced to the Bureau of Prisons would go anywhere across the United States although we have worked closely with the Bureau of Prisons to try to keep them as close to DC as possible. But to that end, the creativity that we’ve shown in working with the Bureau of Prisons to better address the prerelease planning that has to occur for men and women has been phenomenal. One of the things that we’ve been able to do, as you know Len, is to put in place video conferencing throughout the prison system, the Bureau of Prisons. And we’ve expanded from one to two prisons that we were able to video conference men and women who were, particularly men, who were close to the time for them to be released back into the District. Now we are working with 16, 17 prisons throughout the United States.

Len Sipes: We have our own network.

Nancy Ware: A whole network of prisons to be sure that we connect resources here in the District with men and women who are in those prisons and they can ask questions of the various community based organizations and agencies that are here to help them.

Len Sipes: A couple minutes left. I want to talk about two things. Number one, the dedication of our employees, which is a bit of a softball question, but without our employees and without them being dedicated to this; it’s not going to work. And number two, what are your personal hopes for reentry? Where do you see reentry being two years, five years down the road?

Nancy Ware: Well I definitely want to do a shout out to our staff. Our staff is fabulous. They work very hard with limited resources, unfortunately, that we have available to us specifically to our agency, so, thus, they have to reach out to other agencies as we said before and to our community of resources in the District and they’ve done a yeoman’s job in supervising folks. So much so that I think we’ve contributed substantially to the reduction in violent crime in the District of Columbia. In terms of where I’d like to see reentry over the next four to five years, I think it’s just important for us to continue to shed a light on it, to make sure that the public is aware that there are men and women who are ready, who can be your very best employers, employees if you gave them a chance. And so I would love to see our ability to employ men and women that we’ve prepared and that we’ve gotten ready to go back into the world of work again, for our city to embrace them and to support them and to engage them.

Len Sipes: And for every city throughout the country to do the same.

Nancy Ware: Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes: And I think that’s extraordinary important. Ladies and gentleman, our guest today is Nancy Ware. She is the Director of my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. I want to briefly go over one more time the event that’s coming up, www.csosa.gov, www.csosa.gov is our website, and all these and more events will be listed on the website. The Women’s Reentry Forum, Saturday, February 8th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00. You will not be disappointed in terms of coming and listening and participating in this Temple of Praise, 700 Southern Avenue, Southeast. And my absolute favorite, the City Wide Reentry Assembly, what we refer to internally as the City Wide, Thursday, February 20th, 2014 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the evening, St. Luke Church Center, 4923 East Capital Street, Southeast, again, www.csosa.gov. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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A National Consensus on Community Corrections-National Institute of Corrections

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 http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/12/national-consensus-on-community-corrections-national-institute-of-corrections/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, the show topic today, a national consensus on community corrections. We’re going to be talking about the Community Corrections Collaborative Network . We have two guests by our microphones. Gregory Crawford, he is a Corrections Program Specialist for the National Institute of Corrections. He’s also the Network Manager for the Community Corrections Collaborative Network. And we have Spurgeon Kennedy, he is Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies. He’s also with Pretrial Services for the District of Colombia. Thanks to Donna Ledbetter of the National Institute of Corrections for setting up this show today. Our website’s www.nicic.gov, that’s for the National Institute of Corrections. I’ll  repeat that throughout the program. And for Spurgeon’s organization, National Association of Pretrial Services, www.napsa.org. Gentlemen, welcome to DC public safety.

Gregory Crawford:  Thanks for having us, Len.

Len Sipes:  All right, let me read very quickly the list of the very, very, very prestigious organizations in the corrections, Community Corrections Collaborative Network: The American Probation and Parole Association, the Association of Paroling Authorities International, the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association, the International Community Corrections Association, the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies and the National Association of Probation Executives. Now that is an extraordinarily large group, Greg. How, what’s your role in getting everybody on board to form this national consensus for community corrections?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, they actually came to us. The Community Corrections Collaborative Network came together on a request from one of our members, and we brought all the main associations together representing probation, pretrial and parole, and over 42,000 members, to come together and collectively to speak with one voice.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Gregory Crawford:  Our mission is to serve as the forum to develop and work the emerging issues, activities and goals of the community corrections field, and our vision is really to create a shared message and understanding about community corrections.

Len Sipes:  Is there a shared message about community corrections? I’ve been in this business for a long time, and finding consensus between the organizations that we’re talking about here and the different other organizations that are on the perimeter, such as PEW and lots of other organizations, Urban Institute comes to mind. I mean, everybody seems to have a different take on community corrections. What, you’re telling me that what we’re doing now is coming up with a national consensus, everybody pretty much agreeing to what it is community corrections could be doing, should be doing?

Gregory Crawford:  Absolutely, Len. I think the one thing that’s becoming very clear is that mass incarceration is not working. As Attorney General Eric Holder stated earlier this year, it’s both ineffective and unsustainable. Our prison population has grown about 300% since 1980 and I think it’s time that we all come together to try and fix this problem.

Len Sipes:  Spurgeon, you know, the fast majority of people under correctional supervision are on community corrections. That’s something that very few people know, that I think it is 7 million in terms of total population, within the country, and I think that 4 million are under community corrections supervision. I’m not quite sure I have those figures correct, but I do know that the vast majority of people under correctional supervision in this country are not in prison, they’re not in jail, they are with parole and probation agencies, they are with pretrial service agencies.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  That’s true. If you look at the data that is available, about 7 out of 10 of defendants and defenders in our justice systems are under community corrections, not jails or prisons, but under the supervision of a pretrial program, a probation, a parole agency, a treatment provider in the community. That’s a huge number. Unfortunately, most of the resources that go into our system still go into the correction side.

Len Sipes:  I think 80% is it not?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, we supervise 70% of the offenders and defendants; we get about 30% of the resources. It’s a total imbalance.

Len Sipes:  Why is that?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, we are still, unfortunately, living, as Greg mentioned, we’re learning a lesson, and that is putting people in jails and prisons and leaving them there for long stretches doesn’t make us safer. And unfortunately, we’re on the tail end of that. But we are still seeing jail and prison being overused. And because of that, the resources to maintain a jail and prison are much more than it would take to operate a community corrections program. Our message, really, is simple. If you improve community corrections in this country, you improve public safety in this country. And as you mentioned, the consensus that we’re seeing, not only with our associations, but with others, is that if you strengthen the organizations that provide most supervision, and if you change the way that people see corrections and corrections resources, you will go a long way to protecting America’s communities and reducing recidivism.

Len Sipes:  But how do we go about doing that? I mean, this is the condition. I came into the criminal justice system in 1969. I’m sorry, yes, I am that old. I have been around for 42, 43 years. And the criminal justice system that I entered back in 1969 is essentially the criminal justice system that I see out there today in many, in many ways. I mean, parole and probation agencies have always been underfunded; the ratio between people under supervision and parole and probation agents has always been huge. There is never the training and the money and the emphasis is always going to law enforcement and it’s always going to mainline correctional institutions. So the community corrections part of it, the pretrial part of it has gotten a, not a second look, but a third, fourth and fifth look. How are we going to change that?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think in order for it to work, we really need to adequately staff our local and state and tribal community corrections agencies. Probation officers, parole officers, pretrial officers, cannot be burdened with large case loads. Number one. Number two, I think that we need to, as a network, as individual associations, make sure that evidence based practices are available to the officers and you know, the newest technology and shift are funding to the community corrections rather than on building expensive prisons.

Len Sipes:  Is it our proposition, Spurgeon, that we are going to save states billions of dollars by doing a better job of successfully supervising people under, on community corrections, on pretrial supervision? That we’re going to save, we have the potential of saving literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, from being victimized by crime. So there is a huge payoff here. I mean, it’s a huge payoff fiscally and it’s a huge payoff criminologically. Yet, people don’t seem to buy it. And that bothers me and it bothers all three of us at our microphones. Why is it that we cannot convince people to swing in our direction?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Not sure if that’s true. I think the public, when they are confronted with facts, when they understand what it is we do, and what we are trying to accomplish and certainly all of us are in the business of keeping America’s communities as safe as we possibly can, there is a lot of community support on what it is we are putting out there. The public buys into the idea that supervision, that effective risk assessment, that placing people on supervision levels that makes sense according to their perceived risk, is the best way to move. In fact, they believe that we’re doing this already in a lot of cases. So I don’t think that we have to sell as much as we have to present, as Greg said, some effective strategies on how to improve community corrections across the country, but also to change the way that people in the system think about resource allocations and use. CCCN has come up with several paradigm shifts that we believe should/have to occur before we can really get to the business of making community corrections better.

Len Sipes:  And tell me about those paradigm shifts. Either one of you.

Gregory Crawford:  Well, number one, we’re talking about shifting from a system that bases decisions solely on a defendant or a defender’s charges to a system that considers the individual’s risk level and treatment needs to determine sanctions, supervision level and intervention.

Len Sipes:  Okay, so we’re going to evaluate every offender that comes into our custody in terms of their individual risk level and what their treatment needs are?

Gregory Crawford:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  We’re going to have an individual sense as to who that person really is?

Gregory Crawford:  One size doesn’t fit all.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Gregory Crawford:  And that’s part of the problem with, you know, the mandatory, minimum sentencing.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Exactly.

Gregory Crawford:  And so I think that if you can take an individual’s full story into consideration, you know, we lock up a lot of folks that are non-violent and do not pose a risk to society and can be safely treated in the community, and I think that that is one of the biggest problems in the growing prison population. As I mentioned, you know, Bureau of Prisons is now at 132% capacity. We’ve had a 300% increase in the prison population in the last 30, 33 years. I think we really need to take a look at going to a system, as I mentioned, shift to a system that considers individual risk into consideration.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  That’s very important. Too many decisions in criminal justice now are being based on what you’re charged with, not who you are, the risk that you present, and whether you’re going to come back into the system. Moving from a charge base to a research driven decision based approach is essential here.

Len Sipes:  All right, what’s the next step?

Gregory Crawford:  Let the scientific data drive where we send people. Use validated risk assessments, you know, manage our resources, and you know, it doesn’t make any sense to mix high risk with low risk. In fact, it actually, research indicates that if you put low risk individuals with high-risk individuals, you actually cause more harm than good. So I think it’s really critical that we let science drive our decisions.

Len Sipes:  All right, Spurgeon, what’s the next one?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, the other one, and it’s not so much a resource or a recidivism based, but it’s also just the fairness of the system. There are things, there are decisions made that are disparate. Racially disparate, disparities in incomes, the use of money, for example, in decisions, is one where great disparities racially and economically start to rear out. Not using evidence based research, but instead basing decisions on things such as charge. They build into disparities as well. One of the things that we really have to do and one of the focuses that we have as a network is making the system simply more fair and more just. The more you do that, I think, the better the returns you’ll get.

Len Sipes:  A hot topic throughout the country. Any more?

Gregory Crawford:  Yeah, I think another thing that we need to take a look at is limiting those folks and offenders who cannot be safely supervised in the community, and noting that there are alternatives to incarceration. Not just, you know, probation or pretrial or parole, there’s, you know, alternatives to incarceration in the local community. Work crews, day reporting programs, all sorts of programs along those lines that save local jail beds, keep people employed, keep them paying taxes connected to their families. We don’t need to make prison or jail the first option. I think that we need to look at other options for those that can be safely supervised in the community.

Len Sipes:  Next?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, the big one, and the one that ties everything together, it’s the improvement of community corrections programs across the country. We – the reason that my association, the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and the other involved in CCCN got together is because we believe that putting our voices together strengthens our central message. And that is, if we’re going to use community corrections as a central way of providing services, support to defendants and defenders, and keeping our communities safe, and we are, with 70% of those persons under our supervision, you have got to improve the way that these programs operate. You have to reinforce evidence-based practices, both in risk assessment and supervision. You have to provide the resources necessary to effectively supervise defendants and defenders. As Greg mentioned, you have to make sure that caseloads are not so large that you can’t do an effective job in keeping recidivism rates down. And you have to focus on what you want these agencies to accomplish. The biggest thing that CCCN really wants to do is to make sure that when it comes to discussions of resources and what is effective and what works, that community corrections programs aren’t forgotten and certainly the emphasis is placed on making good programs even better.

Len Sipes:  We’ve got a minute before the break, before I reintroduce both of you. If we did all of this, gentlemen, if we did all of this, what would the impact be?

Gregory Crawford:  It would be huge, I think.

Len Sipes:  Talk to me about what would happen?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think, number one is you make your community stronger. You reduce victimization. You promote keeping families together. You promote, you know, right now we currently have a system set up that enables this cycle of incarceration to continue. You have one person, a parent, going into prison or jail, and that increases the likelihood, in and of itself, of the children in the family to become, have behavioral problems. And it’s not a direct correlation, but it does increase the chance.

Len Sipes:  Okay, but sell this to the larger society. For the larger society, Gregory, you mentioned less crime.

Gregory Crawford:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Okay, for the larger society, Spurgeon, it means what?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  We know what causes recidivism. There is a bunch of research out there over the last decade or so that have identified the factors most associated with people coming back into the system. The one thing that we know doesn’t reduce recidivism is locking you up and keeping you there until we’re tired of seeing you and letting you out. The thing that works is supervision, services, and things that are based on risk and need. And you only get that from community corrections programs.

Len Sipes:  But as Greg said, the impact could be huge, the potential could be huge in terms of saving tax paid dollars and in terms of saving victimization and creating a better system.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, you get a smarter system, you get a system that hopefully costs you much less, and you get a system with the outcome, the expressed outcome of keeping communities safer. And if you follow what we know works, and if we’re able to incorporate that into most community corrections programs out there, we think that’s a much better result.

Len Sipes:  Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about a national consensus on community corrections, we’re talking about the Community Corrections Collaborative Network . Gregory Crawford is our guest today, he is a Corrections Program Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections. He’s also the Network Manager for the Community Corrections Collaborative Network and also at our microphones is Spurgeon Kennedy. Spurgeon is Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, and I’m proud to say, he’s with a sister agency of mine here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. He’s with Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia. www.nicic.gov; www.nicic.gov for National Institute of Corrections, and www.napsa.org for the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies.

Okay, help me deal with this. In the law enforcement side, there are billions of dollars flowing towards law enforcement. And there are billions of dollars flowing towards correctional institutions, mainline correctional institutions. And I mentioned this and we can debate this, at the end of the system is us. We, in community corrections, and I believe that you’re right, I believe that we can have an enormous impact in terms of saving states and the federal government millions, billions of dollars. We can really create a system with the fewer criminal victimizations, we can do it all the way across the board, but we’ve been saying this now for the four decades that I’ve been in the criminal justice system, and I don’t see an enormous amount of change. The community corrections collaborative network, the idea of all these mainline community corrections organizations coming together with one voice, speaking in one voice, to me I think it’s a fantastic idea. But what does it take to convince people that we are the real deal?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think, and one of the things that we’re trying to do is build partnerships within the criminal justice community, and expand beyond just the CCCN and the six associations associated with the CCCN. You know? Reach out to the Bureau of Justice, reach out to folks like the PEW, reach out to the Urban Institute or the National Criminal Justice Association, and start building those, fostering those relationships and putting together our ideas and coming together with more than just one voice from the CCCN. A voice from the criminal justice community – and I think that that can make a difference.

Len Sipes:  I think if a governor of a state, who is looking at his or her ratio between parole and probation agents and people under supervision, if he or she sees this long list of national organizations coming together with the National Institute of Corrections and they’re making specific recommendations, I would imagine that the governor of that state’s going to be impressed by that, but that’s where the battle is fought, is it not? It’s not with the organizations that already support these issues, it’s not with PEW, it’s not with Urban, it’s within the general assemblies of the 50 states and the governor’s mansions, correct?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yes. Absolutely right, and as we’ve mentioned and as Greg put out, the paradigm shifts, the things that we have to do to change behaviors, not only within the community corrections and the corrections fields, but as you said, among people who have to open their pocketbooks and pay the criminal justice systems, that is really the big focus of CCCN. We want to be able to have a message that resonates with local policy makers, with state policy makers, with federal policy makers, and funders – so that they understand the importance of a well financed, well resourced community corrections component. We’re new, and you know, that is something that we’re just beginning to focus on. We’ve had discussions with other partner agencies about it. We do want to put out an effective message that can be used across the country, and that’s really going to be our focus, really, for the first few months.

Len Sipes:  But you know, we’re really different here in the District of Columbia. We have money for programs. And we have a lot of partner agencies in terms of mental health, in terms of substance abuse, in terms of employment. The average parole and probation agency in this country doesn’t possess a dime for drug treatment, doesn’t possess a dime for mental health treatment, doesn’t possess a dime for vocational programs. That’s always puzzled me. Because we know that these programs can have a significant impact in terms of recidivism, correct?

Gregory Crawford:  I think traditionally that’s been the case, across the country. I think, however, though, I’m hopeful, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that folks that come in the criminal justice system will have an opportunity to be linked to services and rehabbed through their medical benefits. We have about 10 million people that cycle through the local jail system each year. I would say 80, I think I heard about 80% of those do not have insurance, and I want Kennedy to talk here in a minute about pretrial, but I think that the impact of the Affordable Care Act will be huge for the criminal justice population.

Len Sipes:  And the Second Chance Act. I mean, there are partners and they are beginning to thro money towards those of us in the criminal justice system to better handle the individuals that we have on day-to-day supervision. So changes seem to be coming. But they’re at the federal level.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, this is a watershed. I think it’s a watershed not only for the federal level, but also for the local jurisdictions as well. As you mentioned, there are these tremendous potentials, with funding sources, that are dressed as reinvestment. The Affordable Care Act, the Second Chance Act, but there’s also that intersection of knowledge – of the research built over the last decade that have shown that if you do these things, if you fund these things, these programs, these services, this is the expected benefit. We’ve had money before, frankly. There have been times during the past decades when we’ve thrown money into corrections and said, “Okay, get better.” We haven’t really had the knowledge on what best to do with those resources. I think now we know more now than we ever have about what effective supervision, treatment and services are. And with that available money, especially the Affordable Care Act, we ought to be able now to target those services and those supervision types that are the most effective to reduce recidivism. To do that, though, we have to have a message that we are the professionals, we know how to take care of this population and we are the best, you know, use of your resources if you’re point is to reduce future recidivism.

Len Sipes:  Is there a consensus building on all of this that’s shifting towards the side of community corrections? Every program that I do, whether it’s researchers or people from PEW or National Institute of Corrections or Urban Institute or Office and Justice Programs, there just seems to be an emerging consensus on the part of the academic community, the practitioner community, and now this league of organizations that you’re talking about, and also folks within the national institute of corrections that this is changing, that this is swinging towards our side; that the evidence is building, that the state of the art is getting better, that we really do know what we’re doing. We need to be given a green light. And through the Second Chance Act, and through the Affordable Care Act and through other programs, we are being given that green light at the federal level. Am I in the ballpark?

Gregory Crawford:  You are in the ballpark. I think at this point we just need an opportunity and that’s what we’re trying to do, is build these collaborative relationships with folks and be prepared throughout the system for when we can get the funding shifted to community corrections, because we really do need to build capacity in our community corrections system and we do need that opportunity because clearly, you know, with the overcrowding in prison and the fact that about 44% of those that release from prison are right back in there after about three years. You know? So I think we’ve seen that it’s not working.

Len Sipes:  And there’s data that’s saying it’s higher, up to 50%.

Gregory Crawford:  My numbers come from BJS, and so that to me speaks volumes.

Len Sipes:  Okay. I mean, you know, we’re talking about two-thirds rearrested between, I’m going to say between 40 and 50% re-incarcerated and I’m going by BJS data and you know, we’re talking about an enormous amount of people returning to the system. Well, then people would say one side of the continuum, people would say, “Well, good. Bad guys are going back to prison.” The other side is, is that it’s busting the bank at the state level. It’s certainly almost unsustainable at the federal level and it’s doing very little in terms of keeping these people out of the criminal justice system when they are released.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, definitely. And I’ll give my, I’ll give Washington DC as an example. It costs hundreds of dollars a day to keep a person in our local jail. It costs a fraction of that to have them on supervised release; either pretrial or probation or parole. The same is true across the country. Not only does it cost less money, you get a better result. If you look at recidivism and public safety as the outcomes you’re trying to get here, you get those much more effectively with much less money, by using community corrections as your option. As Greg mentioned, we tried prisons for everybody, it didn’t work. There’s a huge rethinking now about the kind of offender who belongs in our jails and prisons. The move just to make that reserved for those who are truly violent and truly cannot benefit …

Len Sipes:  Right, and part of this is to build the capacity to make sure that prison beds are available for the truly violent and the truly dangerous. That’s another big part of what it is that we’re trying to do here, correct?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  But also to build capacity within community corrections so that those that you are no longer incarcerating have a place to go. And being able to say to your probation, parole, pretrial agencies, “You’re adequately staffed, you’re adequately resourced to handle the majority of defendants and defenders that are going to come through the system.”

Len Sipes:  What do you think the message is going to be? I mean, look at me and think that I’m the governor of Nebraska. What do you say to me? What’s the sound bite?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, the elevator speech, I think.

Len Sipes:  The elevator speech?

Gregory Crawford:  I think you have to look at the past and say, “Hey, this isn’t working.” But here’s what will work: you know, if we can properly staff our local, state, tribal, you know, community corrections agencies, we can make a difference. We can reduce recidivism. We can make communities safer. I think if you take a look at the untold potential for all these folks that get shipped away to prison, you know, and come back out and within three years they recidivate, you know, clearly that system isn’t working. So I think what we need to do is really come together and get these community corrections agencies properly staffed, but also inform the front end of the system. Because in my mind, that has the biggest potential to impact the entire criminal justice system and I really would like Kennedy to talk about what can be done in terms of the pretrial and the front end.

Len Sipes:  Kennedy, you’ve got about 30 seconds.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Okay. If you look at counties, and this is where the message resonates the loudest, and I think the strongest, most counties are going to have corrections as one of their top three costs. Most people in jail are pretrial defendants, awaiting trial. Most of those are low to medium risk defendants who could be safely released into the community. If you use community corrections resources more effectively and more efficiently at the pretrial stage, not only will you keep your public safe, but you would reduce the cost of corrections enormously. I think the local jurisdictions are the ones who really need to hear this message.

Len Sipes:  Our guests today have been Gregory Crawford, Correctional Programs Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections and network manager of the Community Corrections Collaborative Network. We’ve had Spurgeon Kennedy, Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies. The website for the National Institute of Corrections is www.nicic.gov. The website for the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies is www.napsa.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticism and we want everybody to have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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