Faith Based Mentoring-DC Public Safety Radio

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/02/faith-based-mentoring-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, today the issue is Faith-Based Mentoring. The fact that we have individuals in Washington DC and throughout the country, they’re coming out of the prison system and the question becomes, who is there to help them? Is anybody there to help them? Sometimes it’s the family, sometimes it’s friends and sometimes it’s nobody at all. But what is happening in Washington DC and throughout the country is that the faith-based community, the churches, the Mosques, the Synagogues, they’re stepping up, what they are doing is they are providing volunteers to help individuals come out of the prison, come out of the prison system and to make a successful transformation into the community. We have two guests with us today to discuss this issue. We have Natasha Freeman, she is a cluster coordinator. She is with Israel Manor Incorporated and she is also with Israel Baptist Church in North East Washington DC and we have La Juana Clark. She used to be an individual under our supervision and thank God she is out and she is doing perfectly fine. She has been through a couple of programs. She was in Project Empowerment and the 13-Step program but she was a mentee for two years. So to talk about this whole issue of faith-based individuals, faith-based programs, people coming out of the prison system. Natasha and La Juana, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Natasha Freeman:  Thank you Len, thank you for having us.

La Juana Clark:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  I appreciate you both being here. Now I do want to emphasize that this is in support of our yearly event that we have in Washington DC. It’s probably our biggest event. So on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 from 7 to 9 pm at St. Luke Church Center, 4923 East Capital Street in South East Washington DC, Thursday, February 21st – it will be on our website www.csosa.gov where we bring hundreds of people involved in the mentoring process and hundreds of people coming out of the prison system who have been mentored to involve them in the celebration of this whole concept of faith-based mentoring. Natasha Freeman, first of all, you’re the Cluster Coordinator, one of the three Cluster Coordinators for my organization, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency – what does the faith-based community do for people coming out of the prison system in Washington DC.

Natasha Freeman:  Well Len, the faith-based community does a lot of things for people on parole and probation in Washington DC. One of the major things that we do is we go out to different churches, synagogues and mosques as you mentioned earlier and we recruit volunteer mentors to kind of help them navigate successfully through supervision. We also offer a number of special emphasis programs that help with issues like employment, relapse prevention and parenting.

Len Sipes:  Mm hmm. You have a lot of different programs throughout the city. That’s the thing that really does impress me; the fact that it is just not a church, or a mosque or a synagogue involved. It’s just not the mentoring process involved. You all provide a lot of services, it’s AA, NA, clothing, baby sitting, connections to jobs, food – it just goes on and on and on. I mean it’s a very impressive program.

Natasha Freeman:  That is correct. We actually are also responsible for partnering with different organizations in the community to provide the services that the faith-based community cannot.

Len Sipes:  And one of the things that the faith-based program here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency really is trying to do is to expand on those partnerships, expand upon those services so people coming out of the prison system do have access to the different services they need.

Natasha Freeman:  Yes, that is correct because it is critical to have services in order to make that successful transition from prison to home and successfully entering into the community.

Len Sipes:  La Juana, the thing that strikes me more than anything else is that you come out of the prison system and you come into community. Sometimes you have support. Sometimes family is there, sometimes friends are there, but in a lot of cases, there is no support and on a lot of cases, it’s the church, the mosques, the synagogue that surrounds you and embraces you and says, “Welcome back home – you can do this, we’re here to help”. How does that make you feel?

La Juana Clark:  It makes me feel great. When I first came home and I just got with my church. My church is over in South West and I decided to join the faith-based organization and I got with the 13-Step program which shows you life skills, how to do interviews and how to basically, you know, give you job leads and how to get out there and you know, start working.

Len Sipes:  What religious body were you associated with out there?

La Juana Clark:  Covenant Baptist Church.

Len Sipes:  Covenant Baptist and Covenant’s got a huge reputation in Washington DC.

La Juana Clark:  Yes they do.

Len Sipes:  So Covenant Baptist, did they approach you? Did you approach them?  How did you come together?

La Juana Clark:  Well in the edifice they had some information about the 13-Step program and I just went, I signed up.

Len Sipes:  And it’s just a matter of signing up and walking in?

La Juana Clark:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  And how were you treated?

La Juana Clark:  Very well. I was treated very well. The facilitator he was very knowledgeable and he had a lot of information and I just utilized it. You know, I was like well I guess a natural leader in the program so I was helping him to get the information out to the other people in the program and so it’s a wonderful program.

Len Sipes:  As a woman caught up in the criminal justice system, do people stereotype you as being a person caught up in the criminal justice system?

La Juana Clark:  Absolutely. Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  And did you get that stereotype in terms of Covenant Baptist Church?

La Juana Clark:  No, not at all.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

La Juana Clark:  Not at all.

Len Sipes:  And why do you think that is? I mean this is what people tell me. They get the stereotype all the time and it really is an impediment in terms of crossing that bridge from being a tax burden to tax payer. Crossing that bridge from being caught up in the system and not caught up in the system and that embracing aspect of the faith-based community, so many men and women have told me it’s made a huge difference in their lives simply to be accepted for who you are.

La Juana Clark:  Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Tell me about that.

La Juana Clark:  Well, first of all I joined Covenant in 2010 and once they found out what happened to me, my situation happened in 2009 and I was open, I told them about it – what happened and I was open to whatever you know they had to offer and they embraced me and so they had the 13-Steps and I joined it and anything else that was available, the resources that they had, I utilized it and it has been a tremendous help.

Len Sipes:  People have told me… people say, a lot of people come back out of the prison system and they go back out into the community and the join a gang because they need people around them, they need people to support them. It may be dysfunctional. It may lead them back to the prison system but they need people in their lives to support them and as one person of the faith-based community once told me, “We’re a gang for good. We’re an embracing gang. We’re exactly the kind of gang structure you need only we’re going to help you, we’re going to lead you down the right path”. Am I… that person’s comments, are they accurate?

La Juana Clark:  The gang, if it’s a good gang – yes. More likely, I believe in the faith-base and for me and I could probably speak for several other people that that’s all that we need, is some help and if there’s help there, you know, something to get us out there, to do positive things. It’s not necessary, even if it’s just finding a job, yes it’s cool to find a job – that’s good to find a job but we need programs, more programs like faith-based programs or you know, just more programs out there to help us get back on our feet to get us where we need to be, to point us in the right direction so that way we won’t go back into the prison system.

Len Sipes:  If the support is there it lessens the likelihood considerably of you going back.

La Juana Clark:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  And it lessens the burden on tax payers, it lessens the burden on the criminal justice system and you become an example for everybody also.

La Juana Clark:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  So going back to you Natasha, is this a common experience of men and women coming out of the prison system and reaching out to the churches or the mosques or the synagogues? And being embraced and having that successful transformation?

Natasha Freeman:  Yes, I would say so and I would like to commend CSOSA because what they have done here in Washington DC is they have actually allowed the faith-based community to kind of band together so that the resources are a wrap-around services that we can offer people in the community so it’s not just one church doing one thing and someone else doing something else. Because we are networked together, we can actually offer that push that’s really needed to help someone transition back into the community and I would like to commend people like La Juana who have come back into the community and have really through the help of the faith-base, stepped up and are now able to help other people make that transition and we see a lot of that where people have successfully completed their supervision and then they come back to be a part of the faith-base in the capacity of a mentor or a facilitator or a helper just to add to that network of people pushing for people to come home and stay home.

Len Sipes:  But so many people in any community, I won’t say necessarily the faith community, they say to themselves, you know, there are so many issues that need our attention. There’s the elderly, there’s the unemployed, there are kids in schools and I have heard this directly and it may sound offensive to either one of you, and I don’t mean it to be offensive but it’s like Leonard, I don’t have time for criminals, I want to help fill in the blank. School kids, I want to help the elderly, I want to help unemployed – I don’t have time for people who have done harm to other human beings. So that’s a stereotype and an issue that all of us need to deal with – correct?  Not everybody is cut out to be a mentor to somebody coming out of the prison system is the point.

Natasha Freeman:  Right, and I agree with that and what I would say to… you know, not every church in Washington DC is involved in the faith-based program. It would be nice if we could get that much support but the reality of it is, like you said, it’s not for everyone but what I would say is that if we don’t do what we can now, the problem will only grow and those children or the elderly people that you think need your help more than a person who is coming home on parole and probation could easily turn into that person because we’re not offering the right support services and the right foundation. We are not only helping the person who is on parole or probation, we are also helping their family members who need their support. So by helping this person, we are actually really strengthening the family, hopefully helping young people not follow in the same footsteps as their parents and then hopefully helping that person on parole and probation become a support system for their elderly parent or family member who needs them.

Len Sipes:  Well most individuals who come out of the prison system have kids.

Natasha Freeman:  That is correct.

Len Sipes:  So when you are dealing with an individual coming out of the prison system it is just not about them. It’s about their kids. I mean I think National Research that in terms of women caught up in the criminal justice system La Juana that 7 in 10 have kids, so it’s just not about that individual, it’s about her family, it’s about her kids. So if you can save one, you’re saving three or four others.

La Juana Clark:  That’s correct, we are.

Len Sipes:  So I mean, what about that? Does everybody clearly seem to understand that?

La Juana Clark:  Well not everybody seems to understand it. The women that we have, you know people have kids and like as you said, people stereotype or what have you but I believe that you know, if you… just like I said before, we need those programs. Even in the system, they are taking the programs away from the system because now you have this thing where they are building more prisons and it’s not like it used to be where you could go in and get your education in the system and come out and be a productive citizen any more. It is more so, build a prison, we’re going to lock you up and you will stay there basically.

Len Sipes:  Right.

La Juana Clark:  And it doesn’t matter whether you have kids or not, or what have you – your kids will grow up and if nobody is there to nurture them and to show them the way, they will be a product of a horrible society. They will follow in their parents’ footsteps to do the wrong thing and they will be in that same prison.

Len Sipes:  Well I just did a show on women offenders a little while ago and the thing is, I don’t understand how women coming out of the prison system do make it. Most have higher rates of mental health problems than men. Most have higher rates of HIV. Most have higher rates of substance abuse problems. 7 out of 10 have kids. Now that’s stacking the deck pretty considerably against that person successfully coming out and not going back to a life of crime and not going back to a life of drugs. I mean those are impossible odds it strikes me to overcome. So it strikes me that the faith community – if the faith community is there for that person, that dramatically increases whether or not they are going to be successful.

La Juana Clark:  Well you know, thank God for faith-based community. Where I stay at, which brings me to my point, where I stay, I was looking around, I was actually still on probation and my probation officer asked me to come down to CSOSA and check out some jobs and places to stay and stuff like that and one of the places where I stay at – it’s called End Street Village and that place is awesome. It is a shelter as well as recovery housing and there are women there that are in recovery and have kids and also across the street is the night shelter which is Luther Place night shelter. So I stayed there for a year and now I have my own place. I’m in a…

Len Sipes:  Oh? Congratulations.

La Juana Clark:  Yeah, I’m in an SRO. And it’s wonderful.

Len Sipes:  What’s an SRO?

La Juana Clark:  SRO is a Single Residency Occupancy.

Len Sipes:  Okay, cool.

La Juana Clark:  So I have a roommate but this is what we need. This is something that helped me to get through. I don’t have any kids but I know there are ladies there that do have kids and we help one another and if we have programs like End Street Village, Luther Place Night Shelter. Some, any places like that, the faith-based communities. I wish there were more faith-based communities because we can get through. Not just women, men too.

Len Sipes:  And it’s not, it’s just not the matter of programs, it’s a matter of being embraced.

La Juana Clark:  It’s a matter… exactly.

Len Sipes:  It’s a matter of having the respect that you feel that you need to make that transformation.

La Juana Clark:  I tell you one thing, if I was not embraced by my church and by a faith-based community, I don’t think I would have made it out here.

Len Sipes:  That is one of the questions I do want…

La Juana Clark:  I don’t think I would have made it.

Len Sipes:  That’s one of the questions I did want to ask you but we’re more than half way through the program, I want to reintroduce our guest today. Natasha Freeman is a Cluster Coordinator; she is with Israel Manor Incorporated. She is with Israel Baptist Church in North East and also we have an individual who used to be under supervision and she used to be part of our mentoring program and that’s La Juana Clark and she has been through a variety of program and she has now been out for two years and has been a Mentee for two years. She has been part of this faith-based program for two years. So again, I say congratulations and La Juana let me just go right back to you with that th… oh, I do want to remind everybody that this is in support of our annual city-wide faith-based mentors and mentees of the year on February 21st. It will be at St. Luke Church Center, 4923 East Capital Street, South East Washington DC from 7 o’clock to 9 o’clock in the evening. If you need additional information we are at www.csosa.gov. La Juana, the question again goes back to you. You mentioned if you didn’t have these programs, what would happen to you. Where would you be?

La Juana Clark:  I would be out street doing the same thing that I used to do and there would be no support because my family is all gone. My family, my mom, parents are dead – grandmother, everybody is gone. I have two brothers. One is, you know, I have brothers. One is a product… he was in and out of the system and he did well. He would do well for a moment and then he would go back in and it’s like you do need that support. You need the support.

Len Sipes:  Virtually every woman I have ever talked to who has come out of the prison system who is back into the community has told me that again, without these programs they would be back inside the system. Without these programs they would either be dead or back in the game or back doing what they were doing or back harming society and they are not and they are reunited with their kids and they are doing well. Not all of them by any stretch of the imagination but a pretty significant number.

La Juana Clark:  Yes, that’s correct.

Len Sipes:  That’s what impresses me. Natasha, now we have well over 100 faith-based organizations here at Washington DC. We have well over 200 people who are mentors. I think that is just phenomenal. I think well over 700 people have been through the program and we only started tracking these numbers back in 2007. The program started in 2002, but since 2007 when we started actually keeping track, over 700 people caught up in the criminal justice system have been through, have successfully completed the program. The early indications are that the longer they stay with the program, the better off they do and the less they recidivate. I mean that shows the power of the faith community.

Natasha Freeman:  That’s correct and just touching on your point the longer they stay with the program… it’s about developing relationships when it comes to the mentoring program. Even beyond people completing supervision they still keep in contact with their mentors because it is really a long term journey and so once we give them the programming, we give them the resources, the whole idea behind the faith based mentoring program is to help them successfully navigate through supervision but then once they complete supervision we still have to make sure that they have the relationships and the support from the community in order to stay home and that is really our biggest goal is to keep them here and becoming productive tax paying members of society and we can’t do that without the support and the relationships developed through the faith-based community and I think that’s why the people who complete supervision through the program are a lot more successful because those brick and mortar 100 year old organizations and foundations on every other corner here in Washington DC, they can always go there and say you know what, I’m having trouble with this or I need that and you always have that objective person to talk to, that can talk you through the situation so that you don’t have to turn back to drugs or violence or whatever your vice was that got you into trouble in the first place.

Len Sipes:  Right, but coming out of the system, coming out of the system, coming out of prison you’ve got a chip on your shoulder the size of Montana and there’s a lot of individuals and people always say that I make excuses for bad behavior when I say this but again, you take a look – a little while ago when you were talking about women offenders, the degree of sexual violence directed towards women caught up in the criminal justice system when they were minors is astounding. It is literally astounding. It is much higher than the males, but if you talk to the males I mean the problems that they had in terms of their household, so many of them getting up at 6 and 7 and 8 years old, pouring their own cereal, taking themselves to school, raising themselves essentially or you know, 9 year olds raising 7 year olds, it’s a very difficult problem. They end up in the prison system in many cases. They come out and again they have the chip on their shoulder the size of Montana. How do you break through that wall, that barrier that so many people coming out of the prison system present to you when they show up at your institution and say okay, I’m not sure as to who you really are. I’m not sure as to what your game is. I’m not sure as to what you truly are trying to offer me but I’m standing here – go, convince me! What do you say to them?

Natasha Freeman:  You know, one of the first things that I tell them is that you know, we are no different. One of the biggest differences between us you got caught for doing something wrong and a lot of people in the faith community just never got caught and I think that’s why there is a level of compassion for people, for some people, for those who are coming in to the faith institution with those types of situations and then the other thing is that you just have to love on the person and when it is genuine, they know. Not right away is everyone going to tell you everything. You know, they are not going to pour it all out on the table right away but once they come around and you show them the services, you show them that it is real, if they need clothing; you take them to the clothing closet. If they need help with food, you take them to the food pantry. Once you start to offer them some of those services that we have, then they start to see that these people are really here for me and one of the big differences with the faith-based being attached to CSOSA is they kind of come with that kind of “oh well, my CSO sent me” thing and then they get there and they see, okay, well this is not like going to see my CSO. This is somebody else who kind of really cares. Not to say that the CSO doesn’t care but you know, when you go to see your CSO you go with that oh, “they’re just going to tell me to do this and do that” type of chip on your shoulder. When you come to the faith base, you see that this person is really here trying to help you kind of be in good standing with your CSO, help you navigate through some things, solve some problems so that you don’t have that chip on your shoulder.

Len Sipes:  And CSO for people outside of the Washington DC metropolitan area, we stand for Community Supervision Officer what most of the country calls parole and probation agents. La Juana, the person that I described coming out of the prisons again, with the chip on their shoulder the size of Montana – am I exaggerating or am I accurate?

La Juana Clark:  No you’re not because I was one of those people and because even though I didn’t have a long term time in jail, I was one of those people and I was like you know…

Len Sipes:  What’s your game?

La Juana Clark:  Yeah, what is your game and I don’t need all of this stuff. I just want to get back to work?

Len Sipes:  What’s in it for you, why are you here? What are you trying to do to me?

La Juana Clark:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  Because so many people coming out of prison just see other people as just gaming them. As just, they are just there to exploit them.

La Juana Clark:  Yeah, but you know, you have to be open and so I was open. Because I was open, nothing else was working. All of my cards read zero and so I was like, you know I have to be open to this and in order for me to not get back in trouble, I have to do something and I’m too old also. So I was open and I had to own up to what I had done so, that card, I was owning up to my responsibility. The part that I played in it and I was open to whatever services that CSOSA and the faith-based community offered.

Len Sipes:  How long did it take you to trust the people in the faith community to the point where you were ready to open up and talk about your real experiences?

La Juana Clark:  It took a while.

Len Sipes:  How long?

La Juana Clark:  It was like six months.

Len Sipes:  Yeah. And that’s not unusual Natasha?

La Juana Clark:  It takes a while.

Len Sipes:  That’s not a first day process, a second day process – it ordinarily takes months for that relationship to build to the point where the two trust each other. Correct?

Natasha Freeman:  That is correct and that is why in our program we make it so that the person has a mandatory minimum of six months left on their supervision so that way we can make sure that the relationship is cultivated in such a way that they can trust and we can really get down to the nitty gritty of what their real needs are and kind of touch on some of the real issues that they have, so that they can again be a successful member of society. Because if we don’t touch on those issues, it’s so easy for something bad to happen in your life and you turn right back around and start doing the things that made you comfortable.

Len Sipes:  Right and the beauty – and this is, I’ve talked to several people who have been through our faith-based program and tell me if I’m right or wrong – the beauty is that you could be two years out. You could be two years away from the faith-based program, you’re doing fine, you’ve got a job, you’re off of drugs. Everything is going okay but suddenly everything is not and they reinsert themselves and the faith community embraces them once again. I mean, am I right or wrong?

Natasha Freeman:  That is correct and that is the true beauty of the program because we are the faith community at the same time that we work with CSOSA, we are the faith community so they can always come back and receive the services and the support just as if they never left and some cases people don’t leave because we become their surrogate family, their second family so they come to us and they become members of the faith institutions, of course we don’t [PH] prosthetise or we don’t force anyone…

Len Sipes:  Right and I do want to get that point across very clearly that they do not have to belong to the Muslim religion, the Baptist religion, the catholic religion, the Jewish – they don’t have to… they can just come and be mentored.

Natasha Freeman:  That is correct and they never have to join a faith institution at all but some people do. They choose to and like I said, they become active members of that congregation and I’d like to point out that La Juana at her faith institution, Covenant – she joined. She is a member of their choir. She sings very beautifully.

Len Sipes:  Wonderful. Wonderful. Congratulations.

Natasha Freeman:  And she’ll be modest – she has a very wonderful talent in singing and she has performed at the Kennedy Center so that is something

Len Sipes:  Now that’s quite a transformation going from the system to the Kennedy Center La Juana.

La Juana Clark:  Yes. I performed at the Kennedy Center three times as a matter of fact. Once was for … in 2011 – I was still on probation mind you, and I performed at the Kennedy Center, we had a celebration of Let Freedom Ring, it was for Martin Luther King’s birthday and we performed under the director of Nolan Williams and we backed up Patti LaBelle. It was a wonderful show.

Len Sipes:  WOW – that’s an amazing experience all right. Well first of all, thank you so much both of you for being on the program. Ladies and gentlemen we’re going to close. Natasha Freeman, she’s a Cluster Coordinator with Israel Manor Incorporated. She is with Israel Baptist Church in North East. La Juana Clark used to be under our supervision. She used to be a part of the program – actually you still are right?

La Juana Clark:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  You still are part of the program and that is one of the wonderful things about what we do. You’re over there at Covenant and congratulations La Juana to all the successes that you’ve had and I do want once again to take an opportunity to remind everybody that our big yearly faith-based mentoring program is going to be at St. Luke’s Catholic Church. St. Luke’s Church Center, 4923 East Capital Street, South East Washington DC on February 21st and there is plenty of parking. It is a very large operation. We have hundreds of people from all over the city involved in the Mentor and Mentoring program that come together to celebrate the success and the challenges of the Mentoring program. If you need additional information, go to our website, www.csosa.gov.  Thank you for your cards, your letters, for your emails, for your feedback in terms of what we do and have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Supervision and Treatment of Sex Offenders-DC Public Safety Television

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/video/2013/03/supervision-and-treatment-of-sex-offenders-dc-public-safety-television/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders and there are few topics that gather more media and criminological interest than sex offenders. It’s our contention at my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, that we employ state-of-the-art strategies for the supervision of sex offenders. To discuss national standards on sex offenders, we are proud to have Scott Matson, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and also we have Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services. Again from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and to Scott and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Scott Matson: Well, thanks for having me.

Tom Williams: Thank you.

Len Sipes: It’s an important topic and a complicated topic, and people really are interested in this whole concept of sex offenders. Scott, the first question goes to you. Who are sex offenders?

Scott Matson: Well thanks, Len. That’s a good question. It’s a tough one too because what we know is that there isn’t a typical offender. They can come from any walk of life, all walks of life. They can be focused just on children. They can be focused on adults only. They can be focused on women. They can be focused on little girls, little boys. They could cross over as well. So to say that there’s one type of sex offender just isn’t quite accurate.

Len Sipes: But when you talk to somebody in the public, when you say “sex offender,” they immediately have a stereotype in their minds as to who that person is, and one of the ideas and one of the reasons for doing the show today is to get across the complexity of what we’re calling the sex offender and the difficulty in terms of supervising that person and treating that person.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and most people think of the sex offender as a stranger, somebody who might jump out of a bush to steal a child or rape a woman. We know that that’s just not what most sex offenders are. Most sex offenders are known to their victims. Most sex offenders commit their offenses within the context of a relationship, which again, makes it very easy for the sex offender to manipulate the victim in those contexts because they know their victims.

Len Sipes: That’s a key issue; they know their victims in the majority of cases. The majority of child sex offenders know their victim, the majority of victims know their offender, the majority of people say in say rape settings, sexual assault settings, it happens in their home or the home of the offender. So it’s not the stereotype of the woman cutting through the alley and getting raped, although that does happen. The bulk of it per data that just came out happens within a residential setting amongst somebody who they know.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and that makes supervision strategies and treatment strategies very important to tailor them to the type of offender that you know you have in your midst, the offender that’s on your caseload. Once they’re caught and convicted, then you know a little bit more about them but until they’re caught and convicted, you really don’t know who they are.

Len Sipes: And Tom, that’s one of the reasons why, when you do – you’re in charge of Supervision Services at Court Services and Offender Supervision, and we have 16,000 offenders on any given day, 25,000 offenders in any given year – on any given day there’s about 700, round it off, sex offenders that you’re in charge of supervising, and you start off with what, some sort of an analysis as to who that person is to get to the complexity issue that Scott just raised.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s very true, and this dovetailing with what Scott was mentioning, the sex offenders can come from any walk of life, so there isn’t one particular individual that somebody should be concerned about or one particular profile that someone could be concerned about. What the public really needs to understand is that they just have to have high-level vigilance with regards to who they have in their midst, whether it’s a child if you’re going to drop them off at the daycare or with the little league, and so that there’s certain standards that these organizations have to have with regards to checking on the backgrounds of folks in boy scouts and things like that, leaders. But the other things that really can help the public with regards to staying vigilant is there’s a sex offender registry that’s open to the public, that anyone can go online if they have access to a computer. They actually go and see, is this person that I’m involved in, is he really on the rolls of criminal justice, is he known to criminal justice. And in some of our outreach to public school systems, for an example, we also really encourage them to make sure that they do check the sex offender registry, certainly as a higher requirement in terms of checking the background of an individual, but that’s something that’s very quick that they can do, just go to the registry, run an application, and then check and see if the person’s listed.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to have you on the second half with Dr. Celena Gates to talk about the treatment, and again, the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. But Scott, we talked about the fact that we have 700. Here we’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of people under parole and probation supervision throughout the country currently, not the past but currently, and we’re about 200,000?

Scott Matson: That’s correct according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and there’s about over 700,000 people on sex offender registries?

Scott Matson: Somewhere around 720,000 that are registered in the U.S.

Len Sipes: So that’s an immense number of people.

Scott Matson: Yes.

Len Sipes: And we in the criminal justice system, we’re responsible for public safety number one, but that’s an immense task for both of us, so let me talk a little bit about that because Tom brought it up and I think the public wants to understand, what do we tell parents, what do we tell individuals, principally women? The vast majority of people who are victimized, sexually victimized, are women although men are sexually victimized as well but it’s 80% I think and higher women who are sexually abused, children who are sexually abused, so let’s start off with parents. What do we tell the parents about age-appropriate conversations, letting them know that they can always come to them and have a conversation about what happened to them?

Scott Matson: That’s right, and the thing you have to stress the most is for the parents to be involved in the children’s lives so they know who they’re talking to, so they know who they’re around all the time, they know who’s paying a lot of attention to them, and as you mentioned, age-appropriate conversations. I think it’s important to start early. I think a lot of advocates in this area, in the sexual assault prevention realm, will talk about starting as young as 4 or 5, and getting them to talk about this is part of a safety kinds of planning, and continuing that conversation as they get older and into their teens, and eventually into adulthood. – Ways of protecting themselves, families, it’s always a good idea to come up with a safety plan and what to do if something might happen to a child or youth in the house. There’s some really good resources out there too for this, and I’m not speaking of anything of the work I’ve done necessarily but there are lots of good advocacy organizations out there that have done really good work.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to put up the website.

Scott Matson: Yeah. I think you’re going to put up our website, which is smart.gov, and I would like to make a plug also for the National Sex Offender Public Website. Tom mentioned DC’s public website. There’s a National Sex Offender Public Website where you can search from one place all the registries throughout the entire country.

Len Sipes: Exactly, and we’ll put that website on the program throughout the program so people can have access to that. – But it’s principally age-appropriate conversations. The child must know that he or she can say anything to their parents because in some cases, a sex offender will commit the act and say that your parents will never love you again if you tell your parents this.

Scott Matson: That’s right. That’s a common theme in grooming behaviors with sex offenders, especially child molesters.

Tom Williams: I think the message should go a little bit further than just parents because a lot of times the child may not be in a position to actually talk to the parents so an adult, someone that they have trust with.

Len Sipes: Okay. Good point.

Tom Williams: It might be a minister in a church or a deacon in a church, or it could be a school teacher, or someone that they really feel close to that they can then relay that information to, a police officer for an example. A lot of police officers do a lot of outreach in school systems right now, so I think instead of saying parents, because certainly you want the child to go to the parent if possible but sometimes the child may not be in a position to feel comfortable about that and so any adult, any responsible adult, I should say, would qualify that, that they should be speaking.

Len Sipes: Good point, good point. And any adult that the child trusts.

Tom Williams: Right.

Len Sipes: In terms of older individuals, again, it’s whose home you go into. It’s who you let into your home. The vast majority of these per research just the other day were committed within residential settings, not necessarily the stereotype, although it does happen, like I said, the stereotype of walking through the back of the alley. It’s happening in homes so it is a matter of who you trust, is it not?

Scott Matson: Right. It’s again, who’s in your life, and most of those crimes are committed in the context of a relationship.

Len Sipes: So a person has to know who they’re willing to trust, and understanding that if you don’t trust that person, don’t let them into your house, don’t go into their home.

Scott Matson: Right.

Tom Williams: That’s a very good point, and that gives my message about vigilance. The parents or significant others really have to be vigilant with regards to who’s involved with that child or in a relationship they’d like to establish as well. I mean, the vigilance is the key thing that we have to be ensured, that we want the public to be understanding.

Len Sipes: Okay. The other part of the program that I wanted to set up beyond the complexity of what we call the sex offender is the sense of national standards. Now Scott, you and I were talking before the program that there are no national standards. The American Probation and Parole Association, National Institute of Corrections, other organizations have come out with recommendations, and in terms of what it is that we in Parole and Probations should be doing in terms of supervising sex offenders, can you give me a sense as to what some of those are?

Scott Matson: Sure. Yeah, as you mentioned, there aren’t any national standards but there are recommendations and there are some things that research does show to be a little more effective.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Scott Matson: I think it really starts with the idea of what we call risk needs and responsivity that is assessing the risk of the offender, the risk that they pose to reoffend and the harm they might pose, then assessing what the needs are of the offender, both what they need to help them stop the behavior and what we need to do to make sure that they don’t continue to commit it.

Len Sipes: So we have to assess and figure out who they are —

Scott Matson: — and then finally develop intervention strategies, supervision plans, treatment plans that address their needs and the risk.

Len Sipes: Based upon that analysis as to who they are.

Scott Matson: Who they are, exactly, so who, what, and who, what, and how I think is a good way to think of it.

Len Sipes: But there has to be treatment involved to some degree for those people who are amenable to treatment?

Scott Matson: That’s right. I think that what most of the research says is that treatment is effective overall with sex offenders. There are some kinds of offenders that might be “lower risk,” quote-unquote, that might not benefit as much from treatment as the higher-risk or moderate-risk offenders but treatment is an integral part of any supervision strategy, any reentry strategy for sex offenders.

Len Sipes: But I would imagine some of those recommendations are going to be a small caseload. I mean, some parole and probation agencies carry 150, 200 people per one parole and probation agent. In the District of Columbia we call them Community Supervision Officers, so the caseload’s got to be appropriate.

Scott Matson: Right, and a lot of the jurisdictions that use more specialized kinds of supervision tactics for sex offenders will have much lower caseload sizes so we’re talking 25-to-1 or 20-to-1, sometimes with a surveillance officer as well to check in on the offender off-hours, and usually this is all involved with the treatment provider closely at hand so they are understanding what those supervision strategies are so they’re in constant communication with the supervision officers.

Len Sipes: It has to be done as a team. Where it’s appropriate, there’s no separation between supervision and treatment. It has to run hand-in-hand.

Scott Matson: It really does. They have talk to each other, they have to really collaborate, and in some jurisdictions, a polygraph examiner is also involved.

Len Sipes: A polygraph examiner. Tom, now the question goes to you, we do all that. That’s one of the things that I want to make clear is that the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, every national standard that’s ever been promulgated, your unit already does that. And how do you think it applies to sex offenders?

Tom Williams: That’s true, and what we’ve done is actually looked at the research and then, as the series of meetings within the organization, determine what’s the best way that we can actually manage this group when they come out. But one other point that I would like to say is certainly it’s a responsibility of the Supervision Agency to help manage and control this population when they come out but also it begins within the correctional setting as well. If you look at the 1.5 million folks who are incarcerated, about 10% or maybe 150,000 of them have been diagnosed or classified as sex offenders within the institution.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Tom Williams: Well, when you look at the lack of resources, that many of the state and maybe the federal systems don’t have because of budget cuts, we know that what gets cut first is naturally treatment but I think the institutions try to do a very good job in trying to identify folks who actually need services and then try to start that process right there. So when a person really comes into the institution from intake or reception, that’s when the identification has to happen and that’s when the plan really should start there to help that person before he actually gets distributed.

Len Sipes: So it has to be holistic across the board from the correctional institution to parole and probation but oftentimes that doesn’t happen.

Scott Matson: No. In an ideal world, that’s what would happen.

Len Sipes: That’s what would happen but that, I mean, that’s the unique part about our agency, and I’m sorry to use this as a forum to boast about our agency, but we do all that stuff now. Our offenders go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and they’re a bit more resource advantaged than most correctional settings.

Tom Williams: That’s true, and then when those folks are actually identified within the institutional setting, prior to being released, then we work basically on a release plan or reentry plan for those individuals, and certainly there are halfway houses within the district where a person can transition from the maintaining institution to the community, you know, where they can go and then we kind of collaborate on those services. We get that information and send it to the institution, and then we follow-up on our cases when they come out.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple of minutes left. Let’s talk about how difficult this is. I can’t think of a more difficult caseload. I mean, I looked at a Google search this morning on the last couple days, these are national articles on sex offenders, there’s 50. I mean, this is just 50 in the last couple days. They’re a difficult population to supervise, correct, any one of you?

Tom Williams: Well, absolutely. This population is difficult but as Scott mentioned, the key thing for us is assessment. I mean, you have to determine the assessment right out front in terms of who you have. That’s where your information from the institutional side is actually transferred to the community supervision side so that we don’t be duplicating work that’s already been initiated and started; but once we actually do the identification through the assessment process, then as Scott mentioned, then we have to develop that plan of action and that’s where collaboration is key between supervision staff as well as the treatment staff with regards to what are the plans that we need to mitigate that risk for that individual, and it can’t be a one-size-fits all, it has to be specific to that individual and specific to that offense.

Len Sipes: And we have the resources here at Washington, D.C., to do that. Scott, a final sense as to the difficulty of offenders, the type of offender to supervise?

Scott Matson: Sure. I think that they can be quite difficult, and when you talk to a lot of probation officers who might be new to this or who didn’t receive any specialized training, they might say something along the lines, “Well, sex offenders are my easiest probation.”

Len Sipes: They’re compliant, aren’t they?

Scott Matson: Because they’ll oftentimes follow the rules, they don’t want to get in trouble; they don’t want to rock the boat.

Len Sipes: They could be grooming the officer; they could be grooming the psychologist.

Scott Matson: Exactly, just like they groom parents, they groom children, they could be grooming the treatment provider, they could be grooming the supervision officer. So again, it’s really crucial to do that assessment, to get involved in the offenders’ lives, and make sure you know what they’re doing.

Len Sipes: Scott, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, look for us on the second half as we continue this extraordinarily interesting issue of the supervision and the treatment of sex offenders. Stay right there. We’ll be right back.

[Music Playing]

Second Half: Hi, and welcome back to DC Public Safety. I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to discuss sex offender supervision, and our guests for the second half are Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Dr. Celena Gates, CSOSA’s Director of Treatment for our Sex Offender Program, and Dr. Gates and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety, and Tom, welcome back from the first half.  I can’t think, again, of a more difficult topic than this whole concept of sex offender management, sex offender treatment. We talked with Scott Matson on the first half from the Department of Justice to gain a sense of the enormity of this whole concept. You know, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there that we consider sex offenders that we and the criminal justice system have to deal with. There are 700 in the District of Columbia. Treatment is an extraordinarily important part of the process. Treatment and supervision seem to go hand-in-hand. Dr. Gates, you came from a maximum-security prison, did you not, in terms of your background?

Dr. Celena Gates: I did. My first job was at a juvenile facility called Culpepper in Virginia, yeah.

Len Sipes: Wow, and so you came from that process to CSOSA?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not directly but I work in a private practice setting at this point that works with sex offenders so it was through that practice that we developed a relationship with CSOSA and provide the sex offender treatment services for that agency.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of experience as well as the academic training in terms of dealing with sex offenders.

Dr. Celena Gates: Oh absolutely, sure.

Len Sipes: Is this group of people as complex as we made it out on the first half because when I discuss sex offenders to friends, family, again, they have this image in their mind that’s pretty simplistic. It’s not simplistic at all, is it?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not at all, and this is the way that it should be discussed. It should be discussed as a complex group of people who are not homogenous, who have a lot of differences between them, and who are best handled when that’s well understood. It’s when the idea is that they are the same that people make mistakes and misjudgments, and don’t do what’s in the community’s best interest or for that matter the offender’s best interest.

Len Sipes: Right, and we talked about, Tom and I and Scott in the first half, about the assessment process and the crucial sense of getting to know who this person is because there’s such a huge difference between some who lays in wait – we call it in the criminal justice system “malice aforethought.” It’s planned. Their sexual assault is planned versus somebody who’s grooming a child over the course of months versus somebody who does the wrong thing, it’s clearly illegal, but we don’t have a history of sex or criminal offense for that person. That’s the level of complexity we’re dealing with, right?

Dr. Celena Gates: It is, and that level of complexity is a part of who they are. It’s also a part of how we treat them. It’s a part of their management. It’s a part of their future. Keeping those differences and those distinctions in mind is what contributes to the success of dealing with this population.

Len Sipes: Tom, our problem is that the public, all they want is safety. They want to be protected, they’re afraid of the sex offender, and when they hear – I mean again, when I talked about it in the first half, 50 articles from around the country on sex offenders basically doing something wrong over the course of the last couple – 50. They get a lot of publicity. When it happens to us, the media comes to me, comes to you, and says, “Why?” – And the people don’t seem to have a full grasp as to how difficult this is, how complex it is, and the resources you give to it.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s exactly right. In the public’s mind, if you put these folks away and throw away their key, they’d be just as happy but we recognize that you can’t really imprison folks for a long period of time.

Len Sipes: You can’t put everybody in prison. That’s impossible.

Tom Williams: No, you can’t, and punishment is not going to be sufficient to – well, punishment is sufficient to I guess suppress deviate behavior but eventually the person needs to get treatment. So our studies are indicating, in terms of the length of stay that folks have been in prison before they come out, you know, we have a much older population on the CSOSA with regards to sex offenses. Only 6% of our population are under 25 but a large majority of our population are between the age of 40 and 60 so you know they’ve spent significant periods of time incarcerated.  But when they come to us, the important thing that we attempt to do is we have our own assessment with regards to the risk to reoffend but when we also have collaborations with Dr. Gates and her group, there’s an additional assessment that’s done as well, so that establishment is looking at what’s that risk to that individual with regards to his future sex offending.

Len Sipes: And we have smaller caseloads, we use polygraph, we have specially-trained community supervision officers. What most people know as parole and probation agents, we call them community supervision officers in Washington, D.C. So the case load is fairly small, they’re well-trained, they use GPS surveillance in some cases, they use polygraph in some cases, correct, so we do it right is the point.

Tom Williams: Well, we do do it right but we are extremely fortunate with regard to the caliber of CSOs, of men and women that work in this particular program. First of all they have a passion for their work, which is really key, and they are well-educated with regards to their advanced degrees, and also they are well-educated with regards to additional training in this discipline. So they come to the agency with a wealth of knowledge, and we too increase that knowledge base while they’re with us. But the important thing that really helps us a lot in terms of managing this population well is the relationship that the CSO has with the treatment provider and the polygraph.

Len Sipes: Right, and that gets back to Dr. Gates. I mean, that’s one of the unique things. You’re not on your own. This is an entire organization surrounding you and supporting you, and supporting what you and the staff does in terms of getting at what’s causing this issue with people for their own good and for public safety.

Dr. Celena Gates: Um-hum. That collaboration is key, and that word was mentioned a couple of times in the first segment. It’s relevant this population in a way that perhaps isn’t the same for other types of offenders or other types of mental health issues. The collaboration and working together, and having a complete, accurate understanding of the who the offender is, what his risk issues are, when he’s likely to be more or less at risk, what can be done about those situations, who can intervene – all of those are very, very complicated questions but they can be answered, they can be effectively addressed if everyone is working together, communicating consistently and effectively, there’s cross-training. There are a number of different ways that we can make that effective.

Len Sipes: Some of these offenders are obviously in denial in terms of their own acts and how culpable they are in terms of their own acts, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: Yes, they are. They can start off that way.

Len Sipes: They can start off that way.

Dr. Celena Gates: This is not the easiest subject to talk about, you can imagine, and the stigma associated with being a sex offender is incredibly difficult. So they’ve often had to go through the judicial process of that, whatever that entailed, and now they’re being asked to hold themselves accountable to it again, and a lot of them feel like, “I’ve done my penance,” so to speak.

Len Sipes: Yeah, they’ve served time in prison and they’re coming out, and suddenly they’re in a small caseload and they’re —

Dr. Celena Gates: There’s an awful lot of attention being paid to them.

Len Sipes: We at Court Services, we really do have a high level of contact with the people under our supervision, we really do, so they’re having that high level of contact and then they have you to deal with.

Dr. Celena Gates: Coming in saying, “Let’s talk about this more.”

Len Sipes: Yeah, let’s talk about this more.

Dr. Celena Gates: And so that can be incredibly difficult on a lot of levels – emotionally in terms of their relationships with family, what it’s going to mean for their lives, and that sort of thing. But part of what we try to do is give them a sense that, although we’re talking about the past, we’re talking about behaviors that perhaps they’re embarrassed about – and rightfully so, should be – but we’re doing so for the purpose of moving forward. We want them to understand their risk factors. We want them to understand their behaviors. We want them to have the tools that they need to avoid engaging in future problematic behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, most offenders are not the jump-out-of-the-bushes kind of guy. They’re guys who have gotten themselves into situations that they themselves may not fully understand, and that’s part of the task is to help them understand how this benefits them, how it benefits the people in their lives, and obviously then ultimately that translates to having safer communities.

Len Sipes: When I talk to community supervision officers, oftentimes I get the sense of manipulation on the part of sex offenders, that they are by trade a pretty manipulative bunch. True?

Dr. Celena Gates: I think that’s a generalization, and I think we’ve already established that it’s hard to make generalizations about the population, but there are certainly certain kinds of offenders for whom you want to pay extra attention to what they say, for whom you want to collaborate and corroborate even more than you would, but that’s the key to the assessment, really. It really is about being able to identify what a person’s particular traits and tendencies and proclivities are, and educating the people who work with them about how to operate against those, so to speak. And on the other hand, if someone isn’t manipulative, because there are offenders who don’t have that trait, then we don’t over-supervise them or over-treat them or over-analyze everything that they say.

Len Sipes: The key is the uniqueness of that individual offender. Nothing is done in a cookie-cutter approach. We design a program and a supervision strategy around that person’s uniqueness and that, Tom Williams, seems to be the key to all of this.

Tom Williams: Well it is, and the kind of behavioral treatment seems to be the one that work best with this population, and that’s the program or the theory basically that Dr. Gates and her group are integrally involved with, and all the staff are actually trained in that discipline as well. So with the combination of the treatment, the supervision, as well as the polygraph, just to look at potential deceptions that may be coming through, because we can talk to the person and they can tell us one thing but the polygraph itself will help us to determine if there’s any kind of deception that’s going on that may increase that person’s risk to reoffend in the community, and then that’s when we kind of get together with the treatment provider and say, “What is it that we’re looking at here that actually resulted in that polygraph?”

Len Sipes: Only three minutes left, very quickly, we do employ GPS so if we’re concerned through the polygraph test or any other evidence that we have with our law enforcement partners or working with the family or working with the community, we put them on GPS and we can follow them that way. We can overlay maps. We can overlay Google earth to see if there’s a playground there and that’s why he’s hanging out, correct?

Tom Williams: Well, that’s part of it. That’s one of several strategies that we use. We don’t want to say that’s something that we do for every person but it’s just one of several.

Len Sipes: I understand, but the larger issue is through treatment and through these supervision strategies and through the small case loads, but particularly treatment, we can in many cases stabilize that individual and minimize that individual’s risk to public safety. That is true, is it not?

Tom Williams: That’s exactly right, and that’s the whole key that we’re working with.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s the goal, the main goal, but also with regards to that is there comes a point in time when a person’s going to complete the services. The important thing is what’s that relapse prevention plan and how can we exercise that plan, and what are your triggers, as Dr .Gates mentioned before, that I need to be attentive to, situations that I need to not be involved in or put myself in where the potential could be for me to reoffend.

Len Sipes: And that’s an extraordinarily important point, Dr. Gates, and in the final minute or so of the program, you give them tools because they’re going to be off supervision at a certain point.

Dr. Celena Gates: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: You give them tools to carry into the future, and that may be possibly the most critical part of treatment.

Dr. Celena Gates: Indeed, I think it is. I think that often we begin the process by thinking about what the end of it will be. Once we have an understanding of who the offender is and what their risk factors are, we’re thinking about what do they need in order to stay out of situations where they talk to people like me or have to meet people like at Mr. Williams’ agency. We want them to be in the community safely, to have developed enough skills and knowledge of what their risk factors are so that they don’t reoffend.

Len Sipes: And once again, it’s all based upon the individual assessment. That’s the key here, and the individual assessment, the individual treatment, the individual supervision strategies, and those individual treatment strategies to carry that person not just a year beyond supervision but 20, 30 years beyond the supervision without reoffending.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Len Sipes: And protecting public safety. That’s the bottom line, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s how we can do our part to ensure that this person is healthy, maintaining good relationships, and not come back within the criminal justice system. We just can’t continue to incarcerate them and expect that’s going to have an effect versus to treatment.

Len Sipes: All right, Tom, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us for this what I consider to be extraordinary discussion on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. Please have that age-appropriate conversation with your children. Please use good judgment in terms of whose home you go into or who you let in your home. Watch for us next time as we look at another very important issue in today’s criminal justice system. Have yourself a pleasant day.

[Commercial Break]

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders and there are few topics that gather more media and criminological interest than sex offenders. It’s our contention at my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, that we employ state-of-the-art strategies for the supervision of sex offenders. To discuss national standards on sex offenders, we are proud to have Scott Matson, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and also we have Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services. Again from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and to Scott and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Scott Matson: Well, thanks for having me.

Tom Williams: Thank you.

Len Sipes: It’s an important topic and a complicated topic, and people really are interested in this whole concept of sex offenders. Scott, the first question goes to you. Who are sex offenders?

Scott Matson: Well thanks, Len. That’s a good question. It’s a tough one too because what we know is that there isn’t a typical offender. They can come from any walk of life, all walks of life. They can be focused just on children. They can be focused on adults only. They can be focused on women. They can be focused on little girls, little boys. They could cross over as well. So to say that there’s one type of sex offender just isn’t quite accurate.

Len Sipes: But when you talk to somebody in the public, when you say “sex offender,” they immediately have a stereotype in their minds as to who that person is, and one of the ideas and one of the reasons for doing the show today is to get across the complexity of what we’re calling the sex offender and the difficulty in terms of supervising that person and treating that person.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and most people think of the sex offender as a stranger, somebody who might jump out of a bush to steal a child or rape a woman. We know that that’s just not what most sex offenders are. Most sex offenders are known to their victims. Most sex offenders commit their offenses within the context of a relationship, which again, makes it very easy for the sex offender to manipulate the victim in those contexts because they know their victims.

Len Sipes: That’s a key issue; they know their victims in the majority of cases. The majority of child sex offenders know their victim, the majority of victims know their offender, the majority of people say in say rape settings, sexual assault settings, it happens in their home or the home of the offender. So it’s not the stereotype of the woman cutting through the alley and getting raped, although that does happen. The bulk of it per data that just came out happens within a residential setting amongst somebody who they know.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and that makes supervision strategies and treatment strategies very important to tailor them to the type of offender that you know you have in your midst, the offender that’s on your caseload. Once they’re caught and convicted, then you know a little bit more about them but until they’re caught and convicted, you really don’t know who they are.

Len Sipes: And Tom, that’s one of the reasons why, when you do – you’re in charge of Supervision Services at Court Services and Offender Supervision, and we have 16,000 offenders on any given day, 25,000 offenders in any given year – on any given day there’s about 700, round it off, sex offenders that you’re in charge of supervising, and you start off with what, some sort of an analysis as to who that person is to get to the complexity issue that Scott just raised.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s very true, and this dovetailing with what Scott was mentioning, the sex offenders can come from any walk of life, so there isn’t one particular individual that somebody should be concerned about or one particular profile that someone could be concerned about. What the public really needs to understand is that they just have to have high-level vigilance with regards to who they have in their midst, whether it’s a child if you’re going to drop them off at the daycare or with the little league, and so that there’s certain standards that these organizations have to have with regards to checking on the backgrounds of folks in boy scouts and things like that, leaders. But the other things that really can help the public with regards to staying vigilant is there’s a sex offender registry that’s open to the public, that anyone can go online if they have access to a computer. They actually go and see, is this person that I’m involved in, is he really on the rolls of criminal justice, is he known to criminal justice. And in some of our outreach to public school systems, for an example, we also really encourage them to make sure that they do check the sex offender registry, certainly as a higher requirement in terms of checking the background of an individual, but that’s something that’s very quick that they can do, just go to the registry, run an application, and then check and see if the person’s listed.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to have you on the second half with Dr. Celena Gates to talk about the treatment, and again, the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. But Scott, we talked about the fact that we have 700. Here we’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of people under parole and probation supervision throughout the country currently, not the past but currently, and we’re about 200,000?

Scott Matson: That’s correct according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and there’s about over 700,000 people on sex offender registries?

Scott Matson: Somewhere around 720,000 that are registered in the U.S.

Len Sipes: So that’s an immense number of people.

Scott Matson: Yes.

Len Sipes: And we in the criminal justice system, we’re responsible for public safety number one, but that’s an immense task for both of us, so let me talk a little bit about that because Tom brought it up and I think the public wants to understand, what do we tell parents, what do we tell individuals, principally women? The vast majority of people who are victimized, sexually victimized, are women although men are sexually victimized as well but it’s 80% I think and higher women who are sexually abused, children who are sexually abused, so let’s start off with parents. What do we tell the parents about age-appropriate conversations, letting them know that they can always come to them and have a conversation about what happened to them?

Scott Matson: That’s right, and the thing you have to stress the most is for the parents to be involved in the children’s lives so they know who they’re talking to, so they know who they’re around all the time, they know who’s paying a lot of attention to them, and as you mentioned, age-appropriate conversations. I think it’s important to start early. I think a lot of advocates in this area, in the sexual assault prevention realm, will talk about starting as young as 4 or 5, and getting them to talk about this is part of a safety kinds of planning, and continuing that conversation as they get older and into their teens, and eventually into adulthood. – Ways of protecting themselves, families, it’s always a good idea to come up with a safety plan and what to do if something might happen to a child or youth in the house. There’s some really good resources out there too for this, and I’m not speaking of anything of the work I’ve done necessarily but there are lots of good advocacy organizations out there that have done really good work.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to put up the website.

Scott Matson: Yeah. I think you’re going to put up our website, which is smart.gov, and I would like to make a plug also for the National Sex Offender Public Website. Tom mentioned DC’s public website. There’s a National Sex Offender Public Website where you can search from one place all the registries throughout the entire country.

Len Sipes: Exactly, and we’ll put that website on the program throughout the program so people can have access to that. – But it’s principally age-appropriate conversations. The child must know that he or she can say anything to their parents because in some cases, a sex offender will commit the act and say that your parents will never love you again if you tell your parents this.

Scott Matson: That’s right. That’s a common theme in grooming behaviors with sex offenders, especially child molesters.

Tom Williams: I think the message should go a little bit further than just parents because a lot of times the child may not be in a position to actually talk to the parents so an adult, someone that they have trust with.

Len Sipes: Okay. Good point.

Tom Williams: It might be a minister in a church or a deacon in a church, or it could be a school teacher, or someone that they really feel close to that they can then relay that information to, a police officer for an example. A lot of police officers do a lot of outreach in school systems right now, so I think instead of saying parents, because certainly you want the child to go to the parent if possible but sometimes the child may not be in a position to feel comfortable about that and so any adult, any responsible adult, I should say, would qualify that, that they should be speaking.

Len Sipes: Good point, good point. And any adult that the child trusts.

Tom Williams: Right.

Len Sipes: In terms of older individuals, again, it’s whose home you go into. It’s who you let into your home. The vast majority of these per research just the other day were committed within residential settings, not necessarily the stereotype, although it does happen, like I said, the stereotype of walking through the back of the alley. It’s happening in homes so it is a matter of who you trust, is it not?

Scott Matson: Right. It’s again, who’s in your life, and most of those crimes are committed in the context of a relationship.

Len Sipes: So a person has to know who they’re willing to trust, and understanding that if you don’t trust that person, don’t let them into your house, don’t go into their home.

Scott Matson: Right.

Tom Williams: That’s a very good point, and that gives my message about vigilance. The parents or significant others really have to be vigilant with regards to who’s involved with that child or in a relationship they’d like to establish as well. I mean, the vigilance is the key thing that we have to be ensured, that we want the public to be understanding.

Len Sipes: Okay. The other part of the program that I wanted to set up beyond the complexity of what we call the sex offender is the sense of national standards. Now Scott, you and I were talking before the program that there are no national standards. The American Probation and Parole Association, National Institute of Corrections, other organizations have come out with recommendations, and in terms of what it is that we in Parole and Probations should be doing in terms of supervising sex offenders, can you give me a sense as to what some of those are?

Scott Matson: Sure. Yeah, as you mentioned, there aren’t any national standards but there are recommendations and there are some things that research does show to be a little more effective.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Scott Matson: I think it really starts with the idea of what we call risk needs and responsivity that is assessing the risk of the offender, the risk that they pose to reoffend and the harm they might pose, then assessing what the needs are of the offender, both what they need to help them stop the behavior and what we need to do to make sure that they don’t continue to commit it.

Len Sipes: So we have to assess and figure out who they are —

Scott Matson: — and then finally develop intervention strategies, supervision plans, treatment plans that address their needs and the risk.

Len Sipes: Based upon that analysis as to who they are.

Scott Matson: Who they are, exactly, so who, what, and who, what, and how I think is a good way to think of it.

Len Sipes: But there has to be treatment involved to some degree for those people who are amenable to treatment?

Scott Matson: That’s right. I think that what most of the research says is that treatment is effective overall with sex offenders. There are some kinds of offenders that might be “lower risk,” quote-unquote, that might not benefit as much from treatment as the higher-risk or moderate-risk offenders but treatment is an integral part of any supervision strategy, any reentry strategy for sex offenders.

Len Sipes: But I would imagine some of those recommendations are going to be a small caseload. I mean, some parole and probation agencies carry 150, 200 people per one parole and probation agent. In the District of Columbia we call them Community Supervision Officers, so the caseload’s got to be appropriate.

Scott Matson: Right, and a lot of the jurisdictions that use more specialized kinds of supervision tactics for sex offenders will have much lower caseload sizes so we’re talking 25-to-1 or 20-to-1, sometimes with a surveillance officer as well to check in on the offender off-hours, and usually this is all involved with the treatment provider closely at hand so they are understanding what those supervision strategies are so they’re in constant communication with the supervision officers.

Len Sipes: It has to be done as a team. Where it’s appropriate, there’s no separation between supervision and treatment. It has to run hand-in-hand.

Scott Matson: It really does. They have talk to each other, they have to really collaborate, and in some jurisdictions, a polygraph examiner is also involved.

Len Sipes: A polygraph examiner. Tom, now the question goes to you, we do all that. That’s one of the things that I want to make clear is that the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, every national standard that’s ever been promulgated, your unit already does that. And how do you think it applies to sex offenders?

Tom Williams: That’s true, and what we’ve done is actually looked at the research and then, as the series of meetings within the organization, determine what’s the best way that we can actually manage this group when they come out. But one other point that I would like to say is certainly it’s a responsibility of the Supervision Agency to help manage and control this population when they come out but also it begins within the correctional setting as well. If you look at the 1.5 million folks who are incarcerated, about 10% or maybe 150,000 of them have been diagnosed or classified as sex offenders within the institution.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Tom Williams: Well, when you look at the lack of resources, that many of the state and maybe the federal systems don’t have because of budget cuts, we know that what gets cut first is naturally treatment but I think the institutions try to do a very good job in trying to identify folks who actually need services and then try to start that process right there. So when a person really comes into the institution from intake or reception, that’s when the identification has to happen and that’s when the plan really should start there to help that person before he actually gets distributed.

Len Sipes: So it has to be holistic across the board from the correctional institution to parole and probation but oftentimes that doesn’t happen.

Scott Matson: No. In an ideal world, that’s what would happen.

Len Sipes: That’s what would happen but that, I mean, that’s the unique part about our agency, and I’m sorry to use this as a forum to boast about our agency, but we do all that stuff now. Our offenders go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and they’re a bit more resource advantaged than most correctional settings.

Tom Williams: That’s true, and then when those folks are actually identified within the institutional setting, prior to being released, then we work basically on a release plan or reentry plan for those individuals, and certainly there are halfway houses within the district where a person can transition from the maintaining institution to the community, you know, where they can go and then we kind of collaborate on those services. We get that information and send it to the institution, and then we follow-up on our cases when they come out.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple of minutes left. Let’s talk about how difficult this is. I can’t think of a more difficult caseload. I mean, I looked at a Google search this morning on the last couple days, these are national articles on sex offenders, there’s 50. I mean, this is just 50 in the last couple days. They’re a difficult population to supervise, correct, any one of you?

Tom Williams: Well, absolutely. This population is difficult but as Scott mentioned, the key thing for us is assessment. I mean, you have to determine the assessment right out front in terms of who you have. That’s where your information from the institutional side is actually transferred to the community supervision side so that we don’t be duplicating work that’s already been initiated and started; but once we actually do the identification through the assessment process, then as Scott mentioned, then we have to develop that plan of action and that’s where collaboration is key between supervision staff as well as the treatment staff with regards to what are the plans that we need to mitigate that risk for that individual, and it can’t be a one-size-fits all, it has to be specific to that individual and specific to that offense.

Len Sipes: And we have the resources here at Washington, D.C., to do that. Scott, a final sense as to the difficulty of offenders, the type of offender to supervise?

Scott Matson: Sure. I think that they can be quite difficult, and when you talk to a lot of probation officers who might be new to this or who didn’t receive any specialized training, they might say something along the lines, “Well, sex offenders are my easiest probation.”

Len Sipes: They’re compliant, aren’t they?

Scott Matson: Because they’ll oftentimes follow the rules, they don’t want to get in trouble; they don’t want to rock the boat.

Len Sipes: They could be grooming the officer; they could be grooming the psychologist.

Scott Matson: Exactly, just like they groom parents, they groom children, they could be grooming the treatment provider, they could be grooming the supervision officer. So again, it’s really crucial to do that assessment, to get involved in the offenders’ lives, and make sure you know what they’re doing.

Len Sipes: Scott, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, look for us on the second half as we continue this extraordinarily interesting issue of the supervision and the treatment of sex offenders. Stay right there. We’ll be right back.

[Music Playing]

Second Half: Hi, and welcome back to DC Public Safety. I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to discuss sex offender supervision, and our guests for the second half are Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Dr. Celena Gates, CSOSA’s Director of Treatment for our Sex Offender Program, and Dr. Gates and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety, and Tom, welcome back from the first half.  I can’t think, again, of a more difficult topic than this whole concept of sex offender management, sex offender treatment. We talked with Scott Matson on the first half from the Department of Justice to gain a sense of the enormity of this whole concept. You know, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there that we consider sex offenders that we and the criminal justice system have to deal with. There are 700 in the District of Columbia. Treatment is an extraordinarily important part of the process. Treatment and supervision seem to go hand-in-hand. Dr. Gates, you came from a maximum-security prison, did you not, in terms of your background?

Dr. Celena Gates: I did. My first job was at a juvenile facility called Culpepper in Virginia, yeah.

Len Sipes: Wow, and so you came from that process to CSOSA?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not directly but I work in a private practice setting at this point that works with sex offenders so it was through that practice that we developed a relationship with CSOSA and provide the sex offender treatment services for that agency.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of experience as well as the academic training in terms of dealing with sex offenders.

Dr. Celena Gates: Oh absolutely, sure.

Len Sipes: Is this group of people as complex as we made it out on the first half because when I discuss sex offenders to friends, family, again, they have this image in their mind that’s pretty simplistic. It’s not simplistic at all, is it?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not at all, and this is the way that it should be discussed. It should be discussed as a complex group of people who are not homogenous, who have a lot of differences between them, and who are best handled when that’s well understood. It’s when the idea is that they are the same that people make mistakes and misjudgments, and don’t do what’s in the community’s best interest or for that matter the offender’s best interest.

Len Sipes: Right, and we talked about, Tom and I and Scott in the first half, about the assessment process and the crucial sense of getting to know who this person is because there’s such a huge difference between some who lays in wait – we call it in the criminal justice system “malice aforethought.” It’s planned. Their sexual assault is planned versus somebody who’s grooming a child over the course of months versus somebody who does the wrong thing, it’s clearly illegal, but we don’t have a history of sex or criminal offense for that person. That’s the level of complexity we’re dealing with, right?

Dr. Celena Gates: It is, and that level of complexity is a part of who they are. It’s also a part of how we treat them. It’s a part of their management. It’s a part of their future. Keeping those differences and those distinctions in mind is what contributes to the success of dealing with this population.

Len Sipes: Tom, our problem is that the public, all they want is safety. They want to be protected, they’re afraid of the sex offender, and when they hear – I mean again, when I talked about it in the first half, 50 articles from around the country on sex offenders basically doing something wrong over the course of the last couple – 50. They get a lot of publicity. When it happens to us, the media comes to me, comes to you, and says, “Why?” – And the people don’t seem to have a full grasp as to how difficult this is, how complex it is, and the resources you give to it.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s exactly right. In the public’s mind, if you put these folks away and throw away their key, they’d be just as happy but we recognize that you can’t really imprison folks for a long period of time.

Len Sipes: You can’t put everybody in prison. That’s impossible.

Tom Williams: No, you can’t, and punishment is not going to be sufficient to – well, punishment is sufficient to I guess suppress deviate behavior but eventually the person needs to get treatment. So our studies are indicating, in terms of the length of stay that folks have been in prison before they come out, you know, we have a much older population on the CSOSA with regards to sex offenses. Only 6% of our population are under 25 but a large majority of our population are between the age of 40 and 60 so you know they’ve spent significant periods of time incarcerated.  But when they come to us, the important thing that we attempt to do is we have our own assessment with regards to the risk to reoffend but when we also have collaborations with Dr. Gates and her group, there’s an additional assessment that’s done as well, so that establishment is looking at what’s that risk to that individual with regards to his future sex offending.

Len Sipes: And we have smaller caseloads, we use polygraph, we have specially-trained community supervision officers. What most people know as parole and probation agents, we call them community supervision officers in Washington, D.C. So the case load is fairly small, they’re well-trained, they use GPS surveillance in some cases, they use polygraph in some cases, correct, so we do it right is the point.

Tom Williams: Well, we do do it right but we are extremely fortunate with regard to the caliber of CSOs, of men and women that work in this particular program. First of all they have a passion for their work, which is really key, and they are well-educated with regards to their advanced degrees, and also they are well-educated with regards to additional training in this discipline. So they come to the agency with a wealth of knowledge, and we too increase that knowledge base while they’re with us. But the important thing that really helps us a lot in terms of managing this population well is the relationship that the CSO has with the treatment provider and the polygraph.

Len Sipes: Right, and that gets back to Dr. Gates. I mean, that’s one of the unique things. You’re not on your own. This is an entire organization surrounding you and supporting you, and supporting what you and the staff does in terms of getting at what’s causing this issue with people for their own good and for public safety.

Dr. Celena Gates: Um-hum. That collaboration is key, and that word was mentioned a couple of times in the first segment. It’s relevant this population in a way that perhaps isn’t the same for other types of offenders or other types of mental health issues. The collaboration and working together, and having a complete, accurate understanding of the who the offender is, what his risk issues are, when he’s likely to be more or less at risk, what can be done about those situations, who can intervene – all of those are very, very complicated questions but they can be answered, they can be effectively addressed if everyone is working together, communicating consistently and effectively, there’s cross-training. There are a number of different ways that we can make that effective.

Len Sipes: Some of these offenders are obviously in denial in terms of their own acts and how culpable they are in terms of their own acts, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: Yes, they are. They can start off that way.

Len Sipes: They can start off that way.

Dr. Celena Gates: This is not the easiest subject to talk about, you can imagine, and the stigma associated with being a sex offender is incredibly difficult. So they’ve often had to go through the judicial process of that, whatever that entailed, and now they’re being asked to hold themselves accountable to it again, and a lot of them feel like, “I’ve done my penance,” so to speak.

Len Sipes: Yeah, they’ve served time in prison and they’re coming out, and suddenly they’re in a small caseload and they’re —

Dr. Celena Gates: There’s an awful lot of attention being paid to them.

Len Sipes: We at Court Services, we really do have a high level of contact with the people under our supervision, we really do, so they’re having that high level of contact and then they have you to deal with.

Dr. Celena Gates: Coming in saying, “Let’s talk about this more.”

Len Sipes: Yeah, let’s talk about this more.

Dr. Celena Gates: And so that can be incredibly difficult on a lot of levels – emotionally in terms of their relationships with family, what it’s going to mean for their lives, and that sort of thing. But part of what we try to do is give them a sense that, although we’re talking about the past, we’re talking about behaviors that perhaps they’re embarrassed about – and rightfully so, should be – but we’re doing so for the purpose of moving forward. We want them to understand their risk factors. We want them to understand their behaviors. We want them to have the tools that they need to avoid engaging in future problematic behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, most offenders are not the jump-out-of-the-bushes kind of guy. They’re guys who have gotten themselves into situations that they themselves may not fully understand, and that’s part of the task is to help them understand how this benefits them, how it benefits the people in their lives, and obviously then ultimately that translates to having safer communities.

Len Sipes: When I talk to community supervision officers, oftentimes I get the sense of manipulation on the part of sex offenders, that they are by trade a pretty manipulative bunch. True?

Dr. Celena Gates: I think that’s a generalization, and I think we’ve already established that it’s hard to make generalizations about the population, but there are certainly certain kinds of offenders for whom you want to pay extra attention to what they say, for whom you want to collaborate and corroborate even more than you would, but that’s the key to the assessment, really. It really is about being able to identify what a person’s particular traits and tendencies and proclivities are, and educating the people who work with them about how to operate against those, so to speak. And on the other hand, if someone isn’t manipulative, because there are offenders who don’t have that trait, then we don’t over-supervise them or over-treat them or over-analyze everything that they say.

Len Sipes: The key is the uniqueness of that individual offender. Nothing is done in a cookie-cutter approach. We design a program and a supervision strategy around that person’s uniqueness and that, Tom Williams, seems to be the key to all of this.

Tom Williams: Well it is, and the kind of behavioral treatment seems to be the one that work best with this population, and that’s the program or the theory basically that Dr. Gates and her group are integrally involved with, and all the staff are actually trained in that discipline as well. So with the combination of the treatment, the supervision, as well as the polygraph, just to look at potential deceptions that may be coming through, because we can talk to the person and they can tell us one thing but the polygraph itself will help us to determine if there’s any kind of deception that’s going on that may increase that person’s risk to reoffend in the community, and then that’s when we kind of get together with the treatment provider and say, “What is it that we’re looking at here that actually resulted in that polygraph?”

Len Sipes: Only three minutes left, very quickly, we do employ GPS so if we’re concerned through the polygraph test or any other evidence that we have with our law enforcement partners or working with the family or working with the community, we put them on GPS and we can follow them that way. We can overlay maps. We can overlay Google earth to see if there’s a playground there and that’s why he’s hanging out, correct?

Tom Williams: Well, that’s part of it. That’s one of several strategies that we use. We don’t want to say that’s something that we do for every person but it’s just one of several.

Len Sipes: I understand, but the larger issue is through treatment and through these supervision strategies and through the small case loads, but particularly treatment, we can in many cases stabilize that individual and minimize that individual’s risk to public safety. That is true, is it not?

Tom Williams: That’s exactly right, and that’s the whole key that we’re working with.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s the goal, the main goal, but also with regards to that is there comes a point in time when a person’s going to complete the services. The important thing is what’s that relapse prevention plan and how can we exercise that plan, and what are your triggers, as Dr .Gates mentioned before, that I need to be attentive to, situations that I need to not be involved in or put myself in where the potential could be for me to reoffend.

Len Sipes: And that’s an extraordinarily important point, Dr. Gates, and in the final minute or so of the program, you give them tools because they’re going to be off supervision at a certain point.

Dr. Celena Gates: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: You give them tools to carry into the future, and that may be possibly the most critical part of treatment.

Dr. Celena Gates: Indeed, I think it is. I think that often we begin the process by thinking about what the end of it will be. Once we have an understanding of who the offender is and what their risk factors are, we’re thinking about what do they need in order to stay out of situations where they talk to people like me or have to meet people like at Mr. Williams’ agency. We want them to be in the community safely, to have developed enough skills and knowledge of what their risk factors are so that they don’t reoffend.

Len Sipes: And once again, it’s all based upon the individual assessment. That’s the key here, and the individual assessment, the individual treatment, the individual supervision strategies, and those individual treatment strategies to carry that person not just a year beyond supervision but 20, 30 years beyond the supervision without reoffending.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Len Sipes: And protecting public safety. That’s the bottom line, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s how we can do our part to ensure that this person is healthy, maintaining good relationships, and not come back within the criminal justice system. We just can’t continue to incarcerate them and expect that’s going to have an effect versus to treatment.

Len Sipes: All right, Tom, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us for this what I consider to be extraordinary discussion on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. Please have that age-appropriate conversation with your children. Please use good judgment in terms of whose home you go into or who you let in your home. Watch for us next time as we look at another very important issue in today’s criminal justice system. Have yourself a pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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National Recovery Month and Parole and Probation-DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system. We currently average 90,000 page views a month.

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2012/09/national-recovery-month-and-parole-and-probation-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Beings]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety; I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, the program today is on National Recovery Month and we have three individuals who really know their stuff in terms of National Recovery Month. We have Kevin Moore, a Supervisory Treatment Specialist for my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Renee Singleton who’s also a Treatment Specialist here at CSOSA, and we have Ronald Smith, he is a graduate of the Secure Residential Treatment Program. He’s been out of that program and for about one year and he’s doing wonderfully. We’re here to discuss National Recovery Month and I do want to remind everybody that there are 700,000 people who leave the prison systems all throughout the United States and the federal system every year. Eighty to 90% of them have substance abuse histories. The question is, if they got the treatment, if they got, whether it’s mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment while in prison, and if they got the mental health and substance abuse treatment out in the community, how much crime could we reduce, how much money can we save tax payers and how many victimizations could we prevent? So the all those questions for Kevin Moore, again, Supervisory Treatment Specialist, Renee Singleton and Ronald Smith. To all three, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Ronald Smith: Thank you.

Renee Singleton: Thank you.

Kevin Moore: Good afternoon. Thank you.

Len Sipes: All right, Kevin, you’re going to start off first. National recovery month is put on by SAMHSA, correct?

Kevin Moore: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And explain to me what SAMHSA is?

Kevin Moore: SAMHSA is a Federal Agency responsible for various treatment initiatives, establishing national protocols and standards for treatment providers and to ensure that there are services in the community to assist with eradicating the use of illicit substances.

Len Sipes: They’re the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. I could never get that right. I’ve been, I’ve been receiving SAMHSA materials for the last 25 years and I always screw up the acronym. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, US Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. So every month they, every year they do Recovery Month. It’s now into its 23rd year, and it highlights individuals who have reclaimed their lives and are now living happy and healthy lives in terms of long term recovery. But this issue of substance abuse, this issue of mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, it’s not the easiest sell, considering the fact that there are budget reductions all over the country. I mean, convincing individuals that treatment is in their best interest, in society’s best interest, in the best interest of the person caught up in the criminal justice system; sometimes that can be a tough sell.

Kevin Moore: Yeah, absolutely. And just as you said in your opening, you know, we have 700,000 individuals returning to the communities each year and you know, one of the things that we feel here at CSOSA is that if we give folks an opportunity at treatment services, then we are providing opportunities to these folks to reclaim their lives, but more importantly, to reduce the possibility of continued criminal lifestyles.

Len Sipes: Right, but this is a national effort, that’s one of the things that I want to make clear, the first issue I want to make in the program. We celebrate recovery, not just here at CSOSA, but all throughout the United States, all throughout the Territories, the whole idea is to get people to understand that recovery is possible and recovery is in society’s best interest.

Kevin Moore: Absolutely. And with this year’s campaign, you know, we just want to reemphasize that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover, providing they are giving opportunity to the services that are out there.

Len Sipes: Now you’re a Supervisory Treatment Specialist, which means that you head up a team of people providing treatment services. This is probably the most difficult job on the face of the earth. I’ve done this, by the way, I ran group in a prison system, I did Jail or Job Core where the judge said, “Go to jail or go to Job Corps.” And I was also a gang counselor in the streets of the city of Baltimore. I know how tough this is to get people off of substances. And so you head up a team of people who face this issue every single day.

Kevin Moore: Absolutely, absolutely. We, I have a team, a staff who are dedicated to working with individuals who, some are motivated, some aren’t motivated, but they, meaning the Treatment Specialists, do what they can, using their clinical skills to guide our clients to entering into treatment and to give them that opportunity to reclaim their lives, deal with their addiction, deal with their mental health issues.

Len Sipes: And you know, interestingly enough, ladies and gentlemen, we have Renee Singleton who is a Treatment Specialist from my agency, the Court Services of Offender Supervision Agency. Renee, we supervise 16,000 offenders on any given day, 24,000 offenders in any given year. Eighty to 90% have histories of substance abuse, so this is a tough task.

Renee Singleton: It is an extremely tough task. That’s why I think it’s one of the great things is that CSOSA offers so many different treatment options for our offenders. Not only do they have the opportunity to participate in treatment services, in outpatient treatment centers, they can also go to our Reentry and Sanction Center and be assessed and be introduced to some evidence based treatment practices and be placed within a residential treatment placement. And we also have our secure residential treatment program which is inside the institution as well as our new After Care and Relapse Prevention Groups.

Len Sipes: One of the things that I want to crow about, because it’s my agency and I guess I’m paid to promote my agency, but whether I’m paid or not, I say this to everybody, we’re an evidence based agency. We’re a best practices agency, so we look at the guidance given to us by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. We look for them to tell us what the state of the art is and we apply that state of the art here at CSOSA. What we do is we really figure out who that person is through a batteries or a series of tests and we match that person to the right treatment – correct?

Renee Singleton: Correct. We used the Addiction Severity Index to conduct assessments. We also use a risk assessment on the supervision side which looks at violence, weapons and sex, there’s substance use history, revocation history, so it takes into consideration all of those factors and within some of the treatment programs there are different assessments that are also used to gauge a person’s response to treatment.

Len Sipes: Because I think that that’s unusual. In my experience, and my 42 years within the Criminal Justice System I’ve seen the vast majority of treatment programs out there and other Criminal Justice Agencies and they’re cookie cutter. They just pile a bunch of people under supervision into a program. We create specialized programs for that individual offender, that person under supervision. I think that’s what makes us unique. Correct?

Renee Singleton: Absolutely. You want to have treatment services that are going to address the client’s needs and to apply a cookie cutter approach is not going to, actually address that individual client. So if you take a program that’s going to meet the client where he’s at, it’s evidence based, and help him to look at his thinking errors, cognitive distortions, substance use history and factors along with that, then that will help the client be successful, not only in treatment recovery, but also on supervision.

Len Sipes: The other unique thing is that we have money for about 25% of our population. Most parole and probation agencies in this country, they don’t have a dime. They don’t have a dime towards treatment. They just basically refer to the local treatment services provider. Now what we do is focus on what, the high risk offenders? That 25% for the people who pose an obvious risk to public safety or have histories of substance abuse, severe histories?

Renee Singleton: Yes, the auto screener takes the risk assessment. So you want to take that risk assessment because we want to look at the overall public safety.

Len Sipes: Right.

Renee Singleton: So in terms of substance use, you want to look at the risk, potential risk for public safety, as well as provide substance abuse treatment for an offender who’s in need.

Len Sipes: Okay. And we have an array of programs, anywhere from detox to residential to, to 28 day stay in terms of an assessment center that we built and then they go into designed, treatment designed specifically for them, correct?

Renee Singleton: That is right. I believe its 45 days for the women and 28 days for the men.

Len Sipes: Okay. And we have an array of other programs here at CSOSA in terms of anger management, educational assistance, vocational assistance, so we try to target the high risk offender, the offender who poses an obvious risk to public safety and we try to target our services, a wide array of services to that person.

Renee Singleton: That’s correct. There are, there is anger management program, which is also offered through CIT, and there’s DVIP, there are Reentry and Sanction Center, which is the 28 day assessment center, or 45 days for men. VOTEE, which offers educational services and vocational placement services. You have the faith based initiative, which also provides services.

Len Sipes: Oh, thanks for bringing that up.

Renee Singleton: And offers training sessions for our offenders.

Len Sipes: Because that’s a key issue. I mean, we have 100 faith institutions in Washington DC and I think the total number the last time I looked was 500 people under supervision have gone through the faith based program. I mean, that’s wonderful, the idea. Kevin, did you want to take this?

Kevin Moore: Yeah.

Len Sipes: That’s wonderful, the idea that you come out of treatment and you’re matched with a mentor.

Kevin Moore: Yeah, absolutely and I just wanted to add that you know, because we only have probations for 25% it’s very important that we use our faith based partners to help us deal with the issues that our clients face, whether it’s addiction or mental health and that mentoring component is very significant in helping the client sustain his productive path as he or she tackles their recovery.

Len Sipes: And we also, the ones that fall outside of the high risk, we refer over to [PH 00:10:41] APPRA, which is the Washington DC’s organization to provide substance abuse treatment and we also rely upon the faith based community. Sometimes they provide treatment and there is Salvation Army, there is the Veteran’s Administration, there’s all sorts of places that we can refer other people to that don’t fall under the category of high risk offender. Wait a minute, just let me get an answer to that question and we’re going to get right over to you in a second, Ronald. So, is that correct?

Kevin Moore: Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay. Ronald.

Ronald Smith: Hello.

Len Sipes: I’ve been looking forward to talking to you.

Ronald Smith: How you doin’?

Len Sipes: You know, get closer to that microphone, get right on top of that mike. You know, you and I were talking before the program; you’ve had quite a drug problem from a fairly early age, correct?

Ronald Smith: Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Smith: You know, I was, I was 14 years old and I was boxin’ and then I got on marijuana, started with marijuana and then I graduated from PCP to heroin.

Len Sipes: Right. Were you involved in criminal activity all throughout that time?

Ronald Smith: Yes, to support my habit.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: What y’all were saying about the programs that Washington DC have – CSOSA, when I was in the Federal System, them guys are like, they goin’ home to Philadelphia and New York and Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, they don’t have the programs that the residents of Washington DC have.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: And it’s a blessing.

Len Sipes: Yeah.

Ronald Smith: You know, and I’m . . .

Len Sipes: I do want to explain in terms of the Federal Prison concept that since we had a change in Washington DC in August of 2000, all people, DC offenders, not just necessarily Federal Offenders, but all DC code offenders now go to Federal Prison, so for somebody listening in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I want to be sure that they understand your reference to Federal Prison.

Ronald Smith: Yeah, because they closed Norton down –

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: And now they sent us to Federal Institutions.

Len Sipes: Well you know, Ronald, look. You’re a success, and thank God you’re a success. It makes the rest of us in the Criminal Justice System celebrate the fact that you’re a success. But today you’re representing all the different people caught up in the Criminal Justice System who have been able to get by drugs. Now you spent how long in the, the, you’re a graduate of the Secure Residential Treatment Program. That was a jail based program, correct?

Ronald Smith: Yes, that’s a six month program.

Len Sipes: Okay, so you graduated from that and why did you go into drug treatment?

Ronald Smith: Why?

Len Sipes: Why.

Ronald Smith: Because I got tired of being homeless. Homelessness – and my treatment specialist, she helped me point out my weaknesses as far as being homeless.

Len Sipes: Right?

Ronald Smith: So with that I learned, it’s, I already had knew what she was teaching me, but I just wasn’t using it and when I was out there, on drugs and drinking alcohol.

Len Sipes: Before the program you said you weren’t ready before and you have to be ready. Anybody entering these sort of programs needs to be ready to make a change, correct?

Ronald Smith: Yes.

Len Sipes: Tell me about that.

Ronald Smith: That’s automatic, because if you don’t want it, then you going to have reservations. You going to be, like you be in jail, they going to [INDISCERNIBLE 00:14:36]. So if you have reservations, then it’s not going to work.

Len Sipes: If we had sufficient money, if we had now, like in CSOSA we have, we can treat 25%, we refer people to other organizations in terms of drug treatment and mental health treatment and other services and its employment services as well, we have partners. Without partners we can’t exist. But if we had not 25% but 35%, 45%, if every person who had a drug history or mental health history, who are caught up in the Criminal Justice System, if they had services for that in prison and when they got out in the community, would it substantially reduce crime?

Ronald Smith: Yes it would. Because you building your foundation while you’re incarcerated. So when you come home, you still got that motivation.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: And when you have that motivation, you can’t be stopped. So every day that I wake up, I thank God for waking me up, and then I go on with my day. Every Monday I call my treatment specialist to check in. You know, I’m not in the program no more –

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: But I still check in and she part of my support system.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: And I build a, I mean, my support system is awesome right now and I stay in contact with these people every day, every week.

Len Sipes: That’s cool, that’s cool. Relapse prevention is part, a big part of the SAMHSA program, part of the CSOSA program, but ladies and gentlemen; I wanted to reintroduce everybody one more time. We’re halfway through the program. Kevin Moore, Supervisory Treatment Specialist, for my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, we’re a Federal Parole and Probation agency providing services here in the nation’s capital. Renee Singleton, she’s a Treatment Specialist, and Ronald Smith is a proud graduate of one of our programs, still under supervision. He’s been out for one year and he’s working and doing fine. Okay, let me go back to you, Ronald.

Ronald Smith: And 22 months clean.

Len Sipes: And 22 months clean. That is so important.

Ronald Smith: It is very important.

Len Sipes: How difficult was it to kick drugs? I mean, you know, people tell me it is one of the most difficult things in the world to kick both drugs and to kick the corner.

Ronald Smith: Yeah, like, it’s, it was a mental, it was mental.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: It’s mental. But I know that I’m addicted to the lifestyle –

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: So. . .

Len Sipes: You’re not just addicted to drugs, you’re addicted to the lifestyle.

Ronald Smith: Lifestyle too.

Len Sipes: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ronald Smith: So I stay away from the lifestyle.

Len Sipes: That’s it.

Ronald Smith: You know what I’m saying? I spend time with family and I have a son and I have a little bouncing little grandson that’s a month.

Len Sipes: Congratulations.

Ronald Smith: So you know, I’m busy.

Len Sipes: And it’s, and now you’re a meaningful part of the lives of your children and your grandchildren instead of being this person who floats in and out of their lives because they’re using drugs.

Ronald Smith: Yes. When my son told me, when I came home, he said, he said, “Dad, when you going to stop goin’ to jail?”

Len Sipes: Yep.

Ronald Smith: I had to, you know, think about that.

Len Sipes: If treatment wasn’t available to you where would you be today?

Ronald Smith: If I didn’t take my treatment seriously?

Len Sipes: Yes.

Ronald Smith: I’d be back in jail or dead.

Len Sipes: In jail or dead or still committing crime?

Ronald Smith: Yes.

Len Sipes: Still using drugs?

Ronald Smith: Yes.

Len Sipes: And you know, Kevin, I’m going to go with you for a second in terms of this larger issue. Again, it is the SAMHSA which is the, under Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They’re setting up National Recovery Month; we’re participating in it as we always do. We feel very strongly about this issue because you know, talking to Ronald, if these programs weren’t available, people would still be committing crime, people would still be victimizing people and it would still be costing taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Kevin Moore: Absolutely. You, Mr. Sipes said, it costs more to incarcerate an individual than to treat the person for their addiction and you know, I’m thankful that this initiative has been in existence for 23 years, but I’m more thankful that CSOSA has embraced recovery month and that we are providing various activities to acknowledge individuals who are in recovery. And you know, SAMHSA, about two years ago, redefined what recovery means and simply put, they states that recovery is a process through which individuals improve their health and well being, that they live a self directed life, and that they attempt to maximize, or they strive to maximize their full potential. And just listen to what Ronald is saying –

Len Sipes: Right.

Kevin Moore: It sounds like he has taken advantage of that and I’m glad that CSOSA was a part of providing that opportunity for him.

Len Sipes: And you know, all of us in this room, we’ve talked to literally, throughout our careers, thousands of people who have crossed the line, who have crossed the bridge. They’re now tax payers, they’re not tax burdens, they’re now supporting their kids, they’re now you know, doing the right thing, they’re full members of their community but they were none of this until they got mental health treatment, until they got substance abuse treatment. Renee, you want to take a shot at that?

Renee Singleton: Yes, I think Mr. Smith is a prime example of how treatment works in regards to just maintaining his recovery and being in compliance with supervision. It’s definitely been a change in how he responded to supervision prior to treatment and now, and he can best attest to that, in regards to being on intensive, maximum, and now minimum supervision.

Len Sipes: Right, he’s come down, he’s worked his way down the chain in terms of how intensely we supervise him.

Renee Singleton: That’s correct, and that’s not also, not just in regards to supervision, but in regards to drug testing as well. So you may start off at a higher level of drug testing, because of your substance use history, and then work down to spot testing and not being required to drug test as frequently. Also, Mr. Smith has been quite modest. He’s taken advantage of a lot of services that CSOSA offers and all of those services have helped him be successful on supervision and in the community. He’s now a taxpayer, he maintains his own house or he’s maintaining housing, stable housing, he’s not in violation in supervision, so he is a prime example of how treatment works.

Len Sipes: Right, he’s everything we want him to be, he’s everything society wants him to be.

Renee Singleton: Now that he’s successful [OVERLAY]

Len Sipes: And then congratulations go out to all of you. Okay, so why is it so dag gone difficult to find money for substance abuse treatment programs? You know, the last survey that I saw, that in prison now, not under community supervision, but in prison, that 80 to 90% of people in prison have histories of substance abuse. 10% are getting treatment. Now, I’ve seen others surveys that said 13%, I’ve seen other surveys that said 16%, it’s a small number that get treatment. Okay, why do we have this dichotomy? If we have individuals who have histories of mental health issues, substance abuse issues, then why aren’t we treating them in the prison system? What’s going on? Why is it a matter of convincing society that this is something that we need to do? We need to give up the money? Any one of you can answer that question.

Kevin Moore: Well, I’ll take a shot at it Mr. Sipes, and you know, within the Criminal Justice Systems, you know, we go through various shifts. You know, every decade or so the philosophy changes. One, we go from rehabilitative concept to the punitive, punishment concept. I think now we are moving back towards the rehabilitation, we’re looking at evidence based practices.

Len Sipes: Right.

Kevin Moore: And so we are educating folks more, but you know, substance abuse and mental health, you know, still poses a stigma to folks and the community has a difficult time of embracing that. I think that you know, though we celebrate National Recovery Month every September for the past 23 years, we need to have a better or more established campaign throughout the year to promote the successes of folks who have recovered from substances and mental health disorders.

Len Sipes: Is it because people just hear bad news about people under supervision and just don’t hear the good news? I mean, what Ronald has done is phenomenal. I mean, I’m looking at an article right now that was written up by somebody in terms of his transitional housing, a Reverend Deborah Thomas Campbell and who just absolutely, absolutely is glowing in terms of Ronald’s recovery, but as he says, if he didn’t have the treatment programs there, the other programs there, he may be dead, he may be in prison, he may be back doing drugs, he may be back doing crime and additional victims are going to have to suffer through those consequences. They don’t have to suffer through it now because he’s sitting by our microphones clean and sober for how many years?

Ronald Smith: A year and 8 months.

Len Sipes: That’s a long time Ronald. Congratulations.

Ronald Smith: Thank you.

Len Sipes: So what are you, so what do you say to the larger society? What message do you give to people who are saying, “Look Leonard, you know, we can’t fund our schools, we can’t fund programs for our elderly, we’ve got 10 tons of people out of work, you know, and you’re now telling me to give more money to substance abuse and mental health treatment programs.” What do you say to that person? Closer to the mike. . .

Ronald Smith: I would tell’em, okay, I’m part of the community.

Len Sipes: Yeah.

Ronald Smith: And I helped mess it up, so you can help straighten it up and then be a mentor to the kids because the generation coming up now, they need some mentoring.

Len Sipes: Yeah, they do.

Ronald Smith: And that’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to do, because I used to box. And drugs, alcohol destroyed my career. That’s ‘cause I wanted to go into the Marines.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: And box in Olympics. But that dream was shattered and I just want to, I want to give back.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: Because same thing with the NANAA, you learn it and then you give it back. So that’s, that’s my philosophy.

Len Sipes: But what people are listening, more from you than from the three of us sitting in this studio right now, they’re saying, “Okay, this is possible. If I give more money, if I support more treatment: either mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, vocational treatment, if I support this, I’m creating a safer society.” Is that right or wrong?

Ronald Smith: That’s right. Because the kids can go out and play. People can go to the store without being robbed.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: I mean, you know, back in the day, DC used to be a nice town but now you can’t, you got to lock your door. Back in the day you used to have your door unlocked. But now you gotta lock it.

Len Sipes: Right.

Ronald Smith: So, times have changed you know.

Len Sipes: And we’ve got to change with those times.

Ronald Smith: Right.

Len Sipes: And provide the substance abuse and treatment services necessary. Kevin, go ahead.

Kevin Moore: Yeah, I was going to say, Mr. Sipes, you know, it’s a windfall if we invest more in treatment. You know, some of the society benefits would include you know, increased productivity of these individuals. As we know, Ronald now is working, he’s a taxpayer.

Len Sipes: Right.

Kevin Moore: You know.

Len Sipes: Right, he’s paying our salaries. Thank you Ronald.

Kevin Moore: Yeah, yeah.

Len Sipes: Thank you Ronald.

[Laughter]

Kevin Moore: You know, with treatment you know, we minimize premature deaths. As Ronald said, if he were to continue on this path to destruction, he would either be incarcerated or dead and also the criminal activity. You know, we reduce the crimes committed in our communities and also we reduce the substance abuse related illness. You know, as we prepare for the Recovery Month, you know, we uncovered some staggering stats and one of the things that stood out to me is that 40% of all the emergency room visits are substance abuse related here in the District of Columbia.

Len Sipes: Right, so we’re talking about reducing the cost of medical care. That would be an obvious benefit.

Kevin Moore: Absolutely. Absolutely. In addition to that, what was even more staggering is that 50% of all the vehicular incidents here in the District of Colombia are related to substance use.

Len Sipes: Abuse, yes.

Kevin Moore: Yeah, so again, you know, by investing in treatment and helping folks recover, we minimize these instances of increased healthcare, premature death, yeah. . .

Len Sipes: Renee, I mean, you’re going to have the final word in this program. What does the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, their guidance, their research, their promotion of the state of the art, what does that mean to us as treatment providers?

Renee Singleton: Definitely provides us with evidence based treatment approaches so we can best assist our clients with being successful in recovery. It also offers us a lot of research and information to train ourselves so we can become more efficient Treatment Specialists and counselors for our clients.

Len Sipes: And the bottom line is, they give us the guidance we need and we implement that guidance.

Renee Singleton: Correct, we do implement the guidance, we use them as a great resource. They provide trainings, information, and so we use them to assist us with our work.

Len Sipes: Renee, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, I really do appreciate you listening to our program on National Recovery Month and how it applies to my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Our guests today have been Kevin Moore, Supervisory Treatment Specialist with CSOSA, Renee Singleton, a Treatment Specialist again, with CSOSA, and Ronald Smith, who I now like an awful lot, who is a very successful person who is now working, a taxpayer, proud grandfather and father and Ronald again, congratulations on your recovery.

Ronald Smith: Thank you.

Len Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety; we appreciate your criticism and comments. We really do thank you for listening. Our website is www.csosa.gov www.csosa.gov. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Hiring Offenders – What Works-DC Public Safety TV

Hiring Offenders – What Works – “DC Public Safety”

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our radio shows, blog and transcripts.

Television Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes:  Welcome to DC Public Safety, I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today’s program is about employing people as they’re released from the prison system.  And ladies and gentlemen, 700,000 people are released every year, each year, from state and federal prisons.  Now the interesting part of this is that 50 percent go back to the prison system after three years.  Those are national statistics.  Concurrently, 50 percent on any given day are unemployed again, according to national statistics.  Every Governor, every Mayor of the country is concerned about this issue, so we’re going to be talking about what it takes to employee people after they leave the prison system.  We have two national experts with us on the first half of the program, P. Elizabeth Taylor, Correctional Program Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections, and Constance Parker, Administrator of the Maryland Reentry Initiative, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and to Pat and to Constance, welcome to DC Public Safety.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Thank you.

Constance Parker:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, now this is an extraordinarily important topic.  As I said in the introduction, Mayors and Governors, all Mayors, all Governors are very concerned about this.  We have massive numbers of people returning to prison every year.  The big concern is finding them jobs.  And I want to get this clear from the very beginning, there are people who have left the prison system, who have left the correctional system; they’re employable; they’re a long time away since their last drug positive or infraction, and some cases they’re years away from their last criminal event.  They have skills; they have honest to God skills, but they’re not finding work because of their criminal history.  Pat, am I right or wrong?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  That is true.  But part of the problem is a lot of times these transitioning adults, these offenders, aren’t aware of what their skills are.  They don’t know what their skills are, and their job providers, their staffs are unaware as well.  So at the National Institute of Corrections, we’re advocating for training, training that will result in a collaborative relationship between the offender, the practitioner and the employer.

Len Sipes:  Well, that is the big thing in the National Institute of Corrections, part of the Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice, you guys, everybody in the correctional field, my field, everybody turns to you all for guidance and direction and thank God for the National Institute of Corrections, you do a great job.  You put out this long series of videos that really do try to get people in local and state systems trained in terms of what it is to find people employment, correct?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Yes, we do.  And in our training series, we start at the beginning which is with collaboration.  And if you redefine collaboration, it no longer becomes what can I get from you as a practitioner, but what can we accomplish together.  So we have the beginning of the training which is the Offender Employment Specialist Training, which helps the practitioner identify their stakeholders, their partners in the field.  Then we go to the Offender Workforce Development Training, and it’s theory based, and it helps the practitioner respond to the basic questions that the offender will bring to the table.  Am I the type of person that an employer will want to hire?  What type of skills do I have?  And when I identify my skills, what type of position should I pursue and how do I go about securing that position?  And once I get that job how do I maintain employment?

Len Sipes:  So first all, the first lesson of today, because I’ve been asked throughout the course of this program to lay out lessons learned.  And ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to put lessons learned all throughout the programs.  All of our guests today have given us lessons learned and we’re going to put them up throughout the program.  So the first thing is train your staff and train your staff well.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  But you mention collaboration, and Constance, I’m going to go over to you for that question, what do we mean by collaboration?

Constance Parker:  Well, what we mean by collaboration is pulling of the resources, the agencies, and the community organizations, the employers, as well as the offenders and ex-offenders, pulling together a team that works together bringing all of their expertise and resource to help increase the opportunity for improved employability of our offender population.  Now breaking that down further what that really means is that when individuals come back into the community, they have a series of barriers, and employment is one of the goals that they have.  However, there may be other barriers that may keep them from achieving that employment –

Len Sipes:  Mental health, substance abuse.  Yes.

Constance Parker:  Yes, housing and other issues.  So what we do is we pull together people with housing, people with child-support enforcement, people at one-stop  career centers, employers, we work together as a team to see how we can assist that individual in becoming more employable.  We utilize employers to let us know what it is they’re looking for.

Len Sipes:  Either one of you can answer this question.  I’ve been doing this for 20 years; it’s not as if they’re embracing our folks, the people that we’re responsible for, people coming out of the prison system, those collaborations are sometimes difficult.  I have been told, “Leonard, we have veterans to take care of, we have the elderly to take care of, we have school children to take care of, we have people who are out of work who haven’t committed a crime, why are we doing anything special for people coming out of the prison system?”

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  But it’s not doing anything special, it’s doing what is right.

Len Sipes:  What is right means what?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  What is right means that you’re looking at public safety, and you’re looking at, and you mentioned the 700,000 people that are coming out, coming back into our community, but there’s also 9 million cycling in and out of our jail systems.  You have 97, 98 percent of all the offender populations coming home.  It is a question of public safety.  It’s the right thing to do to embrace the transitioning person because they are part of the community.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s a very important point.  Because we’re not talking about charity, we’re not talking about asking people for favors, first of all, we’re talking about people with skills who are safe risks, right?  We’re not talking about people coming fresh from the prison system who has an anti-social personality, we’re talking about people who have skills, there’s time between themselves and their last crime and their last infraction and their last positive substance abuse test.  They are employable now.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And the point to be made – and this is what we advocate at the National Institute of Corrections – you must have an ongoing assessment process.  You must assess those risks, those criminogenic risks.  And what we’re finding, and research will prove this, will show this, the same risks that would have resulted in a person losing their job through being fired or just walking off the job are the same type of issues that may lead me back to reoffending or to some type of criminal offense.  So if you have that assessment on the front end, help me identify my barriers, my challenges to self-sufficiency.  And that’s part of the training process at our Institute, at NIC.

Len Sipes:  Now Constance, going back to Pat’s reference to public safety, it is all about public safety.  We’re talking about fewer people committing fewer crimes and fewer people going back to prison.  We’re talking about public safety, we’re talking about saving taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars, not building new prisons, a lot is riding on what we do here today, correct?

Constance Parker:  Yes.  And you talked about public safety and reducing the taxpayers –

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Burden.

Constance Parker:  – burden, however, we’re also increasing the tax level if we are employing people.

Len Sipes:  Right.  And we’re also reconnecting offenders with their kids, because most have kids, so it’s a win-win situation for everybody.

Constance Parker:  It is.  And when Pat was talking about the assessment, one of the things that we do, we have the adult and correctional education as a part of the Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation.  And they have programs within our state prison systems that actually help prepare folks before they come out and there are assessments that are done inside through the transition programs that are there.

Len Sipes:  Another point in all of this that you ladies brought up was the fact that there has to be training.  There has to be programs within the prison system and there has to be programs outside of the prison system to deal with employment, to deal with GED programs, to deal with mental health issues, to deal with substance abuse issues, but we all know that states are cash strapped.  The federal government is cash strapped.  It’s not as if we have enough programs for everybody who needs them.  That’s the other part of the problem.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  This goes back to collaboration.  The only way to do more with less is through collaboration.  So it’s one thing to identify the needs of the person, but what organization or agency out there can better meet that need.  Again, collaboration, what can we accomplish together?

Len Sipes:  Right.  The point we’re saying is that it’s not all government, it can’t be all government, it will never be all government.  The Salvation Army has programs, faith-based institutions have programs.  Literally, in a program that we employ here in Washington, D.C., through my Agency, the faith-based program, we’ve got hundreds of churches and hundreds of offenders involved, and they’re getting all sort of things every single day from child care to housing assistance to job training, through the faith-based community.  So that’s the collaboration we’re talking about, right?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  It is –

Constance Parker:  Yes, and that’s –

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  I’m sorry.

Constance Parker:  But that collaboration, what we are doing is that we’re building that collaboration from the inside out so that we’re bringing in many of those resources prior to a person being released.  In addition, in the Maryland prison system we also have 18 occupational skills trainings that provide individuals who go through those trainings with national and state certification so when they come out they have a marketable skill.  And very often, we work to connect them with employers prior to their release.

Len Sipes:  What’s our message to employers, ladies?  Training has to be there, collaboration has to be there, we need to have our folks trained in terms of, say, motivational techniques.  I mean some of the folks coming out of prison, they don’t trust us, they don’t trust anybody.  They’re very caustic.  They’ve been in the prison system.  We’ve got to motivate them to find the different things that are out there, we’ve got to encourage them, we have to supervise them.  So that’s part of it, that’s part of the training part of it right, Pat?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And that brings me to the third tier of our training which is the Offender Retention Training, which blends together motivational interviewing techniques with a cognitive behavioral process.  And so quite simply what we’re saying is that if I change the way I communicate with you and develop a relationship with you, me as a practitioner, there’s a client centered, non-threatening relationship.  And because of our tone of our conversation, I’m able to look at the connection between my feelings and my connections in my behaviors.  And if done correctly, we’re talking about a hand off.  So my case management by combining motivational interviewing with cognitive behavioral therapy, or support, results in self-management.

Len Sipes:  Cognitive behavioral therapy.  Now all three of us know, because we read the literature, that it really does work.  Constance, you tell me what is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Constance Parker:  I knew you were going to ask me that!  It’s really helping an individual look at their behavior patterns and make choices as to what they want to change and how to change it.

Len Sipes:  Thinking through things differently, learning how to look at life’s issues differently, learning how to think through life’s problems differently, learning how to shape the background that brought them into the prison system to begin with –

Constance Parker:  And part of that training talks about change talk.  So when you get folks able to, in a situation, begin to hear themselves and change the way they would have approached that particular problem.  And as you begin to say things differently, and you begin to hear it, you begin to move in that direction.  The other thing is this training is important because we’re training the professionals who are working with the individuals.  Without that piece it would make no sense.  If we, as professionals, don’t know how to relate to an individual, don’t know how to help that individual find within themselves the ability to make that change, then we’re doing a disservice.  We can’t change anyone.

Len Sipes:  Okay, we have to wrap up soon.  What I’m hearing is train the staff, train the offender, go through that thinking process and join in a collaborative effort with everybody in the community to try to help that person as much as humanly possible and to find that person work, correct?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Right.  And understand from the employer’s perspective.  We’re living in an employer driven workforce right now.

Len Sipes:  Yes, we are.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And we need to understand what their needs are.  The old way of doing things, the face them and place them, did not work, it will never work.  That is how we operated.  As we develop these collaborative relationships with employers, they need to know that we are truly developing this partnership with them.  We will do our work on the front end, we will find out about your industry, we know about labor market information, we’re not attempting to dump people.

Len Sipes:  And we have to close on that, ladies.  Thank you very much for being with us.  And ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.  Watch for us in the second half when an individual from my Agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, who is in charge of the process of finding people employment when they leave the prison system and a person who hires offenders leaving the prison system.  They’ll be with us in the second half.  Please stay with us.

Len Sipes:  Hi, welcome back to DC Public Safety, I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes.  We continue to talk about this whole concept of employing people as they leave the prison system.  As I said at the beginning of the first part of the program, 700,000 people leave prison systems all throughout the United States and the federal system, half go back after three years and on any given day about half seem to be employed.  In the first half, we had two national experts talk about principal points that everybody needs to understand in terms of making sure that as many of these individuals as possible are employed upon release.  In the second half, we have people from Washington, D.C., my Agency, Tony Lewis, an Employment Specialist with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and Furard Tate, Owner of Inspire Food Management, and Tony and Furard, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Furard Tate:  Thank you, very much.

Tony Lewis:  Thank you, very much.

Len Sipes:  Hi, Tony, the first question goes to you.  You’re part of a team that finds individuals work.  They’re under our supervision.  They can be on parole, they could be on mandatory, they could be on probation, you’re working with employers.  How difficult is that?

Tony Lewis:  Pretty difficult.  But at the same time, in the VOTEE unit, we do a lot of work on the front end in terms of assessments from a literacy standpoint, skillset standpoint, and also from a behavioral standpoint to make sure that when we do refer individuals for positions that they’re one, ready, that they’re capable and also that they’ve shown to us that they’re committed to changing their lives.  So I think when we do that we give ourselves a better shot but at the same time it’s a very difficult situation.

Len Sipes:  The message I gave in the first half, does it apply?  There are individuals who are years away from their last criminal activity, years away from their last positive drug test, they have no infractions, they have real skills, but they’re not finding work because of their criminal history.  They’re perfectly employable, they’re not a risk to public safety, but they’re not finding work.  Is that accurate?

Tony Lewis:  That is very accurate.  Very accurate.  We have individuals that are extremely employable, ready to work right now, can come in and help a business grow, increase the productivity of a company, but sometimes, or most times, their criminal history kind of gets in the way of that.  And we, myself, people like me, people in the VOTEE unit, we try to develop relationships with employers such as Mr. Tate and other employers so that they believe in us enough to give somebody a shot.

Len Sipes:  And a quick summation.  Everything that our national experts suggested on the first half, we do the assessments, we provide GED skills, we provide cognitive-behavioral therapy or thinking for change skills, we work with the individual to try to improve their skills as much as humanly possible before we send them out to the job interview, correct?

Tony Lewis:  That’s very correct.  And the experts before us were very on point about what’s necessary to make this work.  And we also try to do research in terms of market research and research what the employers need and present that to the employer.  I think when we do that we put the employer in a situation where they feel comfortable enough to say, “Hey, because this guy has the skillset from a business standpoint.”  I think that’s the most important thing, can this person come in and do the job.  And it’s not a sense of entitlement on behalf of the offender, it’s we have what you need.

Len Sipes:  Before going over to Mr. Tate, I did want to point out that on our website, www.csosa.gov, www.csosa.gov, on the front page of the website, we have been hiring people under supervision.  And we have radio shows, television shows, we have information about tax credits, because there are tax credits available –

Tony Lewis:  Federal bonding programs.

Len Sipes:  Federal bonding programs, so all of that information is available on our website.

Tony Lewis:  And our number.

Len Sipes:  And your number.  But it doesn’t matter whether the program is being seen in Honolulu, Kansas City, or in Washington D.C., I just want everybody to know that that information is available on the website about the tax program, the bonding program and the tax program, because these are federal programs.

Tony Lewis:  Right.  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  Mr. Tate?

Furard Tate:  Hey, how are you?

Len Sipes:  I’ve been looking forward to talking to you.

Furard Tate:  Come on.

Len Sipes:  First of all, you’ve got a great website which we’re going to be throwing up on the screen.  I could not look at that site without feeling hungry.

Furard Tate:  All right.

Len Sipes:  That’s some of the most beautiful pictures of meat I’ve ever seen in my life!

Furard Tate:  Wait until you taste it!

Len Sipes:  I am.  I’m going to have to stop by.

Furard Tate:  Please do.

Len Sipes:  Now, from an employer’s perspective –

Furard Tate:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  We’re the government, we’ve got people out of the prison system, we have people involved in the Criminal Justice System, and we want you to consider hiring these individuals.  We don’t say it from a public safety point of view, we don’t say it from the standpoint that this is the right or the wrong thing to do, we’re just saying we are going to help you find the right person.  Do you buy that?

Furard Tate:  No.  I still say why.  But that’s why business owners have to look beyond all the great training that you all provide and still find what’s in it for the business owner and what’s in it for the person that you’re about the present to me.  We have to find that match.  We have to find that win-win.  So a lot of times, when you think about all the back end support that these individuals are getting, you still have to do the work as a business owner to make sure that it’s a perfect match.  You want to know that this individual has the skill and the desire to do the job that your company needs to take the company to the next level.  So it’s on you also now to begin to be a part of that whole connection to make a win-win for everybody.

Len Sipes:  But how do we establish that?  How do we, in government, how does Tony, the people that Tony works with, how do we in government convince you that we’ve got a person that you should be willing to take a look at?

Furard Tate:   He does it excellently.  We develop a relationship far before he brings the individual to me.  He finds what my needs are.  He understands what my business model, and what is my mission, and the culture of my company, be it a small company or a large company, there’s an environment.  So before you try to fit someone in, because he has a caseload with individuals ready to work, he understands what my needs are.  So he can articulate that to a group of individuals who are ready and eager to be employed.

Len Sipes:  All right.  So it’s our responsibility, in government, to bring you our best possible candidates and to work with you ahead of time and establish that relationship.

Furard Tate:  You have one chance.

Len Sipes:  One chance.

Furard Tate:  Because if not, you will actually destroy so much that I’ve built if you give me the wrong person.

Len Sipes:  Right.  Okay so really a heck of a lot rides on this.  What do you tell people caught up in the Criminal Justice System?  What do you tell the offenders?  What are the lessons that they need to know and what do they need to understand?

Furard Tate:  Get focused.  Identify what it is that you want to do, get educated on that.  There may not be a degree for it, but get focused on it, get educated and then get pumped up for you beginning to look at what are the available opportunities out there.  So you need to be even more aggressive in finding that employment than the people who are helping you.

Len Sipes:  So many of the employers that I’ve talked to in my career, they said bring me attitude.  I can teach a person bricklaying, I can’t teach a person attitude.  That person’s got to come, be on time every single day, he’s got to smile, she’s got to be cooperative, they got to be willing to work overtime, I don’t want to hear any drama, that’s what people need to understand, correct?

Furard Tate:  Well, it gets hot in the kitchen.  But if an individual is excited about becoming a chef, he loves the heat.  So he’s already excited about being in that kitchen, and he’s going to beat me to the kitchen.  So if we find that perfect individual, we got to go through a few individuals who just have the notion of being a chef, but the desire for being that chef isn’t there.  So whatever that business is, there’s someone out there who really wants that job.  Who’s going to show up on time, who’s going to perform and who’s going to do excellent work because it’s in them to be excellent.

Len Sipes:  Tony, now in terms of our conversations with employers, we have a problem getting people employed.  So obviously, when I talk to Mr. Tate and his enthusiasm, and Lord knows I love your enthusiasm as much as I love your website, as much as I love your product, we have a problem getting people employed.  They’re perfectly employable skilled people.  We’re not talking about the person fresh out of prison, we’re not talking about the antisocial personality, we’re talking about a person who’s ready for work.  So obviously, all the things that we’ve discussed today between the national experts and ourselves, there’s a bit of a disconnect, we’re not convincing enough people to give us a chance.

Tony Lewis:  I think the issue is, I think we need more involvement from the business community in some of these discussions.  Because a lot of the hiring policies are what the issues are.  It’s not always the individuals.  The individuals are ready to go.  Sometimes these companies, their hiring policies say you can’t have a felony.  And if that’s the case, no matter how qualified an individual is, that person can’t work there.  So right now, I feel that’s the biggest problem, we have to kind of work on the hiring policies of small and big business in the District of Columbia, and I guess nationwide.

Len Sipes:  But I mean how do you work on these hiring policies?  A lot of people are saying, “I just watched “Lock Up’ Up” on the cable channel last night, and I’m not hiring anybody from prison.  I’m sorry, I don’t care if they can spin gold.”

Tony Lewis:  Which I understand.  But I think we have to do a better job of highlighting so many success stories.  We have numerous success stories.  People that have come home from prison, from incarceration, done amazing things on all levels from a lot of different industries and also in the community.  We have to show that the person that you see on ‘America’s Most Wanted’ or ‘Lock Up’, that’s not the only perception of this population.

Len Sipes:  We’ve both talked to, throughout our careers at this point thousands of people who have successfully made the transformation from tax burden to taxpayer.  They’re working, they’re taking care of their kids –

Tony Lewis:  A whole lot.  They labor.  But what happens is, I think, when we talk about that, that success story can never have as much impact as the person that chooses to reoffend.  And that’s what we have to, we have to continue to hold those people up so that we get to a point where they begin to influence the perception as much as the negative images that we see.

Len Sipes:  Well, Mr. Tate says that one, just one screws up the whole process.

Furard Tate:  But see, I have more than one who has been with me for over ten years that started just out of an introduction.  So it’s hard to not let that one stop you.  But the fact of the matter is if I understand that this individual is on purpose, and it’s going to help me meet my bottom line, I’d be foolish not to give him or her an opportunity to be a part of this company to grow it.

Len Sipes:  But that’s what we have to do, we have to appeal to the bottom line.  I’m not quite sure we have to appeal to messages of public safety – and this is what this is all about, the conversation is about public safety, the conversation is not them going back to the prison system, the conversation is not about saving taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars, for us that’s very important, for you it’s the bottom line.  You’re a business person.

Furard Tate:  Well, that person is working eight hours plus he doesn’t have the time to reoffend, he’s working.  And then –

Len Sipes:  And he sees a future.

Furard Tate:  And he sees a future.  Because we make sure that each person is connected to not only our company, but to their own personal success.  So we’re asking individuals, because we, as a business owner, I have to be really aware of where he or her future lies and how I’m part of that.

Len Sipes:  What’s the biggest detriment?  Because I’ve talked to guys who’ve come out, they’re 35 years old, and says, “Man, I’m not going to be taking an entry-level position at 35, I’ve got a family to take care of, I’ve got myself to take care, I’m not,” that’s the wrong way of looking at it, correct?

Tony Lewis:  I think a great deal of that falls, we’re talking about their cognitive behavior, therapy, things of that nature, motivation, interviewing, therefore a lot of that falls on an individual like myself in the VOTEE unit because what we have to be clear on is that we have to explain to our clients that, hey, listen, you have to be willing to crawl before you walk.  That attitude is the wrong one to have.  And at the end of the day some of our guys, whether you have the skillset or not, you have to be accountable for what you’ve done and be willing to show and prove that you want to take whatever steps that are necessary to reenter society in a positive way, and that family needs to be the motivation that will make you take whatever job that is available.

Len Sipes:  We talked with the national experts about the fact that there has to be training programs in the prison system, there has to be training programs on the outside.  We talked about the fact that there’s got to be staff training.  We’ve talked about the fact that there’s got to be collaboration, and the two of you talked about that collaboration.  Before you hired anybody, Mr. Tate, you were in collaboration with Tony, and that’s the way that it works.  And then the final message in all of this is to the offender himself or herself.  You’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to be willing to work and if that means starting off at the very bottom all over again to build those skills, those people skills, those service skills, the ability to get along with your supervisor, work well with a team, those are the skills that you’re trying to reestablish, right?

Tony Lewis:  Absolutely.

Furard Tate:  And don’t look at it as the bottom.  Because if you’re doing what you want to do, if you’re doing whatever that industry is, this is where you’re starting, where you end up, it all relies on your ability to be excellent and do more than is expected.  So I tell people be motivated, be pumped up, be your best.  And I purposely guarantee you’ll see me, before I suit on, grilling in the morning, so don’t let where you are be such a downer because where you’re going to go, it all is up to you.

Len Sipes:  And it’s all part of being in a positive environment too.  Because what you’re talking about, Mr. Tate, is a very positive environment.

Furard Tate:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, thank you for being with us, really appreciate it.  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us, watch for us next time as we explore another very important topic in today’s Criminal Justice System.  Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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Sexual Exploitation of Children-DC Public Safety-US Department of Justice

Sexual Exploitation of Children – “DC Public Safety”

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our radio shows, blog and transcripts.

Television Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2011/07/sexual-exploitation-of-children-dc-public-safety/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes:  Hi, everybody.  Welcome to D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today’s show is about sexual exploitation of children, and you know what?  It’s really about a rescue mission.  The FBI estimates that on any given day there’s a million pedophiles online looking for your children.  The attorney general, Eric Holder, what he did was to frame a national effort to look at what we can do, what we in the criminal justice system can do, and to look at what you as parents can do.  To discuss this on the first half of the program, we have Francey Hakes.  She is the national coordinator for child exploitation, prevention, and interdiction from the U.S. Department of Justice, and we have Dr. Michael Bourke, chief psychologist for the United States Marshal’s office, and to Francey, and to Michael, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Francey Hakes:  Thank you for having us.

Len Sipes:  All right, did I frame all this issue?  I mean, we have a lot of people, a lot of concern, a lot of individuals involved in exploiting our children.  So can you frame it for me a little bit, Francey?  And can you give me a sense as to the national effort as announced by the attorney general, Eric Holder?

Francey Hakes:  Of course.  Some people have described the sexual exploitation of our children as an epidemic.  I would certainly describe the explosion of child pornography that way.  So last August, the attorney general, Eric Holder, announced our national strategy for child exploitation, prevention, and interdiction.  It’s the first ever national strategy by any government in the world, and it’s certainly our first.  It’s supposed to have three prongs: prevention, deterrence, and interdiction.  What we decided to do is bring together all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, all our prevention partners, all our sex offender management partners, our court partners, and most importantly, our parents and community groups together to bring this effort under one umbrella so that we can fight child sexual exploitation on all fronts.

Len Sipes:  The numbers that I’m talking about, they’re going up dramatically.  The numbers are astounding.  We’re talking about a huge number of individuals trying to violate our kids on a day to day basis, and when I say violate, we’re talking about psychological and physical bondage, are we not?

Francey Hakes:  Unfortunately, the children that are being sexually abused, especially the ones whose images are being traded like baseball cards across the internet, across the world, are being violated in increasingly violent ways, and we’re seeing increasingly younger and younger children being violated that way, and that is the reason that the attorney general and all of our partners decided to get together and start this effort, so that we could do something about it, and our ultimate goal is to eradicate child exploitation ultimately.

Len Sipes:  Michael, you’re the chief psychologist for the United States Marshal’s office.  You are an expert.  You understand these individuals; child sexual predators probably better than anybody else.  Who are they?

Michael Bourke:  Well, for eight years, prior to coming to the Marshal Service, I treated these men in federal prison, and the truth is there isn’t really one mind of a predator, you know, so to speak.  These men come in from all walks of life, they’re from all socioeconomic groups, they’re both genders, frankly, and these men tend not to burn out like other types of offenders do.  So really, when we talk about what is the sex offender, they, they’re folks that are our neighbors; they’re folks that are our coaches and civic leaders in our communities in some cases.  So they, most individuals that offend against children are actually known to those children and some have a very positive relationship in other ways with those children.

Len Sipes:  Well, help me frame it Michael, because on one hand, we have, according to the FBI, a million pedophiles online, and they’re trying to entice these kids into meetings, and they’re trying to entice them to exchange images.  These images are going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.  On the other hand, most sexual exploitations involved people who were known to the victim.  They’re the neighbor.  They’re the uncle.  They’re the coach.  I mean, what do you say to parents?  I mean, the numbers seem to be overwhelming.  What are the chief lessons to be learned here, and what prevention lessons can we put on the table?

Michael Bourke:  Yeah, I think, and Francey may have something to add to this, but from my experience, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online.  They need to be aware of who their friends are online, with whom they’re chatting at night, they should be paying as close attention to those friends as they do if their child’s going to go spend the night at someone’s home, and frankly, a lot of parents are a little intimidated by some of this advanced technology on the internet, children have a lot of access and avenues by which to access the internet, including mobile devices, and parents need to just get a little, get some additional education, and they need to pay attention to what these kids are doing online.  It’s a very dangerous place.

Len Sipes:  They’ve got to be aggressive.  We run, by the way, in this program, we run a commercial about parents intervening with their kids and their online experiences, but the parents need to be aggressive.  Is that the bottom line?  I mean that’s the principal prevention method, if parents are aggressive in terms of what their kids are doing, and keeping an open line of communication, so if that child is approached, he can go to the parent and tell the parent about this experience.  Am I right or wrong?

Michael Bourke:  Yes, I think that’s accurate.  And also that relationship is very important between the parent and child as well.  For the parent to have a relationship with the child where the child feels comfortable coming to the parent and saying, someone attempted to solicit, or asked me to send them a dirty picture.

Len Sipes: Right.

Michael Bourke: or something like that, so that the parent can take action because so much can occur despite parents best efforts…

Len Sipes:   Right.

Michael Bourke: these children can access the internet in a number of locations in a number of ways.

Len Sipes: Right.

Michael Bourke:  so building that relationship and that type of rapport with the child is very important.

Len Sipes:  Francey, you mentioned at the beginning of the program that The Department of Justice, for the first time, is bringing a coordination of effort in terms of parents, in terms of community organizations, in terms of law enforcement, in terms of everybody within the criminal justice system.  What is the bottom line behind that coordination, is it to be a more effective tool for prevention, a more effective tool for apprehension and prosecution?  What is it?

Francey Hakes:  Well, like I said, in the beginning, it’s really three prongs.  There are three main focuses of the national strategy: prevention, deterrence, and interdiction.  Interdiction is traditional law enforcement investigation and prosecution.  I’m a federal prosecutor, and I’ve been prosecuting these cases for 15 years.  That’s obviously very important and will continue to be very important.  But we’re never going to investigate and prosecute our way out of the problem.  The numbers are simply too large.  So deterrence is very important, and that’s where the United States Marshal Service and others, our state and local partners, through their sex offender management and monitoring, they are so key, and one of our best tools is going to be prevention.  We’d rather not have the victims to have to rescue in the first place.  We’d rather the children be empowered to protect themselves.  We’d rather the parents have the tools that they need to know how to protect their children, and so that’s why organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Netsmarts, these organizations give out free materials, they have websites, they give out free materials for parents, teachers, students, and groups to obtain the information that they need to protect themselves online.  It’s not just the parents, it’s not just the students, it’s not just the teachers.  It’s all of those groups, plus our community groups, that need to have the materials necessary to protect themselves, not just online, but in their day to day activities, I think sometimes in this internet world, we’ve become, and Dr. Burke is correct, that children have access to the internet through so many devices now that it’s, sometimes, I think, a little terrifying.  But we also have to remember that the majority of children who are being sexually abused are being abused by those that they know, and so arming them with the knowledge, the empowerment, the understanding of what is right and what’s wrong and what’s okay to tell, who to go to, a trusted adult, those things are very important.

Len Sipes:  Having those age appropriate conversations with the kids, informing them, but not scaring them.

Francey Hakes:  Exactly right.

Len Sipes:  Now, so all these statistics that I mentioned at the beginning of the program, one million pedophiles, and a 914% increase in the number of child prostitution cases,  do we have the capacity to deal with this?  Is the criminal justice system at the federal, state, and local level overwhelmed by this process?  Do we have the wherewithal to deal with this effectively, or are we fighting an uphill battle?

Francey Hakes:  Well I think, sometimes in prosecution, we always used to call it shoveling smoke because it seems like the more you shovel, the more that there is. And I think with respect to child sexual abuse it’s been around for a long time, we hope that we can eradicate it, and where I think, we’ve started well, we’re on a good path.  Are we somewhat overwhelmed?  I think it’s overwhelming.  I don’t think we’re overwhelmed.  There are huge amounts of effort going on at the federal, state, and local level, but the key here is what the national strategy was designed to produce, and that is partnerships, collaboration, and cooperation at all levels of government, including globally.  This has become, of course, an international problem with the advent of the internet.

Len Sipes:  A global issue, right.

Francey Hakes:  It is an absolutely global issue.  And so we’re working with industry on ways to solve the problem.  You probably heard the announcement last week from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Facebook and Microsoft.  Microsoft has invented a new technology called Photo DNA.  They donated it to the National Center.  The National Center, in turn, gave it to Facebook, and Facebook is going to employ this technology throughout their systems which will search for and find known images of child pornography so that they can be eradicated from their systems.

Len Sipes:  Wonderful.  Michael –

Francey Hakes:  So these are things that we have to do to work together and really think creatively between law enforcement, community, and industry.

Len Sipes:  Michael, can we persuade people who are child sex offenders, who are pedophiles, not to get involved in this, or is that drive, that’s going to be with them for the rest of their lives–can the system have an impact on their behavior?  Can we persuade them not to do this–that we’re taking sufficient actions that’s likely for them to get caught, can we persuade them not to do this?

Michael Bourke:  Yeah, it’s a great question, Leonard.  I think the answer is, it’s fairly multifaceted, but the short answer is that there is no cure for pedophilia.  There’s no cure for these fantasies and these drives, per se.  There is, however, for any of these individuals, a possibility of managing that behavior.  This is not something inevitable, this is a choice, these men are responsible for those choices, and women, and we can assist them in doing that with creative external management.  By that, I mean things like the registrations and outpatient treatment programs and things like that.  With proper external management and proper internal management, these men are capable of living a life in which they never harm a child.

Len Sipes:  Right, so treatment does work.  That’s one of the things I did want to get across.  Treatment does work, and we within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, our sex offender agency, we’re going to talk about that with two people involved in that unit on the second half, but treatment does work,  we can really persuade individuals who are on the edge.  The commercial that will run between the first and second half, we’ll talk about ìwhen did you become a child sex predator?î  Obviously, we’re under the opinion that we can persuade people who are on the edge not to do this.  This is wrong; you’re going to get locked up.  We can meaningfully intervene.

Michael Bourke:  Right, well there are individuals that, with those proper things in place, have a choice not to re-offend.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Michael Bourke:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  The final part of it is aggressive prosecution.  We need to go after them in every way shape and form and that’s what we’re trying to do with the federal, state, and local level, is to set up these dummy operations to pretend that you’re the 14 year old, the 13 year old, to monitor whatever it is that we can monitor, and to go after these people and arrest them and prosecute them.  Is that correct?

Francey Hakes:  Well that’s right, and that’s one of the reasons why we place such a high emphasis on technology and training for our law enforcement and for our prosecutors, because this is often a very high-tech crime, and we need a high tech solution, and that’s why we’re working with industry on things like I talked about, the Photo DNA initiative, but there are lots of other tools that law enforcement uses to keep up with the bad guys who are trying to assault our children.  There are very sophisticated groups out there that have banded together to discuss their deviant fantasies and to plan ways to sexually assault children, and we have to find ways to be just as sophisticated to break their encryption, to get into their passwords, to find a way to infiltrate these groups, and we are doing that at the national level in order to make clear to these would-be predators that they have nowhere to hide, and that’s why it’s so important for us to have very strong, firm sentences as well, because that is part of our deterrent prong.

Len Sipes:  Okay, we have one minute.  So through the national effort, for what attorney general Eric Holder announced, the Office of Justice Programs, US Marshals Office, Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, we can look them in the eye and say that we’re gaining ground, that we have the wherewithal to come after you guys.  Stop it.

Francey Hakes:  I think the message is, to the would-be pedophile out there is you’re probably talking to a law enforcement officer, and watch out for the knock at your door.

Len Sipes:  Cool.  Michael?

Michael Bourke:  I agree.  United States Marshal Service has also set up what we call the National Sex Offender Targeting Center.  It’s a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary intel and operational hub.  We’re looking in all corners for these men.  We are going after them when they fail to register, and we’re putting all of our efforts toward this problem.

Len Sipes:  We have to close now.  I really appreciate this stimulating conversation.  Ladies and gentlemen, Francey Hakes, National Coordinator for the Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction from the US Department of Justice, Dr. Michael Bourke, Chief Psychologist for the United States Marshals Office.  Stay with us on the second half of the program as we talk to individual parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers, who supervise sex offenders on a day to day basis.  Please stay with us.

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Len Sipes:  Welcome back to D.C. Public Safety.  I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to explore this topic of sexual exploitation of children.  The first half, we talked to two individuals from the Department of Justice, and we framed the numbers, and the numbers are truly staggering, but what does that mean in terms of the local level?  We talked about the importance of partnerships, and we talked about the importance of people at the local level enforcing laws and providing treatment services.  To talk about what it is that we do here within the District of Columbia; we have two principals with us today.  We have Ashley Natoli, a community supervision officer for the sex offender unit of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Kevin Jones, another community supervision officer for the sex offender unit, and to Ashley and Kevin welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Ashley Natoli:  Thank you.

Kevin Jones:  Thank you for having us.

Len Sipes:  All right, Ashley, give me a sense as to this issue of the sex offender unit.  What is it that we do?  What is it that we do in the District of Columbia that’s unique?

Ashley Natoli:  Well, we supervise offenders who have either been convicted of a sex offense, had an arrest for a sex offense, or an offense that is sexual in nature.  They come to our unit and are supervised in our unit.  There is roughly about 450 active cases in our unit right now, about 670 total of all sex offenders right now.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is what we at CSOSA do, and this is different from a lot of parole and probation agencies throughout the country, is that if you’ve had a sexual conviction in the past, not your current charge, but 15 years ago, if you had a sexual conviction, or if you had an arrest, you come to the sex offender unit, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  All right.  Kevin, I want to talk to you.  This is something that’s intrigued me from the very beginning of my time in corrections, that is, is that so many of the offenders on the sex offender unit are so compliant.  They dress well, they work, they show up on time, they dot their I’s, they cross their T’s, and they give every appearance of people who are compliant vs. other offenders, sometimes it’s pretty obvious that they have issues.  With the sex offender unit, the sex offenders, they can give the impression that nothing’s wrong with me, just spend your time with more troublesome people.  You don’t have to really spend that much amount of time with me, look at me, I do everything right.  Am I in the ballpark?

Kevin Jones:  You’re in the ballpark exactly, Leonard.  These guys are the most compliant guys on our caseloads.  They actually drug test as scheduled, always on appointments, on time.  They’re in the office, they appear to be, have all their ducks in a row.  I think our main focus is, what are you after you leave our office?  So that’s why we use a lot of our safety tactics, are that, we have a lot of collateral contacts with the offenders and the offenders’ families, and we really get to see what kind of guys they are once they leave our office.

Len Sipes:  Now, I guess I shouldn’t brag, but then again, I am the host of the program, and this is our agency, so I am going to brag.  We have one of the best sex offender units in the country, in my opinion, and what I’ve heard that from a lot of people, one of the best sex offender units.  We have very high levels of contact.  We drug test the dickens out of them, we submit them, they have to submit to lie detector tests, polygraphs.  We put them in treatment, sometimes through the treatment process we find out about other things, we search their computers.  We put them under surveillance, if necessary; we work with local law enforcement in terms of joint supervisions.  We go to their home unannounced.  You guys do it, and sometimes with our partners in the Metropolitan Police Department, they’re under a lot of supervision, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and what does that do for that person, either one of you?

Kevin Jones:  That person, as we do unscheduled contacts, it kind of keeps them off balance. Again, he has to be held accountable for, if he has no contact with minors, we assure that by doing home visits, and when we’re in home visits, we’re actually looking for things that might kind of be off the beat, maybe a possible toy, things of that nature in someone’s home, and at that point, they’re questioned.

Len Sipes:  Now it’s also extraordinarily difficult, at the same time, with handheld computers, commonly known as smartphones.  I mean, the smartphone that I carry every day is as powerful as a desktop computer five years ago.  You can do anything you want with a smartphone.  So yeah, we have the right to search their computers, but they may not be operating off their computers.  They may be operating off of a portable device, correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  How do you deal with that?

Ashley Natoli:  We look at the smartphones and the handheld devices similar to a computer.  We have the ability to search those just as we would a computer, and in most instances, the offenders will be having these handheld devices as opposed to having a computer,

Len Sipes:  Right. And the other thing that we are aware of too is a lot of the gaming consoles, such as Play Station 3’s, can be manipulated into being a computer as well, so we have to be looking out for a lot more than just a laptop in the home.  We have to be looking into what they’re using as a phone, what they have, and then we’re asking the questions and following up with the searches.  And that becomes the intriguing part of this, because it truly is a cat and mouse game.  Now I don’t want to overplay my hand here.  These individuals, in many cases, are compliant.  You’re supervising them, they are in treatment, treatment does work, you can take individuals, and they can control their impulses.  They don’t necessarily have to be out there offending.  But this is truly the, Dr. Bourke mentioned it in the first half, this is the master psychological game.  It is a psychological game, is it not, of cat and mouse, of looking for nuances of listening to individual little things that may not mean that much to another community supervision officer, but to you, means a lot.  Am I right or wrong?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Kevin Jones:  Yeah, that’s correct.

Ashley Natoli:  A lot of these offenders, they are masters of manipulation and deception, and that’s, in most instances, in a lot of instances, how they ended up offending in the first place, because they have an incredible ability to groom these victims, and they’ve mastered the art of manipulation, and so we have to be aware of that so we aren’t taken advantage of.

Len Sipes:  Well, tell me a little bit about the grooming of the victims, because we didn’t get involved in that in the first half.  They will go online with them, and they will have, not just hours of conversations, but days or weeks or months of conversation before they ask for a photograph, or then that photograph moves on to a more sexually suggestive photograph.  This is a process.  They’re very patient individuals.  Correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.  A lot of the guys that are in the grooming process while on sex offender treatment, a lot of that comes out in the treatment process, and once you find out that a guy might be on supervision, an offender might be on supervision for one offense, during that sex offender treatment process, you will find out that this offender has had multiple victims that he has proposed and that he has groomed, and this makes this offender a little more dangerous than what, from the outside, what it looks like to just this one victim.

Len Sipes:  And again, I mean, the idea of going in unannounced, putting on a GPS tracking device, but all of that, we talk about the technology, and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with the technology, it strikes me, the most important ingredient we have here in terms of protecting the public is the savviness of the people who are supervising these sex offenders.  Do I have it right?  It really doesn’t matter about the computer part, the GPS, and the tracking devices, and the lie detector tests, what really matters is your ability to read the tea leaves as to whether or not this person is truly compliant or not.  Am I right or wrong?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.  You have to be very patient and very thorough and leave no detail unturned.  Like with the GPS, we’re not just looking at, are they complying with their curfew, are they charging their device, we’re looking at, where are they going during the daytime.  So you actually look at all their tracks so you can know, did this offender go to the park, or was this offender near a school, so we’re aware of that, and we can put alerts on there so it helps us to identify that, but we have all this information, and if we’re not doing the right thing with it, then

Len Sipes:  And the neat thing about it is we can overlay Google Earth, so we’re taking a look at that intersection, and we’re not quite sure he’s hanging out at the intersection, but when we overlay Google Earth, a-ha, there’s a playground that didn’t show up on a regular map.  So we do have the technology tools to try and keep up with the individuals, but it’s really is more understanding who that person is.  How long does it take until you get a sense as to that sex offender?  How long does it take before you feel that you’re inside that person’s head, that person’s mind, that person’s modus operandi?

Kevin Jones:  Well, again, with the treatment modal-, coupled with the GPS, you can probably feel your offender out, I guess, in about two months, maybe, to that nature, and a lot of it is, you’re questioning his every move, which makes him uncomfortable, which is, at the same time, holds him accountable for where he’s going, so as long as he’s knows that he’s being tracked, and that we have exclusion zones from the zoo, from parks, and things of that nature, then that kind of keeps him in compliance.

Len Sipes:  And we’ll get word from the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement partners that we saw the guy spending way too much time outside of the St. Francis School.  It was a block away, and maybe he has a legitimate reason for being there, maybe he doesn’t, but that’s also the law enforcement partnership feeding us information, right?

Kevin Jones:  Yes.

Ashley Natoli:  Yeah, definitely.

Kevin Jones:  And apart with the law enforcement contact, we do unscheduled accountability tours, and that’s with our partnership with Metropolitan Police Department, and at that time, we also have what we call GPS clean sweep tours, where we will come do unscheduled accountability tours on an offender who has a GPS curfew of 7:00, just to make sure that they’re in place, that there’s no type of shielding, anything of that nature, and we also are really big on the Halloween project, where, that we will come to the offender’s home between the hours of 3 and 11, and he is to be in that home at that particular time.

Len Sipes:  Right, and we have found violations on the Halloween tour. We have found kids inside the home, and we have found them, they’re not supposed to be giving out candy, they’re not supposed to be decorating homes.

Kevin Jones:  Lights supposed to be off.

Len Sipes:  We roll up to the house, and there’s decorations, and there’s candy, so we’re trying to protect the public in that way.  The other major thing that we’re trying to do is look at social media, look at Facebook, but there are literally hundreds of sites that kids go onto.  I was reading this morning about going onto gaming sites.  You know, it’s not a chat room, it’s not Facebook, it’s now gaming sites.  So we’re now in the process of taking a look at social media and tracking that person through the social media process, correct?

Ashley Natoli:  Yes.

Kevin Jones:  That is correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and there’s a certain point where we are going to be expanding this to other offenders beyond sex offenders, but that’s part of their world, and that’s part of the experience of kids, and if they’re going to be there, we need to be there, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Kevin Jones:  Yeah, and we actually have a mechanism where we are monitoring Facebook, and we’ve had situations where we’ve seen our offenders who may have no contact with minors, and in his profile sheet, he’ll be holding

Len Sipes:  Right!

Kevin Jones:  a child.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Ashley Natoli:  And it’s not as simple as just searching them by their name.  You’re searching their aliases; you’re looking, searching by email addresses and different things, because a lot of it is not going to just be given to us.  We have to find the information.  It’s there if we search for it, deep enough.

Len Sipes:  Right.  We’re not going to give away our secrets in terms of how we’ve figured this out, but Cool Breeze was his moniker, nickname seven years ago, and son of a gun if he’s not using Cool Breeze in terms of his Facebook interactions, so there are all sorts of ways of getting at this issue.  So the bottom line is this.  What do we tell parents?  I mean, you guys are there protecting their kids, you’re protecting all of society, just not the kids, but you’re protecting society, protecting kids from further activities on the part of these individuals.  You know them better than just about anybody else in the criminal justice system.  What do we tell parents?  One of my chief messages is having an open conversation, so if somebody approaches that child, that child talks to the parents.

Ashley Natoli:  I agree, and I also think parents need to be aware that this is something real and that happens every day, and that a lot of people think, oh, it won’t happen to me, or it won’t happen to my children, but you need to be aware that it is a problem and it will happen, and you need to know what’s going on so that you can educate your children appropriately and know that this is real.

Len Sipes:  Well, the FBI is saying one million predators.  That’s just an unbelievable number of people.  I mean, they’re attacking your kids, correct, Kevin?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.  And a lot of it is, just like we were stating, collateral contacts.  You have to build a collateral contact with the offenders’ family members.

Len Sipes:  Right, and employers and friends.

Kevin Jones:  Employers, friends, significant others.

Len Sipes:  The bottom line is that you’ve got to get, and we’re going to close with this question, you’ve got to get a complete psychological profile of who that person is.  You’ve got to know that person better than their own mother knows that person, correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  All right, we’re going to close on that.  Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Jones, community supervision officer for the sex offender unit, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Ashley Natoli, the community supervision officer, again, with the sex offender unit.  Thank you very much for watching, and please, protect your children.  Please have an open and honest conversation and age appropriate conversation with your children.  Watch for us next time when we explore another very important topic in our criminal justice system.  Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

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