Pretrial, Parole and Probation Supervision Week-American Probation and Parole Association

Pretrial, Parole and Probation Supervision Week-American Probation and Parole Association

DC Public Safety Radio

Http://media.csosa.gov

See radio show at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/07/pretrial-parole-probation-supervision-week-american-probation-parole-association/

LEONARD SIPES: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. The show today, ladies and gentlemen, Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13 to 19, this year. It’s part of an annual event put on by the American Probation and Parole Association to honor parole and probation and pretrial supervision people throughout the country. By our microphones is Diane Kincaid. She is Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org. Diane, welcome to DC Public Safety.

DIANE KINCAID: Hello. It’s great to be here.

LEONARD SIPES: This is wonderful and I love the idea of this week, because I think that parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers here in the nation’s capital, I don’t think they get the recognition that they so desperately deserve. I really do think that they’re sold a bit short in terms of recognition of public safety personnel throughout the country. Am I right or wrong?

DIANE KINCAID: You are absolutely correct, Len. Their job is some of the most difficult that you can have in corrections and law enforcement, and so often their work goes unnoticed, and people really don’t understand how difficult their work really is.

LEONARD SIPES: There are seven million people under correctional supervision in this country on any given day. Two million are behind bars. That means that five million are out under the responsibility of parole and probation agents, again, community supervision officers as we call them in DC, or on a pretrial status. So that means the great bulk of what we call offenders are our responsibility, the responsibility of community supervision agencies. So we have a huge, huge, or make a huge contribution to public safety, do we not?

DIANE KINCAID: Absolutely. That’s correct as well. With that many people under supervision and to be expected to know what these people are doing 24/7, making sure that they are leading law abiding lives, that they’re not breaking the conditions of their supervision, is a tremendous amount of stress and work for these professionals.

LEONARD SIPES: And it’s just amazing as to what they do in terms of both supervising people under supervision and at the same time helping them. So that’s a very, I guess, tough role to combine. When I was a police officer all I had to do was go out and make arrests and, boom, I was done with this person. Parole and probation agents, pretrial supervision people are included in this category, but not to the degree of parole and probation agents, they could have relationships with these individuals of up to five years, providing a certain level of supervision and providing a certain level of assistance.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And we can’t forget about the juveniles who are also on supervision, who are helped tremendously by these professionals as well. And their role is to help these kids grow up into perhaps a better environment and to let them know how their lives can turn around and be better for themselves. So we can’t forget about the kids.

LEONARD SIPES: Right. And I didn’t even think about that particular category, but you’re absolutely right. Okay. Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13th, 19th is the event for this year. So but what we try to do is not only make sure that everybody else in the country understands the role of people who do community supervision but the fact that they celebrate this time of year and they acknowledge the fact that people on, who are parole and probation agents, again, community supervision officers, pretrial people, juvenile officers, they are on the front lines of public safety. And you, through the American Probation and Parole Association, coordinate that average effort on a yearly basis. So we want everybody to get involved in this, right?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. We’ve been doing this week, as we call it, since 2001. It’s an annual event. It’s something that really for me to work on is a pleasure, every year I look forward to it, because it’s really celebrating the work that’s done on the community by these individuals and just really giving them a pat on the back.

LEONARD SIPES: And what APPA calls A Force for Positive Change, I mean that’s been the catchall from, regarding APPA’s efforts throughout the year is making sure that everybody understands that these individuals are just that, A Force for Positive Change.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. And the theme that we have for this year is Be the Change in your Community. So it’s all about probation, parole, and pretrial officers and community supervision officers being change agents for the people that they’re supervising and throughout the community, really.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, you have a list of resources on your website, again, www.appa-net.org, they can find that list of resources that help them celebrate Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week.    

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. We have an entire website that’s developed every year with a different theme, a different look. We have a designer, a very talented gentleman named [John Higgins, who designs the look for the week every year. We have a poster that can be printed in your office. We have actually an agency that’s going to be – I didn’t turn my cell phone off – we have an office that is going to be printing large banners to hang from their office area. That’s really going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be – I can’t wait to get the pictures for that. That’s going to be really neat.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, how far in advance can they ask for material from your agency?

DIANE KINCAID: We try to have the website up right around the first week of April. We work on the theme; we work on the design starting around the first of the year. The week is always in July. We try to have that right around the third week, depending on how that week falls. But it’s, you know, we’re always right in the middle of July. We start working on it again the first of year trying to get together and have the website up in April.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, the theme again for this year is what again?

DIANE KINCAID: Be the Change in your Community.

LEONARD SIPES: Be the Change in your Community. Do people understand the role of parole and probation agents, is it, or pretrial people or juvenile service officers? Do they understand exactly what it is they do? Because I get the sense that there are thousands of police shows and resources devoted to what law enforcement does, television shows, the movies. You get this constant barrage of information as to what police officers do. Now, as a former police officer, I would suspect that an awful lot of what they see and hear is unrealistic. But you hear and see little to nothing as to what parole and probation people do.

DIANE KINCAID: Well, that’s true, and it’s the issue of an identity. Police officers have that uniform, they have, often have a car that identifies them as law enforcement, but for the most part probation and parole officers and pretrial officers don’t have that. There’s not a look that they have. They look like just anybody on the street. They look like you and I.

LEONARD SIPES: Uh huh.

DIANE KINCAID: So knowing who they are and what they’re doing, you know, you see somebody talking to somebody at work and you don’t know that that’s a probation officer checking up to make sure somebody’s going to their job. So knowing what they do is really difficult, even for me, having worked here for almost 15 years. I learn something new about what they do every day.

LEONARD SIPES: It’s a combination, law enforcement, again, a social service agency. You find some parole and probation agents are out there all the time, some are in raid jackets, some carry firearms, some have arrest power. We don’t have arrest power nor do we carry firearms here in the nation’s capital, but that’s not unusual for them to take on the law enforcement motif, and at the same time they’re interacting with people, some of the most challenging people on the face of the earth. How do you build that relationship with that person under supervision to the point where you can convince them that to go into drug treatment, complete drug treatment, make the restitution, not disobey any laws, not to bother the neighborhood, to get work, to get along well with their family, pick up their responsibilities? I mean these are all skills, immensely difficult people, and at the same time skills to deal with immensely difficult problems. The parole and probation people have got to be at the very top of their game every single day.

DIANE KINCAID: They do. And you raised an issue also that involves safety for officers. Unfortunately sometimes an officer can be killed in the line of duty. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. So the stress and the safety and the diverse nature of the work is something that really goes undervalued I think.

LEONARD SIPES: I think most of them in, throughout the country have college degrees.

DIANE KINCAID: They do. It’s a very well educated workforce, because the skills that are needed are such that a good background in social studies and in psychology and those sorts of areas is really beneficial for someone who works in this field.

LEONARD SIPES: And at the same time many people within my agency here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency have master’s degrees and above. So you’re right. It’s an extremely well educated field. And we have parole and probation people, again, juvenile justice people, pretrial people, in every jurisdiction in the United States.

DIANE KINCAID: It’s true. It’s well educated. It’s, you know, the ratios of males to females is about 50-50, so it’s well represented, very diverse as far as culture. As I said, probation, parole, and pretrial officers are just like you and I.

LEONARD SIPES: But it’s interesting that it’s a bit of an American invention to some degree. We had a delegation from China that sent some people over, and we sent people over there to build a community supervision system over in China. Either you were let go or put in prison. There wasn’t anything in between. So is parole and probation not just something that’s in every American jurisdiction, every county, every city, every state, and I would imagine it’s the same for Canada, but I would imagine, again, that it’s, they’re in most jurisdictions in the world but not all?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. Not all have a very well developed supervision system. And something interesting that I would like to mention as well is next summer the Second World Congress on Community Corrections, I’m sorry, is going to be held in Los Angeles, it’s going to be in July, 2015 –

LEONARD SIPES: Wow!

DIANE KINCAID: And APPA is hosting that. So we’re going to be welcoming the world to talk about community corrections and how we can all learn from each other and help each other.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, in terms of getting people involved in the field, you all even have a website that is done by Marianne Mowat. Now, you’re also aligned with the Council of State Governments, your organization, so it’s larger than just the American Probation and Parole Association, it’s the Council of State Governments, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s correct. We are an affiliate member of the Council of State Governments, CSG. They handle all of our secretary duties, our human resources, our benefits, that sort of thing, our county. So they are a tremendous support for the association. And you mentioned Marianne, who has worked on the website for several years now; it’s called Discover Corrections –

LEONARD SIPES: Right.

DIANE KINCAID: Which has a tremendous amount of information for anyone who is in the field and perhaps seeking employment in a different agency or different state. We have a job posting board. It also has a lot of information for someone who’s looking to work in the field who wants to know a little more about it.

LEONARD SIPES: And it also celebrates the field. So the point with American Probation and Parole Association is that you’re doing this year round, you’re doing it year round through the website, you’re doing it year round in terms of promoting this concept of A Force for Positive Change. So the American Probation and Parole Association is representing us, those of us in community corrections throughout the entire year, in terms of research with the Department of Justice, in terms of promoting community supervision and what community supervision does. So you guys are basically the center point of this discussion, not just for Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13th – 19th, this year, but you’re doing it throughout the year.

DIANE KINCAID: We do. And we really, we’re a nonprofit, obviously, but I could tell you to a person all staff feel that we really are here to serve the field. Anything that we can do to make their work easier, anything we can help them with as far as getting information, the research that we do and the training that we try to provide is really just an effort to help, to really support those individuals.

LEONARD SIPES: I walk by the National Police Memorial every day on the way to work and I interact with their people. So they have a huge presence in downtown DC, a huge memorial, where people come throughout the Unites States in the spring to celebrate the sacrifice of police officers and the sacrifice that police officers make, not just in terms of the past year, but in all previous years. The names of all deceased police officers killed in the line of duty are aligned on a long wall. We don’t have anything like that for parole and probation, do we?

DIANE KINCAID: We don’t. And, again, that’s just something that, you know, I don’t think the average probation, parole, or pretrial officer would really even expect it. It’s not something that they really look for. They see their work as helping others, keeping the community safe, just like law enforcement, obviously. But they go about their business; they do the job as best they can – and I think they do a fabulous job – and don’t really want a pat on the back, for the most part.

LEONARD SIPES: Well, but I do think they want recognition. I do think that –

DIANE KINCAID: And they deserve it.

LEONARD SIPES: I – they want recognition for the fact that they carry very large case loads. I want the audience to think about the fact that they’re extraordinarily well educated people. I mean I know parole and probation agents who have PhDs. They’re out there every day in tough neighborhoods, dealing with people with problems and with issues and convincing somebody to how to take care of your child, be sure that you go to school every day. “We heard from law enforcement resources that you’re out on the community, out on a corner bothering the community. I’m told by your substance abuse provider that you’re not attending all the sessions or that you’re being disruptive.” Those are all major life issues, and when you’ve got a large case load and you’re dealing with people that intimately and being that involved in the lives of hundreds of people on your case load, that’s got to take a toll. And recognizing that the vast majority of people that are part of the criminal justice system are their responsibility, not prison, their responsibility, I do believe, both of us believe that they need recognition.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And just talking about all of this with you it just brings up the amount of work, the amount of stress that these individuals are working under, the large case loads. If you find someone who has been in this system working in the field between five and seven years, they’re dedicated, because it is hard work, it’s something that takes a lot of mental effort, physical effort oftentimes, so they’re really dedicated people.

LEONARD SIPES: We’re talking to Diane Kincaid. She is the Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org. We’re talking about Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week. Now, one of the, you know, the whole idea is this is not just one week that we’re celebrating, we’re celebrating them throughout the course of the year. One of the ways that you celebrate community service or community supervision personnel is the fact that you’re having a conference coming up in New Orleans on August 3 through August 6 of this year. Now, you do two of them a year, right?

DIANE KINCAID: We do. This will be our 39th annual training institute. Our annuals are typically July, August, and then we have winter institutes that tend to be a little bit smaller, recently they’ve been right around the same size, that’s January, February, for the winter. This institute looks to be really big. We have a really good registration right now, we’re not even to the deadline to register, we haven’t had that last push, and I think everybody’s excited to be in New Orleans, so we’re looking to have a good show with everybody. We’ve got a full exhibit hall, with a lot of new exhibitors, to show sort of the items that they have to help probation, parole, and pretrial professionals do their job.

LEONARD SIPES: That exhibition hall is one of my favorite spots when I go to your conferences to find out what’s new, and especially from a technology point of view, what’s new, what’s happening throughout the rest of the country. There’s a lot of really interesting things that’s coming onboard, coming up in terms of community supervision. I remember doing a radio show within the last couple weeks with Joe Russo, talking about corrections technology or community corrections technology, and that’s a very exciting field. So I think as the research indicates that more and more of this idea of crime control is going to be placed in the hands of parole and probation agents, the level of technology seems to be increasing and our options seem to be increasing. I’m thinking specifically GPS, but there’s now devices that can tell whether or not a person is under the influence of alcohol, there will be technology in the somewhat near future that will indicate whether or not a person is on drugs or using drugs. So we’re doing a lot of remote supervision, some agencies are using kiosks, some people are doing facial recognition, some people are doing remote fingerprinting, there’s a lot of technology that’s coming our way, because, again, most people caught up in the criminal justice system are our responsibility. They’re not in prison, they’re out in the community, they’re out in the street, and they’re our responsibility, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And technology really has taken off in the last few years, you know, the different tools that can be used to supervise individuals. And I have to say too, not every person who is on supervision is a danger to anybody. They’ve done some things that maybe they shouldn’t have. They just need a little guidance, they need some support. So the greatest majority of those individuals really do need the skills of community supervision officers. Then there are the ones who need a little bit more help, who need more direct supervision, and that’s what’s taken care of as well.

LEONARD SIPES: How many community corrections agencies throughout the country celebrate Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week?

DIANE KINCAID: We have quite a few. We hear from a number of those, you know, we have the ideas on here about how to recognize staff, to maybe have a staff luncheon, maybe go out and do some community service work with your agency logo on your shirt, just get out in the community and let people know that you are part of it, that you are supporting them, that you are trying to keep them safe, and to help those people who are under supervision. I would say there are dozens of agencies we hear from every year that are doing different things, and a lot of the ideas that we have on our website about how to recognize staff and volunteers come from the field, they come from people telling us what they’ve done. So that’s always really interesting to see.

LEONARD SIPES: I recognize that more and more agencies are getting involved in doing what we’re doing, which is the promotion, the creation and promotion of radio shows and television shows, Facebook pages, I’m finding a greater presence on social media from community corrections personnel.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And for anyone who’s interested, APPA also has a Facebook page, we’re on LinkedIn. There is always a really active discussion in the LinkedIn page for APPA, a lot of really good ideas, a lot of information being shared there, so I’d encourage people to take a look at that as well.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, we are, is it fair, Diane, I say to others and I’ve heard others say to me that we are at the epicenter for change. When I’m taking a look at the criminological research coming out from the US Department of Justice, from Pew, from the Urban Institute, from the Council of State Governments, it’s always an emphasis on parole and probation. I’m finding that, through research, that there has never been such a presence of parole and probation agencies, community supervision agencies. It basically seems that if we are going to rearrange the way that we do business within the criminal justice system to be more effective, to be smarter, to reduce rates of recidivism, it all comes down to community supervision agencies and community supervision personnel. Now, is that my observation? Is my observation or the observation of others correct or is that an exaggeration?

DIANE KINCAID: No, I agree with you. I do see that trend as well. And the fact is, we cannot build prisons to buy ourselves out of crime. It’s just not going to work. For one thing we can’t afford it, and that’s a horrible thing to say, but we cannot afford to put every person who breaks the law into a prison or jail. And most of those people don’t need to be imprisoned. So when they’re part of the community, when they’re getting the support they need, when they’re getting some substance abuse help, when they’re getting some therapies, then they can have a job, they can take care of their families, they can pay their taxes, they can be part of the community and support their own community.

LEONARD SIPES: Someone once told me that, theoretically at least, that every governor has had a discussion with every director of corrections in every state in the United States, and their message has basically been you must reduce your budget, that corrections is taking such a large share, we don’t have the money to build roads, we don’t have the money to build colleges, we don’t have the money to do head start programs, we don’ have the money to build schools or to improve schools, because so much of it is going towards corrections, and you have to reduce the reliance upon incarceration. So whether we’re approaching it criminologically or whether we’re approaching it from the standpoint of budget, more people are going to be coming onto community supervision, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: I would say that that is the trend these days, because people that realize that, not only does it help state budgets, as far as the Department of Corrections and their prison system goes, but it helps the community. When people are in prison they’re breaking apart families, they, or they’re not supporting their children, they’re not supporting their spouses, they – it just really sort of creates an imbalance in our communities when you have so many people in prison who more than likely don’t necessarily need to be there or don’t need to be in there as long as we do so today.

LEONARD SIPES: And I’m bringing all this up to be sure that the listeners understand the importance of community supervision officers, because all the research that I read it’s parole and probation, the parole and probation becomes the epicenter for the change within the criminal justice system. I’m reading now that it’s just not a Republican or a Democrat or a left wing or a right wing point of view, that you have some rather conservative people out there coming together with people on the other side of the aisle and they’re pushing for the same change, that this is now a universal message that goes across political spectrums, that we’ve got to be smarter, we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to reduce recidivism, we’ve got to bring programs on, and we’ve got to have the right people to apply all of this. And, boom, we’re right back to community supervision personnel, parole and probation personnel.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. And I think too we have to add in this whole focus on evidence-based practices, where we know what works and we can prove it. We can prove that these things and these methods and these practices do work to reduce recidivism, to reduce imprisonment, and to help our communities.

LEONARD SIPES: Right. And we have to be sure to assess them, to figure out what their risk level is, what their need level is, being sure that we supervise people at the right levels, making sure that we have the programs in place to provide the substance abuse treatment or the mental health treatment or the job assistance. I mean this is beginning to be very complex, and it calls for extraordinarily well educated, extraordinarily dedicated, extraordinarily motivated people to be parole and probation agents.

DIANE KINCAID: It’s true. And just to go back to some of my recent comments, that I don’t mean to say that we don’t need prisons, obviously we do. There are individuals who are a danger to our communities; they’re a danger to others, maybe even a danger to themselves, depending on how they’re living. But there are still those who – the biggest population in our prisons are drug offenses and property offenses. Not everybody in prison is a murderer. So –

LEONARD SIPES: But what you’re saying –

DIANE KINCAID: And we have to think about that.

LEONARD SIPES: What you’re saying goes right along with what the research community throughout the country and the advocacy community throughout the country and what the US Department of Justice is saying. My only – in terms of the fact that we cannot continue to send everybody to prison or we cannot continue to send everybody to prison for the length of time that we ordinarily do. And, again, theoretically, every governor in the country has had this conversation with their corrections people basically saying we can no longer house the amount of people that we housed before because of budget reasons. And according to the Department of Justice data we’re seeing a gradual, not a huge, but a gradual change in terms of the small decrease in prison population over the course of the last five years. So all of your, all that you’re saying is nothing more than what’s what the reality is.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. And that’s, you know, and the evidence proves it, so you can’t really argue against something that you can show somebody works. So the more states that get into this and the more states that start working on these different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking about offenders is just going to reinforce that.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay. We’re going to wrap up. And I do want to reemphasize that information is available at the website of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org, www.appa-net.org. Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week is July 13th through 19th of this year. Our agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, our director is in the process of doing a video outreach to all employees. Again, parole and probation is at the epicenter of change, the research, the advocacy, whether you are on the right or the left of the political spectrum, all, everything is now being, the emphasis is now parole and probation and community supervision, and that’s where we’re going.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. It’s been a great pleasure to speak with you today, Len. I really enjoyed it.

LEONARD SIPES: Well, we’re not done yet, because I do want to reemphasize that we have the conference coming up in August in New Orleans, August 3 through 6, and that is, again, at your website, and the fact that you do have Discover Corrections. That website that is funded I think through the Council of State Governments, through APPA, through the Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. So you’re doing this throughout the course of the year. I think that’s the important thing to understand, that the American Probation and Parole Association is leading the rest of us in terms of trying to build up parole and probation, again, A Force for Positive Change has been the logo of APPA for the course of the last several years. So it’s your emphasis is constant throughout the course of the year, and we really do thank APPA for everything that you do.

DIANE KINCAID: Well, it’s a real pleasure to work with those in the field and it’s an honor, so it’s a great job.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay. We’re going to wrap up. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Our guest today, again, Diane Kincaid, Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, talking about Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, this year, July 13th, 19th, www.appa-net.org. This is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

Share

Measuring Offender Recidivism-The Urban Institute

Measuring Offender Recidivism-The Urban Institute

DC Public Safety Radio

http://media.csosa.gov

Radio show at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/10/measuring-offender-recidivism-urban-institute/

LEONARD SIPES: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I am your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen our show today is Measuring Recidivism. We have folks from the Urban Institute Ryan King. He is a senior fellow with the Justice Policy Center again at Urban Institute. Brian Elderbroom a Senior Research Associate with the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. This is all in preparation for a Wednesday, October 15th webinar at 2’o clock in the afternoon with the Urban Institute and the Bureau of Justice Assistance we encourage everybody to go to the website www.urban.org for the document I am about to mention and the webinar and I will bring up the webinar a couple more times throughout the course of the program. Ryan and Brian welcome to DC Public Safety.

RYAN KING: Thanks for having us.

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: Thanks for having us.

LEONARD SIPES: Like I said that before we hit the record button it’s the Ryan and Brian show. It sounds like a morning drive time radio show, so you know it should be an interesting program. You did a report called Improving Recidivism as a performance measure and I just want to read from it ever so briefly at the very beginning to kick of the conversation. Performance measurement establishing metrics for its excess and assessing results is crucial first top in informed decisions made by all areas of government including criminal justice policy, understanding the outcome, the funding and policy decisions is critical to improving government performance and providing the best return on tax payers investments. If that’s true Ryan or Brian why don’t we do it? Why are we in the criminal justice system, why are we so reluctant to being involved in measuring recidivism.

RYAN KING: Well I would say it’s not a reluctance to be involved but it’s a little bit more about the way that we are doing it. The reason, the impetus behind doing this brief was a recognition that for better or for worse recidivism is a primary performance measure that is being used in the fields of corrections and there are a lot of reasons why that is troubling practitioners and policy makers and researchers a like I think have a range of criticism but recidivism as sort of an end measure basically a measure of, when somebody comes in the system is that intervention while they are in the system, having some sort of positive outcome and result that is leading to a reduction in future offending and so if we have and imperfect measure. I think Brian and I and other folks at the Urban Institute felt it was really important for us to try to sketch out ways that we could improve it because it is not going away and I think one of the key things is sort of flagged right from the get go is that different folks have different criticisms about it and I think the biggest issue is that every individual who comes into the system has a different story, they have a different history and they are touched by a number of different parts of the system and so recidivism traditionally is looked at as a measure of success for prisons. People coming into prison do they succeed when they come back out again?

LEONARD SIPES: Well I am going to go over to Brian on this question. When we say and I talked to a couple of practitioners from around the field saying I was going to do at this radio show today with Urban and they are saying, you know Leonard we have individuals that come to us in the Criminal Justice System that come to us from Community Supervision. They have histories of substance abuse, histories of mental health problems and they have a lousy job record. They spend a lot of time, in many cases in the American Prison System, women offenders in particular come out and they have to deal with kids, really the odds are so stacked against them and it is not as if we have the money and the wherewithal and the resources to remediate so many of the social problems that they bring to us, why should we be held responsible for that persons success when we don’t control all the variables that go into that persons success or failure. Answer that question for me Brian.

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: I think for those very dedicated professionals who are working with people involved in the Criminal Justice System, they care deeply about those outcomes that you are describing, not just whether they desist from future criminal behavior but whether they find stable housing, whether they find a job or that they stop using drugs and alcohol and those are important measures by which they should judge their success as well. At the end of the day what we outline in the brief is that a single state wide rate of recidivism obscures a lot of what you are describing in that comment and we need to incorporate other success measure in addition to the ones that you described. How long is someone successful, how many people are successfully not just how many people fail. What is our success rate at changing people’s behavior and that is a big part of what we outlined in the brief.

LEONARD SIPES: Well you are basically supporting what I’m hearing from the field is that you want those variables measured, that maybe you shouldn’t be held responsible for everything that the person did, if they did not receive drug treatment, if that person did not receive mental health interventions then you compare them against those who did and check the outcome and if those people who didn’t do worse than those people who did, that is a measurement that is very useful in terms of funding sources.

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: Absolutely, that is largely what the report is about, is comparing policy interventions, comparing the impacts of policies and looking at people who receive certain treatments or received certain changes to the ways that they are supervised on Community Supervision or the intervention that they get through prison to measure different populations to see what the impact is of policy and practice.

LEONARD SIPES: Ryan not many states do this well, as far as I can see. I mean I am up on the criminal justice literature as much as anyone else. I’m aware of the Washington Institutes for public policy, they have been before our microphones. I am aware of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority that goes back decades in terms of doing a good job, in terms of measurement. You gave a couple of examples here specifically, Delaware and Pennsylvania was in your report but most states do not do a great job of measure the success of people coming out the prison system or measuring the success of people on parole and probation and why is that.

RYAN KING: I think that we haven’t really sat down and outlined the steps that states need to put in place to measure and so what the brief does is give us the four key areas that a state should be defining recidivism in a broad way. I think that was the point the Brian was just making, that we make it pretty clear and central point of this is that we are talking about multiple measures of recidivism there is no single “right” measure of recidivism. How you measure recidivism depends very much on what type of questions you are trying to answer. There are improvements to collection, to types of analysis and then to dissemination and I would say that there are a lot of states that are doing good things but in terms of a state that is pulling all of these different pieces together and being able to answer these key questions in a really rich and deep way, that’s what I think is lacking and that is what we are trying to point out with the brief.

LEONARD SIPES: Most states I would imagine are not doing it for one particular reason. This is an expensive proposition. You need qualifying people, you need money, you need time, you need data resources, you need to have the sanctity of the collection process to be unimpeachable. There are so many variables that go into good evaluations but this is not an inexpensive proposition, this is something that states are going to say to themselves, okay fine I understand the need, I understand the desire but you know, you are going to ask us to spend another three to four million dollars a year to pull this off, we don’t have three or four million dollars a year to pull this off , so I would imagine expense and technical expertise is one of the reasons why states don’t do this?

RYAN KING: Yeah, I think we have talked about the fact that there are a number of different agencies that get involved and responsible for recidivism, I think that is one of the biggest obstacles is that you can’t just go, traditionally what we see for recidivism comes out of the Departments of Corrections, from prisons because that is usually where the data come from. We don’t have that. The collections across Law Enforcements, Across Community Supervision Agencies, across state lines. I would say that the Bureau of Justice Statistics who has been working on a major initiative to improve national collection of recidivism, has laid out some groundwork that I would like to think could help improve states collection within their own borders. So there are definitely are opportunities to engage. I think there is a lot of assistance particularly through some of the broader national efforts but there is no question that is going to take a serious commitment and it is going to take a serious upgrading of databases. I mean you know, and listeners will know that you know, in states many of these agencies the computers and databases don’t speak with one another and so it is very difficult to measure performance, to measure reoffending performance on any of the types of our indicators that we have discussed, if you are not able to follow somebody through all the different systems that they touch.

LEONARD SIPES: To pick up on one of your points that you just mentioned is that you are looking for a variety of agencies and provide data, that way it is just not the division of Correction or Parole and Probation data it is Law Enforcement, it is Treatment Provision. You are looking for as many data points as humanly possible with an offender who has one unique identifier so everybody knows what they are talking about. So you’re not talking about sharing privacy information because you are not connecting that to a particular name, you are connecting it to a number and it is just an aggregate, it is big data, IBM, it is what Google, it is what Yahoo, it is what everybody else out there is doing, it is what Apple is doing. They are using big data to drive policy decisions. That is exactly what you are talking about, doing nothing more besides bringing the big data concept to the criminal justice system?

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: Exactly and unlike Google which has access to large amounts of data through its own services. Each of the different Criminal Justice Actors has a different piece of the puzzle and that is the challenge with recidivism is that as Ryan said we need data sets that speak to each other so that the agencies that have responsibility for supervision and incarceration have the data to measure reoffending that comes from law enforcement and other agencies that are collecting and housing that.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay what we have in essence, if we have it at all is an emulation of the Bureau of Justice statistic data on recidivism, the report just came out, oh I forget about it, little less than a year ago they updated data in essences talking about two thirds being arrested and 50% being re-incarcerated which is pretty much mimicking the two earlier data sets put out by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, but most states don’t even have that, most states don’t even have that level of survey, that level of following to go three years out and take a look at broader recidivism so you’re saying that number one that is inadequate, number two you need to go much deeper than that, you know first of all most states don’t do that. Correct?

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: It is improving and I think Ryan could probably talk to the National Corrections Reporting Program which is where a large portion of the Bureau of Justice statistics data comes from.

RYAN KING: Yeah there has been a significant improvement in the recidivism measurement. There has also been a really significant improvement in the NCRP, The National Corrections Reporting Program which has now been, they are getting very close to fifty states reporting. They have been filling in back data and this is an individual level data set that is actually structured in such a way that they are what are called Term Record Files. So you can actually follow an individual over time from year to year, it is an annual survey. From year to year and see how they flow through the system. So this gets back to an earlier point about if I’m in a state and I say alright you have sold me on this brief but, and where am I going to get all the money to get this data together, we don’t have the money to build to this capacity. I would like to see some exploration of some opportunities between some of the collection work that is going on within the Bureau of Justice statistics so there is not replication but it is important that you get this relationship where you are reporting data up for national reporting but you are getting something out of it. That is going to get obviously more buy-in from the state locals.

LEONARD SIPES: We are getting better at doing and it is the larger of recidivism data. The second point I wanted to bring up is do we really want to know. I mean the individual discrete variables in terms of recidivism requires us to measure how well we are doing in terms of our drug treatment programs, in terms of our employment programs, in terms of mental health programs, in terms of how we supervise, what we supervise, a lot of folks are scared to know how well they are doing because I mean look national recidivism data is pretty consistent in terms of 50% coming back to the prison system, two thirds being rearrested. The question is do we really want to know. Do state administrators really want to know how well they are doing because that, if there is an indication of failure in terms of how well they are doing and you gave a wonderful example about Pennsylvania figuring out that their Community Corrections Center were not doing nearly as well as they could be, should be, so they rearranged the perimeters of their contracts with what I am assuming private providers saying you know, look you are going to have to do better for us to continue funding. That is exactly the sort of smart big data approach that you guys are talking about, but do we at the Criminal Justice really want to know how well we are doing and how well we are not doing?

RYAN KING: Well the fact is the decisions are being made with the existing recidivism data that we are using right now. So, people are making decisions about specific policies based on broad measures. So if you’re dealing with, let’s say you have got a program or a policy that is dealing with drug offenders a specific slice of the drug offender in your state and you’re looking at the recidivism rates for all drug offenders in your state and say when they have gone up this has clearly been a failure. Well we don’t necessarily know that a huge part of the populations was not participating in this program but you can very quickly see how policy makers will make decisions they will shift funding around. We are very much seeing that in the current budget crisis and the current tightness in many states, moving dollars from spot to spot looking for things that work. So we are all using this data as is, and that is why we felt really strongly that we want to get a brief out there talking about improving it. It is not going away. It is warts and all the best performance measure that we have or at least the most frequently used one. Let’s improve it. There are ways that we can do it in meaning full ways without major over hall. Some of the stuff that we are talking about here is really big picture and it is an ideal and I don’t want to give the impression to listeners that you need to do all of these things or nothing. It is not all or nothing and I think the brief lays out some really small things as well as some really big more ambitious things but each step along the way is an improvement over the status quo because it is important to know policy makers now are making decisions about policies using excising data and in many cases this data is telling misleading stories.

LEONARD SIPES: But we need to be held accountable do we not? Those of us in the Criminal Justice System don’t we need to be held accountable?

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: Absolutely, and I think for Community Supervision Practitioners in particular who have the first hand of experience of working with people who have been released from prison in particular and feel like they have a better opportunity to change their behavior through the intervention of Community Supervision then that person would have received, while incarcerated or if they had not gone to prison at all and I think it is important for in particular, people who provide those services whether its supervision or treatment or otherwise to be able to compare the effectiveness of what they are doing to prison in particular, as an alternative and one of the things that is laid out in the brief is that in order to do that you need to statically control for the population that you are studying and that is something that almost no states are doing right now and it would be great if we got to the point where we could compare probation as an intervention, to prison as an intervention using some of the statistical techniques that we talk about in the brief.

LEONARD SIPES: It could save states tens of millions of dollars but we are more than half way through the program let me reintroduce you, Ladies and gentlemen we are doing a program today on Measuring Recidivism with the Urban Institute. We are here with Ryan King senior fellow with the Justice Policy Center at Urban and Brian Elderbroom Senior Research Associate at the Justice Policy Center at Urban and to remind everybody that this coming Wednesday, October 15th there is a webinar on this topic with Urban and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. You can find information on Urban website www.urban.org Let me get back to the program gentlemen, we discussed before the program [PH 0:16:37.4] Joan and Peter Stillia who I interviewed before these microphones a couple of times and hopefully will interview in 2015 once again, who simply said that we within the Criminal Justice System overpromise and under-deliver when it comes to interventions in terms of the populations that we are dealing with. We really have not lived up to our promise in terms of really lowering recidivism by numbers that we would like to see and she is suggesting that we are promising too much, delivering too little and that may bite us, cause us problems in the near future. So to do that the only way of figuring that out is by doing good recidivism research as to whether or not we are over promising and under delivering correct?

RYAN KING: Doing good research and making it targeted to answer specific policy relevant questions and I would flag there is some really new and interesting work that I encourage your listeners to go check out. There is a new journal article out using some of these NCRP data that I mentioned earlier. So they are able to actually following individuals through the system and it sort of flips recidivism on its head a little bit and I think it is important for us to think about that in our conversation here and looking at the proportion of individuals who go into prison for a first time, come out and never reoffend again basically people who desist and they find that in upwards of 60% of those individuals who go in on the first time don’t come back again. And so the take away point from this is one that I think is not necessarily revelatory but it is worth raising again which is that the recidivism rates that are the 40% or 50% that we see are generally driven by a smaller portion of the population who churned through the system either through new crimes or revocations from Community Supervision. And so one of the pieces is that, there are things that do work and we certainly need to ask questions for these six and ten who don’t return about why are they not returning and more importantly did they ever need to go to prison to begin with or would they have desisted on their own through some other sanctions or no criminal justice involvement. But for the four in ten the people who are churning through who Al Bloomstein and Alan Beck refer to as a reentry as this transient moment between confinement and the community essentially for individuals, this becomes their life. We don’t know enough about that population. We have not asked the right questions about that population to find the right sort of intervention and so I do think that part of what we talk about here is multiple recidivism measure and fine tuning them so that lets talk about the six in ten who desist, lets also look at this four in ten, different types of individuals, how many times have they been in. We have to have the type of recidivism data that can be that granular to be able to really understand these sub populations and I do think certainly that Joan is correct that right now if we are looking around and saying it four in ten it is a failure, it is always been a four in ten. We need to unpack that four in ten a little bit and see what is under there. Some people are failing some people might be succeeding lets learn from the successes and lets fine tune the failures.

LEONARD SIPES: The report again is Improving Recidivism as a performance measure again available through the website at Urban www.urban.org. Right where do we go to from here? Now you are going to be doing this seminar and you are going to be talking to a lot of people in the system, their cynical. Oh god here we go. I had this discussion with my folks upstairs before doing this radio show. Probably my biggest criticism of my people in the field about what it is that I do on the radio and the television side is Leonard, you bring these folks in from NIJ and Urban and Pew and Justice and they talk about these wonderful grandiose ideas for the rest of us, wow don’t they understand what it is that we are dealing with out here. I mean with huge case loads and no money for treatment and no money…, I mean and so we are going to measure what, our ineptitude, our lack of resources, and our lack of public confidence as to why we don’t have the money to really impact the lives of the people on our case loads. How do you respond to them? They are frustrated. What you are talking about is a very detailed big data policy. They are talking about, for the love of god Leonard I have a case load of 150-1, 250-1, how am I suppose to meaningfully intervene in the lives of these people when I have these large case loads. When are the folks from Urban and Pew and everybody else going to deal with my reality? So their reality is, I am going to guess as what I said before. They don’t have the money nor the wherewithal to do the sort of measurement that you are talking about but if they don’t, policy mistakes are going to continue to be made. Tens of millions of dollars or even billions of dollars could be wasted, correct?

RYAN KING: Here is the thing that I think and some of that frustration and hopelessness comes from the fact that we really are using these blunts and imprecise recidivism measures and so you are right, you are doing good work and you may actually, let’s put a side case on, let’s say you are actually doing good work and having a positive impact but an overall say why recidivism measure is not going to point that out, so you’re not going to be able to draw attention on that. What I think is important about this is that the types of things and steps that we point out in the report and again its important to note that there is a lot of things that is big and ambitious but there are also small steps that can be taken. Those actually can help individuals and the corrections and they are designed in a way so that the idea that I shouldn’t be held accountable for the ten different systems that have touched the person’s life. Why should I be the one that is held accountable? We are talking about doing a level of analysis that controls and identifies and is precise enough so that your people are being held accountable for their particular steps, their particular interventions in the system and it is important to note that a lot of the stuff is already going on in states. So we have examples in the report there are other states that are having this webinar. It is primarily focused on practitioners and individuals working in the states to get an opportunity. So some of the stuff it sounds big and the way we are talking about here it sounds ominous and there is no way I can do that but I think you will find that there are states out there that are able to make some really positive impacts and we are going to share some of those stories on the webinar. Of states that are able to use their excising capacity. Some of it is not necessary they may already have the data collection capacity they just haven’t thought about doing an analysis in this way. They just done it one way forever and they just keep doing it. But with some minor modifications and trying to get some people from states to talk with one another we can make some of these improvements.

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: Let me talk a little bit about how one of the measures we outline in the report can actually feed into a policy conversation in a way that helps practitioners. So one of the measures we talk about is time of failure and the research from many people shows that people are most likely to fail in the days, weeks, and month shortly after release and the vast majority and people who go on to commit another crime after being released from prison do so in the first year after they have been released. That is an important finding, it is an important recidivism finding and what we can learn from that is supervision terms of 3, 5,10 years are not affectively deterring criminal reoffending and so what we need is to reduce case loads to the point where we are really focusing on those people who are highest risk and the people who are going to need the most help when they first leave prison. And that is how using a new recidivism measure like time to failure can inform policy in a way that helps practitioners focus on the people who need supervisions and interventions the most.

LEONARD SIPES: You know it is intriguing. Is there the possibility and one of you brought it up before of the idea of Community Supervision as being as effective or more effective than incarceration itself and incarceration rates have gone back up after a loss since 2009 according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some people have suggested well we are not doing the job we need to do at the state and local and county level in terms of proving how viable we are. It is just not convincing people that we say we over incarcerate, we say we incarcerate for too long, we hold people for too long. That the fiscal burden on the states is enormous, I mean virtually every governor in the country has had a discussion with his or her Corrections Administrator that you have got to bring down the budget. You have got to do something about recidivism. The only way we are going to do any of this is to do good research. I mean how else are suppose to manage the Criminal Justice System and relieve states of this enormous burden that they are crying about. How else are we going to do that unless we do good research?

RYAN KING: And we need to know what works. There states, recidivism rates can go up and they can go down completely independent of any policy changes. That is the important things that we really want to point out in there. As a profile of a prison population becomes more or less risky then you are going to have recidivism rates and so the question is did my recidivism rate go down because I am releasing individuals who are at very low risk of reoffending versus prior release cohorts or they go down because we are putting in place appropriate policy interventions and evidence based practices to adjust recidivism.

LEONARD SIPES: The Washington state’s Institute for Public Policy found that because they were saying it is not a measure of not doing it well but that we were releasing people at a higher risk thereby those people at a higher risk are going to recidivate more. It is not the policy it is the people correct?

RYAN KING: Exactly, that’s exactly we talk about that example in our report. That is a perfect example and another in some prior work looking at recidivism rates in Oregon and Oklahoma or two states that had recidivism rates down in the mid 20% some of the lowest in the country. One of them, Oregon had taken very deliberate steps to try and address recidivism so you would talk to people in the states and they would point to some of those practices. They identified recidivism as a problem and they wanted solutions. Oklahoma on the other hand, we talked to individuals who worked with data there and they said they were filling their prisons up with very low risk people and so naturally their recidivism rates were low and so those are two very different policy conversations. If you had controlling for the underlying population and don’t know that how can you possibly be making informed decisions about directions of your recidivism or to invest your resources.

LEONARD SIPES: You can save literally millions, tens of millions, billions of dollars over time if you had the data to guide you. You can protect public safety if you have the data to guide you.

RYAN KING: Without question. I think we are seeing that now and that’s why it is an exciting time, that’s why I think it’s a good time for this brief because in a time when we have more research and more data and better guides about what works, the question now is how can states invest there resource and one of the first steps they need to be able to do is identify drivers of the population and put in place some of these practices. You do need these data but there are many different steps and as I said there is sort of an ideal perfect system that nobody has but there are a lot of steps that states can take now with a limited amount of additional resources that can really improve their understanding of recidivism in their state.

LEONARD SIPES: This is a terribly unfair question to ask either one of you but does Office of Justice Programs, BJS, Bureau Justice Assistance is anyone prepared. I know that the Federal Government has put tons of money into state analytical centers throughout the years to improve the quality of their data but we have the technical assistance and funding at hand to help states come to grips with what you are suggesting.

RYAN KING: First of all I would say a BJA supported this brief and they are in support of this work so I think that is a great sign right there and certainly in conversations we have there is an acknowledgement and understanding from folks in BJA about the importance of this issue and we will certainly continue to carry that message over there so that is a great area where we love to support and I think again the work that BJS has been doing to improve recidivism in partnership with [PH 0:28:17] Apton and NCRP data collection has been absolutely fantastic. There is enormous improvements that are not just for national level but can have benefits for the states so there is a lot of leadership and understanding this issue is not news to anybody, working here on this issue here in Washington and what we are hoping to accomplish at this webinar is to get folks in the state aware of it and hopefully there can be opportunities down the road for additional leadership and guides and support from the federal government for states.

LEONARD SIPES: Brian, 30 seconds left do you have anything to add?

BRIAN ELDERBROOM: No I think one of your first comments was that these are professionals that are for the most part overworked and under resourced and I think that is an important point to make and part of what we are trying to do with this brief is to help practitioners communicate their success.

LEONARD SIPES: This has been a fascinating conversation and I really do want to encourage everybody this Wednesday, October 15th the webinar on this issue on Measuring Recidivism with the Urban Institute and the Bureau of Justice Assistance at 2’o clock. Go to the website www.urban.org. Our guests today have been Ryan King and Brian Elderbroom from the wonderful Urban Institute and I really appreciate both of you being here. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC public safety. We do appreciate your comments. We even appreciate you criticism and we want everybody to have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

Share

The Challenges of Justice Reinvestment-William Burrell

The Challenges of Justice Reinvestment-William Burrell

DC Public Safety Radio

http://media.csosa.gov

Radio show at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/08/challenges-justice-reinvestment-william-burrell/

LEONARD SIPES: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphones, ladies and gentlemen, Bill Burrell. Bill is an independent corrections management consultant and author of a book that I find very interesting. He can be reached at william.burrell, B-U-R-R-E-L-L, at comcast.net. The topic of today’s program is the challenge of justice reinvestment; what’s happening in parole and probation throughout the United States in terms of new ways of doing things, new ways of coping with the criminal justice system. Bill, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

BILL BURRELL: Thank you, Len. It’s great to be with you.

LEONARD SIPES: Bill, before we started the program we were talking about the corollary of mental health back in the 60s and 70s. We did have a massive undertaking throughout the country, where we sort of recognized that these large mental hospitals in virtually every state in the Unites States, and it probably was not a good idea to keep mentally incapacitated people in these large hospitals, these large structures. They probably could be a better treated, better dealt with out in the community. Yet we never did develop the community infrastructure to handle all those people coming out of all of those state mental hospitals and the disparaging fact is that it now seems that the criminal justice system is the principal provider of mental health treatment. Comment on that. Am I right or wrong?

BILL BURRELL: Yes. You’re right on the money there, Len. The idea was a good one. You think about those hospitals. You think about the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. They were pretty horrible places. And once these new psychotropic drugs were developed back in the 50s and 60s they were able to stabilize the symptoms and consider the release of these to the community, which made a whole lot of sense, it’s a lot cheaper, much more humane, and more effective. But, as you mentioned, the community infrastructure, the group homes, residential facilities to house these folks in the community were never built. So we ended up with a good idea that went pretty horribly wrong. And now some 20, 30 years later we’re looking at the jails and prisons being populated largely by some of the socially released with mental problems.

LEONARD SIPES: But what we’re talking about here is that we had a great idea and we implemented it and they went into the community. Without community infrastructure to take care of the mentally ill they end up with us in the criminal justice system. And there’s a lot of people out there who would say that somehow, someway there became a big difference between what was conceptualized and what actually happened.

BILL BURRELL: Well, that’s exactly the problem. We had a great idea, but it was implemented poorly, and that seems to be a very common story in the criminal justice system and maybe in government in general, that a good idea is developed, researchers come up with it, they test it, they evaluate it, and they put it out there, and then once it’s turned over to folks in agencies, for a variety of reasons, some of which relates to the fact that folks are really not trained in large scale organizational change and implementation, the execution of a good idea is flawed and the results that we expected don’t happen, because we really didn’t do the program as it was designed. And that was the lesson I guess we have to learn from the institutionalization of the mentally ill. It was one of the stools on the, one of the legs on the stool, so to speak, was the capacity in the community to have, supervise, and oversee the people released, and that never was completed, and we lost those folks in the community, in the boarding houses and the single room occupancy hotels in cities and they just disappeared.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, our program is called today the Challenges of Justice Reinvestment: The Impact on Parole and Probation because we see the possibility of a connection between that experience, the idea in terms of the institutionalization, dealing with mentally ill, the fact that there was not a sufficient infrastructure created to deal with all these people coming out. So we’re saying today that there’s the possibility that with justice reinvestment or reorganizing the way that we conduct business within the criminal justice system in terms of evidence based practices, in terms, again, of justice reinvestment, that there’s the possibility that the same thing may happen with parole and probation agencies that are not given sufficient staffing, money, resources, to deal with an increasing parole and probation population. Is that the connection?

BILL BURRELL: Yeah. That’s kind of the nub of the problem. Again, we have a situation with our prisons in the United States, they’re massively overcrowded, they’re not good places to house people with addiction problems, lack of education, and a whole variety of other problems. So the justice reinvestment model is saying we need to reduce those prison populations, get people out or don’t send them in, in the first place who are lower risk, nonviolent, less serious offenders, and handle them in a different way, thereby reducing prison populations, and if you can reduce those by enough you can actually close institutions and save money. And the second part of that logic is that a portion of that money would be reallocated or reinvested in community corrections to build the capacity to handle these folks. Now, and that’s a great idea, and where it has happened it has worked pretty well, if we look at the state of Texas and their experience. But part of the challenge is that the probation and parole system in this country is so overwhelmed. We have 70% of the correctional, adult correctional population is under the supervision of probation and parole, which surprises some people though, because they think we’ve locked everybody up over the last 30 years. Well, we have, but we’ve also put a lot more people under community control on probation and parole.

LEONARD SIPES: I think in the seven million, the correctional population between prisons and jails, it’s two million in community supervision, it’s five million. Am I in the ballpark?

BILL BURRELL: That’s right. And what’s interesting is if you look at the historical numbers, you go back to the early 1980s when the Bureau of Justice Statistics starting reporting on probation on parole populations, we have had 70% of the population ever since that time. So it’s been consistent over decades. When you look at the impact of the war on drugs in the 80s probation actually absorbed a greater amount of the results of that war on drugs than did the prison system. So we are, in my experience, when I was with probation in New Jersey, our individual caseloads went from 110 per officer in 1981 to 189 per officer in 1988, which was directly the result of changes in our laws and enforcement practices around drugs. So we have to remember that the base that we’re looking to focus on for these justice reinvestment efforts is pretty resource poor, pretty lacking the capacity to really do the work for the population they have right now, not to mention any increased number of people coming in. And one of the challenges is when you look at diverting people out of prison these could be higher risk people with more needs and problems and demands on a system. It is currently unable to really effectively address the population that it has.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, we at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency here in Washington DC we do have caseloads of 50 or less per parole and probation agent, what we call community supervision officers. But my experience in talking to people from throughout the country, as a result of the radio and television shows that we’ve done and when I go out and do training, it’s no usual they tell for there to be a ratio of 150 or more for every parole and probation agent out there. Now, I do know there are some jurisdictions where it is fairly close to 50 to 1, but my guess, and this is nothing more than a guess, is that the overwhelming majority of the people that I talk to that’s not their experience, the overwhelming majority of the people that I talk to are operating 125, 150 cases per parole and probation agent or more. So when you have caseloads of that size it’s awfully hard to do cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s awfully hard to really get into the lives of these individuals, encourage them to do better, encourage them to look at a different way of doing things, encouraging them to get drug treatment, mental health treatment, vocational programs, encourage them to find jobs and help them find jobs to do the home visits. All of these things are very labor-intensive and very difficult to do when you have caseloads of 150 to 1.

BILL BURRELL: Yeah. Well, you said it very well and my experience echoes yours. When I go to the American Probation and Parole Association conferences twice a year and other conferences and through my consulting and work with APPA I talk to a lot of folks around the country. And the ideal caseload or the optimal caseload of 50 to 1 is a very rare occurrence, unfortunately. And we do see lots of departments, particularly where you have states with county-based probation departments, these caseloads tend to be much higher than recommended, in some cases, as you said, 150 or more. And it’s hard to even keep track of the activities of those folks, no less spend the quality time you need to with them to get to know them, get to know their problems, connect them with resources, follow up, and so on. It’s just it can’t be done with those large caseloads.

LEONARD SIPES: All right, I’m hearing the same thing. When I do the radio shows I would imagine the most popular response to the radio shows is, “Len, I listen to you talk about justice reinvestment, I listen to you talk about evidence-based practices, I’m 100% behind you. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we want to do. We want to have a good relationship with the people under supervision. We want to encourage them to do better. We want to get them involved in programs. We want to work with their families. We want to work with the faith based community. We want to do all of these things. We simply don’t have the resources to do them.” So if that’s true, why is there such a disconnect between the lofty sense of what I hear from my very good friends at the Department of Justice or Pew or Urban or Vera or lots of other organizations, American Probation and Parole Association, Council of State Governments, all of us are solidly behind justice reinvestment, all of us are solidly behind evidence-based practices, so why is there such a disconnect between what all of us want and what the reality is?

BILL BURRELL: Well, that’s probably the 64,000 dollar question. I think some of it has to do with a disconnect between community corrections and policymakers, legislators, governors, officers and so on. We’re kind of a stepchild of the justice system, despite the fact that we own 70% of the workload. You don’t, you can’t go to a probation department and see caseload crowding like you can go to a prison or jail and look at the tiers and see people crowded, double, triple bunked and things like that. We tend to be seen as a, what I would say, a magical expanding resource, that more cases you give us we just expand and we take them in. Well, we put them on the books, but we really are not capable of keeping up with the workload demands. So as you add more bodies to this system the amount of time spent with each one goes down, the quality of that time generally goes down. So you’re diminishing the capacity of the system to do what it needs to do, but it’s very hard to see that physically. And we also don’t do a very good job as a field in terms of communicating performance information, outcomes, results, process measures and so on. We don’t really do a very good job of that.

So it’s hard to convince people of the nature of our problem and the extents of our problem, because we tend to be out of sight, out of mind, we don’t communicate well, we tend to in the field have a sense that we don’t have political and public support for the work that we do. And, fortunately, the research and the polling work that I’ve seen suggests exactly the opposite, that we do things that are valued by the community, and I think that is becoming more and more clear over the last few years, that we create public value for the community and we need to connect that value to the need for support, political support, community support, resource support and so on, to make that case that we do need the resources. We can do a lot better if we’ve got the capacity, the number of officers and staff we need to supervise in cases, and what I also like to say is the capability, the skills, the knowledge, the training, the resources for treatment and so on that will enable to effectively supervise those folks that we’ve already got in our caseloads. And if you want to do justice reinvestment, which everybody seems to be on board with, I just was reading that I think the 27th state just signed up for it, Utah, so better than half the country has signed onto this. And we need to figure out a way to communicate that we could be creating another deinstitutionalization type of situation if we begin pushing people out of prisons and jails into probation and parole caseloads without the capacity to provide effective supervision.

LEONARD SIPES: And what would that do, Bill? Before the program we were talking about the danger of what?

BILL BURRELL: Well, if you put more people and potentially higher risk people into probation caseloads the amount and the quality of supervision is going to decline and the inevitable result of that will be more crime in the community committed by people under the supervision of probation and parole officers. And what keeps me up at night is that the blame will then be placed on the probation and parole agencies, “Well, you didn’t supervise these people effectively.” Well, part of the problem is we have a caseload of 150 and no one, I don’t care who you are, can supervise that size caseload effectively.

LEONARD SIPES: Our guest –

BILL BURRELL: So this…. Go ahead.

LEONARD SIPES: Let me reintroduce you, Bill. We’re more than halfway through the program. Our guest today is Bill Burrell. He’s been at our microphones multiple times before. He’s an independent corrections management consultant and author of a pretty interesting book. – oh, I’m sorry at william.burrell, B-U-R-R-E-L-L at comcast.net, william.B-U-R-R-E-L-L at comcast.net. Bill, you’ve been dealing with parole and probation agencies throughout the country in terms of your consultant role. You spent years with the New Jersey I think Department of Parole and Probation, is that correct?

BILL BURRELL: The Jersey court system, yeah, probation.

LEONARD SIPES: The Jersey court system, probation. So you have decades of experience in this, you’re out and about, you talk to people from throughout the country, you’re very well integrated with our friends at the American Probation and Parole Association, you go to their conferences, so you’re hearing this from more than a couple people.

BILL BURRELL: Yes, yes. And then this is kind of the theme I hear from almost everybody. There’s a frustration because they’ve read about and been trained on evidence-based practices, which is a pretty powerful vehicle for improving the results of what we do, but then they look at the, their organization, their department, and they look at their caseloads and they look at their lack of training resources and so on and they say, “We can’t do it. We don’t have the ability to move up to this new level of performance that we believe in, we think it’s a good idea, we’d like to do.” But it’s the ability to implement EBP, which is a much abused term these days, I think people throw it around very loosely, but really we’re talking about a set of practices that if they are implemented will reduce the risk of recidivism by the population that we supervise, reliably anywhere between 10% to 15%, 20% reductions in recidivism, which is significant. So people are looking at that and saying, “Gee, we’d like to be able to that, we would like to do our job better, we just don’t see how we can do it.”

And some of that relates to another issue that really hasn’t hit the radar screen of too many people yet. We’ve talked a lot about mass incarceration in this country. Some people are now starting to talk about mass supervision, those five million people that are under probation and parole supervision, how many of them really need to be on probation? Are there low-risk offenders there? Are there minor drug offenders? Are there people – there’re lots of people in my experience that’ll get placed on probation just to enable the court to collect fines and restitution fees and so on. So how much of that five million people is the chaff, so to speak, of the caseload that could be handled in some other fashion?

LEONARD SIPES: But I think that’s the point that most of the folks, again, that I just mentioned, from Pew, from Urban, and, again, are good friends and people who were completely supportive of, from Department of Justice and from other organizations will simply say you take those lower level individuals and you do, quote, unquote, “something else with them”. Their supervised by kiosks, they’re supervised administratively, that we have little contact with people at the lower end of the spectrum so we have the resources to devote towards people who do pose a clear and present danger or a risk to public safety. And you do that through objective risk and needs instruments and properly validated for local conditions and there you go, voila, the problem is solved.

BILL BURRELL: Yeah. In fact, Vince Schiraldi, who was the Commissioner of Probation in New York City up until recently, and Mike Jacobson, who you may have encountered, who was also the Commissioner of Probation for a while, they just wrote a piece called “Could Less Be More When it Comes to Probation Supervision?”, and talking about reducing the amount of people, low-risk people on supervision, and those that are there, reducing the amount of resources that they devote to them. And New York was one of the, I think the first, or the most prominent department to do kiosk supervision. And they had at one point almost two thirds of their population was reporting on kiosks and the re-arrest rate was like 1.5%. It was no different than the general citywide re-arrest rate. So we have lots of folks that did stupid things, were in the wrong place at the wrong time, whatever the scenario you want to present, are really not a risk. These are people that we should have the minimum amount to do with, collect whatever financial obligations we want from them, or whatever else we need to do, and then get them out of the system as quickly as possible, because we’re learning that we can actually make things worse by supervising those people, having them hang out with high-risk offenders in the waiting room in the probation department. Well, guess what. It’s usually the bad guys who make the good guys bad, not the other way around.

LEONARD SIPES: Well, we’re also told that trying to help individuals at the lower end of the continuum also poses a problem, because if you have a person who is a lower risk offender, the judge orders drug treatment for that individual, well, that’s just money that’s taken up that could be reallocated towards a higher risk individual. And if he or she doesn’t complete that treatment or they’re going half the time or they’re creating a problem within the group, bam, they’re revoked and out in a prison.

BILL BURRELL: Yeah. And we have lots of places where judges and prosecutors almost reflexively give probation, and they put on lots of conditions, special conditions of supervision, most of which they have no intention of enforcing, but it makes them feel good, makes them feel like we’re being tough on crime. Well, you got to realize that every one of those people you place on probation has a set of conditions that a probation has to enforce, and, ultimately, they can be brought back into court for failure to do that, to live up to those conditions, and potentially go to jail.

LEONARD SIPES: But help me, because I’m struggling with this, because if we did that then are the folks who at the national level are right? What they’re saying is, is that take that good percentage of your caseload – you just said that two thirds of the probation caseload in New York City was being supervised by kiosk and they had the same re-arrest rate as the general population. Then the question now becomes, is why aren’t we taking that I don’t know what percentage, two third, one third, one half, whatever that is of the lower risk offenders and doing something else with them besides regular and parole, then why aren’t we doing that? That’s what the people at the national level would say. It’s that it’s not a capacity issue; it’s the lack of a willingness on our part to do, quote, unquote, “something else with lower level offenders”.

BILL BURRELL: Well, that’s the I think the new breaking issue right now is focusing on the sentencing decision and the plea bargaining decision and introducing risk assessment into that. And there were just a series of things in the paper; Attorney General Holder came out apparently against using risk assessment in sentencing, which is kind of going against the tide of where the field seems to be going in terms of evidence-based decision-making. But the sentencing decision usually focuses on the seriousness of the crime and the extent of the offender’s prior involvement, prior record, and that’s pretty much it. And that really doesn’t get to the question of risk. To some extent prior record is a driver of risk, but there’re a lot of other factors that are involved. So we have people sentencing offenders for lots of reasons that have little or nothing to do with their risk of reoffending. Now, there may be other objectives of sentencing you want to accomplish, deterrents and punishment and so on, and we have to accomplish, accommodate those. But until we can figure out a way to help judges and defense attorneys and public defenders and DAs get a sense of the level of risk and sentence accordingly, we’re not going to get a reduction in the number of low-risk offenders that are going into probation.

LEONARD SIPES: But they could say the onus is on us. They could say that, “Okay, fine. We imposed all these restrictions. You do with them what you think is permissible.” Again, going back to the example of New York City probation where two thirds are in kiosks. They’re simply going to say, “Hey. We did what we think is proper, now you make the decision in terms of how you handle them.” And all we have to do is shift massive amounts of people into these lower level categories and suddenly we have the resources for the higher level people. What they’re going to say is that’s our job not theirs.

BILL BURRELL: Well, yes, there’s a good deal of truth to that, but one of the problems we see is judges will impose a probation sentence, sometimes three, four, five years, with lots of conditions, and send it over to probation, and probation is obligated to enforce those conditions, and sometimes that’s not possible by putting them on a kiosk kind of reporting. So some of this has to do with the use of probation in terms of the length of time, the number of conditions, even beyond the question of whether they should be on probation at all, because each one of those cases consumes probation resources.

LEONARD SIPES: Sure.

BILL BURRELL: I had a discussion with one of our judges in New Jersey years ago and his favorite sentence was to put somebody on probation until the restitution is collected. So all he wanted was the money. He wanted to get the money to the victim of the crime.

LEONARD SIPES: Right.

BILL BURRELL: He really didn’t want the person being supervised by a probation officer.

LEONARD SIPES: Right.

BILL BURRELL: But I, and I suggested to him there was another mechanism in our criminal code that enabled us in probation to collect that money for him and hold that person accountable without me having to devote a professional probation officer to that case. He said, “Gee, I had no idea.” Well, so shame on me too, you know, that we weren’t really educating folks about the implications of those probation sentences and then also that there were other mechanisms within the criminal code to accomplish the objective that he was looking to accomplish.

LEONARD SIPES: So in the final four minutes, basically what you’re saying, Bill, is that we, within the criminal justice system throughout the country, need to have a very powerful examination as to how we conduct business, how we do what we do, and if we’re unwilling to do something else with lower level individuals then at least give us the resources, the caseloads, the treatment resources, the training, the money to do it well.

BILL BURRELL: Yes. But I would first argue that we need to look at the front end of the system, the whole criminal processing up to the point of sentencing, diversion of low-risk offenders, presentencing into treatment programs if they need them, really begin to sort through that pile of offenders coming into the system and figure out who’s really dangerous, who are we really scared of, who really needs to be punished by going to prison, who are those people with serious problems that need to be supervised by probation officers to get them into treatment and so on. And that group that I call the chaff, the low-risk, minor offenders that we’re just mad at, we’re not scared of, we’re just mad at them, let’s not push them father into the system. Let’s find other ways of dealing with them in the community so that the caseload of a probation department is really moderate and high-risk people. The low-risk people for the most part never get there.

And that means a much more systematic, disciplined sorting process in the presentencing arena so that we’ve taken them out as much as we can so that what we’re left with is the people who really do need supervision. And then when you begin to think about the justice reinvestment side of things, because you go back a couple years, the Pew Public Safety Performance Project published a report, it talked about the amount of money, how the corrections dollar is allocated, and 12% of the corrections dollar was going to probation and parole, even though we have 70% of the population. Most expensive parole supervision was 7,000 dollars a year. And the average prison

BILL BURRELL: Prison cost –

LEONARD SIPES: Yeah.

BILL BURRELL: Was six or seven times that. I said, “I don’t –”

LEONARD SIPES: Yes.

BILL BURRELL: “I don’t even want all of that difference. Just give me, just double what I’m getting and I could do amazing things.”

LEONARD SIPES: The bottom line between it, the bottom line is that our people within parole and probation throughout the country want to do a good job, they’re dedicated to what they’re doing, they’re very important to our public safety, they’re very important to limiting the expenditures of tax paid dollars, they’re dedicated to justice reinvestment, they’re dedicated to evidence-based practices, they simply want a decent shot of doing that job well. That’s the bottom line, correct?

BILL BURRELL: Absolutely. You don’t stay in the field of probation and parole for very long if you’re not interested in helping people. And what we’ve found out from the research on burnout, for example, is that it’s not working with the offenders that burns out probation and parole officers; it’s impossible policies and procedures and organizational structures, which includes very large caseloads, that effectively prohibit them from doing the job that they came in to do.

LEONARD SIPES: Bill, it’s a fascinating conversation. As always, I invite you back to the microphones any time, because you provide a sense of clarity from the field that sometimes we don’t hear from the national organizations. Ladies and gentlemen, our guest today has been Bill Burrell, independent corrections management consultant and author. You can reach at William, W-I-L-L-I-A-M.B-U-R-R-E-L-L at comcast.net. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

 

Share

Community Corrections Collaborative Network-National Institute of Corrections

Community Corrections Collaborative Network-National Institute of Corrections

DC Public Safety Radio

http://media.csosa.gov

Podcast available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/09/community-corrections-collaborative-network-national-institute-corrections/

LEONARD SIPES: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety I am your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentleman the Community Correction Collaborative Network, they are back at our microphones to talk about all the issues that we can do, should do if all the organization that are involved in the correctional system come together and agree to debate and agree to disagree on certain  issues. The Community Correction Collaborative Network’s mission is to serve as a forum to develop and work with the emerging issues, activities and goals in the community corrections fields. Back at our microphone is Greg Crawford; Greg is a Correctional Program Specialist at the Community Service Division at the National Institute of Corrections. He has experience in the Criminal Justice and mental health field that includes over 14 years working in a misdemeanant Probation Department and at a Community based Mental Health Center. Also by our microphones is Phil Nunes, Phil brings extensive experience totaling 25 years in management nonprofit operations. Phil joined Avis House in July of 2014 as a Chief Programs Officer. And we have Spurgeon Kennedy, our Spurgeon Kennedy at Pretrial here in the District of Columbia. He is Director of Strategic Development for the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia and Vice President for the National association of Pretrial Services and to Phil and Spurgeon and Greg welcome to DC Public Safety.

GREG CRAWFORD: Thanks a lot.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: How are you?

LEONARD SIPES: You know this is an interesting concept we talked about it last time and I think it really is an extraordinarily interesting because what we are talking about doing is bringing a wide variety of organizations together at the same table to debate and agree and disagree on the topics that are so important to us. I am going to read a couple of the organizations involved American Probation and Parole Association, Association of Paroling Authorities, International Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association, International Community Correction Association, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, National Association of Probation Executives and Greg you are going to tell me that we have a new one.

GREG CRAWFORD: We do Leonard.

LEONARD SIPES: And what is that new one.

GREG CRAWFORD: It is the National Association of Drug Core Professionals.

LEONARD SIPES: And that is extraordinarily important. Greg what is new in terms of the Community Corrections Collaborative Network.

GREG CRAWFORD: Well we are actually in town. We meet twice a year. We are in town tomorrow and Thursday. We have all of our Associations coming to Washington DC. We have a robust agenda and we are looking forward to continuing the discussion about the emerging issues of the field.

LEONARD SIPES: Now the emerging issues of the field are what? I mean the public is being inundated in terms of correctional news. I mean it is very hard to read the newspaper or watch evening television without corrections being part of the news either from a good point or a bad point of view but we have the Affordable Care Act in terms of how that is going to impact Community Corrections Populations. We have the Second Chance Act, we have Justice Reinvestment. There are a lot of different things that are happening throughout the country that these organizations find to be very important. So let’s start off with the Affordable Care Act.

GREG CRAWFORD: Well let me just, if I could, just back up for half a second. I think it is important that we just sort of lay out the state of the Criminal Justice System. If you look at our local jails we average about 11.7 million cycling through our local jails each year. Since the early 80s we have approximately a 375% increase in the US prison population. We have nearly 5 million people on probation or parole. So the system really is sort of bursting at the schemes and so now with the introduction of health care reform and reauthorization of the Second Chance Act and Justice Reinvestment Initiatives, to me this is a real opportunity to make an impact and reduce recidivism and help these people that are in the system address these underlying issues of substance abuse and mental health issues and the discussion I hope we get into today is about building capacity in the Community and meeting the needs of these new opportunities for these folks in the system.

LEONARD SIPES: And having the major Community Corrections Organization in the country all come together and all agreeing in terms of a platform would be a huge plus if we were all marching in lockstep together but these are organization that are ordinarily overwhelmed by the amount of people coming into them. There are 7 million people under Correctional Supervision. 1.5 million are in prisons and in federal prison systems and another what 500 thousand, 600 thousand are in jails then we having another 5 million people onto some sort of community Correction setting. I mean that is 7 million human beings on any given day. That is an enormous amount of people. Do we have the capacity to individually look at these people, provide treatment services, and provide remediation so they would do better upon release? 95% of them are going to come out; they are going to be released. Do we have the capacity to actually deal with these numbers. Phil do you want to go with that?

PHIL NUNES: Sure, I mean I think first of all I mean Community Corrections is an extremely important; I always use the analogy that it is the Penicillin pill for the Corrections Department. Without Community Corrections prisons over the last two decades would have just continued to grow and spiral out of control. Community Corrections has always served as an out lay and a relief valve for people coming home but in years past science is catching up and you know back in the 1940s and the 1950s there is actually a research article that says nothing works. Well today, fast forward to 2014 we know what works. We know that risk based approaches, tailoring individual and addressing needs of those in the Criminal Justice System based upon a risk and their needs has great impact on reducing recidivism. So Community Corrections is a very big and very vital important part to the Correctional World but that world is about to change and it is changing in many states in the country because we are hitting way over capacity on funding issues. But it is also changing because we just cannot lock everybody up and throw away the key. Community Corrections really serves and the seven of us organizations coming together and really speaking with one voice it is rather historic actually.

LEONARD SIPES: I do what to get back to the affordable care act that Greg brought up because of extraordinary importance to those of us in Community Corrections. Spurgeon did you want to opine about where we are in terms of resources?

SPURGEON KENNEDY: I think Phil makes an excellent point. In years past the Community Corrections field was almost a stop gap and if your jail or prison got to crowded you use probationary sources, you used parole, you use pretrial resources. That is not happening any more. Right now Community Corrections is not a stop gap we are the first option. And for most defendants and Offenders we are the best option in the Criminal Justice System. We are the thing that makes the most sense if reducing recidivism is the thing that you are trying to accomplish. Because of that we are going to be used a lot more. Jurisdictions across the country are beginning to buy-in to the idea of evidence based practices. They are beginning to buy into the idea that Community Supervision is the best way to address recidivism and with that new way of thinking does have to come new strategies and new ways of getting resources to what’s going to become a fast growing population of defendants and offenders.

LEONARD SIPES: Throughout the program I do want to remind the listeners that we are talking about a collaboration that is headed up by the National Institute of Corrections that deals with, and marches in lockstep hopefully, or in agreement certainly with most of the major Community Corrections Organizations in the Country so it is something exciting not just having the National Institute of Corrections come along and suggest something but to have all the National Associations that support Community Corrections also agree to it. But getting back to the substance of the field. Lots of people have been before these microphones claiming that we are dumping literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of people into the Community Correction systems who have mental health problems. People who would have been served under, you know 20-30 years ago by facilities at the state level to deal with mental health. We suddenly become the repository for people who have mental health problems. So first of all is that correct and secondly what is the state of the art from the National Institute of Corrections point of view and the Community Collaborations point of view?

GREG CRAWFORD: Well I would say that up until health care reform the jails and prisons had become the defectum mental health institutions in this country and now with health care reform individuals have an opportunity to receive health care to treat theses underlying issues that help lead them into the system of substance abuse and mental health issues.

LEONARD SIPES: And do we have the capacity to deal with it. If we are the defectum, repository for people with mental health problems, do we have that capacity and it leads us back hopefully to the discussion about the affordable care act?

GREG CRAWFORD: I think resources are definitely going to be an issue. There is going to be a period of time where ewe are going to have to figure out ways to build capacity in the Community in order to really take advantage and leverage the opportunities of health care reform. Phil?

PHIL NUNES: I would just add I think that the Affordable Care Act is a terrific starting point but health care is a really big ship that is taking a long time to turn as well. So we are just now on the eve of rewriting rules and regulations and I think states and the federal government actually are now starting to see exactly how do they get through some of the red tape that use to exist but also how do you leverage resources and get a provider because it is a potential issue that the infrastructure does not exist to support this new wave of new services that overnight people became eligible for.

LEONARD SIPES: But I mean people are describing this as the most, one of the, describing it optimistically in a way that I haven’t heard in the last four or five years. Now the Affordable Care Act with all its difficulties and infrastructure issues does provide us somewhere down the road with the best chance of providing individuals caught up in the Criminal Justice System with a medical and mental health and possibly substance abuse issues that they so desperately need. Spurgeon am I right or wrong?

SPURGEON KENNEDY: This is potentially one of the biggest game changes that we have had in the Criminal Justice in a very long time. It is also and again Phil makes an excellent point if we don’t use it well and if we don’t know the population to apply to the best it could be a waste as well. We need to be able to know that these are the defendants and the offenders who are in the most need of mental health services and substance abuse services. We have to get better at assessing. We have to get better at identifying and we have to get better at matching the need to the resources and this is a great and wonderful thing. We have to get better at knowing how to use it and use it well.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay but are the different organizations, Greg how many are we talking about now at National Organizations?

GREG CRAWFORD: Seven.

LEONARD SIPES: Seven, okay do those seven organizations plus your individual organizations, do you all agree that this is, this has huge potential but at the same time has huge pitfalls, all of you marching in lockstep in terms of what we can get out of this, what we should be getting out of affordable health care?

GREG CRAWFORD: Well I think as Kennedy said this is the potential to be a huge game changer for the Criminal Justice System and for the folks in the system. I mean really this is the first time that a lot of these folks has had the opportunity to receive health care and be covered to receive the treatment for these issues. And so take a look at this, if you look in Cook County, in Chicago Illinois prior to the health care reform one out of ten individuals who came into the Court room had health care coverage. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act they now have 9/10 so that is a big difference. If you look at you know local and state jurisdictions across the county they have to be proactive in this thing. They can’t just sit there and let it unfold and expect miracles to happen. They have to be proactive in helping build that capacity in the Community in order to meet these needs.

PHIL NUNES: You know Len I would just add one other thing and for years I have been hearing this as a practitioner in the Community for Community Corrections is that sometimes you have to commit a crime to even be eligible to get in and get drug treatment, rehab. This is to me, that is the game changer part and I think the system is just going through some growth right now but when it does catch up these folks hopefully can be caught early on to get to the point where we prevent them from committing crimes and they get their drug treatment or their mental health issues back in check so that they are not going to the Criminal Justice System.

LEONARD SIPES: Does the Affordable Care Act focus on drug treatment.

PHIL NUNES: Yes.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: Substance abuse treatment, mental health services, also physical issues as well. So these are all risk factors when you are looking at recidivism reduction.

LEONARD SIPES: Is it agreed between the four of us in this room that resources certainly haven’t been there. We have all wondered why resources certainly haven’t been there when the great bulk of the people caught up in the Criminal Justice System belong to us in Community Corrections. I mean is that a true statement and we are wondering why the resources haven’t been there and now there is the possibility, if everything works well that four or five years down the road we could have an infrastructure that actually provides treatment services to people on Community Supervision.

PHIL NUNES: Len if I could add too, I think there is an important caveat that we need to make sure we outline too because this is going to work in states that actually took the Affordable Care Act and raised the poverty level to the 133% level because that is the game changes. I think it is 25 out of the 50.

GREG CRAWFORD: 27 Actually now.

PHIL NUNES: 27 so they have adopted that. Those states that have adopted that overnight people who, single men for example, single men in general but of course even women with children who were making a different amount of money overnight became eligible for medical services which again include mental health and substance abuse.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay the radio program today ladies and gentlemen is on the Community Collections Collaborative Network produced by the National Institution of Corrections and we really do appreciate the work at the National Institution of Corrections in terms of setting up this program. Greg Crawford is by our microphones today. Phil Nunes is also by our microphones for the first time, he is, I want to mention him because he has not been here before. He has joined Avis House as a Chiefs Programs Officer in July of 2014. Spurgeon Kennedy is back at our microphones as the Strategic Director of Development Services for Pretrial and is also the Vice President at the National Association of Pretrial Services. I do want to refer everybody to the website for the National Institute of Corrections www.nicic.gov. There is a report that deals with the collaborative network, Safe and Smart Ways to Solve America’s Correctional challenges. Greg we are going to go back to you. Correctional challenges, you know when I read something in the newspaper, when I hear something on the radio, watch something on television about corrections it is uniformly negative. I don’t think the average person out there and I have seen surveys that back this up, sees us in the same light as our law enforcement partners. They see us not in the best of all possible lights. Is that part of the reason as to why corrections, especially Community Corrections has been so resource poor over time. Do people have confidence in us and is that one of the goals of the Collaborative Network?

GREG CRAWFORD: Yeah I think so, I think you know as we have kind of shifted away from this heavy incarceration push and folks are starting to realize the effectiveness of Community Corrections. I think often at times the only thing that people see is the negative stuff in the medial but the reality is that there is probation officers largely do a great job, you know addressing these issues, holding people accountable. But the reality is there has been some frustrations on both the part of the folk and the system and the probation officers with these resources. I am going to get back to that for a second. A lot of these folks have not had the funding or they don’t have jobs with the economy crashing in 08 and so forth, and now with health care reform they have an opportunity to get coverage, they have an opportunity to engage in treatment and deal with the underlying issues and that was a lot of the frustrations and the cause of these technical violations that these probations have had to deal with; was the fact that these folks could not afford treatment and now that has been removed. But what is really important is that these Criminal Justice Agencies across the country look at setting up enrolment systems and determining eligibility for these folks and assisting these folks in getting the health care coverage and probation, parole and pretrial officers can play a major role in this and education folks what’s available to them. If you look at the decision points within the Criminal Justice System between law enforcement, court, jails, prisons and community corrections, there is no wrong door for enrolment in determining eligibility and so that to me, people need to be aware that they can all play a critical role as a Criminal Justice Professional in assisting these folks to access health coverage and deal with the underlying issues that help lead them into the system in the first place.

LEONARD SIPES: There is optimism because we do have the Second Chance Act which we do what to talk about a little bit. We do have something known as Justice Reinvestment to those of us in the Criminal Justice System. We understand that maybe the average person listening to this program does not. We do have a research base that is being more and more positive about what it is that we can do to help individuals not recidivate and lowers crime, lowers the burden on the tax payer. We do have all points of the political spectrum now suddenly agreeing within the last five years as to this is the way to go. We do have organizations such as Pew, Urban again National Institute of Corrections who are basically saying there is a better way, a smarter way, a more productive way of managing the correctional system so the stars are starting to align for us in Community Corrections am I right or wrong?

GREG CRAWFORD: Absolutely Len. I would say first of all the Second Chance Act when we talked about resources a minute ago provides those resources. I mean one thing about, we can do all the great evidence based research in the world but if we don’t get to the point of funding those best practices all that research is for nothing. I think the Second Chance Act really provides a pool of funding you know and I will give a shout out to my Senator Portman from Ohio who is a big sponsor of this, to give programs and services and start to fund these programs using this evidence. So the problems we have in this field right now is you have case loads for probation officers are way unyielding. Research shows that higher risk and not meaning dangerous risk but those with higher needs or moderate needs would need more dosage treatment hours of services if it is going to go to reduce the likelihood of them recidivating and coming back into the system. The Second Chance Act actually provides a venue or a stream of funding potential for programs to continue to move forward with those best practices.

LEONARD SIPES: But the point that I am trying to make is that we are talking about funding and here we have the President and Congress supporting the Second Chance Act which is putting more money into research program, putting more money into programs in the community and researching them to see if they are affective so we do have funding from a variety of sources and that is way Spurgeon I am beginning to believe, I am beginning to be a bit more optimistic about our place in the sun. Our place in terms of how people perceive us as having the potential for improving dramatically because we are getting more money from a variety of sources.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: I think that all of the groups that you mention are now on the same page and that is the goal of any good Criminal Justice System is to protect the public. It is to reduce recidivism. It is to look for ways of keeping people who are in the system out of the system in the future. We are on the same page with that. We are on the same page with the things that are most effective, those evidence based practices that make the most sense and that yield us the best successes. The real issue now and this is we are having partners such as Pew and others in the discussion is how best to do those things.

LEONARD SIPES: And this is why the Community Corrections Collaborative Network now comes together at a very opportune time because now there is money, now there is agreement, now there is consensus.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: You have 90 thousand people who every single day do the job. They manage defendants and offenders. They work with those evidence based practices. They have to live with those shortages of resources. What they have lacked over the years and hopefully what the collaborative gives them is a voice to the people making those decisions about this is what we belief works best.

LEONARD SIPES: But national organizations are coming together and are saying hey this, we believe is the path, very powerful National Organizations, the President, Congress. It is not politically popular regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on. We now have again this is collaborative network of national organizations coming together yet I’m still wondering if we are convincing the average person sitting out there about our worthiness if all they are hearing is principally negative news coming out of the newspapers, television stations and radio stations. Are we doing enough to see this new collaboration, not just in terms of your network but everything that I have just mentioned all these new funding sources? Are we doing enough talking to the American people to convince them that we are players and we know what we are doing and we know which way to go?

SPURGEON KENNEDY: I think the group that we have convinced the most is those who make the decisions about where resources are going to go. If you are looking at law makers, local decision makers, even as you said before those at a national level even with the dearth of public opinion, whether you’re Liberal, whether you are Conservative you now know what the issues are regarding crime and justice.

LEONARD SIPES: The governors are certainly on board.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: True, I think we have the people on board who will listen and who can make the decisions about resources and about best practices that need to be made for us to move forward.

LEONARD SIPES: The question I have for everybody is that if we really put all these things in place. If we had the drug treatment, if we had the mental health treatment, if we had the vocational treatment, if we had reasonable case loads for people who are doing community corrections where they can actually implement best practice, where they had a shot at implementing best practices. What would change for the average American? What would change in terms of the tax payer contribution Greg?

GREG CRAWFORD: Well I think first of all we are going to get safer communities and I think one this that

LEONARD SIPES: Marginally safer communities, much safer communities?

GREG CRAWFORD: Much safer communities and here is the thing. Our country incarcerates more people than any country in the world. One out of every three Americans has some sort of criminal record or charge or has been arrested and so we need to go about things a little differently and I think what folks are going to see with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with the Second Chance Act with Justice reinvestment with people paying attention to the fact that we have gone about things a little differently. There is a tremendous collateral consequence from having an arrest or criminal conviction. If you look at what happens a collateral consequence of incarceration, harder to get a job, you know renting an apartment or getting a load or getting a school load these are all negative things that occur and I think people are recognizing that if we want to stop this cycle we need to really take a look at changing that trend by promoting what is working and Community Corrections to me instead of long term incarceration, diversion type program where you know if you comply with a court order treatment program the charge drops off your record. We need to take a look at shifting to those type of things if we really want to make a difference in terms of you know, keeping people connected to the community rather than as Kennedy mentioned in the last broadcast, shipping people off to prison for long stretches.

LEONARD SIPES: We are getting into the final minute of the program so I am going to ask for your answers to be fairly short. Phil again if we really did have all of these resources together, Greg said there would be a significant contribution to public safety. We would definitely lower the burden of tax payers. We would throw fewer dollars into the criminal Justice System. If this is such a win-win situation why is it taking so long to come to this point of national consensus in terms of what to do?

PHIL NUNES: Len I think you can’t get past the 1 in 31 number of the Pew research in 2007. 1 in 31 adult men and women were under some kind of correctional supervision. I think that is what has awakened our country to think about this issue. I think that has opened the door to have now realistic conversation around the issues and impacting, but we have to go even further than what we are looking at and talking about today. We have to look at the 1.5 million kids of incarcerated parents and that 600 thousand are destined to come in our systems. Our system is somewhat broken and now is the time for us I think to come together and that is what our collaborative is about. We are about coming together to talk about what are the most appropriate and of course we haven’t got much into it in this show but maybe for a future show but the justice reinvestment movement that is going on nationwide, you are going to have to get to that point but any time you can keep someone a tax payer and not a tax taker it’s a win-win for I think all of us.

LEONARD SIPES: Spurgeon you have got the final point. How do you summarize all of this to the governor’s aide who are sitting there listening to this program wanting to do something better in Community Corrections what is our message to that individual.

SPURGEON KENNEDY: The use of Community Corrections not only is the smarter way of doing business now but also the cheaper and as a tax payer, as all tax payers I think we all appreciate that. I will give you an example in DC where we try to implement evidence based practices both pretrial and also probation and our jail is 51% capacity and crime has gone down in our city. Most people are supervised in the community, they are supervised well and we are safe.

LEONARD SIPES: Phil and Spurgeon and to Greg I do want to express my appreciation for doing this show today talking about an extraordinarily important topic. I do want to remind everybody that there is a document called Safe and Smart Ways to Solve America’s Correctional Challenges it is at the website of the national Institute of Corrections www.nicic.gov. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC public Safety we really do appreciate your comments and we even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have yourself a very pleasant day.

Share

Comcast Interview with Nancy Ware

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

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you, Yolanda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you.

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

Share