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Pretrial Supervision and Treatment-DC Public Safety Radio

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Ladies and gentlemen, today’s topic is pretrial and treatment in pretrial and one of the main points that I want to make from the very beginning is the fact that where we have two million people in the present system throughout this country, we have  many millions more who are involved in the pretrial process.  They are arrested, they go through the pretrial process and this whole concept of treatment within pretrial, actually from a sheer numerical point of view, takes on much greater importance than those—than the discussion of treatment within the correctional setting.  There are literally millions of people going through the arrest process, going through the pretrial process, all throughout the United States and my guess is that the vast majority of them do not receive treatment of any kind by their pretrial agency.  To talk about this issue, we have two principals.  One is Terrence Walton, he is the Director of Treatment; and two, is Michael McGinnis, he is the Deputy Director of Treatment.  Both represent the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia and they’re my sister agency for the court services and a federal supervision agency.  Pretrial Services is a federal agency like we are at CSOSA.  And to Terrence and to Michael, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Michael McGinnis:  Well, thank you, Len, good to be here.

Terrence Walton:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, first of all, Michael, let’s go and set some basics up.  The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia does what?

Terrence Walton:  Why don’t I take that one if I could?

Michael McGinnis:  Yeah, go ahead.

Terrence Walton:  I’ll take it, all right.  Listen, the agency does a lot and it’s hard to capture it but essentially we’re responsible for two big tasks. The biggest task is and the first task is to assist the court in making release decisions. So when a defendant is arrested and is being considered for release, Pretrial Services conducts an interview, reviews criminal history, talks with the defendant directly, talks sometimes with collaterals to get a sense of who we have, and then recommends to the court either release or detention.  And if they’re going to be released, the many of them we recommend they be released with certain conditions that they must comply with.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  That’s our first big task, helping the court make good release decisions.

Len Sipes:  And a good release decision is based principally upon two things:  A) risk to public safety and B) whether or not the defendant will return for trial, do I have that right?

Terrence Walton:  That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right.  There’s lots of ways to say it, but those are the two big things. We don’t want them to jump bail, we don’t want them to disappear and we also don’t want a subsequent arrest if we can help prevent that.

Len Sipes:  And you’re talking about conditions of supervision.  There are many conditions of supervision.  You could put the person under GPS surveillance; have the person constantly being tracked.  There’s a lot of reporting requirements for that person and the treatment component, the very reason why we’re doing the program today, could be a component of pretrial release, it could be a condition of pretrial release.

Terrence Walton:  That is exactly right and in fact, because a significant number of defendants who are arrested in DC are testing positive for drugs or report drug use—in fact it’s about 33% of the adult population test positive for some drug other than marijuana.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  We don’t test for marijuana at lockup, so if we did, it would be twice that number.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  But we’ve talked about cocaine, heroin, PCP, amphetamines.

Len Sipes:  The drugs with the largest correlation to serious crime.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right, 33% of our population will test positive for that coming in the door and that’s 60% of the juveniles will test positive for some drug, and in that case it’s almost always marijuana.  So the size of those populations and for many of those adults, we’re recommending release conditions that include requirements that they drug test and that’s done by our agency and processed in our own lab, as well as other release conditions.  And that’s really the second big task.  The first big task is recommending release conditions.  And the second big task is supervising those conditions and keeping the court aware of how the defendant’s doing.  But I think Michael will agree with this, that it’s not simply just us overseeing and reporting what happens.  Pretrial Services is involved in trying to help motivate defendants, help them do the right thing, figure out their obstacles that will keep them from being able to comply and help them solve those problems.  So we see—we respond to the court, we have a law enforcement responsibility but we’re very much centered on the needs of the defendant and how best we can meet those needs in a way that helps them to do the right thing.

Len Sipes:  Well, Michael, the question goes over to you now.  For many people involved in the criminal justice system, they have mental health issues.

Michael McGinnis:  Um-hm.

Len Sipes:  How do we expect that individual to do well under pretrial or do well under any sort of supervision, whether they come over to us after they’re found guilty—how are they going to do well unless they get the treatment they need to stabilize themselves and to deal with their mental health issues, correct?  I mean, it does come down to that level of basics.

Michael McGinnis:  It definitely does and one of the things that we have here at the Pretrial Services, our Specialized Supervision Unit, and this is a unit that after a defendant is assessed and would be found perhaps with a current issue and they would meet the requirements of this unit, this is a unit that would—specializes in working with that population.

Len Sipes:  Um-hm.

Michael McGinnis:   So they could either be—they would get them immediately connected into a mental health program and a substance abuse program if needed.  If they were going to move them on to a mental health community court, you know, for diversion, that would be part of their job.  But all the PSOs that work in there have a background in working with this population.

Len Sipes:  And PSOs are?

Michael McGinnis:  Pretrial Service Officers.

Len Sipes:  Okay, fine, thanks.

Michael McGinnis:  Right, have a background on this unit and a great interest in working with this current population.  Which has, since I’ve been in this field and it’s been over 20 years working in this field, is this population is probably our most increasing population.

Len Sipes:  Um-hm, yeah, no doubt about it.

Michael McGinnis:  We had, when I started with pretrial, we had one unit, an SSU unit, that’s a Special Supervision Unit, and now, because of need, we have two.  So we have almost 18 Pretrial Services offices serving over 661 people in the program.

Len Sipes:  That’s amazing.  Terrence, give me a sense as to all the other treatment programs that you guys put on the table for people.

Terrence Walton:  Yeah, Michael mentioned the mental health component.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  We also have a unit that does nothing but assesses. We have a social services assessment center that assesses men and women who are released and even those who are being considered for release, we conduct both addiction assessments as well as mental health assessments from that shop.  Once we identify individuals who need treatment, there are really three big options for them, drug treatment.  One is the drug court program, which is the Superior Court Drug Intervention Program, a pretrial program that has been around since 1993.

Len Sipes:  A successful program that’s been noted nationally.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely and one of the first ever to show up on the scene.  That’s the program of choice.  It has a complete regimen of incentives and sanctions, a single calendar, lots of contact with the judge

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  Lots of opportunities for people to get the help that they need.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  For those—for folks that don’t qualify for drug court because of criminal history or some other disqualifier, we have another program called New Directions, which they can get the same treatment as a drug court defendant. The court supervision isn’t as close because these defendants are on various different calendars and they are incentives and sanctions, but while in drug court, there are both judicial sanctions, sanctions that come from the bench, from the judge as well as administrative sanctions, the ones that come from the supervision officer.  In New Directions, all sanctions are administrative, all administered by the supervising officer.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  Those are the two main programs.  There’s one other option.  Sometimes individuals are not eligible for New Directions either because they’re about to go to sentencing perhaps or some other reason.  We have another track for those, where we’ll put them in treatment somewhere, temporarily, under a sanction contract, primarily to prepare for a transition to CSOSA probation, to probation here in the city.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  So those are the three big options and they are all based on treatment needs.

Len Sipes:  So in essence it is a combination of either substance abuse or mental health, and Michael, these are all, I’m assuming, cognitive-based programs where we help the decision-making process of the individuals involved in the criminal justice system.  I mean, a lot of people don’t quite understand cognitive treatment but we really can, and the research is pretty clear on this, we really can intervene in the lives of other human beings and help them rethink their decision-making process.

Michael McGinnis:  Right, that’s the key word.  I mean, helping someone rethink what they’re doing.  You know, a lot of people that come in when they’re in the throes of an addition or they’re in this mode of what I call concrete-type thinking, that they’re repeating something over and over and getting the same result.  You know, especially in our treatment program, which is our PSA STARS program, most all of our interventions are of the cognitive, behavioral kind.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:   But what’s also important, I just wanted to speak to a point that Terrence was talking about.  In two of our programs, in the New Directions programs and in the drug court programs, the Pretrial Service offices that involved in those programs, they’re not only Pretrial Service offices, they’re also licensed clinicians and licensed substance abuse counselors.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:   So they’re providing not only the supervision but they’re also providing the clinical services, and that’s very unique to that program because they have a key perspective in working with the offender.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s one of the points that I wanted to make.  Gentlemen, let’s cut to the chase. We are not just talking about pretrial in the District of Columbia; we’re talking about pretrial throughout the United States.

Michael McGinnis:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Well, for that matter, we’re talking about pretrial in the western industrialized world.  Same situations for Canada, same situations for England, same situations for Australia, New Zealand, France.  These are all the same issues that everybody is wrestling with throughout the country.  We, in the District of Columbia, because we’re a federal agency, we have resources that the overwhelming majority of pretrial agencies do not have.  To my knowledge, the overwhelming majority of pretrial agencies don’t have a dime for treatment.  They have to put this person into a waiting list someplace and that person could wait quite some time before they get involved in treatment and for the love of heavens, they could have their trial before every get involved in treatment.  So there is that difference, we have to admit that right up front, correct?

Terrence Walton:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, the second thing is that you can tell within the stats.  I mean, we have one of the best return to trial rates in the United States.  Our stats are quite good.  And probably one of the reasons why they’re good is that we do have people involved in treatment programs because the research is abundantly clear it can’t just be a matter of supervision.  As I said to Michael at the very beginning, if you have somebody with a mental health problem, they need treatment.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.

Len Sipes:  So if you combine treatment with supervision, you get better results.

Terrence Walton:  I think that’s right.  And Len, I want to add one other I think difference between what we have here in DC and what exists elsewhere in the country that doesn’t cost any money and that is, we have a Bail Act.  We have a statute that really supports Pretrial Services.  Most folks don’t know this but there are very few bail bondsmen in the District of Columbia.

Len Sipes:  Are there any?

Terrence Walton:  Very few.  There may be one or two but there are very few.  Because Pretrial Services as an industry, as a field I should say, has a belief in pretrial justice, essentially saying that if an individual needs to be detained, if they’re dangerous, they should be detained regardless of ability to pay.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  And if they don’t need to be detained, if they’re not a danger to society, then it’s fundamentally unfair for them to be held merely because they can’t afford to post bond.  So instead, we have a Bail Act, which heavily encourages the court to consider release of those who are safe to release with conditions, that pretrial supervises, that helps to assure public safety and return to court.  And that doesn’t cost money, that takes political will and it takes advocacy and it takes being able to battle the interest groups that wouldn’t like that.

Len Sipes:  Well, it does take come money because I would imagine judges sitting on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia know that there are treatment options, know that there are GPS options for following that person 24 hours a day if necessary, know that our staffing levels are probably lower than most pretrial agencies throughout the country.  My guess would be that the judge within the Superior Court here in the District of Columbia, they would be more apt to release a person on pretrial because they know they’re going into a top-rated organization that generally speaking does an excellent job of returning that person to trial

Michael McGinnis:  And I agree with you 100% and they also know that when a substance abuse problem is identified or a mental health issue is identified and is treated, the failure to appear and the re-arrest rates go down with the population that we’re working with.

Len Sipes:  Right, so they have –

Michael McGinnis:  And that is very big.

Len Sipes:  Yeah, and if a judge in Milwaukee wants to put the person on pretrial, I would imagine he or she is going to say, well, you know, well, they were handling cases of 200 to 1, 200 defendants to 1 Pretrial Services officer, they have on room for treatment, gee, I’d better stick this person in jail.  So I would imagine that you save the system money as well as have a higher rate of success.

Terrence Walton:  Well that’s exactly right.  I mean, some of us are motivated by the fact that it seems fundamentally fairer to do it this way, but others, the reality is, is it saves money. That if we can allow a person to stay in their community and at the meantime address their pro-social needs, we save in jail costs.  That’s another important point.

Len Sipes:  Ladies and gentlemen, our guests today are Terrence Walton, he’s the Director of Treatment; and Michael McGinnis, the Deputy Director of Treatment for the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, a federal agency.  The website is:  As I move throughout the country and as I talk to my counterparts throughout the country, they ask about Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia.  It’s one of the best-known pretrial agencies in the country and having one of the best reputations.  Principally I think, because we have a level of funding that so many other agencies simply do not have and the level of training and a level—you’re just a good agency and I think people recognize that within the criminal justice system throughout the country.  Alright, where do we go to from here?  So the average person in the District of Columbia, the average person in Milwaukee—why am I bringing up Milwaukee so many times today?  The average person in Honolulu, the average person in Anchorage, Alaska says to themselves, the police finally got this idiot who’s been bothering the community and three hours later, he’s back on the street.  Where is the justice in that?  So you guys face that issue all the time.  I mean, we have to hit that square, that nail squarely on the head and what people don’t understand is that they are defendants, they are not offenders and within our system, you are not guilty until you’re proven guilty, correct?

Michael McGinnis:  That’s correct.

Terrence Walton:  No, that’s right, and you know, there’s a balance here, that there’s a constitutional presumption of innocence and that means that unlike convicted offenders, the individuals who have not yet actually been convicted of their offense, have certain rights, and that we go to great effort to be sure that we’re using the least restrictive means possible to assure community safety.  Now I want to put a caveat there because we respect the presumption of innocence, but recognize the possibility of guilt.  And so because of that second piece, that’s the reason why we also assess criminal history, we assess the seriousness of the charge so that in the event this person is guilty, how serious is this, and that is factored into our recommendations.

Len Sipes:  And you’re not talking about a short assessment, you’re talking about a rather lengthy, well thought-out assessment in terms of trying to get at that person’s risk to the community and that person’s treatment needs and that person’s past criminal history.  I mean, it’s a pretty complete overview that you do with that individual.  When you make those recommendations to the court, you probably know more about that person than his kid brother.

Terrence Walton:  Well, that may be true and it happens in a couple of stages.  There was the initial stage, pre-release, where we do a comprehensive interview and review the records that we have to make initial decisions.  But also other factors are considered there, that there are sometimes prosecutors who have positions and defense attorneys who have information, that’s all presented to the court as they’re making a release decision.  Once the defendant is released, if he or she is released to our supervision, then if we have any reason to think they need one, we do an additional assessment, a clinical needs assessment that’s designed to look at both treatment needs, at mental health needs as well as social service needs.

Len Sipes:  And many people caught up in the criminal justice system do have needs.  I mean, there was a piece of research out a little while ago and now—I remarked on Milwaukee or kept bringing Milwaukee up a little while ago, now I’m bringing mental health back up—that 55%, according to a Department of Justice document, 55% of people called up in the criminal justice system self-assess or assess themselves.  It was not a political designation but they did a self-assessment as having mental health issues.  So this issue of mental health is something that is really driving much of our service component within the criminal justice system, assuming we have the programs there to service them to begin with.

Michael McGinnis:   I think unfortunately, our prisons have been used as our mental health treatment centers in this country and as you’re saying, most people, when they—  To go back, I just want to go back to what you were talking about—

Len Sipes:  Please, please, Michael.

Michael McGinnis: -our funding here.  It’s not only that we have the funding to provide these services.  Our Director, Susan Shaffer, is also a real believer in the treatment of the offender that comes in and she puts a lot of her energies and times into this.  And it really is a big piece of our agency because before I came to pretrial, I’d been running programs for alternatives to incarcerations, therapeutic communities.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:  Taking programs behind the wall.  And people are just cycling in and out of these, of our prisons without having these issues identified.

Len Sipes:  But that’s the fundamental problem because I’ve talked to my peers throughout the country and they’re going to go, Leonard, I hear you on your daggone radio programs and you focus on public safety first, but you say that you have to have these treatment components because the research is clear that supervision doesn’t work unless you have a treatment component, and I got news for you, Leonard, I don’t have a dime for treatment.  You know, but I want that person to get mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, if I want to find some assistance in terms of that person getting work or getting occupational training, I’ve go to put him in a long line, where that person basically waits for months, unless I get a court order to move that person to the head of the line.  There’s a lot of frustration out there, we all believe in treatment, we all believe in that component being necessary, but most of us don’t have the money for it.

Terrence Walton:  Well, there’s no easy answer to that.  What many communities have done is done the best they can to leverage the resources that exist.  There is professional treatment, there are faith-based organizations, there are peer support groups, which isn’t formal treatment, but it can sometimes do the same job.  There are lots of options in most communities, especially around alcohol and drug issues, for people who need help to get some of that.  You know, I also encourage—there continues to be federal monies and state monies and grants available for organizations who have a will to go after it.  It’s just worth doing it.

Michael McGinnis:   I think it’s—but it’s a great point, Terrence, because you and I were just kind of talking about this earlier this morning, is the whole field is moving more towards this recovery-orientated system of care, where we’re kind of looking at some—that treatment, that line for treatment is different for everyone and there are many options, like faith-based options, there are community options, I think a lot of these other pretrial service organizations that might not have the funding, you know, to have their own treatment centers or put people in treatment—they need to look to these community organizations, to start partnering with these community organizations in hopes of linking their offenders up to services.

Len Sipes:  Well, and everybody’s got to come together and make this a priority.  I mean, there is limited treatment monies available, but as you all have said, I mean, there’s the Salvation Army, there’s the faith-based community, there are private individuals, there are people who will do this on a pro bono basis.  You’ve got to have the will to go out there and make those connections and that becomes extraordinarily important.  But I do believe that again, one of the reasons why we do as well as we do is because look at the two of you—I mean, we have the Director and Assistant Director of Treatment for a pretrial agency.  I mean, there are people, organizations out there that would kill to have a Terrence Walton and a Michael McGinnis sitting before their microphones.

Terrence Walton:  Well, Len, you know, it starts with the will though.  I mean, it starts with the desire, recognition that it’s important, that it’s necessary. And I want to take a minute to share something with our listeners that I think is important, that helps to underscore why it’s so important that we address the underlying issues of men and women who come through our systems.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine is a really collection of physicians who practice addiction medicine and who sort of govern the field and give us guidance and space on research and medicine to help us understand addiction and addition recovery.  And they’ve recently come out with a new policy statement that we don’t have time to go over—I hope people will go to to see more details.  But they’ve given for the first time a policy statement defining addiction.  And let me give you the most interesting piece of that to me, that they have defined addition primarily as a brain disease, a disease that affects a couple of major systems in the brain.  One is the reward system, as well as the command center, the logic and reason system of the brain.  And here’s what important.  They have through PET scans and SPECT images and MRTs, they have been able to look at brain activity and identify deficits in those areas of active addicts. But here’s what’s interesting.  We’ve known that for a long time and we’ve assumed that it’s the drug use that has caused those problems.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  What ASAM and other researchers have discovered is that for many, probably most current addicts, those brain deficiencies existed before they ever picked up a drug.

Len Sipes:  That’s interesting.

Terrence Walton:  It might have been genetic or as a result of traumatic life experiences growing up that changed the –

Len Sipes:  A biological predisposition.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  That biological predisposition, by the way, is clearly there established for alcoholism as well.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  So why wouldn’t that biological predisposition be there for substance abuse.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.  So there’s the biological piece as well as the environmental that they have done studies on monkeys and others that—and I wish I had time to tell you about one—but where they demonstrated that by changing the environmental situation, by depriving organisms of nurturing and affiliation, that they change their brains.

Len Sipes:  Give the public a sense of hope here because I’ve said that the research is abundantly clear.  They do better with a combination of supervision.  And we’re not leaving out the supervision component.  Whether that person’s in treatment or not, we still supervise that person to the best of our availability and that could include, again GPS supervision where we track them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  We’re not leaving out the supervision component.  And sometimes supervision is an integral part of treatment.  Sometimes that supervision officer, their first question is, are you taking your medication, are you going to treatment?  Well, we know whether they’re going to treatment regardless.  So sometimes that supervision component is an integral part of the treatment component but the bottom line is, to the public who, you know, say to themselves, you know, look, I’ve got schools underfunded, I’ve got the elderly to take care of, you’re talking about treatment for criminals for the love of heavens—defendants, I understand.  You know, we have to give them a sense of hope that what we do is successful and not only in the life of that individual, but we are protecting them by doing this and we’re doing that correct?

Michael McGinnis:  Well, of course we are.  I mean, I think as we all know here, there’s not enough jail cells across this country to put people in and treating people is a lot less expensive than putting people behind—

Len Sipes:  So it’s going to save them their taxpaying dollars.

Michael McGinnis:  There’s studies out for every dollar that’s invested in treatment.  There’s a savings of $4 on that individual.

Len Sipes:  And years ago, Rand said it was 7 to 1.

Michael McGinnis:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  We’re also protecting public safety though.

Michael McGinnis:  Right.

Len Sipes:  I mean, that is a message that needs to be put on the table that their life is going to be safer if we provide substance abuse treatment or mental health treatment.

Terrence Walton:  If you don’t treat an addict, if you simply incarcerate an addict, when they come out eventually, and the vast majority of men and women who are incarcerated are eventually released.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  They will still be an addict.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  And so all of the problems that causes to our property and our lives and well-being will just continue.  It is a smart investment to see if we can address those issues and the justice system is helpful because it gives—holds people accountable and it gives them a little external motivation to stick with it, to go to the groups, to take the medicine until it kicks in naturally.  It’s an essential component.

Len Sipes:  But get back to the public safety point again because I do want to keep hammering this point home.  If the person doesn’t do well, the person doesn’t go to treatment, doesn’t take their medication, is not enthusi—well, not enthusiastically involved—is not meaningfully involved in the treatment process, we go back to the court and they could choose to incarcerate that person until trial.

Terrence Walton:  Well, that’s right, there’s some whose releases are revoked based on a decision that they are a danger to society if they aren’t treated successfully.  And there’s also in the drug court, there’s a number of other possible sanctions short of incarceration that’s designed to punish the behavior quickly and briefly and encourage them to get back on track.

Len Sipes:  And motivate them all at the same time.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.

Len Sipes:  To get back on the track.  Okay, final minute of the program.  We save the public, the research states that we save the public a ton of money through the treatment and supervision process, number two that we enhance public safety, their odds of being victimized by this individual are greatly decreased, so we do that.  What am I missing, what is the final word on what the public needs to hear?

Terrence Walton:  Oh, I guess the final word would be that this matters to each and every one of us, that most of us have been affected by addiction and crime, one way or the other and this is a good, wise investment for anyone who cares about this.  And I encourage communities out there to do the best they can to make it happen.

Len Sipes:  Terrence, you’ve got the final word.  Ladies and gentlemen, our guests today, Terrence Walton, Director of Treatment and Michael McGinnis, the Deputy Director of Treatment of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia.  It’s a federal agency,  The program that Terrence mentioned in terms of drug standards, substance abuse standards,  Ladies and gentlemen again, this is DC Public Safety.  We appreciate your calls, we appreciate your letters, we appreciate your emails and we appreciate your guidance and please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


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Iowa Jail-Based Substance Abuse Treatment Project-NCJA-DC Public Safety

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– Audio begins –

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I am your host, Leonard Sipes. This program is going to focus on the Iowa Jail-Based Substance Abuse Treatment project, and let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there are some extraordinary results from this. One year after program completion 78.5% say that they are clean, 91.9% have not been arrested, and 68.2% are employed full time, and I find those to be absolutely amazing statistics. Our guest today, Lonnie Cleland, a program planner with the Iowa Department of Public Health; Leesa McNeil – she is the District Court Administrator for Woodland County, Iowa; and Kim Brangoccio – she is clinical director of United Community Services. This program is brought to you by the National Criminal Justice Association. As the regular listeners are aware, we do a regular series with the National Criminal Justice Association. Their website: Before we begin the program, once again, we thank everybody for the 200,000 requests on a monthly basis for D.C. Public Safety radio, television, blog, and transcripts. You can reach us at M-E-D-I-A.csosa C-S-O-S-A .gov. You can reach me for all the comments – and I get a lot of comments, and I’m appreciative of all the comments – you can reach me directly via email: Leonard L-E-O-N-A-R-D.sipes or follow us via Twitter, which is Twitter/lensipes, L-E-N-S-I-P-E-S. Back to our guests: Lonnie Cleland, Leesa McNeil, and Kim Brangoccio. Welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Kim Brangoccio: Hi.

Lonnie Cleland: Hello.

Leesa McNeil: Hi.

Len Sipes: Lonnie, Lonnie Cleland, the program planner for the Iowa Department of Public Health, give me an overview of the Iowa Jail-Based Substance Treatment project.

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, the Jail-Based Treatment project is a four-county initiative centered in the county jails, but also including outpatient substance abuse treatment for nonviolent offenders. We started the project in 2002 with one county, and it was directly a result of research that came out saying that the longer you kept offenders in treatment, and the more structure they had, the more successful you could be in helping them being integrated back into society. Our substance abuse treatment programs can bring in nonviolent offenders, and the focus of the project is to reduce substance abuse and criminal behavior simultaneously. It’s a curriculum-based treatment program, at least at the jail level, using a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach. When offenders get out of jail, then they’re involved in outpatient treatment, which focuses on a more individual kind of approach. Typically, offenders are in the treatment program anywhere from 120 to 180 days. Now that varies from individual to individual.

Len Sipes: Well, I think the impressive part of that is the outpatient component, where you have – a lot of programs throughout the country have in-jail or in-prison based programs, and their concept of follow-up treatment is referral to AA or referral to the local health department who does drug treatment, and you sit for three or four months before you finally get into drug treatment. This concept of the outpatient part of it I think is extraordinarily valuable. It may be one of the key components of your success. Leesa McNeil, did you want to give a shot at that?

Leesa McNeil: Well, I think part of the success, too, is keeping the entire network of the community around the program. One of the things we’ve done in the Woodbury site is to create a program committee, and we have players around the table who meet periodically, at least bimonthly, and we visit about what programs are operating that impact the jail and troubleshoot them. And this is also our way of trying to keep people educated on what’s going on, make sure that we’re providing a safety net to solve any problems that may develop with the program, and we see players cycle through sheriff’s departments, public defenders offices, county attorney offices, judges, even treatment providers. And this is a way we use to make sure we keep educating people and keep the system engaged with promoting the program.

Len Sipes: So, the lesson here, Leesa, is that there’s no such thing as going it alone; you’ve got to build a network in the larger community who are going to supply the services necessary for those offenders, and they’ve got to be supportive and pretty much everybody’s got to be on board.

Leesa McNeil: Right, and we’ve even been successful in getting our county to put money on the table to assist with treatment, so the collaboration amongst the group is key and keeping players educated as they come in and out of the system and having a place where treatment folks can come and say, “Hey, we’re having a problem here,” and bringing the collaborative group together to say, “What can we do to that?” Sometimes we have problems with, you know, we need to find more clients to participate in the program, so we beat the bush, if you would, for attorneys to be reminding their clients that this is available. Sometimes judges forget it’s available, if they haven’t been on the criminal docket for a period, so it’s a continuous process that seems to work well for us.

Len Sipes: Kim Brangoccio, it’s a nice segue into what Leesa said about the clinical folks. You’re the clinical director of United Community Services, so you’re the person basically in charge – tell me if I’m wrong – of making sure that they get the various treatment modalities that are offered and that they are customized for that particular individual offender, correct?

Kim Brangoccio: Yes, that’s correct. I did want to comment, Len, on your talk about how the curriculum, both in the jail and out of the jail, affects the person. We really have found that to be successful, that once they have completed the in-jail portion, they are able to get out into the community. They’re already met their counselors out of the jail; they continue with them once they’re in the community, and they continue to use what they learned in jail, but they still have 6-8 months with us out of the jail where they can utilize what they’ve learned and make sure that they are following through. And that has been very successful for us.

Len Sipes: You know, if anybody doubts that, could you imagine, if a person goes inside the jail, and most jails are nonsmoking, so for the first time in their lives, they’re not smoking, for the three months they’re inside the jail. But as soon as you get outside that jail, you want that cigarette. I don’t care what the circumstances – I mean, before, it’s easy to go through a behavioral therapy-based program, a cognitive-behavioral-based therapy program within a correctional facility. It’s hard as the dickens applying all those skills when you get on the outside.

Kim Brangoccio: Right, exactly. And we talk a lot about that. I mean, we do talk about smoking and a lot of the clients do get out of the jail and start smoking again, but they really utilize the tools that they learn when they’re in jail when they get out, so they don’t go back to using drugs and alcohol. And one of the big things that the clients say to me that they think is a difference is that the program really focuses on both criminal and addictive thinking, so it’s not just the addictive thinking that they might have in another treatment program; they’re focusing on how those two interplay and how that got them into trouble. So we really try to help them always be looking at “What are they thinking?” as well as whether there are addictive patterns.

Len Sipes: You know, when I explain this to people, because I’ve done three stints in terms of dealing with offenders directly – jail, or job corps, doing gang counseling when I was putting myself through college after leaving the law enforcement community, and running group in a prison system – and to explain to people that you have to reorient the individual’s thinking patterns through cognitive-behavioral therapy or what we used to call ‘thinking for a change’ to get people to rethink how they look at life, rethink how they deal with problems, rethink how they process the information that’s in front of them. People who are not part of this process look at me as if I have five heads. “What do you mean? I learned at age five not to beat somebody with a stick if they made me angry, and you mean to tell me that you’ve got to take adult men, or adult women, and teach them that that’s probably not the best way to resolve a problem?” And my response to that is, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” that you have to sometimes train a lot of individuals to think through what it is that they do, and once they develop a different way of thinking through a problem, they don’t revert back to their violent or nasty ways of doing things, and they don’t necessarily go back to doing drugs, because there is an alternative. Now, am I in the ballpark of being right?

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, could I jump in there for a second, Kim.

Len Sipes: Yeah, please.

Lonnie Cleland: Len, I think Polk County historically has a perfect example of that. As part of our project, we have the University of Iowa’s Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation doing criminal thinking assessment so that each of the offenders in the project, the providers of the service give them the criminal thinking test during treatment or admission, and then it’s also followed up later on. What we found – I think it was 2003 or 2004 – was that the criminal thinking scales changed drastically a month after they got out of jail. And so, as a result, the projects were able to adjust their treatment – the frequency, the intensity, the kinds of things that they discussed with the offenders in outpatient treatment – as a way of once again readdressing those criminal thinking kinds of things. You’re absolutely correct. You have to reinforce this at all points, in my opinion.

Len Sipes: And this program is basically based on the individual offender facing a criminal charge, going before the judge, and making a plea either on a pre-trial basis or on a post-trial basis, agreeing to stay within these four jails for a certain amount of time, and then to continue that treatment in the community. That’s pretty much the agreement. They go and they’re sanctioned by a judge and the judge remands them to this treatment program and it’s something that they must complete, and in some cases, the charges are waived or done away with, and in some cases, they continue during a probationary period. Am I correct?

Kim Brangoccio: That’s correct. That’s how it works.

Len Sipes: Okay, cool. All right. And basically, you’ve done about 2000 offenders, 2000 clients throughout that time, correct?

Lonnie Cleland: It’s probably up around 2600 now. Because of some funding problems we had about a year and a half ago, we had to reinitiate the evaluation project, and so we had to start it over, and I think we have – I was talking to the evaluators just a few days ago – I think we’ve got 800 more in the project at this point.

Len Sipes: Wow, that’s amazing.

Lonnie Cleland: But those results, because we had to start it over, those results are still sort of in process.

Len Sipes: Okay. And to go with the results, this is one-year follow-up, but this is a self-assessment on the part of an offender, basically through an interview process done by an outside agency. 78.5% were clean, 91.9% had not been arrested, and 68.2% were employed on a full-time basis, correct?

Lonnie Cleland: Full or part time, yes.

Len Sipes: Full or part time. Now, those are amazing results.

Kim Brangoccio: Yes they are.

Lonnie Cleland: Yes they are.

Leesa McNeil: We think so.

Len Sipes: Congratulations. Congratulations to the three of you and congratulations to everybody involved. Those are amazing results. Before getting involved in the larger question of the take-aways – what are the things that the rest of us in the criminal justice system can learn from all of this – in essence, you have these participants, they’re basically successful. And this evaluation is focusing on the people who’ve completed the program – it is cognitive-behavioral therapy based, but you provide lots of other services, both inside the institution and out in the community. But the interesting thing about all this is that it’s done within a jail environment, and being exposed to a jail when I was with the Maryland Department of Public Safety at the Baltimore city jail, which is one of the biggest in the country, I was like blown away by the complexity of running a jail. I mean, a prison is relatively simple and straightforward and easy compared to tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of individuals coming into and out of the jail in a rapid-fire fashion. They’re coming into the booking center, if the booking center is within the jail. Any jail is chaotic. Any jail is just an immensely complicated place to run, and the fact that you were able to produce this sort of a program and have these sort of results within the jail setting, I think are enormous. But am I right? The jail is just a difficult place to do this sort of thing.

Leesa McNeil: Oh, it’s very difficult, Len. This is Leesa. Space is an issue, because you need to find space where you can kind of isolate the defendants that you want to participate in the program. As you know, jail space is at a premium. The lack of jail space is what actually prompted our county to be very anxious to get to the table to get some better outcomes, because overcrowding was an issue. And through a series of programs, you know, here we are six years later. We’re aren’t facing building a new jail, so –

Len Sipes: And every government administrator who is listening to this program, their ears just perked up. So you were able to avoid building a facility because of this program.

Leesa McNeil: Well, not just this program. We have a group of programs, and that’s one of the keys to success in terms of a walk-away, I think, is you need to have a collaborative group that supports the bigger offender population in terms of working to get better outcomes for them. We have a drug court, we have a mental health court, and now we have this Jail-Based Treatment program. And we attribute our success to not building a new jail to the combination of those programs and the collaboration, that all of the players came to the table and worked to make them all a success.

Len Sipes: We’re halfway through the program. I do want to give the website for this particular program: and search for jail-based programs. I’m going to repeat that one more time, but in the show notes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll have the web address that goes directly to the publications that address the Iowa Jail-Based Substance Treatment program project. Stumbling over that. Again, it is Search for jail-based programs. Our guests today are Lonnie Cleland. He is the program planner, Iowa Department of Public Health. Leesa McNeil, District Court Administrator for Woodbury County, Iowa. And Kim Brangoccio – she is the clinical director for United Community Services. The program is brought to you, once again, by the National Criminal Justice Association – Okay, Leesa, you were talking about taking about take-aways, and that’s exactly where I want to go with this, is that there are people throughout the country who are saying, “Eh, the jail is just not the setting to do clinical-based programs.” Or they’re saying, “No, it’s just too expensive,” or they’re going to throw a lot of reasons up as to why they can’t do what they want to do, so what would you say to them?

Leesa McNeil: I would say the take-away is that it is key to have program evaluation, because that shows it’s a success. And when people say we can’t afford to do this, we can’t afford not to. Everybody knows that to house a prisoner for a year costs $25,000 plus, depending on the jurisdiction. We can show that treatment of an individual for a fourth of that amount can keep a person out of prison, and so when the community says, “Why are we paying for treatment for these people?” it’s like, “Well, would you rather pay for them to be in an institution in the future for how many years?” And now we’re turning them out and they’re paying their child support, they’re keeping jobs, they’re staying clean. We’re not building jails. Those things are expensive. I think when we look at the human cost, the taxpayer cost, and unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of studies that pull all that together for the taxpayer to see, but that is the true savings. And so, not only saving the person from a horrible life in terms of abuse, but saving the taxpayers and saving our future workforce, saving future families, all that. You can’t compare the cost.

Kim Brangoccio: Len, this is Kim, and I would also add to that the fact that it really does affect future generations. Many of the clients that we see in the jail, they have young children. And if they turn things around because of their treatment, their kids are way less likely to end up in jail. And right now, as it stands in our jail, there are many, many people that their grandpa was there, or their father was there, their mother was there, and if we can stop that cycle, it helps into the future.

Leesa McNeil: Again, add the cost of foster care. Oh, my god.

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, and we haven’t – we’ve actually, Len, done a cost analysis of this project and compared the cost of this project versus the cost of prison, which is where many of these offenders would end up without the project.

Len Sipes: Right, correct.

Lonnie Cleland: The average daily cost for these four counties is $30.19 per offender. The average prison daily cost is $64.00. So we’re saving the state taxpayers $34.00 per offender, per day.

Len Sipes: Basically, we want tax burdens to become taxpayers. We want non-parents to become parents. We want to reduce the odds, which according to research, are very high, of the children of offenders – instead of them continuing the ways of their parents and continuing within the criminal justice system – we’re trying to reach them as well, through their parents. So this is from an economic point of view, from a crime control point of view, from a fiscal responsibility point of view, this seems to be a win-win situation.

Kim Brangoccio: Yep.

Leesa McNeil: Mm-hmm.

Lonnie Cleland: I agree.

Len Sipes: Then the other issue is that administrators who are listening to this are basically saying, “Leonard, you could tell me that an investment of $5,000,000 will give me the goose that lays the golden egg, and eventually, those golden eggs will more than make up for that $5,000,000. I don’t have the money.” And how many times have I heard from administrators throughout the country, “Leonard, what is it that you don’t understand about the fact that I don’t have the money?”

Leesa McNeil: Well, you’ve got to ask them, “Do you have the money to build a new jail?” And our community said no. And that is why we, I think, as administrators and people who are working in the system need to help people understand there is a cost to doing nothing. And people have to be educated about that cost and we have to get decision makers to say, “This isn’t just a program we should wait for the feds to come and solve; this is a program that affects every county in the nation.”

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, and Leesa and Kim, I’m wondering if you might not agree that the first step is just getting everybody to the table and getting information out, but also having a conversation about, okay, let’s talk about what some of the options are that are out there.

Kim Brangoccio: Yeah, I think if you do that, if you have a conversation with everyone involved, there may be some other ways to get it started without the jail just having to fund it, or the community, or maybe a treatment program would be able to utilize some of their dollars in the jail, doing treatment with those folks, and it’s just a change of site. Or maybe there’s some arrangements that can be made where the services that are already being provided in another way, just the dollars could be shifted a little so that they could start a jail program, and then once you see the success, it really does prove itself and the money can be easier to find.

Leesa McNeil: Len, this is Leesa. That’s just one of the walk-aways. You have to have a good evaluation, or you won’t be able to prove that you’re doing the kinds of things we’re doing.

Len Sipes: Bingo. That’s exactly where I was going, Leesa. The point is that you can prove your impact. The great majority of the programs out there that are similar to yours don’t have an evaluation, so they really can’t prove their impact. I mean, one of the ways they’re proving their impact, by the way, is in lieu of a formal evaluation, is that the jail population seems to go down, or seems to be steady, so they don’t have to build another jail, and without the evaluation, you never know if it was attributable to your program or not, but they’re happy with that. They’re just tickled pink that they do not have to invest several hundred million dollars to construct a new jail and a million – oh, I’m sorry, probably I’m going to guess $50,000,000 a year to maintain it. They’re just tickled pink that that is the result, but it’s more than that, is what you just said before. It’s less crime, it’s more kids being taken care of. It’s just a win-win situation across the board, but yet the average county administrator in the United States is not jumping up and down to do these programs.

Kim Brangoccio: Yeah, and I think that’s why we’ve got to make the case.

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, one of the benefits of evaluation is not just the long-term benefit of being able to show that these projects save money or that they have a social benefit, but it’s also being able to move more efficiently, more effectively, when you get a snapshot of how a project is working. As I pointed out earlier, finding out that criminal thinking increases a month after people are released from jail has a powerful affect on being able to adjust the treatment program quickly and to be able to keep the social impact of those folks at a minimum. And so the evaluation component can also help you be more flexible and faster and meaner when it comes to successfully treating these folks.

Len Sipes: Right, because the process of evaluation, a third of the way through, will show some success and some problems, so thereby you address the problems, because you were evaluating the program from the very beginning. Is there something in the water in Iowa that causes everybody to sit at the same table? We did another show with the National Criminal Justice Association about a jurisdiction in New York City, Red Hook, where the judge got everybody together and had fabulous results. It’s that sense of – and it’s funny, the President’s Commission on Crime and Justice back in the ’60s made this point – and in my forty years in the criminal justice system, I haven’t seen many examples of everybody coming together and sitting at the same table and cooperating for the common good, so what’s in the water out there in Iowa that calls in four counties and calls to everybody to sit at the same table and to share resources and to try to do something for the common good?

Leesa McNeil: Len, this is Leesa, and I’ll pipe in to start the conversation on that topic. And that is, in our community, it took two things. We had a jail overcrowding crisis where we were under federal court supervision to do something or build a new jail. And we had a judge who worked with me and stepped up to the table and said, “I’ll help lend credence to getting everybody to the table.” And as you know, Leonard, when a judge says, “Come to a meeting,” everybody comes. Well, once we got people there, we kind of semi-formally organized ourselves and made some agreements about future meetings, and the groups hung with it over ten years now. And they see the benefit, after we start the process going to making these productive meetings and that we’re talking about things that affect them. And one of our collaborative groups – we have twenty-two different criminal justice entities, or entities that affect the criminal justice system – that come to the table on a regular basis. And it’s just to hear about, well, “What’s going on? What are the problems? Who’s doing what? How is that going to impact me? What am I doing that’s going to impact everybody else?” And it gives a forum for sharing, and then it creates a synergy unto itself.

Len Sipes: And more and more judges, Leesa, are taking center stage, and I’m very happy to see that, because judges traditionally have found that their role, in terms of separation of powers, the tri-partied sense of you have the executive branch, you have the legislative branch, and you have the judicial branch, and the judicial branch should not intermingle with the other two. And that seems to be falling by the wayside, and when judges take the lead, they seem to have a powerful impact on the rest of us.

Leesa McNeil: Yep, it’s working in Iowa.

Len Sipes: Lonnie, you were trying to get in here.

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, I think also sheriffs are more interested than they used to be. I think they’re seeing more of the impact of high levels of drug and alcohol use in their jails – the offenders getting into jail and having that history. And the word is starting to get around that when we can intervene with those folks successfully, then they’ve got some ideas about, “Well, okay, maybe we can do this too.” But I think the important part is understanding that we have to go to folks right from the start with information, as Leesa said, with data, with “Here’s how much it’s costing you folks to not do anything.”

Len Sipes: Well, it’s my hope that jail administrators throughout the country, or county administrators, will hear this program and say, “Well, son of a gun, if they can do it, I guess we can do it. It’s worth the conversation.

Lonnie Cleland: Yeah, but you know, it’s not easy. Kim, do you remember back in the early stages of the Polk County project, folks, you know, that was a struggle.

Kim Brangoccio: It was.

Lonnie Cleland: Getting folks together.

Kim Brangoccio: It was lots and lots of meetings, initially, trying to get people at the table, just us going to lots of different places and talking with public defenders and the county attorney’s office and going to roll call and really trying to talk with everybody about the results of this outcomes-based, evidence-based practices and that it would really be helpful. But it was very tricky at first.

Len Sipes: Well, we are out of time, and I do want to thank the three of you and the National Criminal Justice Association for bringing this program to our attention, and to congratulate the three of you and everybody involved with the Iowa Jail-Based Substance Treatment project. I mean, what you guys have accomplished, especially within a jail setting, is nothing short of miraculous. And you’ve got the data to prove it, and you have the organization in four counties to support it. And the fact that it’s both jail-based and community-based is, I think, extraordinarily impressive. Ladies and gentlemen, our guests today, Lonnie Cleland, program planner with the Iowa Department of Public Health; Leesa McNeil, District Court Administrator for Woodbury County, Iowa; and Kim Brangoccio, clinical director of United Community Services. Again, the program brought to you by the National Criminal Justice Association, I will have the exact address for the report on the Iowa program in the show notes, but for the moment, if you would go to and simply do a search for jail-based programs, you’re going to be able to find exactly what it is that we’ve been talking about for the last half hour. Ladies and gentlemen, again, we really appreciate the fact that you are so influential and coming to us with lots of comments about what it is we can do, shouldn’t do, suggestions and criticisms about the program. is my direct email address. Or you can go to and comment on there, or you can follow us via Twitter at, and I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

– Audio ends –


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Pre-Sentence Reports for Criminal Offenders

This Radio Program is available at

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I ‘m your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Chris Kuhlman. Chris is with the diagnostic unit. Chris, did I get your last name correct?

Chris Kuhlman: That’s close enough, closer than most people.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, what is it, Chris?

Chris Kuhlman: Kuhlman.

Leonard Sipes: Kuhlman, okay. Chris, you’re with the diagnostic unit, and what do you do?

Chris Kuhlman: I write pre-sentence investigations.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, and what does that mean?

Chris Kuhlman: Well we collect information on recently convicted offenders, the investigation starts from the day the person is born and goes to the day that we interview them.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So you’re talking about in many cases a lifetime, not in many cases, all cases you’re talking about if that person is 32 years-old, you go all the way back from day one when he was born, where he was born, what the situation was when he was born in terms of the economics, whether it was a single-parent family or not-I mean, you go that far back.

Chris Kuhlman: We do everything-education, his family history, employment history, whether he has any job skills, his criminal history, everything about that person is put into that report.

Leonard Sipes: And how long does it take to do a report like that?

Chris Kuhlman: It depends, if they have a long criminal history, that itself can take days.

Leonard Sipes: Now you go into all arrests as well?

Chris Kuhlman: We go into all arrests from all over the country-every arrest that we can find we put into that report.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So we not only take a look at the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia or the surrounding area, we go to what is known as NCIC, the National Crime Information Center, and take a look at if that person was arrested in California, if that person was arrested in Mexico or Canada-it doesn’t matter, that goes into the report.

Chris Kuhlman: Yes, if we can find it, it goes into the report. The big problem with that is that a lot of these other jurisdictions don’t report a lot of the dispositions.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Chris Kuhlman: Then we have to try to find out what these dispositions are in the other jurisdictions.

Leonard Sipes: Do you really? I mean, to go back just to get the dispositions-I mean, that’s an immense job. One of the problems, and for the listeners of the program, one of the problems that we have in the criminal justice system is just that, we can pretty much get arrests, but we really don’t have a lot of disposition information. And what we mean by disposition is that whether or not the person was convicted and whether or not the person was assigned to a probation or whether he was sent to jail or sent to prison, right?

Chris Kuhlman: Yeah, that’s correct. There’s-for example, I had somebody who was arrested 57 times in Maryland, and out of those 57 arrests-

Leonard Sipes: 57 times? Were these 57 separate incidents or 57 charges?

Chris Kuhlman: 57 separate arrests.

Leonard Sipes: Wow.

Chris Kuhlman: And they were all for types of fraud.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Chris Kuhlman: And out of those 57 arrests, there were three dispositions.

Leonard Sipes: Right. And you have to go back and spend an endless amount of time going back in and checking those dispositions.

Chris Kuhlman: Yes, I had to actually go to P.G. County, that’s where the majority of the original charges were.

Leonard Sipes: Right. Did you go to the court system or did you go to the Maryland Criminal Index System?

Chris Kuhlman: Well I tried that and that was difficult getting information from them also. But I went to the state attorney’s office in Maryland and they printed up, after some coercion, they printed up all the dispositions for me.

Leonard Sipes: But that’s what the judge is expecting. The judge is expecting a complete assessment as to that person-not only their criminal history, their social history, did they drop out of school, what age did they start using drugs, the income level of the family, who this person hung with, what was the social attitude of the person, whether or not he has a mental health history-I mean, that’s just an enormous amount of information to compile for one human being.

Chris Kuhlman: Yes it is, but all those-we call those criminogenic and noncriminogenic risk factors.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Chris Kuhlman: And that’s very important, that’s basically-that sums up our report.

Leonard Sipes: Right. And what does a judge do with this?

Chris Kuhlman: He uses all the information combined and puts it together which helps him decide what type of a sentence to give this person-whether he should just get straight jail time and also take into consideration the sentencing guidelines.

Leonard Sipes: Now they all go to federal in district code violations-violations are the code in the District of Columbia go to federal prison?

Chris Kuhlman: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. So my understanding is the federal prison system also uses this as an entree into their system. In fact, quite frankly regardless of how long that offender is there, this may be the most complete assessment of that person even if the person’s in federal prison for three or four years and they document everything that happens to that person in there, the best assessment may be that pre-sentence investigation.

Chris Kuhlman: Yeah that’s true, they use our reports to help them classify people when they come in. It let’s them know what their substance abuse problems are, their mental health history, whether they need help with their education, vocational training-things that can help them prepare for when they leave prison.

Leonard Sipes: Chris, do you have a sense after doing all of these-and how long have you been with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency?

Chris Kuhlman: I’ve been with Court Services for three years.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Is there a sense that you get after looking at all of these? I mean, at this point you’ve done hundreds or thousands of these things, do you get a sense as to the difficulty that we have in crime and criminal justice? Does anything after doing all these reports, does anything jump out at you in terms of anything at all?

Chris Kuhlman: I think there’s three major things, that’s drug use, lack of education, and lack of job skills that I had no idea when I was in a regular supervision position, how important all those things were. But after doing these PSIs, just over and over and over again, I would say that 90% of the people that I interview lack education, lack a high school diploma or a GED, and have absolutely no job skills. I’ve interviewed people who are 30 to 35 years old that haven’t worked a day in their life.

Leonard Sipes: That’s amazing. And that’s the heart and soul of the difficulty in terms of the federal prison system trying to assist them while they’re in federal prison and when they come back out, they come back to Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency where we continue to use your pre-sentence report, your diagnostic report and again, it shows the gravity and the difficulty in terms of trying to change the lives of the individuals who we deal with.

Chris Kuhlman: Yep. Our supervision officers-that PSI is in our computer system already, when they get these cases they can review it, they can see like I said, all his criminogenic and noncriminogenic needs, what his education level is, whether he should be referred for a GED, his vocational training, whether he has a history of mental health issues-all those things are a huge help to the supervision officers.

Leonard Sipes: Chris, thanks for being here today.

Chris Kuhlman: Thank you.

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Information about crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison,
drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.