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Comcast Interview with Nancy Ware

This Television Program is available at

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you, Yolanda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Ware:  Thank you.

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


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Warrantless Searches-APPA-Washington State University

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the Nation’s Capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, warrantless searches of probationers and parolees. We have three people from throughout the United States via Skype at our microphones today. Craig Hemmens, he is the Chair and Professor to the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the Washington State University. We have John Turner, he is a doctorial student, again Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. And we have back at our microphones Adam Matz. Adam is a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association and Council of the State Governments. And to Craig, and John, and Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Craig Hemmens:  Thank you!

Adam Matz:  Thank you! Glad to be here.

Len Sipes:  Adam, start off the conversation please, warrantless searches of probationers and parolees in terms of the document that’s yet published. I found it to be fascinating. There seems to be a lot of controversy in terms of not when Parole and Probation Officers can go in and do warrantless searches of probationers and parolees, but when police officers can; and there seems to be a mixed bag. Every state in the United States gives parole and probation agents the right to do warrantless searches. It’s different when it comes to law enforcement doing those searches. So law enforcement and parole and probation seems to be coupling up to do searches of people on parole and probation without a warrant. Have I summarized the beginning of the program correctly?

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I think that’s a pretty good summary. And I think it might be useful too, I can kind of provide a sort of short background as to why this topic’s sort of been an interest for us and has been increasing in interest as well. And we’ve obviously done, talked about police and probation and parole partnerships before, and we know that they started to become more formalized. There’s always been a lot of partnerships and, you know, law enforcement and probation and parole officers working together sort of informally, but really in the kind of early mid ‘90’s and then up to today there’s been even more of an interest in formalizing those partnerships. And part of that, when they’re working together they’re sharing a lot of information about the probations of parolees, you know, where they live and their conditions of supervision. And depending on the state that they’re situated in, law enforcement can do different things with that information.

In the case of some states they can actually conduct warrantless searches of probation or parolees, completely independent of being around the probation or parole officer that’s responsible for that individual, so it presents an opportunity. And in the other case it could also present some possible abuses perhaps, but you know, it really depends on the state. And so one of the things, and really want kind of generated our focus here, was to get some help, some guidance on really what is the legal case law out there. Because there’s several different articles that talk about the Federal level, sort of Federal case law, but we really wanted to get down more into the weeds and look at the state law, which is where Craig and John have really been helping us out.

Len Sipes:  Well Craig, this has a bit of a dilemma, does it not? I mean we have parole and probation and you mentioned this in the paper, always has had this mixed message – this mixed mission; from the standpoint on one side of the ledger we are law enforcement officers who are as the paper points out, we’re duty bound by law, by state law, to provide surveillance activities, and on the flip side of that ledger is the fact that we are there to help them to reintegrate into society, to do better. So on one side the literature is telling us to form a bond with these individuals and to do cognitive behavioral therapy and to try to help them through the process so they can successfully reintegrate, and on the other hand we’re being told that, “Well go in, and even without reasonable suspicion, you can search that person’s house at any time that you want, with or without a police officer.” So does that bring an inherent conflict in terms of the schizophrenia that comes with so many parole and probation agencies?

Craig Hemmens:  I think you’ve summarized it well. I’m not sure I’d use the term schizophrenia, but you’re exactly right. There’s a real problem with what you might call role distortion. As they said probation and parole officers are really expected to be almost all things to all people – to be out there providing public safety but also to be assisting the offender with reintegration and rehabilitation; and when you ask them to both help them and essentially have the potential to hurt them by investigating their criminal activity, which of course could mean potentially be having their parole revoked, being sent back to prison, I think that does create a great deal of mission distortion, role distortion for the officers. I think it’s something that is very difficult for them to deal with.

Len Sipes:  And John, what is the basis behind the research? So we are looking at this issue of warrantless searches, of probationers and parolees, why? Why is this important?

John Turner:  I think it’s important because initially the roll of probation and parole officers was to sort of help offenders reintegrate back into society and now the role has evolved into more of a law enforcement role. And each state has different guidelines and different policies. Some states allow law enforcement officers to conduct searches on parolees and probationers without probable cause, as to where others allow only probation or parole officers to do these searches. So I think it’s kind of important that we look at the differences between each state and try to analyze why that is.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Adam, now tell me a little bit about this. It’s mission creep to some degree, the idea that you know, the parole and probation agents throughout this country, again there is this, I won’t use the word schizophrenic, I won’t even use the word bi-polar, just this schism. On one side of it he is there to help this individual, on the other side he is there to provide surveillance, to provide what some would refer to as a public safety surveillance role. We have many parole and probation agents throughout the country who carry badges and wear guns; so in one sense the warrantless search is part and parcel to a law enforcement function and one sense it doesn’t lend well to creating a positive interaction with the person that he’s supervising.

Adam Matz:  Yeah, there’s a couple different ways I think you could look at this. Obviously there is potential for mission distortion, particularly if you look at this in terms of partnerships where the emphasis when folks are working with law enforcement, might tend to kind of put more emphasis on the enforcement aspects, surveillance aspects, versus more of the rehabilitative part of it. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case and some of the research does talk about you know, the police officers can kind of help reinforce, sort of referrals, or treatment those kinds of things. It’s a little bit suspect. The research isn’t very definitive on that. It really tends to imply that there’s definitely a surveillance aspect to it.

Now the other part I want to talk about that, to kind of build on what John was saying earlier too, is the idea that part of the issue and part of the reason why partnerships are important and they’re beneficial is that it’s really kind of an issue of coverage, you know? We know that there’s excessive case loads, you know, excessive workloads for probation and parole, so what partnering with law enforcement does, because law enforcement has a greater street presence, it really increases sort of that reach, that extra level of supervision that simply just isn’t possible. So there’s sort of a logistical part to it as well. One more thing I wanted to say too is mission distortion and mission creep, there is a slight distinction there. Mission creep is really where you’re taking on tasks that are beyond what you would normally do. So I think this kind of leaning towards maybe enforcement, that’s definitely more distortion. But the creep would be more like collaborating, sort of the meetings that you do with law enforcement. So there’s multiple aspects to it.

Len Sipes:  We meet within Washington DC, we meet with members of law enforcement every day. Everyday we’re sharing intelligence. Every day we are out there working side by side with law enforcement. We do law enforcement assistance in terms of the serving of warrants, and we just don’t work with the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington DC, we work with the housing police officers, we work with the FBI, we work with the Secret Service. So we’re constantly working, exchanging information. I’ve been on, joint patrols with our people. We call them community supervision officers here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. So, all of this is supposed to be a good thing because as you just said Adam, it extends the presence of the parole and probation officer.

He or she is not out there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but that police officer is. So oftentimes those police officers will, after going into the home, after identifying who that person is, identifying his risk level or his needs level, will come back to us and say “Look, he’s hanging out in the street corner. We think he’s hanging out with the wrong guys. We think he’s smoking pot. He’s definitely bothering the neighbors. Can you please intervene before we have to intervene?” So there’s a helping role plus a surveillance role all at the same time. Anything I’m saying Craig, that creates problems in terms of your research concerns, worries?

Craig Hemmens:  Well I think you’ve hit on all the issues. I think once we recognize that the probation and parole officers now are expected to again do more than perhaps historically they did, to have a law enforcement or a supervision function, I think that’s there, it exists. I think the partnerships with the police, as Adam had pointed out, have tremendous benefits to the community. So I think those are here to stay. I think what our research was trying to focus on was what are the variations? What are the things that some jurisdictions will allow police officers to do rather than probation parole officers? Of course, probation parole officers generally are permitted to conduct warrantless searches. Usually that’s a condition of probation for the probationer, parolee. So that’s not an issue but it’s extending that sort of warrantless search ability to police officers, who traditionally have not had it. In that sense it’s kind of turning, it’s giving them the greater authority that the probation parole officers have always had to interact with their clientele, but extending it to the police.

Len Sipes:  What was, any one of the three of you, what was after doing this research, what did you come out of it, what were your impressions, what were your fears, your hopes, your dreams when you took a look at this? I mean every state in the United States except Maryland who I’ve represented for fourteen years, every state in the country except Maryland has the right for their parole and probation agents to conduct warrantless searches of the person and of the residence of a probationer or a parolee. So obviously this is something that is in law. That certainly gives the impression that this is something they want done. What’s your impression after doing the research?

Craig Hemmens:  Well I think you’re absolutely, it’s correct, I think you’re absolutely right. For probation and parole officers, this is, they’ve always had this authority and in virtually every state. What we found that is new here, or relatively new, is extending that authority to police officers. Currently it is still only a minority of states that allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches. These thirty-three states do not allow officers to do that. But we found that at least eleven states provide police officers with essentially the same search ability, same search authority as probation and parole officers. Another four states have it in limited situations. So I’d say that while it’s a minority of jurisdictions it’s a pretty significant minority and I think it suggests there is a trend there towards extending the search authority for police officers. Again, giving them…

Len Sipes:  The right to search on the part of parole and probation has been upheld by no less than the Supreme Court, correct?

Craig Hemmens:  Absolutely. There’s no question about that, that they have that authority under the Constitution.

Len Sipes:  And courts are beginning to allow police officers essentially to do the same thing?

Craig Hemmens:  Well, it’s courts and it’s legislatures. In fact in this paper what we’ve found are that there are at least fifteen states that have statutes that have conferred some authority on police officers to conduct warrantless searches in some situations. So it’s not just the courts who sort of extended the authority of probation officers had to police officers but it’s the legislatures who obviously I think are responding to this need to have a greater presence, a greater ability to supervise offenders in the community; and I think that’s why they’re writing these statutes.

Len Sipes:  Well, then it’s probably the third time I’ve been to this point, and but it’s sort of astounding to me at the same time. Part of me understands this, part of me understands this from the standpoint of being a former law enforcement officer, part of me understands this in terms of representing Parole and Probation Agencies for a quarter of a century. So I understand how all this flows. I understand the fact that this is something you probably want done, probably something that needs to be done. But Adam, once again, how do you form that cognitive behavioral therapy relationship with a person under supervision while you’re knocking on the door saying “Hey, I’m going to bring in a cop and we’re gone to search your home, and we’re going to search your presence?”

Adam Matz:  Yeah, actually, you know what, I think a good way to think about this too is who needs to be targeted with these kinds of partnerships, particularly with law enforcement. Where does that apply particularly well? And you mentioned the risk/needs responsivity principles, and those should apply here. I mean these partnerships should really be focused on the folks who need that, you know, that real intense level of supervision. That’s really where this needs to be focused. One of the things that’s kind of interesting, this is just kind of anecdotal comments from some of the literature, but there tends to be this assertion that the presence of law enforcement officers with the probation officers, say when they’re doing a home visit, tends to solicit more respect from the probationer or parolee. In other words they tend to take their supervision a little more seriously.

So if you have an issue with a particular individual that’s sort of out of control, then law enforcement can help sort of support probation and parole. And that’s really where I think these partnerships needs to is law enforcement sort of supporting probation and parole ideally. Not for the other way around. You know, the intent shouldn’t be to give law enforcement more authority, if you will, or more inroads. It should really be based on supporting the Probation and Parole Agency. I think it’s important to keep that distinction.

Len Sipes:  We’re halfway through the program. We’re doing a program today on warrantless searches of probationer and parolees. We have three experts at our microphones today. Craig Hemmens, he is the Chair and Professor, departmental Chair and Professor at the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. John Turner, he is a Doctorial student, again Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State. And Adam Matz has been by our microphone several times, always enjoy having Adam doing a program with us. He is a research associate with the American Probation and Parole Association Council of State Governments.

So Adam, I’m glad you brought that up. What we’re trying to do is focus on high-risk offenders. And that’s something that’s well substantiated by the literature. I’m assuming that even though the document really didn’t address this, I’m assuming that most of these activities, as they are in Washington DC, really are directed towards people who we’re concerned about, who pose a possible risk to public safety and that’s where the police, parole and probation interactions are the strongest, work the best and yes you’re right, in the ride alongs that I’ve been on you really do get the attention of that person under supervision when you bring a police officer into the mix.

Adam Matz:  Yeah and you know, to follow up on that, you know, really from the conversations I’ve had  and from some of the different trainings we’ve done you would think it would be based on the risk level but what I find sometimes is that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it can depend, sometimes folks just like to share a lot of information, or they do these collaboratives, and they don’t really have that focus. So really it depends. And we always have to be careful not to assume that everybody has a risk assessment or fully developed risk assessment. A lot of times that assumption’s made but it’s really not true when you get to some of these really small agencies, so it really depends.

Another thing that’s kind of interesting that I’ve noticed it’s sort of been a development is, there’s some jurisdictions, and this is pretty rare, I haven’t heard of this very much, but there’s some jurisdictions where they’ve used law enforcement as volunteer probation officers and they’ll do like curfew checks for example. That I think is kind of interesting and I wonder if that is maybe a bit too much. And I don’t know, I think that is kind of open for debate.

Len Sipes:  Well John, in the research you talked about the fact that there were some rather successful programs where, that depended upon law enforcement and parole and probation coming together as a joint endeavor. So, you did point out within the research that some of these programs have worked. I don’t think they focused specifically on warrantless searches but philosophically they’re basically saying that parole and probation and law enforcement together as a team provide some value to the community.

John Turner:  Right. That can be the case. But also it had been problematic in that there have been times when law enforcement have tried to persuade probation and parole to work with them in order to conduct warrantless searches. So that’s been one of the problems that we’ve found.

Len Sipes:  Okay, but philosophically parole and probation and law enforcement coming together, we’re basically saying it’s a good thing, Craig?

Craig Hemmens:  Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment. Again, I think information is so important to all Criminal Justice Agencies, and I think that what folks have recognized is that working together you can get a lot more accomplished, you can learn a lot more about what’s going on. Probation and parole officers are able to share a tremendous amount of information with police officers and vice versa; so I think, and they’re working to the same end, which is both, obviously assisting the offender in the community, but also providing public safety.

Len Sipes:  And Adam, you’re the one who brought up the fact that most Parole and Probation Agencies, and we’ve done shows on this in the past, have extremely high caseloads. When I talk to my counterparts throughout the country, they’re telling me a hundred and fifty to one is not unusual. Here in the District of Columbia it’s fifty to one and below for specialized case loads. But we’re a Federal Agency. We have Federal funding. Our caseloads are much more manageable than what I find throughout the country. In some cases I’ve found there to be two hundred to one. So when you have large case loads throughout the country trying to leverage whatever resources you have in terms of either supervising or trying to help the person under supervision, in many cases I can see where that Parole and Probation Agency would say, “Hey let’s partner up with law enforcement in terms of the surveillance role because there is no way that we can do an adequate job keeping everybody under tabs without the Law Enforcement Agency being involved.”

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I think that’s exactly right and I think it’s a good point. You know, that’s really what kind of brought I think, probation and parole and police agencies together, again if you will, ‘cause originally if you go back in the past a lot of the functions kind of overlap. But really it’s kind of brought folks together and I think the partnerships is a perfect opportunity. It makes complete sense. You can look at sort of the pulling levers’ ideology or methodology behind bringing different Justice Agencies together so everybody’s working together as a coordinated system. So definitely partnerships make sense, and they’re definitely a positive thing. The real thing that I think agencies need to be careful of or pay attention to is just to make sure that when they’re forming these partnerships they have some, you know, agreements together, some MOUs, something to kind of outline what the expectations are, provide some measurable goals, and really make it a coordinated approach. Not you know, sometimes informal stuff’s fine, but it’d be much more preferable if there was some structure around these, ‘cause they can be productive. There’s limited research. We’d like to know more about, you know, how or what makes them effective, what doesn’t work, and you really can’t do that unless it’s formalized. So definitely we support partnerships, we just want to get them to the next level.

Len Sipes:  The document itself, again not published as of yet, Is It Reasonable? A legal review of warrantless searches of probationers and parolees. Now help people understand this because again you’re going to get people who are very familiar with parole and probation listening to this program and you’re going to get students and professors and aides to mayors, governors, even congressional aides, in Washington, who are going to listen to this program. Part of this involves some very specific legal terms. You know, I was trained in probable cause, what leads a reasonable person to believe a crime has been committed, then you have reasonable suspicion. What some police officers use who search people on the street if they have a bulge in their pocket and they’re in a high crime area and the person is known to have been involved in criminal activity before, you can, that can provide you their reasonable suspicion in terms of searching that person. Do these terms have an impact when it comes to warrantless searches of probationers and parolees either by parole and probation agents or law enforcement officers?

Adam Matz:  They do. They’re still very much in play. If I can reference the most recent Supreme Court cases dealing with this. In US versus Knights the Supreme Court allowed police officers to search a probationer, to search his home, so because the condition, the probation condition allowed it, and they had reasonable suspicion rather than that probable cause, which as you said is a greater amount of evidence or a greater amount of indication of criminal activity. So the Knights’ decision allows police officers with just reasonable suspicion to conduct a very thorough search of a probationer’s home. In the Samson case, decided a few years after that, that came out of California, which is one of the sates that has a statute which allows police officers to conduct completely warrantless searches without even reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a parolee. And a police officer took advantage of that statute, used that statute to stop a parolee and conduct a search, again, without reasonable suspicion or any indication of criminal activity. So while most states still require at least reasonable suspicion or sometimes probable cause, there are a handful of states at this point that have eliminated that altogether and just said that warrantless searches by police officers, and this is without probation officers present, warrantless searches by police officers on their own of somebody on parole, is fine.

Len Sipes:  Do they have to have, does a parole and probation agent, and I know we’re talking about all fifty states now except the state of Maryland, parole and probation agents, do they have the right even without reasonable suspicion, they do it simply because they’re there, do they have the right without reason, without any justification to search that individual and to search the residence?

Adam Matz:  The answer in general is…

John Turner:  Some states.

Len Sipes:  John?

Adam Matz:  Go ahead John.

John Turner:  Oh I was just going to say we’ve found that in some states they do. In some states they’re allowed to search the residence or the person or even the vehicle without reasonable suspicion at all. But in the majority of states they have to have some sort of reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a search.

Len Sipes:  Okay, so in most states they do have to have reasonable suspicion. They just cannot go into a house or search a person.

John Turner:  Right.

Craig Hemmens:  Unless, and there are those states which have conditions of probation and parole which say that would include allowing warrantless searches, so if there is a probation or parole condition where essentially the offender grants his consent in advance to a warrantless search, those provisions, those conditions have been upheld by courts.

Len Sipes:  Now, but for the law enforcement side of it there seems to be a gradual increase in responsibility unless the state or the local jurisdiction specifically provides legislation saying that they can do warrantless searches without reasonable suspicion, without probable cause. There seems to be a graduated list of reasons as to whether or not police officers can do a warrantless search of the individual and of the premises.

Craig Hemmens:  That’s correct. At this point the majority of states, the mass majority, I think at least thirty three, do not allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches. But that’s thirty three out of fifty. There are at least fifteen states we’ve found, who do allow police officers to conduct warrantless searches in some situations without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Len Sipes:  But what if they have probable cause? Do they have to wait for a warrant? Can they say “I know this person’s on parole. I have probable cause but rather than play it safe and go and get a warrant, I’m just going to go into that person’s house now because I know he’s on parole and I have probable cause?”

Craig Hemmens:  Well unless the jurisdiction specifically authorizes a warrantless search, if you have probable cause, I would say no. The courts would still, typically courts allow warrantless searches if there’s probable cause and an exigent circumstance, some justification for not going and getting a warrant. I don’t think the courts have yet moved to the point where the fact of the person who’s on probation or parole is in and of itself an exigent circumstance.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Adam, in the final minutes of the program when we only have two or three minutes left of the program, does this get us back into the debate of what parole and probation officers could be, should be? I mean the overwhelming majority of the literature I read and the conversations I have are along the lines of helping that individual cross that bridge, breaking down barriers, finding a way to find the right programs for that person, ending the rate of recidivism. And on the flip side here we are talking about in many states badge carrying, gun carrying, parole and probation officers doing warrantless searches. So this will be the fourth time I’m bringing it up and the last time I’ll bring it up, but again, does this again get back to the conflict of what a parole and probation officer could be or should be?

Adam Matz:  Well, I think what it really gets at is, and what you’re getting at really is a need for a balance in the approach that officers take. And I think as you pointed out and most people know, it really does vary across the country. You have some states where it’s very much a law enforcement kind of Probation or Parole Agency and then other ones it’ll be very much social work. And we know some agencies are, you know, armed with firearms and other non-lethal weapons but other ones are not, so it really varies but I think regardless…

Len Sipes:  Just a couple seconds.

Adam Matz:  Sure. Regardless though, the opportunity here, this presents an opportunity for law enforcement and probation and parole to work together and it’s beneficial on all fronts when it’s done correctly and methodically. So you can increase protection of not only the probation and parole officer but you can also increase safety for the law enforcement and you can also help ensure the safety of the probation or parolee.

Len Sipes:  Adam, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve done a show today on warrantless searches in parole and probation. Our guest today Craig Hemmens, Chair and Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University. John Turner, a doctorial student there at Washington State, and Adam Matz, Research Associate from the American Probation and Parole Association. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


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Stress and Turnover in Parole and Probation-APPA

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

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is

Radio Program available at

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Today’s show, ladies and gentlemen, “Stress and Turnover in Parole and Probation”. We have two people at our microphones. We have Kirsten Lewis. She is a probation officer, interestingly enough, with the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department. In addition, she is an adjunct psychology professor at Glendale Community College, co-owner of KSL Research and Training and Consultation, and an approved instructor by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. And back at our microphones, always glad to have Adam Matz. Adam is a researcher associate with the American Probation and Parole Association, which is an affiliate of the Council of State Governments. This is going to be an extraordinarily interesting show, ladies and gentlemen. There’re two pieces of research. I’m going to start off with the research produced by Kirsten, Surviving the Trenches:  The Personal Impact of the Job on Probation Officers.

I’m going to read very briefly from it. “It’s clear from previous research, and further supported by the research results of this study, that probation officers are impacted by their work with offenders, specifically, challenging case loads, challenging events, officer victimization, and longevity were associated with higher reports of traumatic stress and burnout.” And we’re going to go over to Adam’s document, A Meta-analysis of the Correlates of Turnover Intent in Criminal Justice Organizations:  Does agency type matter? And a very quick read from that. “Workers who are overworked, underappreciated, and generally left out of the key decision making process will suffer from emotional exhaustion, stress, and other psychological ailments that detract from general satisfaction and commitment to the job.” And that’s why we called today’s show “Stress and Turnover in Parole and Probation”. Kirsten Lewis and Adam Matz, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Kirsten Lewis:  Thank you.

Adam Matz:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Now, this is interesting. Both of you have participated in research projects, both of you are taking a look at stress amongst parole and probation agents or probation agents and turnover, and what that means in terms of the efficiency of the parole and probation agent. And I can remember when I first worked with corrections, and we’re now talking about 25 years ago, when I asked parole and probation what was their organizational mission, it was to enforce the orders of the court and enforce the orders of the parole commission. Now it’s evidence-based practices. Now we’re expecting parole and probation people to really get into the heads of the people who they have under supervision to understand them, to motivate them, to try to get them to change, use cognitive behavioral therapy, which means that you’re having a much more intimate relationship with that person under supervision, and that’s got to bring on a certain level of stress. So we’re going to go with Kirsten. Kirsten, is that correct?

Kirsten Lewis:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Tell me about it.

Kirsten Lewis:  Well, the job as you illustrated earlier, it has changed over the years. I’ve been in the field now for 23 years, 17 with my current department. And we started off a number of years ago really just focused on making sure the offenders were following court orders and doing what they were supposed to do to stay in the community. But with the evidence-based practices that we’re doing today, which I’m a big proponent of, has dramatically changed the way that officers work with offenders. We are really rolling up our sleeves and getting into understanding what’s happened in their lives, how they got where they are, what blockage they have at the moment to be able to move forward. We’re connecting with their family and other collateral contacts out in the community. So we’re doing a lot more intensive work. There’s also some very interesting research that talks about the relationship between the officer and the offender is a protective factor, meaning that the better the relationship we’re actually seeing lower recidivism, lower rates of reoffending.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Kirsten Lewis:  So there’s more and more pressure on officers to engage and connect in meaningful ways with offenders. Which I think is a wonderful thing and I think benefits the offenders. My concern is that I think it also has come at a price for the officers.

Len Sipes:  Kirsten, and now, again, Adam and Kirsten, I’ve read both of your pieces of research, so I’m probably going to mix the two, sometimes appropriately, sometimes inappropriately. But I think , Adam , it was your research that basically took a look at what happened on the correctional side, what happened in law enforcement, but very little research on the parole and probation side. We’re asking individuals with huge caseloads, and you know, here in the District of Columbia we’re a federal parole and probation agency at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Our ratios are 50 to 1 or less. We have some caseloads, high-risk caseloads that go to 25 to 1. But in other states 150 to 1 parole and probation agent or one probation officer is not unusual. In other states it’s even higher. That’s got to produce a tremendous amount of stress and a tremendous amount of turnover if we’re asking them to do cognitive behavioral therapy, if we’re asking them to get into the heads, get into the lives, very deeply, very passionately, of the individuals who they have under supervision. That’s got to be enormously stressful, Adam.

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I think that’s kind of an interesting point. And I know on a previous show that we did we talked about workload. And I think you can kind of tie workload into this a little bit, that what’s being asked of you is more than what you’ve done before. But it’s not just what’s being asked of you, but actually the fact that, basically, the number of people that have been supervised, or are being supervised, has been increasing, or had increased for the past few decades, and it’s just now kind of starting to level off a little bit. So you’re not only trying to do more with folks and you’re trying to do a better job with them, but you’re also still dealing with the fact that there’s a lot of people out there. And we know also that a lot of places have been trying to basically get people out of prisons, get people out of jails, to save and cut cost because of budgetary constraints.

And I think that’s sort of an interesting thing to think about as well. And there’s a nice fancy term that’s out there called criminal justice thermodynamics, which was from Durlauf and Nagin. And the idea there that they were kind of espousing is this idea that the issues that happen may be further down the line in criminal justice agencies or institutions ends up getting shifted down further along. So in that case, it shifts down to probation and parole who are often the last folks that are dealing with these people. And then obviously, their ability to enact change impacts law enforcement and institutional corrections in sort of a reciprocal fashion, so.

Len Sipes:  Well, but 7 million people under correctional supervision, 4 of those 7 million are under parole and probation agencies. We have the great bulk of what people refer to as criminal offenders. We’re the ones responsible for them, but in terms of I think, Adam, your study, there weren’t that many studies on turnover regarding parole and probation. They were there for law enforcement. They were there for mainstream corrections. Sometimes I get the sense that mainstream parole and probation, that function is ignored where the bulk of that money on stress and turnover is going towards law enforcement, going towards mainstream corrections, it’s not going towards parole and probation. Am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz:  No. I think you’re absolutely right about that and that’s something at APPA we’ve been trying to put more emphasis on is the needs of the probation and parole folks out there and the work that they do and getting recognition for the stresses that are involved with the job and what the job is about. And it’s very true. I think our meta-analysis does kind of highlight the fact that there’s not a whole lot of research in terms of turnover with probation and parole folks. There’s a little bit with law enforcement. The most is definitely with institutional corrections. So even in that case what you see is the research varies quite a bit and some of the variables are different, and ideally, there would be some consistency there. So definitely there needs to be more work done on this topic. Now, there are some studies that look at stress as well and maybe don’t look at turnover. So turnover itself can be a little bit of a different beast depending on how you measure it as well, because a lot of times turnover behavior is just something that’s hard to capture, and it’s also some agencies just may not want to share it. And I know from some of the figures we looked at, the turnover rates really across the different subfields can be any from 20% to 30%, 40% when you compare that to [OVERLAY] –

Len Sipes:  For parole and probation.

Adam Matz:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Yeah.

Adam Matz:  Yeah. In fact, a study in Florida, I believe it was 20%, actually or 30%, I’m sorry, 30% in Florida, there was a study in Florida that showed 30%. And when you look at teachers or nurses you’re finding they’re around 10% to 15% nationally. So just for comparison it’s pretty high.

Len Sipes:  You can reach Kirsten Lewis; I’ll give you her website right now. It’s Adam can be reached cam be reached at appa/, www.appa/.net. I’m sorry, / All right, so what does all this mean, Adam and Kirsten? What does all this mean in terms of getting the job done? We know that parole and probation people are extraordinarily important to public safety. We know that from a variety of research that the more they’re involved in the lives of individuals, the more they get involved in programs, the more they stay in programs, the less the recidivism rate. I’m reading a longitudinal study right now in terms of juveniles and one of the big findings of that study is that the parole and probation agents that were supervising the juvenile offenders were extraordinarily important in the success of the lives of these individuals, keeping them in programs, and at the same time, reducing recidivism. Self-report data indicates that their rate of involvement in the criminal justice system, or rate involvement in terms of new crimes, was a lot lower than when they were off supervision. So parole and probation matters, if it matters so much, why do we give them such huge caseloads and why is the turnover problem as high as it is and why is the stress problem as high as it is?

Adam Matz:  Yeah. I can kind of comment just a little bit.

Len Sipes:  Yeah, please.

Adam Matz:  I think it’s kind of interesting to kind of think about this in the terms of the way it feeds into itself. And you kind of think of all these different variables from an organizational level. So you’re thinking about stress or burnout or job satisfaction. These variables are tied together in kind of very specific ways, at least from what we’ve found, and they tie into turnover intentions or turnover behavior. And so what’s kind of interesting is if you have turnover, a lot of times what happens is the folks who leave, that’s put more stress on the folks who are still there. So if you already sort have a problem, people are leaving, it gets compounded even worse, because it increases the stress of those who stayed, because they’re having to pick up what’s left behind. So it’s kind of a feeding issue there as well, where once you get in that cycle it can be a little bit tough for folks.

Len Sipes:  Yeah. Well, I’ll say. I mean this is, Kirsten, this is an extraordinarily stressful job. You’re talking about, say, within my agency, okay, so we quote, unquote “only have 50 to 1”, but they’re involved in the lives of people with serious substance abuse problems, they’re involved in the lives of people with kids and we’re trying to reunite them with their kids. Some act out, some act inappropriately, some don’t show up, some are involved in new crimes. But I’ll go back to one story at a conference we did for women under supervision where a woman stands up in the middle of the crown and tells us, tells everybody there, hundreds of people there, that that night, that the previous night the woman who she lived with had a huge argument and they pulled knives on each other, and now she and her child is homeless. And she stood there and said, “Now, what are you going to do about my problem?” And so that’s the level of intensity that parole and probation people have to deal with in the lives of trying to cope with other human beings and at the same time cope with themselves.

Kirsten Lewis:  Yes, absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Tell me about it. Tell me –what does the research have to say?

Kirsten Lewis:  Well, in terms of, as you were alluding to, we have lots and lots of research talking about the motivational interviewing, the cognitive behavioral change, the thinking for change, really getting in and looking at how their thinking process is and helping to change that. The problem is that takes time. And when you’re – I mean we have a 60 to 1 caseload here in Maricopa County. And so when you’ve got 60 people on your caseload it takes time to go through those types of conversations and interactions when you’re doing actuarial risk assessments to make sure that we’re supervising people properly based on evidence-based practices. And it’s a good thing, but at the same time, it’s time consuming to write a case plan where we’re getting into the needs of the offenders and the obstacles that need to be addressed and trying to get the buy in so that the offender is engaging in that process and coming up with solutions as well. All of that takes time.

And then in the middle of that you’ve got somebody whose spouse pulled a knife on them and they’re homeless and you got to do something right now, you’ve got a parent calling whose kid is threatening suicide and you’ve got to rush off and do that, you’ve got to get all of your contacts entered into the computer by deadlines. I mean so there’re a lot of aspects to the job, many of which are emergencies to the 60 people on the caseload that you’re dealing with. So one of the stresses that I hear a lot from the officers is we’re learning all of these wonderful techniques to do evidence-based practices, but the problem is we don’t have the time to do it all.

Len Sipes:  And, Adam, that’s a common problem, but we’re going to leave that for the second half. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to reintroduce our guests. We have Kirsten Lewis. And she is really interesting. She’s a probation officer with Maricopa County. And like I said, she’s an adjunct psychology instructor at Glendale Community College, as well as co-owner of KSL Research, Training and Consultation. Adam Matz is back at our microphone. He is with the American Probation and Parole Association. We in parole and probation are extremely indebted to APPA and all the good work that they do leading the rest of us in terms of these issues and more throughout the United States. So to Adam’s organization and the Council of State Governments we are deeply appreciative. The show today is on stress and turnover in parole and probation.

Adam, I would contend that we talk a good game in terms of all the different things we want parole and probation agents to do. They generally have bachelor’s degrees. It’s not unusual for them to have a master’s degree. I’ve seen people with doctorates out in the field as well as in supervision or as well as in administration. But nevertheless, regardless of their education, regardless of their motivation, how do you deal from a turnover point of view with all the different things you have to do? One side of you is a law enforcement officer; another side of you is a social worker. I think all three of us would agree that evidence-based practices is one of the best things that have ever happened to the field. We all agree that evidence-based practices is the way to go. But, boy, does that place a tremendous psychological burden on the parole and probation agent.

And there’s a certain point, Adam, in terms of your study of turnover, people are going to say, “Hey, this too much and it’s too stressful and I’m now involved in this person committing a new crime and that sex offender reoffending and this person becoming victimized.” I think we’re talking about trauma and talking about the fact that some people were just witnessing vicariously all these different things and there’s a certain point that takes its toll and there’s a certain where people leave.

Adam Matz:  Yeah. And I think that’s exactly right. And really what I think you’re getting is the concept of burnout, that folks get burnt out after a while. So maybe to start off you’re really into the job and you’re able to kind of put in those extra hours, do the late night, maybe the late night midnight calls don’t bother you initially. But then over years or maybe even less than that it starts to wear on you. And a lot of folks do experience burnout and it becomes stressful. There’s a lot of different, in terms of the evidence-based practices and also all the grants, a lot of times for state agencies it’s kind of interesting, because that’s kind of an addition to their daily duties. And I know, given the grant projects that I’ve worked on with APPA, we do work a lot of times with different local agencies. And it is kind of an extra burden. But they all agree it’s worth it, it’s worth the effort to do it, but there’s no question that that’s an added burden sometimes, but the long-term benefit’s better. Now, ideally, when folks are working with agencies through grants they try to be sensitive to their needs in terms of that respect. But I think aside from that, the job in and of itself has its stressful moments. And trying to keep that in check definitely takes work. And I think Kirsten can probably speak more to actually maybe some programs that help folks with that.

Len Sipes:  All right, and I want to get back to Kirsten in a second. But you within your research I think you talked about it a little while ago. Compare parole and probation to other occupations and parole and probation seems to have much higher turnover than a lot of other organizations, correct?

Adam Matz:  Well, I think they’re kind of similar more to the institutional corrections than maybe law enforcement. Definitely more than other domains outside of justice, if that’s –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Adam Matz:  What you referred to. But as far as within the justice realm I would say police, institutional, and probation and parole are not too far off from each other. I think institutions might be a little bit worse actually.

Len Sipes:  Okay. And so you’re talking about on average, what, 20%, 30% did you say?

Adam Matz:  Yeah. 20% to 30%.

Len Sipes:  All right. Well, that’s a lot of turnover and that costs the state or the county or the municipality literally tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars over time and a lot of productivity lost and a lot of experience lost. So, Kirsten, we’re going to go back to you and say, “Okay, what do we do about it?”

Kirsten Lewis:  Well, I think one of the things that we do about is first of all start looking at the types of stress that the officers are experiencing. Because when I started to research this topic, in the stress that I was seeing, not only in myself, but in the people that I work with, most of the stress or most of the research is on the basic stressors of too much paper work, not enough time to do the job, not enough pay, those types of things, which are all legitimate stressors to our work for sure. But there’s a deeper type of stress that I don’t think it’s as easy to measure. You talked about how our job really is this combination of being law enforcement and social worker. And the truth is it creates at times a level of cognitive dissonance. Because I mean here’s the reality. My department has an option to carry a firearm. And one of the officers who carries a firearm he said to me after training, he said, “Here’s my job. Here’s what I do. I pull up to an apartment complex to go see one of my guys. And from a defensive tactics safety standpoint, I am running through scenarios in my head of, ‘If this scene goes bad, I’m going to pull my weapon, I’m going to have the offender in my sights, and I am going to shoot him.’ And by the time I get to the front door I’m going through my head all of the things I can possibly do to help this guy be successful.”

Len Sipes:  That’s quite a paradox.

Kirsten Lewis:  Absolutely. And that’s a stressor that I don’t hear people talking about. It’s a hard stressor to measure, because what that is is mentally taxing, to try to do both sides of the job. And by and large the social workers can invest all they want in the treatment and progress of the offender, but in the end they don’t have to arrest them, they don’t have to look to a family while we’re putting him in handcuffs and hauling him off to jail. The officers, the police officers on the streets may pull up to a lethal situation and they’re shooting a bad guy. For us, it’s somebody we know, it’s somebody we’ve worked with. We know their family. We know their kids. We know the consequences of this. And so we do both jobs, but they’re hard to do together. And so one of the things that I see happening in the course of careers is people tend to start to gravitate toward one end of that continuum of either being much more law enforcement oriented or much more social work oriented, because it is very, very difficult to stay in the middle with that balanced approach of running through scenarios and making sure defensively I can keep myself safe and at the same time trying to help the guy. I mean that’s a level of balance that quite frankly the research shows to be most effective, that balanced approach, but it is taxing to keep that balance.

Len Sipes:  I did, I worked when I was putting myself through college after I left law enforcement, I put myself through college by being a gang counselor in the streets of the city of Baltimore where I was out there on weekends in particular with the kids. And I went and did jail or job corps kids and I also ran a group in the Maryland prison system before going with the Maryland Department of Public Safety. So I’ve had direct work with individuals who are caught up in the criminal justice system.

Kirsten Lewis:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Unbelievably stressful, unbelievably difficult, unbelievably – I’ve always said that I think they taught me more than I taught them. This is not an easy group to work with under any circumstances. If you add the paperwork, if you add the 150 to 200 to 100 to 1 ratios, it becomes almost impossible, stress seems to be inevitable.

Kirsten Lewis:  Yeah, absolutely.

Len Sipes:  So I mean, Adam, from the American Probation and Parole Association’s point of view, I mean does it ever get to the point where we simply say to states and localities and counties, “Look, you need to bring your workload levels down to reasonable amounts or it’s never going to work, you’re always going to lose people, and you’re never going to be able to fully implement evidence-based practices.”?

Adam Matz:  Yeah. That’s a great question actually. In fact, something we have been looking into is workload assessments, and that’s exactly what those are designed to help with. Because one of the problems a lot of agencies have expressed just anecdotally from talking to different folks that I’m in contact with, is that they feel like they’re overworked. They describe all these same issues – role conflict, role ambiguity, increased excessive caseloads, but they’re not able to quantify it in a way that they can share it with the legislature, share it with other folks, and make it known that, “We’re really kind of struggling here.” And that’s really where those workload assessments are just vital to not only show the work that’s being done, but also to justify that you’re actually doing, maybe you have 50 people, maybe 50 officers, but you’re doing the work of 100 officers. Workload assessment’s designed to help you get at that. And so that’s really one of the things that we’ve been looking at more recently and trying to assist some agencies with as well.

Len Sipes:  Kirsten, do you have, I’m not quite sure your research went this far, but can you recommend to the parole and probation administrators or the aides to governors or mayors who are listening to this program right now what they can do? They can’t magically do away with huge caseloads. What can they do to make the job less stressful for parole and probation people?

Kirsten Lewis:  Well, I think the first thing that has to be done is recognizing that keeping officers healthy ends up keeping them motivated, helps them continue to do a tough job, but in the end an incredibly rewarding job. I mean by and large our success rates are actually higher than our failure rates. And so –

Len Sipes:  Sure.

Kirsten Lewis:  When we can stay connected to that it’s a tremendously gratifying job to do. But we got to keep people healthy. And so you may have a great 60%, 70% success rate, but when your people go out and do horrible acts, that’s the stuff that takes an impact on officers. And so even though statistically those may not happen very much, I think we have to recognize that that is stressful and that the consequences are that officers start to check out, they start to check out emotionally, they start to shut down, they start to become robotic in the way that they do the job, they start to become cynical, burned out. I mean all of those things start to happen. And ultimately, their performance suffers. And as Adam talked about, when one performance starts to suffer from one officer all the others have to start picking it up.

Len Sipes:  It’s contagious. Yes.

Kirsten Lewis:  Yeah. And so I really believe that if we could start in a place of better addressing stress and wellness for the officers, that we keep them healthy, we keep them productive, we keep them here, we keep them doing the job, I think that’s your best route to reducing turnover, and ultimately, having a better outcome with the performances and the services that are provided to the offenders.

Len Sipes:  We have about a minute and a half left in the program. We all agree that parole and probation people are absolutely vital to the public safety, absolutely vital to community safety, absolutely vital to saving states and localities literally hundreds of millions of dollars over time to keep individuals from going back into the criminal justice system. So we agree to that and we agree that evidence-based practices are absolutely necessary.

Kirsten Lewis:  Yes.

Adam Matz:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Adam? Okay. And so where’s the disconnect? Because I get the sense from reading both of your research papers that even though we all recognize this, there’s not a lot of involvement in the individual lives of parole and probation people to make sure that they’re taken care of.

Adam Matz:  Well, [OVERLAY]

Kirsten Lewis:  [OVERLAY].

Adam Matz:  Sorry. Go ahead.

Kirsten Lewis:  I was just going to say. I think that that’s actually pretty common. My research has spread to other organizations as well outside of probation. And I don’t think many organizations and many fields, professions, really take very good care of their people. There’s an assumption that somehow emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, everything, that that’ll take care of itself and we just are very focused with performance. So that’s where I don’t think we’re alone as a profession in not necessarily recognizing how wellness and health become paramount.

Len Sipes:  Adam, you got 30 seconds. Want to finish?

Adam Matz:  Yeah, sure. I just wanted to add to that. And I think that’s exactly right, is there’s been a lack of recognition that the folks who are working in the agency, they have needs too. And it’s easy I think, when you’re caught in the management of the agency, to kind of forget that you need to take care of those people. And so I think that’s a very important aspect. And I also wanted to point out the, you know, one of the things with the turnover too is making sure that people fit with the agency correctly as well. And we were talking about role conflict. Now, a lot of time the agency –

Len Sipes:  Pretty quickly, Adam.

Adam Matz:  Okay. The agency has an overarching culture to consider as well and sort of do people fit within that culture?

Len Sipes:  Adam, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, our program today has been on stress and turnover in parole probation. Kirsten Lewis. You can reach Kirsten at You can reach Adam with the American Probation and Parole Association – thank God for APPA – at appa/ Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


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Workloads in Parole and Probation-APPA-RTI International-DC Public Safety Radio

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

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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 program is on Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two experts with us today. Dr. Matthew DeMichele, he is with RTI International, commonly known as Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist. The website at RTI is And Adam Matz from the American Probation and Parole Association is back at our microphone. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments. Again, American Probation and Parole Association, the website for Adam, And to Matthew and Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Adam Matz: Thank you, Len.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Len Sipes: All right, gentlemen, this is a very important topic, this really is. I was watching a CNN program today, a big report about California and their problems in terms of prison realignment. We did a radio show with Joan Petersilia on the California prison realignment issues, and we have employees basically saying that they don’t have the wherewithal to deal with people who violate. They don’t have any options. There’s a real struggle in the state of California for what’s happening in terms of dealing with criminal offenders coming out of the prison system.  I’m not going to get into the details of that, but what’s happening in California is somewhat illustrative of what’s happening in a variety of states throughout the United States. The question is do parole and probation agents have sufficient resources, do parole and probation agents have appropriate staffing levels to deal with the offender population in such a way to help them get the services they need, and at the same time to hold them accountable. Adam, I’m going to start with you. Did I summarize the issue correctly?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think you did a pretty good job of summarizing it. It is true that across the nation in various pockets, there are obviously issues where folks have exorbitant case-load sizes that are far beyond what’s generally recommended.

Len Sipes: And the problem is that when we’re talking about case loads, now here at the Court Services of Offender Supervision Agency, we’re a federal parole and probation agency here in Washington, D.C., our case loads run on average 50-to-1. Our specialized case loads run anywhere from 20- to 30-to-1, for our high-risk case loads and for our specialized case loads, and we have lot of them, so we have the luxury of having federal funding but in many states throughout the country, ratios of 100-to-1, 200-to-1 and above that are not uncommon. Matthew, am I in the ballpark?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, I think that’s exactly the situation that’s going on right now.

Len Sipes: So what do we do? I mean, we have parole and probation. I think parole and probation agents throughout the United States are doing an extraordinarily good job of protecting the public and providing services to people under supervision. We understand that there has to be a combination of services as well as accountability if we’re ever going to lower rates of recidivism, if we’re ever going to protect the public in terms of reducing the number of crimes, but how can a parole and probation agent be effective if he or she has case loads beyond any sense of workability, beyond any sense of efficacy?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, I would say they can’t be successful. I mean, if we’re not going to correctly fund and staff probation and parole agencies, then they’re going to come short of the goal of reducing recidivism. I think what has to happen and what I’ve written about with Adam and with another co-author of mine, Brian Payne, who’s at Old Dominion University, is the idea that we have to look at the things that probation and parole officers are doing and how long it takes them to do those things, and then prioritize them of what we need officers to do, and we can’t continually use probation and parole as kind of the dustbin to sweep up the burden of mass incarceration and then not fund those agents appropriately, and essentially it leaves the officers kind of there holding the bag as they’re trying to struggle to keep cases from going bad.  And just as you had described with the California situation, I mean, while California may be an exaggerated case of what’s going on around the country, it’s definitely not an isolated incident. I know I’ve been doing some workload studies and evaluations in a couple of different states and some different departments, and you do see similar sorts of issues in that officers have these very large case loads, and even while CSOSA has the luxury of having 25 offenders on specialized units, in most departments or at least the departments I’m working with, that’s not the case. That’s what it’s supposed to be but very often it’s more like 50 or 60 offenders.  And so it’s just like your job and my job and anybody else’s job, if they give us too many things to do, we’re either not going to get them done or we’re not going to get them done correctly.

Len Sipes: I want to set this up with a question and that is this, is that California is an extreme case but we know that states throughout the country are working with the Department of Justice, or they’re working with the Council of State Governments or they’re working with PEW, and they’re taking a look at sentencing policies, they’re taking a look at corrections across the board; and the sense that I get from reading these reports is that parole and probation is on the frontline of public safety more than ever before. The time pretty much is now.  Parole and probation, whether we step up to the plate or not, whether we have the proper case load ratios or not, parole and probation is not coming center stage because what these states are basically saying is that we can no longer afford the level of incarceration that we’ve had over the past 10 or 20 years. For the first time, Department of Justice research states that over the course of the last 3-years, prison populations are decreasing not increasing – at the state level, not the federal level, but at the state level – and these individuals are going to be coming to parole and probation agencies in greater numbers. Am I correct in that assessment?

Adam Matz: Yeah. I can take a response to that, if you don’t mind. Yeah honestly, you’re right, there is kind of this realization that probation and parole is a big part of this sort of correctional tie, if you will, and some of the PEW research, some of the BJS data, the Bureau of Justice Statistics data, shows that most of the people under correctional supervision are under some form of community supervision. So most of the folks in the correctional population are under probation or parole supervision, specifically about 4.2 million probation and about 850,000 are under parole. First, there’s about 2 million under prison or jail supervision.  So I think folks have kind of realized that there’s a big part here with community corrections, a lot of potential here that’s not really being tapped into, it’s not being fully realized, and so it’s great to see kind of these resources being directed at sort of the back end of the justice system, if you will. Historically it’s sort of been focused either on police or maybe in the last decade more institutions, so I think that’s a good point to make.

Len Sipes: Well, and the question is are we up to it. The overwhelming majority of people who are in the correctional system first of all, who are in prisons, are going to come out. 97%, 98% of the people in prisons are going to come out, and generally-speaking, they will be on parole and probation supervision. On any given day, what is it, Adam, 75% of the correctional population is under some form of community supervision? They’re not behind bars, they’re with us, and that’s like 7 million human beings combined with parole and probation and mainstream corrections, so we’re talking about what, about 5 million under community corrections, under parole and probation?

Adam Matz: That’s right.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right.

Len Sipes: All right, so when we’re talking about corrections in America, even though all the television shows we watch are about, you know, if you go to A&E and the other cable networks, they’re all talking about being inside of a prison, looking at life inside of a prison. The overwhelming majority of the people under correctional supervision belong to us within parole and probation, right?

Adam Matz: Yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right. Yeah, definitely, I mean 5 million out of 7 million.

Len Sipes: So the question becomes, are we up to it? Are we up to the task? Do we have the sufficient training, resources, and work loads to again, the research says that the need programs, if they’re going to be successful, whether it be work programs, mental health, substance abuse, GED, whatever we have to do to get them involved in programs, that’s a big part of it; but at the same time we have to hold them accountable for their actions. So for that helping role and for that accountability role, are we sufficiently equipped with the work loads to allow that to happen? – And I think the answer is very quickly “no.”

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, yeah, Len, I think you did a good of answering your own question. I mean, I think as we’re doing it now, I mean the way things are going now, as we just said, if we’re not going to correctly staff and fund probation and parole, it’s not going to work. – And it goes back to this idea of Martinson’s research back in the ’70s of corrections rehabilitation programs don’t work, and I think a lot of times when a parole leader or a probationer goes bad, everybody’s really quick to point the finger at, you know, probation and parole is soft on crime and it’s not the right way to punish people, but nobody talks about, you know, do prisons work.  I mean, do we really expect that prisons are rehabilitating folks the way that we’re putting them in there, and that we’re not programming folks while they’re in there, and we’re not addressing criminogenic needs or any of the rehabilitative needs? Instead we’re cycling people in and out from prison on to parole and back into prison, and then continuing to just do this revolving door of churning offenders back and forth.  So I think that as policy-makers and different organizations like APPA, CSU,  PEW, and other places have been working with the Department of Justice, because people have realized that this mass incarceration movement that we started from the ’70s till now has not been working. And as you said, we know almost all the people that are locked up today are going to be out one day and they’re going to be walking around our streets, and it’s how best to kind of redefine and reconceptualize what probation and parole is because I think that while your listeners are very aware of what probation and what parole and what those things are, most of the public aren’t. I think most of the public and even a lot of policy-makers don’t even know the difference between probation and parole, and that’s kind of what myself and Brian Payne and Adam, that we worked on with BJ, and BJ gave us two different grants to complete this work, to look at workload and then to actually develop some templates for folks to actually kind of start to measure their workload, how long it takes, because the first thing is to identify what are the things that probation and parole officers do. I think really quickly – not to dominate the conversation —

Len Sipes: No, please. Dominate.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, we all know what cops do, or at least we think we know what cops do, and we think we know what judges do. They sentence people, and cops arrest people and give tickets and those sorts of things. But if you ask people or policy-makers, “What does a probation or a parole officer do?” – I don’t know that people know, and I think that with that said, and I know APPA’s been working to bring about more of a national kind of conversation around this, but then even within probation and parole, the things that happen are so different.  You know, I’ve worked with different agencies and looked to measure the amount of time it takes to do PSIs, and pre-sentence investigation, and in some agencies it take 8 to 10 hours and in other agencies it takes 30 to 45 minutes. So it’s like the same task but when you drill down into that task and look at the specific elements, you see that there’s very different things going on. And I think that what needs to happen and is starting to happen is that more and more agencies are beginning to look at the very specific things that they have to do to meet the conditions of their standards – or the standards for their conditions, rather – and that when we start to apply at least some average or some rough estimates on how long that takes, then you can just add them up and look at the number of offenders you have that fit those criteria and say, well, we either do or we don’t have enough folks to meet this need.  I mean, it’s just like if you have a surgeon and he or she can only do so many heart surgeries in a day or a week or a month or a year, and if you give him or her more than that number, then there’s going to be problems, you know? – And you can kind of use that metaphor for any position, whether it’ a car mechanic, a hair dresser, a professor, an individual doing radio talk shows – it’s like you can only do so many talk shows – and the same with officers. So I think as policy-makers and agencies start to realize this, that we need to start actually identifying, charting, measuring, and timing what it is that probation and parole officers are doing, and then that information can be used to feed back in not only to the officer, to let them see what they’re doing and what’s expected of them and about how long it will take them, feed back into their supervisors and then their agency administrators so that they know how many people they can realistically supervise, stratified by risk and need sorts of issues, right?  And then also that information can continue to go up the chain of command to policy-makers and to funding agencies because right now while whatever the number was, you know, 60^% or 70% of the criminal justice folks are on probation and parole, we know that – and I’m only guessing, and I worked with PEW to collect this data some years ago – I mean, probably 70% or 80% of corrections funds go to prisons, and one of the biggest cost that goes to prisons is the building of prisons. It’s super expensive, and we know that we’re spending $30,000 and $40,000 and upwards, thousands of dollars on average per offender, and we know that probation and parole is much cheaper, and what we need to come to is whether we continue, as PEW is doing and CSU is doing, to continue to divert some of those institutional dollars down into the community so that we can put some bang for our buck behind what probation and parole officers are doing. – And I’ll let Adam or you talk now. I apologize.

Len Sipes: Well, I want to go our break and reintroduce you but the question I want to come back to is, is it fair for society to expect parole and probation agencies to perform these miraculous interventions in terms of providing the services that are necessary and providing the level of accountability that’s necessary to lower rates of recidivism and to keep citizens safe? But ladies and gentlemen, we’re more than halfway through the program.  Again, the program today is in Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two extremely qualified to talk about this – Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is at RTI, International Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist – We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association. – And also, in terms of the research we’re talking about, I’ll put a link to that research in the show notes.  So we have a public expectation. I’ve been representing parole and probation agencies for a quarter of a century now, as well as law enforcement agencies and correctional agencies, but parole and probation, people have an expectation. They are going to say that if this individual goes out and commits a crime while under supervision, the first thing they’re going to do is call me and say – or call my counterparts and say – “What did you do and what didn’t you do? Did you hold this person to certain standards? Were they in compliance with the rules of the supervision? If they weren’t in compliance, why not?”  And so there’s a finger pointing at parole and probation agencies throughout the country immediately, and in some cases justified, but in some cases I’m going to guess unjustified because the workloads and the resources that those parole and probation agencies have are simply inadequate to the task. Either one of you?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I’ll kind of comment a little bit on that. I think it’s an interesting point and this happens all the time, actually. You might have maybe one bad case or one person goes out, maybe it’s a homicide or some other sort of violent offense, and they happen to be on probation or parole, and then it really lights up the news waves and gets a lot of media attention, and then that really adds the stress on the probation and parole agency in terms of, you know, did they hold them accountable and was the supervision adequate and things like that; and then it usually ends up turning into some kind of “get tough” type policies which tend to make things worse, so kind of one bad egg ruins it for everybody.  But I think one thing we have to think about too is the reality of probation and parole, and particularly for probation and parole officers, is that they’re working with a difficult population. I mean, this is a criminogenic population and a lot of them have very disadvantage backgrounds that they’re coming from, and their ability to sort of get their way out of maybe poverty or whatever other issues they have can be difficult, and so some failures in some way is almost inevitable.  We know recidivism rates have historically been pretty high, and it depends on sort of how you measure it and what sort of research you’re going to look at, so you could look at anywhere between 30% and maybe 60% recidivism rates, depending on where you look. So even in the best cases, you’re still looking at about a third failure rate, so that’s kind of a reality in this field. That’s a difficult thing to convey to the public and so that obviously ends up creating some issues.  The other thing I wanted to mention too from the conversation earlier in terms of workload assessments, and really where those pay off for the probation and parole agencies is they provide a numeric, a quantitative sort of look for probation and parole agencies to show to their legislature and show them sort of definitively, you know, this is what we’re lacking, this is what we need. Before it just sounds like people complaining and maybe it doesn’t sound legitimized so what the workload assessments really do is they legitimize this argument that, you know, we’re really overworked and understaffed.

Len Sipes: And Matthew, that was the point of the research, correct? The whole idea was to quantify exactly what parole and probation officers do, how much time it takes to perform specific tasks, and then to look at your overall resources and align them correctly, or go to the state legislatures and ask for additional funds?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, definitely. I think it had a two-part kind of agenda. The first part was to actually find out what is that probation and parole officers are doing, and I think that when you do any task analysis – and quite frankly, workload studies have been going on for a very long time. Other fields have been doing them all the time. You look at industry, manufacturing, you look at the medical field, there’s tons of workload studies going on – the nursing field, and if you think about how nursing works, it is pretty similar to the nature of work for officers. So this isn’t something that I created or Adam created. I mean, this has been going on for over a century.  What’s ironic is that we’ve not been doing it in probation and parole but instead what we were doing is we were doing a case load sort of approach where it was like, you know, you had a certain number of offenders, it didn’t matter risk level. You were supposed to do a certain number of contacts with them, it didn’t matter whether that offender needed that or not. Whereas now what we’re calling for is just to fit into what other organizations are doing as well as we’re using this idea of evidence-based practice, we’re using this idea of stratifying offenders based upon their probability of risk, based upon the characteristics that those individuals carry, and we’re seeing that not each offender is going to have the same amount of time spent on them. You know, to do a risk assessment or a PSI on somebody that it’s their first offense versus somebody that this is, you know, on the eighth page of their acts sheet, those two people are going to take very different times.  It’s the same for a surgeon that’s getting reading to remove tonsils as opposed to doing some sort of heart surgery, you know. We have to get to a more nuanced and refined way of looking at what probation and parole officers do, and I think that – to come back to your question that you had just asked – this idea that we are blaming probation and parole over and over again for failures that happen within the correction system, and I think that Adam made a very good point that in some ways – I mean, we can’t expect that recidivism is going to go to zero, you know, and not to continually use a medical metaphor but at the same thing, it’s the same thing, that medical procedures aren’t 100% effective. Well, neither are correctional programs.  But what we do know – and you talked Petersilia, you talked about this, and I know you talked about it with other folks – what we do know is we do know that there are a set if things that can work to bring about behavior change, and by specifically targeting those things on the correct populations, we can maximize corrections dollars.

Len Sipes: Well, if we reduce recidivism rates by 10% to 20%, which seems to be the norm for those programs that are successful, recognizing that not all programs are successful – for those that are, a 10% to 20% reduction in the recidivism rate fiscally saves any state literally tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars, so there seems to be certainly a fiscal incentive for states to do it right, to provide the services that are necessary for these individuals to do well while under community supervision, and it seems to be a fiscal reality that you have to provide enough people out there to administer these services and to contract out for these services.  So if all of us are in total agreement that this reduces recidivism, it dramatically reduces costs to state government and local government, and we recognize that we have to place our resources on higher-risk offenders and do less with lower-risk offenders, if there is this criminological assessment across the board that these are the things that need to be done, why aren’t they being done?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, that’s the golden question, right? I mean, criminologists have been talking about this for a long time, and policy-makers have been extremely slow to respond. Adam kind of alluded to the nature of CJ research and policy-making with knee-jerk reactions based upon media-high types of instances that happen that are very dramatic and get a lot of attention, and then we use those single instances to revolutionize the criminal justice system and create new policies.  But as a public, we’re pretty slow, and politicians are slow to push for becoming more lenient in criminal justice areas. Instead it’s, you know, “we need more prisons, we need more cops,” but nobody is ever saying “we need more” – I don’t know, maybe you have or Adam has heard policy-makers saying, “We need more probation and parole agents.” That’s not something I’m hearing. It’s not palatable to the public, I don’t think. That’s my opinion of why.

Len Sipes: But why is that? That’s the thing that puzzles me because if you go and talk to the American Probation and Parole Association, if you talk to the Council of State Governments, if you talk to PEW, if you talk to the leaders within Community Corrections within this country, if you talk to folks at the Department of Justice – all are going to say the same thing, that we need the resources, we need the person power, and with that we can do things that are very helpful to the states’ fiscal bottom line and save literally tens of thousands of people from being revictimized every year. So I go back to the original question, if there is this massive consensus, is it our fault that we’re not sending out a clear enough message?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, well, I don’t know that that’s the issue so much as, I mean, in some ways I think for the public it’s like, you know, punishment feels good. Punishment, that sounds like the right thing to do on the face of it because I think it’s packaged in such a way that the only thing people think about is that punishment and sentences, that it’s always for these extremely violent people. What’s this guy, that he kidnapped and was holding those women hostage in Cleveland?

Len Sipes: In Cleveland, yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: I mean, that’s our image and those things are horrible but those are very rare events. The bulk of our criminal events aren’t anything like that, and I think the public’s perception of it is much different. So for the public, this idea of punishment, it seems natural and it seems like the right course of action to do for criminals because they are others, you know. The criminals aren’t us. Criminals aren’t voting populations, you know, is the way we conceive it. We think of them as these other people that we don’t know and that we don’t meet throughout our lives but the reality is is that most all of us know criminals, or have them in our families, or meet them at the gym or the grocery store or whatever. I mean, these are people that we are around, people that have committed criminal offenses, and they’re not all these hyper-dangerous folks that we need to lock up and throw away the key as we started doing throughout the ’80s.  And I think now as the drug war is kind of coming to a halt, this might help kind of start to push folks out of prisons and into the community. And as we start to recognize that probation and parole can be effective, but they can only be effective if they are given the correct resources and if we really understand the staffing needs, and I think that like you said, PEW, CSJ, APPA is an excellent training and technical assistance resources for agencies, and I think that as the government and agencies start to realize the benefits from those folks that they can start to tap into, you know, what those organization can offer to states.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple minutes left. Is the research going to provide a formula for states basically saying, “If you do this, the ratio needs to be that?”

Adam Matz: No, just to comment on that, it will be difficult to make a blanket statement sort of like that particularly with probation and parole just because there’s so much diversity across the states and even within the states. I wanted to point that out that one of the reasons maybe that – because you know, when I’ve been out in the field, there’s instances where folks are just starting to really get into risk assessment now, and we’ve been talking about risk assessment for a long time. It’s not a new thing.  But for some agencies, that really is new, and there’s some very rural areas where they have to deal with maybe four-hour trips to do a home visit. So there’s so much disparity in the field, and also the way the agencies are organized, whether they’re under the executive or the judicial branch. All these sort of nuances just complicate the whole process sort of from a global perspective, or maybe a national perspective. So I think that really complicates, it makes it really difficult to have sort of the unity across the field that I think we’re sort of advocating, if you will.

Len Sipes: Well, let’s end the program on a positive note. I have been in this system, like I said, over a quarter of a century, working with parole and probation agents. I love them. I respect them. I admire them. I think they’re some of the bravest, most dedicated people. They’re generally well-educated, and they’re out there doing a really good and difficult job, and they’re enthusiastic at least when they first come into Parole and Probation, and I think they really do add to public safety, and I think it’s something that, if we’re going to retain these individuals and if we’re going to keep a viable community corrections in parole and probation system in this country, I think first of all we’ve got to thank them, which is the cornerstone of what the American Probation and Parole Association and the Council of State Governments is trying to do. So we can all agree that they are good people doing a good job. They simply need the resources to do a better job.

Adam Matz: I agree completely. In fact actually, just to dovetail into that a little bit, is obviously increased workload and having too much work or too much on your plate, that’s associated with all kinds of other issues too when it comes to workplace stress, burn-out which you’re kind of alluding to, and those have not only consequences for on-the-job sort of performance but also a person’s personal health. So obviously folks need to have the resources to be able to do their job, do it well, and actually also live a high-quality life in general, so definitely.

Len Sipes: Well, in the final seconds of the program, again, the community supervision officers here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, I am just so impressed with them. I’ve been out with them dozens and dozens of times, and I think they’re miracle-workers, and I’ve been with parole and probation agents throughout the country on trips, and again, they have my admiration.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Our show today has been on Workloads in Parole and Probation. Our guests have been Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is with RTI International, Research Social Scientist –; and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association –  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls, we appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


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Police-Parole and Probation Cooperation-Indiana University of Pennsylvania-APPA-DC Public Safety

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. The topic of today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, is Police-Probation and Parole partnerships. The question is whether law enforcement agencies cooperate with parole and probation agencies.  We have two guests today. We have Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology in Indiana, Pennsylvania. We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association. – And to Bitna and to Adam, welcome to DC Public safety.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Thank you for having me here.

Adam Matz: Yeah, thank you.

Len Sipes:  I’ve in the criminal justice system for 42 years, and I had 6 years of law enforcement, and in the 6 years of law enforcement, I do not ever recall ever having any contact with a parole and probation agent, and it really strikes me that parole and probation and law enforcement have been behind a line. They really haven’t talked to each other that much. They really haven’t cooperated with each other all that much.  Now within the course of the last 5 years, we see some real interest from the research and from the practitioner community as to law enforcement  getting together with parole and probation agencies, sharing information, looking at re-entry, looking at making sure that people who come out of the prison system do as well as humanly possible so they don’t re-enter the criminal justice system. Adam, I’m going to start with you. The American Probation and Parole Association has taken the lead in all of this.

Adam Matz: Yes, and actually what’s kind of gotten us sort of interested in the partnership specifically is we have various sort of grant projects that we work on for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and one of those programs is Project Safe Neighborhoods. Now Project Safe Neighborhoods or PSN has been around for a while, since 2001, but the interesting thing about that is that it’s heavily influence by prior programs, and one that stands out is the Operation Ceasefire that a lot of folks have heard of or are familiar with from Boston. Part of that Ceasefire or that gun project that happened there was really one of the first formalized partnerships between probation and police officers, and it was known as Boston’s Operation Night Light, and that’s really where we kind of tie together and that’s where APPA’s interest has really grown even more. – And then also IACP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, we’ve worked with them and they’ve had various focus groups on this topic as well.

Len Sipes: But the American Probation and Parole Association, certainly that’s the organization that has taken the lead in not just police and parole and probation cooperation but has taken the lead in terms of virtually anything involving parole and probation agencies throughout the United States, correct?

Adam Matz: Yeah, that’s true. APPA is a national and international organization. We have a membership of over 35,000 members. It’s comprised of probation and parole officers and executives from all over the country. We do two annual institutes, a lot of trainings, a lot of grant-based projects, so definitely a very big organization.

Len Sipes: All right. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association – Bitna Kim, Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania there at the Department of Criminology, you were involved in research in terms of police officers and parole and probation agencies working closely together, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And can you give me a sense as to what your research had to say?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Okay, so our research is – first I have to admit our limitation of the study so we focused on only probation-police partnership in Texas so it’s really hard to generalize what is involved in the United States however this study can be one of the good examples as the need for more research. So in terms of the research findings, what they found is – so this study generally test how police officers or the leaders from the police office or sheriff department, how they think about the partnership with probation or parole, so whet we found is actually they are very positive in their relations or positive experience with the probation and parole, the officer. That’s the good side for future.  However the negative finding, what we found is most of the partnerships we found in Texas is that they are informal.

Len Sipes: Is what now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Informal – so in other words, the partnership is never formalized across the agencies. This is based on just the individual personal relationship between police officers and probation-parole officers. The problem is even though sometimes we really needed those informal partnerships however once those key people in the agencies retired or moved to another agency, the partnership is gone as well.

Len Sipes: Okay. So in other words, what you found was more of an individualized approach between the parole and probation agents and the police officers in the state of Texas rather than an organizational approach.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s true. So what we found is actually we surveyed the random sample of almost 700 police office agencies. Among them, over 75% of the agencies had just the informal or no partnership at all. Only a few agencies had established the formalized the partnerships so that is one issue we need to look at for future study. So what they found is again the consent is the police are leaders. They think we need those partnerships between police and probation-parole however the current status of partnership what they have is informal.

Len Sipes: Okay. Well, let me see if I can summarize. You took a look at 700 law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas and you found that 70% of those agencies had an informal relationship with parole and probation, and about 30% had formal relationships, say even memorandums of understanding, and that it really comes down to the leadership of both the parole and probation entities and law enforcement as to whether or not these were really viable, working relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That is correct, but once they have – so those who had the formal partnership, they dearly enjoyed the partnership. They think that they got a lot of the good relationship with the probation and parole agency.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Matz: Yeah, actually if I can add just a little extra context too that’s been kind of interesting is when you try to look at, okay, ones that are formalized, sort of why are they formalized, and what you’ll find a lot of times is that there was some sort of federal funding, grant funding that supported that sort of formal partnership. So a lot of those maybe are left over, and I know Dr. Kim can speak to it more with Texas, but they had the Project Spotlight there for a while which sort of motivated those agencies to develop these formalized partnerships.  Now we’ve talked about the Night Light in Boston when it originated in the early ’90s, that was considered the first formalized partnership, but when you think about informal, there’s been these sort of individual associations between officers for, you could probably stretch if back to the ’50s or something. So these always been these sort of informal networks that kind of occur in just a natural sort of organization setting but it’s really the past sort of 15, 20 years where we’ve started to see these formalized partnerships, and that’s really important for a couple of reasons. One is if you’re going to evaluate it and determine what kind of impact it has, it has to be formalized. It has to have some sort of logic model, if you will, to go with that.

Len Sipes: Well, but it strikes me as something that is fairly recent, I agree with you. It’s probably been on an informal basis between individual police officers and individual parole and probation agents, but you know here in Washington, D.C., we have an extraordinarily highly-structured relationship with not only the Metropolitan Police Department. We have it with the U.S. Park Police. We have it with the FBI. We have it with the CIA. We have it with the Secret Service.

We have all of these very specific involvements in terms of them and us, and when I say all these other agencies it’s 80%, 85%, 90% going to be with the Metropolitan Police Department. We meet with them on a leadership basis. Our top leadership meets with their top leadership. Our people in the field, branch chiefs meet with commanders of police districts, and there is also, I’m very proud to say, a lot of interaction because of the fact that there’s leadership from the top, a lot of interaction between individual police officers and individual community supervision officers. That’s what we call parole and probation agents in Washington, D.C.  So in D.C. it’s very structured, it’s very robust, but I just get the sense that outside of the District of Columbia, there’s really not a lot of agencies that have this type of formalized structure in terms of the relationship with law enforcement and parole and probation. Am I right or wrong, either one of you?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: Okay. And why is that, Dr. Kim? Why is there a reluctance of law enforcement and parole and probation to sit down at the same table and to forge these cooperative understandings with each other?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Actually, that’s the need for future research. We did not find what prohibit the formation of a formal partnership so in the near future I hope we can initiate more research. However I can say what we found is those who had the formal partnership had a strong organizational culture within the agency which emphasized the importance of working closer with the other agencies, recognizing parole or probation as an integral part of the larger community rather than simply threat to public safety, the single greater predictor for success for police-probation-parole partnership.  And also the other important thing is implementing formal partnership requires strong leaders endorsement to change the organizational culture or implement the formal partnership, nurture them, grow, and be successful over the long-term.

Len Sipes: Well, that was the key finding, I think, out of the first summation that you gave of your research in the state of Texas, that it really was the leadership between law enforcement and parole and probation that really kicked off on these 30% or so of formal relationships and 70% informal. It was the leadership aspect of that that really propelled these formal relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Yes.

Adam Matz: I think that’s right too. The leadership aspect is really important. There was qualitative research actually where there were some interviews done with not only police chiefs but also probation chiefs to get an idea, and also the officers within those organizations, and what kind of came out of that research was basically that if you didn’t have the support from the top, then those partnerships were never going to develop, and I think that matches with Dr. Kim was saying.  The other thing too, to think about the police organizations and Dr. Kim mentioned culture. If you think about sort of the community policing movement that happened kind of in the ’90s, that really kind of opened the door for more dialogue between police and probation and parole.

Len Sipes: Agreed.

Adam Matz: That really kind of made police a little bit more flexible, a little bit more – what’s the word – accepting of the probation and parole officer’s sort of mission which is to help. I mean, on one point it’s accountability but on the other it’s also helping these folks kind of get their lives put back together, and so that’s a big part of that. – And I think what’s interesting with these informal and formalized partnerships, the formalized are kind of concentrated in more urban areas also; and then if you think about what sort of agencies are more likely to have sort of a community policing drive to it versus maybe militaristic – and there are still a lot of militaristic type of police agencies out there that may or may not be sort of willing to partner with probation and parole, or at least not in the aspect of re-entry as we think about it typically.

Len Sipes: Well, there is also a lot of parole and probation agencies that are organized amongst law enforcement lines. They are police officers, they carry guns, so there’s a lot of parole and probation agencies that fall into that category as well.

Adam Matz: That’s exactly right, and that’s exactly a good point, and that was my thought. You took it right out of my head. You’re exactly right on that. There is a lot of diversity in probation and parole across the country. There are some places that do have a law enforcement orientation whereas others have more of a social work orientation, and I’m not sure there’s any research that really gets at which one of those two sort of camps are more likely to partners. It’d be interesting to find that out.

Len Sipes: Yeah, I’d love that, because it would strike me that those parole and probation agencies with the law enforcement orientation would cooperate on a greater degree with the law enforcement agencies because the missions become very similar, and that’s what I want to get into in the second half but I’m going to reintroduce both of you with this whole question as to how good are these partnerships, and how good are these partnerships for people coming out of the prison system, and how well people on probation do but let me reintroduce my guests one more time.  Bitna, she is Bitna Kim, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology, Adam Matz, a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments and the American Probation and Parole Association, the leading agency in this country representing parole and probation issues. Adam’s website is  All right, so the question now becomes we have law enforcement and parole and probation cooperating with each other. You know, from the standpoint of warrant service, from the standpoint of enforcement, from the standpoint of GPS, from the standpoint of accountability, that part of it I get and that would flow back-and-forth. We work with MPD all the time on all those issues if there’s a high-risk offender or individuals under GPS supervision. By the way, the folks from the Metropolitan Police Department can track our people on GPS through their own computers in their own cars.  So from the law enforcement end of it, that I get; but from the reentry and from the assistance end, I mean it’s pretty clear from the research that successful parole and probation is one part accountability but a second part of treatment so I’m not quite sure that our law enforcement friends are going to be that supportive or that understanding on the treatment side of it. Now, am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: You know, that’s actually a really good discussion point and it’s a really broad discussion so it’s kind of tough to kind of narrow that down, and I think to just back up just a second too, there’s multiple different types of partnerships and multiple ways to even think about this. One of them is enhanced supervision which is a joint patrol, and that’s really where you get the police officers and the probation-parole officers who go out together to do these house visits and kind of —

Len Sipes:  That’s what we do in D.C., yes.

Adam Matz: Yeah, with the accountability tours, I believe.

Len Sipes: Yes, and very successful.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think in that sort of example if you can get the police officers, their presence kind of does help to provide a sense of accountability. It also helps to reinforce the probation’s authority, I guess, with the offender, or the probation or parolee, and that’s probably where I would see more of the assistance in terms of the reentry as well. There were some anecdotal accounts when it came to Boston that having the officer there, they could maybe help coordinate services, suggest services for folks, also with the families in those areas.  But it’s never really clear on anything that’s been documented so far how far that really goes, and obviously I think that’s the area that needs a little more examination because, like you said, it’s very clear that accountability, the police are used to that, and probation and parole working with police on that is really probably the easiest part of it, and a lot of that can be done just with information-sharing which is another type of partnership.

Len Sipes: Well, here’s the conversation I had with a friend of mine in the Metropolitan Police Department here in D.C when we had an offender who got himself into trouble. They said, “Well, he had several drug positives, why didn’t you revoke him?” – And my response was that if we revoked everybody with drug positives or if we revoked everybody who had problems under supervision, we would revoke a lot of people. We involve intermediate sanctions where we get in, and we are progressive in terms of how we respond to an individual in terms of what we have that person do, all the way from community service work to going to a day reporting center to putting the person under various forms of GPS, and those forms of GPS can be tightened and tightened and tightened.  And what we do is we take a behavior that is inappropriate or drug-positives, and we try to fix that problem. He’s not going to work and he’s not looking for work so fine. He’s going to be on GPS until he finds a job. We find that many people come under compliance pretty quickly once they’re on GPS, and they suddenly go out and get that job, so this whole concept of intermediate sanctions is something that is hard for my friend in law enforcement to grasp but intermediate sanctions is part and parcel to good parole and probation within this country, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct, I think. I agree potentially between the police and probation-parole agency offering new, really good benefit and opportunity but also both sides of the practitioner agree there are lots of challenges. One of the one is I think, as you mentioned, that this is a mission distortion which means the given professional orientation becomes skewed by the influence or ideology of the particular agency. So law enforcement and correction agencies share the common goal which is the public safety by the crime reduction however each pursue this goal from the different perspective.  So police agency takes the full concern being enforcers, protecting the community by the arrest of criminal suspects in traditionally. Probation-parole agency on the other hand, is expected to both protect the community, and they heavily tag offenders by monitoring offenders and guiding them through treatment to service. Probation-parole officer especially receptive to adapting a law enforcement orientation where official focus solely on the role of the enforcement as the opposite to the probation-parole reintegration need, although by say that police-probation partnership are anticipated to result in stronger mission distortion among probation-parole officer than among police officer. Working with the probation officer within the active partnership also entailed the risk of law enforcement officer suffering from role confuse.

Len Sipes: Suffering from what, now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Suffering from what kind of a role they have to play, in other words they’re confused in terms of their role. So I think the original research found, they examined the implementation of police-probation partnership and found that the police officer involved in the program, the partnership, they felt what they should do by this the partnership.

Len Sipes: I would imagine a lot of this is going to be an opportunity for the parole and probation agent to explain to the law enforcement officer what his or her job entails and what’s important to them, and the fact that the offender under supervision successfully completes supervision, that is extraordinarily important to the parole and probation agent. I would imagine to the police officer, he just does not want that individual to engage in any law-violating behavior at all. So it’s an opportunity for both to sit down and explain to the other person what their jobs are and the fact that those jobs mesh in terms of the long-run, which is public safety, but in the short-run requires a bit of understanding from each other.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think you’re right about the communication part there and the two agencies. They have to communicate which each other’s mission is, for one. I mean, they have to have some sort of inner-agency meetings to basically get to know each other and understand what the goals are. – And you mentioned intermediate sanctions, graduated sanctions, those strategies that probation and parole uses, well, the police officers are not going to be aware of that, and there’s going to be certain aspects of probation and parole that simply police just aren’t going to be in tuned to, and that’s where that communication is really important.  And part of the thing, and it’s kind of an interesting dynamic, is that for probation and parole, when you increase supervision, particularly if it’s not necessary, if it’s low-risk type offenders or moderate, however, you basically increase the odds that you’re going to revoke or there’s going to be a new offense, etc., and it’s sort of ironic in a way that if you do too good of a job, you actually make things worse for those offenders because when you revoke them, you put them back in prison, it’s like starting over, and you have to go through the whole process all over again.

Len Sipes: For those lower-level offenders in particular, yes.

Adam Matz: Yes, yeah, and that’s something I don’t think the police officers – I know they’re aware of it because there’s all kinds of examples where they’re frustrated with seeing the same folks go in and come back, go in and come back, the revolving door. You know, police officers talk about that pretty regularly, and I don’t think they quite understand everything from the probation and parole perspective on that, so really that’s just I think the communication between the two.  But I think if it’s communicated effectively, the way that the police officers can really help probation and parole – and this has been sort of talked about and written about – is really sort of functioning as extra eyes on the street because the reality is probation and parole, they’re not on the street. They do home visits somewhat regularly but it’s not every day, it’s not every week. It may not even be every month in some cases.  So the police officers, if they communicate with probation and parole, they’ll know who these folks are, and they’ll be able to reinforce with the probation officer so if they see someone out, they don’t necessarily act on it but they can report that back to the probation and parole agency, which is very helpful.

Len Sipes: Let me toss something out, and again I’m going back to the fact that I was a law enforcement office for six years and I was a spokesman for law enforcement agencies as well as correctional agencies. The Maryland Department of Public Safety was both Corrections and Law Enforcement. The average police officer wants to see the average person coming out of the prison system or the average person on probation, he or she wants to see them succeed, and will report to the parole and probation agent, “Look, Benny’s been hanging out on the corner, and we’re getting complaints from the neighbors that he’s being loud, and I suspect that he’s smoking pot again, possibly being involved. I’ve got intelligence that he’s involved in other things as well. You need to intervene in this person’s life and intervene quickly because I think we’re going to lose him.”  I think in many cases, that’s not an abnormal interaction with law enforcement officers. The vast majority of them, virtually all of them, want to see these individuals succeed under supervision and so they communicate strategies and issues to that parole and probation agent so that parole and probation agent can take the action necessary to get the person involved in treatment or at least, if nothing else, to get them off the corner.

Adam Matz: Yes.

Len Sipes: Am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: No, I think you’re right on that, and I think in most places that’s the interaction you’ll see. Obviously if the communication is there and they know who those offenders are – there are some places in the country where there’s no communication. They don’t know the difference between people who are on probation and those who are not.

Len Sipes: Right.

Adam Matz: So for those jurisdictions where they know that and they have that information, you’re exactly right. That’s exactly what I’ve seen and that’s exactly the kind of feedback that I’ve gotten.

Len Sipes: Well Bitna, from your research, are we to be encouraged by these burgeoning relationships? Is this something that is in the best interest of public safety, the best interest of the offender? Is this within society’s best interest? Do you think these have a way of increasing and getting better?

Dr. Bitna Kim: I think. I think because state and local government across the entire United States facing reduced budget so law enforcement agency, correction agency, experience residual effects by staff reduction or declining research. However community expectation do not decline with the economy, as you know, so because of that, agencies are challenged to find a new and creative way to more with less. One way, one best way is to share resource and drive control together. I think the answer is the partnership between police and community partnership. Definitely that can be one solution what we can do more with less.

Len Sipes: Well, I agree with you there. The fact that budgets are being cut throughout the country, they’re being cut everywhere, and at parole and probation agencies as well as law enforcement agencies, that’s one way of dealing with the budget cuts, that they’re talking more and they’re creating a more effective environment for public safety, and hopefully they’re creating a more effective environment for the individual offender.  If the that offender, the person under supervision, if he or she knows that they’re being carefully watched by law enforcement, I’m going to guess and suggest that they’re going to be more careful in terms of being involved in anything nefarious. Adam?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think, well, the budgets and everything, it seems like a few years back, it was particularly bad. It seems like —

Len Sipes: A couple of seconds left.

Adam Matz: — things have been improving but yeah, I would say particularly what’s focused here and where these partnerships can really be beneficial is with your sort of high-risk folks, and where these programs are really paying off with this is when they’re doing these sort of inner-city urban gang problems, street gang problems. That’s where I really see this coming together and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:29:16].

Len Sipes: Okay. So ladies and gentlemen, our guests today have been Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your criticisms, we appreciate your comments, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]