President’s Stimulus Package-What It Means to the Criminal Justice System-NCJA

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Len Sipes: From our studio in Downtown Washington, DC this is DC Public Safety. I am your host, Len Sipes. A lot of reporters have been calling lately about the stimulus package and what it means to the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system will be receiving approximately $4 billion dollars to the system to improve the system, to improve law enforcement, to improve the entire criminal justice system, to improve the research package. So what I thought I’d do today is to bring on some people who really deal with the criminal justice system authorities, one from the National Criminal Justice Association and we have Cabell Cropper, the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. We also have back at our microphones, we have Pat Dishman, the Director of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs. And we also have Kristen Mahoney, the Executive Director for the Maryland’s Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. To come to grips with the $4 billion dollar, approximately $4 billion dollars that we’re getting, the criminal justice system is getting, and what does it mean in terms of crime control? What does it mean in terms of improved public safety? So Executive Director Cropper, I can not pronounce your first name correctly. I’m just going to go ahead and use that. What does it mean? Sum up the whole thing for us, Cabell.

Cabell Cropper: Well, I think the funding that is coming through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the criminal justice system is intended to support the overall purpose of that bill. And that’s to retain jobs or expand jobs that will allow all components of the criminal justice system to retain programs that could have been lost because of the lack of funding at the state and local level as well as create and expand already existing programs. And that’s really what Kristen and Pat are here to talk about.

Len Sipes: Because they control that money at the state level, and an awful lot of that money is coming to the state level in terms of the discretionary spending, correct?

Cabell Cropper: Right. A large portion, not all of the $4 billion goes to the states, but a large portion of it does.

Len Sipes: Cabell, can you summarize what we’re getting? We’re getting money to hire new police officers. We’re getting money to improve the criminal justice system at the state level. We are getting money for research. Now, again, ladies and gentlemen, it goes way beyond our discussion today. I urge everybody who is interested because there’s a nice list on the website of the National Criminal Justice Association at and I will be repeating that throughout the program, because there’s money going for victims’ issues, there is money going for women victimization, victimization issues. There is money there for tribal issues. But we’re going to be talking broadly about all the money that’s coming down the pike today, correct?

Cabell Cropper: Correct. I think the two major programs within the $4 billion dollars are the cops hiring program which is being funded at $1 billion dollars. And the burn JAG program administrator at the state level that’s being funded at the $2 billion portion which is administered by the Criminal State Justice Agencies and a portion of it goes directly to localities. Kristen heads up offices that administer the portion that goes to state agencies to work within the criminal justice system within their states.

Len Sipes: Now, any one of you can come in and basically answer this question, so we’ve had a deficit in terms of spending out of Washington that’s going to the criminal justice agencies at the state level, correct? There’s been a problem. It’s been reduced and reduced dramatically in the last couple of years, correct?

Cabell Cropper: Yes, it was the burn JAG program was set by 67 percent in fiscal year 2008. So the state agencies are really struggling to maintain the programs that they already had underway as well as to implement new programs.

Len Sipes: Okay. And the heart and soul, what I have found in the 40 years that I have been in the criminal justice system, is that money drives everything. Now, feel free to disagree with me, anyone of you, Pat or Kristen, money drives the criminal justice system. It’s not so much, I mean we all went to school, we all studied sociology, or law or criminology and we’re all taught and we all read the research and we all have a pretty good understanding as to what works, what doesn’t work. But if you don’t have the money it doesn’t matter what works. And I get newspaper clippings every day, here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and what I hear is this steady, steady drumbeat of states laying off people, closing prisons, eliminating parole and probation agents, the states are in a dire fiscal situation all throughout this country. So it seems to me two things; A) money drives everything, regardless as to what works, and B) the states are already suffering tremendously.

Kristen Mahoney: Go ahead, Pat.

Pat Dishman: Well, you’re exactly right, Len. You know, we have been struggling at the national level with the BURN program as Cabell talked about and literally that has been going on for seven or eight years, up and down that funding. So it’s very hard to maintain programs or start new programs if you’re in a retrenchment mode or you don’t exactly know where you’re going to be. In the last year, year and a half, the deficits facing the states have really become a problem. And much of that is driven, of course, by the economy and states are different in the way they raise revenue, but I know in our state, Tennessee, because we rely on sales tax revenue for much of the revenue we used to fund our programs and services, because of the sharp decline there, we are looking at a horrible deficit situation.

Len Sipes: And Maryland’s basically the same, Kristen.

Kristen Mahoney: Yeah. For Maryland, I mean BURN and JAG, BURN JAG is driven innovation and collaboration and in places like Baltimore City where that’s a big old city that has a police department annual technology budget of only $80,000 dollars. You know, they rely on this type of discretionary funding to help them keep up with technology. You know, over the last eight years technology has moved forward, CSI, you know, expected and gotten juries to expect better and better technology, but the discretionary fund for local law enforcement has just not kept up.

Len Sipes: Well, it’s funny that you mentioned that because I can’t stand to watch those shows because the reality and what people see on TV are so far apart. It’s silly.

Kristen Mahoney: Right. I mean, generally the locals are good at hiring and retaining but during a depression or a recession like right now, we’re not even so good at hiring and retaining public safety folks. And you can forget overtime. You know, the officers, we’re not having additional presence on the street and we’re actually not filling the vacancies that we have. So all of this kind of comes together for us at the best possible time.

Len Sipes: So, again, to summarize, we have money and I think it’s Cabell, what? Two billion dollars going to the cops program which is to hire new police officers?

Cabell Cropper: One billion to the cops program.

Len Sipes: One billion.

Cabell Cropper: And $2 billion to the BURN JAG.

Len Sipes: Two billion. Okay. And , that’s basically going to put literally thousands upon thousands of police officers on the streets in the various cities throughout the country. From what I understand in the past, under the old cops program, there was a match, a 25 percent match. In this case there is no match, correct?

Cabell Cropper: Correct.

Len Sipes: Okay. So that is a huge plus. What we’re talking about are literally tens of thousands of police officers going into the cities throughout the country, going into the Metropolitan area, I should say throughout the country. So I think people are going to appreciate that. The other $2 billion dollars, we say the BURN program, in essence that’s money that’s going to go to the states. The states will, in essence, decide what their priorities are. And if those priorities are prosecutorial, if those priorities are corrections, if they’re parole and probation, the states are probably in the best position to decide for themselves what it is that they want to do. And the third would be basically research but the research money is coming out, when I say research, help me and feel free to disagree with me, anybody, that the bulk of the innovation that comes from the criminal justice system comes from the state level in terms of localities trying new and unique and innovative things with partial funding
or full funding from the Federal government. Am I right or wrong?

Pat Dishman: Well, I certainly think that’s a piece of it. And also to echo what you are talking about as far as these different pots of money, the states are really in a position to look at everything whether that’s coming directly from the Federal government through the COPS program or the BURN funds that will come through the states and then be past down to state agencies and locals. One of the things that I think will be the most difficult for us is to balance all of this in. We want to make sure that we don’t, we spread the money out as far as it would go because in this tight budget situation that we’ve been in for the last year and a half, every part of this system is hurting.

Len Sipes: And people need to understand that. I’m not quite sure that everybody fully understands the fact that the criminal justice system in this country is hurting. And hurting badly from not just a couple of years. I mean, people see this as a recession within the last year and a half. Most of the states that I’ve encountered through newspapers reports, through either state line or other sources, this has been going on not just for one or two years in terms of this recessionary period, but four or five or six years and longer that states have been struggling to meet their own budgets. So when that happens that means the criminal justice system does not expand, it actually shrinks. And that means innovation doesn’t take place, correct?

Kristen Mahoney: Right. The BURN JAG money and the Federal support can test specific drug, gun task forces. And those task forces, when those officers come to those task forces, they generally can’t bring their equipment from home. That equipment, you know, needs to stay with their home police department and they’ve got it, something’s got to motivate that collaboration and the location and the equipment that’s needed to go out and serve, you know, 10,000 violent offender warrants. For example, you know, that just doesn’t happen by people coming together and saying we ought to do it. I mean, there’s got to be, there is some real equipment needed.

Pat Dishman: Exactly. And I think back about the program that we did on drug courts, Len. That’s a very good example. We used the BURN JAG money and also some other drug court money that was made available by the Department of Justice, to pile that type of improvement inside Tennessee as we did in lots of states. And it was so successful here that it convinced our legislature to appropriate $3.5 million recurring dollars for drug courts across the state. And we now have 45. So in my mind that worked exactly the way that the BURN JAG can when you’re trying to look at new innovative programs and see whether or not you want to expand them.

Len Sipes: Well, that’s my point in all of this is that I think the bottom line for anybody looking into the stimulus package and anybody looking into the approximately $4 billion dollars that the states are going to get through the federal government is that it is an opportunity to once again develop drug courts. And there’s a uniform research that says that drug courts all over the country are reducing crime. They’re reducing recidivism, they’re making our society safer. So either through innovative police strategies, innovative court strategies, either parole and probation joining with law enforcement or reentry programs to be sure that there is sufficient resources to provide for reentry programs and we can tell through a variety of research that those lower recidivism approximately 20 percent. Now 20 percent doesn’t sound huge, but that, in terms of the fiscal realities for a state, can forestall the building of a prison or two. And more, that means more money going into the elderly, more money going into education and more money going into colleges. If you’re going to look at it from a fiscal reality point of view that this money is the seed money that creates all of that. And I think that that, and feel free to agree or disagree, I think that’s the heart and soul. That this money, the $4 billion stimulus dollars, allows these states to once again become innovators in terms of what’s good for that particular state.

Pat Dishman: I think you’re exactly right and I would another piece to that. Our governor’s office is very interested in looking at all the different pots of stimulus money and the different areas that are going to be covered. For example; education. And how collaborations can happen between those pots. There’s a lot of money there for improvements in education. And, you know, we do innovative things with education. Kris and I think of our school resource officer program. I think everybody is convinced that that’s sound and solid and where we can have it, it helps.

Len Sipes: Right. And you can’t , go ahead, please.

Kristen Mahoney: Another great program that we’ve been able to deal with the BURN JAG money is to fund crime analysts, to assign them to police departments because that’s not something that you learn in the police academy. And rather than take a police officer the street and stick him in front of a computer to map crimes, you know, there are GIS mapping majors coming out of major universities that are in positions to assist law enforcement agencies. And this funding can get us started with a lot of those programs with agencies that want to go in that direction.

Len Sipes: We’re half way through our program and we’re doing this through the osmosis of the National Criminal Justice Association, our fifth program in a series. You can find a full list of all of the stimulus money, the $4 billion dollars broken down piece by piece at, the website of the National Criminal Justice System. The National Criminal Justice Association. Now, Cabell Cropper, the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association is here with us today. Kristen Mahoney, the Executive Director of the Maryland’s Governor’s office of Crime Control and Prevention and Pat Dishman, the Director of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs. Cabell, I’m going to ask this question to you, because it’s a bit dicey and a bit political, there are people out there who would simply say it’s not the role of the federal government to fund local criminal justice agencies that the overwhelming majority of what we call the criminal justice system in this country is a state function, is a local function. And they’re saying to themselves; A) why is the Federal government giving, you know, supplementing what is in essence a local and state function? Why is my tax paid dollar going to say Baltimore to do crime analysis or to provide a crime analyst or provide innovative policing. And B) what does all this have to do with the stimulus package?

Cabell Cropper: Well, I think that the way that we would answer that is what we’ve said for years about the BURN JAG program, what both Kristen and Pat have said is that it supports innovation. It allows the states to experiment with programs to see what works and then to continue them. The BURN JAG program is structured so that the funding is available for three years for a particular program and by the third year either the federal funding is no longer available for the state, it either picks it up or makes a decision not to because it hasn’t shown its effectiveness. So I think the role of the federal government, in terms of state and local criminal justice, is that of providing you might call a venture capital to try new things, to try new solutions, see what works, to do the research, to provide training. In addition a lot of states are facing criminal justice issues that cross jurisdictions. And so that also invokes the federal role. So I think that, yes, generally crime is, as the saying goes, all crime is local. That there is a definite constructive role for the Federal government and Federal assistance with state and local criminal justice.

Len Sipes: Okay. And ,

Kristen Mahoney: To a degree. I couldn’t agree more with that, Len. There’s no point in all of the states reinventing the wheel. If something works someplace then we certainly need to use what’s already been found out about that and not have to sit down and put time and effort into finding out ourselves.

Cabell Cropper: A prime example of this, Len, is that the drug courts. Drug courts were funded by BURN JAG back in Miami years ago. And proved to be very effective. And now they’re a national, it’s a national program supported by federal assistance, but states and localities have invested a lot of money in the drug court programs and are now branching out into other problem solving type courts. So I think that’s a really good example about federal assistance, a lot of local jurisdiction will experiment with something that became a national model.

Kristen Mahoney: I think one of the emerging trends in policing right now is this concept of intelligence based policing and probably the people that own the most intelligence or data that local law enforcement need to do their job are the states. So, for example, in Maryland, you know, we have the mug shots of everyone that’s gone through prison. We know who are gang members in prisons. We know whose on parole or probation, whether they’re in compliance. We know whether they have children that are in the juvenile justice system. And all of this stuff is data that is not generally accessible at the lower level and using BURN JAG money we’re able to create ways to knock down silos in information and make sure that we get that information to the local level so that they can start targeting offenders who are causing problems in neighborhoods.

Len Sipes: And Cabell, I’m sorry, Cabell, the concept of this being part of the stimulus package. Somebody would come along and say, and I’ve heard this, somebody would come along and say, well, all this is wonderful, you know, I have no disagreement with it. Why is it a part of the stimulus package? We’re trying to revive the economy, not improve criminal justice agencies.

Cabell Cropper: But the response to that is these programs are people based. And so if we can expand or create new programs or retain programs for retaining people on the payroll.

Len Sipes: So what we’re saying is that the quality of the criminal justice system has a direct relationship to the economy?

Cabell Cropper: Correct. Because the criminal justice system is very people dependent.

Len Sipes: Right. And say for cities, it seems very clear to me that as a citizen of the Baltimore Metropolitan area and as a person who grew up and was born and raised in Baltimore City, Kristen, that the health of Baltimore City, the economic vitality of Baltimore City is tied into citizen perceptions as to how safe the city is and tied into investor’s perceptions as to how the safe the city is. To me that’s a pretty straight forward analysis, correct?

Kristen Mahoney: Correct. And when Governor O’Malley was mayor of the city that was how he ran the city and as the Governor of the State of Maryland, he has us committing as many resources as possible to grow the health and safety of the City of Baltimore.

Pat Dishman: Exactly. It’s actually infrastructure capacity building. And when you talk about, you know, whether that is in the form of bridges or roads, Cabell, I agree with you completely, the criminal justice system is very personnel driven and personnel based.

Kristen Mahoney: Yeah. The police have to be able to be responsive to emerging trends, and sometimes those trends happen in hour ten or eleven of their shift. And cities have to be able to keep them on the scene at a homicide or on a scene during an event to protect us. And when we’re in the middle of a depression or a recession, those overtime funds at the local level are not there. So, you know, that’s going to impact, you know, they’re going to have to pay the overtime somehow, so where are they going to take that from within the city budget if we can allocate some of these JAG BURN funds to directed overtime violent initiatives, the violent prevention initiatives, then we’re going to help offset some of the costs within the local government and we’re not going to have to worry about closing recreation centers and offsetting other important city services.

Len Sipes: The bottom line I think, but I’m preaching the choir here, I’m not quite sure that I’m going to appease the critics, is that unless you have say cities, unless you have sufficient money to pay overtime, unless you have sufficient numbers of police officers, unless you have money to try new things to deal with new sets of circumstances, this system is not going to be able to say to anybody in any particular area come invest with us. Come invest your money here. We’re looking forward to the jobs. We’re looking forward to everything that you can bring to our community or to a company that is in a particular city. Look, please expand. I would imagine once again that that person is going to say to himself or herself, you know, this city is just too out of control. I don’t want to do this, I’m going to go to Georgia, I’m going to go to the suburbs, I’m going to go overseas because I just don’t believe that my employees like working here because their afraid to do that, to deal with that. You need sufficient person power. You need sufficient police officers. You need the intelligence. You need the drug courts. You need the parole and probation police cooperative endeavors. You need the reentry programs which cuts recidivism considerably. I’m preaching to the choir here, correct?

Pat Dishman: Well, I think Len, also and Cabell, you can speak to this more than I, there is an accountability piece to this for critics who are looking at, you know, is this a good investment for us and for our tax dollars? And I think we’ve obviously learned some lessons as a system over the last, the country has over the last six months, and we feel and know that the Department of Justice will be making it very clear to us what types of outcome measurement they want and what types of accountability they want for this money that’s going to be passed down in the stimulus bill.

Len Sipes: Cabell, has there been talk about accountability in terms of the follow up to that. Is there urban talk about accountability to make sure the people understand that their tax paid dollars are being spent wisely?

Cabell Cropper: Very definitely. There’s provisions in the bill as Pat said that offsets management and budget that’s established to metrics to measure what’s happening with this money and how it’s contributing to the economic recovery of the country. Now the government’s also setting up a website, that will show how the money is being spent and what the results of that funding is.

Kristen Mahoney: And beyond that I think this morning we heard from a number of states where governors in our state, Maryland Governor O’Malley has established the office of recovery stat where we are managing the entire stimulus recovery package, you know, to make sure that we are being held accountable and the funds that are coming to Maryland. We’re getting as much funding as we can to support the state. And the funds that we’re getting re going to justifiable uses that are going to support the initiative of the President.

Pat Dishman: Kristen, that’s great. And, you know, Len, we’ve talked about this before. We don’t ever, as public servants, do a good enough job to let the public know the good things. They only hear about the bad things. And this is going to help, quite frankly, I think this is a really good part of saying what this money is going to be able to do and how it’s going to be able to help the country.

Len Sipes: Well, I think that’s part of this whole series with the National Criminal Justice Association, they are doing their best to basically say this to the public, that there are successful programs. We have measures in place to check out their success. And there are programs that have been extraordinarily successful. We did a program with NCJA a couple of weeks ago dealing with a community in Brooklyn where the courts actually took the lead on the program and they went from one of the highest crime precincts in New York City to one of the lowest crime precincts. That, to me, is a statement that we can make to the citizens of this country, in essence saying that, you know, give us the funding. Let us try different things, let us take a look at what works throughout the country. And we can do, we can provide a certain level of safety. Now, that, on my part, sounds like boosterism. I guess it’s a bit disingenuous because I am part of the criminal justice system, but I personally believe that there
are innovative programs out there that need to be brought in to Baltimore, need to be brought into Portland, need to be brought into Detroit. And this is the money that possibly can do that.

Kristen Mahoney: Yeah. And beyond that, like I’ve mentioned before, Baltimore is poor and there are other poor cities out there. And, you know, the cost of a police radio, $5,000 dollars. The most important piece of equipment a police officer uses every day. And as cities and counties work together to create interoperable systems and build these enormous $700 megahertz systems where everybody could talk to each other seamlessly, those old 450 megahertz radios and 800 megahertz radios don’t’ work anymore. So you’ve got this little baby town that suddenly has found itself, that it’s got to buy 15 new radios. How do you come up with that kind of money? Right? This is a basic reality of running a police department, $5,000 dollars a radio.

Len Sipes: I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s, again, it’s like reentry programs. They cost money. If you’re going to treat a person, if you’re going to take a person from, whose coming out of the prison system, he or she has a mental health problem. And God forbid a mental health diagnosis for the 16 percent of offenders throughout the country who were coming back, you know, that needs to be treated or the odds are that that person is going to go out and harm another person or will certainly create a problem for citizens and for the criminal justice system. We know through research that you could dramatically reduce recidivism if that individual is treated, but that costs money.

Pat Dishman: Exactly.

Kristen Mahoney: And people, you know, and we’ve got this great technology that can help us figure out stolen cars through license plate recognition. But, you know, do you think that, you know, not to pick on Akron or Toledo or Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, I mean, do you think any of these places have the funds in their budget to do license plate recognition? But their cars, people are getting their cars stolen there. And we have the technology that exists to help find those cars and pay the overtime to use the technology.

Len Sipes: Right. And just think about that for a second. We have, as you just mentioned, it’s a wonderful example, the technology to just set up in any particular section of the city, to run the license plates through a computer and pull the people over with stolen cars. And we can recover a gazillion stolen cars in a very short amount of time. That’s a big bang for technology, but the question is can the individual jurisdictions and individual states afford it? And everything that I’ve been reading over the past, over the course of the past five years, is not acquiring that technology, but it’s simply holding on to what you have.

Pat Dishman: Right. Installing it and maintaining it. So any kind of technology purchase is going to have an economic impact in a locality because somebody’s got to get up on a light post and hang that camera. And somebody’s going to have to maintain it. And those are generally not police officers. It goes back to your point, Len, of what it looks on CSI, it’s not what it’s really like.

Len Sipes: Oh, I can’t stand CSI. I can’t stand those shows.

Pat Dishman: They’re fake.

Len Sipes: I know and it drives me absolutely crazy because people say, is real life anything at all like that? And my response is, my heavens no. Not even close. No, we have wonderful technology in terms of criminalities. Again, the question becomes how many people do you have, how well are they trained, how well can you maintain that crime lab? Do you have 24 hours coverage? Do you have the vans? Do you have – you know, it goes on and on and on. These sort of things cause money, enormous sums of money as somebody just said. And without the money you can’t do it. It’s just as simple as that. So if anybody wants to get a full blow by blow description of the entire, approximately $4 billion dollar stimulus package again, our friends at the National Criminal Justice Association, has the complete list and Cabell Cropper, the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice system has been by our microphones today. Back at our microphones. And it’s really a pleasure to have her back,

Pat Dishman, the Director of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs. And Kristen Mahoney, the Executive Director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention who helps keep me safe as a citizen of Baltimore County. I thank you all. Any final words that we need to say to finally summarize this whole concept besides sending people to the website at the National Criminal Justice Association?

Cabell Cropper: That’s what were there for, to provide whatever information we can direct people to where the resources are.

Len Sipes: And you guys, quite frankly, have been the leader at the national level in terms of being sure that there is money for the state and local criminal justice systems, Cabell. And so you all can feel very good about quite a victory in terms of convincing the new administration and the members of Congress who support this. So congratulations to you guys.

Cabell Cropper: Well, thank you. I’ll take some of the credit but not all of it. Members like Kristen and Pat are really the ones that get the job done with their delegations here in Washington.

Len Sipes: And they’re the ones ,

Pat Dishman: And that’s an issue there, Cabell. (Laughs).

Kristen Mahoney: Yeah.

Len Sipes: And they’re the ones who also at the same time lobby their own members of the Senate and the House in terms of what it is they could do if they had money. So we’re appreciative to all the directors of the criminal justice programs, office of crime controls throughout the entire country. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Feel free to give suggestions and input as you’re doing on a constant basis. We respond to all of your suggestions, to all of your input in terms of how to make the program better. Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

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Offender Reentry-Second Chance Act-USDOJ-DC Public Safety

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Len Sipes: From our studios in downtown Washington D.C, this is D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s guest is Dr. Gary Dennis. Gary is the senior policy advisor for corrections bureau of justice assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, and if you think that title was long enough, wait until you hear what Gary does! He is the administrator for the Second Chance Act. What is the Second Chance Act? Well, I’m going to let him explain that, but in essence, it is new federal funding coming down for re-entry programs, and people from throughout the country can apply for these new monies. Before we get to Dr. Dennis, always, thank you for the comments that you have provided us. We respond to every comment, feel free to get in touch with us. My email address, which is leonardsipes – Leonard dot S-I-P-E-S –, or you can follow me on twitter/lensipes, and with that introduction, Dr. Gary Dennis.

Gary Dennis: Well, Len, I’m glad that you had the opportunity to talk about the Second Chance Act. This is something that is particularly exciting to those of us who are in the corrections field, and I should say that I work now, as you indicated, for the bureau of justice assistance, but prior to that, I worked for 34 years in the Department of Corrections in Kentucky, and had a really –

Len Sipes: You’re the real deal then!

Gary Dennis: Well, you know, I had a little experience, I started as a correctional officer and retired as a deputy commissioner in my first career, and my wife refers to what I’m doing now as re-launching! [laughter] But I always said that corrections was a very good business to be in, it was a growth industry, there was a lot of job security. I never thought I’d see the day when we would be closing prisons and laying off correctional officers –

Len Sipes: Which is happening throughout the country.

Gary Dennis: It’s an effect of the current recession, and so, yeah, I think that puts responsibility on us as corrections professionals to find alternate ways of dealing with folks who are offenders. The Second Chance Act, which was signed into law in April of 2008, I think, is a cultural marker. It’s an indication that the Congress and the policy makers in the Executive Branch are aware that we need to move away from this policy of mass incarceration, that we can’t build enough prisons to house all the folks that are committing offenses, many of whom don’t need to be in prison. Substance abuse offenders who need treatment, they don’t need to be locked up. You know, for instance, of the 23,000 inmates in my state of Kentucky where I worked, 1,000 of those inmates are serving time in prison simply because they aren’t able to pay child support. So what the Second Chance Act does is create the opportunity for people to design comprehensive re-entry programs, it has actually 11 sections that were authorized by the Congress. Only two of those sections received appropriations in the Omnibus FY2009 budget. Section 101, which is the demonstration grant section, was authorized at $55 million, and we received an appropriation of $15 million, and Section 211, which is mentoring grants to non-profits, was authorized in the original legislation at $15 million, and we have received an appropriation of $10 million. The demonstration grants portion of Second Chance, we currently have a solicitation that was posted February 27th, it is due to close on April 20th, people can get a copy of that by going to the bureau of justice assistance website or a governmental website called –

Len Sipes: And what we’re going to do is we’re going to put the links to all of these websites up, so we’ll make it easy, if you go to D.C. Public Safety, if you go to and find this program under the radio section, we’ll have links to everything that Dr. Dennis is talking about today.

Gary Dennis: Very good. So I’m going to talk primarily about the section 101, the demonstration grants. The solicitation that is on the street allows for grants of up to $750,000 of federal money. Unfortunately, this particular section of the act has a relatively onerous match requirement. There is a 50% matching requirement of which 25% has to be hard cash put up by the applicant, but this will fund roughly a $1.5 million dollar project, and what –

Len Sipes: Whoa, wait a minute, back up. Now, it’s $750,000 over the course of how many years? Is that each year for several years?

Gary Dennis: Actually, very good question. The, this particular section of the act allows for 12-month grants. So the $750,000 federal and the additional matching money would be to fund a project for 12 months.

Len Sipes: For 12 months.

Gary Dennis: Now, what we anticipate, the act allows for up to 2 years or two additional funding periods, so for people who are awarded funding projects, and by the way, we really hope to have decisions made in the late summer so we can have these awards made by the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30, 2009. But, so if people get one of these grants and the project is meeting its goals and being successful, they could expect supplemental awards for two additional grant periods, so we’re –

Len Sipes: Two additional grant periods meaning two additional years?

Gary Dennis: Pretty much, so we’re looking at 36-month, 3-year projects.

Len Sipes: So there is the possibility, if they handle this well, and if they show an impact, because I would imagine you’re going to request an evaluation as to whether recidivism is lowered –

Gary Dennis: And the interesting thing about the Second Chance Act, one of several interesting things is, there is a requirement that the people who are given demonstration grants money are able to reduce recidivism for their target population by 50% in 5 years.

Len Sipes: In 5 years, okay. Wow.

Gary Dennis: And that’s a really ambitious goal –

Len Sipes: Extremely! Now wait a minute, wait a minute, 50% is unheard of!

Gary Dennis: Well, it really is unheard of, and actually, the folks in Congress, the folks who wrote this bill have made it clear that this is a goal, so what we are anticipating is, if people are making satisfactory progress, defined somewhere around 10% a year reduction, then that’s going to be enough to consider –

Len Sipes: But that’s reductions that I’ve seen from research that, and I apologize to the audience for being a little high-fallutin’ here, that is methodologically correct, is 20%, and that comes from the Washington State Public Policy Institute, which seems to be the de facto leaders in terms of providing stats, unfortunately, in terms of recidivism, so the 50% is, I don’t want to scare people off, because if people hear 50%, they’re going to go, nah, excuse me, that’s just undoable.

Gary Dennis: Well, I think what we’ve tried to do, first of all, the definition that you’ll see in the solicitation for recidivism is a person who does not return to prison or jail as the result of committing a new offense or a violation of conditions of supervision within 1 year.

Len Sipes: And in terms of jail, you’re talking about, not pre-trial, but you’re talking about an incarcerative sentence.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct –

Len Sipes: Persons found guilty.

Gary Dennis: One of the good things about the Second Chance Act, under the previous administration, we had a prisoner re-entry initiative, where the Justice Department partnered with the Department of Labor, and these grants were primarily focused on allowing people to come out of prison and get some type of job placement and job readiness skills, but Second Chance provides a full wraparound –

Len Sipes: And I want to get to that, but let’s summarize again, we’re talking about $750,000 per entity. They have to provide a 50% match, so we’re talking about a $1.5 million investment per year from the Department of Justice and this local entity with the idea that it could extend up to 3 years.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: Okay, and what part of the grant is this under?

Gary Dennis: This is under section 101, which is demonstration, adult and juvenile demonstration –

Len Sipes: Okay, demonstration.

Gary Dennis: Right.

Len Sipes: All right, and what pot of money is this?

Gary Dennis: This is actually an appropriation that we received, the department of justice, office of justice programs in our FY2009 –

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, let me back you up, is it the $15 million pot, or the $10 million pot?

Gary Dennis: Yes, the $15 million.

Len Sipes: So this is $15 million, this is not going to go very far at $750,000 per. How many are we talking about?

Gary Dennis: Well, the, you can probably do the math, we’re probably not talking more than 18-20 awards nationally, if everyone comes in for the full amount.

Len Sipes: Right.

Gary Dennis: And the kicker here is that this particular piece of federal legislation, unlike the prisoner re-entry initiative, which had to go to a state department of corrections, a city, or a county, or a state can apply directly for this money.

Len Sipes: Okay, so 20 jurisdictions throughout the United States are going to get $750,000, and they have to do it with a 50% match, $1.5 million over the course of 3 years. And they have to be able to show a reduction in recidivism.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: Okay, and again, ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind you, all the links, in terms of applying for this money, are going to be at D.C. Public Safety, if you go to the main page, go to radio, and you will find the links there. Again, that’s D.C. Public Safety, or it is media – M-E-D-I-A – .csosa – C-S-O-S-A – .gov, our guest today is Dr. Gary Dennis from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, and go ahead, Gary, so I interrupted you, so that’s the demonstration grant, and you’re saying that those grants need to be in by when? April?

Gary Dennis: April 20th, and they have to be submitted electronically through

Len Sipes:

Gary Dennis:

Len Sipes: Okay. Okay, so those are the demonstration grants, so that’s a $15 million pot. What’s the $10 million pot?

Gary Dennis: The $10 million pot is for section 211 of the act, and this is mentoring grants to non-profits. Section 101, the applicants have to be a unit of state or local government, but Section 211 is exclusively targeted to non-profits, and it allows for projects, we have not published the solicitation yet, it’s in the final stages of preparation, but –

Len Sipes: And the solicitation, you mean basically the language that enables you to give out the money.

Gary Dennis: That’s exactly right. This is what will be posted which is online now for the 101 grants, but this will probably be posted in the next 2-3 weeks, and right now, it looks like it’s going to allow for grants of up to $300,000. These grants can be made for up to 24 months as opposed to 12, there is the possibility of supplemental awards for an additional 2 award periods.

Len Sipes: Is there a match?

Gary Dennis: There is no match!

Len Sipes: No match!?

Gary Dennis: That’s what I was getting to –

Len Sipes: Wow!

Gary Dennis: Non-profits, no match!

Len Sipes: Boy, you’re going to be the most popular person in town, let me tell you!

Gary Dennis: Well, and what you hear what these grants can be used for, they can be used to provide mentoring services, they can also be used in conjunction with mentoring to provide a whole variety of transitional services like supportive housing, employment, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, as well as treatment and training on victims issues. So this is going to be a very broad solicitation, and we’re anticipating a lot of applications from the non-profit sector.

Len Sipes: When do you expect the application process to begin?

Gary Dennis: Well, probably within the next 3 weeks, it will be posted, and we’re hoping to allow people at least 45 days to respond to those.

Len Sipes: Okay, and will they be as well as[sic]?

Gary Dennis: That’s correct, and then their solicitation will also be posted for informational purposes on the BJS website.

Len Sipes: Okay, for the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Office of Justice Programs of the Office of the United States Department of Justice – boy we just love our titles here in D.C.!

Gary Dennis: Yes we do! And actually, if you just Google BJA, you’re going to be led to our website or –

Len Sipes: BJA, Bureau of Justice Assistance? Not the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Assistance! There you go, there we go. But that’s interesting, because I did not know that there was a centralized point, c-o-m?

Gary Dennis: dot-gov.

Len Sipes: dot-gov! I thought so! Okay, now wait a minute, everybody. www. – G-R-A-N-T-S – .gov. Not dot-com, dot-gov. All right, so we’re going to repeat that several times throughout the programs, and again, in the show notes, I’ll do the links. Dr. Dennis will give me the links, and I’ll put them in the show notes to make it as easy as possible for you to pull this off. And so, wow, this is interesting, so we’re talking about a total of $25 million.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct, but keep in mind that the act, when it was written, was authorized at a level of roughly $170 million –

Len Sipes: Yeah, but authorized and funded are two different things.

Gary Dennis: Two different things. One of the things I learned very quickly when I started working for the federal government is the difference between an authorization and an appropriation, but let me say that, you know, these are tough economic times, and we are very, very pleased that Congress gave us the $25 million, we are anticipating in 2010, the budget that will be coming up soon, that we’ll have additional funding, and Pres. Obama is requesting in his budget upwards to $75 million to support Second Chance re-entry efforts.

Len Sipes: Okay, so that’s $75 million that the President is proposing, comes when, so we’re talking about next federal fiscal year.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct. The federal fiscal year that would start October 1, 2009.

Len Sipes: October 1, so this October 9, there is the possibility of an additional $75 million more.

Gary Dennis: That’s right, we are cautiously optimistic and confident that there will be additional funding for Second Chance, and we’re also hopeful that some of the other nine sections of the act will be able to be funded in addition to these demonstration acts.

Len Sipes: So at least what we have now is $25 million on the table that we know we have, the possibility of $75 million in terms of the President’s proposal for the next federal fiscal year, October 1, 2009, and we’re talking about other aspects of the Second Chance Act if Congress decides to fund them, there would be even more money, but at the moment, we’re talking about $25 million on the table with a possibility of $75 million more.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: That’s $100 million.

Gary Dennis: Well, it is, and it’s enough money to make a significant impact, particularly if you look at focusing that on particular counties or states where, and one thing I didn’t mention when, the projects, in terms of the recidivism rate, the general universe of people who are eligible are any who is 18 years of age or older who’s currently incarcerated in a prison or a jail, but we’re asking people to narrow down a target population. For instance, they might say all female offenders who are coming back into the District of Columbia, or all female offenders who might be coming back into a particular county –

Len Sipes: Bear with me for a second, because now that we have the basics of the program down, I’m going to repeat your name for the people out there, they can copy down your telephone number. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking to Dr. Gary Dennis. He is a senior policy advisor for corrections, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, this will be in our show notes, so don’t worry if you can’t get all that down. His telephone number: (202)305-9059. I’m going to repeat that now and at the end of the program: (202)305-9059, and his email address is gary – G-A-R-Y – .dennis – D-E-N-N-I-S –, and we’re going to be putting the links into the show notes at media – M-E-D-I-A –, or D.C. Public Safety, look at the radio programs. Okay, Dr. Gary Dennis. Now we have the outline in terms of the funding, and you started getting into the particulars in terms of what it is that you’re looking for, so second half of the show, let’s do that. 15 minutes. What are the particulars of what it is that organizations can do with all this money?

Gary Dennis: Well the, the allowable uses for the money are very broad. In the 101 demonstration grants project proposals, we are asking that they have a strategic plan which talks about their, how they plan to affect a re-entry program, we also are requiring, or the act requires that they establish a re-entry task force comprised of people who have a stake in the community, this could be people from non-profits who are providing services, it could be people from the law enforcement community, someone representing victims, so they need to have been thinking about an effective strategy to help people transition from prison and jail and back to the community.

Len Sipes: Okay, so there’s going to be collaborative efforts on the part of the larger community, but you were just talking before about women offenders, there’s no way that this money can encompass every offender coming out of the prison system.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct. That’s why we’re, these projects need to target specific subsets of the population.

Len Sipes: What could those subsets be? You’ve mentioned women offenders –

Gary Dennis: Women offenders, it could be, it could be violent offenders, or people who have committed a violent offense, it could be sex offenders, for instance, who have committed a sex offense –

Len Sipes: Is this a reflection of the research that basically says that whatever moneys you have should be focusing on the higher risk offenders and not so much on the lower risk offenders?

Gary Dennis: That’s exactly right. In other words, we’ve made efforts to divert the lower end offenders out of the system. One of the problems that correctional systems has, primarily state prison systems, is now they have a whole lot of very serious offenders there, and I mentioned sex offenders. We all know from reading the paper and watching TV that everyone that’s convicted of a sex offense probably is going to have to register under Megan’s Law, they’re very seriously stereotyped, and it’s almost impossible for them to find places to live, and so they are very difficult to place, and we’re hoping that this money can be targeted, in some cases, to help folks like sex offenders provide a transition back into the community, and let me say that we look at re-entry, offender re-entry as an evidence based process. In other words, some folks would say that re-entry actually starts on the very first day that a person comes into prison or jail, and what second chance requires in the proposals is that once a applicant has identified the target population, and let’s just simply say it’s female offenders that are coming back into the District of Columbia, that they use a validated assessment instrument to determine what the individual needs of these women might be when they come back into the community.

Len Sipes: Okay, let me stop you right there. What it is that you’re saying is that, at this moment, and we can agree to disagree in terms of how strong the evidence is, and how precise the evidence is, but there is enough evidence out there from good solid research that indicates that you can take individuals coming out of prison, providing them with comprehensive services, and by that, we’re talking about drug, substance abuse, mental health, job, finding a place to live, those sort of things, interacting with the family, and you can lower the rate of recidivism according to the Washington State Public Policy Institute, which seems to be the leader in terms of providing these stats for recidivism and re-entry. You can lower the rates of recidivism 10-20%, possibly even more, so when you’re talking about evidence base, you’re saying that there’s enough there that leads us to believe that these programs will reduce recidivism.

Gary Dennis: That’s exactly right! I think I need to take you back to the office to be my spokesperson here! But you’ve summed it all up in a nutshell! That’s exactly right!

Len Sipes: But people hear evidence base, and they say, what does that mean? But, at the same time, you know, in terms of areas of substance abuse, it’s laid out from point A to point Z! It is very comprehensive, we know exactly what to do in terms of substance abuse, but in other areas of re-entry, we’re not quite sure as to what the ratios of the parole and probation agents should be to be effective, we’re not quite sure when you begin the re-entry process, when it ends, how much of an intervention is necessary, I mean all of that is still a great unknown. We know that the projects reduce recidivism, but we’re still struggling with the particulars.

Gary Dennis: That’s right, there are some things that we know, from history, do work, and I think one of the benefits of the Second Chance act, with these demonstration projects, it’s going to allow us to continue to accumulate that research and that evidence to support those particular interventions that really do have an impact on recidivism.

Len Sipes: And that’s the exciting thing, Gary, because we need more data. We need more precision in terms of what it is that we do, and in what methods and how, what case loads and when do you start mental health treatment, and is medication, or does it have to be medication as well as therapy, depending upon the diagnosis, I mean there’s a whole lot, I mean job treatment, or job placement, you can find a person a job, but do you expect, like substance abuse, problems along the way with this individual that you may have to re-place this person 2-3 times, do you fund it 2-3 times, or do you basically say, eh, we gave you your chance, sorry it didn’t work out for you, we’re going to move on to the next person. I mean, all of those things are, in essence, unknowns when it comes to dealing with offenders and re-entry, so I’m very excited to hear that for many of us, this is a great learning opportunity in terms of how to do re-entry right.

Gary Dennis: That’s exactly correct, and one of the things that we’re going to require the applicants to do, is there’s a list of performance measures, and they will be asked to keep particular metric data about what happens to the people that are involved in the project, and what we anticipate at the end of probably two years is selecting various sites and asking the National Institute of Justice to come in and do in depth evaluations –

Len Sipes: Which is yet another organization under the Office of Justice [overlapping voices] U.S. Department of Justice, and they do the research –

Gary Dennis: Another part of the alphabet soup –

Len Sipes: Another part of the alphabet soup.

Gary Dennis: But they’ll come in and take a really researched look at using control groups to determine again, and document through evidence, well through research what these practices are so we can have a little bit better idea when we say evidence based, that we have actually a body of evidence.

Len Sipes: Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. www.grants – G-R-A-N-T-S – .gov – G-O-V – not .com, as I said before, .gov, and we have Gary Dennis contact points, and I’ll mention them right at the end of the show, (202)305-9059, that’s Gary’s telephone number. Boy, I’ll tell you, I’d be scared to death to give out my cell phone number to the re-entry community of the United States, or my desk number! Your phone must be ringing non-stop. His email is garydennis – D-E-N-N-I-S – Now Gary, you’re not getting a lot of additional staff to pull this off, I mean, we’ve been struggling, when I say we, in terms of the Office of Justice Programs community, and they have all these agencies under the Office of Justice Programs, they haven’t been getting, OJP has not been getting a lot of money, and now OJP is getting scads of money, and this is just one piece of the pie. Did a radio show a little while ago about the stuff that’s coming down in terms of, which also could be applied to re-entry, as far as I know, in terms of grants coming out of certain, a million dollars to hire more police officers, and $2 million going to the states to plan criminal justice programs, so there are other pots of money, but you’re just dealing with the re-entry part of it, thank god, as far as you’re concerned.

Gary Dennis: Well, that’s going to be true until a couple more days, and I’ll be the lead person on some corrections elements of solicitations that’ll be going out with the new Recovery Act monies, there will be, there is the allowance in some of those for additional staff to be hired, obviously the aim of the recovery act is to create jobs and preserve jobs, but we’re going to be able to hire additional probation and parole officers, community corrections staff, jurisdictions will be able to hire additional jail and detention officers to support increased law enforcement efforts as a result of the recovery act, so yes, and you mentioned $2 billion, the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance administers burn money, this is money that comes through the Edward Burn Memorial Program, and there are two parts of that. There is some discretionary money, but the largest portion of that are formula grants to the states, and we have roughly $2 billion under the Recovery Act – I guess I shouldn’t say this, but I guess pushing out to the states, but grants are being made to states, 60% of which they have to pass through to locals, and that’s based on crime statistics, UCR statistics that they report, metropolitan, size of population –

Len Sipes: Are they on as well?

Gary Dennis: Actually, the formula grants are not, they go directly to the states –

Len Sipes: The state agencies.

Gary Dennis: And 40% will go to specific units of government, so that portion of it, the formula grants, we refer to those as JAG grants, Justice Assistance Grants –

Len Sipes: Okay, and they go, and 60% is reserved for pass-through monies to in terms of state and local entities, so you would have to go to your governor’s office of criminal justice services and apply through there, but again, that’s additional possibilities in terms of re-entry dollars, but that would be discretionary on the part of the state criminal justice planning agencies.

Gary Dennis: That’s correct, and in the state authorizing agency, it could be a crime commission, it could be an office –

Len Sipes: But if you go to the website of the National Criminal Justice Association, because I did a radio show with them on that part of it, – I hope it’s dot-org! –, I’m pretty sure you can get information about those grants. All right, so Gary, we’re going to summarize, because we only have a couple minutes left in the program. Gary Dennis, Dr. Gary Dennis, and oh, by the way, I want to say something that Gary probably wouldn’t say, being, he’s taking on so much of this, and being, I’ve worked for this structure in my past, the grant applications that you use, please make them as good as humanly possible, because that’ll make you shine, and it’ll be easy to give you the money if you present a really good grant application, so do the very best you can on that, his telephone number, (202)305-9059, (202)305-9059, email gary-dot – D-E-N-N-I-S –, the monies in terms of the $25 million for the demonstration grants and the other grants that I can’t remember the name of them, they will be at www.grants – G-R-A-N-T-S – .gov – G-O-V, so we have, I think, a unique opportunity everybody in terms of the re-entry folks out there to get money to do these demonstrations, there’s a possibility of an additional $75 million coming through the Obama administration that possibly could be here, that’s what he’s asking for, that possibly could be here at the beginning of the federal fiscal year, October 1, 2009. Did I summarize it?

Gary Dennis: You did quite a good job.

Len Sipes: All right. Final words, you have one minute.

Gary Dennis: Well, I just appreciate the opportunity to share this information. As I said earlier, those of us in the field who’ve worked in corrections know that re-entry is absolutely critical, and the people that are in our prisons and jails are our mothers and brothers and fathers and relatives, and they’re just like us, they’ve just, unfortunately, gotten on the wrong side of the law, and if we’re going to help them become productive citizens and taxpaying citizens and back to their families, we’ve got to provide them with the resources in the community to support that, whether it’s employment or housing, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, family reunification, and Second Chance provides money to do that.

Len Sipes: Dr. Gary Dennis of the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us at D.C. public safety. Again, we take all of your comments, all of your concerns, feel free to get in touch with us, my direct email address is Leonard – L-E-O-N-A-R-D – .sipes – S-I-P-E-S – @csosa or follow me on Twitter at twitter/lensipes, please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

– Audio ends –

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