Criminal Justice Information Sharing-NCJA

Criminal Justice Information Sharing-NCJA

DC Public Safety Radio

http://media.csosa.gov

Radio Show available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/11/criminal-justice-information-sharing-ncja/

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety; I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen today we’re doing a show on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, brought to us by the National Criminal Justice Association, the voice of the nation’s public safety community at www.ncja.org. In essence what we’re going to be talking about today is information sharing between states, to improve public safety, to improve officer safety. By our microphones today we have Tammy Woodhams, she is a senior staff associate with the National Criminal Justice Association, we have Mannone Butler Executive Director of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and we have Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. To Tammy, and Mannone and Ed, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Tammy Woodhams: Thank you.

Mannone Butler: Thank you.

Ed Parker: Hi.

Len Sipes: I really appreciate you guys being here, because information sharing is one of the hardest things that we within the criminal justice system do, brings immense difficulties, and I’m going to read very quickly from a report sent by the National Criminal Justice Association.

Over the past few years leaders from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia have been working the share information on offenders who move freely across jurisdictional boundaries to this end. These four jurisdictions form the Mid Atlantic Regional Information Consortium to secure justice information systems. These four jurisdictions as well as Virginia, New York, now exchange arrest information with Maryland to identify offenders who are on parole and probation who are arrested outside of that jurisdiction. Given the density and mobility of the offender populations in these jurisdictions, the sharing of justice information was deemed critical to the Administration of Justice and Public Safety, in this multi-state region.

The average person I think, and I’m going to start off with you Tammy, would believe that this is something that we do all the time. They watch a lot of television, and they see a lot of criminal justice people, on television shows, fictional television shows, sharing an immense amount of information with everybody. Is that the way it really works?

Tammy Woodhams: No it doesn’t, we fondly call this the CSI Effect. We wish it were that way, and we wish we could share information, and solve crimes as quickly as they’re able to in a 45 minute television show, but in reality it just doesn’t happen like that. The states that we work with have various information sharing at many, many levels, and we through NCJA have a grant to help advance information sharing with the states. That’s what we’ve done over the course of the last couple of years, to work with the nearest states as they move forward with their efforts.

Len Sipes: Well the National Criminal Justice Association, and again they’ve been around as long as I’ve been around in the criminal justice system, which is 45 years. You basically bring the states and jurisdictions, and county, and cities together to share information with each other. You’re essentially the information sharing experts within the criminal justice system, within the United States correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Right and we do that, we convene stakeholders from all across the country, justice leaders, practitioners and researchers, to advance information sharing and best practices. One of the specific areas that we’re working on is in the justice information sharing field. Specific to public safety.

Len Sipes: But we’re going to start off with one example, and that is, in, you know, I represent a parole and probation, federal parole and probation agency here in Washington DC. You go across the line in Maryland, you go across Southern Avenue, it’s right there, I mean it’s just walking across the street, and you’re in an entirely different jurisdiction. At one point, you know, people who were arrested in Maryland may not necessarily show up on our radar screen, what we do, is go in as a parole and probation agency, we do go in periodically and take a look at the National Crime Information Center system to see if somebody has been arrested. We now have a protocol in place where if the person’s arrested in Maryland, a person’s arrested in Virginia, we’re immediately notified. Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office in Crime Control and Prevention, essentially that’s what is flowing through your state, the surrounding states feed information to you about parolees and probationers who have been arrested, and you disseminate it to everybody else?

Ed Parker: Yes Len that’s absolutely correct, and just to go back briefly and touch on a point that you made earlier. I think that there is, you know, a widespread belief and assumption that this type of information is seamlessly shared and coordinated, on a routine basis. It really is not, unfortunately there are a lot of information silos that need to be broken down. If, at least in my opinion, we are to be as effective as we can be in reducing crime, and supervising violent offenders. That’s a challenge both inside your own state, and it becomes even more problematic, as you can well imagine, when we’re talking about sharing information across jurisdictional boundaries, but to get back to your question about the arrests. One of the things that we learned, starting back in 2007, in conversations with our counterparts in Washington, is that a lot of offenders under supervision here in Maryland, were being arrested in Washington DC. And a lot of offenders under community based supervision, in DC, were being arrested here in Maryland. The problem was that offenders were essentially on the honor system to tell us about those new arrests and obviously it wasn’t working out very well for us. So we needed to come up with another tool. The solution that we came up with, was to initially exchange a daily arrest feed with our counterparts in Washington DC, and to match that arrest data against our parole and probation supervision files. If there’s a match between an arrest in Washington and somebody under parole or probation supervision in Maryland, an email alert is automatically sent out to the supervising agent, so that appropriate action can be taken. To just real quickly put this into some kind of context or perspective, since we started this process with, initially with Washington DC and now with Virginia, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, we’ve been able to identify over 15,000 offenders under parole and probation supervision in Maryland, that were arrested outside the jurisdiction.

Len Sipes: Now that’s amazing, that is absolutely amazing. 15,000 individuals arrested outside of the state of Maryland that you would have been under the honor system, before this information sharing exchange was in place. If they had lied to you, you wouldn’t know unless the parole and probation agent in the state of Maryland ran a National Crime Information Center check?

Ed Parker: That’s exactly correct, I mean theoretically yes it would have been possible to run a record check each and every morning, on every supervisee. But Len as you know through your own experience, that’s a practical impossibility.

Len Sipes: Yes you can’t do that. I understand that, but I mean this is the heart and soul in terms of protecting public safety, because you could have, I mean it’s a stereotypical example. But you could have a sex offender who basically says, you know, I’m pretty well supervised in Washington DC, I think I’ll do my crimes in Maryland, and with the idea that if he comes into contact with the criminal justice system or gets arrested. He thinks that he may get away with it, because his crimes were in Baltimore and not in the District of Columbia. But now what we’re saying is that he can’t, if he comes into contact with the criminal justice system, if he’s arrested, everybody else knows about it instantaneously.

Ed Parker: Yes correct.

Len Sipes: Right, Mannone Butler, Executive Director of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Mannone you and I have known each other for quite some time. Your point is, has always been that we have to share information beyond the District of Columbia, we’re a city in essence. We I know, within the District of Columbia feel that we are a state, but we are a city, and at the same time we’re surrounded by Virginia, we’re surrounded by Maryland, Pennsylvania is a hop skip and jump away. We’ve got people commuting every day from West Virginia into Washington DC. So offenders being mobile, they can go any place, information sharing is a really important goal of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Mannone Butler: Absolutely critical Len, as you know working with our partners here in the district, it’s been one of our priorities, we are unique in that we’re working with both federal and local partners. So our partners have come to the table understanding, and also acknowledging that the fact that we have to work through as Ed put it, you know, through information sharing silo. So justice, our justice information system was really designed with that in mind. So locally the goal is to share information and work towards breaking through information sharing silos, but with MARIS this is really the opportunity to cross borders. We are a hop skip and a jump across, away from Maryland. Pennsylvania is right down the 95 Corridor, so it’s critical for us to really figure out how to more effectively and efficiently share information, in as real time as possible, so that we can address these Criminal Justice issues that are right in front of us. So working with our partners in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, who all really recognize the importance of the issue, we really do think that we’re making a lot of headway. But we also are real clear about some of the challenges that are not uncommon within a jurisdiction. We are now facing those things, the policy issues and the like, that have come up when we’re talking about trying to address information sharing, outside of our jurisdictions as well.

Len Sipes: I do want to remind our listeners that I think Mannone and the other people who have been in charge of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, are probably best suited for the State Department, after they have done their gig here in the District of Columbia. Because Mannone has to deal with my agency, which is a federal agency and the courts have been federalized, the prosecuting attorney has been federalized, the Public Offenders Office has been federalized. You combine that with a local DC police department, a local juvenile initiative, again at the DC level, and the jail which is the District of Columbia. So you have this combination of federal agencies and District of Columbia agencies, and now, you bring into the mix, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the other states, and that becomes extraordinarily complex in terms of keeping everybody happy, and keeping information systems up and running. So Mannone you’ve got a real task on your hands.

Mannone Butler: Yes but you know I think at the end of the day, there’s some real common goals, and it really is to make sure that we’re focusing on public safety. That’s really our north star, so appreciating the fact that we have different audiences and I share this with our partners in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, and in Delaware, and we’ve been meeting. So folks understand that, you know, DC we have our unique, our composition is unique, but the reality is that at the end of the day we want to make sure that the public is safe. Information sharing is critical to get us there, so there are some real nuances to the information sharing realities that we’ve embarked upon with this project specifically. So we can’t be deterred by the jurisdictional issues that come up, internally or externally to be certain.

Len Sipes: I think Mannone you’re being wonderfully diplomatic and — but I’ll go over to Tammy Woodhams of the National Criminal Justice Association. Something before we hit the record button, Ed mentioned, Ed Parker from the state of Maryland, mentioned that look, you know, we’re the Criminal Justice system, we’ve been pretty secretive and we’ve been criticized after the events of 9/11 for not sharing information. We have basically kept all this information to ourselves, so I do, in the second half of the show want to get onto to the other parts of information sharing in terms of the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, but that’s true correct Tammy? That we traditionally have not been embracing of each other?

Tammy Woodhams: Oh definitely and you have the separation of powers that are involved in that. You have turf issues and traditionally in the criminal justice system, a sheriff did not want to necessarily share his information with the prosecuting attorney’s office, or the courts didn’t want to share that information. I think that, they’ve been very protective of that information, so the fact that Mannone has been able to pull off, getting all her partners together and willing to share information, really bodes well for Washington DC and with Maryland, and Delaware, and Pennsylvania and all of their stakeholders, who are willing to share. A lot of it really boils back down to traditional turf issues that have been invited [PH 00:14:29] in the criminal justice system for years.

Len Sipes: Well also there are information sharing issues in terms of the technology that everybody can embrace, and everybody can share information on. So it’s just not a matter of turf it’s a matter of implanting the right technology, the right information sharing technology, so everybody is not just onboard philosophically, but onboard technologically, correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Right and for many years the technology wasn’t there to be able to share, and in recent years, the Federal Government has been making a big push to encourage the adoption of the National Justice Information Caring Standards and Tools for their global advisory committee and they have come up with information caring standards, such as the National Information Exchange Model, Global Reference Architecture, Global Federated ID and Privileged Management. In essence a lot of acronyms and basically they boil down to the ability to be able to guide, and provide tools to allow that information sharing to occur. Promote cross boundary information sharing as well.

Len Sipes: Let me reintroduce everybody, because we’re right at the halfway point, and I’ll get back to you just momentarily. Ladies and gentlemen we’re doing a show today on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, but we’re really talking about information sharing within the criminal justice system. The show is produced today by the National Criminal Justice Association, www.ncja.org our guests today are Tammy Woodhams, senior staff associate for the National Criminal Justice Association, Mannone Butler, Executive Director, DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Office, Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Ed go ahead with your point please.

Ed Parker: Well Len I was just going to point out, we were talking before about some of the barriers to establishing effective information sharing protocols. One of the issues that came up was technology. I just wanted to point out, that it’s always been my experience that the technology barriers are the easiest ones to overcome. There’s always some very smart, you know, IT person out there who can work out a technological solution to almost any problem. But the policy issues in my opinion are far more challenging to overcome when you’re doing something like we’ve been trying to do over the last several years. Again, breaking down that culture of secrecy, addressing the policy and potential legal issues involved. Who can access what, and under what circumstances for example. The security concerns, controlling access to make sure that the inappropriate people don’t have access to sensitive information. Making sure that audit trails are built in, so if something does go wrong, we can track back and figure out who accessed what and when. Then the privacy issues to try to make sure that we are protecting the privacy of citizens so that no sensitive information is shared inappropriately with anybody, including law enforcement.

Mannone Butler: And Ed has actually just, I’m sorry, Ed really just has outlined I think critical areas for us as we again, we focus within your jurisdictions on issues around information sharing, those are hallmark issues for us. Now you’re talking about policy and jurisdictional lines, they are then, they become even more critical because we’re talking about policy issues that have implications that, here before, they may not even have been mapped out. So I think that we really, the technology piece oftentimes heard from our IT folks in my office, in the district, we can take care of the technology, it really is making sure we have the business, the privacy, the policy, issues mapped out. That’s really where the rubber meets the road.

Len Sipes: Well that’s difficult, and it’s fairly complex, I guess I just keep going back, you know, what I always try to phone a couple of people before doing shows. One person was, telling me, he said, you know you want NCIS, you watch all these television shows and you have the sense that there’s information flowing. There’s information sharing, a portion of it is free flowing, it happens every day, it’s seamless and there really are no issues. In reality we’re just beginning to set up these technological and legal, and ethical protocols between states, we’re just starting this movement to be sure that the right information is shared, and that it’s ethical, and legal, and that we have the technical pieces in place. We’re just beginning this process, am I right or wrong?

Ed Parker: I think you’re absolutely right Len.

Mannone Butler: Yes.

Len Sipes: Let’s talk about some of the things that we are talking about because somebody listening to this program is going to go, okay I get it, the offender, A who is being supervised in Washington DC, goes to the state of Maryland, goes to Pennsylvania, goes to Virginia, goes to Delaware and then DC wants to know whether or not he’s been arrested. Fine I’ll give you that, but in this day and age of privacy concerns, I just want to give people a sense as to what else that we’re talking about. There’s law enforcement data, there’s intelligence data, in some cases a license plate recognition, fusion centers, where law enforcement and correctional people get together and share information, and make sure that the right information is being transferred from one jurisdiction to another. Scrap metal, pawn and secondary property databases, I mean these are all some of the things that I’m reading from in terms of the executive summary of the report on the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative. So something as simple as, somebody steals a tremendous amount of metal, and crosses the state line to sell it, it would be nice for that police department in Pennsylvania to be able to say, ah it went into Virginia, and that’s where they sold it, and now we can follow up. I mean that’s pretty commonsensical stuff.

Ed Parker: Absolutely Len, I mean it would be critical to know that someone with a Pennsylvania address is pawning materials in another jurisdiction. It would also be interesting to note frequent pawners, if people are going to multiple pawn shops in a relative short period of time, which maybe innocent, but then again it could be indicative of criminal activity. So it’s a perfect example of why we should share yes.

Len Sipes: You know offenders float, people involved in crime, are going to float from one jurisdiction to another. Especially when you’ve got — you know you can go from the state of Maryland to the District of Columbia, into the state of Virginia and what, Mannone, 15, 20 minutes?

Mannone Butler: That’s right.

Len Sipes: So there has to be information sharing.

Mannone Butler: Yes there has to be information sharing, and so we talked about some of the challenges, but I also want to just highlight that as we’re going through this process for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Information Sharing Project, we also are really in the process of identifying, so what does it mean, what are the policies that you have within your own jurisdiction? That’s really critical and we want, we can’t lose sight of, you know, Ed mentioned privacy. We can’t lose sight of some real practical issues, the goal is to ensure public safety, right?

Len Sipes: Right.

Mannone Butler: But we also need to be real clear about what it means when we’re talking about sharing information. So each of our respective portals, our IT systems have rules of the road if you will. So part of the work here is mapping our systems so that the rules of each jurisdiction, can be followed in a way that really is appropriate. So that is no small feat, we’re not going to be deterred by that, but we want to make sure that folks really understand, that that work is something that also has to be done. You’re balancing our public safety with privacy, the information sharing piece is something that we can’t lose in this conversation.

Len Sipes: And the Federal Law to remind everybody, we being a federal agency, in terms of medical information, psychological information, that is protected, it’s protected by the Federal Privacy Act, which means that I can sit down with the police department in the metropolitan police department in Washington DC. Or the Maryland State Police, or the Virginia State Police, and discuss this offender, and what he’s doing right, and what he’s doing wrong. But there are certain things by Federal Law we cannot violate, and there’s certain information that we cannot transmit. So that’s what you’re talking about Mannone correct?

Mannone Butler: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And whether people like it or not, that is the Federal Privacy Act is something, I mean we’re a law enforcement agencies, we’re supposed to uphold the law. So for those people out there listening to this, and saying well gee this is just another example of big government sharing information on individuals. We take those privacy concerns very seriously, Ed?

Mannone Butler: And it really does —

Ed Parker: Yes?

Mannone Butler: — I’m sorry it just goes to the purpose of this really for us is to figure out, and it’s kind of you’re threading that needle. How do we get to sharing information as we started this conversation in a way, that really makes sense for all our jurisdictions. So we can address the information that’s out there, and so that we can again protect the public. But in the same token there are basic policy and privacy considerations that are federal in nature, but there are also some local jurisdictions, or local laws that we also have to be mindful of, and that’s a process that we have to navigate as well.

Len Sipes: But if you’ve got somebody who is considering an act of terrorism, you want that information shared with the state that it happens to be right next door to you. So there are all sorts of benefits to making sure that Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and all the other states involved in the Mid-Atlantic Information Sharing Initiative, that we are sure to share the right information with the right people.

Ed Parker: Len, you’re absolutely right Len, I mean in this day and age, we have more information available to law enforcement and public safety agencies, than we’ve ever had in history. You’ve been in this business a long time, and so have I, and the technological advances that we’ve made recently are just phenomenal. I mean, to give you an example, we have our law enforcement, or criminal justice dashboard in Maryland. It’s a web based data consolidation tool that’s accessible to anyone with a valid NCIC user ID and password. It enables a person with the appropriate credentials to search information from over 115 different data sources, but Pennsylvania has a similar system, Delaware has a similar system, their Deljis System. The district has a similar system, their Justice System, but linking all these systems together to share information in a seamless way, is challenging and Mannone just pointed out, one of the big challenges that there are legal differences between the laws that govern DC, and the laws that govern Maryland, and the laws that govern Pennsylvania and Delaware for example. So when we first started embarking down this road, we finally came to the realization that we were not going to be able to share everything with everybody. Instead each jurisdiction was just going to have to make available the information that it could make available, pursuant to their own policies and laws. That’s fine, it’s a start, and we can build on that.

Len Sipes: Now somebody has to coordinate all this, somebody has to bring everybody together, and again Tammy that would be the role of the National Criminal Justice Association. I’m assuming that somewhere along the line, the Department of Justice, through probably the Bureau of Justice Assistance is involved in this correct?

Tammy Woodhams: Yes correct. DJA funded, NCJA to serve as a convener, and advance the information sharing efforts throughout the country. We’re working closely with MARIS, to staff the meetings, bring them together, track what’s going on, we have bi-weekly calls with the technical team for MARIS. Document all of that and track the decisions that are made along the way. So we’ll be hosting a MARIS meeting in the near future in Baltimore to sign up a government structure for MARIS. We provide that guidance, we also bring in other training and technical assistants provided to help us move this along, and ensure the implementation and standards along the way.

Len Sipes: Well we’ve got just about a minute left, anybody want to add in on this, because we could — just license plate recognition, if there is a license tag wanted by Pennsylvania, and they’ve just abducted a child, and they’re found in Virginia, again that’s yet another example, when I’m taking a look at your executive summary, as to the power of information sharing. Of getting that information back to the state of Pennsylvania immediately.

Ed Parker: Len you just hit the nail on the head, it’s immediate access to the information. If the detective working that case that you just described in Pennsylvania, has to wait until nine o’clock the next morning to pick up the telephone and call somebody in Maryland, or the District or Delaware to get the information. It’s not very effective, but instead if a search, an automated search can be launched, a federated search against all of our jurisdictional databases, to pull back that information instantaneously. Then that’s a real accomplishment for all of us that are involved in trying to reduce crime and improve public safety.

Len Sipes: The state of Pennsylvania could say to the state of Virginia, don’t stop that car, follow them, and lead us to where we believe that other children are held. So that information flow could be just operational, it could be conclusion or it could be ongoing.

Ed Parker: Yes.

Len Sipes: Alright so, I really do appreciate all three of you being here by our microphones today, because I think this whole concept of information sharing is so important to the criminal justice system. Tammy Woodhams, senior staff associate National Criminal Justice Association, Mannone Butler, Executive Director of DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and Ed Parker, Deputy Director of Operations for the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your compliments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

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Community Corrections Technology-National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center

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

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/05/community-corrections-technology-national-law-enforcement-corrections-technology-center/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes, back at our microphones, Joe Russo. The program today is focusing on community corrections technology. Always a joy to have Joe back at our microphones. Joe is with the University of Denver and he currently serves as the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. Joe, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Joe Russo:  Hi, Len, always a pleasure to be with you.

Len Sipes:  Always a pleasure to have you. You are by far I think one of our most popular shows that we’ve had in the past. So, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be talking about a variety of issues today, satellite tracking, we’re going to be talking about drug and alcohol testing, leveraging video conferencing, which I find really exciting, officer safety developments, and social media, the development of an issue paper with the American Probation and Parole Association. Joe, let’s start off with satellite tracking. What’s happening there?

Joe Russo:  Well, I just want to make your audience aware that NIJ, National Institute of Justice funded a project to develop standards for offender tracking systems is ongoing and approaching completion. This standard is the first of its kind and was designed by practitioners, practitioner informed process, to establish performance standards, robustness standards, safety and circumvention detection standards around these systems. These systems have been in existence for quite some time and there is no industry standard for these devices. And so NIJ thought it was important based on practitioner input and created a project to develop these standards and these are nearing completion in the new future. And the next step is we’ll be evaluating some of the test methods that we’ve developed to make sure that they’re efficient and effective and the most appropriate way to go about evaluating these tools and making sure that they’re up to par for public safety use.

Len Sipes:  And we at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, here in Washington DC, we’ve been instrumental in developing those standards, correct?

Joe Russo:  Yes. In fact Carlton Butler, who I believe recently retired from your agency was one of the members of our special technical committee and he was very instrumental in that process. Carlton was one of a number of community corrections professionals from across the country who came together regularly to discuss their needs around offender tracking technology, where the technology was lacking and what standards should be in place to protect the public.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is that, let me throw out a couple observations and tell me if I’m correct or incorrect, satellite tracking, GPS satellite tracking is exploding within this country in terms of supervising people on supervision, right?

Joe Russo:  It’s growing rapidly. I hesitate to agree that it’s exploding. I think depending on who you talk to, certainly the vendors wouldn’t say it’s exploding, or their bottom lines would be exploding as well, but it is growing, it’s definitely growing. One of the key issues in this area and one that associations or government should take a look at is really getting a good sense for the market, how many offenders are on tracking. It’s very difficult to get that number. If you talk to experts from across the country the best that they can give you are just estimates based on previous surveys and formal surveys. So that’s something that I think that the field needs. But overall when you compare it to the number of people who’re on community supervision, it’s a very small percentage. So, again, there’re many ways to answer that question, whether it’s growing, but it could be fully utilized for sure.

Len Sipes:  But I’m thinking of two major research reports, one out of Florida and one out of California that indicated dramatically lower rates of recidivism, dramatically lower rates of technical violations, and reduced rates of arrest while under supervision. So satellite tracking research, GPS research seems to be promising.

Joe Russo:  Absolutely. As you say, both the Florida studies and the California studies show reductions in recidivism. I think that like any technology or like any program, things evolve and things are dynamic. And these two studies should not be considered the be-all and end-all. I think we still, there’s still a lot of room for us as an industry, as a field, to grow academically, to understand better how GPS can best be applied to achieve the outcomes that we desire. For example, I don’t believe either study took a look at how GPS performed with or without treatment services and we might learn that GPS providing lifestyle structure combined with treatment services where needed produces an even greater effect. So, yeah, the initial research has been very promising and I think that further research is needed and it can only probably be better applied in the future.

Len Sipes:  But a standard, as I understand it from most of the research done on community corrections, is that if there is a social services component, and I know that’s vague enough to drive a bus through, but if there’s treatment involved along with the supervision package, it’s been the treatment component of it that has been particularly successful in the past. So that’s a good point. Satellite tracking combined with treatment, depending upon the quality of the treatment and the intensity of the treatment, could have us real implications for keeping people out of further activity and keeping them out of the prison system.

Joe Russo:  Absolutely. And it touches on issues, for example, in terms of dosage, what’s the appropriate dosage of satellite tracking, do people need to be on satellite for extended lengths of time, is there a point of diminishing returns. The more research we have, the more we understand the dynamics, the better we can apply that technology and get better outcomes at a better cost.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is that I’ve read a draft copy of your report in terms of the development of the technology standard, it was pretty doggone comprehensive. It was large; it was very detailed, very technical. So this is the first time that GPS and satellite tracking has been examined by the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence under the National Law Enforcement and Correction Technology Center’s system. I mean this is the first time it really has been systematically examined in terms of how people use satellite tracking, GPS tracking, and possibly what are the best uses of satellite and GPS tracking.

Joe Russo:  Yes. And we deal quite a bit on the issue in what we call the Selection and Application Guide, which is designed to help agencies interpret the technical standard and use the information in their programs across the country. So the technical standard would speak more towards performance metrics of how the technology should work in the Selection and Application Guide, as you allude to, address more of the potential applications, how is the technology used to address or to achieve the outcomes that are desired.

Len Sipes:  Is that available yet –?

Joe Russo:  Drafts are –

Len Sipes:  To the public?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Drafts are available. But all of the documents that were produced, the standard Selection and Application Guide, were recently put out for public comment in January of this year and they’re all available.

Len Sipes:  All right, so they’re still available for public comment.

Joe Russo:  The public comment period has concluded.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Joe Russo:  But those drafts I believe are still on the web somewhere.

Len Sipes:  And how do they get them?

Joe Russo:  I would go to the NIJ website.

Len Sipes:  Okay. The National Institute –

Joe Russo:  National Institute of Justice.

Len Sipes:  National Institute of Justice Website. And we’ll have the link in our show notes regarding that. Okay. The efforts to promote information sharing, one, this is I think unique, because now for the first time we’ve had literally hundreds of organizations around the Unites States and beyond, from what I understand, talking to each other in terms of how they use satellite tracking, what the pitfalls are, what the difficulties are, what the remedies are. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that came out of your effort, the fact that now people are talking to each other.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. The best way to learn is from your colleagues and from your colleague’s experiences and whatever network can kind of occur on that level is just tremendous. There’s no sense reinventing the wheel. There’s much we can learn from our colleagues, as you mentioned, across the country, across the world. The National Institute of Justice has funded some specific projects to further information sharing of the data. That’s pretty interesting. They funded the development of information exchange packet documentation, which will allow for technically data from different systems to be integrated and shared so that it could be utilized more effectively.

Len Sipes:  Really?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Yeah. And this, again, came from recommendations from our practitioner groups. And they recommended that this be developed to address two major issues, one is public safety, and the other is resource allocation. The public safety element comes into play and was illustrated very well on the recent case in Orange County, where you had two homeless sex offenders recently arrested for the murder of a prostitute, and they found out that they had committed four murders over the course of time. Now, both offenders were tracked via GPS, they were supervised by different agencies, one by the Federal US Probation, the other by California Parole.

Len Sipes:  Oh, I remember that case.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. And they were monitored by vendor equipment. But obviously living in the same area, they were both homeless, both kind of tented up together, and they had been associating for some time prior. Now, technically there’s no reason we can’t share that information, but this information currently resides in individual jurisdiction’s databases, individuals and their databases. And so part of the effort in developing this [PH 00:10:19] IETD, this information sharing mechanism, is to allow or facilitate better sharing of information. Again, it’s not the answer, but if we have a better way to share information then we can more readily make some of these connections and someone can say why are these two offenders associating for so long regardless –

Len Sipes:  Interesting.

Joe Russo:  Of who’s supervising them –

Len Sipes:  Now, also –

Joe Russo:  And regardless of what vendor.

Len Sipes:  This point of working on an automated analysis. If you talk to parole and probation people throughout the country they will tell you that GPS is really a tremendous amount of difficult work in terms of sifting through all of that data and analyzing all of that data. What does it mean? So working on an automated analysis system, what is that?

Joe Russo:  Well, basically as you say, the point is well taken. GPS is a tremendous tool, but it provides an overload of information for most agencies, too much information. And so there are techniques, there are tools that have been developed to help officers figure out what’s important and what’s not. One is the National Institute of Justice funded effort through the University of Oklahoma to develop a toolkit to help officers identify patterns of movement within their offender population that are of interest.

A lot of agencies across the country are required to review location points of their offenders on a daily basis. I mean literally point by point by point. Part of the goal of this study from Oklahoma was to develop a toolkit that would allow an officer to approve a pattern of behavior, so a daily record of location points, and then store that approval, and so the next time or the next day, if the offender has the same general pattern there’s no need to review those points. However, if there’s a divergence in that pattern then the officer is alerted to that divergence and they can look further into what divergence occurred, when did it occur, where did the offender go, and usually that is a starting point for gathering more information.

Len Sipes:  Really interesting, really interesting. The potential for protective analysis, that all falls into that in terms of what you just said.

Joe Russo:  It’s part and partial. I think that for some time agencies have been looking into thinking about big data and data mining to help them make better decisions over the years. And I believe your agency has used GIS systems to better understand how the issue of place has the relevance and a context in offender’s lives and where they work, where they live, are there services that are in those areas, can they get to services, is there public transportation for example. Use of predictive analysis has not yet reached the point of dynamic input. So we have all this wealth of information about GPS, we have a lot of offenders on GPS; we have a lot of location points not only in one jurisdiction, but across the nation; a lot offenders. So is there a way to mine all of the data to make some determinations, to create some hypotheses about is there a pattern of movement that correlates to success through revision, is there a pattern of movement or behavior that correlates to failure, are there dynamics factors that might tell you that a person is headed for failure or success.

Len Sipes:  Well, I think considering the amount of GPS being used currently and people interested in it and people looking at it, I think all of these are pretty interesting developments and really fascinating. Before we get to the break let’s start with advances in drug and alcohol testing. Fingerprint analysis?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This is an interesting approach. It was developed by a company in the UK, and basically what they’re using is a portable way of measuring the secretions from fingerprints, so fingerprint oils, sweat that gets released through your fingerprint. They’ve developed technology that’s able to analyze those secretions for drug use. So it could provide a very noninvasive, easily used, low cost alternative to your analysis.

Len Sipes:  Huh, through fingerprints?

Joe Russo:  Through fingerprints. Yeah.

Len Sipes:  That’s really interesting. Remote mobile breath analysis?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This an area that’s gained a lot of traction in recent years. There’re number of different products that have just been introduced to the market. And the idea was to kind of provide a less intrusive, less costly alternative to the secure transdermal monitoring bracelets that are existing now that are on offender’s legs. These are basically handheld units that an offender was prompted to breathe into and it takes an alcohol sample remotely. The technology confirms the identification of the offender either through photograph or facial recognition or breath print, depending on the technology, and it can note the offender’s location point via built-in GPS chips.

Len Sipes:  Now –

Joe Russo:  So –

Len Sipes:  Is this mobile breath analysis simply for alcohol or both drugs and alcohol?

Joe Russo:  Currently it’s just for alcohol.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Joe Russo:  But –

Len Sipes:  And considering the alcohol problem that we have in terms of people under supervision that’s a fairly considerable advancement.

Joe Russo:  Oh, absolutely. Alcohol’s a major contributor to crime as you know. So it’s a very important tool.

Len Sipes:  Facial thermo-patterns, tell me about that, and we’ll go to the break.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. This is kind of interesting, as we go through our research in finding emerging technologies, this one crossed our desk. Basically it’s a development in alcohol testing that came from researchers in Greece. They’ve looked into thermal imaging as a way to determine whether a person is inebriated or not. So basically they’ve taken heat maps of people’s faces, people who’re sober and people who’re inebriated, and they’re able to tell through different algorithms what the characteristics of an inebriated person are. For example, they’ve determined that a person who is drunk, their nose tends to be much warmer than their forehead, and they can tell this through the thermal imaging.

Len Sipes:  Well, I can think of about a thousand bars that probably could use that equipment. Joe, let me quickly reintroduce you. Ladies and gentlemen, we were talking today Joe Russo. The show is on community corrections technology. Joe is with the University of Denver, he’s currently the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System. Joe, go ahead and continue. And like I said, I can think of not a thousand, but probably 100 thousand bars that need facial thermo-patterns technology in that bar to tell whether or not they’re drunk or not.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. Yeah. I mean it’s a pretty innovative approach, and obviously if you can make a determination about intoxication from a distance, perhaps that provides greater advantages. And there’s no telling as this technology develops whether this can be deployed at a short distance or a longer distance to determine inebriation patterns among crowds. For example, after a sporting event it might help law enforcement agencies kind of focus potentially problematic groups. So really it has a lot of potential.

Len Sipes:  How would you employ it?

Joe Russo:  I didn’t see anything in the material that talked about how this was structured. I assume it’s a thermal imaging camera, but with a telescopic type lens maybe this could really work from a wide distance. Certainly in a community corrections application it would just be a camera in front of a person, you can get a reading very quickly. So, yeah, we’ll be keeping an eye on that technology.

Len Sipes:  Now, the Holy Grail here is, I would imagine, remote – because what we’re talking about in many ways is not only dealing with technology that tells either through the fingerprints or facial thermo-patterns, but remote devices, specifically on GPS and satellite tracking devices, that could tell whether or not a person is using alcohol or is inebriated. Does any of this apply to substance abuse yet as to whether or not people under supervision whether or not you can instantly tell they’re using drugs remotely?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. There have been some companies who have delved into that area. I don’t think that they’re mature as yet. But as you mentioned, that is the Holy Grail, that’s sort of the next horizon. We’ve kind of conquered that for alcohol use and substance use is kind of the next level. And really, beyond that, I know that the practitioner groups that we talk to are going beyond illegal drugs, but they’re interested in monitoring prescription drug use, both for abuse, using too much, or not using enough, because particularly with mental health clients if they’re not on their medication –

Len Sipes:  Oh, that’s a great point.

Joe Russo:  That causes a whole myriad of problems that could easily be avoided. So one of the kind of the futuristic thinking approaches that we’ve been looking at is how do we develop tools that remotely monitor prescription drug use, again, levels to make sure that they’re taking the appropriate amount and we can avoid unfortunate situations later.

Len Sipes:  In the same sort of conundrum that we currently have today in terms of synthetic drugs, where the combinations change from time to time, I mean it would be nice to have remote devices or new devices to deal with that issue as well. Because we could be testing for cocaine, we could be testing for marijuana, we could be testing for opiates, but testing for synthetic drugs, again, when the drugs constantly change, having some sort of new devices coming in and especially mobile devices, that would be an extraordinarily interesting development.

Joe Russo:  Yeah, exactly. I mean the industry, drug testing industry, is coming with tests as quickly as they can. Obviously new tests are very research development intensive so the costs of these tests tend to be very high. But when the target keeps moving, I don’t know the answer to that. How do you develop tests fast enough to detect these ever changing compounds?

Len Sipes:  All right, I find this interesting. Leveraging video teleconferencing, people under supervision reporting in via teleconference and also the treatment and service delivery via teleconference, talk to me about that.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. We’ve seen this more and more in rural or remote settings. Agencies are exploring ways to more efficiently and effectively connect with their clients. There’re many parts of the country where clients live miles and miles away from probation offices, and this obviously becomes a very resource-intensive proposition for officers to spend hours of time traveling to see one client. Compounding that, if they live in remote areas, there’re typically no services available for them to capitalize on. So agencies across the country are looking at video teleconferencing services to try and bridge this gap. There’s one agency in rural Kansas that serves a six county area, and rather than driving miles and miles every day, they’re trying to use Skype to connect with their clients and do reporting in that way.

Len Sipes:  So we’re talking about, in terms of video, we’re talking about using their Smartphones, using their tablets?

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Tablets, home computers, as long as they have internet connectivity then they can connect with their probation officer via Skype or another service.

Len Sipes:  And the same questions that that probation or parole agent would ask the person directly when they see them could be asked in terms of the provision of treatment and service delivery. I mean in terms of our own mental health caseload one of the principle questions we ask is, “Are you taking your medications? Show me your medications. Are you taking them every day? Are you taking them as prescribed?” So I would imagine that would enter into it.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. You can go through very much the same protocol that you would in an in person interview. I would imagine the only thing that might be lacking is that direct in person kind of look for effect and then things that just would not translate very well via video. But for the most part the interview protocol would remain the same.

Len Sipes:  So, but the treatment part of it, are we talking about providing treatment services via teleconference?

Joe Russo:  Well, we’ve learned that Nebraska Judicial Services is using in exactly. Again, they have a very remote rural section of their state, and rather than having offenders, again, drive miles to a central location to get services, they’ve set up video conferencing systems in the county sheriff’s departments, and offenders can just go to their local sheriff department and there’s a video set for them to take –

Len Sipes:  Ah.

Joe Russo:  [OVERLAY] classes, parenting, cognitive skill therapy, and –

Len Sipes:  Oh, that’s exciting.

Joe Russo:  Yeah. Yeah. So it’s interactive and it’s a very innovative approach to a difficult problem.

Len Sipes:  And I had a recent discussion this weekend with somebody who is, and I shouldn’t identify the group at this stage of the game because they’re just developing it, but they’re talking about remote classes for correctional institutions, so all of this is really exciting. The last two issues in terms of the program, officer safety developments and a social media issue paper that was developed with the American Probation and Parole Association. Tell me about those.

Joe Russo:  Yes. Officer safety, we’ve come across two interesting items. One is the use of GPS technology for lone workers. These are workers who are out in remote settings by themselves and where safety could become an issue. These systems are deployed in industry across the spectrum. Minnesota Department of Corrections has recently explored using this for their parole agents who work out in the field by themselves. These are typically GPS tracking devices as you would think of them on an offender, but the officer carries them, they have a man-down function, a [PH 00:24:25] duress alert, where the officer can communicate back with a central monitoring station, and the officer is tracked and located throughout their travels out there in the wild. Communications are achieved either through cellular, the network, if that’s not available the technology can communicate via satellite communication so that the officer is never truly alone out there.

Len Sipes:  But that’s fascinating because it could apply to urban environments as well.

Joe Russo:  Any environment, exactly, particularly where officers are working by themselves it’s a critical concern.

Len Sipes:  And I really like the fact that it has a man-down concept to it so if a person goes into a prone position there is an immediate alert sent to a central monitoring station.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. The other neat officer safety tool that we came across, and this might be a little futuristic, but we’ve heard a presentation from researchers at MIT who developed clothing that can be used as a personal protective device. Basically they embed electronics into a jacket or outer garment that conducts electricity and energy. So the wearer is insulated, but if they activate their jacket, for example, and an aggressor touches them, they receive a shock.

Len Sipes:  Amazing.

Joe Russo:  And the idea is to provide the officer enough space and time –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Joe Russo:  To get out of a hand to hand combat type situation. So, again, for people working in the field alone, officers who don’t carry firearms, this might be an interesting to consider in the future.

Len Sipes:  Final issue – and we only have a couple minutes left – social media. Again, you’re working on in a paper with the American Probation and Parole Association about social media use. I see dozens of examples almost daily of people not just under supervision, but criminals or people of interest, going out and sitting in front of a, doing a YouTube video sitting in front of a stash of drugs and guns and talking about their exploits. So this is becoming rather common.

Joe Russo:  There’s no doubt. Social media is well established as a part of our lives in this day and age, whether we like it or not, particularly with the younger generation. So many of our offenders have this virtual presence. They maintain presence on social media. And to some extent it’s irresponsible for community corrections agencies not to explore and look at how offenders are using social media because it is such an ingrained part of life. So this issue paper that we’re developing is designed to help agencies understand what social media is, why it’s important, what offenders are doing online, again, why it’s important to monitor that activity, and some issues that they need to consider as they develop a policy about how their officers should use social media.

There are some pitfalls about social media privacy issues, how to authenticate information that they may obtain via Facebook pages, for example, of their offenders, whether to do covert investigations, for example, where the officer might pretend to be someone else, establish a false identity. All of these are issues that agencies need to consider strongly, compare them to their missions and their goals, and really develop policies so that when officers do engage in this activity it’s in direct alignment with the agency’s mission.

Len Sipes:  We were talking before the program about being able to geocode, or all photos, if you GPS enabled on your phone or tablet, evidently the photos are geocoded. So we can figure not only what he was doing, because he’s making a YouTube video, and I mean there’re all sorts of other examples, but YouTube certainly does come to mind, but also figuring out exactly where he is.

Joe Russo:  Exactly. Yeah. That’s a little known feature, and if you use a digital camera with location systems enabled you could very well be giving up your location, which of course works very well in the favor of probation and parole officers who’re trying to determine if their offender is outside of jurisdiction.

Len Sipes:  In the final 30 seconds or so. The bottom line behind all of the technology that we talked about today, Joe, is to ensure compliant behavior; is to keep people out of the prison system; is to prompt their good behavior, reduce technical violations; reduce rearrest, and reduce return to prison. So this has a fiscal note to it that could be very favorable to state and local agencies and it has research behind it that in essence says that people when they’re monitored in these ways are far more compliant and they are just doing much better on parole and probation supervision, correct or incorrect?

Joe Russo:  Exactly. It’s all about outcomes. Technology is a tool and we have to be careful not to overuse it and over-supervise low-risk offenders. Ideally, we’re using the appropriate level of technology to supervise offenders and dedicate more officer’s valuable time on those high-risk cases that demand that interpersonal connection.

Len Sipes:  And I’m really glad you brought that up, because the real focus of most of this would be the high-risk offender.

Joe Russo:  Exactly, exactly. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of applying technology across the board, but we have to really be more intelligent about how to use our limited resources.

Len Sipes:  Well, Joe, as always, I really do appreciate you coming onto the show today. And ladies and gentlemen, we did show with Joe Russo on community corrections technology. I always find it fascinating. We did discuss satellite tracking and alcohol and drug testing and teleconferencing and social media and lots of other things. Joe is with the University of Denver and currently serves as the Director of Corrections Technology Center of Excellence, a program within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even your criticisms, and please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Expanding Correctional Education Through Technology-Correctional Education Association

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

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/06/expanding-correctional-education-technology-correctional-education-association/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. And back at our microphones, Steve Steurer is the Execute Director of the Correctional Education Association. www.ceanational.org. The program today, ladies and gentlemen, is Expanding Correctional Education Through Technology. We’ve just come from the conference, the national conference that Steve put on in Arlington, Virginia, where he had federal secretaries of different agencies and people from all over the country talking about the expansion of correctional education through technology. I think it’s a really exciting concept. I think this is a very important program. Steve, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Steve Steurer:  Thank you, Len! I really appreciate it.

Len Sipes:  All right. We’ve got a great story for you to tell about what happened in Ohio, but I want to start off the program with two basic constructs and you tell me if I’m right or wrong. By and large, whether it be vocational education, drug treatment, mental health treatment, GED programs, advanced education, basic education, by and large, those programs are vastly underfunded within just about any prison system in the United States. Am I right or wrong about that?

Steve Steurer:  You’re absolutely correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and what we’re trying to do is through technology and remote training, it may be the answer as to dramatically increasing inmate participation in basic GED and advanced education, correct?

Steve Steurer:  That would be correct, I’d say.

Len Sipes:  All right. So tell me about that. Tell me about this idea of using technology to expand correctional education.

Steve Steurer:  Up until now, the correctional systems in this country have for the most part been just dead set against any kind of internet hook up that goes beyond an officers’ desk or an officials’ desk. Only recently have some teachers been able to get some internet connectivity on their desk in the classroom in the prison, but the inmates are not allowed, and so that’s very closely gauged and watched, and that’s for a very, very simple and very good reason – because they’re afraid of gang communication and those guys getting out there and doing terrible stuff at porno sites or what have you. That’s a legitimate concern. We have said and we’re trying to prove now, that you don’t have to worry about that. We have enough capability to block that. Not that occasionally somebody would sneak through it, there’s always somebody out there, but we would probably have very few incidents using current technology.

Len Sipes:  So in essence the security part, the security concerns have been addressed?

Steve Steurer:  They have been addressed and there are many people that agree with that now, even correctional officials.

Len Sipes:  All right, so you had this wonderful conference. You had hundreds of people from all over the United States, you had two federal secretaries, you had lots of experts talking about correctional education, and what was the buzz within the conference? Was it enthusiastic about the idea of taking technology and dramatically expanding correctional education? What were the perceptions on the part of the people who came to the conference?

Steve Steurer:  The people that came there were really enthused. I’ve talked to a lot of folks and I’ve talked to other folks who’ve talked to other folks. They’re really enthused because of what they’ve learned and what they participated in, in terms of technology applications from different places in the country. And we even prototyped, we did a WebEx live from Ironwood Prison in California with Hollywood Producer Scott Budnick, who has devoted himself to this cause now. We had fifteen inmates in a room with a captain, Captain Roe, doing the technology and the WebEx and also in the hotel room interacting with these students back and forth with questions. There are how many prisons in this country have an internet connection in a classroom, able to do a WebEx, the distance learning on this from coast to coast, nobody’s ever done that.

Len Sipes:  Go ahead please.

Steve Steurer:  Well I was gone to say, and I mean, I have some other example but just to start, just to have that in the conference, people said they’d never had such a terrific, that was the teacher of the year dinner event. They’d never seen anything like that. It was the best they’d ever had.

Len Sipes:  I interviewed Dr Lois Davis. She works for the RAND Corporation. Their report in 2014 “How Effective is Correctional Education? Where Do We Go To From Here?” Within that report she did, and we interviewed her, and we’ll put a link to that interview in the show notes, but within that report, I got the sense that what she was saying is that using remote tools, using technology to provide an educational experience, again whether it be learning how to read, whether it’d be basic education, GED, advanced education, that the individuals participating in remote education have the potential for doing as well as having a teacher in the room. Am I overplaying that? Am I underplaying it? Give me your assessment.

Steve Steurer:  Well I think she’s not 100% right. I mean in my opinion I think that using and having the technology and then having the back up of experienced teachers working with it just will make it even more powerful because the population we’re working with, we’re working with for the most part, is not engaged in education on the street even where they have the technology. So there’s another human factor that needs to be put in there other than remote technology. But that’s a debate that goes on among professionals. But she has come out with a study that has shown us that there’s just a dearth of, a lack of technology being used in a situation where it could be so effective.

Len Sipes:  But the bottom line, and again, this is what I want listeners to do because a lot of people listening to this program are going to be from the Criminal Justice System and they’re going to be saying, “Leonard, tell me something I don’t know about the lack of programs within prisons.” But there’s a lot of other people out there, the aides to mayors, aides to congress people, congressional aides, aides to county executives, who don’t know. And I think the point needs to be reinforced that the studies that I’ve looked at indicate that in terms of drug treatment, mental health treatment, ordinarily you’re talking about 10% of the prison population or below that. In terms of educational programs you’re talking about less than that in some cases.

So the overwhelming majority of prison inmates, they’re sitting there for five years. Basically their needs for either mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment and I know that’s not what we’re talking about today, but educational programming, they’re not being met. So the only way we’re going to meet those needs is through technology, hopefully supplemented by real, honest to God teachers, trained teachers. But again, the premise of the program, and tell me if I’m wrong, is that if they’re not going to get it through technology in all likelihood they’re not going to get educational programs at all.

Steve Steurer:  That’s correct. That’s correct. And if I had a choice, if somebody said you can’t bring the teachers in but you can bring technologies in, I’d be the first person to carry the first computer in and help wire a place up, but then I’d start fighting for teachers that are technologically astute to be part of that. But we need to get technology in there and a lot of staff can be helpful with that. They don’t have to necessarily be teaching staff to have some kind of an impact.

Len Sipes:  Tell me about the program in Ohio. You did a pilot program and now they’re expanding it?

Steve Steurer:  Well, you know, the whole thing is nobody wants to take a chance. We’re not going to bring in even tablets because inmates can get off there one way or the other and do gang communication which is probably the biggest fear. And they’ll be sitting there looking at pornographic sites, which is you know, political death for people trying to run a prison and somebody finds that out.

Len Sipes:  Sure.

Steve Steurer:  And so we got a project going in Ohio, where at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution last fall, with tablets from Union Supply, a company we’re working with, it’s a commissary company. They created a tablet that’s very secure. It can go to the Internet with Wi-Fi but it’s been locked down tight and blocked with the kind of software protections they have. Nobody’s been able; they’ve been using it as a media thing in many states. Nobody’s been able to get off that, nobody’s been caught on the Internet. So we turned into a classroom situation. Ashland University provides post secondary education for years in Ohio prisons, including Lake Erie. We issued twenty tablets from Union, put on college level courses, course in first semester with full credit entry level collage courses. The fellows had to qualify to be in these courses, so they met all the criteria.

The course was loaded onto an angel, which is like a blackboard program, online program, and they were put on tablets. The tablet also has a keyboard that you can plug and play so they can type rather than just picking away on the screen of the tablet. It has Microsoft word in it so they can write papers and save them. And twenty students started that course, eighteen finished it successfully, and there was not one tablet that was abused. They came out without any problem being broken or cracked on. Nobody, the correctional officers could open those tablets at any time, and they did to look and see what these guys were doing inside. Nobody attempted to mess with these tablets to create something different, to get out on the Internet. It was a total clean operation.

The Corrections Corporation of America has now signed off on these tablets for use in their facilities and they’re looking to do it in other places. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, which work with them, and owns, they co-manage that facility, has okayed tablets in Ohio for other uses. So the Ohio Central School System which is the school system by law, which operates the Prison Education Program in the state prisons, has now ordered and finalized a purchase for three hundred and fifty tablets to be deployed in various situations in the adult prisons over the next year and we’re working with them on that.

Len Sipes:  I’ll tell you I had a conversation and I’m not going to identify the person, and he said, here’s his vision; let’s just take the state of Richmond for an example, that you have somebody in the state of Richmond, somebody in the city of Richmond, doing classrooms, and there are twenty, thirty, forty classrooms going on at the same time, and that every person who wants to participate in the state of Virginia, that these programs are automatically going out to these individual inmates. Many of them are live instruction. In some cases the hope is that you can take questions, that you can ask questions back and forth between the teachers and the students spread throughout every prison in the state of Virginia.

And then that person said, “Well, Leonard, you know, if we can do that for any particular state, we can do it for every state in the United States. We can do it for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. We can constantly pump out again, basic education, 8th grade certificates, GED, reading programs, collegiate programs, vocational training, and we can also put on programs dealing with mental health and substance abuse. We can also have families talk to the individual inmates.” He saw it as a revolution in terms of correctional education. Is his thought just pie in the sky or is this something that actually can happen?

Steve Steurer:  It has happened in bits and pieces everywhere, and it will, and I’m hoping that we can make it happen, all those pieces together in lots of places. I mean you do have inmates now writing email. It goes through a secure server out to the family and back. And it’s the same thing like writing letters. The staff would sort of look at the letters in the mail coming in and out you know, and the same thing is now on email. That’s been done, that’s been done for a good number of years now. In the United States it’s happening, it’s happened in Europe quite a bit. We have now shown that you can use tablets safely, if you want to get it on wifi. We have had courses in various places going out on the Internet and teachers at the university nearby or something connected up, but it’s only happened in a few places and it’s usually more of a less a secure place.

But you know, we did this WebEx in California last night. We had fifteen inmates in the class in the middle of the Ironwood Correctional Facility in California. There was a correctional officer in the room, Captain Roe, who is very tech oriented. He was running the WebEx on one end and I was on the other end running our talk with the participants, we had three hundred people in a room we had teachers of the year. We were talking back and forth. We were applauding each other. We were asking questions of each other. You know, we could’ve run a video that everybody could see for some instructional purpose if we had wanted to. We could’ve provided paper on each end to do some subsequent work afterwards. We could’ve, you know, this could be done, it has been done, it’s being done in that one prison in California. In fact, that is being considered now in some of the other places because we’re doing it. It’s very secure and you know, you can go and find little bits and pieces of this stuff happening everywhere. It’s possible. It’s secure. And the enthusiasm of the students when they get involved with this stuff is terrific.

Len Sipes:  We’re almost halfway through the program. I might as well reintroduce you now, Steve. Steve Steurer, he is the executive director of the Correctional Education Association. www.ceanational.org. The program today is about expanding correctional education through technology. It’s piggy backing on the conference that Steve just had over the course of the last couple of days in Arlington, Virginia, right outside of Washington DC. It’s also piggy backing on a rather substantial piece of research; “How Effective is Correctional Education and Where Do We Go to From Here?” by Lois Davis and I did interview Lois on another program and I’ll put the link to her program in the show notes as well as everything else we’re talking about. Steve, you had representatives from the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice at this conference, correct?

Steve Steurer:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  And what was their take on all this?

Steve Steurer:  Well, the US Department of Education has been terrific in the last several years. And so we had the Deputy Secretary Johan Uvin, who is in charge of what is Career and Vocational Education, they call it OCTAE now. It used to be called OVAE. And he was there and he discussed with Gerri Fiala, the Assistant Secretary of Department of Labor, issues of workforce preparation, and services that are available through the Federal Departments and some of the things that they’re supporting with some upcoming small amounts of competitive funds. And then we had, the next day we had an assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who is in charge of the Second Chance grants and lots of other areas, BJA, Dennis works for her, and Solomon works with her, people that you and I know very well; and she was talking about particularly focusing on juvenile issues, juvenile justice issues and so that they were sharing some efforts they’re doing, some things they want us to be involved with and so the audience received us very well. We’ve never had that level of Federal participation in our conferences so that is very optimistic to me that we’re getting the message out and people are listening at a level where hopefully they can do something where it will affect policy.

Len Sipes:  But this concept has been kicked around for years in Washington DC. The sense is that okay, the states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons do not have the money; it’s not that they don’t want to do it, they just don’t have the money for the expansion of correctional education. We’re talking about over two million adults incarcerated in US prisons every year, with seven hundred thousand leaving Federal and State Prisons every year. We’re talking about a 50% rate of recidivism in terms of re-incarceration. We’re talking about the possibility that if Lois’ research is correct in terms of the effectiveness of correctional education and where do we go to from here, if we can impact the rate of return by 10, 15, 20%, through educational programs, or through contacts with the community, contacts with employers, contacts with family, again all the different programs we’re talking about, if we can have a 10 to 20% reduction in recidivism, it will substantially remake the Criminal Justice System, it will reduce the crime rate in this country substantially and it will reduce the burden on tax payers by billions of dollars. So this seems like an obvious win-win situation.

Steve Steurer:  Well it does and the problem I run into however is you can now convince most politicians, you know  they can be skeptical, “Well I studied via the prestigious RAND corporation that summarizes all the studies that have been done for years”, people will still doubt that but most people will say, “Okay, that’s great. It’s not the priority right now because we’ve got too much stuff going on in our public schools here and our colleges and students in the free world are just being burdened with tuition, why should they stick the money over here?” So that’s what we’re fighting now. We’ve won the battle for the most part, at least with people who are in the know like you and others who read and discuss this issue. We’ve won the battle that education and drug programs and such can reduce recidivism and help public safety, help drop the crime rate, etc.

It’s the priority now with the country in such a bad budget situation and tight dollars, to shift money over there. So technology can help us here because we can do a lot more, can reach a lot more with the same amount of dollars for technology than we’d have to spend on hiring a person to teach and only reaching so many people. So this is very exciting. We have another example here. I invite you to come, nearby here to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, I’m running this little project with Rob Green, the Warden, and Art Wallenstein the Director of Corrections. We have thirty tablets.

Len Sipes:  For Montgomery County. Yes.

Steve Steurer:  For Montgomery County. I’m at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility up in Boyds. Teachers are using the tablets, the students are being taught how to use the tablets in the class, taking them back to the cells, bringing work back, and the correctional officers helped me set it up. I didn’t go in with the teachers, I went in and talked to the officers. Well the officers were so enthused about it, that instead of having me come in and load software, Officer Powell was in charge of security, he said, “Teach me how to do it, I’ll do it. I got kids and they’re doing stuff at home and I can help this, I think it’s a good thing for these guys and gals.” And it was a co-ed class, we had men and women there, and it’s working out very well so they’re gonna get some more tablets.

Len Sipes:  But you know… go ahead, please.

Steve Steurer:  And this is a key thing for me. All of a sudden people around the county are saying, “Well, what are you doing with those tablets? Now they’re looking at them. But, you know, I think this is, a piece of this is getting correctional officials to feel secure enough to make these leaps and use technology, especially when one of their peers they respect like Rob Green or Art Wallenstein are doing it. They’ll take a look at it. We’re beginning to crack that with the Corrections Corporations of Americans saying, “We’ll buy these tablets now.” The Ohio Department of Corrections, Rehab and Corrections led by Gary Mohr, Secretary Gary Mohr. They’re buying them. They’re talking to their peers at the American Correctional Association Conference and showing off. Gary Mohr was playing with a tablet at the last ACA meeting. “Oh I hadn’t seen ‘em! Oh this is great!” And he’s showing the next guy at our table who might’ve been running New Jersey. So it’s word of mouth. It’s the security that you’re friends are doing it, your colleagues, that’s what’s gonna do this. I mean that’s what I’m hoping’s gonna do it and that’s my belief and that’s why I try to meet with all the folks and talk with them and get the word out.

Len Sipes:  Well everybody’s excited about this Steve, everybody, but I just want you to know that nobody here at my agency, the Court Services of Offenders Supervision Agency here at Washington DC, we just did a computer network, a virtual network to twenty Federal Prisons yesterday, where we spent the entire day bringing in people from Washington DC, instructing inmates from Washington DC at these various Federal Prisons, plus other inmates as to what their resources are in DC when they come home, what they can expect, what they should take advantage of, how do they get their GED, how do they get their plumbing certificate, how they take advantage of collegiate programs, where do they go to get their identifications, what are the roles of supervision. I mean we’re doing that now. We have our own television network of prisons throughout the United States. So this technology is possible, this technology is here now.

Steve Steurer:  Right, it is, and it’s a matter of letting it go deeper into the prisons, where it’s not just up on the correctional officers’ desk down at the end of the hall, and maybe on the teachers’ desk, but it’s in the classroom and you got a computer set up, and then you got a land going, but it can go out, be switched on and go out to the centers, into certain sites where there are a lot of resources available. And it’s a cost factor that people have to have money to do that. Montgomery County is better off than lots of counties and so they’re able to play around with this. They’ve got the community collage coming in with another tablet. I’m gonna have two tablets in the school. Technically, the school is run by the Correctional Education Association by the way, the Montgomery County brought us in seven years ago, when they were having budget problems and so they actually work for us.

And I go there. And so I wanna keep my hands on in this business. And so you know, it’s happening and we can get out there with it but we’ve gotta get the word out to more people and what I’d like to make a comment on real quick about your television – giving these inmates all this information [INDISCERNIBLE 00:23:40] hookups, remote hookups, and television and all that, that’s terrific and that’s been done for a long time. What we need to do on the other end of that, with the inmates, is to have tablets and things in their hands, or computers in their hands that are secure. Where they can go, start playing around with this. Teaching these guys how to use these things other than for phone calls and text messages, is absolutely necessary. You have to make people computer literate.

Len Sipes:  But the hope and dream of all of this is at your time, at your leisure, so the person can learn, go through a learning to read program from ten o clock to twelve o clock and then pick it back up again at three o clock to four o clock, and then pick it back up again at seven o clock to eight o clock, or it can be live instruction. I mean the possibilities here are endless.

Steve Steurer:  Yeah, and that’s what happens in Montgomery County. They don’t have enough tablets, ‘cause they have thirty, so the other students want them now. So these thirty people go back and they’re working in their cell. They can’t take it out in common areas, so they have to be, so it doesn’t get passed around like a toy or something; and they’re wanting to do this. They’re sitting in their cell, working on stuff, bringing it back the next day. I had one woman drop one of the tablets. She thought she broke it. She was so upset. I mean, can you imagine if we could’ve taped this, this woman comes back from her cell, she’s in jail for who knows what, and then she’s about ready to cry. She says “I dropped my tablet and I was doing my schoolwork,” and it turns out the tablet was not damaged and I guess she was probably afraid she was gonna have to pay for it too which we weren’t gonna charge her but everything’s fine. She’s happy. I mean they guard those, you know, when you give them the opportunity to start, showing them what to do, they get enthusiastic and then want more. You know, that’s what the story of good education is.

Len Sipes:  Well the enthusiasm, I think, is running across the board from anywhere from the inmate population to Washington DC to state capitals because I think some people will suggest that things are changing in terms of prison education, in terms of remote education within correctional facilities, because states are saying, “We’ve got to bring down our rates of recidivism because we can no longer afford the billions of dollars that we’ve been throwing into mainstream prisons.” So I think across the board whether it’s politically, I don’t care what state you’re in, every governor has told every correctional commissioner that they’ve got to do something to lower the recidivism rate because they can no longer afford to keep putting the same amount of money into their prison systems as they have within the last twenty or thirty years. So I think you, we may find ourselves surprised as to how well this will be accepted in the next five, ten years.

Steve Steurer:  Well I hope so and I really think in our business it’s a matter of peers convincing peers and then if they get all enthusiastic and they go to deal with the politicians and they’re well respected in their work, they can convince the politicians that they don’t have to defend why they gave a couple bucks for a piece of computer equipment to a prison and the public schools you know, some of them need some more stuff. So you know, we’ve got an attitude in this country to break through. I’m very confident correctional officials wanted to do more and do better. I think that they’re fighting their battles trying to convince the public, and trying to protect their jobs you know, sometimes because this is not a popular thing to talk about. So, we have to somehow turn the public mind around on this to accept this that we have to actually educate the people that we throw behind bars or they’re gonna come out and do the same thing or worse, and we can do this and you’re gonna have to be a little bit more liberal on your attitude about whether they should have some special thing like a laptop they’re working on or a computer or whatever, a pad. You know, so we’ve got a battle to do here.

Len Sipes:  I’ve talked to a lot of wardens, and I’ve walked through a lot of prisons and a lot of jails in my career and I’ve yet to find a warden that was not enthusiastic about correctional education because he or she will suggest that it keeps the institution safe, that inmates that are gainfully employed in educational or vocational programs throughout the course of the day, that makes for a happy, safe and sane prison. It’s the prisons that don’t have these things that become dangerous places. I would tend to believe that you would agree with me on that.

Steve Steurer:  I would agree with you on that. I think there are a lot of people who where we’ve started programs that that’s their main motivation; the wardens and you know, they wanna keep the place secure, they don’t want a lot of trouble. They don’t want guys fighting with each other and they like the inmates to be halfway content with the situation they’re in and then it’s easier to run the place and get something done. But I think there are a good number of these people who originally come from program areas themselves and up to the leadership as the warden or whatever, that also see it beyond that as a really good thing for the community, for people that can change, that they’re optimistic that some of these, fifty 50% of people don’t come back, not all of them have changed but at least you know, they’re not getting arrested. Hopefully not committing crimes but 50% are coming back, if we could drop that so it’s 75% don’t come back, I mean that’s going to require an investment. [OVERLAY]

Len Sipes:  And if you could go, if you could change the recidivism rate from 50% to 25%, that entity would win the Nobel Prize.

Steve Steurer:  Oh, it would.

Len Sipes:  It would save the state billions of dollars, save a lot of people from being victimized and it would be a win-win for everybody.

Steve Steurer:  Yeah, and I don’t know what the time limit is here.

Len Sipes:  Very quick Steve, we’re running out of time.

Steve Steurer:  We ought to take a look at what some of the other countries are doing, like Germany, and their attitude about what programs, what the program priority is behind bars. I mean those Americans that go and visit abroad say, “You know, we have a whole different political attitude” and I don’t know how we can change that but you know, lots of other countries, particularly in western Europe think about this stuff in a much different way than we do.

Len Sipes:  All right, Steve Steurer, is my guest today, Executive Director of the Correctional Educational Association www.ceanational.org. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Cyber Safety-National Organization for Victim Assistance-DC Public Safety

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

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/06/cyber-safety-national-organization-for-victim-assistance-dc-public-safety/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphone is Will Marling. He is the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance. www.trynova.org. www.trynova.org. Will, welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Will Marling: Len, thank you. It’s always great to be with you.

Len Sipes: Well, the show today is on cyber safety. We’ve done a variety of shows on cyber safety but two things first. What is the National Organization for Victim Assistance? I’ve been working with NOVA for well over three decades. So first of all, give me the overall view of what you have done in the past, and then I’m going to ask you why you got involved in cyber security.

Will Marling: Yeah, thanks. NOVA started in 1975. It came out of the Victims Rights and Services Movement, and it stands as the oldest National Victim Assistance Organization of its kind in the nation. So we’ve been involved in crime and crisis, and serving those harmed by those two issues. Of course criminal justice is our specific focus here, and dealing with criminal victimization and victim assistance, and so that really is the heart of what we’ve done. We work with victim advocates and training. We also of course want to educate political leaders and community leaders on policy issues related to the needs of victims. So that is our core, that is our history, and it remains as such even as we move into the cyber age.

Len Sipes: And the core has been garden-variety street crimes, rapes, robberies, burglaries, those sorts of things, violent crime. That’s been the principle point of NOVA, and NOVA acting as an advocacy organization for victims of crime, and anybody who hears this show can simply contact www.trynova.org and they will be assisted, correct?

Will Marling: That’s exactly right, yeah. They can go to our website. We try to have a healthy amount of information on there but we also have a toll-free victim assistance number – that’s 800-879-6682 – and for victims specifically, we would rather they just call us if they’re able to because email itself, you know, it’s not efficient when talking about the complexities of criminal victimization.

Len Sipes: I agree.

Will Marling: And it’s not secure, quite frankly, for especially people at risk, domestic violence victims and the like.

Len Sipes: I agree.

Will Marling: So that’s why we encourage that, you know, when they get to a safe place, to give us a call, and we’re happy to help them.

Len Sipes: We’ll give that number again — 800-879 –?

Will Marling: Yeah. 800-879-6682

Len Sipes: — 6682.

Will Marling: And that’s 800-trynova. 800-T-R-Y-N-O-V-A.

Len Sipes: Okay. Why did NOVA get involved in cyber security?

Will Marling: Cyber security, cyber safety, came on our radar really about three years ago, a little over three years ago, when we started taking calls and we were getting victim assistance calls in this arena. It started with kind of identity theft and some other things, and we were looking at this issue not really knowing how to help people directly, not knowing what to do with them specifically.  We had some idea but, you know, it’s a complex issue, and we moved into that arena and we started training up ourselves, our staff, and then training victim advocates out in the field. We go out and we provide training on victim assistance, cyber crime remediation techniques, and then we’ve moved into an education of consumers as well because we know that we need to get on the front end of this and not just deal with the back end of it because of the scale.

Len Sipes: Everybody has cell phones, everybody has computers, everybody has tablets, or a lot of people have a combination of those, and so these devices are not part and parcel to our lives, and when we use them, we place ourselves at risk.

Will Marling: We do. I want to keep it in perspective because I don’t want to create an unnecessary sense of fear. It’s awareness of risk just like anything we do but what people don’t realize is for us, we kind of principlize these things to help people get their head around them because it can get murky especially for people who aren’t tech-savvy or tech-focused but we are today, we are our data. You are your data, and that means that we have to think about ourselves as electronic bits. When we start thinking about it like that, then that kind of changes our perspective about how we protect ourselves in this arena with technology.

Len Sipes: Well, it’s extraordinarily complex because I consider myself as tech-savvy as the next person and yet it confuses me to no end, and I’ll give an example in a little while about how one of my websites – I can’t give it out doing this broadcast – but one of my personal websites was hacked and I had to go through a process of getting it unhacked, and it was a real pain in the tuckus. But before getting to that, before getting to a larger discussion on cyber security, I always am interested in NOVA’s take on the Constitutional amendment, a U.S. Constitutional amendment for victims of crime. There are a wide variety of state constitutions that have amendments for victims of crime, not all of them. I think the last time we discussed it, it was like 32, 33 states have state constitutional amendments, but there is a need for a United States Constitutional amendment for victims of crime. Can you give me a two-minute summation as to where we are regarding that?

Will Marling: Sure, and thanks for asking about that. It’s is an important issue for the nation. House Joint Resolution 40 was introduced into the House of Representatives during National Crime Victims Rights Week, the third week of April of this year, and House Joint Resolution 40 is a proposed Constitutional amendment for victims’ rights. So with the introduction of that amendment – or, I’m sorry, with that resolution – there was a hearing, and it’s kind of the basic I don’t want to say perfunctory but in a sense that’s where it has to start, and then it’s going to need to move from there. So we are currently seeking co-sponsors in the House of Representatives who would sign up to co-sponsor that and to build momentum. You know, we both live in the Washington, D.C., area, we work here, and so you kind of get a sense of this. Other people certainly who track would know this as well but it really is – there are over 10,000 bills that are introduced in any Congressional session, and so people think it might be the greatest but that doesn’t mean anybody even knows about it because there are so, so many bills that can be introduced. So what we’re trying to do is educate our Congressional leaders on the bill that is as a resolution, and then have them sign on as co-sponsors so that we can build momentum and move it forward.

Len Sipes: Okay, so it’s starting in the House.

Will Marling: It’s starting in the House, that’s right.

Len Sipes: And I would imagine if there’s any non-partisan issue out there, it’s going to be protection of victims of crime.

Will Marling: It’s a totally bi-partisan issue if you’re talking politics. For the rest of us who aren’t representatives, it’s a non-partisan issue, and it touches every aspect of society. A simple primer on this is if you get accused of a crime in this country, you could have up to 23 protections that you could seek as rights for justice of your case. If you’re the victim of that very same crime, under the Constitution, the United States Constitution, you have no rights and yet you’ll be drawn into that system most likely as a witness or trying to track it in the justice process because of yourself or your loved one who was harmed, and so we believe that it is clearly appropriate to address this from a Constitutional level.

Len Sipes: And something that would apply to the federal criminal justice system but in a sort of a de facto way would eventually apply to all the rest of the states that do not have constitutional amendments, or their constitutional amendments are not as strong as a U.S. Constitutional amendment.

Will Marling: That’s right. Yeah, that’s exactly right, and I would add one key area is the military because the military, you know, sexual assault is a big issue.

Len Sipes: A huge issue.

Will Marling: It’s being discussed right now and it’s very important that we should be discussing it but most people don’t understand that specific to this issue under the Military Code of Justice that there are not victims’ rights as such, so this would afford a very important population that we all respect —

Len Sipes: A very good point.

Will Marling: Yeah, and they would fall under that category as well.

Len Sipes: That’s a very good point.

Will Marling: So it touches every American.

Len Sipes: And I thank you for that segue. Okay, let’s get back to cyber safety. Somewhere along the line, I do want to do an update, an entire show on the Constitutional amendment for victims’ rights because I think it’s so extraordinarily important, but back to cyber safety. Again, I go back to what I said before – all of us are electronically connected. Our grandparents are now on Facebook, they have computers, they have cell phones, they have smart phones.  The last data that I saw, that smart phones now exceed feature phones or regular phones, and I think now 60% of all phones in the United States are smart phones. They are the equivalent of the computer sitting on my desk just a couple years ago. They are that powerful. So now we have implications, we have real implications in terms of our day-to-day lives as to the devices that we have, and it strikes me that as we go through a 20-year decline in crime in terms of the crimes reported to law enforcement and as reported by the FBI and the National Crime Survey done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice, basically if you take a look at the last 20 years, there’s been an overall decline in crime. I know it’s blipped up slightly this year in terms of FBI data but while that’s been going down, cyber crime has been going up, and I’m not quite sure that anybody has any real idea as to how much it’s increased over the course of the last 5, 10 years.

Will Marling: Yeah. It’s a difficult statistic to track specifically because it’s not tracked. It’s not part of uniform crime reporting unless it falls under a category that is already there. So if it’s, you know, some kind of bank fraud and then attached to it is the use of a cyber tool, then that could be part of it, but in terms of good, consistent data, we know we have to extrapolate from a lot of different sources, and there are good sources but they’re showing that it’s a huge problem, and the FBI would affirm that.

Len Sipes: Well, I think the FBI and everybody else who’s been measuring it would affirm it. Okay, so on a personal note, I have a website, and I can’t give out the website address because I can’t mix personal with federal, but it received malware. I had to clean it up. I had to have somebody go in and be sure that it was cleaned up, and that cost me more than a little bit of money, and now it’s clean and up-and-running, and I won’t get into the details of that but I was hacked. My website was hacked. They had malicious malware installed on the site, and it was brought to my attention, and like I said, I had to go through more than just a couple of dollars to get it cleaned up. So, I mean, this happens to us all! I have this conversation with my wife about electronic banking. I can’t talk about the specifics and I shouldn’t be talking about the specifics – I’ll give out one, Google Wallet – but all the different internet providers have a version of Google Wallet so I’m just not promoting them, whereby you can take care of all of your monetary transactions from your smart phone, from your computer, from your tablet. Banks have them as well.  And I’m always concerned, very concerned, about having my entire financial history either hacked by somebody because I or my wife uses a WiFi shared by lots of other people and they can easily get into our data and they can easily get into our pass codes, or we would lose the phone, or lose the tablet, or somebody would break into our house and steal the computer. They just don’t have our photos, they just don’t have our documents, they have our financial history.

Will Marling: That’s right, and you know one of the principles is if it’s convenient for you in terms of use, it’s probably convenient for a perpetrator to access, and we have to think differently about this. For instance, we encourage people with this principle: if it has a lock, use it. Use it. 33% – and it varies depending on who the population is – but cell phones, smart phones, have a lock-screen on them, and 30% to 33% of people don’t actually use that.

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, 33% don’t use it or do use it?

Will Marling: Don’t – don’t use it.

Len Sipes: Oh, I thought the majority didn’t use the locks.

Will Marling: Well, people are getting smarter but that’s still 1 out of 3 just on that issue so that tells you that just from something so basic as locking our phone. Now when we think about all of our physical keys, Len, I mean, do you have one key that unlocks your office, your car, your house, your bank?

Len Sipes: Nope. Nope.

Will Marling: No! We have multiple keys. Why? – Because we want to make it a little more complex than having a master key but what happens is – and this is kind of that password thing – password attitudes are, “Well, it’s a master key.” We use the password for everything, or we use the same email address as the identity, and we’ve just simply got to change that. Why do we do that? – Well, it’s convenient. Why do we need to change it? – We need to create a little bit of inconvenience for ourselves, yes, but more so for a potential perpetrator.

Len Sipes: The bottom line is that we’re making it ridiculously easy for people to rip us off.

Will Marling: That’s it! That’s it.

Len Sipes: By weak passwords, by not locking our phones, by not locking our tablets, by having, again, weak passwords in terms of our computers.

Will Marling: That’s right, and so it really is changing our thinking. I believe we can do that because once we realize that it doesn’t have to be always this complex and always this inconvenient, but sometimes it’s just changing our behavior slightly like, you know, I quickly now unlock my phone. It automatically locks after a minute. I can quickly unlock it. Is it an inconvenience? – Well, only slightly because I don’t think anything about it now. It’s rote muscle memory, and so boom, I unlock it.  We had a phone that was lost by actually the repair company that was fixing it, and that’s a completely separate irritating story. It’s my teenage son’s phone that we had repaired and they lost it, and you know it was interesting that his reaction to that, he immediately got the implications of somebody having his phone. He was concerned that they would put information on his, you know, Instagram and social networking information and this kind of thing. I mean, he was far more concerned about that threat to his personal information as he was to the actual device. I, of course, was thinking about both because these devices, you know, can cost us some money.  But there is this emotional concern, and it’s an understandable one, and when we get that as a victim assistance organization, we get that this stuff creates trauma for people and that’s why we’re always very validating. – And in our world today, quite honestly, sometimes when people hear about a cyber crime, they call it a white-collar crime or a paper crime as if it’s less harmful, and quite frankly we’ve dealt with victims of these things that their lives have been absolutely destroyed.

Len Sipes: Yeah, and that’s a big part of it that we’re not recognizing.

Will Marling: That’s right.

Len Sipes: But let me re-introduce you, Will. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re halfway through the program, Will Marling, the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance – www.trynova. org. – T-R-Y-N-O-V-A.org. www.trynova.org. 800-879-6682. 800-879-6682 for the National Association for Victim Assistance.  We’re doing a show today on Cyber Safety but what we’re talking about is fraud. We’re talking about personal safety. We’re talking about child safety. We’re talking about computer safety, and when I say computer safety, your Smartphone is a computer. Your tablet is a computer. It’s just as powerful as the PC that sat on my desk just a couple of years ago. So we’re talking about a brand new day and age and, you know, when we are talking about the old issues, Will, years ago regarding the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the solutions would be ridiculously simple. The most burglaries happened through unlocked doors and unlocked windows. When they used forced entry, the locks were inadequate or the doors were inadequate. So it was close your doors, close your windows, put on decent locks, take the key with you from car because a large percentage of car thefts involved keys in the vehicle.  So there were very, very, very simple types of explanations that helped you stay safe. There were simple explanations in terms of violent crime, that most rapes happened, the perpetrator knew you, you knew the perpetrator, and often times they happened at residential settings which means the victim often times willingly went into the house of somebody else or invited somebody into their house so the point was don’t do those sort of things unless you absolutely know and trust the person.  Does it become that simple in terms of cyber security? I know lock your computer, put on a strong password or pass code – those are the simple steps that people can take that really do help protect them from cyber security. Are there others?

Will Marling: Well, I would affirm what you’re saying that we can start with the basics and that is important. The unique dimension of the cyber world, of course, is that we can be attacked by somebody who lives 10,000 miles away while we’re sleeping. It happens overnight, just like you were describing with your website. So yes, it starts with that. More sophisticated criminal activity can result in sophisticated harm for victims just like with actually some violent crimes and other physical crimes. One thing I want to affirm in the process here is we separate out, like cyber crime is its own thing, and it’s whatever we want to say to the mystery of it, you know. We see the outcome. People think it’s just about lost money. The reality is that cyber crime is also used as a tool to create harm in other ways including violent crime. I talked with a woman who, as a professional victim advocate, she informed me that somebody had assumed her identity on Facebook and built a relationship with a man, and he came to her house and sexually assaulted her.

Len Sipes: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

Will Marling: Yeah, so there’s an identity theft, there’s a Facebook engagement, and then there’s a sexual assault, and she was telling me this, and I’m a seasoned professional like you, and I was working hard to keep my jaw up. Having thought that I had heard everything, this was standing in front of me. So there are risks there. I’m not trying to raise an alarm as if this is happening to everybody but it does happen, and so let’s start with the basics. Let’s, if it has a lock on our device, use it because this is the one day that we get out of the car and we drop the phone, and the wrong person picks it up, you know.

Len Sipes: Okay, we have an issue with personal information given out on Facebook, given out on other social media sites. I’m told by some pretty knowledgeable people that they no longer run algorithms to figure out your pass codes. Your pass codes can easily be figured out by what you place on your Facebook page and other social media sites. Sometimes we simply give up too much information on our social media sites. The best example of that is, “Bye, everybody. We’re heading out to Cancun for the next two weeks. We’ll talk to you when we get back.” If that’s not an invitation to go and burglarize that house, I don’t know what is.

Will Marling: Well, that’s exactly right, and we’re putting information on, as you described, at too high a levels, and people don’t realize what personal information means. Since perpetrators many times know that people use their pet’s name as a password, for instance, when you put your pet’s name on your Facebook page or your social networking site, you’re giving them that much more. There are algorithms as well but we also address the low-hanging fruit.  Since perpetrators know that if they hack an account – let’s say they hack a database of emails and they get passwords – they will find out where else you might have accounts and they’ll start with using that same information because a good percentage of people do that. That’s why we say, you know, not the same lock. Use a different pass code. And a simple tip, if I could give that since we’re talking about this?

Len Sipes: Please.

Will Marling: You can change your password for every account. You just need to use the right code in your own thinking. For instance, if you create a 10-number/symbol core password, and maybe it’s the first letters of your kids’ names and dates of birth in there all mixed up but you’ve memorized that, that becomes your core, and then you change the front and the back as it’s associated with a new account.  Just to be simple here by illustration, let’s say you have a Gmail account, so you can start with capital G on your password, your core of 10, and then at the end capital L. So you know you always have the core, but in every account you go to, you know that then if it’s a Yahoo, it starts with a capital Y and then the last word is capital – Yahoo – O. So you never actually have to remember anything more than your core because your account triggers, “Okay, I always do this with every new account.” So every password is different but every password is similar. You see how that works?

Len Sipes: Two-factor identification was introduced by Google and it really is wonderful. – And I’m not going to try to explain two-factor identification beyond the fact that once you’ve entered into two-factor identification, and they send you that code through your phone and you plug it in, it reads the cookies of your site so it doesn’t ask it for you again but so that means every time somebody comes into your Google accounts or your email or anything else, if you have Gmail, then that person not only needs a password, they need two.

Will Marling: Yeah.

Len Sipes: And Twitter and other organizations are starting to introduce two-factor identification.

Will Marling: Yep, and two-factor identification of course can be helpful. In the meantime, we’re recommending in dealing with this that people change, they have a different password for every account, and of course that’s when this discussion is, “Oh, I’ll never remember,” and hence the tip I’m giving – figure out the pattern that you want to use. The thing is a long password will be hacked eventually if somebody wants to camp on it or run a high-powered device to figure out what the password is but nobody’s going to bother because there’s so much low-hanging fruit with password as P-A-S-S-W-O-R-D and that kind of thing that, you know, people aren’t bothering.  So we tell people, “Well, raise your fruit. Just do even simple things to make yourself a little less obvious, a little less vulnerable.” You know, there are certain places in town that, you know, I wouldn’t go there at 2 o’clock in the morning, there are no street lights available, I don’t feel safe there. You know, you’d make a choice. And so it’s the similar parallel – let’s just make some choices to change our patterns.

Len Sipes: Well, in terms of the garden-variety of crime that we dealt with previously in terms of National Organization for Victim Assistance, it was, you know, the simple steps can keep you safe. They can dramatically increase the odds of you not being victimized by crime. The same message applies in terms of cyber safety.

Will Marling: That’s right. We commonly tell people too, especially with this data era that we’re in – and it’s different with that because of, like I said, the connectedness that we have – but we tell people when asked for – so people say, “I want some information from you,” it’s okay to ask them, “What for? Why are you asking for that?”  I go to hotels, I travel a lot, I check in, I’ve made a reservation or I might have prepaid – I want them to verify my identity but I don’t want them to take my driver’s license and make a color photocopy and stick it in a little plastic file box on the front counter, and that’s what I’ve experienced. I tell them, “I won’t let you do that.” Why? Because you’ve just taken that, and I ask them, “Why do you need to do that?” “Well, it’s just what we do here.” “Well, not with me. I’m not giving you a color digital copy of my driver’s license for somebody to steal.”  And when you ask for, we need to move into an age, without being belligerent, but we need to say, “Okay, since this is my stuff,” like if somebody said, “I want to borrow your car,” we would say, “Well, what are you going to do with it? Are you insured? When are you going to return it to me?” Or in the digital age, “How are you going to delete or destroy it when you’re done with it?” – And we/re not asking those questions.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple minutes left. The other part of it is that when somebody contacts you, regardless of what organization they say they’re from – and we all get these emails – then to disregard that email. Don’t go back and use them as contact points. But if your bank sends you an email, just go to the number in terms of looking it up on the computer or calling directory assistance. Call them up and say, “Okay, I supposedly have this email from you. What’s up with this?” Do not use the information provided to do the transaction. Call the organization directly through another channel.

Will Marling: That’s right. Yeah, that’s the age-old phishing but quite frankly, it still works. We’re a National Victim Assistance Organization, Len, and we get people that try to scam on a regular basis.

Len Sipes: Yes. Yes. Yeah.

Will Marling: It’s interesting.

Len Sipes: Just do not willy-nilly give out information just because somebody is asking for it.

Will Marling: That’s exactly right. Ask, “Okay, what do you want it for?” –Because we need to actually verify who’s on the other end of just a phone or an email. There are ways to trace emails, by the way. We can’t address that here but mostly, you know, if people are asking for something, they don’t really need to have it or they wouldn’t be asking, actually.

Len Sipes: Yeah. Well, that’s true but the weird part about it is the fact that I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over four decades. I am as cynical as a cynic could possibly be after 40 years in the criminal justice system and yet I was three-quarters of the way through filling out a form and realizing it was fraudulent, and I was just, “Oh, my God, what am doing? Am I an idiot?” So if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.

Will Marling: Yeah. Well for one, Len, I’ve known you for a few years now, and you are not a cynical guy. You’re skeptical.

Len Sipes: Okay, skeptical, skeptical.

Will Marling: There’s a difference because you have that hopeful spirit that we can get stuff done, which is why you have me on, which I appreciate. But, you know, the skepticism is a bit of what we need. There is nothing wrong with being a bit skeptical especially with strangers, unknown email, blank cold calls. We’re allowed to ask questions so let’s do it.

Len Sipes: All right. Will Marling, Executive Director for the National Organization for Victim Assistance, you had the final word. www.trynova.org. www.T-R-Y-N-O-V-A.org. 800-879-6682. 800-879-6682.  What we talked about today is use good passwords. Lock your portable devices. Lock your computers. Do not provide personal information on social media sites. Change those passwords for every account that you have, and don’t comply with every request for information over the internet.

Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your calls, we appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Technology in Corrections-Corrections Technology Center of Excellence-DC Public Safety Radio

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

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

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2012/05/technology-in-corrections-corrections-technology-center-of-excellence-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Today’s show – do parole and probation caseloads have an impact on offender recidivism in crime. To discuss this topic, we have two principles. We have Sarah Cooke-Jalbert. She is an associate at Abt Associates. She is a sociologist and public policy analysis with research interest in Criminal Justice Program Evaluation, Michael Kane. The second guest is a Senior Associate with Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice. He’s been working in the Criminal Justice field for the past eight years. They wrote a really interesting piece of research on the fact that caseload size done right seems to reduce recidivism and when I say ‘recidivism,’ I remind most people that that indeed involves reduced crime. So let me, for the next 15 seconds, read the beginning of it and we’ll have an interview with Sarah and Michael.

“A Criminal Justice researcher has studied caseload size to determine whether smaller caseloads improve probation outcomes. With exceptions, the findings have been disappointing. Reduced probation officer caseloads have not reduced criminal recidivism for high-risk probationers and have increased revocation rates.

One explanation is that officers with reduced caseloads do not change their supervision practices when caseloads are reduced. This raised the question – would reduce caseloads improve supervision outcomes for medium to high-risk offenders in a probation agency that trains its officers to apply a balance of control and rehabilitative measures”

To Sarah and Michael, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Thank you.

Michael Kane:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Okay, that was a ridiculously long introduction, but in setting the stage, it’s really difficult, but Sarah, also give me a sense. You work for Abt Associates Abt. In my 42 years in the Criminal Justice system, Abt Associates always seems to have been there and producing some of the better known research throughout this country and throughout the criminological community. So tell me a little bit about Abt Associates.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Sure. We’re based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and we are probably one of the oldest public policy analysis companies and we have, as you mentioned, been doing a number of projects for the Department of Justice and various other government agencies. Mostly in the [INDISCERNIBLE] program evaluation. We also do global international technical assistance and evaluation for various governments and government agencies domestically.

Len Sipes:  This research is funded by the Office of Justice Programs of the US Department of Justice. Michaels Kane, give me a sense as to the Crime and Justice Institute at the Community Resources for Justice.

Michael Kane:  Sure, Community Resources for Justice is a nonprofit operating in Boston. Our larger organization also operates halfway houses, both federal and state, and homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Crime and Justice Institute is a division of CRJ and we work to improve the effectiveness of criminal justice systems nationwide. We provide nonpartisan consulting, policy analysis, evaluation services and technical assistance to improve public safety in a lot of jurisdictions working directly with corrections and community corrections agencies.

Len Sipes:  The website for Abt Associates – www.abtassociates.com. The website for the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice is www.cjinstitute.org. Alright, so both to Sarah and Michael, let’s begin talking about this. In the research that you did – again, funded by the Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice – it took a look at parole and probation or, in this case, rather probation caseload size and we said in the introduction that caseload size really does not seem to matter in terms of the research in the past. In fact, reducing caseload size, making it the number that the parole and probation officer or the probation officer in this case has to supervise and to assist, lowering that number in the past seemed to increase the rate of recidivism, but basically what you guys said was, “Well, if you guys lowered the ratio, if you made the caseload smaller, if you trained this parole and probation agent or probation agent in evidence-based practices, if you gave him the top skills, the top knowledge that we had today,” I wonder what would happen.  Am I summarizing the research correctly?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  I think that’s right. I think one of the reasons that the National Institute of Justice felt that this was important to revisit is that some of the best evaluations in Criminal Justice were done on supervision intensive probation. These were large, random assignment studies that produced some pretty irrefutable outcomes, but as you said, decreasing the caseload size for probationers who are supervised intensively did not seem to improve outcomes and, in fact, worsened outcomes in a lot of ways. The takeaway from that research was both that these were probationers, not in the traditional sense. These were people who were diverted from jails and prisons and put onto probation and supervised in the community very intensively, but also, there were a couple of exceptions to those core findings in a couple of agencies. They did combine the sorts of things that we associate today with evidence-based practices with these reduced caseloads and in those couple of places, they had improved outcomes. So there’s really a foundation for revisiting this now that evidence-based practices have become so widespread in probation agencies across the country.

Len Sipes: So it’s just not a matter of trail them and jail them. It’s just not a matter of enforcement. It has to be combined with services if that person has any chances at all of not going back to prison and in saying that, there were two jurisdictions that you studied out of the three where not only were there reductions. There were significant reductions in terms of the overall rate of recidivism. I think in the Oklahoma City area there was about a 30% reduction in recidivism. In Polk County, Iowa, in one case, was up to 40% in some categories. So that’s significant and that’s what immediately caught my eye and said that I wanted to interview Sarah and Michael today because , ordinarily, when you get successful outcomes for reentry programs, if you will, they generally range in the 10-15% range. These are significant – 30% for Oklahoma, 39% for some categories in Polk County. Those are significant reductions.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Correct and I want to just clarify one thing in that we’re talking about reduction in risk of recidivism, which is a fine point to make, but I think important because it’s a probabilistic kind of thing rather than an absolute these people stopped reoffending. So there’s a little bit of a difference and that’s due to the nature of the study design.

Michael Kane:  It’s not a 30% absolute reduction in recidivism, but compared to the control commission…

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  What it would have been otherwise.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael Kane:  It is a 30% reduction. Yeah, that’s important to point out.

Len Sipes:  Okay, but I mean do you…

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  You’re right. These are significant. You’re right.

Len Sipes:  That’s my question. My premise is considering the low percentage rates in so many other programs that I’ve encountered, this seems to be doing significantly better than previous reentry-related research programs. Am I right?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Yes, but I do want to qualify that a little bit because reentry programs are generally dealing with offenders who are coming out of jail and prison and because of that, are at higher risk for recidivism. We’re talking here about probationers who, at least for this particular offense or case, they have not been incarcerated.

Len Sipes:  Right, but you are talking about medium to high-risk probationers.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Correct, but probationers in general, overall, are a little bit lower risk than say parolees.

Len Sipes:  True, but it’s not unusual for them to have prior incarcerations in their backgrounds.

Michael Kane:  Right, the population don’t overlap.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Correct and higher risk probationers often do have a more extensive criminal history. So, yes, we are talking about who are people who are at high risk for recidivism, but not quite as high-risk as a parolee.

Len Sipes:  Michael Kane, we talk about evidence-based practices within the confines of this study. What are we talking about?

Michael Kane:  Sure, within the confines of this study, we’re talking about three major things. The things that we look for in the sites that we chose were sites that had implemented a third-generations risk and needs assessment and used that risk assessments to target based on risk.

Len Sipes:  Figure out who the offender is.

Michael Kane:  Right, figure out who the offender is and concentrate probation services on offenders that are medium and high-risk. The second thing we looked for were sites that do some kind of case planning based on need. The third-generations need assessments, they typically generate a list of criminogenic needs and these sites base case plan on what needs are determined by that. The third thing that we’re looking for is sites that train in and practice motivational enhancement techniques. In some cases, that might be like motivational interviewing. So those were the three things that we looked for in terms of [INDISCERNIBLE].

Len Sipes:  So it’s basically– they implemented a risk needs assessment. They figured out who this person truly was. They engaged a case management process based upon that risk and needs assessment, which is basically saying, “You’re low-risk. You really don’t need these services nearly as badly as somebody with a high score in terms of antisocial personality or violent tendencies. So we’re going to figure out who gets what based upon their scores in terms of the risk and needs instrument and training the officers there on how to motivate the people on their caseloads to do better.”

Michael Kane:  Right.

Len Sipes:  That’s the heart and soul of it.

Michael Kane:  Yeah and so I think it’s important to know that we’re not saying that that’s all evidence-based practices are or trying to condense them, but we had to make some decisions about what kind of things we were looking for in sites and those are the three things that really stood out to us. They’re also things that are easier as researchers to measure. We can see what the risk and need assessment that they’re doing is and we can see whether or not they target individuals based on their risk level and whether or not they target based on need. They can program evidence that they did the training around motivational enhancement techniques. So those are kind of things that we can confirm. There are plenty of other components of evidence-based practices that are more difficult to confirm.

Len Sipes:  Right, but the bottom line of this is that they went through all of this – the case management, the risk and needs assessment, the motivational interviewing – to get them involved in programs. You guys didn’t measure the programs. You measured those things that I mentioned, but all of this is predicated on getting them involved in the programs that were necessary even though you didn’t measure that part of it.

Michael Kane:  Right.

Len Sipes:  Because that part of it had some methodological difficulties.

Michael Kane:  Right.

Len Sipes:  Alright, what are we talking about in terms of caseload, Sarah? I mean if this whole discussion and research is predicated on reduced caseloads, what do we mean by reduced caseloads?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Well, I think we mean a couple of things. One is a relative measure. As you know, caseloads fluctuate throughout the country and so agencies have very high caseloads depending on their resource levels and some have more medium size caseloads. I would say almost nobody thinks that their caseloads are too low, but for Oklahoma City, when we introduced the reduce caseload and randomly assigned officers to either the reduced caseload or the regular caseload, during our study, their caseload was about 106 probationers per officer on the regular caseload and 54 on the reduced caseload.

Len Sipes:  Okay, basically on probation agent to 54 offenders.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Right, for the reduced caseload.

Len Sipes:  Okay and Polk County?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  In Polk County, it was a little more complicated to determine, but we’re looking at a little bit higher-risk offenders in Polk County and so we were looking at their intensive supervision programming and their caseload was roughly, over the study period, 30 probationers per officer.

Len Sipes:  Okay, about 30:1.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Yeah and about 50 in the comparison officers.

Len Sipes:  We should establish again for anybody listening who doesn’t have the context to understand the discussion in terms of caseload numbers, I have personally witnessed in the state of Maryland, which I was Director of Public Relations for the Maryland Department of Safety for 14 years, caseloads of 130:1. These are 130 real cases. If you counted the inactive cases, it was much higher than that. I’ve known jurisdictions throughout this country that have had 200 offenders on their caseloads. These are regular caseloads. They aren’t administrative caseloads or interstate compact caseloads, but regular caseloads exceeding 200 per parole and probation agent. So first of all, do we agree with my assessment as to the comparison numbers?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Yes.

Michael Kane:  Yeah, I mean I’ve heard 180. Yeah, I’ve heard all kinds of, what I consider to be, fairly high numbers. So, yes, I think that that’s a good range. It really just differs across jurisdictions.

Len Sipes:  It’s amazing as to how any parole and probation agent could ever possibly be effective with those numbers, but we’re halfway through the program. I’m going to reintroduce the two of you and then we’re going to get into – what I consider – the fun part of the program. It took me 15 minutes to set up an understanding of the program and now we’re going to get into the policy implications. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re talking to Sarah Cooke-Jalbert. She is an associate at Abt Associates. She is a sociologist and Public Policy Analysis with research interest in Criminal Justice program evaluation, www.abtassociates.com. Michael Kane is a Senior Associate with Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice, www.cjinsitute.org. Okay, Michael or Sarah, either one of you come in. So to the aid to the mayor, to the aid to the governor, to the aid to the congressional person, to the aid to the parole and probation assistant director, to the different people listening to this program right now, what are the principle policy takeaways from this research that if we lower caseloads and have them do the right thing, we can reduce the number of people coming back to the Criminal Justice system significantly and do I have that correct?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Yes and I want to repeat something that some of the many people of advisors for this project emphasized to me a number of times, which is you can’t just do one. You can’t just introduce these techniques associated with evidence-based practices and keep caseloads the same size because officers don’t have time, as you mentioned. They don’t have time to learn all of these new techniques and still supervise their active caseloads, but you also can’t just reduce caseloads without giving the officers the tools to really make changes and how they supervise probationers. So I think that one major takeaway is that it’s really important to do both and our study kind of highlights the importance of that. We can’t tell from our study which particular components of evidence-based practices that are the most cost-effective or the most beneficial, but what we can say is that this the context in which you should reduce caseloads in order to be most effective for recidivism and probationer outcomes in general.

Len Sipes:  Michael, do you have anything to add to that?

Michael Kane:  No, I mean I think Sarah has it right. We know that both of these things have to go along together. I think that that is really a key finding here. I think another thing that is maybe less associated with recidivism reduction is that from our discussions with officers that were on a reduced caseload size, they really did reflect that they felt they were better able to use the techniques that they learned, that those evidence-based practices that they have learned, they were able to spend more quality time with the offender and help them to explore their issues that they were really able to do a better job in terms of making referrals. Those things that it seems like probation and parole are turning towards, it just seems like in the cases we were able to speak with the officers that had the reduced caseload that they felt like that extra time really enabled them to employ the techniques that they learned.

Len Sipes:  Well, it does take time because I’ve seen both in Maryland and the nine years of being with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, which is a federal parole and probation agency here in Washington DC. When I was out with one of the – what we call – community supervision officers, what most jurisdictions call parole and probation agents, encountering a woman who basically she was thrown out of her place where she lived. It was violent. It was nasty. Knives were pulled and words were exchanged and she had to escape with her child. I mean the complexity that so many offenders bring to the parole and probation arena requires time. It just required time. If you’ve got somebody who is on their fifth positive for marijuana, yet they’re doing everything else okay, but yet they’re hanging out on the street corner. They’re being a little too loud, the fifth positive for marijuana, it takes time to intervene in that individual’s life and get them into the right treatment modality. These are time-consuming activities.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  They’re time-consuming and also things officers feel responsible for. In many cases, they are responsible in terms of job performance and in some cases they’re responsible in terms of liability for the people that they’re supervising and I think one of the important implications or sort of a finding is that in Oklahoma City, the officers who were on the reduced caseloads stayed in their jobs for the length of this study. The officers who had the double caseload, the regular caseload of 106 offenders, they left. They took other assignments. They left the agency. They got burned out pretty fast and they called us and told us that. They said, “Look, I’m really sorry to be leaving the study, but I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t feel like I can do my job anymore because there are too many people that I’m supervising.”

Len Sipes:  That applies to most parole and probation agents in the country. That’s my sense of it.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Exactly, exactly.

Len Sipes:  I’m talking about anywhere between 80% and 90%.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Right and this study does not cover what the overall retention rate of probation officers in local jurisdictions are, but I think you’ll find that their staff turnover is pretty high. At least, I know anecdotally it is and if you think about the costs associated with hiring new people, training new people to do what’s a pretty responsible job in a community, think of all the money you’ll save if your officers were happy and they stayed and they felt like they were being effective at their job. So I think it’s larger than just finding improved recidivism. I think it’s also a question of is the community safe because I have experienced officers who have a professional commitment that they feel that they can live up to.

Len Sipes:  If you’re talking 30% ballpark and another figure and I know it’s no really as simple as I’m making it out to be, but I’m just going to try to make it simple – 30% in Oklahoma in one category, 39% in Polk County. I mean you’re not talking about a lot of people not returning to the Criminal Justice system. You’re talking about a lot of people not going to jail. You’re talking about a lot of people not going back to prison. You’re talking about 700,000 individuals released from state and federal prisons every year. Now, if we could do 30-39% reduction of people not returning to the Criminal Justice system out of those 700,000, you’re talking about saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  That’s right and I think we all know that the level of incarceration in this country is unsustainable physically and that people are going to be released. The question is how well are they going to be supervised in the community post-release, but also how well are they going to be supervised in a community before they get to jail and prison. I think it’s a really important point to make that when people fail on probation and people recidivate while they’re on probation, they often are going into incarcerations whereas they were remaining in the community and everything. The potential, anyway, to be productive, to be employed, to really both contribute to the community and to improve their own lives and those opportunities are greatly diminished once people fail on probation and end up incarcerated.

Len Sipes:  Right. Is there a secret sauce, either one of you, in this in terms of your own guts and I know that the metrological community, the research community hates this question, but it’s what practitioners are interested in. it’s all those people I talked about – the aids to the mayors and governors. They’re sitting there and saying, “Okay, I’m listening to this.” What do you think, Sarah and Michael, is the secret sauce the key ingredient that really prompted reductions in recidivism beyond the fact of reduced caseloads? Is it getting them involved, figuring to who the person really is and getting the right person involved in the right treatment modality? I’ll start off with that.

Michael Kane:  I mean…can I take a stab at this?

Len Sipes:  Sure.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Sure, of course.

Michael Kane:  I think that it’s really the application of the risk and need principles, for me, that those individuals that are the highest risk based on an objective assessment –  in this case, the third-generation risk and need assessment – that those individuals receive more probation services than low-risk individuals and that we objectively assess what their needs are. One size fits all does not work and I think we know that in probation and parole. We can’t say that everyone should receive substance abuse treatment because while a lot of individuals may have substance abuse issues, that’s not the case for everyone. In some cases, we can be giving them services they don’t need, don’t reduce the recidivism rate and so I think the current climate economically in this country where in governmental budgets we’re making tough decisions, what we need to do is make smarter decisions about who we’re giving what. I think that that’s really at the core of implementing evidence-based practices in probation and parole agencies. We have to use the information that we have – in this case, risk and need assessment – and make decisions about resource allocation based on that so that we’re getting the most for our dollars. I think that’s relates directly to this caseload study because we know that if we supervise individuals on a lower caseload and use these techniques, we’re going to get better outcomes. So it is a tradeoff, certainly. There’s certainly a tradeoff in what we’re able to do with those lower-risk cases, but I think that’s really the takeaway for me.

Len Sipes:  I do want to be fair to the research and the listener community. There was another jurisdiction involved, another state involved, but they did not fully implement the evidence-based practices, so they didn’t have the reductions that you had in Oklahoma and Polk County, correct?

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Well, yeah and I think something important to note about that jurisdiction is that they, in fact, were one of the earliest adopters of evidence-based practices and they did a really good job when they implemented it in the 90s, but they had a series of fiscal crises and were not able to maintain the continuous feedback loop that’s necessary to keep programming like this going and operating well. In fact, during the period of time that we had data for the study, it didn’t appear that a lot of these elements of evidence-based practices were fully implemented, but afterwards, towards the end of the study, they kind of doubled-down on their efforts to do some training and to improve their programming. Who know? Today, those study results could be really different.

Len Sipes:  Could be dramatically different, right.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Right, it highlights the need to not just put something in place and say, “Okay, we’ve got this. We should be good.” It really needs to be a continued effort over a long period of time.

Len Sipes:  Got it. Okay, we have one minute left and the question to either one of you is evidence-based practices reduced caseloads do have a way of reducing crime, reducing people coming back into the Criminal Justice system. It’s unfortunate that a lot of states simply are so cash-strapped for money that they have a hard time doing what is, obviously, in everybody’s best interest.

Sarah Cooke-Jalbert:  Yeah, when you have incarceration, that’s a fixed cost. You need to maintain your prisons and your jails and probation is not such a fixed cost, so I think in my opinion – this isn’t a fact proven by the study – I think probation is a little bit easier to reduce money for than it is for, say, incarceration, but in a perfect world, I think policymakers could see that investing in probation really pays off when you compare those costs to the costs of incarceration.

Len Sipes:  Sarah, you have the final word. Our guests today have been Sarah Cooke-Jalbert. She, again, is an associate with Abt Associates. She is a sociologist and public policy analyst with research interest and Criminal Justice program evaluation – www.Abtassociates.com. Michael Kane is a Senior Associate with the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice. Again, that website there is www.cjinstitute.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. One again, we really appreciate all the interaction. We appreciate your emails, telephone calls. We appreciate the fact that you agree and disagree with some of the observations of our programs. We really like it when you come up with suggestions for new programs and I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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