Supervision and Treatment of Sex Offenders-DC Public Safety Television

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2013/03/supervision-and-treatment-of-sex-offenders-dc-public-safety-television/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders and there are few topics that gather more media and criminological interest than sex offenders. It’s our contention at my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, that we employ state-of-the-art strategies for the supervision of sex offenders. To discuss national standards on sex offenders, we are proud to have Scott Matson, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and also we have Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services. Again from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and to Scott and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Scott Matson: Well, thanks for having me.

Tom Williams: Thank you.

Len Sipes: It’s an important topic and a complicated topic, and people really are interested in this whole concept of sex offenders. Scott, the first question goes to you. Who are sex offenders?

Scott Matson: Well thanks, Len. That’s a good question. It’s a tough one too because what we know is that there isn’t a typical offender. They can come from any walk of life, all walks of life. They can be focused just on children. They can be focused on adults only. They can be focused on women. They can be focused on little girls, little boys. They could cross over as well. So to say that there’s one type of sex offender just isn’t quite accurate.

Len Sipes: But when you talk to somebody in the public, when you say “sex offender,” they immediately have a stereotype in their minds as to who that person is, and one of the ideas and one of the reasons for doing the show today is to get across the complexity of what we’re calling the sex offender and the difficulty in terms of supervising that person and treating that person.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and most people think of the sex offender as a stranger, somebody who might jump out of a bush to steal a child or rape a woman. We know that that’s just not what most sex offenders are. Most sex offenders are known to their victims. Most sex offenders commit their offenses within the context of a relationship, which again, makes it very easy for the sex offender to manipulate the victim in those contexts because they know their victims.

Len Sipes: That’s a key issue; they know their victims in the majority of cases. The majority of child sex offenders know their victim, the majority of victims know their offender, the majority of people say in say rape settings, sexual assault settings, it happens in their home or the home of the offender. So it’s not the stereotype of the woman cutting through the alley and getting raped, although that does happen. The bulk of it per data that just came out happens within a residential setting amongst somebody who they know.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and that makes supervision strategies and treatment strategies very important to tailor them to the type of offender that you know you have in your midst, the offender that’s on your caseload. Once they’re caught and convicted, then you know a little bit more about them but until they’re caught and convicted, you really don’t know who they are.

Len Sipes: And Tom, that’s one of the reasons why, when you do – you’re in charge of Supervision Services at Court Services and Offender Supervision, and we have 16,000 offenders on any given day, 25,000 offenders in any given year – on any given day there’s about 700, round it off, sex offenders that you’re in charge of supervising, and you start off with what, some sort of an analysis as to who that person is to get to the complexity issue that Scott just raised.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s very true, and this dovetailing with what Scott was mentioning, the sex offenders can come from any walk of life, so there isn’t one particular individual that somebody should be concerned about or one particular profile that someone could be concerned about. What the public really needs to understand is that they just have to have high-level vigilance with regards to who they have in their midst, whether it’s a child if you’re going to drop them off at the daycare or with the little league, and so that there’s certain standards that these organizations have to have with regards to checking on the backgrounds of folks in boy scouts and things like that, leaders. But the other things that really can help the public with regards to staying vigilant is there’s a sex offender registry that’s open to the public, that anyone can go online if they have access to a computer. They actually go and see, is this person that I’m involved in, is he really on the rolls of criminal justice, is he known to criminal justice. And in some of our outreach to public school systems, for an example, we also really encourage them to make sure that they do check the sex offender registry, certainly as a higher requirement in terms of checking the background of an individual, but that’s something that’s very quick that they can do, just go to the registry, run an application, and then check and see if the person’s listed.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to have you on the second half with Dr. Celena Gates to talk about the treatment, and again, the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. But Scott, we talked about the fact that we have 700. Here we’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of people under parole and probation supervision throughout the country currently, not the past but currently, and we’re about 200,000?

Scott Matson: That’s correct according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and there’s about over 700,000 people on sex offender registries?

Scott Matson: Somewhere around 720,000 that are registered in the U.S.

Len Sipes: So that’s an immense number of people.

Scott Matson: Yes.

Len Sipes: And we in the criminal justice system, we’re responsible for public safety number one, but that’s an immense task for both of us, so let me talk a little bit about that because Tom brought it up and I think the public wants to understand, what do we tell parents, what do we tell individuals, principally women? The vast majority of people who are victimized, sexually victimized, are women although men are sexually victimized as well but it’s 80% I think and higher women who are sexually abused, children who are sexually abused, so let’s start off with parents. What do we tell the parents about age-appropriate conversations, letting them know that they can always come to them and have a conversation about what happened to them?

Scott Matson: That’s right, and the thing you have to stress the most is for the parents to be involved in the children’s lives so they know who they’re talking to, so they know who they’re around all the time, they know who’s paying a lot of attention to them, and as you mentioned, age-appropriate conversations. I think it’s important to start early. I think a lot of advocates in this area, in the sexual assault prevention realm, will talk about starting as young as 4 or 5, and getting them to talk about this is part of a safety kinds of planning, and continuing that conversation as they get older and into their teens, and eventually into adulthood. – Ways of protecting themselves, families, it’s always a good idea to come up with a safety plan and what to do if something might happen to a child or youth in the house. There’s some really good resources out there too for this, and I’m not speaking of anything of the work I’ve done necessarily but there are lots of good advocacy organizations out there that have done really good work.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to put up the website.

Scott Matson: Yeah. I think you’re going to put up our website, which is smart.gov, and I would like to make a plug also for the National Sex Offender Public Website. Tom mentioned DC’s public website. There’s a National Sex Offender Public Website where you can search from one place all the registries throughout the entire country.

Len Sipes: Exactly, and we’ll put that website on the program throughout the program so people can have access to that. – But it’s principally age-appropriate conversations. The child must know that he or she can say anything to their parents because in some cases, a sex offender will commit the act and say that your parents will never love you again if you tell your parents this.

Scott Matson: That’s right. That’s a common theme in grooming behaviors with sex offenders, especially child molesters.

Tom Williams: I think the message should go a little bit further than just parents because a lot of times the child may not be in a position to actually talk to the parents so an adult, someone that they have trust with.

Len Sipes: Okay. Good point.

Tom Williams: It might be a minister in a church or a deacon in a church, or it could be a school teacher, or someone that they really feel close to that they can then relay that information to, a police officer for an example. A lot of police officers do a lot of outreach in school systems right now, so I think instead of saying parents, because certainly you want the child to go to the parent if possible but sometimes the child may not be in a position to feel comfortable about that and so any adult, any responsible adult, I should say, would qualify that, that they should be speaking.

Len Sipes: Good point, good point. And any adult that the child trusts.

Tom Williams: Right.

Len Sipes: In terms of older individuals, again, it’s whose home you go into. It’s who you let into your home. The vast majority of these per research just the other day were committed within residential settings, not necessarily the stereotype, although it does happen, like I said, the stereotype of walking through the back of the alley. It’s happening in homes so it is a matter of who you trust, is it not?

Scott Matson: Right. It’s again, who’s in your life, and most of those crimes are committed in the context of a relationship.

Len Sipes: So a person has to know who they’re willing to trust, and understanding that if you don’t trust that person, don’t let them into your house, don’t go into their home.

Scott Matson: Right.

Tom Williams: That’s a very good point, and that gives my message about vigilance. The parents or significant others really have to be vigilant with regards to who’s involved with that child or in a relationship they’d like to establish as well. I mean, the vigilance is the key thing that we have to be ensured, that we want the public to be understanding.

Len Sipes: Okay. The other part of the program that I wanted to set up beyond the complexity of what we call the sex offender is the sense of national standards. Now Scott, you and I were talking before the program that there are no national standards. The American Probation and Parole Association, National Institute of Corrections, other organizations have come out with recommendations, and in terms of what it is that we in Parole and Probations should be doing in terms of supervising sex offenders, can you give me a sense as to what some of those are?

Scott Matson: Sure. Yeah, as you mentioned, there aren’t any national standards but there are recommendations and there are some things that research does show to be a little more effective.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Scott Matson: I think it really starts with the idea of what we call risk needs and responsivity that is assessing the risk of the offender, the risk that they pose to reoffend and the harm they might pose, then assessing what the needs are of the offender, both what they need to help them stop the behavior and what we need to do to make sure that they don’t continue to commit it.

Len Sipes: So we have to assess and figure out who they are —

Scott Matson: — and then finally develop intervention strategies, supervision plans, treatment plans that address their needs and the risk.

Len Sipes: Based upon that analysis as to who they are.

Scott Matson: Who they are, exactly, so who, what, and who, what, and how I think is a good way to think of it.

Len Sipes: But there has to be treatment involved to some degree for those people who are amenable to treatment?

Scott Matson: That’s right. I think that what most of the research says is that treatment is effective overall with sex offenders. There are some kinds of offenders that might be “lower risk,” quote-unquote, that might not benefit as much from treatment as the higher-risk or moderate-risk offenders but treatment is an integral part of any supervision strategy, any reentry strategy for sex offenders.

Len Sipes: But I would imagine some of those recommendations are going to be a small caseload. I mean, some parole and probation agencies carry 150, 200 people per one parole and probation agent. In the District of Columbia we call them Community Supervision Officers, so the caseload’s got to be appropriate.

Scott Matson: Right, and a lot of the jurisdictions that use more specialized kinds of supervision tactics for sex offenders will have much lower caseload sizes so we’re talking 25-to-1 or 20-to-1, sometimes with a surveillance officer as well to check in on the offender off-hours, and usually this is all involved with the treatment provider closely at hand so they are understanding what those supervision strategies are so they’re in constant communication with the supervision officers.

Len Sipes: It has to be done as a team. Where it’s appropriate, there’s no separation between supervision and treatment. It has to run hand-in-hand.

Scott Matson: It really does. They have talk to each other, they have to really collaborate, and in some jurisdictions, a polygraph examiner is also involved.

Len Sipes: A polygraph examiner. Tom, now the question goes to you, we do all that. That’s one of the things that I want to make clear is that the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, every national standard that’s ever been promulgated, your unit already does that. And how do you think it applies to sex offenders?

Tom Williams: That’s true, and what we’ve done is actually looked at the research and then, as the series of meetings within the organization, determine what’s the best way that we can actually manage this group when they come out. But one other point that I would like to say is certainly it’s a responsibility of the Supervision Agency to help manage and control this population when they come out but also it begins within the correctional setting as well. If you look at the 1.5 million folks who are incarcerated, about 10% or maybe 150,000 of them have been diagnosed or classified as sex offenders within the institution.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Tom Williams: Well, when you look at the lack of resources, that many of the state and maybe the federal systems don’t have because of budget cuts, we know that what gets cut first is naturally treatment but I think the institutions try to do a very good job in trying to identify folks who actually need services and then try to start that process right there. So when a person really comes into the institution from intake or reception, that’s when the identification has to happen and that’s when the plan really should start there to help that person before he actually gets distributed.

Len Sipes: So it has to be holistic across the board from the correctional institution to parole and probation but oftentimes that doesn’t happen.

Scott Matson: No. In an ideal world, that’s what would happen.

Len Sipes: That’s what would happen but that, I mean, that’s the unique part about our agency, and I’m sorry to use this as a forum to boast about our agency, but we do all that stuff now. Our offenders go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and they’re a bit more resource advantaged than most correctional settings.

Tom Williams: That’s true, and then when those folks are actually identified within the institutional setting, prior to being released, then we work basically on a release plan or reentry plan for those individuals, and certainly there are halfway houses within the district where a person can transition from the maintaining institution to the community, you know, where they can go and then we kind of collaborate on those services. We get that information and send it to the institution, and then we follow-up on our cases when they come out.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple of minutes left. Let’s talk about how difficult this is. I can’t think of a more difficult caseload. I mean, I looked at a Google search this morning on the last couple days, these are national articles on sex offenders, there’s 50. I mean, this is just 50 in the last couple days. They’re a difficult population to supervise, correct, any one of you?

Tom Williams: Well, absolutely. This population is difficult but as Scott mentioned, the key thing for us is assessment. I mean, you have to determine the assessment right out front in terms of who you have. That’s where your information from the institutional side is actually transferred to the community supervision side so that we don’t be duplicating work that’s already been initiated and started; but once we actually do the identification through the assessment process, then as Scott mentioned, then we have to develop that plan of action and that’s where collaboration is key between supervision staff as well as the treatment staff with regards to what are the plans that we need to mitigate that risk for that individual, and it can’t be a one-size-fits all, it has to be specific to that individual and specific to that offense.

Len Sipes: And we have the resources here at Washington, D.C., to do that. Scott, a final sense as to the difficulty of offenders, the type of offender to supervise?

Scott Matson: Sure. I think that they can be quite difficult, and when you talk to a lot of probation officers who might be new to this or who didn’t receive any specialized training, they might say something along the lines, “Well, sex offenders are my easiest probation.”

Len Sipes: They’re compliant, aren’t they?

Scott Matson: Because they’ll oftentimes follow the rules, they don’t want to get in trouble; they don’t want to rock the boat.

Len Sipes: They could be grooming the officer; they could be grooming the psychologist.

Scott Matson: Exactly, just like they groom parents, they groom children, they could be grooming the treatment provider, they could be grooming the supervision officer. So again, it’s really crucial to do that assessment, to get involved in the offenders’ lives, and make sure you know what they’re doing.

Len Sipes: Scott, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, look for us on the second half as we continue this extraordinarily interesting issue of the supervision and the treatment of sex offenders. Stay right there. We’ll be right back.

[Music Playing]

Second Half: Hi, and welcome back to DC Public Safety. I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to discuss sex offender supervision, and our guests for the second half are Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Dr. Celena Gates, CSOSA’s Director of Treatment for our Sex Offender Program, and Dr. Gates and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety, and Tom, welcome back from the first half.  I can’t think, again, of a more difficult topic than this whole concept of sex offender management, sex offender treatment. We talked with Scott Matson on the first half from the Department of Justice to gain a sense of the enormity of this whole concept. You know, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there that we consider sex offenders that we and the criminal justice system have to deal with. There are 700 in the District of Columbia. Treatment is an extraordinarily important part of the process. Treatment and supervision seem to go hand-in-hand. Dr. Gates, you came from a maximum-security prison, did you not, in terms of your background?

Dr. Celena Gates: I did. My first job was at a juvenile facility called Culpepper in Virginia, yeah.

Len Sipes: Wow, and so you came from that process to CSOSA?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not directly but I work in a private practice setting at this point that works with sex offenders so it was through that practice that we developed a relationship with CSOSA and provide the sex offender treatment services for that agency.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of experience as well as the academic training in terms of dealing with sex offenders.

Dr. Celena Gates: Oh absolutely, sure.

Len Sipes: Is this group of people as complex as we made it out on the first half because when I discuss sex offenders to friends, family, again, they have this image in their mind that’s pretty simplistic. It’s not simplistic at all, is it?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not at all, and this is the way that it should be discussed. It should be discussed as a complex group of people who are not homogenous, who have a lot of differences between them, and who are best handled when that’s well understood. It’s when the idea is that they are the same that people make mistakes and misjudgments, and don’t do what’s in the community’s best interest or for that matter the offender’s best interest.

Len Sipes: Right, and we talked about, Tom and I and Scott in the first half, about the assessment process and the crucial sense of getting to know who this person is because there’s such a huge difference between some who lays in wait – we call it in the criminal justice system “malice aforethought.” It’s planned. Their sexual assault is planned versus somebody who’s grooming a child over the course of months versus somebody who does the wrong thing, it’s clearly illegal, but we don’t have a history of sex or criminal offense for that person. That’s the level of complexity we’re dealing with, right?

Dr. Celena Gates: It is, and that level of complexity is a part of who they are. It’s also a part of how we treat them. It’s a part of their management. It’s a part of their future. Keeping those differences and those distinctions in mind is what contributes to the success of dealing with this population.

Len Sipes: Tom, our problem is that the public, all they want is safety. They want to be protected, they’re afraid of the sex offender, and when they hear – I mean again, when I talked about it in the first half, 50 articles from around the country on sex offenders basically doing something wrong over the course of the last couple – 50. They get a lot of publicity. When it happens to us, the media comes to me, comes to you, and says, “Why?” – And the people don’t seem to have a full grasp as to how difficult this is, how complex it is, and the resources you give to it.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s exactly right. In the public’s mind, if you put these folks away and throw away their key, they’d be just as happy but we recognize that you can’t really imprison folks for a long period of time.

Len Sipes: You can’t put everybody in prison. That’s impossible.

Tom Williams: No, you can’t, and punishment is not going to be sufficient to – well, punishment is sufficient to I guess suppress deviate behavior but eventually the person needs to get treatment. So our studies are indicating, in terms of the length of stay that folks have been in prison before they come out, you know, we have a much older population on the CSOSA with regards to sex offenses. Only 6% of our population are under 25 but a large majority of our population are between the age of 40 and 60 so you know they’ve spent significant periods of time incarcerated.  But when they come to us, the important thing that we attempt to do is we have our own assessment with regards to the risk to reoffend but when we also have collaborations with Dr. Gates and her group, there’s an additional assessment that’s done as well, so that establishment is looking at what’s that risk to that individual with regards to his future sex offending.

Len Sipes: And we have smaller caseloads, we use polygraph, we have specially-trained community supervision officers. What most people know as parole and probation agents, we call them community supervision officers in Washington, D.C. So the case load is fairly small, they’re well-trained, they use GPS surveillance in some cases, they use polygraph in some cases, correct, so we do it right is the point.

Tom Williams: Well, we do do it right but we are extremely fortunate with regard to the caliber of CSOs, of men and women that work in this particular program. First of all they have a passion for their work, which is really key, and they are well-educated with regards to their advanced degrees, and also they are well-educated with regards to additional training in this discipline. So they come to the agency with a wealth of knowledge, and we too increase that knowledge base while they’re with us. But the important thing that really helps us a lot in terms of managing this population well is the relationship that the CSO has with the treatment provider and the polygraph.

Len Sipes: Right, and that gets back to Dr. Gates. I mean, that’s one of the unique things. You’re not on your own. This is an entire organization surrounding you and supporting you, and supporting what you and the staff does in terms of getting at what’s causing this issue with people for their own good and for public safety.

Dr. Celena Gates: Um-hum. That collaboration is key, and that word was mentioned a couple of times in the first segment. It’s relevant this population in a way that perhaps isn’t the same for other types of offenders or other types of mental health issues. The collaboration and working together, and having a complete, accurate understanding of the who the offender is, what his risk issues are, when he’s likely to be more or less at risk, what can be done about those situations, who can intervene – all of those are very, very complicated questions but they can be answered, they can be effectively addressed if everyone is working together, communicating consistently and effectively, there’s cross-training. There are a number of different ways that we can make that effective.

Len Sipes: Some of these offenders are obviously in denial in terms of their own acts and how culpable they are in terms of their own acts, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: Yes, they are. They can start off that way.

Len Sipes: They can start off that way.

Dr. Celena Gates: This is not the easiest subject to talk about, you can imagine, and the stigma associated with being a sex offender is incredibly difficult. So they’ve often had to go through the judicial process of that, whatever that entailed, and now they’re being asked to hold themselves accountable to it again, and a lot of them feel like, “I’ve done my penance,” so to speak.

Len Sipes: Yeah, they’ve served time in prison and they’re coming out, and suddenly they’re in a small caseload and they’re —

Dr. Celena Gates: There’s an awful lot of attention being paid to them.

Len Sipes: We at Court Services, we really do have a high level of contact with the people under our supervision, we really do, so they’re having that high level of contact and then they have you to deal with.

Dr. Celena Gates: Coming in saying, “Let’s talk about this more.”

Len Sipes: Yeah, let’s talk about this more.

Dr. Celena Gates: And so that can be incredibly difficult on a lot of levels – emotionally in terms of their relationships with family, what it’s going to mean for their lives, and that sort of thing. But part of what we try to do is give them a sense that, although we’re talking about the past, we’re talking about behaviors that perhaps they’re embarrassed about – and rightfully so, should be – but we’re doing so for the purpose of moving forward. We want them to understand their risk factors. We want them to understand their behaviors. We want them to have the tools that they need to avoid engaging in future problematic behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, most offenders are not the jump-out-of-the-bushes kind of guy. They’re guys who have gotten themselves into situations that they themselves may not fully understand, and that’s part of the task is to help them understand how this benefits them, how it benefits the people in their lives, and obviously then ultimately that translates to having safer communities.

Len Sipes: When I talk to community supervision officers, oftentimes I get the sense of manipulation on the part of sex offenders, that they are by trade a pretty manipulative bunch. True?

Dr. Celena Gates: I think that’s a generalization, and I think we’ve already established that it’s hard to make generalizations about the population, but there are certainly certain kinds of offenders for whom you want to pay extra attention to what they say, for whom you want to collaborate and corroborate even more than you would, but that’s the key to the assessment, really. It really is about being able to identify what a person’s particular traits and tendencies and proclivities are, and educating the people who work with them about how to operate against those, so to speak. And on the other hand, if someone isn’t manipulative, because there are offenders who don’t have that trait, then we don’t over-supervise them or over-treat them or over-analyze everything that they say.

Len Sipes: The key is the uniqueness of that individual offender. Nothing is done in a cookie-cutter approach. We design a program and a supervision strategy around that person’s uniqueness and that, Tom Williams, seems to be the key to all of this.

Tom Williams: Well it is, and the kind of behavioral treatment seems to be the one that work best with this population, and that’s the program or the theory basically that Dr. Gates and her group are integrally involved with, and all the staff are actually trained in that discipline as well. So with the combination of the treatment, the supervision, as well as the polygraph, just to look at potential deceptions that may be coming through, because we can talk to the person and they can tell us one thing but the polygraph itself will help us to determine if there’s any kind of deception that’s going on that may increase that person’s risk to reoffend in the community, and then that’s when we kind of get together with the treatment provider and say, “What is it that we’re looking at here that actually resulted in that polygraph?”

Len Sipes: Only three minutes left, very quickly, we do employ GPS so if we’re concerned through the polygraph test or any other evidence that we have with our law enforcement partners or working with the family or working with the community, we put them on GPS and we can follow them that way. We can overlay maps. We can overlay Google earth to see if there’s a playground there and that’s why he’s hanging out, correct?

Tom Williams: Well, that’s part of it. That’s one of several strategies that we use. We don’t want to say that’s something that we do for every person but it’s just one of several.

Len Sipes: I understand, but the larger issue is through treatment and through these supervision strategies and through the small case loads, but particularly treatment, we can in many cases stabilize that individual and minimize that individual’s risk to public safety. That is true, is it not?

Tom Williams: That’s exactly right, and that’s the whole key that we’re working with.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s the goal, the main goal, but also with regards to that is there comes a point in time when a person’s going to complete the services. The important thing is what’s that relapse prevention plan and how can we exercise that plan, and what are your triggers, as Dr .Gates mentioned before, that I need to be attentive to, situations that I need to not be involved in or put myself in where the potential could be for me to reoffend.

Len Sipes: And that’s an extraordinarily important point, Dr. Gates, and in the final minute or so of the program, you give them tools because they’re going to be off supervision at a certain point.

Dr. Celena Gates: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: You give them tools to carry into the future, and that may be possibly the most critical part of treatment.

Dr. Celena Gates: Indeed, I think it is. I think that often we begin the process by thinking about what the end of it will be. Once we have an understanding of who the offender is and what their risk factors are, we’re thinking about what do they need in order to stay out of situations where they talk to people like me or have to meet people like at Mr. Williams’ agency. We want them to be in the community safely, to have developed enough skills and knowledge of what their risk factors are so that they don’t reoffend.

Len Sipes: And once again, it’s all based upon the individual assessment. That’s the key here, and the individual assessment, the individual treatment, the individual supervision strategies, and those individual treatment strategies to carry that person not just a year beyond supervision but 20, 30 years beyond the supervision without reoffending.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Len Sipes: And protecting public safety. That’s the bottom line, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s how we can do our part to ensure that this person is healthy, maintaining good relationships, and not come back within the criminal justice system. We just can’t continue to incarcerate them and expect that’s going to have an effect versus to treatment.

Len Sipes: All right, Tom, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us for this what I consider to be extraordinary discussion on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. Please have that age-appropriate conversation with your children. Please use good judgment in terms of whose home you go into or who you let in your home. Watch for us next time as we look at another very important issue in today’s criminal justice system. Have yourself a pleasant day.

[Commercial Break]

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders and there are few topics that gather more media and criminological interest than sex offenders. It’s our contention at my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, that we employ state-of-the-art strategies for the supervision of sex offenders. To discuss national standards on sex offenders, we are proud to have Scott Matson, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and also we have Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services. Again from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and to Scott and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Scott Matson: Well, thanks for having me.

Tom Williams: Thank you.

Len Sipes: It’s an important topic and a complicated topic, and people really are interested in this whole concept of sex offenders. Scott, the first question goes to you. Who are sex offenders?

Scott Matson: Well thanks, Len. That’s a good question. It’s a tough one too because what we know is that there isn’t a typical offender. They can come from any walk of life, all walks of life. They can be focused just on children. They can be focused on adults only. They can be focused on women. They can be focused on little girls, little boys. They could cross over as well. So to say that there’s one type of sex offender just isn’t quite accurate.

Len Sipes: But when you talk to somebody in the public, when you say “sex offender,” they immediately have a stereotype in their minds as to who that person is, and one of the ideas and one of the reasons for doing the show today is to get across the complexity of what we’re calling the sex offender and the difficulty in terms of supervising that person and treating that person.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and most people think of the sex offender as a stranger, somebody who might jump out of a bush to steal a child or rape a woman. We know that that’s just not what most sex offenders are. Most sex offenders are known to their victims. Most sex offenders commit their offenses within the context of a relationship, which again, makes it very easy for the sex offender to manipulate the victim in those contexts because they know their victims.

Len Sipes: That’s a key issue; they know their victims in the majority of cases. The majority of child sex offenders know their victim, the majority of victims know their offender, the majority of people say in say rape settings, sexual assault settings, it happens in their home or the home of the offender. So it’s not the stereotype of the woman cutting through the alley and getting raped, although that does happen. The bulk of it per data that just came out happens within a residential setting amongst somebody who they know.

Scott Matson: That’s right, and that makes supervision strategies and treatment strategies very important to tailor them to the type of offender that you know you have in your midst, the offender that’s on your caseload. Once they’re caught and convicted, then you know a little bit more about them but until they’re caught and convicted, you really don’t know who they are.

Len Sipes: And Tom, that’s one of the reasons why, when you do – you’re in charge of Supervision Services at Court Services and Offender Supervision, and we have 16,000 offenders on any given day, 25,000 offenders in any given year – on any given day there’s about 700, round it off, sex offenders that you’re in charge of supervising, and you start off with what, some sort of an analysis as to who that person is to get to the complexity issue that Scott just raised.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s very true, and this dovetailing with what Scott was mentioning, the sex offenders can come from any walk of life, so there isn’t one particular individual that somebody should be concerned about or one particular profile that someone could be concerned about. What the public really needs to understand is that they just have to have high-level vigilance with regards to who they have in their midst, whether it’s a child if you’re going to drop them off at the daycare or with the little league, and so that there’s certain standards that these organizations have to have with regards to checking on the backgrounds of folks in boy scouts and things like that, leaders. But the other things that really can help the public with regards to staying vigilant is there’s a sex offender registry that’s open to the public, that anyone can go online if they have access to a computer. They actually go and see, is this person that I’m involved in, is he really on the rolls of criminal justice, is he known to criminal justice. And in some of our outreach to public school systems, for an example, we also really encourage them to make sure that they do check the sex offender registry, certainly as a higher requirement in terms of checking the background of an individual, but that’s something that’s very quick that they can do, just go to the registry, run an application, and then check and see if the person’s listed.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to have you on the second half with Dr. Celena Gates to talk about the treatment, and again, the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. But Scott, we talked about the fact that we have 700. Here we’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of people under parole and probation supervision throughout the country currently, not the past but currently, and we’re about 200,000?

Scott Matson: That’s correct according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and there’s about over 700,000 people on sex offender registries?

Scott Matson: Somewhere around 720,000 that are registered in the U.S.

Len Sipes: So that’s an immense number of people.

Scott Matson: Yes.

Len Sipes: And we in the criminal justice system, we’re responsible for public safety number one, but that’s an immense task for both of us, so let me talk a little bit about that because Tom brought it up and I think the public wants to understand, what do we tell parents, what do we tell individuals, principally women? The vast majority of people who are victimized, sexually victimized, are women although men are sexually victimized as well but it’s 80% I think and higher women who are sexually abused, children who are sexually abused, so let’s start off with parents. What do we tell the parents about age-appropriate conversations, letting them know that they can always come to them and have a conversation about what happened to them?

Scott Matson: That’s right, and the thing you have to stress the most is for the parents to be involved in the children’s lives so they know who they’re talking to, so they know who they’re around all the time, they know who’s paying a lot of attention to them, and as you mentioned, age-appropriate conversations. I think it’s important to start early. I think a lot of advocates in this area, in the sexual assault prevention realm, will talk about starting as young as 4 or 5, and getting them to talk about this is part of a safety kinds of planning, and continuing that conversation as they get older and into their teens, and eventually into adulthood. – Ways of protecting themselves, families, it’s always a good idea to come up with a safety plan and what to do if something might happen to a child or youth in the house. There’s some really good resources out there too for this, and I’m not speaking of anything of the work I’ve done necessarily but there are lots of good advocacy organizations out there that have done really good work.

Len Sipes: And we’re going to put up the website.

Scott Matson: Yeah. I think you’re going to put up our website, which is smart.gov, and I would like to make a plug also for the National Sex Offender Public Website. Tom mentioned DC’s public website. There’s a National Sex Offender Public Website where you can search from one place all the registries throughout the entire country.

Len Sipes: Exactly, and we’ll put that website on the program throughout the program so people can have access to that. – But it’s principally age-appropriate conversations. The child must know that he or she can say anything to their parents because in some cases, a sex offender will commit the act and say that your parents will never love you again if you tell your parents this.

Scott Matson: That’s right. That’s a common theme in grooming behaviors with sex offenders, especially child molesters.

Tom Williams: I think the message should go a little bit further than just parents because a lot of times the child may not be in a position to actually talk to the parents so an adult, someone that they have trust with.

Len Sipes: Okay. Good point.

Tom Williams: It might be a minister in a church or a deacon in a church, or it could be a school teacher, or someone that they really feel close to that they can then relay that information to, a police officer for an example. A lot of police officers do a lot of outreach in school systems right now, so I think instead of saying parents, because certainly you want the child to go to the parent if possible but sometimes the child may not be in a position to feel comfortable about that and so any adult, any responsible adult, I should say, would qualify that, that they should be speaking.

Len Sipes: Good point, good point. And any adult that the child trusts.

Tom Williams: Right.

Len Sipes: In terms of older individuals, again, it’s whose home you go into. It’s who you let into your home. The vast majority of these per research just the other day were committed within residential settings, not necessarily the stereotype, although it does happen, like I said, the stereotype of walking through the back of the alley. It’s happening in homes so it is a matter of who you trust, is it not?

Scott Matson: Right. It’s again, who’s in your life, and most of those crimes are committed in the context of a relationship.

Len Sipes: So a person has to know who they’re willing to trust, and understanding that if you don’t trust that person, don’t let them into your house, don’t go into their home.

Scott Matson: Right.

Tom Williams: That’s a very good point, and that gives my message about vigilance. The parents or significant others really have to be vigilant with regards to who’s involved with that child or in a relationship they’d like to establish as well. I mean, the vigilance is the key thing that we have to be ensured, that we want the public to be understanding.

Len Sipes: Okay. The other part of the program that I wanted to set up beyond the complexity of what we call the sex offender is the sense of national standards. Now Scott, you and I were talking before the program that there are no national standards. The American Probation and Parole Association, National Institute of Corrections, other organizations have come out with recommendations, and in terms of what it is that we in Parole and Probations should be doing in terms of supervising sex offenders, can you give me a sense as to what some of those are?

Scott Matson: Sure. Yeah, as you mentioned, there aren’t any national standards but there are recommendations and there are some things that research does show to be a little more effective.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Scott Matson: I think it really starts with the idea of what we call risk needs and responsivity that is assessing the risk of the offender, the risk that they pose to reoffend and the harm they might pose, then assessing what the needs are of the offender, both what they need to help them stop the behavior and what we need to do to make sure that they don’t continue to commit it.

Len Sipes: So we have to assess and figure out who they are —

Scott Matson: — and then finally develop intervention strategies, supervision plans, treatment plans that address their needs and the risk.

Len Sipes: Based upon that analysis as to who they are.

Scott Matson: Who they are, exactly, so who, what, and who, what, and how I think is a good way to think of it.

Len Sipes: But there has to be treatment involved to some degree for those people who are amenable to treatment?

Scott Matson: That’s right. I think that what most of the research says is that treatment is effective overall with sex offenders. There are some kinds of offenders that might be “lower risk,” quote-unquote, that might not benefit as much from treatment as the higher-risk or moderate-risk offenders but treatment is an integral part of any supervision strategy, any reentry strategy for sex offenders.

Len Sipes: But I would imagine some of those recommendations are going to be a small caseload. I mean, some parole and probation agencies carry 150, 200 people per one parole and probation agent. In the District of Columbia we call them Community Supervision Officers, so the caseload’s got to be appropriate.

Scott Matson: Right, and a lot of the jurisdictions that use more specialized kinds of supervision tactics for sex offenders will have much lower caseload sizes so we’re talking 25-to-1 or 20-to-1, sometimes with a surveillance officer as well to check in on the offender off-hours, and usually this is all involved with the treatment provider closely at hand so they are understanding what those supervision strategies are so they’re in constant communication with the supervision officers.

Len Sipes: It has to be done as a team. Where it’s appropriate, there’s no separation between supervision and treatment. It has to run hand-in-hand.

Scott Matson: It really does. They have talk to each other, they have to really collaborate, and in some jurisdictions, a polygraph examiner is also involved.

Len Sipes: A polygraph examiner. Tom, now the question goes to you, we do all that. That’s one of the things that I want to make clear is that the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, every national standard that’s ever been promulgated, your unit already does that. And how do you think it applies to sex offenders?

Tom Williams: That’s true, and what we’ve done is actually looked at the research and then, as the series of meetings within the organization, determine what’s the best way that we can actually manage this group when they come out. But one other point that I would like to say is certainly it’s a responsibility of the Supervision Agency to help manage and control this population when they come out but also it begins within the correctional setting as well. If you look at the 1.5 million folks who are incarcerated, about 10% or maybe 150,000 of them have been diagnosed or classified as sex offenders within the institution.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Tom Williams: Well, when you look at the lack of resources, that many of the state and maybe the federal systems don’t have because of budget cuts, we know that what gets cut first is naturally treatment but I think the institutions try to do a very good job in trying to identify folks who actually need services and then try to start that process right there. So when a person really comes into the institution from intake or reception, that’s when the identification has to happen and that’s when the plan really should start there to help that person before he actually gets distributed.

Len Sipes: So it has to be holistic across the board from the correctional institution to parole and probation but oftentimes that doesn’t happen.

Scott Matson: No. In an ideal world, that’s what would happen.

Len Sipes: That’s what would happen but that, I mean, that’s the unique part about our agency, and I’m sorry to use this as a forum to boast about our agency, but we do all that stuff now. Our offenders go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and they’re a bit more resource advantaged than most correctional settings.

Tom Williams: That’s true, and then when those folks are actually identified within the institutional setting, prior to being released, then we work basically on a release plan or reentry plan for those individuals, and certainly there are halfway houses within the district where a person can transition from the maintaining institution to the community, you know, where they can go and then we kind of collaborate on those services. We get that information and send it to the institution, and then we follow-up on our cases when they come out.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple of minutes left. Let’s talk about how difficult this is. I can’t think of a more difficult caseload. I mean, I looked at a Google search this morning on the last couple days, these are national articles on sex offenders, there’s 50. I mean, this is just 50 in the last couple days. They’re a difficult population to supervise, correct, any one of you?

Tom Williams: Well, absolutely. This population is difficult but as Scott mentioned, the key thing for us is assessment. I mean, you have to determine the assessment right out front in terms of who you have. That’s where your information from the institutional side is actually transferred to the community supervision side so that we don’t be duplicating work that’s already been initiated and started; but once we actually do the identification through the assessment process, then as Scott mentioned, then we have to develop that plan of action and that’s where collaboration is key between supervision staff as well as the treatment staff with regards to what are the plans that we need to mitigate that risk for that individual, and it can’t be a one-size-fits all, it has to be specific to that individual and specific to that offense.

Len Sipes: And we have the resources here at Washington, D.C., to do that. Scott, a final sense as to the difficulty of offenders, the type of offender to supervise?

Scott Matson: Sure. I think that they can be quite difficult, and when you talk to a lot of probation officers who might be new to this or who didn’t receive any specialized training, they might say something along the lines, “Well, sex offenders are my easiest probation.”

Len Sipes: They’re compliant, aren’t they?

Scott Matson: Because they’ll oftentimes follow the rules, they don’t want to get in trouble; they don’t want to rock the boat.

Len Sipes: They could be grooming the officer; they could be grooming the psychologist.

Scott Matson: Exactly, just like they groom parents, they groom children, they could be grooming the treatment provider, they could be grooming the supervision officer. So again, it’s really crucial to do that assessment, to get involved in the offenders’ lives, and make sure you know what they’re doing.

Len Sipes: Scott, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, look for us on the second half as we continue this extraordinarily interesting issue of the supervision and the treatment of sex offenders. Stay right there. We’ll be right back.

[Music Playing]

Second Half: Hi, and welcome back to DC Public Safety. I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to discuss sex offender supervision, and our guests for the second half are Thomas Williams, the Associate Director of Community Supervision Services, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Dr. Celena Gates, CSOSA’s Director of Treatment for our Sex Offender Program, and Dr. Gates and Tom, welcome to DC Public Safety, and Tom, welcome back from the first half.  I can’t think, again, of a more difficult topic than this whole concept of sex offender management, sex offender treatment. We talked with Scott Matson on the first half from the Department of Justice to gain a sense of the enormity of this whole concept. You know, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there that we consider sex offenders that we and the criminal justice system have to deal with. There are 700 in the District of Columbia. Treatment is an extraordinarily important part of the process. Treatment and supervision seem to go hand-in-hand. Dr. Gates, you came from a maximum-security prison, did you not, in terms of your background?

Dr. Celena Gates: I did. My first job was at a juvenile facility called Culpepper in Virginia, yeah.

Len Sipes: Wow, and so you came from that process to CSOSA?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not directly but I work in a private practice setting at this point that works with sex offenders so it was through that practice that we developed a relationship with CSOSA and provide the sex offender treatment services for that agency.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of experience as well as the academic training in terms of dealing with sex offenders.

Dr. Celena Gates: Oh absolutely, sure.

Len Sipes: Is this group of people as complex as we made it out on the first half because when I discuss sex offenders to friends, family, again, they have this image in their mind that’s pretty simplistic. It’s not simplistic at all, is it?

Dr. Celena Gates: Not at all, and this is the way that it should be discussed. It should be discussed as a complex group of people who are not homogenous, who have a lot of differences between them, and who are best handled when that’s well understood. It’s when the idea is that they are the same that people make mistakes and misjudgments, and don’t do what’s in the community’s best interest or for that matter the offender’s best interest.

Len Sipes: Right, and we talked about, Tom and I and Scott in the first half, about the assessment process and the crucial sense of getting to know who this person is because there’s such a huge difference between some who lays in wait – we call it in the criminal justice system “malice aforethought.” It’s planned. Their sexual assault is planned versus somebody who’s grooming a child over the course of months versus somebody who does the wrong thing, it’s clearly illegal, but we don’t have a history of sex or criminal offense for that person. That’s the level of complexity we’re dealing with, right?

Dr. Celena Gates: It is, and that level of complexity is a part of who they are. It’s also a part of how we treat them. It’s a part of their management. It’s a part of their future. Keeping those differences and those distinctions in mind is what contributes to the success of dealing with this population.

Len Sipes: Tom, our problem is that the public, all they want is safety. They want to be protected, they’re afraid of the sex offender, and when they hear – I mean again, when I talked about it in the first half, 50 articles from around the country on sex offenders basically doing something wrong over the course of the last couple – 50. They get a lot of publicity. When it happens to us, the media comes to me, comes to you, and says, “Why?” – And the people don’t seem to have a full grasp as to how difficult this is, how complex it is, and the resources you give to it.

Tom Williams: Well, that’s exactly right. In the public’s mind, if you put these folks away and throw away their key, they’d be just as happy but we recognize that you can’t really imprison folks for a long period of time.

Len Sipes: You can’t put everybody in prison. That’s impossible.

Tom Williams: No, you can’t, and punishment is not going to be sufficient to – well, punishment is sufficient to I guess suppress deviate behavior but eventually the person needs to get treatment. So our studies are indicating, in terms of the length of stay that folks have been in prison before they come out, you know, we have a much older population on the CSOSA with regards to sex offenses. Only 6% of our population are under 25 but a large majority of our population are between the age of 40 and 60 so you know they’ve spent significant periods of time incarcerated.  But when they come to us, the important thing that we attempt to do is we have our own assessment with regards to the risk to reoffend but when we also have collaborations with Dr. Gates and her group, there’s an additional assessment that’s done as well, so that establishment is looking at what’s that risk to that individual with regards to his future sex offending.

Len Sipes: And we have smaller caseloads, we use polygraph, we have specially-trained community supervision officers. What most people know as parole and probation agents, we call them community supervision officers in Washington, D.C. So the case load is fairly small, they’re well-trained, they use GPS surveillance in some cases, they use polygraph in some cases, correct, so we do it right is the point.

Tom Williams: Well, we do do it right but we are extremely fortunate with regard to the caliber of CSOs, of men and women that work in this particular program. First of all they have a passion for their work, which is really key, and they are well-educated with regards to their advanced degrees, and also they are well-educated with regards to additional training in this discipline. So they come to the agency with a wealth of knowledge, and we too increase that knowledge base while they’re with us. But the important thing that really helps us a lot in terms of managing this population well is the relationship that the CSO has with the treatment provider and the polygraph.

Len Sipes: Right, and that gets back to Dr. Gates. I mean, that’s one of the unique things. You’re not on your own. This is an entire organization surrounding you and supporting you, and supporting what you and the staff does in terms of getting at what’s causing this issue with people for their own good and for public safety.

Dr. Celena Gates: Um-hum. That collaboration is key, and that word was mentioned a couple of times in the first segment. It’s relevant this population in a way that perhaps isn’t the same for other types of offenders or other types of mental health issues. The collaboration and working together, and having a complete, accurate understanding of the who the offender is, what his risk issues are, when he’s likely to be more or less at risk, what can be done about those situations, who can intervene – all of those are very, very complicated questions but they can be answered, they can be effectively addressed if everyone is working together, communicating consistently and effectively, there’s cross-training. There are a number of different ways that we can make that effective.

Len Sipes: Some of these offenders are obviously in denial in terms of their own acts and how culpable they are in terms of their own acts, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: Yes, they are. They can start off that way.

Len Sipes: They can start off that way.

Dr. Celena Gates: This is not the easiest subject to talk about, you can imagine, and the stigma associated with being a sex offender is incredibly difficult. So they’ve often had to go through the judicial process of that, whatever that entailed, and now they’re being asked to hold themselves accountable to it again, and a lot of them feel like, “I’ve done my penance,” so to speak.

Len Sipes: Yeah, they’ve served time in prison and they’re coming out, and suddenly they’re in a small caseload and they’re —

Dr. Celena Gates: There’s an awful lot of attention being paid to them.

Len Sipes: We at Court Services, we really do have a high level of contact with the people under our supervision, we really do, so they’re having that high level of contact and then they have you to deal with.

Dr. Celena Gates: Coming in saying, “Let’s talk about this more.”

Len Sipes: Yeah, let’s talk about this more.

Dr. Celena Gates: And so that can be incredibly difficult on a lot of levels – emotionally in terms of their relationships with family, what it’s going to mean for their lives, and that sort of thing. But part of what we try to do is give them a sense that, although we’re talking about the past, we’re talking about behaviors that perhaps they’re embarrassed about – and rightfully so, should be – but we’re doing so for the purpose of moving forward. We want them to understand their risk factors. We want them to understand their behaviors. We want them to have the tools that they need to avoid engaging in future problematic behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, most offenders are not the jump-out-of-the-bushes kind of guy. They’re guys who have gotten themselves into situations that they themselves may not fully understand, and that’s part of the task is to help them understand how this benefits them, how it benefits the people in their lives, and obviously then ultimately that translates to having safer communities.

Len Sipes: When I talk to community supervision officers, oftentimes I get the sense of manipulation on the part of sex offenders, that they are by trade a pretty manipulative bunch. True?

Dr. Celena Gates: I think that’s a generalization, and I think we’ve already established that it’s hard to make generalizations about the population, but there are certainly certain kinds of offenders for whom you want to pay extra attention to what they say, for whom you want to collaborate and corroborate even more than you would, but that’s the key to the assessment, really. It really is about being able to identify what a person’s particular traits and tendencies and proclivities are, and educating the people who work with them about how to operate against those, so to speak. And on the other hand, if someone isn’t manipulative, because there are offenders who don’t have that trait, then we don’t over-supervise them or over-treat them or over-analyze everything that they say.

Len Sipes: The key is the uniqueness of that individual offender. Nothing is done in a cookie-cutter approach. We design a program and a supervision strategy around that person’s uniqueness and that, Tom Williams, seems to be the key to all of this.

Tom Williams: Well it is, and the kind of behavioral treatment seems to be the one that work best with this population, and that’s the program or the theory basically that Dr. Gates and her group are integrally involved with, and all the staff are actually trained in that discipline as well. So with the combination of the treatment, the supervision, as well as the polygraph, just to look at potential deceptions that may be coming through, because we can talk to the person and they can tell us one thing but the polygraph itself will help us to determine if there’s any kind of deception that’s going on that may increase that person’s risk to reoffend in the community, and then that’s when we kind of get together with the treatment provider and say, “What is it that we’re looking at here that actually resulted in that polygraph?”

Len Sipes: Only three minutes left, very quickly, we do employ GPS so if we’re concerned through the polygraph test or any other evidence that we have with our law enforcement partners or working with the family or working with the community, we put them on GPS and we can follow them that way. We can overlay maps. We can overlay Google earth to see if there’s a playground there and that’s why he’s hanging out, correct?

Tom Williams: Well, that’s part of it. That’s one of several strategies that we use. We don’t want to say that’s something that we do for every person but it’s just one of several.

Len Sipes: I understand, but the larger issue is through treatment and through these supervision strategies and through the small case loads, but particularly treatment, we can in many cases stabilize that individual and minimize that individual’s risk to public safety. That is true, is it not?

Tom Williams: That’s exactly right, and that’s the whole key that we’re working with.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s the goal, the main goal, but also with regards to that is there comes a point in time when a person’s going to complete the services. The important thing is what’s that relapse prevention plan and how can we exercise that plan, and what are your triggers, as Dr .Gates mentioned before, that I need to be attentive to, situations that I need to not be involved in or put myself in where the potential could be for me to reoffend.

Len Sipes: And that’s an extraordinarily important point, Dr. Gates, and in the final minute or so of the program, you give them tools because they’re going to be off supervision at a certain point.

Dr. Celena Gates: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: You give them tools to carry into the future, and that may be possibly the most critical part of treatment.

Dr. Celena Gates: Indeed, I think it is. I think that often we begin the process by thinking about what the end of it will be. Once we have an understanding of who the offender is and what their risk factors are, we’re thinking about what do they need in order to stay out of situations where they talk to people like me or have to meet people like at Mr. Williams’ agency. We want them to be in the community safely, to have developed enough skills and knowledge of what their risk factors are so that they don’t reoffend.

Len Sipes: And once again, it’s all based upon the individual assessment. That’s the key here, and the individual assessment, the individual treatment, the individual supervision strategies, and those individual treatment strategies to carry that person not just a year beyond supervision but 20, 30 years beyond the supervision without reoffending.

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Len Sipes: And protecting public safety. That’s the bottom line, correct?

Dr. Celena Gates: That’s the goal.

Tom Williams: That’s how we can do our part to ensure that this person is healthy, maintaining good relationships, and not come back within the criminal justice system. We just can’t continue to incarcerate them and expect that’s going to have an effect versus to treatment.

Len Sipes: All right, Tom, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us for this what I consider to be extraordinary discussion on the supervision and treatment of sex offenders. Please have that age-appropriate conversation with your children. Please use good judgment in terms of whose home you go into or who you let in your home. Watch for us next time as we look at another very important issue in today’s criminal justice system. Have yourself a pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Cooperative Efforts With Law Enforcement-DC Public Safety Television

DC Public Safety Television Show–Cooperative Efforts With Law Enforcement

Television show available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2012/12/police-parole-and-probation-cooperative-efforts-dc-public-safety-television/

http://media.csosa.gov (CSOSA social media website)

http://www.csosa.gov (CSOSA website)

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on police and Parole and Probation cooperation. You know, there is a variety of research indicating that public safety is best served when Law Enforcement and Parole And Probation agencies work side by side. Our guest for the first half are Nancy Ware, the Director of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Assistant Chief, Peter Newsham of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Joining us on the second half will be the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia Marshal, Michael Hughes, and to Director Ware and to Assistant Chief Newsham, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Nancy Ware: Thank you Leonard.

Peter Newsham: Thank you.

Len Sipes: I really appreciate you being on the program today, but we do have a national audience and an international audience far beyond D.C. Nancy, give me an overview of what we do at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

Nancy Ware: Well, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency is affectionately known in D.C. as CSOSA. And at CSOSA we’re responsible for the supervision of offenders who have returned to the District of Columbia from the Federal Bureau Prisons and/or are sentenced to community supervision by the courts, D.C. Superior Court. So we have approximately 6,000 offenders under our supervision on any given day, and about 25,000 who come to us out of, come to us for supervision over the course of a year.

Len Sipes: And so we’re basically the Parole and Probation agency for Washington D.C.?

Nancy Ware: We have probably one in every 41 District residents under our supervision at any given time.

Len Sipes: That’s an amazing statistic. And we’re a federal agency, right?

Nancy Ware: We’re a federal agency and –

Len Sipes: Different from most agencies throughout the country, the fact that we’re a federal agency.

Nancy Ware: That’s true, and that came as a result of the Revitalization Act of 1997 and we were put in place as a federal executive level agency in the year 2000.

Len Sipes: Assistant Chief for the Metropolitan Police Department, one of the best known police agencies in the country, give us an overview of what you do.

Peter Newsham: Oh, I’m just at the MPD – Metropolitan Police Department. We have about 3,900 officers and about 500 civilian members and essentially what we do is we work with the community to make sure the nation’s capital is safe. That includes anything from making arrests for minor offenses all the way up to providing security for diplomats, the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States.

Len Sipes: That’s a huge mission.

Peter Newsham: It is.

Len Sipes: And it’s unlike any other mission from any other police department in the country. Maybe New York is comparable, but Washington D.C. is truly a unique mission.

Peter Newsham: It is unique. We have the, you know, the nation’s capital is a place where men come to demonstrate and voice their views and that’s a large part of what we do. We’ll be hosting the inauguration coming up in January.

Len Sipes: You know, and both of you have national and international coverage.
I mean, Governing Magazine just did a wonderful piece on Chief Lanier in Washington D.C. Police Department. Director Ware, we’ve just been on the White House website and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:03:24] a front page of Corrections.com, so we’re basically devoted to best practices, we’re nationally known for devotion to the best practices and the research, it’s interesting, from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and from the Department of Justice, basically what they’re saying, within the last couple years, is that law enforcement agencies really do need to work well with parole and probation agencies. Assistant Chief, why do you think that’s important?

Peter Newsham: Well, first there’s efficiencies to be had, when you’re working with other agencies that are in the District of Columbia doing a similar mission. And that’s one of the things that we’ve learned. And then the availability of information that we have to share with CSOSA and they have to share with us is really helpful to us to accomplish our mission. You know, there’s some information that, you know, people that are released will give to CSOSA, probation and parole officers, they wouldn’t necessarily share with the police, and being able to have that information helps us accomplish our mission.

Len Sipes: And Director Ware, I mean, the interesting here is that [INDISCERNIBLE 00:04:26] we’re devoted to best practices, we constantly talk about research in the office, we talk about what’s new, what the best practices are, so this is just another best practice for our parole and probation agencies.

Nancy Ware: Yeah, and it’s been successful here in D.C.. As you know, Washington D.C. is very unique, because so much of our law enforcement is now federally run. The U.S. Parole Commission is a federal agency, CSOSA is a federal agency, Pre-trial Services is part of CSOSA, although it has an independent mission. So, we do have to collaborate across jurisdictions to be sure that we maximize public safety for the District of Columbia and we work well together as Assistant Chief Newsham said, to maximize our resources. So intelligence sharing is one way that we do that, through our GPS systems, which is our Global Positioning System. And it helps us to track offenders and to work with MPD on making sure that we are monitoring our highest risk offenders. And but we also do a number of other initiatives which we’ll talk about more in the show.

Len Sipes: I’m glad you brought up high risk offenders, because I wanna continue with that. We have publicly stated our devotion to focusing on high risk offenders. These are individuals with substantial substance abuse histories, criminal histories, a lot of them younger, so that is our priority and what we’re saying is are we not, that we should be placing most of those, our resources, whether they be supervision or treatment on high risk offenders, correct?

Nancy Ware: That’s right, and you mentioned evidence based practice. Well the evidence has shown us nationally that most of the resources that you spend on low risk offenders are really wasted because many of them are in compliance, they have jobs, and the more pressure you put on them, the less likely it is for them to maintain their stability. Whereas our highest risk offenders are the ones that we wanna make sure that we monitor carefully and we work with as the law enforcement partners to help them to stabilize, provide them every resource that we can, with a dwindling resource pool across not just the city, but also the federally agencies. So we want to make sure that we really prioritize offenders as high risk who have a history of sex, weapons or violence offences, and that’s where we put most of our resources.

Len Sipes: And Assistant Chief, the same philosophy, when I read the law enforcement research, the same philosophy seems to apply. It seems to be a focus on places and people. It seems to be not just everybody that’s involved but people who are committing the bulk of the crimes, so that focus on that high risk offender dovetails very nicely in terms of the philosophy of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Peter Newsham: Oh, absolutely. I mean, as most people know that the D.C. area had a reputation of having violent crime. We’ve made significant strides in reducing that and one of the ways that we’ve done that is to focus on the violent offenders. And we do have the people under supervision who can reoffend and the way that they focus, CSOSA focuses on the most high risk is, it fits, like you said, dovetails perfectly with what we’re doing to make sure that you know, we know who they are, we have information on them and the ultimate goal, really, we don’t want them to reoffend, but if they do, then we can bring them back into custody and make sure that the District of Colombia is safe.

Len Sipes: Well, two things come to mind almost immediately. When I was a young police officer, many decades ago, nobody mentioned parole and probation to me at all. I mean, nobody, there was never any discussion whatsoever about working with the parole and probation officers in the State of Maryland. I mean, we’ve come a long way. Exactly, haven’t we?

Nancy Ware: Yeah, we definitely have, because I think that you know, many years ago there wasn’t a recognition that the partnerships are what makes it work. That no agency can do it alone and you heard the Chief talk about that quite a bit and all the Chiefs frankly, over the years, have begun to appreciate that it’s really important for, not just law enforcement partners, but also treatment providers, housing, employment, all of us to have the same goal, which is to keep the city safe and for us, it’s really important to stabilize the offender population, to help them to find jobs, find housing, find you know, to find the treatment that they need, so that as Assistant Chief Newsham said, we’re not trying to send them back to prison. We want them to become productive citizens of our community.

Len Sipes: And research says exactly that. The research seems to be abundantly clear that it’s just not a matter of supervising; you have to – if the person has a mental health problem, the question becomes, do you want that person treated? If the person has a raging drug problem, the question becomes whether or not you want that person treated. So the programs are extremely important, but my guess, Assistant chief, is that the average police officer that I’ve talked to within the Metropolitan Police Department also says, “Hey look, I really want this person to succeed. I really want this person to get the help that they need. If they don’t, we’ll take’em.” But we really want them to get the help and that help is necessary.

Peter Newsham: Yeah, I mean D.C. is kind of a small big city. Our officers get to know some of these folks pretty intimately and actually, there is a certain amount of pleasure in seeing them succeed, to be able to succeed and there’s a little bit of disappointment when they reoffend. We feel like we failed, when they do reoffend. Obviously, we’re gonna, you know, if they do reoffend, we have to make sure that the city’s safe and we’re going to do what we have to do to do arrests when necessary, but we would prefer if it didn’t happen.

Len Sipes: But here. . . no, please, Nancy.

Nancy Ware: That’s good, I think that it’s really important to note that part of our partnership with MPD is that we conduct accountability tours together and that means that our supervision officers go out with a Metropolitan Police Department officers to do home visits, to let people know that we’re watching them, we’re monitoring them. But in addition to that we do call ins and other activities, to give people opportunity to know that not only the enforcement side of what we do, as partners, but also the resources that are available in the city that we would like them to take advantage of.

Len Sipes: Right, and we do that, that’s the nifty thing, we do it shoulder to shoulder with the community supervision officer, which most people in the country know as parole and probation agents, we call them community supervision officers here in the District of Columbia. They do it shoulder to shoulder with officers from the Metropolitan Police Department. So I’ve heard stories of the people, and this is something else I wanna get into, individual, line officers, we can talk about the two of you at the command level and we can talk about command level and the district level, but it’s, what encourages me are the individual police officers, going to a community supervision officer and saying, “He’s getting back involved in drugs, he needs drug treatment, what can we do for him?” Or the individual police officer going to one our community supervision officers and saying, “I think he’s involved in selling stolen goods, we need GPS.” That’s what’s encouraging to me, not the two of you, but in your first line employees talking to each other.

Nancy Ware: That’s right, the front line.

Len Sipes: The front line. Talk to me about that.

Peter Newsham: Well, I think too, I mean, the information that our officers are gonna get from the accountability tours, which is a good example, they’re gonna know, you know who the person is that’s being supervised, they’re gonna know where they live. When they see them out there, maybe out in the community, maybe doing something that is leaning towards something maybe they shouldn’t be doing, they can share that information with CSOSA. It brings up a red flag. So I mean, you talk about there’s subtle bits of information that are exchanged just through that accountability tour, that we otherwise wouldn’t have, and I would just say for people who are out there, you know, communities out there that aren’t doing this type of a relationship, it’s really, it’s kind of essential. It’s almost, I mean, you look back now and you say, “Why didn’t we do this before?”

Len Sipes: I’ve always asked that, and by the way if you take a look at the newspaper accounts that I read every day, you know, D.C., we have it relatively, we’re relatively lucky in terms of our funding levels. There are law enforcements agencies, parole and probation agencies out there taking huge hits in terms of their budgets, in terms of their personnel, so they have to work together. I think that’s why the emphasis is coming along. We’re doing it as a best practice. I think other people are doing it because they’re stuck with it.

Nancy Ware: Well, I think that it’s both for us to. I mean, I think we found it useful to maximize our resources. Nobody has all the resources that they need as an agency, so we’re all looking at ways that we can modify our approach and to use the best practice that we found to be useful with this population and I think we’ve been really successful here in D.C..

Len Sipes: Well, it’s encouraging to see that the command level, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:13:02] level, at the district level and I think that’s encouraging and that’s the thing, it’s across the board. All the way, from the police officer to the middle management to the upper management, correct? We only have a couple seconds left.

Nancy Ware: The bottom line is that we have seen our homicides going down and I think the partnerships have been definitely a part of that. CSOSA itself, we’ve seen our recidivism rates going down and we definitely think the partnership is helping with that.

Len Sipes: And the city is much safer, much safer than it was in its early days.

Nancy Ware: And public perception is that it’s safer, which is important.

Len Sipes: And we’re gonna stop on that ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being with us on the first half – we’ve talked to Nancy Ware, the Director of my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Assistant Chief Peter Newsham. We’re gonna be talking to United States Marshal, Michael Hughes on the second half as we continue our examination of police and parole and probation cooperation. Stay with us.

[Music Playing]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, continuing on the program, Nancy Ware, the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, and the United States Marshal, Michael Hughes, and then Nancy and Michael, welcome back to D.C. Public Safety. Or Michael, in your case I’ll welcome you to D.C. Public Safety. Marshal Hughes, give me, again, as we said on the first half of the program, this show is seen all throughout the country, all round the world – give me an overview for people who are not aware, I couldn’t imagine who the hell it would be, but give me an overview of the U.S. Marshal Service.

Michael Hughes: Well, the U.S. Marshals Service was created back in 1789 and we just celebrated our 223rd birthday. Making us the oldest federal law enforcement agency here in our country and we have 94 district offices and various different headquarter divisions and we, of which one is the D.C. Superior Court office, which serves as basically the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals. Our mission is to protect, defend and enforce the American Justice System, and we here in D.C. do that through various different offices, including judicial security, court support, [PH 00:15:54] sub oc operations, prisoner coordinations, warrants, sex offender investigation branch and also through collaborative efforts with other agencies such as the Regional Fugitive Taskforce, Joint Terrorism Taskforce and other entities as well.

Len Sipes: And you’ve got your fingers in just about every pie possible and also you’re the subject of my favorite movie with Tommy Lee Jones? U.S. Marshal Service, I will love that movie forever. Both of you were sworn in at the same time, you’re both relatively new to the criminal justice system, and there’s no criminal justice system more complex than Washington D.C.s. Nancy, how do you feel after being here? You’ve been here for about 10 months or so as Director?

Nancy Ware: Almost a year. Yeah.

Len Sipes: Almost a year?

Nancy Ware: Yeah, I have and we don’t have a program for probation and parole unfortunately, so we’re not nationally recognized like the U.S. Marshals Services. But D.C. is very unique. I’ve been with CSOSA as the Director for almost a year now. But as you know, I was with CSOSA prior to that and before that I was with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council as the First Executive Director. So I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work closely with Marshal Hughes and the other marshals in the city of D.C. and with other law enforcement partners.

Len Sipes: Now, you know, you [PH 00:17:16] free out your Department of Justice experience, and you also supervise 16,000 offenders on any given day, 24,000 offenders in any given year, you have a lot of people that you’re responsible for.

Nancy Ware: We do, we do.

Len Sipes: That’s a city.

Nancy Ware: That’s true. Approximately one in 41 residents of the District are under our supervision.

Len Sipes: That’s just amazing. Marshal Hughes, okay, what about you? 10 months, you were both going through the swearing in ceremony at the same time and a very complex criminal justice system, what have your experiences been like?

Michael Hughes: Well, I was absolutely thrilled to go through the process with Director Ware. We were both going through our confirmation process and did our Senate confirmation here together and it was a wonderful experience and I suppose I feel a little special bond because of that as well, but I’ve been with the Marshal Service for 21 years in various, different district offices and headquarter offices, so I think like Director Ware, we bring a lot of institutional knowledge into our jobs and are able to pick on that to try to make our agencies better.

Len Sipes: Right. I mean, between the of you you’ve got half a century of criminal justice experience, so I mean, that’s, I think, the nice thing that the citizens of the District of Columbia and the people who visit the nation’s capital know that experienced people are running the agencies. So I find that interesting. So Regional Fugitive Taskforce, that’s one of the things that I wanted to start off with. That’s something extremely important about the agencies, correct?

Michael Hughes: Yes, it is. The Regional Fugitive Taskforce was started back in 2004, the capital area, Regional Fugitive Taskforce, and it’s basically, it’s been significantly it’s been really successful in getting a lot of violent fugitives off the street. It’s a conglomeration, cooperation between, dozens, over 100, I believe, if you take it with a totality of all the agencies involved, between D.C., Virginia, and Maryland and it’s been extremely successful and taken thousands of violent offenders off the street.

Len Sipes: Now I go back to my earlier experience, nobody asked me about parole and probation when I was a police officer so many years ago. What’s the role of parole and probation and CSOSA in terms of the Regional Fugitive Taskforce, Nancy?

Nancy Ware: Well, we are a member of the Fugitive Taskforce and we participated in other initiatives that are partnership initiatives with the U.S. Marshal Service, which includes two Fugitive Safe Surrender initiatives over the past –

Len Sipes: Yes, very successful.

Nancy Ware: Yeah, past, I guess seven years now. And they have been very successful, so you know, Marshal Hughes can talk a little bit more about their experiences when they have to go out and execute a warrant, but I think Fugitive Safe Surrender has helped us to promote people turning themselves in if they have a warrant.

Len Sipes: Well, yeah, I mean, we’re talking about 900 last time and we’re talking about 600 the time before that. I mean, that’s 1500 people with warrants who voluntarily, voluntarily gave themselves up.

Nancy Ware: That’s right.

Len Sipes: One time at a church, one time at a court. And so that’s phenomenal. I mean. . .

Nancy Ware: It was very successful. The partnership was phenomenal, as you said, because we had the Marshal Services a part of it and really kind of leading it and then we had the courts, of course, and other law enforcement partners, Pre-Trial Services, Public Defender Services, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney Generals, all there, helping us, as well as efforts from the D.C. government for treatment options, employment options, housing options, were all there. So that as folks came through, they could actually also take part in discussions with other agencies about what kinds of things that they could take advantage of. But the interesting part with this last Fugitive Safe Surrender was that it was during a hurricane season near D.C., a very rare hurricane season, as Assistant Chief Newsham reminded me, and it was interesting, the last day, when it was the most violent winds and rain was the day that we had the most participants. They came down to the courthouse anyway to participate in Fugitive Safe Surrender. So I think that it’s a very valiant effort on the part of D.C. Partners and the law enforcement partners in D.C. and the U.S. Marshal Service in promoting this particular initiative.

Michael Hughes: And I think that it gives, there are many benefits from it, like self accountability, the individuals are actually taking responsibility themselves and turning themselves in. The safety factor, where we don’t have to go out and track them down, possibly causing some safety issues out there. And what’s also interesting about the second one is 98% of, I believe around 98% were actually released when they turned themselves in.

Nancy Ware: That’s right, that’s right.

Len Sipes: They were released when they turned themselves in or after they turned themselves in. You know, I get back to that issue of serving warrants and how dangerous it is. I’ve served warrants in a prior life, I know how dangerous it can be. The safety of the individual officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Marshals Office was paramount in our minds in terms of putting together Fugitive Safe Surrender because what you all do is extraordinarily dangerous, serving warrants is not an easy thing to do.

Michael Hughes: It’s, last year unfortunately we lost two of our own and we haven’t lost any one to gunfire [INDISCERNIBLE 00:22:41] since about 1992, actually, so we lost two deputy marshals last year, one from St. Louis, and one from West Virginia, which actually caused us to step back, pause, take a look, what are we doing? Because the officer safety is always paramount and that’s always number one and it’s not an easy job. And what makes cooperation so important is what comes out of that, looking at the information that we get, working together with our partners: with CSOSA, with MPD, with all our law enforcement, criminal justice partners to actually mitigate the risk and successfully execute these warrants in a safe and secure manner.

Len Sipes: The whole issue that I brought up on the first half of the program was the individual police officers working with the individual community supervision officers under CSOSA. Does that happen within the U.S. Marshal Service? Is it a top down program or are the individual officers, both on our side and the Marshal side, are they exchanging information at the street level?

Michael Hughes: My experience, they’re doing it on the street level, and we’re doing it at the top level.

Len Sipes: Good.

Michael Hughes: We are constantly communicating, looking at ways to make things better, looking at ways that we could improve criminal justice efforts, public service initiatives and I know that my deputies are doing the same thing, because I hear it and we’re getting great cooperation from CSOSA and from MPD and all our partners as well.

Nancy Ware: Yeah, we have an initiative actually that has been really successful for our offenders and it’s in a partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service. We recently put in place a warrant unit that we work closely with the Marshal Service on executing warrants and it’s really helped us to work with the warrants, the outstanding numbers of warrants that we’ve had, so that we’ve reduced our warrants 31%. So we’re very, very pleased with that partnership and we think that it’s been very successful in helping us to even in some cases, quash warrants.

Len Sipes: Well, taking as many warrants off the street as humanly possible serves both CSOSA and our safety, the safety of our personnel, as well as the U.S. Marshals. The focus on high risk offenders, Nancy you talked about that on the first half and the fact that they have to have the treatment, the treatment is absolutely necessary, we can’t take people who are strung out on drugs and having real mental health problems and not being assisted. So I think the larger criminal justice system understands that we have to do that if we’re gonna be successful. Marshal Hughes, you, I would imagine, buy into that concept of focusing the bulk of the resources on those who pose the greatest risk to public safety?

Michael Hughes: The high risk offenders? Yeah, that’s important of course to address that.

Len Sipes: Now where do we go to from here, in terms of the future? I mean, this is something that I think the two of you have been, you know, you were sworn in together, you’ve been talking together, what do you see is the future for not just necessarily the Marshal Service, but in terms of cooperation between the a parole and probation agency – our agency, and the U.S. Marshal Service, whether it be whether it be the U.S. Marshal Service or the Housing Authority, police department or the Secret Service? Where does it go? I mean, is it always going to be the information exchange that’s the heart and soul of it?

Nancy Ware: Well, the information exchange, of course is very important and we try to share information with all our law enforcement partners, taking into account that there are privacy issues too, that we can’t share certain pieces of information but our primary mission is public safety. And so we are committed to working with partners across the D.C. law enforcement community and the Marshal Service is very important to us in that regard. As far as the future’s concerned, we are both members of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for the District of Columbia, which is. . .

Len Sipes: Right, that you used to run.

Nancy Ware: That I used to run, which is now so aptly run by Director Mannone Butler and it really comprises 16 law enforcement partners across the city who come together on a monthly basis to talk about the various challenges that we all face in D.C. in terms of making sure that the city is safe. And so we always are thinking of ways, and looking at ways, and looking at the data and the trends in the District of Columbia to see how we can do better in terms of our collective resources and our collective approach to public safety.

Len Sipes: Marshal, you’ve got 30 seconds, what message would you give to other law enforcement agencies throughout the country or for that matter, throughout the world about cooperation?

Michael Hughes: Cooperation is key to the most efficient and effective law enforcement efforts that we could have. We have to work together, everybody has pieces of the puzzle. We bring them together, it’s the best for efficiency and safety and I think, I think that everyone should buy into that.

Len Sipes: All right, Marshal Hughes, Director Ware, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we really appreciate you being with us today on D.C. Public Safety, watch for us next time as we explore another very important topic in our criminal justice system. I want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[ Video Ends]

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Hiring Offenders – What Works-DC Public Safety TV

Hiring Offenders – What Works – “DC Public Safety”

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our radio shows, blog and transcripts.

Television Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes:  Welcome to DC Public Safety, I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today’s program is about employing people as they’re released from the prison system.  And ladies and gentlemen, 700,000 people are released every year, each year, from state and federal prisons.  Now the interesting part of this is that 50 percent go back to the prison system after three years.  Those are national statistics.  Concurrently, 50 percent on any given day are unemployed again, according to national statistics.  Every Governor, every Mayor of the country is concerned about this issue, so we’re going to be talking about what it takes to employee people after they leave the prison system.  We have two national experts with us on the first half of the program, P. Elizabeth Taylor, Correctional Program Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections, and Constance Parker, Administrator of the Maryland Reentry Initiative, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and to Pat and to Constance, welcome to DC Public Safety.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Thank you.

Constance Parker:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, now this is an extraordinarily important topic.  As I said in the introduction, Mayors and Governors, all Mayors, all Governors are very concerned about this.  We have massive numbers of people returning to prison every year.  The big concern is finding them jobs.  And I want to get this clear from the very beginning, there are people who have left the prison system, who have left the correctional system; they’re employable; they’re a long time away since their last drug positive or infraction, and some cases they’re years away from their last criminal event.  They have skills; they have honest to God skills, but they’re not finding work because of their criminal history.  Pat, am I right or wrong?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  That is true.  But part of the problem is a lot of times these transitioning adults, these offenders, aren’t aware of what their skills are.  They don’t know what their skills are, and their job providers, their staffs are unaware as well.  So at the National Institute of Corrections, we’re advocating for training, training that will result in a collaborative relationship between the offender, the practitioner and the employer.

Len Sipes:  Well, that is the big thing in the National Institute of Corrections, part of the Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice, you guys, everybody in the correctional field, my field, everybody turns to you all for guidance and direction and thank God for the National Institute of Corrections, you do a great job.  You put out this long series of videos that really do try to get people in local and state systems trained in terms of what it is to find people employment, correct?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Yes, we do.  And in our training series, we start at the beginning which is with collaboration.  And if you redefine collaboration, it no longer becomes what can I get from you as a practitioner, but what can we accomplish together.  So we have the beginning of the training which is the Offender Employment Specialist Training, which helps the practitioner identify their stakeholders, their partners in the field.  Then we go to the Offender Workforce Development Training, and it’s theory based, and it helps the practitioner respond to the basic questions that the offender will bring to the table.  Am I the type of person that an employer will want to hire?  What type of skills do I have?  And when I identify my skills, what type of position should I pursue and how do I go about securing that position?  And once I get that job how do I maintain employment?

Len Sipes:  So first all, the first lesson of today, because I’ve been asked throughout the course of this program to lay out lessons learned.  And ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to put lessons learned all throughout the programs.  All of our guests today have given us lessons learned and we’re going to put them up throughout the program.  So the first thing is train your staff and train your staff well.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  But you mention collaboration, and Constance, I’m going to go over to you for that question, what do we mean by collaboration?

Constance Parker:  Well, what we mean by collaboration is pulling of the resources, the agencies, and the community organizations, the employers, as well as the offenders and ex-offenders, pulling together a team that works together bringing all of their expertise and resource to help increase the opportunity for improved employability of our offender population.  Now breaking that down further what that really means is that when individuals come back into the community, they have a series of barriers, and employment is one of the goals that they have.  However, there may be other barriers that may keep them from achieving that employment –

Len Sipes:  Mental health, substance abuse.  Yes.

Constance Parker:  Yes, housing and other issues.  So what we do is we pull together people with housing, people with child-support enforcement, people at one-stop  career centers, employers, we work together as a team to see how we can assist that individual in becoming more employable.  We utilize employers to let us know what it is they’re looking for.

Len Sipes:  Either one of you can answer this question.  I’ve been doing this for 20 years; it’s not as if they’re embracing our folks, the people that we’re responsible for, people coming out of the prison system, those collaborations are sometimes difficult.  I have been told, “Leonard, we have veterans to take care of, we have the elderly to take care of, we have school children to take care of, we have people who are out of work who haven’t committed a crime, why are we doing anything special for people coming out of the prison system?”

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  But it’s not doing anything special, it’s doing what is right.

Len Sipes:  What is right means what?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  What is right means that you’re looking at public safety, and you’re looking at, and you mentioned the 700,000 people that are coming out, coming back into our community, but there’s also 9 million cycling in and out of our jail systems.  You have 97, 98 percent of all the offender populations coming home.  It is a question of public safety.  It’s the right thing to do to embrace the transitioning person because they are part of the community.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s a very important point.  Because we’re not talking about charity, we’re not talking about asking people for favors, first of all, we’re talking about people with skills who are safe risks, right?  We’re not talking about people coming fresh from the prison system who has an anti-social personality, we’re talking about people who have skills, there’s time between themselves and their last crime and their last infraction and their last positive substance abuse test.  They are employable now.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And the point to be made – and this is what we advocate at the National Institute of Corrections – you must have an ongoing assessment process.  You must assess those risks, those criminogenic risks.  And what we’re finding, and research will prove this, will show this, the same risks that would have resulted in a person losing their job through being fired or just walking off the job are the same type of issues that may lead me back to reoffending or to some type of criminal offense.  So if you have that assessment on the front end, help me identify my barriers, my challenges to self-sufficiency.  And that’s part of the training process at our Institute, at NIC.

Len Sipes:  Now Constance, going back to Pat’s reference to public safety, it is all about public safety.  We’re talking about fewer people committing fewer crimes and fewer people going back to prison.  We’re talking about public safety, we’re talking about saving taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars, not building new prisons, a lot is riding on what we do here today, correct?

Constance Parker:  Yes.  And you talked about public safety and reducing the taxpayers –

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Burden.

Constance Parker:  – burden, however, we’re also increasing the tax level if we are employing people.

Len Sipes:  Right.  And we’re also reconnecting offenders with their kids, because most have kids, so it’s a win-win situation for everybody.

Constance Parker:  It is.  And when Pat was talking about the assessment, one of the things that we do, we have the adult and correctional education as a part of the Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation.  And they have programs within our state prison systems that actually help prepare folks before they come out and there are assessments that are done inside through the transition programs that are there.

Len Sipes:  Another point in all of this that you ladies brought up was the fact that there has to be training.  There has to be programs within the prison system and there has to be programs outside of the prison system to deal with employment, to deal with GED programs, to deal with mental health issues, to deal with substance abuse issues, but we all know that states are cash strapped.  The federal government is cash strapped.  It’s not as if we have enough programs for everybody who needs them.  That’s the other part of the problem.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  This goes back to collaboration.  The only way to do more with less is through collaboration.  So it’s one thing to identify the needs of the person, but what organization or agency out there can better meet that need.  Again, collaboration, what can we accomplish together?

Len Sipes:  Right.  The point we’re saying is that it’s not all government, it can’t be all government, it will never be all government.  The Salvation Army has programs, faith-based institutions have programs.  Literally, in a program that we employ here in Washington, D.C., through my Agency, the faith-based program, we’ve got hundreds of churches and hundreds of offenders involved, and they’re getting all sort of things every single day from child care to housing assistance to job training, through the faith-based community.  So that’s the collaboration we’re talking about, right?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  It is –

Constance Parker:  Yes, and that’s –

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  I’m sorry.

Constance Parker:  But that collaboration, what we are doing is that we’re building that collaboration from the inside out so that we’re bringing in many of those resources prior to a person being released.  In addition, in the Maryland prison system we also have 18 occupational skills trainings that provide individuals who go through those trainings with national and state certification so when they come out they have a marketable skill.  And very often, we work to connect them with employers prior to their release.

Len Sipes:  What’s our message to employers, ladies?  Training has to be there, collaboration has to be there, we need to have our folks trained in terms of, say, motivational techniques.  I mean some of the folks coming out of prison, they don’t trust us, they don’t trust anybody.  They’re very caustic.  They’ve been in the prison system.  We’ve got to motivate them to find the different things that are out there, we’ve got to encourage them, we have to supervise them.  So that’s part of it, that’s part of the training part of it right, Pat?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And that brings me to the third tier of our training which is the Offender Retention Training, which blends together motivational interviewing techniques with a cognitive behavioral process.  And so quite simply what we’re saying is that if I change the way I communicate with you and develop a relationship with you, me as a practitioner, there’s a client centered, non-threatening relationship.  And because of our tone of our conversation, I’m able to look at the connection between my feelings and my connections in my behaviors.  And if done correctly, we’re talking about a hand off.  So my case management by combining motivational interviewing with cognitive behavioral therapy, or support, results in self-management.

Len Sipes:  Cognitive behavioral therapy.  Now all three of us know, because we read the literature, that it really does work.  Constance, you tell me what is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Constance Parker:  I knew you were going to ask me that!  It’s really helping an individual look at their behavior patterns and make choices as to what they want to change and how to change it.

Len Sipes:  Thinking through things differently, learning how to look at life’s issues differently, learning how to think through life’s problems differently, learning how to shape the background that brought them into the prison system to begin with –

Constance Parker:  And part of that training talks about change talk.  So when you get folks able to, in a situation, begin to hear themselves and change the way they would have approached that particular problem.  And as you begin to say things differently, and you begin to hear it, you begin to move in that direction.  The other thing is this training is important because we’re training the professionals who are working with the individuals.  Without that piece it would make no sense.  If we, as professionals, don’t know how to relate to an individual, don’t know how to help that individual find within themselves the ability to make that change, then we’re doing a disservice.  We can’t change anyone.

Len Sipes:  Okay, we have to wrap up soon.  What I’m hearing is train the staff, train the offender, go through that thinking process and join in a collaborative effort with everybody in the community to try to help that person as much as humanly possible and to find that person work, correct?

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  Right.  And understand from the employer’s perspective.  We’re living in an employer driven workforce right now.

Len Sipes:  Yes, we are.

P. Elizabeth Taylor:  And we need to understand what their needs are.  The old way of doing things, the face them and place them, did not work, it will never work.  That is how we operated.  As we develop these collaborative relationships with employers, they need to know that we are truly developing this partnership with them.  We will do our work on the front end, we will find out about your industry, we know about labor market information, we’re not attempting to dump people.

Len Sipes:  And we have to close on that, ladies.  Thank you very much for being with us.  And ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.  Watch for us in the second half when an individual from my Agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, who is in charge of the process of finding people employment when they leave the prison system and a person who hires offenders leaving the prison system.  They’ll be with us in the second half.  Please stay with us.

Len Sipes:  Hi, welcome back to DC Public Safety, I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes.  We continue to talk about this whole concept of employing people as they leave the prison system.  As I said at the beginning of the first part of the program, 700,000 people leave prison systems all throughout the United States and the federal system, half go back after three years and on any given day about half seem to be employed.  In the first half, we had two national experts talk about principal points that everybody needs to understand in terms of making sure that as many of these individuals as possible are employed upon release.  In the second half, we have people from Washington, D.C., my Agency, Tony Lewis, an Employment Specialist with Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and Furard Tate, Owner of Inspire Food Management, and Tony and Furard, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Furard Tate:  Thank you, very much.

Tony Lewis:  Thank you, very much.

Len Sipes:  Hi, Tony, the first question goes to you.  You’re part of a team that finds individuals work.  They’re under our supervision.  They can be on parole, they could be on mandatory, they could be on probation, you’re working with employers.  How difficult is that?

Tony Lewis:  Pretty difficult.  But at the same time, in the VOTEE unit, we do a lot of work on the front end in terms of assessments from a literacy standpoint, skillset standpoint, and also from a behavioral standpoint to make sure that when we do refer individuals for positions that they’re one, ready, that they’re capable and also that they’ve shown to us that they’re committed to changing their lives.  So I think when we do that we give ourselves a better shot but at the same time it’s a very difficult situation.

Len Sipes:  The message I gave in the first half, does it apply?  There are individuals who are years away from their last criminal activity, years away from their last positive drug test, they have no infractions, they have real skills, but they’re not finding work because of their criminal history.  They’re perfectly employable, they’re not a risk to public safety, but they’re not finding work.  Is that accurate?

Tony Lewis:  That is very accurate.  Very accurate.  We have individuals that are extremely employable, ready to work right now, can come in and help a business grow, increase the productivity of a company, but sometimes, or most times, their criminal history kind of gets in the way of that.  And we, myself, people like me, people in the VOTEE unit, we try to develop relationships with employers such as Mr. Tate and other employers so that they believe in us enough to give somebody a shot.

Len Sipes:  And a quick summation.  Everything that our national experts suggested on the first half, we do the assessments, we provide GED skills, we provide cognitive-behavioral therapy or thinking for change skills, we work with the individual to try to improve their skills as much as humanly possible before we send them out to the job interview, correct?

Tony Lewis:  That’s very correct.  And the experts before us were very on point about what’s necessary to make this work.  And we also try to do research in terms of market research and research what the employers need and present that to the employer.  I think when we do that we put the employer in a situation where they feel comfortable enough to say, “Hey, because this guy has the skillset from a business standpoint.”  I think that’s the most important thing, can this person come in and do the job.  And it’s not a sense of entitlement on behalf of the offender, it’s we have what you need.

Len Sipes:  Before going over to Mr. Tate, I did want to point out that on our website, www.csosa.gov, www.csosa.gov, on the front page of the website, we have been hiring people under supervision.  And we have radio shows, television shows, we have information about tax credits, because there are tax credits available –

Tony Lewis:  Federal bonding programs.

Len Sipes:  Federal bonding programs, so all of that information is available on our website.

Tony Lewis:  And our number.

Len Sipes:  And your number.  But it doesn’t matter whether the program is being seen in Honolulu, Kansas City, or in Washington D.C., I just want everybody to know that that information is available on the website about the tax program, the bonding program and the tax program, because these are federal programs.

Tony Lewis:  Right.  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  Mr. Tate?

Furard Tate:  Hey, how are you?

Len Sipes:  I’ve been looking forward to talking to you.

Furard Tate:  Come on.

Len Sipes:  First of all, you’ve got a great website which we’re going to be throwing up on the screen.  I could not look at that site without feeling hungry.

Furard Tate:  All right.

Len Sipes:  That’s some of the most beautiful pictures of meat I’ve ever seen in my life!

Furard Tate:  Wait until you taste it!

Len Sipes:  I am.  I’m going to have to stop by.

Furard Tate:  Please do.

Len Sipes:  Now, from an employer’s perspective –

Furard Tate:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  We’re the government, we’ve got people out of the prison system, we have people involved in the Criminal Justice System, and we want you to consider hiring these individuals.  We don’t say it from a public safety point of view, we don’t say it from the standpoint that this is the right or the wrong thing to do, we’re just saying we are going to help you find the right person.  Do you buy that?

Furard Tate:  No.  I still say why.  But that’s why business owners have to look beyond all the great training that you all provide and still find what’s in it for the business owner and what’s in it for the person that you’re about the present to me.  We have to find that match.  We have to find that win-win.  So a lot of times, when you think about all the back end support that these individuals are getting, you still have to do the work as a business owner to make sure that it’s a perfect match.  You want to know that this individual has the skill and the desire to do the job that your company needs to take the company to the next level.  So it’s on you also now to begin to be a part of that whole connection to make a win-win for everybody.

Len Sipes:  But how do we establish that?  How do we, in government, how does Tony, the people that Tony works with, how do we in government convince you that we’ve got a person that you should be willing to take a look at?

Furard Tate:   He does it excellently.  We develop a relationship far before he brings the individual to me.  He finds what my needs are.  He understands what my business model, and what is my mission, and the culture of my company, be it a small company or a large company, there’s an environment.  So before you try to fit someone in, because he has a caseload with individuals ready to work, he understands what my needs are.  So he can articulate that to a group of individuals who are ready and eager to be employed.

Len Sipes:  All right.  So it’s our responsibility, in government, to bring you our best possible candidates and to work with you ahead of time and establish that relationship.

Furard Tate:  You have one chance.

Len Sipes:  One chance.

Furard Tate:  Because if not, you will actually destroy so much that I’ve built if you give me the wrong person.

Len Sipes:  Right.  Okay so really a heck of a lot rides on this.  What do you tell people caught up in the Criminal Justice System?  What do you tell the offenders?  What are the lessons that they need to know and what do they need to understand?

Furard Tate:  Get focused.  Identify what it is that you want to do, get educated on that.  There may not be a degree for it, but get focused on it, get educated and then get pumped up for you beginning to look at what are the available opportunities out there.  So you need to be even more aggressive in finding that employment than the people who are helping you.

Len Sipes:  So many of the employers that I’ve talked to in my career, they said bring me attitude.  I can teach a person bricklaying, I can’t teach a person attitude.  That person’s got to come, be on time every single day, he’s got to smile, she’s got to be cooperative, they got to be willing to work overtime, I don’t want to hear any drama, that’s what people need to understand, correct?

Furard Tate:  Well, it gets hot in the kitchen.  But if an individual is excited about becoming a chef, he loves the heat.  So he’s already excited about being in that kitchen, and he’s going to beat me to the kitchen.  So if we find that perfect individual, we got to go through a few individuals who just have the notion of being a chef, but the desire for being that chef isn’t there.  So whatever that business is, there’s someone out there who really wants that job.  Who’s going to show up on time, who’s going to perform and who’s going to do excellent work because it’s in them to be excellent.

Len Sipes:  Tony, now in terms of our conversations with employers, we have a problem getting people employed.  So obviously, when I talk to Mr. Tate and his enthusiasm, and Lord knows I love your enthusiasm as much as I love your website, as much as I love your product, we have a problem getting people employed.  They’re perfectly employable skilled people.  We’re not talking about the person fresh out of prison, we’re not talking about the antisocial personality, we’re talking about a person who’s ready for work.  So obviously, all the things that we’ve discussed today between the national experts and ourselves, there’s a bit of a disconnect, we’re not convincing enough people to give us a chance.

Tony Lewis:  I think the issue is, I think we need more involvement from the business community in some of these discussions.  Because a lot of the hiring policies are what the issues are.  It’s not always the individuals.  The individuals are ready to go.  Sometimes these companies, their hiring policies say you can’t have a felony.  And if that’s the case, no matter how qualified an individual is, that person can’t work there.  So right now, I feel that’s the biggest problem, we have to kind of work on the hiring policies of small and big business in the District of Columbia, and I guess nationwide.

Len Sipes:  But I mean how do you work on these hiring policies?  A lot of people are saying, “I just watched “Lock Up’ Up” on the cable channel last night, and I’m not hiring anybody from prison.  I’m sorry, I don’t care if they can spin gold.”

Tony Lewis:  Which I understand.  But I think we have to do a better job of highlighting so many success stories.  We have numerous success stories.  People that have come home from prison, from incarceration, done amazing things on all levels from a lot of different industries and also in the community.  We have to show that the person that you see on ‘America’s Most Wanted’ or ‘Lock Up’, that’s not the only perception of this population.

Len Sipes:  We’ve both talked to, throughout our careers at this point thousands of people who have successfully made the transformation from tax burden to taxpayer.  They’re working, they’re taking care of their kids –

Tony Lewis:  A whole lot.  They labor.  But what happens is, I think, when we talk about that, that success story can never have as much impact as the person that chooses to reoffend.  And that’s what we have to, we have to continue to hold those people up so that we get to a point where they begin to influence the perception as much as the negative images that we see.

Len Sipes:  Well, Mr. Tate says that one, just one screws up the whole process.

Furard Tate:  But see, I have more than one who has been with me for over ten years that started just out of an introduction.  So it’s hard to not let that one stop you.  But the fact of the matter is if I understand that this individual is on purpose, and it’s going to help me meet my bottom line, I’d be foolish not to give him or her an opportunity to be a part of this company to grow it.

Len Sipes:  But that’s what we have to do, we have to appeal to the bottom line.  I’m not quite sure we have to appeal to messages of public safety – and this is what this is all about, the conversation is about public safety, the conversation is not them going back to the prison system, the conversation is not about saving taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars, for us that’s very important, for you it’s the bottom line.  You’re a business person.

Furard Tate:  Well, that person is working eight hours plus he doesn’t have the time to reoffend, he’s working.  And then –

Len Sipes:  And he sees a future.

Furard Tate:  And he sees a future.  Because we make sure that each person is connected to not only our company, but to their own personal success.  So we’re asking individuals, because we, as a business owner, I have to be really aware of where he or her future lies and how I’m part of that.

Len Sipes:  What’s the biggest detriment?  Because I’ve talked to guys who’ve come out, they’re 35 years old, and says, “Man, I’m not going to be taking an entry-level position at 35, I’ve got a family to take care of, I’ve got myself to take care, I’m not,” that’s the wrong way of looking at it, correct?

Tony Lewis:  I think a great deal of that falls, we’re talking about their cognitive behavior, therapy, things of that nature, motivation, interviewing, therefore a lot of that falls on an individual like myself in the VOTEE unit because what we have to be clear on is that we have to explain to our clients that, hey, listen, you have to be willing to crawl before you walk.  That attitude is the wrong one to have.  And at the end of the day some of our guys, whether you have the skillset or not, you have to be accountable for what you’ve done and be willing to show and prove that you want to take whatever steps that are necessary to reenter society in a positive way, and that family needs to be the motivation that will make you take whatever job that is available.

Len Sipes:  We talked with the national experts about the fact that there has to be training programs in the prison system, there has to be training programs on the outside.  We talked about the fact that there’s got to be staff training.  We’ve talked about the fact that there’s got to be collaboration, and the two of you talked about that collaboration.  Before you hired anybody, Mr. Tate, you were in collaboration with Tony, and that’s the way that it works.  And then the final message in all of this is to the offender himself or herself.  You’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to be willing to work and if that means starting off at the very bottom all over again to build those skills, those people skills, those service skills, the ability to get along with your supervisor, work well with a team, those are the skills that you’re trying to reestablish, right?

Tony Lewis:  Absolutely.

Furard Tate:  And don’t look at it as the bottom.  Because if you’re doing what you want to do, if you’re doing whatever that industry is, this is where you’re starting, where you end up, it all relies on your ability to be excellent and do more than is expected.  So I tell people be motivated, be pumped up, be your best.  And I purposely guarantee you’ll see me, before I suit on, grilling in the morning, so don’t let where you are be such a downer because where you’re going to go, it all is up to you.

Len Sipes:  And it’s all part of being in a positive environment too.  Because what you’re talking about, Mr. Tate, is a very positive environment.

Furard Tate:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, thank you for being with us, really appreciate it.  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us, watch for us next time as we explore another very important topic in today’s Criminal Justice System.  Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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Supervision of High-Risk Offenders-DC Public Safety Television

Supervision of High-Risk Offenders – “DC Public Safety”

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our radio shows, blog and transcripts.

Television Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2012/02/supervision-of-high-risk-offenders-dc-public-safety-television/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is supervising the high-risk offender, and you know, there is a consensus amongst the criminological community at agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice, that agencies like mine, that parole and probation agencies should be spending the bulk of the resources, the bulk of their time on the high-risk offender. To talk about this concept, we’re really pleased to have two national experts with us on the first half; and then we’re going to go to the second half and talk with the people from my agency addressing the implementation of that research. So on the first half; we have Jesse Jannetta, research associate from the Urban Institute, and Bill Burrell, independent community corrections consultant. And again, we’re going to discuss the consensus in terms of the high-risk offender. Bill and Jesse, thanks again for being on the show. Bill Burrell, give me a sense as to what we’re talking about with this national consensus. First of all, is there a consensus; second, what is the high-risk offender?

Bill Burrell:  Well, there’s clearly a consensus. It’s based on a robust body of research from United States, from Canada, from other countries around the issue of “Who’s on supervision and how do we handle them?” And what the research tells us is that there is a group of people that are high-risk of re-offending when they’re in the community. Not every offender is the same. They have different backgrounds, different experiences, committed different offenses, their commitment to their criminal career varies; and the people we were concerned about, are the people that pose the greatest risk, the high-risk offender.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hmm.

Bill Burrell: The probabilities are very high that they’re going to continue to offend in the community, and these are the folks that we want to keep a close eye on, and provide close supervision to see if we can reduce the risk of them re-offending again.

Len Sipes:  Jesse, you’re from one of the premier research organizations in the country, the Urban Institute.  You’ve been taking a look at the high-risk offender for quite some time. The bottom line in this is the protection of public safety, is it not?

Jesse Jannetta:  It is, and one of the reasons, again, that there has been a greater focus on the high-risk offender – and this is a good instance where research and what it’s telling us is really tracking with common sense in many ways – in a situation where you have many problems, what you want to focus on is the biggest problem where you make the biggest impact, and that’s going to be the high-risk offender, since they’re the most likely to have more offenses and create more victims in the community. And what, in fact, we’ve seen when you look at a lot of the programming interventions for parolees and probationers in the community is that, in fact, that programming is more effective for high-risk offenders; you get greater reduction in their risk to the community. And, in fact, in many cases, if you look at low risk offenders and programming, you may, if you put them into intensive programming, actually make their outcomes worse. And so this has really driven supervision agencies all over the country to think about, “Alright, how can we make sure that we’re putting most of our resources, whether its supervision or treatment or both of them in concert on our high-risk offenders? How can we know who those are, and then how can we move away a little bit from intervening too much with the lower risk offenders to avoid actually making their outcomes worse and having a negative impact on what’s going on in the community in terms of public safety?”

Len Sipes:  Bill, back to you. This is a consensus, correct? I mean, within the criminological community, within organizations, within the Department of Justice, within the American Probation and Parole Association, there does seem to be a consensus that we move in this direction. I want to be very clear about that.

Bill Burrell:  Absolutely; and this goes back a good 20 years to research that came out primarily in the early 1990s, looking at the question of risk.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hmm.

Bill Burrell: And over those years, through conferences and workshops and experience with agencies, that’s begun to seep into the fabric of probation, parole agencies around the country; and few people contest it any more. It really is something that has become an accepted fact that there are high-risk offenders, and if we’re serious about public safety, these are the folks we need to go after.

Len Sipes:  Right, and Jesse, the research is supportive. I just read a piece from Abt Associates where they were basically doing what it is that we’re doing now, or propose to do; and they showed substantial reductions in recidivism. And when I say recidivism, we’re talking about real crime. We’re talking about people becoming injured. We’re talking about increasing public safety. So two of the three sites where they implemented this strategy, the best practices within 50 to one case loads, they were able to reduce recidivism and new crimes considerably. The one case where it did not happen, they didn’t implement it fully –

Jesse Jannetta: Right.

Len Sipes:  – so there’s good strong data in Abt, and as Bill said in lots of other research, that basically said this is the way to go. So it’s not just a consensus, it’s based upon hard research.

Jesse Jannetta:  Right and this is a research base that has, as Bill suggested, been developing over 20 years. And I think one of the things that has led to the consistency in those kind of research results is that we’ve gotten a lot better at working with the high-risk offender. The first piece we’ve gotten a lot better at is identifying who those people are out of all the parolees and probationers –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – than an agency supervises. So the assessment tools to build risk groups and say, “Alright, these are the people, if you look at this group, they’re the group that’s much more likely to re-offend.” The tools to do that have gotten a lot more sophisticated and performed better. And on the programming front, you know, over the years, we’ve gotten a lot better at both knowing what kind of curriculum, what kind of approaches work for good programming, but also a lot of information about what the staff needs to be like, when you put people in the programming, and so we’re in a much stronger position than we were –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Jesse Jannetta:  – 20 years ago, to say, “These are the people we need to focus on. We really can identify them in our population, and these are the tools that are going to make them less likely to re-offend.”  Twenty years ago, we had ideas about those things, but we didn’t have a strong ground to stand on in terms of having seen the results. But today, we are in that position where you can look at a lot of different jurisdictions and say, “We’ve proven this.”

Len Sipes: The risk and needs assessment that you just brought up, Jesse and Bill, I mean, we’ve come light years in terms of our ability to figure it out – but it’s not foolproof, I want to make it very clear right now – we can be 80 percent, and 80 percent is incredibly good in terms of predicting who’s going to fail and who’s not; but it’s not infallible – but we’ve come light years in terms of the level of sophistication, with validated instruments to figure out who’s antisocial, and who’s going to make it and who’s not.

Bill Burrell:  Am important thing to remember about these assessments, and you mentioned, is that they’re not perfect. These are probability statements about groups of people who look alike.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  They’re not individual predictions to individual offenders.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  Our technology doesn’t allow us to do that.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  So we plug into the assessment this body of information about people who’ve been under supervision before, and how they behaved and how they did under supervision, and we use that to develop a model that helps us identify those kinds of people in the existing population.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Bill Burrell:  The insurance companies have used this kind of technology for years.

Len Sipes:  Yes, they have.

Bill Burrell:  Actuarial models.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Bill Burrell:  So we’re very good at being able to put people into the right groups, but then we have to plug in the expertise of the probation parole officers to go beyond what the actuarial instrument will tell you; to begin the plug in unique things to that individual offender. So what the research tells us is, the instruments do a very good job – a little better job than any of us can do individually – but when you plug in the experience of a probation parole officer on top of that assessment, you get the greatest level of accuracy in terms of who’s likely to re-offend.

Len Sipes:  Right. It’s based on a machine read. Somebody’s got to make – somebody’s got to take a look at this and figure out for themselves if it’s correct or incorrect, whether or not it should be overwritten to a lower level, a higher level of supervision. Jesse, the research also says that treatment programs are an integral part of this, so it’s just not a matter of supervision, the research from the past basically says if you only do supervision, the only thing you’re going to do is revoke very high numbers of people and put them back within the correctional system. People who have mental health issues need mental health treatment. People who have substance abuse issues need substance abuse treatment. People who don’t have an occupational background need to be provided with information as to getting jobs, and how to present themselves. Correct or incorrect?

Jesse Jannetta:  Yeah, all of those things are correct. And the one thing that I would add to that, where there’s been an emerging consensus as well as the importance of it, is what’s called cognitive behavioral treatment, and this is based on the understanding that a lot of criminal behavior is driven by the way the people make decisions, the values and beliefs and justifications that they have inside themselves that may –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – support or justify after the fact, criminal behavior. And then the other layer is a lot of their associates. So if you have somebody who is hanging out with, and a lot of their friends are criminally involved, the odds are pretty high that they will be as well. And so a lot of that programming is looking at building skills to make better decision making, to do better problem solving –

Len Sipes:  And that’s what we mean by –

Jesse Jannetta:  – to be less aggressive.

Len Sipes:   – cognitive – better decision-making.

Jesse Jannetta:  Right. It’s about, you know, the way people think and make decisions –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Jesse Jannetta:  – determines a lot of their behavior. And so if you want them to make a different kind of decision than they’ve made in the past, you need to work on that really directly, and have them build skills. And that this often has effects not only in a criminal behavior, but it makes them more successful in employment.

Len Sipes:  And that is part of the research base.

Jesse Jannetta:  Oh, absolutely.

Len Sipes:  The research does back that up.  Bill, –

Bill Burrell:  I want to –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, please.

Bill Burrell:  I want to elaborate a little bit on that –

Len Sipes:  Please.

Bill Burrell:  – because we started out talking about the high-risk offender, and that’s determining who we’re going to work with.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Bill Burrell:  And once we’ve determined that, then we need to look at the individual factors as – and Jesse began to suggest – what we call on the field, criminogenic risk factors.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Bill Burrell:  Things that drive people to commit crime. That’s the second major thing that has come out of this 20 plus year body of research, is now we know what we want to work with offenders on. How do we want to change them? What are the things in their lives –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  – that drive them to commit crime.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  So that’s that – it’s kind of a – we know who to work with, what to work on, and the next part is how to go about that, and that’s the cognitive behavioral intervention.

Jesse Jannetta:  Right.

Len Sipes:  Great.

Bill Burrell:  Because much of what we do, the way we think, determines how we act.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Bill Burrell:  So if you change thinking patterns from criminal to pro-social, you get pro-social behavior and less criminal activity.

Len Sipes:  Okay, a very important point now. If we’re going to take all these resources and we’re going to place the bulk of our supervision, the bulk of our treatment sources on the high-risk offender, what that means is that with lower risk offenders, we’re going to do quote/unquote “something else”.

Bill Burrell:  Right.

Len Sipes:  Now what comes to mind is New York City putting the great majority of the people that they have under probation supervision on kiosks. They’re automatic machines. They look like the bank machine that you go to –

Jesse Jannetta/Bill Burrell:  Yeah, right.

Len Sipes:  – to withdraw, a ATM machine. Thank you. And that jurisdictions around the country are now using them to lower case loads. They’re using kiosk, but the kiosk example, the thing that surprised me is that up in New York City, they showed less recidivism using kiosks when compared to a control group. So there are ways of safely supervising and interacting with low risk offenders beyond person to person contact, correct?

Bill Burrell:  Correct; and I think the kiosk is a real interesting experiment, you know, in this country there is a love affair with technology. So any time you throw technology at a problem, we think it will fix it, but I think Jesse mentioned that intervening with low risk offenders more than you need to, can actually cause problems. So I think what you might be seeing in New York City is that we have reduced the amount of intrusion into those low risk offenders’ lives, and they respond in a positive way to that.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Bill Burrell:  People resist being told what to do, being forced into programs or services that they don’t really think they need, and we found a way to accomplish the monitoring objectives of supervision without overtly or excessively intruding in their lives.

Len Sipes:  But we’re not, Jesse, risking public safety when we do this; every parole and probation agency in this country, whether they cop to it or not, does have a lower level of supervision –

Jesse Jannetta:  Right.

Len Sipes: – for lower risk offenders. I mean, so that’s current, that’s happening now anyway.

Jesse Jannetta:  Right. I think the greatest challenge for parole and probation agencies in delivering on the promise of working with the high-risk offender, and what we know from research, is the research challenges. You have parole and probation officers all around the country that have huge caseloads –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – 80, 90, 100 people –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – and it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to meaningfully work on risk reduction things with all of those people. And working with high-risk offenders, I mean, as we’ve said, we’ve got this research about what’s effective, but this is not a situation where a little bit goes a long way. The kind of programming and interventions they need are intensive. You need to spend time with them not just in the programming, but the parole and probation officers enhancing their motivation, –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – keeping them moving on the right path, intervening when they might be backsliding a little bit, engaging their families, –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:   – their employers, the positive influences in their life –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – keeping them on track with their plan. You need time in the day to do that, and so there is some need to move around resources. One of the most interesting findings in that kiosk study in New York is that it’s not only the low risk offenders did better –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  – but the high-risk offenders also did better.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Jesse Jannetta:  New York City probation was very clear, “We’re going with kiosk for the low risk offenders so we can spend more time with the high-risk offenders, and they did better too.”

Len Sipes:  We have a minute left. The key in all of this seems to be the proper balance. The key in all of this seems to be a balance of resources and figuring out where to place your resources, obviously the high-risk offender. But that seems to be the tune-up, if you will, for parole and probation agencies to make them far more effective, and at the same time protect public safety. We are talking about fewer crimes committed. Am I right or wrong?

Jesse Jannetta:  That’s correct.

Bill Burrell:  And we have to be smart about this. We have to realize that all offenders are alike. They have different characteristics, different levels of risk, and we need to apply our resources in a way that responds to that information.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Bill Burrell:  And then once we’ve done that, then we need to use the techniques that have been proven with high-risk offenders to get the results that we want.

Len Sipes:  And Bill, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate you watching the program today. Stay with us in the second half as we take a look in my agency, the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency, in taking this research consensus that Jesse and Bill talked about, and implementing it within my agency. We’ll be right back.

[Program Break]

Len Sipes:  Hi, welcome back to DC Public Safety. I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes.  I represent the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency. We’re a federal parole and probation agency responsible for offenders in Washington DC, and what you’ve heard on the first half, that research consensus from two national experts as to the research on the high-risk offender, well now we’re going to be implementing it; and we have been implementing it throughout the course of the year. To talk about it, we have Valerie Collins, a branch chief of the Domestic Violence Unit for the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency; and Gregory Harrison, again branch chief for general supervision, Court Services and Offenders Supervision. And to Valerie and Greg, welcome to the program!

Valerie Collins:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Greg, the first question’s going to you. We’ve heard the researchers of people representing two stellar organizations in terms of that research consensus within the criminological community, within the government, that we really should be focusing on the high-risk offender. And the integral part of supervising that high-risk offender is first of all, discovering who that person is with a risk assessment instrument, correct?

Gregory Harrison:  You’re absolutely correct, and I think what CSOSA has done is actually fallen right in line with the research in terms of showing that we’ve identified the high-risk offenders versus those who are low risk. We’ve challenged our resources in their appropriate domains, and it’s showing that our offenders are pretty much providing, or being provided with the services that they need.

Len Sipes:  Right, and so when we’re talking about the high-risk offender, as far as CSOSA is concerned – and I think this matches the national research – we’re talking about sex, we’re talking about violence, we’re talking about weapons, and we’re talking about the ages principally 18 to 25. Now, it doesn’t have to really focus on all the variables that I just mentioned – there could be others – but principally it’s that part of our population, correct?

Gregory Harrison: You’re absolutely correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, Valerie; and we’re also talking about individuals that even though the current charge say is theft or possession with intent to distribute, we’re not taking just a look at the current charge; we’re taking a look at the totality of that person’s criminal history, the totality of that person’s social history, correct?

Valerie Collins: Yes, what we do is we look at the person’s entire history. We look very strongly at what their criminal background has been. We also look at other risk factors that they may have had. As you indicated, a person may be on supervision for something like theft –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins: – but if they’ve had, you know, armed robbery with a weapon, you know, in their past –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  – that is of course going to bump their supervision level up. And they would certainly get closer supervision.

Len Sipes: Either one of you can answer this. We’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of about a third of our caseload when we’re talking about high-risk offenders, correct?

Gregory Harrison:  Yeah, about a third in the high-risk area, one third in the medium, and a third in the low risk categories as well.

Len Sipes:  All right, now we said in the first half that the focus needs to be on the high-risk offender, that’s where the resources need to be, the treatment resources, the supervision resources. And, you know, it’s pretty clear that the research throughout the country is that this reduces recidivism, this protects public safety, focusing on that high-risk offender. But what that does mean is that for the lower risk offender, we’ve got to do quote/unquote “something else”, lower levels of supervision. And now we’re implementing the kiosk program where we are putting lower level offenders on kiosks, and so they’re going to be reporting to a machine; and if there are issues in terms of that reporting, they have to then contact a community supervision officer elsewhere, known as parole and probation agents. There still could be drug testing involved, so it’s just not the machine, but it’s going to be principally kiosk reporting for lower level offenders, correct?

Valerie Collins:  Yes, and actually there would be an officer who is assigned to those offenders who are on kiosk supervision.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Valerie Collins:  They monitor that kiosk supervision, they are able to look at reports to see if the person’s actually reporting in, –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  – ensuring that they’re still employed.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  They are also randomly drug tested.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  And so if, you know, the person is positive, then they would come back into the office and we would do intervention with that individual.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  So we do have a lot of things put in place so that we can actually make sure that we are keeping in contact with those individuals, that they are following the program that has been set up for them –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  – and again, if they are not in compliance, then swiftly we are able to direct ourselves to those individuals, to have contact with them.

Len Sipes:  But then again, that is to free up resources to focus on the high-risk offender, and that’s the person who possibly poses a clear and present risk to public safety. That’s where we should be going.

Valerie Collins:  And what that has done has allowed us to work much closely with those individuals who are high-risk –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  – so that the supervision officers have actually lower case loads for those offenders who we have –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  – identified to be the high-risk offenders.

Len Sipes:  Right. So we’re talking about what, Greg?  We’re talking about global positioning system tracking. We’re talking about working with local law enforcement, and we’re talking about in terms of a sex offender; a polygraph test. We’re talking about two new day reporting centers.

Gregory Harrison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  We’re talking about a whole wide array of strategies to stay in touch with that individual; and I’m going to dare say based upon the research far more than most states stay in touch with their offenders.

Gregory Harrison:  Certainly. But one of the things that we’ve done at CSOSA is we’ve made sure that our staff were more than prepared to address and handle high-risk offenders.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Gregory Harrison:  We’ve done that by showing that all of our staff were trained in cognitive behavior intervention –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Gregory Harrison: – as well as motivational interviewing.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  And when we – having done that, we’ve ensured that the staff would be ready to understand the assessments, –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  – be able to actually articulate their understanding of the assessment to the offender population. Because oftentimes the offender’s always saying, “You’re putting me in this program, you’re putting me in that program or referring me here and there, but you’re not telling me exactly why.”

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  So we’ve trained our staff tremendously in those efforts to ensure that the offenders have a clear understanding of what their expectations are, and why we’re using the resources that we’re using to channel them into using best practice resources –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  – channel them into the areas of compliance.

Len Sipes:  Greg, I’m glad you brought that up. And Valerie, the next question’s going to go to you. In terms of treatment resources, I mean cognitive behavioral therapy where we sit down and teach individuals how to think differently throughout their lives, and people sometimes smirk at that, but the research base is pretty clear that this reduces re-offending, it lowers criminality, it protects public safety. Those sort of treatment resources, whether it be mental health, whether it be substance abuse, whether it be our own facilities where we place people for an assessment, or place people for intensive drug treatment, the bulk of those treatment resources are going to go to that individual.

Valerie Collins:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Valerie Collins:  We actually have – we call our Reentry and Sanction Center, and that is designed to do a 28-day assessment on those offenders who are high-risk individuals.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  And what we do with them is that we bring them in–it’s an in-patient setting for 28 days–really look at what their needs are, their treatment needs are, and from there, we develop a plan for them, a treatment plan. And they may go out to another treatment facility; we may look at getting them some type of transitional housing so that they can get some stability in the community. And then, particularly in the Domestic Violence Unit, we have a treatment component where we are doing exactly what we’re talking about. We’re actually looking at, you know, how people think, and actually making some changes in their cognitive behavior –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  – so they will no longer be involved with those types of offenses in terms of domestic violence; giving them some alternatives and some skills so that they can be successful in the community.

Len Sipes:  And as we said during the first half of the program, that that treatment emphasis, it’s got to be a combination of supervision and treatment. It’s just not one or the other. If the person comes out of the prison system and he has mental health issues, those mental health issues need to be addressed. I’m not quite sure anybody could disagree with that; if you address those mental health issues, you’re gonna lower the rate of him being back in the criminal justice system. If he has this wild substance abuse history, that needs to be addressed. If he has no work history, that needs to be addressed. That’s what we plan on doing for high-risk offenders.

Gregory Harrison:  Yes, you’re absolutely right. And speaking about in terms of mental health, CSOSA has done a phenomenal job in segmenting our population in terms of needs.

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Gregory Harrison:  We have a unit that deals in services to the mental health population. We have a unit that deals and services the all woman population –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  – the DVIP population. So we’re really segmented pretty well, and it helps us to channel again our resources in the proper area.

Len Sipes:  Right. I mean, best practices. I mean, one of the things that I find unique about CSOSA is use of best practice, and we’ve been basically implementing best practices since the beginning.

Gregory Harrison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  I mean, CSOSA has been dedicated to a research-based approach, and we think that that obviously works. Alright, let me get into this. For that lower level offender who is going to get less supervision, they are also going to get less treatment. They’re also going to get fewer interventions; again, designed to free up resources for that person who poses a clear and present risk to public safety. What that does mean is that they’re not going to get drug treatment, say, from CSOSA, our drug treatment, but they will work with people in the community to try to get them drug treatment. But our priority needs to be treatment and supervision services on the high-risk offender, am I right?

Valerie Collins: You’re correct, but I think the other unique thing about CSOSA is that we’ve developed such strong partnerships in the community with law enforcement, you know, with treatment providers, so that we do have a host of resources that we can refer these low risk offenders –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Valerie Collins:  – on to, so that they can actually get their services in the community. And when you talk about best practices, when they’re off supervision, they’re already entrenched and embedded in what’s already available to them in their community.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  And we found that that has really helped.

Len Sipes: Well, the partnership part of this is crucial because in terms of public safety, I mean, working with law enforcement, whether it’s the Metropolitan Police Department or the Secret Service or the FBI, we work with them on a regular basis in terms of, you know, who’s doing well, who’s not doing well. I mean, individual officers work with our community supervision officers. So that partnership is there on the supervision side and the treatment side in terms of resources for individuals. My Heavens there is a faith-based program. I mean, thousands of people help getting them, you know, the resources of the faith community in terms of substance abuse or in terms of housing. So it’s the community partnership that is an extraordinarily strong part of what it is we’re trying to do.

Valerie Collins:  Yes, you’re right. And as we talked about earlier just with the whole transitional housing piece, you know, that’s something where we have a partnership with our faith-based providers. And not only do they provide transitional housing, they also provide mentors.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Valerie Collins:  So again, you really have that community support, and that’s what we find that particularly in reentry, that these offenders need.

Len Sipes:  Now Greg, you’ve been around a long time, because when people hear this concept of working with the offender, cognitive behavioral therapy, they’re not aware of the research; it’s sometimes a hard issue for them to grasp. But what we have to do is to get through to that individual offender, and not only in terms of supervision, not only in terms of treatment, but also in terms of incentives. We’ve got to break through that barrier, that wall that he or she brings to us, and we’ve got to work with that person as a human being.

Gregory Harrison:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  And where some people have a hard time hearing that, it’s true. I mean, we can reduce recidivism, better protect public safety, by breaking through and dealing with that individual as a human being; and that includes incentives and that includes working with that individual as a person.

Gregory Harrison:  Yeah, and it’s very interesting that you talk about incentives, because oftentimes we deal with when you’re in the world of criminal justice, we always talk about punitive damages and things of that nature –

Len Sipes:  Mm-hm.

Gregory Harrison:  – but incentives is something that CSOSA takes pride in, in terms of we do early terminations of some offenders.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  We make referrals oftentimes for them to come off supervision early. We actually, for those offenders who are on GPS where we’ve implemented curfews on them, we have reduced the curfew timeframe for them.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  As long as they are in compliance. But what we have to do a better job at is showing that our offenders are absolutely in the know –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  – about all of the interventions that we’re placing on them, and why we’re placing these interventions on them.

Len Sipes:  That individual can work their way off that high-risk status. I mean, we can, you know, day reporting and lots of contact and lots of programs and constant GPS; that’s not forever. As long as he or she goes along with the program, we ease them off that level of supervision. We may even ease them off a level of treatment. So that person can get off this designation, correct?

Gregory Harrison:  Yeah, certainly. And what we’ve done a lot of times – Valerie has done it, myself and my other branch chief co-workers – we’ve had what we call “call-ins”. We’ve actually taken focus areas of desire and brought all of those offenders in – whether it’s burglary or GPS offenders and things of that nature – we’ve talked to them about what public safety actually means.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  And what it means for them to be compliant and maintain a level of compliance, so that we can reduce their supervision that was from high-risk to a lower risk offender.

Len Sipes:  Right. And the bottom line in terms of the community watching this, regardless of where they are in the country, or Washington DC, all of this does protect public safety.

Gregory Harrison:  Certainly.

Len Sipes:  There’s now a national strategy that we’ve been implementing for a long time, but we’re going full throttle in that implementation, and we do believe that this is something which is in the public’s best interest.

Gregory Harrison:  But one thing I want to say is this.

Len Sipes: And quickly though.

Gregory Harrison:  In terms of low risk offenders, there are no guarantees. If an offender’s on kiosk, there are no guarantees –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Gregory Harrison:  – that they won’t re-offend.

Len Sipes:  Thank you.

Gregory Harrison:  But what we’re doing is putting in process in place.

Len Sipes:  Thank you, thank you. Alright, you’ve got the final word, Greg. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching the program as we examine the issue from a national and local perspective as to the high-risk offender. Look for us next time as we explore another very important topic within today’s criminal justice system; and please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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Sexual Exploitation of Children-DC Public Safety-US Department of Justice

Sexual Exploitation of Children – “DC Public Safety”

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our radio shows, blog and transcripts.

Television Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2011/07/sexual-exploitation-of-children-dc-public-safety/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes:  Hi, everybody.  Welcome to D.C. Public Safety.  I’m your host, Leonard Sipes.  Today’s show is about sexual exploitation of children, and you know what?  It’s really about a rescue mission.  The FBI estimates that on any given day there’s a million pedophiles online looking for your children.  The attorney general, Eric Holder, what he did was to frame a national effort to look at what we can do, what we in the criminal justice system can do, and to look at what you as parents can do.  To discuss this on the first half of the program, we have Francey Hakes.  She is the national coordinator for child exploitation, prevention, and interdiction from the U.S. Department of Justice, and we have Dr. Michael Bourke, chief psychologist for the United States Marshal’s office, and to Francey, and to Michael, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Francey Hakes:  Thank you for having us.

Len Sipes:  All right, did I frame all this issue?  I mean, we have a lot of people, a lot of concern, a lot of individuals involved in exploiting our children.  So can you frame it for me a little bit, Francey?  And can you give me a sense as to the national effort as announced by the attorney general, Eric Holder?

Francey Hakes:  Of course.  Some people have described the sexual exploitation of our children as an epidemic.  I would certainly describe the explosion of child pornography that way.  So last August, the attorney general, Eric Holder, announced our national strategy for child exploitation, prevention, and interdiction.  It’s the first ever national strategy by any government in the world, and it’s certainly our first.  It’s supposed to have three prongs: prevention, deterrence, and interdiction.  What we decided to do is bring together all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, all our prevention partners, all our sex offender management partners, our court partners, and most importantly, our parents and community groups together to bring this effort under one umbrella so that we can fight child sexual exploitation on all fronts.

Len Sipes:  The numbers that I’m talking about, they’re going up dramatically.  The numbers are astounding.  We’re talking about a huge number of individuals trying to violate our kids on a day to day basis, and when I say violate, we’re talking about psychological and physical bondage, are we not?

Francey Hakes:  Unfortunately, the children that are being sexually abused, especially the ones whose images are being traded like baseball cards across the internet, across the world, are being violated in increasingly violent ways, and we’re seeing increasingly younger and younger children being violated that way, and that is the reason that the attorney general and all of our partners decided to get together and start this effort, so that we could do something about it, and our ultimate goal is to eradicate child exploitation ultimately.

Len Sipes:  Michael, you’re the chief psychologist for the United States Marshal’s office.  You are an expert.  You understand these individuals; child sexual predators probably better than anybody else.  Who are they?

Michael Bourke:  Well, for eight years, prior to coming to the Marshal Service, I treated these men in federal prison, and the truth is there isn’t really one mind of a predator, you know, so to speak.  These men come in from all walks of life, they’re from all socioeconomic groups, they’re both genders, frankly, and these men tend not to burn out like other types of offenders do.  So really, when we talk about what is the sex offender, they, they’re folks that are our neighbors; they’re folks that are our coaches and civic leaders in our communities in some cases.  So they, most individuals that offend against children are actually known to those children and some have a very positive relationship in other ways with those children.

Len Sipes:  Well, help me frame it Michael, because on one hand, we have, according to the FBI, a million pedophiles online, and they’re trying to entice these kids into meetings, and they’re trying to entice them to exchange images.  These images are going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.  On the other hand, most sexual exploitations involved people who were known to the victim.  They’re the neighbor.  They’re the uncle.  They’re the coach.  I mean, what do you say to parents?  I mean, the numbers seem to be overwhelming.  What are the chief lessons to be learned here, and what prevention lessons can we put on the table?

Michael Bourke:  Yeah, I think, and Francey may have something to add to this, but from my experience, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online.  They need to be aware of who their friends are online, with whom they’re chatting at night, they should be paying as close attention to those friends as they do if their child’s going to go spend the night at someone’s home, and frankly, a lot of parents are a little intimidated by some of this advanced technology on the internet, children have a lot of access and avenues by which to access the internet, including mobile devices, and parents need to just get a little, get some additional education, and they need to pay attention to what these kids are doing online.  It’s a very dangerous place.

Len Sipes:  They’ve got to be aggressive.  We run, by the way, in this program, we run a commercial about parents intervening with their kids and their online experiences, but the parents need to be aggressive.  Is that the bottom line?  I mean that’s the principal prevention method, if parents are aggressive in terms of what their kids are doing, and keeping an open line of communication, so if that child is approached, he can go to the parent and tell the parent about this experience.  Am I right or wrong?

Michael Bourke:  Yes, I think that’s accurate.  And also that relationship is very important between the parent and child as well.  For the parent to have a relationship with the child where the child feels comfortable coming to the parent and saying, someone attempted to solicit, or asked me to send them a dirty picture.

Len Sipes: Right.

Michael Bourke: or something like that, so that the parent can take action because so much can occur despite parents best efforts…

Len Sipes:   Right.

Michael Bourke: these children can access the internet in a number of locations in a number of ways.

Len Sipes: Right.

Michael Bourke:  so building that relationship and that type of rapport with the child is very important.

Len Sipes:  Francey, you mentioned at the beginning of the program that The Department of Justice, for the first time, is bringing a coordination of effort in terms of parents, in terms of community organizations, in terms of law enforcement, in terms of everybody within the criminal justice system.  What is the bottom line behind that coordination, is it to be a more effective tool for prevention, a more effective tool for apprehension and prosecution?  What is it?

Francey Hakes:  Well, like I said, in the beginning, it’s really three prongs.  There are three main focuses of the national strategy: prevention, deterrence, and interdiction.  Interdiction is traditional law enforcement investigation and prosecution.  I’m a federal prosecutor, and I’ve been prosecuting these cases for 15 years.  That’s obviously very important and will continue to be very important.  But we’re never going to investigate and prosecute our way out of the problem.  The numbers are simply too large.  So deterrence is very important, and that’s where the United States Marshal Service and others, our state and local partners, through their sex offender management and monitoring, they are so key, and one of our best tools is going to be prevention.  We’d rather not have the victims to have to rescue in the first place.  We’d rather the children be empowered to protect themselves.  We’d rather the parents have the tools that they need to know how to protect their children, and so that’s why organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Netsmarts, these organizations give out free materials, they have websites, they give out free materials for parents, teachers, students, and groups to obtain the information that they need to protect themselves online.  It’s not just the parents, it’s not just the students, it’s not just the teachers.  It’s all of those groups, plus our community groups, that need to have the materials necessary to protect themselves, not just online, but in their day to day activities, I think sometimes in this internet world, we’ve become, and Dr. Burke is correct, that children have access to the internet through so many devices now that it’s, sometimes, I think, a little terrifying.  But we also have to remember that the majority of children who are being sexually abused are being abused by those that they know, and so arming them with the knowledge, the empowerment, the understanding of what is right and what’s wrong and what’s okay to tell, who to go to, a trusted adult, those things are very important.

Len Sipes:  Having those age appropriate conversations with the kids, informing them, but not scaring them.

Francey Hakes:  Exactly right.

Len Sipes:  Now, so all these statistics that I mentioned at the beginning of the program, one million pedophiles, and a 914% increase in the number of child prostitution cases,  do we have the capacity to deal with this?  Is the criminal justice system at the federal, state, and local level overwhelmed by this process?  Do we have the wherewithal to deal with this effectively, or are we fighting an uphill battle?

Francey Hakes:  Well I think, sometimes in prosecution, we always used to call it shoveling smoke because it seems like the more you shovel, the more that there is. And I think with respect to child sexual abuse it’s been around for a long time, we hope that we can eradicate it, and where I think, we’ve started well, we’re on a good path.  Are we somewhat overwhelmed?  I think it’s overwhelming.  I don’t think we’re overwhelmed.  There are huge amounts of effort going on at the federal, state, and local level, but the key here is what the national strategy was designed to produce, and that is partnerships, collaboration, and cooperation at all levels of government, including globally.  This has become, of course, an international problem with the advent of the internet.

Len Sipes:  A global issue, right.

Francey Hakes:  It is an absolutely global issue.  And so we’re working with industry on ways to solve the problem.  You probably heard the announcement last week from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Facebook and Microsoft.  Microsoft has invented a new technology called Photo DNA.  They donated it to the National Center.  The National Center, in turn, gave it to Facebook, and Facebook is going to employ this technology throughout their systems which will search for and find known images of child pornography so that they can be eradicated from their systems.

Len Sipes:  Wonderful.  Michael –

Francey Hakes:  So these are things that we have to do to work together and really think creatively between law enforcement, community, and industry.

Len Sipes:  Michael, can we persuade people who are child sex offenders, who are pedophiles, not to get involved in this, or is that drive, that’s going to be with them for the rest of their lives–can the system have an impact on their behavior?  Can we persuade them not to do this–that we’re taking sufficient actions that’s likely for them to get caught, can we persuade them not to do this?

Michael Bourke:  Yeah, it’s a great question, Leonard.  I think the answer is, it’s fairly multifaceted, but the short answer is that there is no cure for pedophilia.  There’s no cure for these fantasies and these drives, per se.  There is, however, for any of these individuals, a possibility of managing that behavior.  This is not something inevitable, this is a choice, these men are responsible for those choices, and women, and we can assist them in doing that with creative external management.  By that, I mean things like the registrations and outpatient treatment programs and things like that.  With proper external management and proper internal management, these men are capable of living a life in which they never harm a child.

Len Sipes:  Right, so treatment does work.  That’s one of the things I did want to get across.  Treatment does work, and we within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, our sex offender agency, we’re going to talk about that with two people involved in that unit on the second half, but treatment does work,  we can really persuade individuals who are on the edge.  The commercial that will run between the first and second half, we’ll talk about ìwhen did you become a child sex predator?î  Obviously, we’re under the opinion that we can persuade people who are on the edge not to do this.  This is wrong; you’re going to get locked up.  We can meaningfully intervene.

Michael Bourke:  Right, well there are individuals that, with those proper things in place, have a choice not to re-offend.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Michael Bourke:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  The final part of it is aggressive prosecution.  We need to go after them in every way shape and form and that’s what we’re trying to do with the federal, state, and local level, is to set up these dummy operations to pretend that you’re the 14 year old, the 13 year old, to monitor whatever it is that we can monitor, and to go after these people and arrest them and prosecute them.  Is that correct?

Francey Hakes:  Well that’s right, and that’s one of the reasons why we place such a high emphasis on technology and training for our law enforcement and for our prosecutors, because this is often a very high-tech crime, and we need a high tech solution, and that’s why we’re working with industry on things like I talked about, the Photo DNA initiative, but there are lots of other tools that law enforcement uses to keep up with the bad guys who are trying to assault our children.  There are very sophisticated groups out there that have banded together to discuss their deviant fantasies and to plan ways to sexually assault children, and we have to find ways to be just as sophisticated to break their encryption, to get into their passwords, to find a way to infiltrate these groups, and we are doing that at the national level in order to make clear to these would-be predators that they have nowhere to hide, and that’s why it’s so important for us to have very strong, firm sentences as well, because that is part of our deterrent prong.

Len Sipes:  Okay, we have one minute.  So through the national effort, for what attorney general Eric Holder announced, the Office of Justice Programs, US Marshals Office, Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, we can look them in the eye and say that we’re gaining ground, that we have the wherewithal to come after you guys.  Stop it.

Francey Hakes:  I think the message is, to the would-be pedophile out there is you’re probably talking to a law enforcement officer, and watch out for the knock at your door.

Len Sipes:  Cool.  Michael?

Michael Bourke:  I agree.  United States Marshal Service has also set up what we call the National Sex Offender Targeting Center.  It’s a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary intel and operational hub.  We’re looking in all corners for these men.  We are going after them when they fail to register, and we’re putting all of our efforts toward this problem.

Len Sipes:  We have to close now.  I really appreciate this stimulating conversation.  Ladies and gentlemen, Francey Hakes, National Coordinator for the Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction from the US Department of Justice, Dr. Michael Bourke, Chief Psychologist for the United States Marshals Office.  Stay with us on the second half of the program as we talk to individual parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers, who supervise sex offenders on a day to day basis.  Please stay with us.

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Len Sipes:  Welcome back to D.C. Public Safety.  I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, and we continue to explore this topic of sexual exploitation of children.  The first half, we talked to two individuals from the Department of Justice, and we framed the numbers, and the numbers are truly staggering, but what does that mean in terms of the local level?  We talked about the importance of partnerships, and we talked about the importance of people at the local level enforcing laws and providing treatment services.  To talk about what it is that we do here within the District of Columbia; we have two principals with us today.  We have Ashley Natoli, a community supervision officer for the sex offender unit of my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and Kevin Jones, another community supervision officer for the sex offender unit, and to Ashley and Kevin welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Ashley Natoli:  Thank you.

Kevin Jones:  Thank you for having us.

Len Sipes:  All right, Ashley, give me a sense as to this issue of the sex offender unit.  What is it that we do?  What is it that we do in the District of Columbia that’s unique?

Ashley Natoli:  Well, we supervise offenders who have either been convicted of a sex offense, had an arrest for a sex offense, or an offense that is sexual in nature.  They come to our unit and are supervised in our unit.  There is roughly about 450 active cases in our unit right now, about 670 total of all sex offenders right now.

Len Sipes:  Now, the interesting thing is what we at CSOSA do, and this is different from a lot of parole and probation agencies throughout the country, is that if you’ve had a sexual conviction in the past, not your current charge, but 15 years ago, if you had a sexual conviction, or if you had an arrest, you come to the sex offender unit, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  All right.  Kevin, I want to talk to you.  This is something that’s intrigued me from the very beginning of my time in corrections, that is, is that so many of the offenders on the sex offender unit are so compliant.  They dress well, they work, they show up on time, they dot their I’s, they cross their T’s, and they give every appearance of people who are compliant vs. other offenders, sometimes it’s pretty obvious that they have issues.  With the sex offender unit, the sex offenders, they can give the impression that nothing’s wrong with me, just spend your time with more troublesome people.  You don’t have to really spend that much amount of time with me, look at me, I do everything right.  Am I in the ballpark?

Kevin Jones:  You’re in the ballpark exactly, Leonard.  These guys are the most compliant guys on our caseloads.  They actually drug test as scheduled, always on appointments, on time.  They’re in the office, they appear to be, have all their ducks in a row.  I think our main focus is, what are you after you leave our office?  So that’s why we use a lot of our safety tactics, are that, we have a lot of collateral contacts with the offenders and the offenders’ families, and we really get to see what kind of guys they are once they leave our office.

Len Sipes:  Now, I guess I shouldn’t brag, but then again, I am the host of the program, and this is our agency, so I am going to brag.  We have one of the best sex offender units in the country, in my opinion, and what I’ve heard that from a lot of people, one of the best sex offender units.  We have very high levels of contact.  We drug test the dickens out of them, we submit them, they have to submit to lie detector tests, polygraphs.  We put them in treatment, sometimes through the treatment process we find out about other things, we search their computers.  We put them under surveillance, if necessary; we work with local law enforcement in terms of joint supervisions.  We go to their home unannounced.  You guys do it, and sometimes with our partners in the Metropolitan Police Department, they’re under a lot of supervision, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and what does that do for that person, either one of you?

Kevin Jones:  That person, as we do unscheduled contacts, it kind of keeps them off balance. Again, he has to be held accountable for, if he has no contact with minors, we assure that by doing home visits, and when we’re in home visits, we’re actually looking for things that might kind of be off the beat, maybe a possible toy, things of that nature in someone’s home, and at that point, they’re questioned.

Len Sipes:  Now it’s also extraordinarily difficult, at the same time, with handheld computers, commonly known as smartphones.  I mean, the smartphone that I carry every day is as powerful as a desktop computer five years ago.  You can do anything you want with a smartphone.  So yeah, we have the right to search their computers, but they may not be operating off their computers.  They may be operating off of a portable device, correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  How do you deal with that?

Ashley Natoli:  We look at the smartphones and the handheld devices similar to a computer.  We have the ability to search those just as we would a computer, and in most instances, the offenders will be having these handheld devices as opposed to having a computer,

Len Sipes:  Right. And the other thing that we are aware of too is a lot of the gaming consoles, such as Play Station 3’s, can be manipulated into being a computer as well, so we have to be looking out for a lot more than just a laptop in the home.  We have to be looking into what they’re using as a phone, what they have, and then we’re asking the questions and following up with the searches.  And that becomes the intriguing part of this, because it truly is a cat and mouse game.  Now I don’t want to overplay my hand here.  These individuals, in many cases, are compliant.  You’re supervising them, they are in treatment, treatment does work, you can take individuals, and they can control their impulses.  They don’t necessarily have to be out there offending.  But this is truly the, Dr. Bourke mentioned it in the first half, this is the master psychological game.  It is a psychological game, is it not, of cat and mouse, of looking for nuances of listening to individual little things that may not mean that much to another community supervision officer, but to you, means a lot.  Am I right or wrong?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Kevin Jones:  Yeah, that’s correct.

Ashley Natoli:  A lot of these offenders, they are masters of manipulation and deception, and that’s, in most instances, in a lot of instances, how they ended up offending in the first place, because they have an incredible ability to groom these victims, and they’ve mastered the art of manipulation, and so we have to be aware of that so we aren’t taken advantage of.

Len Sipes:  Well, tell me a little bit about the grooming of the victims, because we didn’t get involved in that in the first half.  They will go online with them, and they will have, not just hours of conversations, but days or weeks or months of conversation before they ask for a photograph, or then that photograph moves on to a more sexually suggestive photograph.  This is a process.  They’re very patient individuals.  Correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.  A lot of the guys that are in the grooming process while on sex offender treatment, a lot of that comes out in the treatment process, and once you find out that a guy might be on supervision, an offender might be on supervision for one offense, during that sex offender treatment process, you will find out that this offender has had multiple victims that he has proposed and that he has groomed, and this makes this offender a little more dangerous than what, from the outside, what it looks like to just this one victim.

Len Sipes:  And again, I mean, the idea of going in unannounced, putting on a GPS tracking device, but all of that, we talk about the technology, and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with the technology, it strikes me, the most important ingredient we have here in terms of protecting the public is the savviness of the people who are supervising these sex offenders.  Do I have it right?  It really doesn’t matter about the computer part, the GPS, and the tracking devices, and the lie detector tests, what really matters is your ability to read the tea leaves as to whether or not this person is truly compliant or not.  Am I right or wrong?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.  You have to be very patient and very thorough and leave no detail unturned.  Like with the GPS, we’re not just looking at, are they complying with their curfew, are they charging their device, we’re looking at, where are they going during the daytime.  So you actually look at all their tracks so you can know, did this offender go to the park, or was this offender near a school, so we’re aware of that, and we can put alerts on there so it helps us to identify that, but we have all this information, and if we’re not doing the right thing with it, then

Len Sipes:  And the neat thing about it is we can overlay Google Earth, so we’re taking a look at that intersection, and we’re not quite sure he’s hanging out at the intersection, but when we overlay Google Earth, a-ha, there’s a playground that didn’t show up on a regular map.  So we do have the technology tools to try and keep up with the individuals, but it’s really is more understanding who that person is.  How long does it take until you get a sense as to that sex offender?  How long does it take before you feel that you’re inside that person’s head, that person’s mind, that person’s modus operandi?

Kevin Jones:  Well, again, with the treatment modal-, coupled with the GPS, you can probably feel your offender out, I guess, in about two months, maybe, to that nature, and a lot of it is, you’re questioning his every move, which makes him uncomfortable, which is, at the same time, holds him accountable for where he’s going, so as long as he’s knows that he’s being tracked, and that we have exclusion zones from the zoo, from parks, and things of that nature, then that kind of keeps him in compliance.

Len Sipes:  And we’ll get word from the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement partners that we saw the guy spending way too much time outside of the St. Francis School.  It was a block away, and maybe he has a legitimate reason for being there, maybe he doesn’t, but that’s also the law enforcement partnership feeding us information, right?

Kevin Jones:  Yes.

Ashley Natoli:  Yeah, definitely.

Kevin Jones:  And apart with the law enforcement contact, we do unscheduled accountability tours, and that’s with our partnership with Metropolitan Police Department, and at that time, we also have what we call GPS clean sweep tours, where we will come do unscheduled accountability tours on an offender who has a GPS curfew of 7:00, just to make sure that they’re in place, that there’s no type of shielding, anything of that nature, and we also are really big on the Halloween project, where, that we will come to the offender’s home between the hours of 3 and 11, and he is to be in that home at that particular time.

Len Sipes:  Right, and we have found violations on the Halloween tour. We have found kids inside the home, and we have found them, they’re not supposed to be giving out candy, they’re not supposed to be decorating homes.

Kevin Jones:  Lights supposed to be off.

Len Sipes:  We roll up to the house, and there’s decorations, and there’s candy, so we’re trying to protect the public in that way.  The other major thing that we’re trying to do is look at social media, look at Facebook, but there are literally hundreds of sites that kids go onto.  I was reading this morning about going onto gaming sites.  You know, it’s not a chat room, it’s not Facebook, it’s now gaming sites.  So we’re now in the process of taking a look at social media and tracking that person through the social media process, correct?

Ashley Natoli:  Yes.

Kevin Jones:  That is correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, and there’s a certain point where we are going to be expanding this to other offenders beyond sex offenders, but that’s part of their world, and that’s part of the experience of kids, and if they’re going to be there, we need to be there, right?

Ashley Natoli:  That’s correct.

Kevin Jones:  Yeah, and we actually have a mechanism where we are monitoring Facebook, and we’ve had situations where we’ve seen our offenders who may have no contact with minors, and in his profile sheet, he’ll be holding

Len Sipes:  Right!

Kevin Jones:  a child.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Ashley Natoli:  And it’s not as simple as just searching them by their name.  You’re searching their aliases; you’re looking, searching by email addresses and different things, because a lot of it is not going to just be given to us.  We have to find the information.  It’s there if we search for it, deep enough.

Len Sipes:  Right.  We’re not going to give away our secrets in terms of how we’ve figured this out, but Cool Breeze was his moniker, nickname seven years ago, and son of a gun if he’s not using Cool Breeze in terms of his Facebook interactions, so there are all sorts of ways of getting at this issue.  So the bottom line is this.  What do we tell parents?  I mean, you guys are there protecting their kids, you’re protecting all of society, just not the kids, but you’re protecting society, protecting kids from further activities on the part of these individuals.  You know them better than just about anybody else in the criminal justice system.  What do we tell parents?  One of my chief messages is having an open conversation, so if somebody approaches that child, that child talks to the parents.

Ashley Natoli:  I agree, and I also think parents need to be aware that this is something real and that happens every day, and that a lot of people think, oh, it won’t happen to me, or it won’t happen to my children, but you need to be aware that it is a problem and it will happen, and you need to know what’s going on so that you can educate your children appropriately and know that this is real.

Len Sipes:  Well, the FBI is saying one million predators.  That’s just an unbelievable number of people.  I mean, they’re attacking your kids, correct, Kevin?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.  And a lot of it is, just like we were stating, collateral contacts.  You have to build a collateral contact with the offenders’ family members.

Len Sipes:  Right, and employers and friends.

Kevin Jones:  Employers, friends, significant others.

Len Sipes:  The bottom line is that you’ve got to get, and we’re going to close with this question, you’ve got to get a complete psychological profile of who that person is.  You’ve got to know that person better than their own mother knows that person, correct?

Kevin Jones:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  All right, we’re going to close on that.  Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Jones, community supervision officer for the sex offender unit, my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Ashley Natoli, the community supervision officer, again, with the sex offender unit.  Thank you very much for watching, and please, protect your children.  Please have an open and honest conversation and age appropriate conversation with your children.  Watch for us next time when we explore another very important topic in our criminal justice system.  Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

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