Community Based Support for Offenders and Their Families

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[Video Begins]

NARRATOR:  In January 1997, former President Bill Clinton outlined their vision to revitalize Washington D.C.  From this vision, CSOSA was created by the National Capital Revitalization and Self Government Improvement Act of 1997.  The central mission of CSOSA is to increase public safety, prevent crime, reduce recidivism, and develop collaboration with the community to expand the capacity to assist offenders and their families.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:  Hello, this is Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.  We are very fortunate in this city to have a fully funded federal agency, CSOSA, which supervises our residents on probation or returning to us from prison, and they do a lot more.  That residential treatment center, built from federal appropriation from the Congress, is very important, because it not only takes people off of drugs, it keeps them from going back to prison.  That leaves a lot more, a lot more than only community and faith based groups can do.  There‚Äôs a lot you can do.  There‚Äôs a lot that‚Äôs already being done by faith based groups, by community groups, and helping with job training, even with jobs, with housing, with mentoring, with reaching out to these D.C. residents.  Won‚Äôt you help us?

NARRATOR:  CSOSA provides probation and post-incarceration supervision for approximately 16,000 adult offenders in Washington, D.C, and provides comprehensive public safety oriented programming and treatment services combining strict accountability with meaningful opportunity.  Each year, approximately 650,000 offenders return from federal and state correctional institutions throughout the country.  Approximately 2,000 offenders return to the District of Columbia each year.  Most need supervision, services, and support to remain drug and crime free.  An individual‚Äôs passage through the criminal justice system from arrest to prosecution to sentencing through incarceration and release involves several agencies.  Judge Satterfield recognizes the need for innovative collaboration of the entire community.

LEE SATTERFIELD:  When it comes to the individuals that we see more often in our family court and in our criminal division, they typically are young people, they typically are male, and they typically have a host of number of issues that, if they could get resolved, could help them stay out of the system, and I‚Äôm talking about things such as education, many have dropped out of high school, have been truant since they were in middle school, so they lack the type of education that would help them maintain employment.  I‚Äôm talking about employment.  Employment is a necessary thing for anybody, and for anybody to become a productive citizen, employment is always something that is necessary.  And then many of our people that come before us, whether in our adult court or in our family court may have issues involving substance abuse, that they need drug treatment for the drug addiction that they have.  In addition to education, mental health, drug treatment, and those factors, we have things such as housing that‚Äôs also important as well, and so these are the kinds of things that I would ask the community to focus on in helping us help others who are coming back to our community having gone through the criminal justice system or the juvenile justice system.  Your help is needed to help all of our citizens here in the District of Columbia.

NARRATOR:  The results CSOSA seeks depend in part on cooperation from and effective collaboration with community based organizations.  Partnerships with community based organizations result in increased employment, training, and support programming for such services as housing, food distribution, healthcare, and clothing distribution, to name a few.

ASHLEY MCSWAIN:  Basically, Our Place was brought into existence to provide supports for women who were being released after a period of incarceration, and so Our Place provides baseline support, so when you are released from custody, you need clothing, identification, you need resources, access, and relationships.  We have a clothing boutique where the women come in who don‚Äôt have a lot of options for clothing.  We have a boutique that provides those things.  If a woman is interviewing for a job, she can come in and get clothing for that interview.  We also provide legal support.  We have a full time lawyer on staff.  We provide supports around employment, and we also provide HIV and AIDS awareness programs.

DAWN:  Our Place offers women that are coming back into the community many different things.  It gives you a lot of opportunities to get your life back together, but other things, there are other needs that women like me have.

PATRICIA:  When I came here for the first time, they, I did my intake, they‚Äôre very warm and welcome, which is very helpful, because getting back to society, it‚Äôs kind of hard, so they make you feel like that you are welcome back.

NARRATOR:  These resources create a bond between the offender and his or her community and a chance to interact with the community in a positive way.

BRENDA JONES:  Our current program is called Moving On: A Life Changing Program.  This program targets adults and parents living east of the river, and also ex-offenders and their families.  We provide workshops, year round workshops, weekly workshops, parenting, and also on empowering oneself.  We do that for the sole purpose, again, of helping persons who have made decisions in the past that might have gotten them in difficult situations now, helping them to make better decisions in the future.

DARYL SANDERS:  So, a few of our services that we provide, particularly around this area, is our fatherhood initiative, where we are training and working with fathers to become better fathers.  At first, you want to do that by working with them to become better men.  So the collaborative has trained all of the men within our organization to work with this population, to strengthen them, become better fathers, of course will make them stronger and better men, so that‚Äôs one particular area.  We also have housing programs for this population as well.  We have an intake program, so all of our services are provided through our intake department, but again, more services are needed.  The collaboratives cannot do this alone.  The issues are so, so intricate, and again, people think that, oh yes, yeah, they‚Äôre home, and things are fine.  No, there are many, many supports that are needed, there are many, many connections that need to happen that have been severed, and more support and more services are needed in this area for sure.

DERON TAYLOR:  Our program is geared toward assisting men and women who have had challenges, either obtaining or maintaining employment due to a criminal history or substance abuse history.  Our goal is to place these men and women with community agencies that are willing to help them in providing job service training or workshops for one year.

SHAKIRA GANTT:  And our mission is to reduce the incidence of childhood abuse and neglect.  One of the ways that we do that is through supporting parents.  The Georgia Avenue Collaborative offers many community based activities and fun events that will allow you to find out about resources, to get referrals, for job information, or even to develop your resume or to continue your education.  Although the collaborative has been around for 10 years providing these services to our reentering citizens, we have found increasingly that what we provide is really not enough for the need that is coming in.  We‚Äôve got an increase of residents coming in asking for these services, and the challenge has been figuring out how to really service them all, because things are so spread thinly that there just isn‚Äôt enough to go around, and so we‚Äôre really reaching out and asking for other organizations and agencies and entities to step forward.

Thomas Waters:  Marshall Heights Community Development has been in existence in excess of 30 years.  It provides wraparound services.  It‚Äôs like a one-stop center.

RICHARD MAHAFFEY:  I‚Äôm a Ward 7 resident and also an ex-offender.  I‚Äôve lived in Ward 7 most of my life.  My aunt lives in Ward 7 also, and she had told me about a program going on.  I was told about a program and a wiring class, and I was called and told that I would be able to get into it, and I was pretty happy about that, me and my family, because with just my wife working, things have been a little rough, and this program has helped us out gratefully.

NARRATOR:  When members of our community make unfavorable decisions and are held accountable by the criminal justice system, it is CSOSA‚Äôs commitment with assistance from the community to help rebuild lives, heal individuals, and bring restoration to families and the community.  The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions play a vital role in the strategy as well by communicating the need to extend resources.  Gaining their support is integral to CSOSA‚Äôs long term success in achieving their goal of reducing recidivism and reintegrating the offender into the community.

BETTY PAIR:  The success of that program and the success of the people involved depends on education, training, and housing, and if those things are provided, the program will be successful.

MARK DIXON:  We welcome them back in the community.  We need to do more things for them.  If we could have more people to come together, more churches come together, more community organizations, it would help, it would help this tremendously.  Then they won‚Äôt try to go back.  So we can do more things, the community could come together more and help support these people, work with CSOSA, work with other organizations that are out here, then we could help these brothers or sisters.

MARY JACKSON:  I‚Äôve worked with CSOSA for quite a while.  Matter of fact, since its conception.  Ward 7 open its arms to CSOSA and its returning citizens years ago.

SANDRA ‚ÄúSS‚Äù SEEGARS:  Some of the impediments that face the ex-offenders when they come back into the community is housing, not necessarily a criminal record, but credit worthiness, whereas they mess up their credit when they go in normally, and even ex-offenders who are not, who are not sex offenders, they‚Äôre welcome back into the community, but it‚Äôs the credit.

WILLIAM SHELTON:  Most of the challenges that I really see are individuals staying home.  I think that we really have to face a reality of whether or not, not only in this city, but if this country has really embraced the fact that our young people are going, they are incarcerated, and they are returning home, and whether or not we‚Äôre going to put together resources to really address and deal with that.

NARRATOR:  Working collaboratively with CSOSA, the community has an opportunity to establish itself as a mighty cornerstone in a foundation of supportive reentry services.  We have certainly been encouraged by the results of the participating organizations and institutions, and we look forward to expanding their capacity to provide value added services and include additional quality organizations.  Please consider joining CSOSA as we work to rebuild lives, reestablish values, restore social order, strengthen families, and change the communities in which we live and cherish.

CEDRIC HENDRICKS:  One of the very important jobs that I have is to work with our colleagues to build and strengthen partnerships with community based and faith based organizations, organizations that can help our clients meet their important social needs.  Among those needs are obtaining employment, expanding the level of education, strengthening ties with family members, and putting behind them crime and incarceration going forward as productive, contributing members of this community.  So I‚Äôm here to invite all community based and faith based organizations to join us in a partnership, expand the range of resources and services that we have to offer, and help make this city a safer place in which to live.

[Video Ends]

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

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