Day Reporting Centers for Supervising and Assisting Offenders

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This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=66

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to the radio portion of D.C. Public Safety. I’m Len Sipes. Today at our microphones is Curtis Atkinson. Curtis is the program manager of the day reporting center. I’ve been to the day reporting center a couple of times to do some focus groups on programs and to ask the opinion of the offenders who are there for the day reporting system and wow, what an interesting group. What a very, very, very challenging group of individuals. I remember doing the focus group and this was a pretty rough group. They were very challenging. Fugitive Safe Surrender was a program that was run by the Court Services and Offender Supervision agency as well as the U.S. Marshalls Office as well as the collective Criminal Justice System. We ask different people to voluntarily surrender and we had 530 people voluntarily surrender. But I wanted to talk to a group of offenders who were a fair test group of offenders and I found them, Curtis, in your day reporting program. These are the individuals who aren’t doing well from what I understand. Individuals who do not, cannot find work during the daytime so you bring them in. You find that there are individuals there as an intermediate sanction where they’re not doing well in the supervision for a wide variety of reasons so they have to report to you every day. Am I in the ballpark?

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Okay. Tell me about it.

Curtis Atkinson: Well, my guys are an interesting bunch.

Len Sipes: They are an interesting bunch. Let me tell you.

Curtis Atkinson: They really are. They really are. It’s an involuntary population. They’re referred by their probation or parole office due to the fact that they’re unemployed.

Len Sipes: They don’t want to be there?

Curtis Atkinson: They absolutely don’t want to be. And you know the first few days are usually the roughest but you know after a while they begin to buy into the program and actually subscribe to what we do. So, I think you came at the very early stages of a new batch.

Len Sipes: And they were a wild bunch. I mean, basically they sat there and told me that, look Mr. Sipes, not only am I not going to participate in this program, I would tell other people not to participate in this program. But it was interesting because after the full half hour, and they were getting on my nerves and I think I was getting on their nerves. They did tell me that by and large, this program is probably a pretty good idea; Fugitive Safe Surrender. Asking non-violent offenders with warrants to voluntarily turn themselves in and so they went along with it. At the end of the program, they said, yeah, we understand why you’re doing this and we understand why some people would participate. I’m just telling you, I wouldn’t participate.

Curtis Atkinson: They have absolutely no trust when it comes to the criminal justice system in general. Based on their experiences from the point of arrest all the way through the supervision process, so when you spoke about meeting at a church and actually talking about this program that could be to their benefit, they didn’t believe that what we were saying was true.

Len Sipes: Right. And there’s that universal mistrust. Not just in Washington, D.C. but of any group of offenders anywhere in the country, probably anywhere in the world of the criminal justice system. They don’t trust us.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. And that’s one of the biggest barriers that I have in working with the population on a daily basis, getting them to understand that we are here to help them. We’re here to assist them and we’re here to help them become reintegrated into the community.

Len Sipes: Right. To help them escape a life of crime and help them escape a life of drugs. We’ll get into that for a second. Who is Curtis Atkinson? Where do you come from Curtis and how did you get here?

Curtis Atkinson: I am here from Missouri. I was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, spent about 13 years in Baltimore completing my education.

Len Sipes: And that’s where I grew up and that’s where I was in the criminal justice system. Ballmur as we refer to it.

Curtis Atkinson: Exactly. I did primarily work with the juvenile population before coming to this agency.

Len Sipes: Which is a rough population.

Curtis Atkinson: They are very rough. That was a bit too much for me but I dealt with transitional age youth.

Len Sipes: Transitional what?

Curtis Atkinson: Transitional age youth. Those were the youth who were about to be waved to the adult system.

Len Sipes: The real tough ones. You love this real tough population don’t you Curtis?

Curtis Atkinson: I think I’m made for it. I do. I do because I try my best to have a balance between being tough and being fair.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: And I think for the most part, they understand that but dealing with transitional age youth, they used to tell us all the time, they would rather be in the adult system because there are less services.

Len Sipes: Fewer services and they don’t want those services.

Curtis Atkinson: They do not and they didn’t realize it is going to stick with them for the rest of their life.

Len Sipes: Get out of my face.

Curtis Atkinson: Exactly.

Len Sipes: Just let me do my time and then let me get back on the street.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Yeah. And that becomes problematic because they desperately need the programs. One of the things that research basically says is that you can watch them all you want and the population, citizens in not only Washington, D.C. but throughout this country, really want them supervised but at the same time, one of the things that we say is that the research very, very, very clearly indicates that it’s just not a matter of supervision, programs have got to be there. So, you’re a combination of supervision and programs because you’re there to try to help them get a job, create a resume, how you present yourself before an employer, referring them to programs that are clearly within their best interest.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. And you know one of the biggest things about the day reporting center are my community relationships. They really help to sustain the program. I have lists of about a dozen partners who work with me on a regular basis who are able to provide the services for the offenders in the community.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: So, regardless of whether they’re discharged to my program or not. Regardless of whether they’re on supervision or off, they can still receive services from these community-based programs.

Len Sipes: Sure. Sure. And there are a lot of people in the community that are willing to help them.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. There really are. There are a lot of resources that are being under utilized quite frankly and these agencies in the spirit of reciprocity, they’re providing a free service to CSOSA but we’re providing them with the numbers that they are so desperately need.

Len Sipes: Sure and I think that’s a two way street but our guys, if you will, because the overwhelming majority of our offenders are male.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: It is the paradox. They desperately need that 8th grade education. An 8th grade certificate. They desperately need the GED in this economy. In some cases they desperately need to learn how to write.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: In some cases, they desperately need to understand how to conduct themselves on the job and doing a job interview and what a job expects and that’s one of the things that we try to provide here at CSOSA. We have programs that will assess a person’s educational level, provide them with a GED, provide them with a reading assistance, provide them with assistance in terms of getting a job. We do quite a bit of drug treatment but we do up to 25 percent of the population that needs it. That means 75 percent we refer basically to private or DC agencies and that’s tough. We provide mental health services. So, there’s a lot of services. We provide anger management training. There’s a lot of individuals. There’s a lot of opportunities for the people who are under our supervision but that’s the paradox is that getting them there and having them take advantage of it are two different things.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. So, really what we do is we run our community partners to CSOSA. You know, I can give them all the referral information in the world but they’re not actually going to make it to the threshold of that organization. By us bringing the community partners to our agency, they really have no choice but to sit there as a captive audience and respond to the information and then elect to partake in the services or not. It’s really up to them and the community partners, like I said, are very generous with their services, they’re very gracious in how they conduct themselves and they understand the population that they’re working with. Usually what I do is I explain my population because as you know it can be challenging and as they come in, they know exactly what they’re getting into. They know exactly who they’re going to be working with and they come in with the resources in tact.

Len Sipes: And that’s wonderful because there are social service agencies out there who would rather not deal with offenders. Now, that’s not just in D.C., that’s throughout the country.

Curtis Atkinson: True.

Len Sipes: And that’s one of the biggest problems we have is that making sure that the individuals, if they’re going to serve our population, understanding how difficult our population can be. I mean, we talk about difficulty. You know, I’ve been in the system for, oh goodness, going on 40 years and I’ve done groups, I’ve ran a group in a prison system, I’ve done the jail or job core kids, I’ve done gang counseling on the streets of the city of Baltimore. You know, this is a very tough population regardless as to where it is that you go. Now, it can be immensely rewarding taking individuals from a tough background and suddenly a light does go off where they get their GED, where they go over and involve themselves in a job with a future, that they reorient their attitudes, they reorient their friends. I mean, you know, most of these offenders, all they see around them is their friends going to jail, their friends getting shot, their friends getting injured. I mean, in some cases, and again, it’s not just Washington, D.C., it’s all throughout this country. Sort of like a battle zone. These are some, in some cases, battle scared veterans.

Curtis Atkinson: Definitely.

Len Sipes: And they’re not coming to you saying, oh please help me, you’ve got to some how, some way break through those barriers and that’s the toughest part of the job.

Curtis Atkinson: Definitely it is. It definitely is and like I said, they’re very resistant in the beginning. Once they realize that this program is intended to assist them and their families for that matter and help them get back on track, they sort of buy into it.

Len Sipes: How do you break through those barriers?

Curtis Atkinson: It’s a difficult process at times but once they see that we have tangible resources for them because you know it’s a population where it’s all about show and prove.

Len Sipes: Right. Show me. Show me. Don’t talk to me. Show me.

Curtis Atkinson: Exactly. And once we’re able to do that, then they buy into it and then a lot of the barriers are broken down.

Len Sipes: Okay. And you know doing this on a one on one basis is real tough. Doing it in a group basis where they’re reinforcing each other’s negative behavior. Wow. I mean, you’ve got to be almost a magician to go before this group of individuals. How many people on a daily basis?

Curtis Atkinson: The average daily population is any where from 20 to 25.

Len Sipes: Okay. To go before 20 to 25 human beings on a daily basis; all of them have chips on their shoulders the size of Montana. To break through those barriers is tough.

Curtis Atkinson: It really is. It really is and I spend a great deal of my time redirecting conversations to be very honest with you but once they realize that I’m not one to be played with. I’m going to be very honest with you. You have to be very firm. You have to be very firm but you have to still be compassionate. So, sometimes it’s spent doing some of the house keeping things to be very honest with you. Redirecting their conversation but we can eventually get to what needs to be done.

Len Sipes: When I was doing the focus group for the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program, I lost my temper at the end because one guy was particularly mouthy, one guy was particularly nasty and I turned around and I said, look I saw you 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. It just doesn’t end for some of you does it? And he was startled by that because I was looking at him straight in the eye and it was like that sometimes is the issue for those of us who’ve been in the criminal justice system and seeing human beings filter themselves through the system, human beings that are worth reaching but it is sometimes so difficult to reach them.

Curtis Atkinson: It definitely is. It really is and you know but at the same time as hard as their exteriors are, when you get them alone, you can really see what the issues are.

Len Sipes: Yes. I totally, totally, totally agree. This is why doing it in a group is so challenging because one of the things that I found in my career is that once you’ve reached. Because a third of that population, I’m just generalizing now, a third of that population wants to be reached.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: A third of that population is sitting on the fence. You can reach them. If you’ve got enough courage and enough fortitude and keep your temper in check; and a third are tough. A third just probably are not going to make it at all. So, two thirds of the individuals sitting there are salvageable yet it’s just so easy for them to get sucked back in the drugs, sucked back in the crime, sucked back into deviance. So, you are the lone person. You and what we call, what the rest of the country calls parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers. Between the two of you and whatever treatment providers you refer them to or get involved in their lives, you all collectively have got to some how, some way remind yourselves that two thirds of the people here can be saved.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would even say it’s more than that. Really what it’s about is assessing their needs, getting passed the barriers and cause what they’re really trying to do is trying to take you off your game.

Len Sipes: Right. Yep.

Curtis Atkinson: They want to prove that they have power over you because so many years, the system has had power over them.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: So, now they want to assert their own authority. So, often times it’s unnecessary power struggle but I don’t engage in that. I’m not going to go toe to toe with you. I’m not going to go back and forth or anything. I’m going to say my peace, I’m going to allow you to vent a little bit and then we’re going to move on with what we’re supposed to do and then once you show them that structure, they have no choice but to respond to it.

Len Sipes: When I did gang counseling in Baltimore city, I would have, again, in a group structure because again you’re out there on the streets with these kids and when you’re there, it is in a group structure, it doesn’t, I find it or found that it really didn’t work all that well but one by one by one they come to you and say, can you get me back in school? You know, is there really a job with a possibility for me here. Because the group that I dealt with was heavily into glue sniffing and you know from time to time they would come to me and say, look I really need to stop this. It’s really screwing up my life, you know, is there a program that you can get me into. So, that’s my observation is that you’re observation they come to you little bit by little bit by little bit, one by one and say you know, quite frankly Curtis, what you’re talking about makes sense. Can you help me with this and can you help me with that?

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know the most difficult client during a group will usually come up to me directly after the group and in their own way apologize.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: The words, I’m sorry will never come out their mouth but they have some type of gesture or something to indicate that they did not mean to come off as harsh as they did and I’m fine with that. You know, we’re able to process it after the fact and actually deal with what the real issue is. And a lot of times, it is the individual who is the loudest and who is the meanest and in many cases is the person most in need of assistance and he understands that.

Len Sipes: Absolutely. Absolutely. I had a guy that came in my office yesterday and he was in Lorton and other facilities for over 20 years and as he puts it himself, he is completely conditioned and knew nothing but jail time. He was put in there when he was 18 and now to come out in the community, this is all he knows. He is a textbook case of that type of institutional rage and everything we’ve thrown at him, he’s so skeptical about. You know, we’ve managed to secure employment opportunities for him; we’ve placed him in a CDL training program.

Len Sipes: CDL as a commercial drivers license?

Curtis Atkinson: Commercial drivers license. Yeah. He wants to be a truck driver.

Len Sipes: Well, they can make a lot of money by the way.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: A lot of money.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely but he is so resistant thinking that every opportunity is not going to hire him because of his record. He’s unwilling to try and because of that, you know, the agency is apply pressure and he is becoming more and more angry and he expresses that via his very rough exterior and very challenging at all times. But he was literally in my office yesterday just venting. He said, I need help. I just want somebody to help me and no one would ever have guess that that’s him. That’s who he is.

Len Sipes: Well, when I was dealing, and I think I have this on another program talking to an individual in our high risk drug unit where the people have very long histories of crime, very long histories of drug use. They are indeed a very difficult population to deal with and she put it, the harder the exterior where the guy comes in and he is just really, really, really hard, looks hard, dresses hard, acts hard, that if you ever break through that exterior, what you find is a very frightened individual. So, the toughness is a mask for extreme vulnerability.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know had this guy not been coming to me every day for several weeks now, we would probably have never known that because the first thing he shows you is that anger.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: Whenever we refer them to a community based organization or even to an employment opportunity, he has that rough exterior so no one ever looks past that but he’s beginning to trust us.

Len Sipes: And people are freighted by this.

Curtis Atkinson: Most definitely.

Len Sipes: Social service providers don’t want to deal with this person.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And yet, the core of this individual. I mean, that’s a paradox isn’t it? The toughness, the roughness, the clothes, the attitude; everything that goes along with it is just a mask for extreme, extreme, extreme vulnerability.

Curtis Atkinson: And frustration as well.

Len Sipes: And frustration as well.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely and this is what he was trying to convey to us but even as he’s talking to us and quite frankly pouring his heard out, he’s doing it in a manner that’s very challenging, very aggressive.

Len Sipes: Now, where does all this come from? You know, there was a book called Street Corner Society that I had to read in my criminal logical studies. Did you read that?

Curtis Atkinson: I did.

Len Sipes: Well, there you go. So, it was an Italian street corner gang back in the 1930’s. The city is not supposed to be identified but it’s New York. It’s the same thing that we deal with and quite frankly, it’s the same thing that anybody deals with regardless of where you are in this country, regardless of what the race of the offender is, regardless of the background. It’s this tough exterior. It’s this rough exterior. It’s this whole sense that I don’t believe in you. I don’t even believe in me. They believe in fate. They’re not part of this immediate world that you and I are involved in. They don’t believe that they have control over who they are and what they are. You know, getting high is a big part of who they are, carrying a weapon; although, they carry revolvers and knives; a different world but it’s the same thing isn’t it. I mean, that whole sense of rough exterior and if it is the same thing regardless of the group, where does it come from?

Curtis Atkinson: Well, for this gentlemen it came from a childhood of pain and it came through 20 years of having to fight his way through the system as he describes it.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: And then it comes through being in a community for 5 years and not seeing things come to life like you thought they would.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: You know, after dreaming in jail for 20 years as what life would be on the outside, it’s just not happening the way that you want it to be. But the fortunate thing about our program is we had the opportunity to confront. You know, a number of referrals were made. You know, he was supposed to go get health insurance. He was supposed to go to a clinic to get the anger management counseling that he needed. He was supposed to do a host of things that he did not do. So, my role is to confront that, to obviously listen to him, and to counsel him of course because he was very angry. You can’t send someone outside like that. We had to calm him down. We had to get him to a place where he can do that.

Len Sipes: He’ll never get a job with that persona.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, we had to do that and then we had to quite frankly address what he did not do. You want to complain about your situation but have you done everything on your part and literally break it down for him so that he could understand it. And sometimes in a manner that he can understand it.

Len Sipes: And the interesting thing is, and this is where, we talk about the roughness and the toughness of the job but the interesting this is that these individuals, I have seen it personally where the extraordinarily rough, tough, nasty exterior, a year later he’s got a GED and a commercials driver license and he’s doing fairly well. He’s off drugs.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And so there are so much pessimism and a good part of this program talked about how rough and tough and difficult it is and those of us in the system know how difficult it is. I’m not quite sure but I’m going to guess that the people who are listening to this program who are not part of the system, they understand it every day but these are all salvageable individuals if you can find the right method of reaching them.

Curtis Atkinson: You absolutely can and actually when he first came to us, he’s somebody that I wouldn’t have thought could made it through a three month CDL program because of his anger, because of his resentment. He’s just very challenging in general so if someone’s in the front of the class teaching him about how you drive a commercial vehicle, he’s going to interject his own opinion regardless of whether he knows it or not but he made it through and he made it through because he constantly checked in with us. We constantly checked in on him and quite frankly in our own special way told him to tone certain things down and he was able to respond, adapt, listen, and learn and now he’s out, he has his piece of paper that he had longed for for quite some time. But now the issues is, I don’t really know what to do with it.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: So, now we’re going in a completely different direction and helping him follow through with an actual plan. We had focused so long on developing that plan. Now we’re in the action stage.

Len Sipes: And a lot of individuals like this, I mean, it is very difficult say for an offender where we provide one on one services here at CSOSA. In most jurisdictions in the country, they don’t. So, they are referred to the local health clinic to get on that list for anger counseling or for drug treatment. They are referred to the unemployment office where he goes in and stands for 2 hours and you know, the general public is going to say, hey, I have to do this. You know. Why can’t your offender do this? Well, it’s just different for them. They have little tolerance. They’re suspicious of the bureaucracy and if you don’t provide these direct services to them, often times they will fail. I mean, that seems to be the issue in terms of providing those direct services by people who understand how to deal with offenders and if you do that you can take a person who either you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in the long run due to continued criminal involvement or the person becomes a tax payer but it takes special people, special programs to help that person get from point A to point B.

Curtis Atkinson: It really does and we really do have to admit that a lot of these community based programs or social services I should say aren’t very sensitive to our population. So, they are treated unfairly when they go into a large clinic. They’re not treated.

Len Sipes: Or they create a sense of unfairness for themselves.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. It goes both ways. What we try to do is we try to minimize that because then they’re going to use that as a barrier and say why they can’t get something done.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: So, my job is to go out and bring the resources in that can assist them with the process. A perfect example of that is getting them their health insurance. As opposed to going to a crowded clinic that you just mentioned where they could be waiting in line for hours, we bring the project Orion Van to our community supervision sites so they can get their health insurance in a matter of minutes.

Len Sipes: And that could make the difference between the person being vested in himself or vested in terms of going back to drugs. The whole gang structure, the whole criminal structure being what we call in the lifestyle is so easy to slip back into. It’s so embracing. You know, your friends are there, the language is there, the movement, the whole sense of being again sucked back into that is just amazing. Somewhere along the line, a person has got to say, okay, I’m not going to invest myself in that. I’m going to invest in myself for my sake, for the sake of my children because 70 to 80 percent of these guys are parents.

Curtis Atkinson: Definitely.

Len Sipes: You know for the sake of my mother. For whatever reason, the relationship with God. You know, once they’ve reached that point, services and people who know how to deliver those services to that particular population need to be there and that’s, I think, the whole purpose of the day reporting center.

Curtis Atkinson: It absolutely is the whole purpose. You know, we are completely involved in the wrap around approach. Meaning that they’re here for structure and discipline. You know, we monitor the time that they arrive, they’re here for the majority of the day, we provide them with services while they’re here but then we link them outside of that as well.

Len Sipes: Right. Right. So, the whole thing can continue beyond day reporting.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: But again, I asked you a little while ago, where does this sense of anger, the chip on the shoulder, the size of Montana, where does it come from? You mentioned it in the terms of that one particular person a lousy childhood. People who listen to this program know that that’s a pet peeve of mine. I think the majority of the individuals who come to us, and I’m not excusing their criminality in any way shape or form. If you do the crime, you do the time but the hard truth of it is that the majority of them come from histories of childhood abuse and neglect.

Curtis Atkinson: I absolutely agree with that and we have very open and frank conversations about that. And it’s not just childhood abuse and neglect. It’s the grief, of course, that they’re still living with but it’s the trauma as well. Many of them have seen some horrific things that you and I couldn’t possibly imagine.

Len Sipes: Battle scared veterans.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the article that we had quite some time ago speaks about.

Len Sipes: Right. And that becomes who you are. Again, that whole persona as the woman from the high-risk drug offender, office of the community supervision officer. I thought it was very, very interesting in the way that she put that. They are combat veterans. They’ve seen so many of their friends hurt, die, they’ve been injured in the past. By the time they get to social service providers, you know, they’re difficult cases to deal with principally because they’re scared to death.

Curtis Atkinson: Definitely.

Len Sipes: They’re scared to death and the people who understand that and can break through that which takes a special person and a special program. You can, again, the point, I’m not trying to over emphasize the point, but can take a real problem for society and turn that individual into a tax-paying parent.

Curtis Atkinson: And that is our goal. That is absolutely our goal to provide them with the resources they need to get back on their feet and you start with the basics. You talk about structure and you talk about accountability, that has to be, you know, where they are every day. But when we talk about being a parent as well because then you have another generation that’s going to rely on them.

Len Sipes: That’s exactly right.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely. So, we have a three part fatherhood programs that are aligned with our program right now who focus on not just the offender but their children as well providing them with resources; everything from books to referrals to back to school clothing, back to school supplies, focus groups.

Len Sipes: Give me some of the names of the people who are involved in this program with you.

Curtis Atkinson: Wow. One of my greatest community supports is the Greater Washington Urban League.

Len Sipes: Okay. The Urban League.

Curtis Atkinson: The Urban League, AFLCIO.

Len Sipes: Great.

Curtis Atkinson: Trusted Solutions Group Construction Company, AmeriGroup. CitiBank, The Georgia Ave. Colaborative, University of District of Columbia, Public Defenders Service, Community Offender Program.

Len Sipes: Wow. There are a lot of programs. Go ahead.

Curtis Atkinson: United Plan Organization, Mens Fit, New Morning Star Baptist Church, Project Orion. I could go on and on and on. These people routinely really chip in to help our population in every single way.

Len Sipes: Alright. Alright. So there’s a lot of people out there who are saying we understand what it is that you’re going through, we’re here to help you.

Curtis Atkinson: Definitely and they really, really just go the extra mile for our population. You know, whatever our offenders report to them. My child needs a coat. That coat is found on the very next day. I need a metro pass to get to and from. That’s provided for them as well. So, they provide the counseling. They provide the support. They provide the referrals of course but they also provide the tangible resources that these offenders need to get on track.

Len Sipes: And that’s unusual.

Curtis Atkinson: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Because in most, again, most parole and probation agencies throughout this country, it is report to me twice a month for 15 minute chunks of time. Have you been looking for work? You know, did you sign up for the drug treatment program? Did you sign up for anger management? Are you going? Can you prove that you’re going? Have a pleasant day. Where here we work with them as individuals.

Curtis Atkinson: We definitely work with them. We work with them for a substantial amount of time.

Len Sipes: And that’s substantial. How long are they there again?

Curtis Atkinson: Many of my guys are with me from 10 a to 3 p.

Len Sipes: Okay. So, but for how many weeks, months?

Curtis Atkinson: Until they find a job.

Len Sipes: Until they find a job. There you go.

Curtis Atkinson: Yeah. I mean, it used to be a time limited program but then we realized that the offenders were being discharged back into being unproductive citizens. So, now it’s until they either align themselves with a vocational or educational program or find full time gainful employment.

Len Sipes: Okay. But do some simply hang out there for a while to get the services they need.

Curtis Atkinson: They do. I wish I could say otherwise but that’s absolutely the case. My longest case right now is a gentlemen who’s been with me for about 8 months. But I will say on his behalf, during that 8 month period, we’ve assessed that he was learning impaired. So, right now we’re focusing on his GED.

Len Sipes: Yeah. And in many cases, it is those baby steps that propel a person from one stage of the life to another.

Curtis Atkinson: It really is because, I mean, this is a 33 year old man who had no desire to actually go get his GED.

Len Sipes: Right.

Curtis Atkinson: And when we tested him and found his scores were so low, it was even further from reality now.

Len Sipes: You know, Curtis, this is an extraordinarily interesting engagement, interview if you will. We need to do this again. I really enjoy talking to you and ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety. I’ve been talking to Curtis Atkinson, the program manager of our D reporting center. Look for our website www.csosa.gov. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

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Comments

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for your commitment to your work.
    You can and do make a difference – even if sometimes you can’t see it.
    As a Midwife/Neonatal Intensive care nurse – I was blown away when I learned of the connection with criminals and their experiences as a baby. I just wished everyone could know how important it is that babies are loved and cared for, and particularly by their dads.
    We can break the cycle of repeated child abuse leading to adolescents who grow into criminals. I believe education is the key – educating those first parents and supporting them, particularly the dad.
    I offer support for new dads through my website http://www.dadstheword.com and made a dvd to help new dads.
    Thanks for listening
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  2. You are doing great work. If there was more people like you the world would be a much nicer place.
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