High Risk Drug Offenders

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=51

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/?p=11

[Video Begins]

Segment One

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. The show today focuses on the high-risk drug offender, and as you know, newspaper articles for the last 40 years have made this person a point of major concern. The question is whether or not the high-risk drug offender can be successfully supervised and treated. Can they become productive crime-free citizens? To answer that question, we have two individuals on our first segment; one currently under supervision by my agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and one who has successfully completed supervision; they are Ronald Wade and Marissa Johnson. In the second segment we will interview two supervisory community supervision officers who supervise and assist high-risk drug offenders on a daily basis. And with that, welcome Ronald Wade and Marissa Johnson, and welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Marissa Johnson: Hi, how are you?

Leonard Sipes: Hi. Marissa, Ronald, tell me a little bit about your backgrounds, your crime backgrounds and your drug backgrounds. Because what we’re talking about in this program is a person heavily involved in crime, heavily involved in drugs, and whether or not society can meaningfully do anything with these individuals besides incarcerating them? Marissa, go ahead please.

Marissa Johnson: My name is Marissa, started using drugs at the age of nine-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: …stayed on the streets for 19 years smoking crack, choice of drug was crack cocaine.

Leonard Sipes: And at the age of nine, what did you start using?

Marissa Johnson: Marijuana, PCP, I left from PCP to acid, after acid, crack cocaine.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And why do you think you started as early as you did?

Marissa Johnson: Well I had abandonment issues.

Leonard Sipes: Had what now?

Marissa Johnson: Abandonment issues.

Leonard Sipes: And what you’re describing in terms of what we call the high-risk drug offender, that’s not unusual.

Marissa Johnson: No, it’s not.

Leonard Sipes: Early age of onset, early use of drugs, having family issues, that’s common, it’s common in the research and it’s common to all of the offenders that I’ve talked to throughout my criminal justice career. So what about the crime part of it?

Marissa Johnson: Crime part of it started at the age of 19.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: I got arrested very first time for just giving a guy a ride, but he had PCP on him-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: …but I got arrested also.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And after that I copped the habit-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Hey, it just was ongoing, ongoing.

Leonard Sipes: A lot of theft?

Marissa Johnson: No theft, a lot of possessions-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: I got distributions.

Leonard Sipes: Drug dealer.

Marissa Johnson: Distribution.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. You were caught up in that whole drug dealing world.

Marissa Johnson: Distribution.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Violence is an inherent part of the whole drug dealing world, is it not?

Marissa Johnson: Exactly.

Leonard Sipes: Were you involved in the violence?

Marissa Johnson: I’ve seen a guy’s head blown off a couple time.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: In and out-like I said, in and out, back and forth, it was back and forth, back and forth, until this got to the point where my last time I didn’t think I was gonna come home.

Leonard Sipes: When I talk to the community supervision officers within my agency who deal with the high-risk drug offender, they tell me in many cases it’s like dealing with a person who has been a veteran at war. They’ve seen so many people hurt, so many people dying, so many people lives destroyed, that they become, you know, damaged in that process as people, am I right or wrong?

Marissa Johnson: It is so easy to get into and it’s still taking time for me to undo what I have done. Acceptance plays a big part of my life today, accepting the things I can not change.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: CSOSA has been wonderful to me-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -absolutely to the utmost. Without CSOSA I may be dead.

Leonard Sipes: What programs are we talking about that you got involved in?

Marissa Johnson: CSOSA came to the D.C. jail to give me an opportunity to come back to the streets.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: At that time I was still toxic.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: And I had no idea what I was signing, I had no sense of direction, all I knew, I wanted to come to the street.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: They gave me a chance and opportunity to start my life over again.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: Okay, I signed my name on the dotted line not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Leonard Sipes: Yep.

Marissa Johnson: But when I met my probation officer, it was a book of a different color.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, I hear you. We want to get back to that and talk a little bit about that, but Ronald, your story, and when did you start drugs?

Ronald Wade: Probably age of 16.

Leonard Sipes: At the age of 16, and what drugs were they?

Ronald Wade: Started out with alcohol-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: -and graduated to marijuana-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: -and then ran the table-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -every drug that you could conceive of, the hallucinogenics, marijuana, cocaine, heroine, but my drug of choice was labeled as heroine.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And your criminal background?

Ronald Wade: My criminal background is mostly dealing with property crimes and crimes against myself, distribution, you know, no violence involved in it.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: Although I have been witness to countless occasions of violence taking place in the street and even in the institutions.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, and that’s again, a big part of when I talk to the community supervision officers, and this is the same question I posed to Marissa, when I speak to the community supervision officers who deal with the high-risk drug offender, they describe you guys as many ways as almost as battle-scarred veterans, and that has an impact on your ability to escape this. There’s a certain point where the violence becomes almost accepted, there’s a certain point where the violence and the disruption becomes almost a day-to-day thing.

Ronald Wade: When you’re involved in the lifestyle of the street and from an institutional standpoint, you tend to become desensitized. I mean, you don’t have the sensitivity that a normal human being has in relationship to how you feel when a person is experiencing traumatic experiences in your life. In the institution, if you see an individual who is stabbed multiple numbers of times, your best outlook is to ignore that situation because you have to think past that situation.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: If you decide to assist that individual, then the thing is you have to think, ‘am I gonna be the last person that he speaks to before he expire, so that whoever did what they did to him, will come looking for me?’

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: So this is the street mentality that goes on, and I mean, it’s dealing with the value system.

Leonard Sipes: Well, and I agree with the value system, but let’s get around to the programs a little bit. Marissa said that she was involved in programs through the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, were you involved in any programs?

Ronald Wade: Yes, through CSOSA, thank God for CSOSA and Mr. Brown at the South Capitol Street office because he made a determination with me that I had one or two choices: either I could go into treatment or I could suffer the consequences of a warrant being issued.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: Well, I didn’t want to go to jail-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -so I opted to take treatment. But in the process of taking the treatment, I was exposed to, you know, the different components that go along with the rehabilitation process. But what I had to do was make myself accessible and open to the information because all the necessary components for a person to become crime-free and drug-free, CSOSA provides.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Ronald Wade: I came through what was then known as AOC-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Ronald Wade: -Assessment and Orientation Center. And the therapeutic concepts from a psychological standpoint, from a health standpoint, from a spiritual standpoint, all of these things that I was exposed to and the information that was provided to me that would enable me to turn my life around. But I had to be willing to accept the information.

Leonard Sipes: Well, and that’s the problem, the problem is that in so many cases when I talk to offenders who have successfully come away from a life or the crime who are now working, who are now drug-free, who are now out-you know, they’re taxpaying citizens, they’re no longer a burden of society. It is reaching that point where I’ve heard a hundred times, a thousand times from heroine addicts especially, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ And when they’ve reached that point, then they climb back through programs, but is there a way or reaching out to offenders who haven’t reached that point? Obviously you guys are not in your 20s, you’re not in your teens, you’ve had some experience to use as a way of reaching out to the younger offenders to see if we can pull them out of the same cycle and get them involved in treatment and get them away from a life of violence and away from a life of crime; is there a way of doing that? That’s a tough question, I understand.

Marissa Johnson: I have a daughter that’s out there now.

Leonard Sipes: She’s out on the street?

Marissa Johnson: She’s out there.

Leonard Sipes: She’s part of the lifestyle?

Marissa Johnson: She’s part of the lifestyle.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Prayer.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, prayer is right. I will say a prayer.

Marissa Johnson: Prayer is first. They say you can take a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I have all the information, I use my information every day. I wear a tool belt when I walk out my front door.

Leonard Sipes: You wear a what belt?

Marissa Johnson: A tool belt.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Because I collect it from Second Genesis as well as from CSOSA-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -it’s fully loaded.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I strap up everyday-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -looking anything that may come my way-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -this addiction is cunningly baffling.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Okay. Acceptance-she’s not ready.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And I hear that from so many offenders, and that’s part of the tragedy in terms of dealing with high-risk drug offenders or people who are out there doing a lot of drugs, doing a lot of crime, reaching out and pulling them back out of that pit. Because all three of us know that it’s a terrible, terrible pit to be in. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to do until you’re ready to make that transformation.

Marissa Johnson: I’m on a tough love right now-

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -for my daughter.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Paul, I had questions about reaching to those younger offenders.

Ronald Wade: Well the desire has to come from within. I mean, once the desire comes from within, then everything is already in place to assist an individual. But you can make the information available, but until a person is willing to access that information and make use of it, it’s just out there.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah. Now, we talked a little bit before the program, we didn’t do a lot of preparation, I never do a lot of preparation with my guests on this program, I like it spontaneous. But we said, you know, the average person out there watching this show is going to say to themselves, ‘wait a minute, Ronald or Marissa, you’ve done a lot of crime, you’ve done a lot of drugs-and if we have money to give, let’s give it to the school kids, let’s give it to the elderly, let’s plug it in the schools. I don’t want to give it to criminal offenders, they’ve done terrible things to themselves and to other people, why should I-‘

Marissa Johnson: I’m gonna stop you right there.

Leonard Sipes: Go, please.

Marissa Johnson: The only way I keep what I have is to give back to the newcomer.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: That’s everyday-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -if it’s just a phone call-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -like somebody did for me.

Leonard Sipes: But explain that, you’re giving back to the who the newcomer is-

Marissa Johnson: The newcomer, the person that just has an hour clean-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -just that person, just to say hello, just to give you my phone number.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: Just to say we can do a movie together, just to say I’ll take you to lunch.

Leonard Sipes: To maintain that connection to pull that person out-

Marissa Johnson: I have to give back-

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -what somebody gave me.

Leonard Sipes: All right.

Marissa Johnson: -which was some words.

Leonard Sipes: All right, so your response to all of this is that you’re giving back, you’re out of that, and the programs are extremely important.

Marissa Johnson: Very.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: Very, very.

Leonard Sipes: Ronald, same question, and it’s a tough question, I understand.

Ronald Wade: But it’s a realistic question, but it has to be some type of input from a financial standpoint to finance these programs because the problem is not going to go away. And if it’s not addressed, you know, from the programs that’s established, you know, through your agency and through other self-help agencies, you know, it’s gonna get worse.

Leonard Sipes: How many people-well, I know the answer for myself, but for you guys, if those programs weren’t there-the GED programs, the job placement programs, the mental health programs, the drug treatment programs, if these programs were just away, they disappeared and all we did was supervise you guys, what would happen-and supervise people like you? All we did was supervise, no programs.

Marissa Johnson: We would lose a lot of-it would be a lot of people still dying from this disease of addiction.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: It really would. I’ve had numbers of doors shut in my face because of my criminal background, let’s go back to that.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: But I had an excellent probation officer-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -Bridget Nemo-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Marissa Johnson: -that was-the phone-every time I called, she picked up.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: I even interrupted a meeting down at the office one day because I needed to talk to her-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -about what was going on in my life.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: Okay.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: It’s that same thing of talking to some-getting through it, you know.

Leonard Sipes: Getting through it.

Marissa Johnson: Okay, and I’ve had, at last, one day just asked for a job, it was so hard for me to get employment. And I just maintained-just got really getting into getting the job that I really want because of my criminal background.

Ronald Wade: And the answer to your question-

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, please, Paul.

Ronald Wade: -the crime rate would skyrocket. If those programs that you just mentioned failed to exist, GED, job training programs, and self-help programs, the crime rate would skyrocket. Because you have an idle mind, an idle is the devil’s workshop. If you don’t have anything constructive or positive to do, then you’re going to regress back to what you’re generally familiar with, which is the criminal element. I mean, that’s the only way you see a survival because that’s the only way you know how to survive, is putting your criminal skills to work. And unless you have something to replace those skills from a constructive point of view, you will continue to do the same thing.

Leonard Sipes: And I understand that because-and I’m not quite sure the public understands it, I spoke to a women one time who was deeply involved in drugs, deeply involved in crime, committed literally thousands upon thousands of crimes if you count all the drug dealings and all the thefts-and that’s what she said. I mean, she’s now managing a business and she now has her home and she’s reunited with her kids, because so many kids are involved in all of this as well. And that’s what she said, that if those programs disappeared, all it’s doing is endangering the public. The thousands of crimes that she was committing, she’s no longer committing. She is a taxpayer rather than a tax burden, and that was her point of view.

Marissa Johnson: And that’s the same as being homeless in a sense. You don’t have anything, you’re homeless. You write down on your application you’re homeless because you don’t have your name on a lease anywhere.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And my question was-my biggest problem was when I got to Second Genesis, the last week of the program, I didn’t have anywhere to go.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: And I refused to leave out of the door because I wanted to change.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: So can I hold this bed? Can you call CSOSA and ask them can I stay one more week until I get some things lined up for myself?

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: Because you know, you’re just caught up on the streets, and when you get clean, you’re still numb-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Marissa Johnson: -really, and you don’t have a sense of direction.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and you’ve got the final word, Marissa and Ronald. Thank you very much for being with us on the first half.

Marissa Johnson: Thank you for having me.

Leonard Sipes: Look for us in the second half as we continue our discussion on the high-risk drug offender with two supervisory community supervision officers who supervise these kinds of individuals on a day-to-day basis. We’ll be right back.
Segment Two

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome back to D.C. Public Safety, I’m Len Sipes. Our next two guests in our discussion of high-risk drug offenders are supervisory community supervision officers. They are Elizabeth Estrill and Dorian Sanders. And ladies, welcome to D.C. Public Safety. Elizabeth, the first question will go to you. You heard Ronald and Marissa’s testimony, and you work with hundreds if not thousand of high-risk drug offender throughout the course of the year. The story that they told, is this a typical story in terms of early onset of crime, early onset of criminality, the amount of drug use and the amount of crime that they commit?

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes it is.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, tell me a little bit about that.

Elizabeth Estrill: Well, I guess, you know, it’s a vicious cycle. The population that I supervise are all on the parole or supervised release-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -so they have all served some period of incarceration-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -sometimes they have been in at least three or four times because they’ve done it before-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -it’s not worked, so they’re being released and are being supervised a very high level.

Leonard Sipes: Right. So you see them a lot, and when I say a lot, it could be-I mean, it’s far more than what most parole and probation agencies throughout the country supervise offenders. You’re in contact with them a lot, you drug test the dickens out of them, you’ve got them involved in programs.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes, most of my offenders, actually when they’re released, they are supervised in the intensive or the maximum level-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -which means I see them at least three times a week.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and three times a week is phenomenal compared to most parole and probation supervision in the country, I just wanted the public watching this TV show to understand that.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Elizabeth Estrill: They’re required to drug test at least twice.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: We do home visits at least once a month.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: We do employment verification at least once a month. So we make sure that we have a very tight, close relationship with-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -close supervision structure when they’re first released to ensure that services that are being rendered to them are rendered and that they complying to make sure that they do what they need to do to say home.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. They’re coming out of, in many cases, a program that we operate where they come out of prison and then they go into a building that we rehabbed in the District of Columbia that is a giant rehabilitation center where they come straight from prison to this building for 30 days of assessment, and then in many cases go out to inpatient treatment.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes, sir. Most of my offenders come through the Re-entry Sanction Center, it’s a new assessment center, it’s on the grounds of the former D.C. General Hospital. They’re there for a 28 day assessment. A series of tests are ran, they look at the prior criminal history, the pre-sentence report, the reports from the institution, and after the 28 day assessment they are plugged in, they can be in treatment 190 days-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -120 days, 90 days, 30 days
Leonard Sipes: Right, but generally speaking, that’s in-house treatment, it’s not outpatient, it’s-

Elizabeth Estrill: No, the assessment is for 28 days.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: After the assessment, then they’re plugged into treatment.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: But that treatment that they’re plugged to after the 28 day assessment, that’s basically-they stay at a location-

Elizabeth Estrill: Exactly-

Leonard Sipes: -24 hours a day?

Elizabeth Estrill: -it’s inpatient.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, inpatient.

Elizabeth Estrill: Right.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, cool.

Elizabeth Estrill: Yeah.

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, you handle what, correct me if I’m wrong, the probation population-

Dorian Sanders: Yes, I do.

Leonard Sipes: -of people, not necessarily people who have been incarcerated, but in many cases they have incarceration in their backgrounds?

Dorian Sanders: Right, they do have incarceration in their background. The program that I supervise, which is STAR/HIDTA program, is a drug court program. And what we also provide is court sanctions for positive drug test results, failure to report for supervision-so once they come into our program through probation, through a judge, they go to court, the judge signs an order, they sign a contract agreeing to the terms of the program.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: They can be incarcerated for up to a maximum of 15 days-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: -depending on what the infraction is. If they fail to complete a drug treatment program, if they missed a urine test they could possibly be sanctioned for three nights in jail. The second sanction for the same infraction they would get maybe seven nights in jail.

Leonard Sipes: So they know if they screw up, which by the way in terms of the public, people say, ‘well, you know, the first drug test, let’s throw them back in the prison.’ Well, if we did that the prisons would explode tomorrow. We expect relapse, we expect problems from this population. So you’re talking about the sanctions matrix where they understand every time that they screw up-

Dorian Sanders: Right.

Leonard Sipes: -every time they give us a positive drug test, here’s what’s gonna happen as a result.

Dorian Sanders: Right, absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: And I think what it also does, it helps them to see the relationship between their drug usage and the impact that it’s having upon their lives because they’re constantly having to be interrupted by going back and forth into the prison system for even a couple of days.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: So it has them thinking about, ‘well wait a minute, I think I need to do something a little bit differently because I’m gonna be sanctioned-‘

Leonard Sipes: Yeah.

Dorian Sanders: ‘-and possibly stepped back and revoked.’

Leonard Sipes: Now how difficult is it, and either one of you can answer this question, both of you can answer this question, this is the toughest, roughest population that we had to deal with beyond maybe the mental health offenders, and a lot of your offenders bring mental health issues to the table as well.

Dorian Sanders: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: I mean, you know, I’ve sat and talked with many community supervision officers who supervise this particular population, they like doing it, they like the challenge, they like being out there. But like supervising sex offenders, supervising mental health offenders, you’re population is one of the toughest imaginable because you have to crawl into the lives of these individuals. And the stories that they tell, in many cases, are tragic in terms of the, you know, starting drug use at eight, nine ten; starting crimes at eleven, 12, 13; and in many cases going for decades in terms of this pattern. And suddenly, wha-la, you’re there to try to pull them back out of a habit that they’ve been using for ten, 20, 30, 40 years.

Elizabeth Estrill: For me, it’s rewarding and it’s challenging-challenging because everyday it’s different, every life is different, every circumstance can be different. So I have to make sure that the public safe.

Leonard Sipes: Absolutely.

Elizabeth Estrill: And I also have to make sure that the people that I’m in contact with, they’re successful. Being successful to me means being productive, having a job, not using, you know, giving back to the community. Rewarding is, you know, the fact that after the end of the supervision period, that person is no longer quote/unquote ‘on papers.’

Leonard Sipes: Which means on supervision.

Elizabeth Estrill: On supervision, yes. Rewarding to me means that, you know, D.C. is a safer place-

Leonard Sipes: Sure.

Elizabeth Estrill: -you know, for me and my family to reside.

Leonard Sipes: Of course.

Elizabeth Estrill: And the fact that I can make a positive change in somebody’s life because I have a, you know-I think each person deserves an opportunity.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: And I think that the agency has given a lot of D.C. residents that opportunity to succeed. We have an awesome responsibility. The people that I supervise, the charges range from murder, burglary, I mean, it’s really high-risk. And some of it, I have a part of assisting and making my neighborhood safer-

Leonard Sipes: Sure.

Elizabeth Estrill: -you know, is very rewarding.

Leonard Sipes: Now we talked about success, we have two independent outside pieces of research from the University of Maryland that indicate that the individuals who get through the assessment center, the individuals who go through treatment, and then the individuals who are supervised by you and Dorian, they have dramatically lower rates of recidivism based upon new arrests, so obviously what you’re doing works.

Elizabeth Estrill: It does-it really, really, does. And you know, the studies show that when you have hands-on, when it’s intensive, at least when the clients first come home, you know, it usually turns out to be, you know, a better situation. Most people that are assigned to my team, they come kicking and screaming.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah.

Elizabeth Estrill: They don’t want to be there.

Leonard Sipes: They don’t want to be there, that’s right.

Elizabeth Estrill: And you know, I sit with them and I tell them, you know, what my expectations are of them and what theirs are, you know, of me. I’m here to provide a quality service-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -and I’m gonna do whatever I can to make sure that that is done. And if you can just take it one day at a time, if you can let me drive the car, okay, and be a passenger, I guarantee that it will be successful.

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, same question goes to you in terms of the difficultly of dealing with this type of individual and what you do to cope and bring these individuals along.

Dorian Sanders: I don’t find this as a difficult task, I think when the offenders know that you’re genuine and that you really care about their well being and you’re able to impart information to them that is very helpful-even for those who may not be able to grasp what is that we have to offer them, the fact that we’re able to plant a seed, whereas at some point in time during their life experience, maybe they’ll be able to grasp what it is that we were trying to give them.

Leonard Sipes: But I’ve done in a small way what you guys are doing in terms of gang counseling the streets and city of Baltimore, and the jail and Job Corp Kids, and running a group in the prison system, for me it was extraordinarily difficult. Their lives were so tragic in many ways, and dealing with the family, dealing with their kids, pulling them out was immensely taxing for me, and I found it difficult. Because I know how difficult their lives are going to be upon release and how many challenges they have. And quite frankly without the resources that we have in CSOSA, so many of them went back to crime, so many of them went back to drugs-that’s why I’m saying difficult.

Dorian Sanders: Okay. I guess for me, I don’t take it personal-

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Dorian Sanders: -I understand that this is their life experience-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: -and I also am aware of the fact that I can only do what they allow me to do.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: And that sometimes there are some experiences that people have to have that I have no control over.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: So if they have to go back into the system in order to learn or to get what it is that they need in order for them to maybe be able to come out and be productive citizens, then sometimes that’s what has to happen.

Leonard Sipes: Well I just remembered one particular instance, me and this guy’s wife, we were screaming at him. [laughs] You know, and saying, ‘how in the name of blind can you do this after all of the opportunities that you’ve been given?’ So I mean, it’s a tough field, I guess I found it to be a field. Elizabeth, where do you think we should go in terms of supervising this sort of an offender? Do we have all of the resources we need? We never claim that we have all of the resources that we need, but programs do make a difference in the lives of these offenders, correct?

Elizabeth Estrill: I think it does, I think that CSOSA is doing an awesome job, not only because I’m an employee of CSOSA, but because I have seen people’s lives that have changed. I have seen families that have stayed together, so-

Leonard Sipes: And a lot of them have children-a lot of these offenders have children, so it’s just not them-

Elizabeth Estrill: Right.

Leonard Sipes: -it’s their children as well.

Elizabeth Estrill: Exactly. My clients, my team is strictly adults, but I deal with their entire family because we go to the homes-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -whatever my clients have an issue with, I’m there, my officers are there. I have nine officers-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Elizabeth Estrill: -that are assigned to my team and one assistant, and we’re there to assist. So if the entire district-if all the teams were like my team, I would think we would be a lot better, but I mean, that’s not-

Leonard Sipes: Dorian, we only have a couple seconds left, anything-the programatic part of it? Because it’s just not supervising, it’s just not drug testing, it’s assisting them as well.

Dorian Sanders: I just think that we have a lot offer, I think we’re a unique agency compared to many other probation parole agencies throughout the country. And if we continue to bring in the programs and continue to improve upon them, the change will be just awesome in terms of how many people we’ll be able to help-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Dorian Sanders: -and we’ll be able to, you know, recover and be positive and product citizens.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies, thank you for being on the show.

Dorian Sanders: Thank you.

Elizabeth Estrill: Thanks for having us.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching D.C. Public Safety. Look at our website for this and previous shows that we have, radio and television shows on the criminal justice system. Please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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

Meta terms: crime, criminals, criminal justice, parole, probation, prison, drug treatment, reentry, sex offenders.

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