Pretrial, Parole and Probation Supervision Week-American Probation and Parole Association

Pretrial, Parole and Probation Supervision Week-American Probation and Parole Association

DC Public Safety Radio

Http://media.csosa.gov

See radio show at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/07/pretrial-parole-probation-supervision-week-american-probation-parole-association/

LEONARD SIPES: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. The show today, ladies and gentlemen, Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13 to 19, this year. It’s part of an annual event put on by the American Probation and Parole Association to honor parole and probation and pretrial supervision people throughout the country. By our microphones is Diane Kincaid. She is Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org. Diane, welcome to DC Public Safety.

DIANE KINCAID: Hello. It’s great to be here.

LEONARD SIPES: This is wonderful and I love the idea of this week, because I think that parole and probation agents, what we call community supervision officers here in the nation’s capital, I don’t think they get the recognition that they so desperately deserve. I really do think that they’re sold a bit short in terms of recognition of public safety personnel throughout the country. Am I right or wrong?

DIANE KINCAID: You are absolutely correct, Len. Their job is some of the most difficult that you can have in corrections and law enforcement, and so often their work goes unnoticed, and people really don’t understand how difficult their work really is.

LEONARD SIPES: There are seven million people under correctional supervision in this country on any given day. Two million are behind bars. That means that five million are out under the responsibility of parole and probation agents, again, community supervision officers as we call them in DC, or on a pretrial status. So that means the great bulk of what we call offenders are our responsibility, the responsibility of community supervision agencies. So we have a huge, huge, or make a huge contribution to public safety, do we not?

DIANE KINCAID: Absolutely. That’s correct as well. With that many people under supervision and to be expected to know what these people are doing 24/7, making sure that they are leading law abiding lives, that they’re not breaking the conditions of their supervision, is a tremendous amount of stress and work for these professionals.

LEONARD SIPES: And it’s just amazing as to what they do in terms of both supervising people under supervision and at the same time helping them. So that’s a very, I guess, tough role to combine. When I was a police officer all I had to do was go out and make arrests and, boom, I was done with this person. Parole and probation agents, pretrial supervision people are included in this category, but not to the degree of parole and probation agents, they could have relationships with these individuals of up to five years, providing a certain level of supervision and providing a certain level of assistance.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And we can’t forget about the juveniles who are also on supervision, who are helped tremendously by these professionals as well. And their role is to help these kids grow up into perhaps a better environment and to let them know how their lives can turn around and be better for themselves. So we can’t forget about the kids.

LEONARD SIPES: Right. And I didn’t even think about that particular category, but you’re absolutely right. Okay. Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13th, 19th is the event for this year. So but what we try to do is not only make sure that everybody else in the country understands the role of people who do community supervision but the fact that they celebrate this time of year and they acknowledge the fact that people on, who are parole and probation agents, again, community supervision officers, pretrial people, juvenile officers, they are on the front lines of public safety. And you, through the American Probation and Parole Association, coordinate that average effort on a yearly basis. So we want everybody to get involved in this, right?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. We’ve been doing this week, as we call it, since 2001. It’s an annual event. It’s something that really for me to work on is a pleasure, every year I look forward to it, because it’s really celebrating the work that’s done on the community by these individuals and just really giving them a pat on the back.

LEONARD SIPES: And what APPA calls A Force for Positive Change, I mean that’s been the catchall from, regarding APPA’s efforts throughout the year is making sure that everybody understands that these individuals are just that, A Force for Positive Change.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. And the theme that we have for this year is Be the Change in your Community. So it’s all about probation, parole, and pretrial officers and community supervision officers being change agents for the people that they’re supervising and throughout the community, really.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, you have a list of resources on your website, again, www.appa-net.org, they can find that list of resources that help them celebrate Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week.    

DIANE KINCAID: That’s right. We have an entire website that’s developed every year with a different theme, a different look. We have a designer, a very talented gentleman named [John Higgins, who designs the look for the week every year. We have a poster that can be printed in your office. We have actually an agency that’s going to be – I didn’t turn my cell phone off – we have an office that is going to be printing large banners to hang from their office area. That’s really going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be – I can’t wait to get the pictures for that. That’s going to be really neat.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, how far in advance can they ask for material from your agency?

DIANE KINCAID: We try to have the website up right around the first week of April. We work on the theme; we work on the design starting around the first of the year. The week is always in July. We try to have that right around the third week, depending on how that week falls. But it’s, you know, we’re always right in the middle of July. We start working on it again the first of year trying to get together and have the website up in April.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, the theme again for this year is what again?

DIANE KINCAID: Be the Change in your Community.

LEONARD SIPES: Be the Change in your Community. Do people understand the role of parole and probation agents, is it, or pretrial people or juvenile service officers? Do they understand exactly what it is they do? Because I get the sense that there are thousands of police shows and resources devoted to what law enforcement does, television shows, the movies. You get this constant barrage of information as to what police officers do. Now, as a former police officer, I would suspect that an awful lot of what they see and hear is unrealistic. But you hear and see little to nothing as to what parole and probation people do.

DIANE KINCAID: Well, that’s true, and it’s the issue of an identity. Police officers have that uniform, they have, often have a car that identifies them as law enforcement, but for the most part probation and parole officers and pretrial officers don’t have that. There’s not a look that they have. They look like just anybody on the street. They look like you and I.

LEONARD SIPES: Uh huh.

DIANE KINCAID: So knowing who they are and what they’re doing, you know, you see somebody talking to somebody at work and you don’t know that that’s a probation officer checking up to make sure somebody’s going to their job. So knowing what they do is really difficult, even for me, having worked here for almost 15 years. I learn something new about what they do every day.

LEONARD SIPES: It’s a combination, law enforcement, again, a social service agency. You find some parole and probation agents are out there all the time, some are in raid jackets, some carry firearms, some have arrest power. We don’t have arrest power nor do we carry firearms here in the nation’s capital, but that’s not unusual for them to take on the law enforcement motif, and at the same time they’re interacting with people, some of the most challenging people on the face of the earth. How do you build that relationship with that person under supervision to the point where you can convince them that to go into drug treatment, complete drug treatment, make the restitution, not disobey any laws, not to bother the neighborhood, to get work, to get along well with their family, pick up their responsibilities? I mean these are all skills, immensely difficult people, and at the same time skills to deal with immensely difficult problems. The parole and probation people have got to be at the very top of their game every single day.

DIANE KINCAID: They do. And you raised an issue also that involves safety for officers. Unfortunately sometimes an officer can be killed in the line of duty. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. So the stress and the safety and the diverse nature of the work is something that really goes undervalued I think.

LEONARD SIPES: I think most of them in, throughout the country have college degrees.

DIANE KINCAID: They do. It’s a very well educated workforce, because the skills that are needed are such that a good background in social studies and in psychology and those sorts of areas is really beneficial for someone who works in this field.

LEONARD SIPES: And at the same time many people within my agency here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency have master’s degrees and above. So you’re right. It’s an extremely well educated field. And we have parole and probation people, again, juvenile justice people, pretrial people, in every jurisdiction in the United States.

DIANE KINCAID: It’s true. It’s well educated. It’s, you know, the ratios of males to females is about 50-50, so it’s well represented, very diverse as far as culture. As I said, probation, parole, and pretrial officers are just like you and I.

LEONARD SIPES: But it’s interesting that it’s a bit of an American invention to some degree. We had a delegation from China that sent some people over, and we sent people over there to build a community supervision system over in China. Either you were let go or put in prison. There wasn’t anything in between. So is parole and probation not just something that’s in every American jurisdiction, every county, every city, every state, and I would imagine it’s the same for Canada, but I would imagine, again, that it’s, they’re in most jurisdictions in the world but not all?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. Not all have a very well developed supervision system. And something interesting that I would like to mention as well is next summer the Second World Congress on Community Corrections, I’m sorry, is going to be held in Los Angeles, it’s going to be in July, 2015 –

LEONARD SIPES: Wow!

DIANE KINCAID: And APPA is hosting that. So we’re going to be welcoming the world to talk about community corrections and how we can all learn from each other and help each other.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, in terms of getting people involved in the field, you all even have a website that is done by Marianne Mowat. Now, you’re also aligned with the Council of State Governments, your organization, so it’s larger than just the American Probation and Parole Association, it’s the Council of State Governments, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s correct. We are an affiliate member of the Council of State Governments, CSG. They handle all of our secretary duties, our human resources, our benefits, that sort of thing, our county. So they are a tremendous support for the association. And you mentioned Marianne, who has worked on the website for several years now; it’s called Discover Corrections –

LEONARD SIPES: Right.

DIANE KINCAID: Which has a tremendous amount of information for anyone who is in the field and perhaps seeking employment in a different agency or different state. We have a job posting board. It also has a lot of information for someone who’s looking to work in the field who wants to know a little more about it.

LEONARD SIPES: And it also celebrates the field. So the point with American Probation and Parole Association is that you’re doing this year round, you’re doing it year round through the website, you’re doing it year round in terms of promoting this concept of A Force for Positive Change. So the American Probation and Parole Association is representing us, those of us in community corrections throughout the entire year, in terms of research with the Department of Justice, in terms of promoting community supervision and what community supervision does. So you guys are basically the center point of this discussion, not just for Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, July 13th – 19th, this year, but you’re doing it throughout the year.

DIANE KINCAID: We do. And we really, we’re a nonprofit, obviously, but I could tell you to a person all staff feel that we really are here to serve the field. Anything that we can do to make their work easier, anything we can help them with as far as getting information, the research that we do and the training that we try to provide is really just an effort to help, to really support those individuals.

LEONARD SIPES: I walk by the National Police Memorial every day on the way to work and I interact with their people. So they have a huge presence in downtown DC, a huge memorial, where people come throughout the Unites States in the spring to celebrate the sacrifice of police officers and the sacrifice that police officers make, not just in terms of the past year, but in all previous years. The names of all deceased police officers killed in the line of duty are aligned on a long wall. We don’t have anything like that for parole and probation, do we?

DIANE KINCAID: We don’t. And, again, that’s just something that, you know, I don’t think the average probation, parole, or pretrial officer would really even expect it. It’s not something that they really look for. They see their work as helping others, keeping the community safe, just like law enforcement, obviously. But they go about their business; they do the job as best they can – and I think they do a fabulous job – and don’t really want a pat on the back, for the most part.

LEONARD SIPES: Well, but I do think they want recognition. I do think that –

DIANE KINCAID: And they deserve it.

LEONARD SIPES: I – they want recognition for the fact that they carry very large case loads. I want the audience to think about the fact that they’re extraordinarily well educated people. I mean I know parole and probation agents who have PhDs. They’re out there every day in tough neighborhoods, dealing with people with problems and with issues and convincing somebody to how to take care of your child, be sure that you go to school every day. “We heard from law enforcement resources that you’re out on the community, out on a corner bothering the community. I’m told by your substance abuse provider that you’re not attending all the sessions or that you’re being disruptive.” Those are all major life issues, and when you’ve got a large case load and you’re dealing with people that intimately and being that involved in the lives of hundreds of people on your case load, that’s got to take a toll. And recognizing that the vast majority of people that are part of the criminal justice system are their responsibility, not prison, their responsibility, I do believe, both of us believe that they need recognition.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And just talking about all of this with you it just brings up the amount of work, the amount of stress that these individuals are working under, the large case loads. If you find someone who has been in this system working in the field between five and seven years, they’re dedicated, because it is hard work, it’s something that takes a lot of mental effort, physical effort oftentimes, so they’re really dedicated people.

LEONARD SIPES: We’re talking to Diane Kincaid. She is the Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org. We’re talking about Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week. Now, one of the, you know, the whole idea is this is not just one week that we’re celebrating, we’re celebrating them throughout the course of the year. One of the ways that you celebrate community service or community supervision personnel is the fact that you’re having a conference coming up in New Orleans on August 3 through August 6 of this year. Now, you do two of them a year, right?

DIANE KINCAID: We do. This will be our 39th annual training institute. Our annuals are typically July, August, and then we have winter institutes that tend to be a little bit smaller, recently they’ve been right around the same size, that’s January, February, for the winter. This institute looks to be really big. We have a really good registration right now, we’re not even to the deadline to register, we haven’t had that last push, and I think everybody’s excited to be in New Orleans, so we’re looking to have a good show with everybody. We’ve got a full exhibit hall, with a lot of new exhibitors, to show sort of the items that they have to help probation, parole, and pretrial professionals do their job.

LEONARD SIPES: That exhibition hall is one of my favorite spots when I go to your conferences to find out what’s new, and especially from a technology point of view, what’s new, what’s happening throughout the rest of the country. There’s a lot of really interesting things that’s coming onboard, coming up in terms of community supervision. I remember doing a radio show within the last couple weeks with Joe Russo, talking about corrections technology or community corrections technology, and that’s a very exciting field. So I think as the research indicates that more and more of this idea of crime control is going to be placed in the hands of parole and probation agents, the level of technology seems to be increasing and our options seem to be increasing. I’m thinking specifically GPS, but there’s now devices that can tell whether or not a person is under the influence of alcohol, there will be technology in the somewhat near future that will indicate whether or not a person is on drugs or using drugs. So we’re doing a lot of remote supervision, some agencies are using kiosks, some people are doing facial recognition, some people are doing remote fingerprinting, there’s a lot of technology that’s coming our way, because, again, most people caught up in the criminal justice system are our responsibility. They’re not in prison, they’re out in the community, they’re out in the street, and they’re our responsibility, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And technology really has taken off in the last few years, you know, the different tools that can be used to supervise individuals. And I have to say too, not every person who is on supervision is a danger to anybody. They’ve done some things that maybe they shouldn’t have. They just need a little guidance, they need some support. So the greatest majority of those individuals really do need the skills of community supervision officers. Then there are the ones who need a little bit more help, who need more direct supervision, and that’s what’s taken care of as well.

LEONARD SIPES: How many community corrections agencies throughout the country celebrate Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week?

DIANE KINCAID: We have quite a few. We hear from a number of those, you know, we have the ideas on here about how to recognize staff, to maybe have a staff luncheon, maybe go out and do some community service work with your agency logo on your shirt, just get out in the community and let people know that you are part of it, that you are supporting them, that you are trying to keep them safe, and to help those people who are under supervision. I would say there are dozens of agencies we hear from every year that are doing different things, and a lot of the ideas that we have on our website about how to recognize staff and volunteers come from the field, they come from people telling us what they’ve done. So that’s always really interesting to see.

LEONARD SIPES: I recognize that more and more agencies are getting involved in doing what we’re doing, which is the promotion, the creation and promotion of radio shows and television shows, Facebook pages, I’m finding a greater presence on social media from community corrections personnel.

DIANE KINCAID: That’s true. And for anyone who’s interested, APPA also has a Facebook page, we’re on LinkedIn. There is always a really active discussion in the LinkedIn page for APPA, a lot of really good ideas, a lot of information being shared there, so I’d encourage people to take a look at that as well.

LEONARD SIPES: Now, we are, is it fair, Diane, I say to others and I’ve heard others say to me that we are at the epicenter for change. When I’m taking a look at the criminological research coming out from the US Department of Justice, from Pew, from the Urban Institute, from the Council of State Governments, it’s always an emphasis on parole and probation. I’m finding that, through research, that there has never been such a presence of parole and probation agencies, community supervision agencies. It basically seems that if we are going to rearrange the way that we do business within the criminal justice system to be more effective, to be smarter, to reduce rates of recidivism, it all comes down to community supervision agencies and community supervision personnel. Now, is that my observation? Is my observation or the observation of others correct or is that an exaggeration?

DIANE KINCAID: No, I agree with you. I do see that trend as well. And the fact is, we cannot build prisons to buy ourselves out of crime. It’s just not going to work. For one thing we can’t afford it, and that’s a horrible thing to say, but we cannot afford to put every person who breaks the law into a prison or jail. And most of those people don’t need to be imprisoned. So when they’re part of the community, when they’re getting the support they need, when they’re getting some substance abuse help, when they’re getting some therapies, then they can have a job, they can take care of their families, they can pay their taxes, they can be part of the community and support their own community.

LEONARD SIPES: Someone once told me that, theoretically at least, that every governor has had a discussion with every director of corrections in every state in the United States, and their message has basically been you must reduce your budget, that corrections is taking such a large share, we don’t have the money to build roads, we don’t have the money to build colleges, we don’t have the money to do head start programs, we don’ have the money to build schools or to improve schools, because so much of it is going towards corrections, and you have to reduce the reliance upon incarceration. So whether we’re approaching it criminologically or whether we’re approaching it from the standpoint of budget, more people are going to be coming onto community supervision, correct?

DIANE KINCAID: I would say that that is the trend these days, because people that realize that, not only does it help state budgets, as far as the Department of Corrections and their prison system goes, but it helps the community. When people are in prison they’re breaking apart families, they, or they’re not supporting their children, they’re not supporting their spouses, they – it just really sort of creates an imbalance in our communities when you have so many people in prison who more than likely don’t necessarily need to be there or don’t need to be in there as long as we do so today.

LEONARD SIPES: And I’m bringing all this up to be sure that the listeners understand the importance of community supervision officers, because all the research that I read it’s parole and probation, the parole and probation becomes the epicenter for the change within the criminal justice system. I’m reading now that it’s just not a Republican or a Democrat or a left wing or a right wing point of view, that you have some rather conservative people out there coming together with people on the other side of the aisle and they’re pushing for the same change, that this is now a universal message that goes across political spectrums, that we’ve got to be smarter, we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to reduce recidivism, we’ve got to bring programs on, and we’ve got to have the right people to apply all of this. And, boom, we’re right back to community supervision personnel, parole and probation personnel.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. And I think too we have to add in this whole focus on evidence-based practices, where we know what works and we can prove it. We can prove that these things and these methods and these practices do work to reduce recidivism, to reduce imprisonment, and to help our communities.

LEONARD SIPES: Right. And we have to be sure to assess them, to figure out what their risk level is, what their need level is, being sure that we supervise people at the right levels, making sure that we have the programs in place to provide the substance abuse treatment or the mental health treatment or the job assistance. I mean this is beginning to be very complex, and it calls for extraordinarily well educated, extraordinarily dedicated, extraordinarily motivated people to be parole and probation agents.

DIANE KINCAID: It’s true. And just to go back to some of my recent comments, that I don’t mean to say that we don’t need prisons, obviously we do. There are individuals who are a danger to our communities; they’re a danger to others, maybe even a danger to themselves, depending on how they’re living. But there are still those who – the biggest population in our prisons are drug offenses and property offenses. Not everybody in prison is a murderer. So –

LEONARD SIPES: But what you’re saying –

DIANE KINCAID: And we have to think about that.

LEONARD SIPES: What you’re saying goes right along with what the research community throughout the country and the advocacy community throughout the country and what the US Department of Justice is saying. My only – in terms of the fact that we cannot continue to send everybody to prison or we cannot continue to send everybody to prison for the length of time that we ordinarily do. And, again, theoretically, every governor in the country has had this conversation with their corrections people basically saying we can no longer house the amount of people that we housed before because of budget reasons. And according to the Department of Justice data we’re seeing a gradual, not a huge, but a gradual change in terms of the small decrease in prison population over the course of the last five years. So all of your, all that you’re saying is nothing more than what’s what the reality is.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. And that’s, you know, and the evidence proves it, so you can’t really argue against something that you can show somebody works. So the more states that get into this and the more states that start working on these different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking about offenders is just going to reinforce that.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay. We’re going to wrap up. And I do want to reemphasize that information is available at the website of the American Probation and Parole Association, www.appa-net.org, www.appa-net.org. Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week is July 13th through 19th of this year. Our agency, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, our director is in the process of doing a video outreach to all employees. Again, parole and probation is at the epicenter of change, the research, the advocacy, whether you are on the right or the left of the political spectrum, all, everything is now being, the emphasis is now parole and probation and community supervision, and that’s where we’re going.

DIANE KINCAID: Yeah. It’s been a great pleasure to speak with you today, Len. I really enjoyed it.

LEONARD SIPES: Well, we’re not done yet, because I do want to reemphasize that we have the conference coming up in August in New Orleans, August 3 through 6, and that is, again, at your website, and the fact that you do have Discover Corrections. That website that is funded I think through the Council of State Governments, through APPA, through the Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. So you’re doing this throughout the course of the year. I think that’s the important thing to understand, that the American Probation and Parole Association is leading the rest of us in terms of trying to build up parole and probation, again, A Force for Positive Change has been the logo of APPA for the course of the last several years. So it’s your emphasis is constant throughout the course of the year, and we really do thank APPA for everything that you do.

DIANE KINCAID: Well, it’s a real pleasure to work with those in the field and it’s an honor, so it’s a great job.

LEONARD SIPES: Okay. We’re going to wrap up. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Our guest today, again, Diane Kincaid, Deputy Director of the American Probation and Parole Association, talking about Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week, this year, July 13th, 19th, www.appa-net.org. This is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

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