Supervising High Risk Drug Offenders

This Radio Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/?p=14

[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I am your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones today is Kim Cooper. Kim is a Community Supervision Assistant with the High Risk Drug Unit. Kim, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Kim Cooper: Thank you.

Leonard Sipes: And what does a community supervision assistant do?

Kim Cooper: Well I’m responsible for a lot of activities and duties. My number one duty is to greet and to assign the new coming offenders into the agency.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: A CSA’s job is to prepare the offender to come in contact with-

Leonard Sipes: To be supervised.

Kim Cooper: To be supervised or to come in contact with a parole officer.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Let’s explain to the public-we have community supervision officers, which in most jurisdictions throughout the country are referred to as parole and probation agents. So you’re not a community supervision officer, you’re a community supervision assistant.

Kim Cooper: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: So you’re the community supervision officer’s right hand person.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely. I’m the first point of contact.

Leonard Sipes: You’re the first point of contact, so that means you do most of the work then?

Kim Cooper: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: [Laughs]

Kim Cooper: That means-[Laughs]-yeah.

Leonard Sipes: Yeah, but you do. I mean, you’re the person who the offender comes into contact first.

Kim Cooper: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: And you’re the person who does all the preparation.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely. When the offender comes in, I greet the offender and I let him know exactly what in fact our unit does and what is expected of them.

Leonard Sipes: I did an article on your unit and interviewed a lot of people in your unit and wow. I mean, the high risk drug unit are probably some of the more difficult offenders that we have in Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency because they’re just not people with substance abuse backgrounds, they’re people with very, very, very lengthy substance abuse backgrounds.

Kim Cooper: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: And in many cases, very lengthy criminal histories.

Kim Cooper: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: So you may be dealing-outside of the mental health unit-you may be dealing with the toughest offenders we have here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

Kim Cooper: Correct, yes.

Leonard Sipes: That’s a daunting prospect, isn’t it?

Kim Cooper: Yes it is.

Leonard Sipes: I mean, how difficult are they?

Kim Cooper: Actually it’s not very difficult, every individual is different. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and as a human.

Leonard Sipes: They haven’t gotten a lot of that in life, right?

Kim Cooper: Absolutely. A lot of them have not been taught manners, and there’s always been just-a lot of offenders really haven’t had anyone to steer them in the right direction.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: So when they come into my unit, I always practice my human side and I treat them with respect.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: And in turn, they treat me with respect.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: I demand it, they give it, and we get along just fine.

Leonard Sipes: Right. But it is a matter of expectations, right?

Kim Cooper: It’s a matter of a expectations, absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: Now you prepare the caseloads and you prepare the community supervision officer for that supervision experience by interviewing them, correct?

Kim Cooper: Well no, actually they’re assigned by the PSA, which is the area of the city that they reside in.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: If they’re-we have-like Michael Hilliard spoke up before, the RSC-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: Which is a treatment center.

Leonard Sipes: The Reentry and Sanction Center, right.

Kim Cooper: Correct. And-

Leonard Sipes: And most of your offenders go, or all of your offenders go through the Reentry and Sanction Center, correct?

Kim Cooper: Not all of the offenders.

Leonard Sipes: Not all?

Kim Cooper: There’s quite a heavy load that does.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, because you do have some parolees, and you have probationers as well, that’s right, because the probationers won’t go through the Reentry and Sanction Center.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And I should explain to the public, the Reentry and Sanction Center is sort of like a hospital wing that we control at Court Services and Offender Supervision, and it’s really amazing that parole and probation entity has its own hospital wing devoted to the assessment and treatment process of criminal offenders where they live there for 28 days and go through that assessment. We figure out what really makes them tick in terms of their substance abuse.

Kim Cooper: Correct, it’s an excellent program.

Leonard Sipes: Right, and that’s an amazing program.

Kim Cooper: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: Okay, so the people coming out of prison go through the Reentry and Sanction Center, the people on probation don’t.

Kim Cooper: Uh-huh.

Leonard Sipes: Now are you in a position to see who does better on it? [Laughs] Because I’m assuming the people who are going through the Reentry and Sanction Center are prepared for the treatment process, and the people who go through probation are not.

Kim Cooper: Well it just-in my own opinion, it depends on the individual.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: A lot of times we have a lot of offenders that come out of the program and they just fail.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: It just doesn’t click.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: We have a lot of offenders that-

Leonard Sipes: And let me go into that too, we expect relapse in drug treatment.

Kim Cooper: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: We expect problems.

Kim Cooper: Yes.

Leonard Sipes: We do not expect a person to come out of the prison system without issues.

Kim Cooper: You have a handful that-you know, they’re on one, they’re doing well.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: And they go on with their lives and they’re happy-everything’s normal.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: We have another handful that it just wasn’t enough-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: And we have to find another form of treatment center for them.

Leonard Sipes: The ones that are successful and the ones that aren’t successful, do you ever sense as to why that is?

Kim Cooper: Personally, I believe that everyone has to hit a rock bottom.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Kim Cooper: There are different forms of rock bottoms. When I talk to a lot of the offenders, some things that wouldn’t necessarily be a rock bottom for one, is a rock bottom for the other.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: And I just think it’s not based solely on the program or-it’s just the individual.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s one of the reasons why we designed drug assessment and drug treatment and supervision in your unit around the individual because no two individuals are going to be alike in terms of their substance abuse history or the reasons for being involved in substance abuse.

Kim Cooper: Correct, absolutely. And a lot of times it depends on what exactly this offender dealt with in his life.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: You know, it’s different. It’s different for everyone.

Leonard Sipes: A lot of your people who I interviewed for this article simply told me that it was to mask a lot of pain in their lives.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely, that’s where a lot of the drug performance comes into play.

Leonard Sipes: Right, these big tough guys who are basically doing all this posturing-

Kim Cooper: They bigger they come, the harder they fall.

Leonard Sipes: They are nothing more than people in an immense amount of pain that use drugs to cover up that pain.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely. Absolutely, we have a handful that have succeeded the program, and we have a handful that hasn’t. And a lot of times if they don’t come to terms with what the real problem is, it’ll continue.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Kim Cooper: Once they come to terms with what the real problem is, then they can sort of get a hold on it.

Leonard Sipes: But coming to terms with the real problem means examining your life for the first time, and that could be one of the most painful episodes in any human being’s life, to go through that level of examination.

Kim Cooper: Absolutely. We have excellent CSOs, which are the parole officers. We have some that get right to the heart of the problem, they don’t take no for an answer, and it’s just push, push, push. And some of the offenders really, really appreciate that-

Leonard Sipes: And some are scared to death by it.

Kim Cooper: Some are scared to death, but we have a lot that are appreciative, and they really excel.

Leonard Sipes: Kim, thank you for being at our microphones today.

Kim Cooper: Thank you very much.

[Audio 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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