Transition from Jail to Community-Urban Institute-NIC-DC Public Safety Radio

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/05/transition-from-jail-to-community-urban-institute-nic-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extraordinarily interesting program today, the Transition from Jail Project, funded by the National Institute of Corrections, and our folks from the Urban Institute are back at the microphone. We have Jesse Jannetta, who’s been before our microphones before, been on our television show. He is a Senior Research Associate with the Urban Institute; and Janeen Buck, again a Senior Research Associate, again with the Urban Institute: www.urban.org. This particular program has its own website: www.jailtransition.com. www.jailtransition.com. What I want to do before turning the microphones over to Janeen and to Jesse is to read a one-paragraph description of this project and then we talk about re-entry from jail systems. This is from their executive summary. In 2007, the National Institute of Corrections partnered with the Urban Institute to develop and test an innovative, comprehensive model for effective jail-to-community transition. Designed to address the unique challenges and opportunities surrounding jail re-entry, the Transition from Jail Community Initiative advances systems-level change through collaborative and coordinated relationships between jails and local communities to address re-entry. Enhanced public safety, reduced recidivism, and improved individual reintegration outcomes are the over-arching goals of the model. And, the other fact that I want to do before turning it over to my guests – 9 million people are released from jail systems every year versus 700,000 from state prisons. Again, Janeen Buck and Jesse Jannetta from the Urban Institute, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Janeen Buck: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here today, Len.

Len Sipes: All right, this is an extraordinarily interesting program because I’ve had discussions with staff members and, you know, they tell me, and from my own experience, there’s nothing tougher than a jail. I mean, it is extraordinarily difficult to run an urban jail. It is chaotic; it is noisy; it is just loud, and if it has a booking center attached to it you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people processing in and out of this chaotic atmosphere every single day. How in the name of heavens do we plan on doing a re-entry program within an atmosphere of a large urban jail? Who wants to take that?

Jesse Jannetta: Well, I can start, Len. I think that really what you’re describing is one of the fundamental challenges that the TJC model and project is trying to address is just how quickly the jail population turns over. Everyone goes to jail; that’s where you go. If it’s a booking facility after you’re arrested, to you have people are in there bonding out or being released in pre-trial status pretty quickly. You have people there awaiting trial if they haven’t been able to make bond or if they’re not going to be released. You have parole and probation violators.  So it’s a very diverse population coming in and out often pretty quickly, and so what TJC is trying to do, among other things, is to help jurisdictions think in a data-driven way about who they’re looking for to intervene with in terms of how likely they are to reoffend, in terms of the needs that they have, so that they can take whatever resources they have and target it where it’s going to have the biggest positive impact on their local community, and so they’re not trying to deal with the whole haystack, so to speak, but they’re really looking for the needle.

Len Sipes: All right, a yes or no question – can this be done within this very chaotic, I mean you’ve done the research and you had jurisdictions where you tried this. I mean, obviously it can be done but the average person sitting out there who knows Corrections is saying, “No, this can’t be done.” It can be done, Janeen?

Janeen Buck: It can be done, and in fact it was done. We started our work and partnership with the National Institute of Corrections, as you mentioned, in 2007. Our first task was really to work with NIC and a large group of external advisors that drew from jail administrators, community-based service providers, local law enforcement – a whole host of folks who were very familiar with this issue, if not on the front lines of this issue, to devise a flexible and comprehensive model for jail transition and then to go out and actually test that model in the real world setting of six communities.  So we started with six communities in 2008. We started working first with Denver, the city and county of Denver, which was a more urban jail setting, as you mentioned.  Then we also worked with a smaller, more rural county, Douglas County in Kansas, which was a much smaller jail. We started working there to implement the model, and we expanded to four additional sites the following year in 2009, working with one of the largest jail systems, Orange County, bringing them on in 2009.

Len Sipes: Orange County, California?

Janeen Buck: California, yes, as well as a number of other sites, again, that were diverse with respect to size, structure of their system, and we found that, yes, they were able to implement the model.

Len Sipes: What are the key elements of the model?

Janeen Buck: Well, I think, first and foremost, and I think Jesse would agree with this, it’s really collaboration. It is a systems approach that requires, like re-entry does, working across systems, so it’s the jail and the community and other members of the criminal justice system as well coming together to really jointly own this issue and work together collaboratively to create a model that works for them.

Len Sipes: Is the whole idea exposing or attaching people caught up in the criminal justice system to services on the outside, is that the heart and soul of it?

Jesse Jannetta: I think it’s both because what you want to do is have a process that starts in the jail, and again you have often pretty short periods of intervention or unpredictable as well. You know, people may be with you in the jail for a while but you may not know that at the outset of their time there, but even if it’s just doing in-reach from community-based organizations into the jail to start meeting and identifying potential clients, you want a piece of it to begin pre-release, if at all possible.  And the other fundamental I would say is what we call the triage approach so that you’re trying, through data, doing a pretty minimal, in terms of resource, risk-to-reoffend screener at booking so that you can see particularly who your higher-risk portion of your population is. That’s who you want to target first and foremost for programming, and at the same time who are the people who are lower risk who you want to keep into a more minimal intervention track. So again, you’re really focusing the resources that you have and the time and energy that you have, which are limited, on the people who need it the most and that the community needs to get at the most.

Len Sipes: Okay, so you’re talking about the three categories of people who come into the jail system: those who are booked, those people who are there on a pre-trial basis, and those people that are serving short sentences. You’re talking about all three populations.

Jesse Jannetta: Right, and I think that jurisdictions have come down that we’ve worked with in different ways on that. Some have preferred to work only with the sentence population; others have said if they’re in the right risk category and if they have the identified needs, we’ll start working with them regardless of whether they’re there on pre-trial or sentence status because many people, you know, if they’re in the jails for a substantial period of pre-trial, if and when they are sentenced, they may be sentenced to time served. So if you’ve been in the jail for three months awaiting the completion of your adjudication, you may then be sentenced. The judge will say, “Well, the three months you’ve been in jail already is sufficient to be the sentence,” and so if you wait to work with them, you will have missed your window of opportunity for intervention.

Len Sipes: Technical assistance was provided to the jails?

Janeen Buck: Um-hum.

Jesse Jannetta: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And what sort of technical assistance?

Janeen Buck: Well, we went in and helped first really get a handle on the jail population that was there, again, working this angle of a data-driven approach. Who’s in your jail? How long are they there for? What kind of information do you have about your jail population? Again, I think bringing evidence-based practice or best practice to bear and providing technical assistance around that, so as Jesse mentioned, having a universal screener for risk of re-offense which allows you to get a very quick sort on your jail population and which really drives that next approach, thinking about, where do you put your resources, who should go on for in-depth, a risk needs assessment to help drive decision-making around services that need to be received through provided technical assistance around both kind of re-entry practices with respect to screening and assessment and looking at programming, evidence-based programs, as well as evaluation-related technical assistance.

Len Sipes: All right, so we’re talking about collaboration. We’re talking about getting everybody together, figuring out what’s in the community, how can these community resources be brought to the attention of people who are in the jail system, in the three categories of the jail system, providing technical assistance, making sure that they know what they’re doing, using objective risk instruments, triaging people to ferret out the people who don’t need services to those people who desperately need services. – And I’m assuming afterwards, after you do all that, there’s some sort of connection between that individual and services in the community upon release.

Jesse Jannetta: That’s right, and I think the case planning is a key piece of that, so what you want to do through your triage process. So first you find your higher-risk folks through the screener, and then out of that group and often looking at people who are going to be in the jail for at least long enough to begin an intervention continuum; those are the people who would get a full-risk needs assessment to tell you what they need, and then that’s got to be tied into the case plan so that you’re taking this is what we know about, what we need to address to reduce their likelihood of recidivism, and these are our goals. This is who we’re trying to connect them to, both the programming in the jail and then in the community.  Something that we did a lot of work on in the participating communities is talking about and trying to have continuity of approach between the way the programming’s delivered in the jail and in the community. So as you’re addressing substance abuse, for example, which is a common issue in this population, are the in-jail programs and then the people providing that programming in the community you’re trying to hand people off to, are they doing this kind of work in the same way or are they even really aware of how each of those pieces of the system is addressing it because if you hand somebody off from a substance abuse program in the jail that’s doing things in one way, and then they go into the community and it’s a completely different modality and philosophy, that can be really counter-productive particularly with the client who may feel like, “Well, I don’t know who to listen to. I’m getting different messages.” Whereas, if you can integrate that, then what you can try and do is build on a common approach and have them be mutually reinforcing.

Len Sipes: Okay. Now I’m going to put on my – oh, go ahead, please, Janeen.

Janeen Buck: And I would just add to that – I think another key piece was even developing that shared knowledge and understanding around screening and assessment, and using to the extent that you could a shared instrument so that there was that continuity of understanding around the needs too.

Len Sipes: Right, everybody’s singing from the same sheet of music, right?

Janeen Buck: Exactly, and you build a common vocabulary that makes sense.

Len Sipes: Okay. I’m going to put on my practitioner hat, and you dealt with these individuals as how many jurisdictions, Janeen?

Janeen Buck: Well currently all together right now we will have been working with 14. We worked with 6 in the first round.

Len Sipes: 14, and that’s a lot of jurisdictions. All right, I would imagine the average person is saying, pardon my sexism, “Lady, don’t you understand how difficult it is to run a jail? We’ve got to do this and that,” and it’s going through their minds. A dozen issues are going through their minds. “Do we really have the time to do this and is this really going to be successful?” There had to be a certain level of cynicism on the part of hard-bitten criminal justice administrators when this issue was first brought up.

Jesse Jannetta: I would say that although one thing to bear in mind is we had a competitive application process for the opportunity to be in a TJC site, so we are working with jurisdictions that in a sense —

Len Sipes: That want you there.

Jesse Jannetta: — put their foot forward. But with that said, and particularly when you’re talking about a large collaborative endeavor, the jurisdiction or the person who wrote the application for the jurisdiction may feel that way but there’s a real diversity of opinion within everybody in that jurisdiction about how feasible it was, and we have had to deal with that as well as, you know, we started with two sites in ’08, another four in ’09, working with them in phase one through the middle of the financial crisis when spending of all kinds of resources of all kinds in local government have really been in retrenchment, and that did bring skepticism. But I think that one of the things that was really heartening in what we found in phase one is the degree to which our local partners said, “No, these budget cuts” – and some of our participating jurisdictions experienced quite substantial budget cuts in some of the core, whether it was the sheriff’s department or probation or the community providers – but that for them was not a reason not to do TJC but was in fact a reason that the kind of strategic approach that we’re doing, they felt was as important as ever because now resources are even more limited, and it’s all the more important that we’re making sure we’re using them in as targeted a way as possible, and they really hung in there through some tough times.  You know, a lot of local jurisdictions, the degree to which there was already some degree of programming or connection to community resources, there’s a lot of great stuff going on at the local level and a lot of jail re-entry activity going on all around the country. So while there is that skepticism, we also had the opportunity through TJC – and this started when we brought together our network of jail practitioners at the beginning – to build on what everybody has been doing at the local level and learning already –

Len Sipes: Enhance it. Improve it.

Jesse Jannetta: — and put it together into a common approach, and then try and bring that out to the field.

Len Sipes: The second question I want to get to right before the break and that is this – you know, I’ve been in this business for a long time – a lot of people at the community level don’t particularly appreciate people caught up in the criminal justice system. They find them hard to deal with versus a very motivated person. This is the classic example from a drug treatment provider who a woman has three kids and she’s strung out on cocaine, and she desperately wants to get off of it for her sake and her kids versus my guy on parole or mandatory supervision who was forced into it by a judge or by the member of the parole commission. They say, “I’d much rather have the woman who wants to be there than the person who was forced to be there.” So was there any resistance in terms of expanding the number of contacts through the jail systems?

Janeen Buck: I don’t think there was resistance to that. I think people were on board with that. I do think having the information at their disposal about who to target, when, and how much was very helpful, having that evidence-based approach, both from the community and the jail side. Does that make sense? Jesse, what would you add?

Jesse Jannetta: Yeah. What I also say, if you’re a community organization working on a lot of different social issues, it’s a really open question, and part of the data-driven approach that we can do can illuminate this. How different is that really from what you’re already doing? I mean, if you’re a community organization working with people who have serious mental health issues in the community; you’re working with a population that’s in and out of jail, same with addiction issues. People at the career centers, a lot of the folks who are coming in off the street who really need help, getting attached to employment have been criminal justice involved.  So in many cases, you know, the fundamental insight is on the community side, whether you know it or not, you’re already working with the population that’s in and out of the jail so why don’t we collaborate so that that work can be more effective? I think that a lot of community organizations, even if they’re relatively new to this effort, found that that was the case that they’re not finding new people.

Len Sipes: Well, right after the break I do want to talk about some of the successes that you’ve had. I mean, there has to be many successes considering the amount of jurisdictions that you were in. But ladies and gentlemen let me reintroduce both my guest and the program. We have Janeen Buck, Senior Program Associate, and Jesse Jannetta, again, Senior Research Associate rather from the Urban Institute: www.urban.org. The specific website for this project, the program is called the Transition from Jail Project, www.jailtransition.com. www.jailtransition.com.  Janeen or Jesse, certainly you have your fair share of success stories from this. I mean, people are sitting there going, “Okay, now I get the concept, and now Leonard has defended the practitioner community by these over-eager and over-optimistic researchers,” but this is something that’s necessary. I mean, we’ve been talking about using jails as a triage facility and connecting them with community resources for years but people have said, “We just don’t have the resources to do that.” So, out of all the jurisdictions that you’ve been with and interacted with, give me some success stories.

Janeen Buck: I think really all of our jurisdictions have been success stories, specifically with that. You know, they had very committed networks of community-based partners and providers. Some, obviously, had much broader networks than others but everybody really came to the table through this and were very committed, and I think to Jesse’s point right before the break, it’s important to note that many of the providers who were at the table knew these people, knew that their clients were a part of the jail population, had a stake in coming to the table, and I think they were excited to be a part and invited to the table and to help because they really were already owning this issue but to work collaboratively in that way. That said, I think we saw in all of the jurisdictions that we were working in an expansion in terms of the network of community-based providers, community participation that was at the table, both at an assistance level in terms of collaboration but also in terms of the nuts and bolts coming to the table, doing in-reach, or being willing to change or modify their practice to have that continuity of approach. Jesse, what would you add?

Jesse Jannetta: The biggest thing that I would add is I think it’s fair to say that when we started phase one, not one of those jurisdictions was really having validated risk and need information guiding who was getting programming services in the jail and in the community.

Len Sipes: Which is crucial.

Jesse Jannetta: And sites reached different degrees to which that information was driving the process but every one of them had it. Every one of it had it integrated in a process where it was, in fact, informing who was getting program services so they were moving towards this point where they were confident or gaining confidence that now we are serving who we want to. You know, in most jurisdictions that we’ve worked with, if you ask who determines who gets programming in the jail, the answer number one is usually the inmates. It’s their volition, and often it’s the judges for some of the mandated programming, and what they wanted to do is say, “No, we as a system have to say who ought to be in that programming,” and then, you know, there’s challenges convincing the inmates to do it or sometimes, you know, if you have to go back to the bench to get them to be on board with that strategy but if you can’t even say who’s supposed to be getting the programming, you could never get there strategically, and they got there, I think.

Len Sipes: Help me with my misunderstanding. Is this solely an in-house program or is it a connection to the community program or both?

Jesse Jannetta: I would say both, and I think it may be easiest to give some examples. A good one I think is in the city and county of Denver, so what they did is do a lot of work on enhancing their continuum between the Jail Life Skills Program that they have where their jail program officers were doing programming of a lot of different kinds, and then they had community capacity through what was called the Community Re-entry Project, and the primary hand-off they were trying to do is get people to go to the Community Re-entry Project which had capacity to do a lot of different kind of services there or refer out, and I kind of think of that as the hub and spoke.  So they were trying to identify who were the priorities to get programming in the jail, get them in Jail Life Skills, have them meet initially with staff from the Community Re-entry Project prior to release, and then get them to go there where a lot of things that they needed could be handled there at CRP or they could refer out. – But that was the primary door they wanted people to go through in the community.

Len Sipes: And was there meaningful success in terms of hooking people into programs? I mean, once you figured out, in terms of your objective risk instrument, who needed services and who didn’t – I mean, and anybody who’s been on the floor of a booking center or the floor of an intake area of a jail, it’s pretty obvious who needs psychiatric treatment as they walk in through the door; who’s withdrawing from drugs as they’re walking in the door. We know that many offenders commit their crimes while under the influence of some substance. It’s pretty easy to understand that this is a population in dire need. So considering the dire need of that population, do you feel that the jurisdictions really succeeded in terms of hooking the right people up with the right services?

Janeen Buck: Yeah, I think that they did. Is there room to grow? – I’m sure there is but I think over the life of the technical assistance period, we really saw a movement toward that in each jurisdiction. Jurisdictions implemented cognitive-based restructuring programs where it used that risk-and-assessment information to really link the right individuals to those services.

Len Sipes: Okay, so thinking for a change, teaching people how to make good judgments throughout life, yes.

Janeen Buck: Right, exactly, kind of a foundational piece to thinking about change, how you’re looking at your circumstances, and using that kind of as a foundation for linking them and building that continuum of other services. So to answer your question, I think they did. Again, I think we saw substantial movement there. We’re doing a sustainability assessment in the six sites, going back to look and see what’s been sustained since the technical assistance period ended, how are they building on things, and we’re seeing in the jurisdictions that we were working in, they’ve kept the screening and assessment procedures. They’re still using them. They’re thinking very strategically about who to target for programming, and they’re continuing to build their continuum of programs and thinking very much about risk and need and who to put there. So I think we saw movement there. I think it’s something that will continue to stand.

Len Sipes: So in all the jurisdictions that you work with from a technical assistance point of view, they embraced this, they embraced it seriously, and more people are being plugged in to more programs, and more importantly, the right people are being plugged into the right programs?

Jesse Jannetta: I think yes, and I think they’re –

Len Sipes: That’s extraordinary!

Janeen Buck: Yes, it is.

Jesse Jannetta: And in programming that in many places didn’t exist. I mean, we had several that didn’t have any cognitive-based programming were able to implement Thinking for a Change. Several put in programming units in their jail facilities so that the people living in that housing unit were all people who were in the target population for programming, and the programming was delivered there which wasn’t happening. I mean, they didn’t have the screening and assessment information. – And the other thing, although this was in some ways the biggest TA challenge, making a lot of progress in having an ability to measure –

Janeen Buck: I was just going to say that, yes.

Jesse Jannetta: — to do performance measurement around their transition processes. You know, there is huge limitations in the data systems locally. So they know that data-driven processes are the way to go, they know that these things they’re doing are important to measure but it’s very hard to do it. Some of that is about the data systems they have. I often think a bigger limiting factor is the number of trained staff who know how to pull that information, analytical capacity in the counties. There may only be a few people who know it, and there are huge claims that those skills are very valuable, and often the people who know how to do that are shared not only with the jail or the justice system but with the entire county, so it’s challenging to get down into the data and know what’s going on but really valuable.

Len Sipes: We only have about four minutes left. What message would you give to other correctional administrators throughout this country that run jails? Again, the numbers are enormous compared to those released from prison. 700,000 come out of the state and federal prisons every year versus 9 million coming out of the jail systems. So to the jail administrators, correctional administrators that you’re talking to – mayors, governors, aides to mayors and governors – what message would you give to them as a result of your experience as part of this National Institute of Corrections-funded project?

Jesse Jannetta: There are tremendous resources already going to the population that is going in and out of the jails but often not in a very coordinated or coherent way. Most jurisdictions, without getting a dime of additional resources, can be more effective in working with that population if they use something like the TJC model to be more strategic. – And to the community partners, people who are not criminal justice system or don’t work in jails, most people coming out of jails aren’t under probation supervision. They walk out of the jail with no necessarily formal responsibility to anyone in the criminal justice system. So for jail transition to work, other community partners have to step up to the plate and be willing, as full partners, to work with those folks coming back from the jail, and people in the criminal justice system, for this to really work, have to be willing to invite in the community partners and let them participate as full partners, otherwise you’re going to be really limited in what you’re able to do.

Len Sipes: Go ahead, Janeen.

Janeen Buck: And to add to that, I think, you know, part of collaboration and inviting people in too is being willing to share information back and forth about practice. I think, again, speaking to the importance of that data-driven piece to being able to measure what you’re doing and not just the outcome of “is it effective,” but do you have data? Are you willing to share that information to see that you are serving the right people, that you’re serving them in a timely fashion, that you’re addressing their needs; and being open to looking at the data, I think to use that to make system improvements, which was a key part of the TJC model too.

Len Sipes: And I would imagine the strength of all of this is a team approach in terms of working with these individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. So it’s just not the Salvation Army; it’s just not mental health people; it’s just not substance abuse people; it’s just not people helping women with children, or people with HIV. It is supposedly, I am assuming, a comprehensive approach of trying to bring as many partners to the table as to this one person as humanly possible which gets us the biggest bang, possible bang for our dollar, correct?

Janeen Buck: Right. That’s absolutely right, and jurisdictions did that in different ways. The jurisdictions that we worked with in Ken County, they really brought everybody together. They had a strong community base there, had substance abuse providers, mental health providers, working with correctional officers in the jail, really had a team approach from not just a coordinated case plan but coming to the table together and discussing cases together.

Len Sipes: There is hope. What you’re telling me is that, from years of experience, funding by the National Institute of Corrections, a researched technical assistance project from the Urban Institute, there is hope. People listening to this and saying, “There is no way I can do it in my chaotic jail,” what we’re saying is that you can.

Jesse Jannetta: Right.

Janeen Buck: Right, and there are tools available for this.

Jesse Jannetta: Yeah. You know, we’ve had the opportunity, as we’ve said, to work with 14 jurisdictions. There are 2,800 jail systems in the United States, and IC knew that our impact would be really limited in only the 14. So the model is deep-dive in these 14 different places, capture everything that we’re learning, make it available to everyone else. The project website is the place to go for that. If we’ve done what we’re supposed to do, what you need is there.

Len Sipes: Okay. Jesse Jannetta, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, the program today is the Transition from Jail Project, funded by the National Institute of Corrections. Our guests today have been Janeen Buck, Senior Research Associate, and Jesse Jannetta, again, Senior Research Associate from the Urban Institute: www.urban.org. The website for this program is www.jailtransition.com. www.jailtransiton.com.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is D.C. Public Safety. We appreciate your comments; we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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