A National Consensus on Community Corrections-National Institute of Corrections

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/12/national-consensus-on-community-corrections-national-institute-of-corrections/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, the show topic today, a national consensus on community corrections. We’re going to be talking about the Community Corrections Collaborative Network . We have two guests by our microphones. Gregory Crawford, he is a Corrections Program Specialist for the National Institute of Corrections. He’s also the Network Manager for the Community Corrections Collaborative Network. And we have Spurgeon Kennedy, he is Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies. He’s also with Pretrial Services for the District of Colombia. Thanks to Donna Ledbetter of the National Institute of Corrections for setting up this show today. Our website’s www.nicic.gov, that’s for the National Institute of Corrections. I’ll  repeat that throughout the program. And for Spurgeon’s organization, National Association of Pretrial Services, www.napsa.org. Gentlemen, welcome to DC public safety.

Gregory Crawford:  Thanks for having us, Len.

Len Sipes:  All right, let me read very quickly the list of the very, very, very prestigious organizations in the corrections, Community Corrections Collaborative Network: The American Probation and Parole Association, the Association of Paroling Authorities International, the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association, the International Community Corrections Association, the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies and the National Association of Probation Executives. Now that is an extraordinarily large group, Greg. How, what’s your role in getting everybody on board to form this national consensus for community corrections?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, they actually came to us. The Community Corrections Collaborative Network came together on a request from one of our members, and we brought all the main associations together representing probation, pretrial and parole, and over 42,000 members, to come together and collectively to speak with one voice.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Gregory Crawford:  Our mission is to serve as the forum to develop and work the emerging issues, activities and goals of the community corrections field, and our vision is really to create a shared message and understanding about community corrections.

Len Sipes:  Is there a shared message about community corrections? I’ve been in this business for a long time, and finding consensus between the organizations that we’re talking about here and the different other organizations that are on the perimeter, such as PEW and lots of other organizations, Urban Institute comes to mind. I mean, everybody seems to have a different take on community corrections. What, you’re telling me that what we’re doing now is coming up with a national consensus, everybody pretty much agreeing to what it is community corrections could be doing, should be doing?

Gregory Crawford:  Absolutely, Len. I think the one thing that’s becoming very clear is that mass incarceration is not working. As Attorney General Eric Holder stated earlier this year, it’s both ineffective and unsustainable. Our prison population has grown about 300% since 1980 and I think it’s time that we all come together to try and fix this problem.

Len Sipes:  Spurgeon, you know, the fast majority of people under correctional supervision are on community corrections. That’s something that very few people know, that I think it is 7 million in terms of total population, within the country, and I think that 4 million are under community corrections supervision. I’m not quite sure I have those figures correct, but I do know that the vast majority of people under correctional supervision in this country are not in prison, they’re not in jail, they are with parole and probation agencies, they are with pretrial service agencies.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  That’s true. If you look at the data that is available, about 7 out of 10 of defendants and defenders in our justice systems are under community corrections, not jails or prisons, but under the supervision of a pretrial program, a probation, a parole agency, a treatment provider in the community. That’s a huge number. Unfortunately, most of the resources that go into our system still go into the correction side.

Len Sipes:  I think 80% is it not?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, we supervise 70% of the offenders and defendants; we get about 30% of the resources. It’s a total imbalance.

Len Sipes:  Why is that?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, we are still, unfortunately, living, as Greg mentioned, we’re learning a lesson, and that is putting people in jails and prisons and leaving them there for long stretches doesn’t make us safer. And unfortunately, we’re on the tail end of that. But we are still seeing jail and prison being overused. And because of that, the resources to maintain a jail and prison are much more than it would take to operate a community corrections program. Our message, really, is simple. If you improve community corrections in this country, you improve public safety in this country. And as you mentioned, the consensus that we’re seeing, not only with our associations, but with others, is that if you strengthen the organizations that provide most supervision, and if you change the way that people see corrections and corrections resources, you will go a long way to protecting America’s communities and reducing recidivism.

Len Sipes:  But how do we go about doing that? I mean, this is the condition. I came into the criminal justice system in 1969. I’m sorry, yes, I am that old. I have been around for 42, 43 years. And the criminal justice system that I entered back in 1969 is essentially the criminal justice system that I see out there today in many, in many ways. I mean, parole and probation agencies have always been underfunded; the ratio between people under supervision and parole and probation agents has always been huge. There is never the training and the money and the emphasis is always going to law enforcement and it’s always going to mainline correctional institutions. So the community corrections part of it, the pretrial part of it has gotten a, not a second look, but a third, fourth and fifth look. How are we going to change that?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think in order for it to work, we really need to adequately staff our local and state and tribal community corrections agencies. Probation officers, parole officers, pretrial officers, cannot be burdened with large case loads. Number one. Number two, I think that we need to, as a network, as individual associations, make sure that evidence based practices are available to the officers and you know, the newest technology and shift are funding to the community corrections rather than on building expensive prisons.

Len Sipes:  Is it our proposition, Spurgeon, that we are going to save states billions of dollars by doing a better job of successfully supervising people under, on community corrections, on pretrial supervision? That we’re going to save, we have the potential of saving literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, from being victimized by crime. So there is a huge payoff here. I mean, it’s a huge payoff fiscally and it’s a huge payoff criminologically. Yet, people don’t seem to buy it. And that bothers me and it bothers all three of us at our microphones. Why is it that we cannot convince people to swing in our direction?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Not sure if that’s true. I think the public, when they are confronted with facts, when they understand what it is we do, and what we are trying to accomplish and certainly all of us are in the business of keeping America’s communities as safe as we possibly can, there is a lot of community support on what it is we are putting out there. The public buys into the idea that supervision, that effective risk assessment, that placing people on supervision levels that makes sense according to their perceived risk, is the best way to move. In fact, they believe that we’re doing this already in a lot of cases. So I don’t think that we have to sell as much as we have to present, as Greg said, some effective strategies on how to improve community corrections across the country, but also to change the way that people in the system think about resource allocations and use. CCCN has come up with several paradigm shifts that we believe should/have to occur before we can really get to the business of making community corrections better.

Len Sipes:  And tell me about those paradigm shifts. Either one of you.

Gregory Crawford:  Well, number one, we’re talking about shifting from a system that bases decisions solely on a defendant or a defender’s charges to a system that considers the individual’s risk level and treatment needs to determine sanctions, supervision level and intervention.

Len Sipes:  Okay, so we’re going to evaluate every offender that comes into our custody in terms of their individual risk level and what their treatment needs are?

Gregory Crawford:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  We’re going to have an individual sense as to who that person really is?

Gregory Crawford:  One size doesn’t fit all.

Len Sipes:  Okay.

Gregory Crawford:  And that’s part of the problem with, you know, the mandatory, minimum sentencing.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Exactly.

Gregory Crawford:  And so I think that if you can take an individual’s full story into consideration, you know, we lock up a lot of folks that are non-violent and do not pose a risk to society and can be safely treated in the community, and I think that that is one of the biggest problems in the growing prison population. As I mentioned, you know, Bureau of Prisons is now at 132% capacity. We’ve had a 300% increase in the prison population in the last 30, 33 years. I think we really need to take a look at going to a system, as I mentioned, shift to a system that considers individual risk into consideration.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  That’s very important. Too many decisions in criminal justice now are being based on what you’re charged with, not who you are, the risk that you present, and whether you’re going to come back into the system. Moving from a charge base to a research driven decision based approach is essential here.

Len Sipes:  All right, what’s the next step?

Gregory Crawford:  Let the scientific data drive where we send people. Use validated risk assessments, you know, manage our resources, and you know, it doesn’t make any sense to mix high risk with low risk. In fact, it actually, research indicates that if you put low risk individuals with high-risk individuals, you actually cause more harm than good. So I think it’s really critical that we let science drive our decisions.

Len Sipes:  All right, Spurgeon, what’s the next one?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, the other one, and it’s not so much a resource or a recidivism based, but it’s also just the fairness of the system. There are things, there are decisions made that are disparate. Racially disparate, disparities in incomes, the use of money, for example, in decisions, is one where great disparities racially and economically start to rear out. Not using evidence based research, but instead basing decisions on things such as charge. They build into disparities as well. One of the things that we really have to do and one of the focuses that we have as a network is making the system simply more fair and more just. The more you do that, I think, the better the returns you’ll get.

Len Sipes:  A hot topic throughout the country. Any more?

Gregory Crawford:  Yeah, I think another thing that we need to take a look at is limiting those folks and offenders who cannot be safely supervised in the community, and noting that there are alternatives to incarceration. Not just, you know, probation or pretrial or parole, there’s, you know, alternatives to incarceration in the local community. Work crews, day reporting programs, all sorts of programs along those lines that save local jail beds, keep people employed, keep them paying taxes connected to their families. We don’t need to make prison or jail the first option. I think that we need to look at other options for those that can be safely supervised in the community.

Len Sipes:  Next?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, the big one, and the one that ties everything together, it’s the improvement of community corrections programs across the country. We – the reason that my association, the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and the other involved in CCCN got together is because we believe that putting our voices together strengthens our central message. And that is, if we’re going to use community corrections as a central way of providing services, support to defendants and defenders, and keeping our communities safe, and we are, with 70% of those persons under our supervision, you have got to improve the way that these programs operate. You have to reinforce evidence-based practices, both in risk assessment and supervision. You have to provide the resources necessary to effectively supervise defendants and defenders. As Greg mentioned, you have to make sure that caseloads are not so large that you can’t do an effective job in keeping recidivism rates down. And you have to focus on what you want these agencies to accomplish. The biggest thing that CCCN really wants to do is to make sure that when it comes to discussions of resources and what is effective and what works, that community corrections programs aren’t forgotten and certainly the emphasis is placed on making good programs even better.

Len Sipes:  We’ve got a minute before the break, before I reintroduce both of you. If we did all of this, gentlemen, if we did all of this, what would the impact be?

Gregory Crawford:  It would be huge, I think.

Len Sipes:  Talk to me about what would happen?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think, number one is you make your community stronger. You reduce victimization. You promote keeping families together. You promote, you know, right now we currently have a system set up that enables this cycle of incarceration to continue. You have one person, a parent, going into prison or jail, and that increases the likelihood, in and of itself, of the children in the family to become, have behavioral problems. And it’s not a direct correlation, but it does increase the chance.

Len Sipes:  Okay, but sell this to the larger society. For the larger society, Gregory, you mentioned less crime.

Gregory Crawford:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  Okay, for the larger society, Spurgeon, it means what?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  We know what causes recidivism. There is a bunch of research out there over the last decade or so that have identified the factors most associated with people coming back into the system. The one thing that we know doesn’t reduce recidivism is locking you up and keeping you there until we’re tired of seeing you and letting you out. The thing that works is supervision, services, and things that are based on risk and need. And you only get that from community corrections programs.

Len Sipes:  But as Greg said, the impact could be huge, the potential could be huge in terms of saving tax paid dollars and in terms of saving victimization and creating a better system.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, you get a smarter system, you get a system that hopefully costs you much less, and you get a system with the outcome, the expressed outcome of keeping communities safer. And if you follow what we know works, and if we’re able to incorporate that into most community corrections programs out there, we think that’s a much better result.

Len Sipes:  Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about a national consensus on community corrections, we’re talking about the Community Corrections Collaborative Network . Gregory Crawford is our guest today, he is a Corrections Program Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections. He’s also the Network Manager for the Community Corrections Collaborative Network and also at our microphones is Spurgeon Kennedy. Spurgeon is Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, and I’m proud to say, he’s with a sister agency of mine here at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. He’s with Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia. www.nicic.gov; www.nicic.gov for National Institute of Corrections, and www.napsa.org for the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies.

Okay, help me deal with this. In the law enforcement side, there are billions of dollars flowing towards law enforcement. And there are billions of dollars flowing towards correctional institutions, mainline correctional institutions. And I mentioned this and we can debate this, at the end of the system is us. We, in community corrections, and I believe that you’re right, I believe that we can have an enormous impact in terms of saving states and the federal government millions, billions of dollars. We can really create a system with the fewer criminal victimizations, we can do it all the way across the board, but we’ve been saying this now for the four decades that I’ve been in the criminal justice system, and I don’t see an enormous amount of change. The community corrections collaborative network, the idea of all these mainline community corrections organizations coming together with one voice, speaking in one voice, to me I think it’s a fantastic idea. But what does it take to convince people that we are the real deal?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, I think, and one of the things that we’re trying to do is build partnerships within the criminal justice community, and expand beyond just the CCCN and the six associations associated with the CCCN. You know? Reach out to the Bureau of Justice, reach out to folks like the PEW, reach out to the Urban Institute or the National Criminal Justice Association, and start building those, fostering those relationships and putting together our ideas and coming together with more than just one voice from the CCCN. A voice from the criminal justice community – and I think that that can make a difference.

Len Sipes:  I think if a governor of a state, who is looking at his or her ratio between parole and probation agents and people under supervision, if he or she sees this long list of national organizations coming together with the National Institute of Corrections and they’re making specific recommendations, I would imagine that the governor of that state’s going to be impressed by that, but that’s where the battle is fought, is it not? It’s not with the organizations that already support these issues, it’s not with PEW, it’s not with Urban, it’s within the general assemblies of the 50 states and the governor’s mansions, correct?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yes. Absolutely right, and as we’ve mentioned and as Greg put out, the paradigm shifts, the things that we have to do to change behaviors, not only within the community corrections and the corrections fields, but as you said, among people who have to open their pocketbooks and pay the criminal justice systems, that is really the big focus of CCCN. We want to be able to have a message that resonates with local policy makers, with state policy makers, with federal policy makers, and funders – so that they understand the importance of a well financed, well resourced community corrections component. We’re new, and you know, that is something that we’re just beginning to focus on. We’ve had discussions with other partner agencies about it. We do want to put out an effective message that can be used across the country, and that’s really going to be our focus, really, for the first few months.

Len Sipes:  But you know, we’re really different here in the District of Columbia. We have money for programs. And we have a lot of partner agencies in terms of mental health, in terms of substance abuse, in terms of employment. The average parole and probation agency in this country doesn’t possess a dime for drug treatment, doesn’t possess a dime for mental health treatment, doesn’t possess a dime for vocational programs. That’s always puzzled me. Because we know that these programs can have a significant impact in terms of recidivism, correct?

Gregory Crawford:  I think traditionally that’s been the case, across the country. I think, however, though, I’m hopeful, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that folks that come in the criminal justice system will have an opportunity to be linked to services and rehabbed through their medical benefits. We have about 10 million people that cycle through the local jail system each year. I would say 80, I think I heard about 80% of those do not have insurance, and I want Kennedy to talk here in a minute about pretrial, but I think that the impact of the Affordable Care Act will be huge for the criminal justice population.

Len Sipes:  And the Second Chance Act. I mean, there are partners and they are beginning to thro money towards those of us in the criminal justice system to better handle the individuals that we have on day-to-day supervision. So changes seem to be coming. But they’re at the federal level.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Well, this is a watershed. I think it’s a watershed not only for the federal level, but also for the local jurisdictions as well. As you mentioned, there are these tremendous potentials, with funding sources, that are dressed as reinvestment. The Affordable Care Act, the Second Chance Act, but there’s also that intersection of knowledge – of the research built over the last decade that have shown that if you do these things, if you fund these things, these programs, these services, this is the expected benefit. We’ve had money before, frankly. There have been times during the past decades when we’ve thrown money into corrections and said, “Okay, get better.” We haven’t really had the knowledge on what best to do with those resources. I think now we know more now than we ever have about what effective supervision, treatment and services are. And with that available money, especially the Affordable Care Act, we ought to be able now to target those services and those supervision types that are the most effective to reduce recidivism. To do that, though, we have to have a message that we are the professionals, we know how to take care of this population and we are the best, you know, use of your resources if you’re point is to reduce future recidivism.

Len Sipes:  Is there a consensus building on all of this that’s shifting towards the side of community corrections? Every program that I do, whether it’s researchers or people from PEW or National Institute of Corrections or Urban Institute or Office and Justice Programs, there just seems to be an emerging consensus on the part of the academic community, the practitioner community, and now this league of organizations that you’re talking about, and also folks within the national institute of corrections that this is changing, that this is swinging towards our side; that the evidence is building, that the state of the art is getting better, that we really do know what we’re doing. We need to be given a green light. And through the Second Chance Act, and through the Affordable Care Act and through other programs, we are being given that green light at the federal level. Am I in the ballpark?

Gregory Crawford:  You are in the ballpark. I think at this point we just need an opportunity and that’s what we’re trying to do, is build these collaborative relationships with folks and be prepared throughout the system for when we can get the funding shifted to community corrections, because we really do need to build capacity in our community corrections system and we do need that opportunity because clearly, you know, with the overcrowding in prison and the fact that about 44% of those that release from prison are right back in there after about three years. You know? So I think we’ve seen that it’s not working.

Len Sipes:  And there’s data that’s saying it’s higher, up to 50%.

Gregory Crawford:  My numbers come from BJS, and so that to me speaks volumes.

Len Sipes:  Okay. I mean, you know, we’re talking about two-thirds rearrested between, I’m going to say between 40 and 50% re-incarcerated and I’m going by BJS data and you know, we’re talking about an enormous amount of people returning to the system. Well, then people would say one side of the continuum, people would say, “Well, good. Bad guys are going back to prison.” The other side is, is that it’s busting the bank at the state level. It’s certainly almost unsustainable at the federal level and it’s doing very little in terms of keeping these people out of the criminal justice system when they are released.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Yeah, definitely. And I’ll give my, I’ll give Washington DC as an example. It costs hundreds of dollars a day to keep a person in our local jail. It costs a fraction of that to have them on supervised release; either pretrial or probation or parole. The same is true across the country. Not only does it cost less money, you get a better result. If you look at recidivism and public safety as the outcomes you’re trying to get here, you get those much more effectively with much less money, by using community corrections as your option. As Greg mentioned, we tried prisons for everybody, it didn’t work. There’s a huge rethinking now about the kind of offender who belongs in our jails and prisons. The move just to make that reserved for those who are truly violent and truly cannot benefit …

Len Sipes:  Right, and part of this is to build the capacity to make sure that prison beds are available for the truly violent and the truly dangerous. That’s another big part of what it is that we’re trying to do here, correct?

Spurgeon Kennedy:  But also to build capacity within community corrections so that those that you are no longer incarcerating have a place to go. And being able to say to your probation, parole, pretrial agencies, “You’re adequately staffed, you’re adequately resourced to handle the majority of defendants and defenders that are going to come through the system.”

Len Sipes:  What do you think the message is going to be? I mean, look at me and think that I’m the governor of Nebraska. What do you say to me? What’s the sound bite?

Gregory Crawford:  Well, the elevator speech, I think.

Len Sipes:  The elevator speech?

Gregory Crawford:  I think you have to look at the past and say, “Hey, this isn’t working.” But here’s what will work: you know, if we can properly staff our local, state, tribal, you know, community corrections agencies, we can make a difference. We can reduce recidivism. We can make communities safer. I think if you take a look at the untold potential for all these folks that get shipped away to prison, you know, and come back out and within three years they recidivate, you know, clearly that system isn’t working. So I think what we need to do is really come together and get these community corrections agencies properly staffed, but also inform the front end of the system. Because in my mind, that has the biggest potential to impact the entire criminal justice system and I really would like Kennedy to talk about what can be done in terms of the pretrial and the front end.

Len Sipes:  Kennedy, you’ve got about 30 seconds.

Spurgeon Kennedy:  Okay. If you look at counties, and this is where the message resonates the loudest, and I think the strongest, most counties are going to have corrections as one of their top three costs. Most people in jail are pretrial defendants, awaiting trial. Most of those are low to medium risk defendants who could be safely released into the community. If you use community corrections resources more effectively and more efficiently at the pretrial stage, not only will you keep your public safe, but you would reduce the cost of corrections enormously. I think the local jurisdictions are the ones who really need to hear this message.

Len Sipes:  Our guests today have been Gregory Crawford, Correctional Programs Specialist with the National Institute of Corrections and network manager of the Community Corrections Collaborative Network. We’ve had Spurgeon Kennedy, Vice President, National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies. The website for the National Institute of Corrections is www.nicic.gov. The website for the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies is www.napsa.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticism and we want everybody to have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Workloads in Parole and Probation-APPA-RTI International-DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/08/workloads-in-parole-and-probation-appa-rti-international-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, today’s program is on Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two experts with us today. Dr. Matthew DeMichele, he is with RTI International, commonly known as Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist. The website at RTI is www.rti.org. And Adam Matz from the American Probation and Parole Association is back at our microphone. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments. Again, American Probation and Parole Association, the website for Adam, www.appa-net.org. And to Matthew and Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Adam Matz: Thank you, Len.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Len Sipes: All right, gentlemen, this is a very important topic, this really is. I was watching a CNN program today, a big report about California and their problems in terms of prison realignment. We did a radio show with Joan Petersilia on the California prison realignment issues, and we have employees basically saying that they don’t have the wherewithal to deal with people who violate. They don’t have any options. There’s a real struggle in the state of California for what’s happening in terms of dealing with criminal offenders coming out of the prison system.  I’m not going to get into the details of that, but what’s happening in California is somewhat illustrative of what’s happening in a variety of states throughout the United States. The question is do parole and probation agents have sufficient resources, do parole and probation agents have appropriate staffing levels to deal with the offender population in such a way to help them get the services they need, and at the same time to hold them accountable. Adam, I’m going to start with you. Did I summarize the issue correctly?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think you did a pretty good job of summarizing it. It is true that across the nation in various pockets, there are obviously issues where folks have exorbitant case-load sizes that are far beyond what’s generally recommended.

Len Sipes: And the problem is that when we’re talking about case loads, now here at the Court Services of Offender Supervision Agency, we’re a federal parole and probation agency here in Washington, D.C., our case loads run on average 50-to-1. Our specialized case loads run anywhere from 20- to 30-to-1, for our high-risk case loads and for our specialized case loads, and we have lot of them, so we have the luxury of having federal funding but in many states throughout the country, ratios of 100-to-1, 200-to-1 and above that are not uncommon. Matthew, am I in the ballpark?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, I think that’s exactly the situation that’s going on right now.

Len Sipes: So what do we do? I mean, we have parole and probation. I think parole and probation agents throughout the United States are doing an extraordinarily good job of protecting the public and providing services to people under supervision. We understand that there has to be a combination of services as well as accountability if we’re ever going to lower rates of recidivism, if we’re ever going to protect the public in terms of reducing the number of crimes, but how can a parole and probation agent be effective if he or she has case loads beyond any sense of workability, beyond any sense of efficacy?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, I would say they can’t be successful. I mean, if we’re not going to correctly fund and staff probation and parole agencies, then they’re going to come short of the goal of reducing recidivism. I think what has to happen and what I’ve written about with Adam and with another co-author of mine, Brian Payne, who’s at Old Dominion University, is the idea that we have to look at the things that probation and parole officers are doing and how long it takes them to do those things, and then prioritize them of what we need officers to do, and we can’t continually use probation and parole as kind of the dustbin to sweep up the burden of mass incarceration and then not fund those agents appropriately, and essentially it leaves the officers kind of there holding the bag as they’re trying to struggle to keep cases from going bad.  And just as you had described with the California situation, I mean, while California may be an exaggerated case of what’s going on around the country, it’s definitely not an isolated incident. I know I’ve been doing some workload studies and evaluations in a couple of different states and some different departments, and you do see similar sorts of issues in that officers have these very large case loads, and even while CSOSA has the luxury of having 25 offenders on specialized units, in most departments or at least the departments I’m working with, that’s not the case. That’s what it’s supposed to be but very often it’s more like 50 or 60 offenders.  And so it’s just like your job and my job and anybody else’s job, if they give us too many things to do, we’re either not going to get them done or we’re not going to get them done correctly.

Len Sipes: I want to set this up with a question and that is this, is that California is an extreme case but we know that states throughout the country are working with the Department of Justice, or they’re working with the Council of State Governments or they’re working with PEW, and they’re taking a look at sentencing policies, they’re taking a look at corrections across the board; and the sense that I get from reading these reports is that parole and probation is on the frontline of public safety more than ever before. The time pretty much is now.  Parole and probation, whether we step up to the plate or not, whether we have the proper case load ratios or not, parole and probation is not coming center stage because what these states are basically saying is that we can no longer afford the level of incarceration that we’ve had over the past 10 or 20 years. For the first time, Department of Justice research states that over the course of the last 3-years, prison populations are decreasing not increasing – at the state level, not the federal level, but at the state level – and these individuals are going to be coming to parole and probation agencies in greater numbers. Am I correct in that assessment?

Adam Matz: Yeah. I can take a response to that, if you don’t mind. Yeah honestly, you’re right, there is kind of this realization that probation and parole is a big part of this sort of correctional tie, if you will, and some of the PEW research, some of the BJS data, the Bureau of Justice Statistics data, shows that most of the people under correctional supervision are under some form of community supervision. So most of the folks in the correctional population are under probation or parole supervision, specifically about 4.2 million probation and about 850,000 are under parole. First, there’s about 2 million under prison or jail supervision.  So I think folks have kind of realized that there’s a big part here with community corrections, a lot of potential here that’s not really being tapped into, it’s not being fully realized, and so it’s great to see kind of these resources being directed at sort of the back end of the justice system, if you will. Historically it’s sort of been focused either on police or maybe in the last decade more institutions, so I think that’s a good point to make.

Len Sipes: Well, and the question is are we up to it. The overwhelming majority of people who are in the correctional system first of all, who are in prisons, are going to come out. 97%, 98% of the people in prisons are going to come out, and generally-speaking, they will be on parole and probation supervision. On any given day, what is it, Adam, 75% of the correctional population is under some form of community supervision? They’re not behind bars, they’re with us, and that’s like 7 million human beings combined with parole and probation and mainstream corrections, so we’re talking about what, about 5 million under community corrections, under parole and probation?

Adam Matz: That’s right.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right.

Len Sipes: All right, so when we’re talking about corrections in America, even though all the television shows we watch are about, you know, if you go to A&E and the other cable networks, they’re all talking about being inside of a prison, looking at life inside of a prison. The overwhelming majority of the people under correctional supervision belong to us within parole and probation, right?

Adam Matz: Yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Right. Yeah, definitely, I mean 5 million out of 7 million.

Len Sipes: So the question becomes, are we up to it? Are we up to the task? Do we have the sufficient training, resources, and work loads to again, the research says that the need programs, if they’re going to be successful, whether it be work programs, mental health, substance abuse, GED, whatever we have to do to get them involved in programs, that’s a big part of it; but at the same time we have to hold them accountable for their actions. So for that helping role and for that accountability role, are we sufficiently equipped with the work loads to allow that to happen? – And I think the answer is very quickly “no.”

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, yeah, Len, I think you did a good of answering your own question. I mean, I think as we’re doing it now, I mean the way things are going now, as we just said, if we’re not going to correctly staff and fund probation and parole, it’s not going to work. – And it goes back to this idea of Martinson’s research back in the ’70s of corrections rehabilitation programs don’t work, and I think a lot of times when a parole leader or a probationer goes bad, everybody’s really quick to point the finger at, you know, probation and parole is soft on crime and it’s not the right way to punish people, but nobody talks about, you know, do prisons work.  I mean, do we really expect that prisons are rehabilitating folks the way that we’re putting them in there, and that we’re not programming folks while they’re in there, and we’re not addressing criminogenic needs or any of the rehabilitative needs? Instead we’re cycling people in and out from prison on to parole and back into prison, and then continuing to just do this revolving door of churning offenders back and forth.  So I think that as policy-makers and different organizations like APPA, CSU,  PEW, and other places have been working with the Department of Justice, because people have realized that this mass incarceration movement that we started from the ’70s till now has not been working. And as you said, we know almost all the people that are locked up today are going to be out one day and they’re going to be walking around our streets, and it’s how best to kind of redefine and reconceptualize what probation and parole is because I think that while your listeners are very aware of what probation and what parole and what those things are, most of the public aren’t. I think most of the public and even a lot of policy-makers don’t even know the difference between probation and parole, and that’s kind of what myself and Brian Payne and Adam, that we worked on with BJ, and BJ gave us two different grants to complete this work, to look at workload and then to actually develop some templates for folks to actually kind of start to measure their workload, how long it takes, because the first thing is to identify what are the things that probation and parole officers do. I think really quickly – not to dominate the conversation —

Len Sipes: No, please. Dominate.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, we all know what cops do, or at least we think we know what cops do, and we think we know what judges do. They sentence people, and cops arrest people and give tickets and those sorts of things. But if you ask people or policy-makers, “What does a probation or a parole officer do?” – I don’t know that people know, and I think that with that said, and I know APPA’s been working to bring about more of a national kind of conversation around this, but then even within probation and parole, the things that happen are so different.  You know, I’ve worked with different agencies and looked to measure the amount of time it takes to do PSIs, and pre-sentence investigation, and in some agencies it take 8 to 10 hours and in other agencies it takes 30 to 45 minutes. So it’s like the same task but when you drill down into that task and look at the specific elements, you see that there’s very different things going on. And I think that what needs to happen and is starting to happen is that more and more agencies are beginning to look at the very specific things that they have to do to meet the conditions of their standards – or the standards for their conditions, rather – and that when we start to apply at least some average or some rough estimates on how long that takes, then you can just add them up and look at the number of offenders you have that fit those criteria and say, well, we either do or we don’t have enough folks to meet this need.  I mean, it’s just like if you have a surgeon and he or she can only do so many heart surgeries in a day or a week or a month or a year, and if you give him or her more than that number, then there’s going to be problems, you know? – And you can kind of use that metaphor for any position, whether it’ a car mechanic, a hair dresser, a professor, an individual doing radio talk shows – it’s like you can only do so many talk shows – and the same with officers. So I think as policy-makers and agencies start to realize this, that we need to start actually identifying, charting, measuring, and timing what it is that probation and parole officers are doing, and then that information can be used to feed back in not only to the officer, to let them see what they’re doing and what’s expected of them and about how long it will take them, feed back into their supervisors and then their agency administrators so that they know how many people they can realistically supervise, stratified by risk and need sorts of issues, right?  And then also that information can continue to go up the chain of command to policy-makers and to funding agencies because right now while whatever the number was, you know, 60^% or 70% of the criminal justice folks are on probation and parole, we know that – and I’m only guessing, and I worked with PEW to collect this data some years ago – I mean, probably 70% or 80% of corrections funds go to prisons, and one of the biggest cost that goes to prisons is the building of prisons. It’s super expensive, and we know that we’re spending $30,000 and $40,000 and upwards, thousands of dollars on average per offender, and we know that probation and parole is much cheaper, and what we need to come to is whether we continue, as PEW is doing and CSU is doing, to continue to divert some of those institutional dollars down into the community so that we can put some bang for our buck behind what probation and parole officers are doing. – And I’ll let Adam or you talk now. I apologize.

Len Sipes: Well, I want to go our break and reintroduce you but the question I want to come back to is, is it fair for society to expect parole and probation agencies to perform these miraculous interventions in terms of providing the services that are necessary and providing the level of accountability that’s necessary to lower rates of recidivism and to keep citizens safe? But ladies and gentlemen, we’re more than halfway through the program.  Again, the program today is in Workloads in Parole and Probation. We have two extremely qualified to talk about this – Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is at RTI, International Research Triangle Institute. He is a Research Social Scientist – www.rti.org. We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate, Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association. – www.appa-net.org. And also, in terms of the research we’re talking about, I’ll put a link to that research in the show notes.  So we have a public expectation. I’ve been representing parole and probation agencies for a quarter of a century now, as well as law enforcement agencies and correctional agencies, but parole and probation, people have an expectation. They are going to say that if this individual goes out and commits a crime while under supervision, the first thing they’re going to do is call me and say – or call my counterparts and say – “What did you do and what didn’t you do? Did you hold this person to certain standards? Were they in compliance with the rules of the supervision? If they weren’t in compliance, why not?”  And so there’s a finger pointing at parole and probation agencies throughout the country immediately, and in some cases justified, but in some cases I’m going to guess unjustified because the workloads and the resources that those parole and probation agencies have are simply inadequate to the task. Either one of you?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I’ll kind of comment a little bit on that. I think it’s an interesting point and this happens all the time, actually. You might have maybe one bad case or one person goes out, maybe it’s a homicide or some other sort of violent offense, and they happen to be on probation or parole, and then it really lights up the news waves and gets a lot of media attention, and then that really adds the stress on the probation and parole agency in terms of, you know, did they hold them accountable and was the supervision adequate and things like that; and then it usually ends up turning into some kind of “get tough” type policies which tend to make things worse, so kind of one bad egg ruins it for everybody.  But I think one thing we have to think about too is the reality of probation and parole, and particularly for probation and parole officers, is that they’re working with a difficult population. I mean, this is a criminogenic population and a lot of them have very disadvantage backgrounds that they’re coming from, and their ability to sort of get their way out of maybe poverty or whatever other issues they have can be difficult, and so some failures in some way is almost inevitable.  We know recidivism rates have historically been pretty high, and it depends on sort of how you measure it and what sort of research you’re going to look at, so you could look at anywhere between 30% and maybe 60% recidivism rates, depending on where you look. So even in the best cases, you’re still looking at about a third failure rate, so that’s kind of a reality in this field. That’s a difficult thing to convey to the public and so that obviously ends up creating some issues.  The other thing I wanted to mention too from the conversation earlier in terms of workload assessments, and really where those pay off for the probation and parole agencies is they provide a numeric, a quantitative sort of look for probation and parole agencies to show to their legislature and show them sort of definitively, you know, this is what we’re lacking, this is what we need. Before it just sounds like people complaining and maybe it doesn’t sound legitimized so what the workload assessments really do is they legitimize this argument that, you know, we’re really overworked and understaffed.

Len Sipes: And Matthew, that was the point of the research, correct? The whole idea was to quantify exactly what parole and probation officers do, how much time it takes to perform specific tasks, and then to look at your overall resources and align them correctly, or go to the state legislatures and ask for additional funds?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, definitely. I think it had a two-part kind of agenda. The first part was to actually find out what is that probation and parole officers are doing, and I think that when you do any task analysis – and quite frankly, workload studies have been going on for a very long time. Other fields have been doing them all the time. You look at industry, manufacturing, you look at the medical field, there’s tons of workload studies going on – the nursing field, and if you think about how nursing works, it is pretty similar to the nature of work for officers. So this isn’t something that I created or Adam created. I mean, this has been going on for over a century.  What’s ironic is that we’ve not been doing it in probation and parole but instead what we were doing is we were doing a case load sort of approach where it was like, you know, you had a certain number of offenders, it didn’t matter risk level. You were supposed to do a certain number of contacts with them, it didn’t matter whether that offender needed that or not. Whereas now what we’re calling for is just to fit into what other organizations are doing as well as we’re using this idea of evidence-based practice, we’re using this idea of stratifying offenders based upon their probability of risk, based upon the characteristics that those individuals carry, and we’re seeing that not each offender is going to have the same amount of time spent on them. You know, to do a risk assessment or a PSI on somebody that it’s their first offense versus somebody that this is, you know, on the eighth page of their acts sheet, those two people are going to take very different times.  It’s the same for a surgeon that’s getting reading to remove tonsils as opposed to doing some sort of heart surgery, you know. We have to get to a more nuanced and refined way of looking at what probation and parole officers do, and I think that – to come back to your question that you had just asked – this idea that we are blaming probation and parole over and over again for failures that happen within the correction system, and I think that Adam made a very good point that in some ways – I mean, we can’t expect that recidivism is going to go to zero, you know, and not to continually use a medical metaphor but at the same thing, it’s the same thing, that medical procedures aren’t 100% effective. Well, neither are correctional programs.  But what we do know – and you talked Petersilia, you talked about this, and I know you talked about it with other folks – what we do know is we do know that there are a set if things that can work to bring about behavior change, and by specifically targeting those things on the correct populations, we can maximize corrections dollars.

Len Sipes: Well, if we reduce recidivism rates by 10% to 20%, which seems to be the norm for those programs that are successful, recognizing that not all programs are successful – for those that are, a 10% to 20% reduction in the recidivism rate fiscally saves any state literally tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars, so there seems to be certainly a fiscal incentive for states to do it right, to provide the services that are necessary for these individuals to do well while under community supervision, and it seems to be a fiscal reality that you have to provide enough people out there to administer these services and to contract out for these services.  So if all of us are in total agreement that this reduces recidivism, it dramatically reduces costs to state government and local government, and we recognize that we have to place our resources on higher-risk offenders and do less with lower-risk offenders, if there is this criminological assessment across the board that these are the things that need to be done, why aren’t they being done?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Well, that’s the golden question, right? I mean, criminologists have been talking about this for a long time, and policy-makers have been extremely slow to respond. Adam kind of alluded to the nature of CJ research and policy-making with knee-jerk reactions based upon media-high types of instances that happen that are very dramatic and get a lot of attention, and then we use those single instances to revolutionize the criminal justice system and create new policies.  But as a public, we’re pretty slow, and politicians are slow to push for becoming more lenient in criminal justice areas. Instead it’s, you know, “we need more prisons, we need more cops,” but nobody is ever saying “we need more” – I don’t know, maybe you have or Adam has heard policy-makers saying, “We need more probation and parole agents.” That’s not something I’m hearing. It’s not palatable to the public, I don’t think. That’s my opinion of why.

Len Sipes: But why is that? That’s the thing that puzzles me because if you go and talk to the American Probation and Parole Association, if you talk to the Council of State Governments, if you talk to PEW, if you talk to the leaders within Community Corrections within this country, if you talk to folks at the Department of Justice – all are going to say the same thing, that we need the resources, we need the person power, and with that we can do things that are very helpful to the states’ fiscal bottom line and save literally tens of thousands of people from being revictimized every year. So I go back to the original question, if there is this massive consensus, is it our fault that we’re not sending out a clear enough message?

Dr. Matthew Demichele: Yeah, well, I don’t know that that’s the issue so much as, I mean, in some ways I think for the public it’s like, you know, punishment feels good. Punishment, that sounds like the right thing to do on the face of it because I think it’s packaged in such a way that the only thing people think about is that punishment and sentences, that it’s always for these extremely violent people. What’s this guy, that he kidnapped and was holding those women hostage in Cleveland?

Len Sipes: In Cleveland, yes.

Dr. Matthew Demichele: I mean, that’s our image and those things are horrible but those are very rare events. The bulk of our criminal events aren’t anything like that, and I think the public’s perception of it is much different. So for the public, this idea of punishment, it seems natural and it seems like the right course of action to do for criminals because they are others, you know. The criminals aren’t us. Criminals aren’t voting populations, you know, is the way we conceive it. We think of them as these other people that we don’t know and that we don’t meet throughout our lives but the reality is is that most all of us know criminals, or have them in our families, or meet them at the gym or the grocery store or whatever. I mean, these are people that we are around, people that have committed criminal offenses, and they’re not all these hyper-dangerous folks that we need to lock up and throw away the key as we started doing throughout the ’80s.  And I think now as the drug war is kind of coming to a halt, this might help kind of start to push folks out of prisons and into the community. And as we start to recognize that probation and parole can be effective, but they can only be effective if they are given the correct resources and if we really understand the staffing needs, and I think that like you said, PEW, CSJ, APPA is an excellent training and technical assistance resources for agencies, and I think that as the government and agencies start to realize the benefits from those folks that they can start to tap into, you know, what those organization can offer to states.

Len Sipes: We only have a couple minutes left. Is the research going to provide a formula for states basically saying, “If you do this, the ratio needs to be that?”

Adam Matz: No, just to comment on that, it will be difficult to make a blanket statement sort of like that particularly with probation and parole just because there’s so much diversity across the states and even within the states. I wanted to point that out that one of the reasons maybe that – because you know, when I’ve been out in the field, there’s instances where folks are just starting to really get into risk assessment now, and we’ve been talking about risk assessment for a long time. It’s not a new thing.  But for some agencies, that really is new, and there’s some very rural areas where they have to deal with maybe four-hour trips to do a home visit. So there’s so much disparity in the field, and also the way the agencies are organized, whether they’re under the executive or the judicial branch. All these sort of nuances just complicate the whole process sort of from a global perspective, or maybe a national perspective. So I think that really complicates, it makes it really difficult to have sort of the unity across the field that I think we’re sort of advocating, if you will.

Len Sipes: Well, let’s end the program on a positive note. I have been in this system, like I said, over a quarter of a century, working with parole and probation agents. I love them. I respect them. I admire them. I think they’re some of the bravest, most dedicated people. They’re generally well-educated, and they’re out there doing a really good and difficult job, and they’re enthusiastic at least when they first come into Parole and Probation, and I think they really do add to public safety, and I think it’s something that, if we’re going to retain these individuals and if we’re going to keep a viable community corrections in parole and probation system in this country, I think first of all we’ve got to thank them, which is the cornerstone of what the American Probation and Parole Association and the Council of State Governments is trying to do. So we can all agree that they are good people doing a good job. They simply need the resources to do a better job.

Adam Matz: I agree completely. In fact actually, just to dovetail into that a little bit, is obviously increased workload and having too much work or too much on your plate, that’s associated with all kinds of other issues too when it comes to workplace stress, burn-out which you’re kind of alluding to, and those have not only consequences for on-the-job sort of performance but also a person’s personal health. So obviously folks need to have the resources to be able to do their job, do it well, and actually also live a high-quality life in general, so definitely.

Len Sipes: Well, in the final seconds of the program, again, the community supervision officers here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, I am just so impressed with them. I’ve been out with them dozens and dozens of times, and I think they’re miracle-workers, and I’ve been with parole and probation agents throughout the country on trips, and again, they have my admiration.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. Our show today has been on Workloads in Parole and Probation. Our guests have been Dr. Matthew DeMichele. He is with RTI International, Research Social Scientist – www.rti.org; and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, American Probation and Parole Association – www.appa-net.org.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls, we appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Police-Parole and Probation Cooperation-Indiana University of Pennsylvania-APPA-DC Public Safety

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/06/police-parole-and-probation-cooperation-indiana-university-of-pennsylvania-appa-dc-public-safety/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. The topic of today’s program, ladies and gentlemen, is Police-Probation and Parole partnerships. The question is whether law enforcement agencies cooperate with parole and probation agencies.  We have two guests today. We have Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology in Indiana, Pennsylvania. We also have Adam Matz. He is a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association. – And to Bitna and to Adam, welcome to DC Public safety.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Thank you for having me here.

Adam Matz: Yeah, thank you.

Len Sipes:  I’ve in the criminal justice system for 42 years, and I had 6 years of law enforcement, and in the 6 years of law enforcement, I do not ever recall ever having any contact with a parole and probation agent, and it really strikes me that parole and probation and law enforcement have been behind a line. They really haven’t talked to each other that much. They really haven’t cooperated with each other all that much.  Now within the course of the last 5 years, we see some real interest from the research and from the practitioner community as to law enforcement  getting together with parole and probation agencies, sharing information, looking at re-entry, looking at making sure that people who come out of the prison system do as well as humanly possible so they don’t re-enter the criminal justice system. Adam, I’m going to start with you. The American Probation and Parole Association has taken the lead in all of this.

Adam Matz: Yes, and actually what’s kind of gotten us sort of interested in the partnership specifically is we have various sort of grant projects that we work on for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and one of those programs is Project Safe Neighborhoods. Now Project Safe Neighborhoods or PSN has been around for a while, since 2001, but the interesting thing about that is that it’s heavily influence by prior programs, and one that stands out is the Operation Ceasefire that a lot of folks have heard of or are familiar with from Boston. Part of that Ceasefire or that gun project that happened there was really one of the first formalized partnerships between probation and police officers, and it was known as Boston’s Operation Night Light, and that’s really where we kind of tie together and that’s where APPA’s interest has really grown even more. – And then also IACP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, we’ve worked with them and they’ve had various focus groups on this topic as well.

Len Sipes: But the American Probation and Parole Association, certainly that’s the organization that has taken the lead in not just police and parole and probation cooperation but has taken the lead in terms of virtually anything involving parole and probation agencies throughout the United States, correct?

Adam Matz: Yeah, that’s true. APPA is a national and international organization. We have a membership of over 35,000 members. It’s comprised of probation and parole officers and executives from all over the country. We do two annual institutes, a lot of trainings, a lot of grant-based projects, so definitely a very big organization.

Len Sipes: All right. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association – www.appa-net.org. Bitna Kim, Assistant Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania there at the Department of Criminology, you were involved in research in terms of police officers and parole and probation agencies working closely together, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: And can you give me a sense as to what your research had to say?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Okay, so our research is – first I have to admit our limitation of the study so we focused on only probation-police partnership in Texas so it’s really hard to generalize what is involved in the United States however this study can be one of the good examples as the need for more research. So in terms of the research findings, what they found is – so this study generally test how police officers or the leaders from the police office or sheriff department, how they think about the partnership with probation or parole, so whet we found is actually they are very positive in their relations or positive experience with the probation and parole, the officer. That’s the good side for future.  However the negative finding, what we found is most of the partnerships we found in Texas is that they are informal.

Len Sipes: Is what now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Informal – so in other words, the partnership is never formalized across the agencies. This is based on just the individual personal relationship between police officers and probation-parole officers. The problem is even though sometimes we really needed those informal partnerships however once those key people in the agencies retired or moved to another agency, the partnership is gone as well.

Len Sipes: Okay. So in other words, what you found was more of an individualized approach between the parole and probation agents and the police officers in the state of Texas rather than an organizational approach.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s true. So what we found is actually we surveyed the random sample of almost 700 police office agencies. Among them, over 75% of the agencies had just the informal or no partnership at all. Only a few agencies had established the formalized the partnerships so that is one issue we need to look at for future study. So what they found is again the consent is the police are leaders. They think we need those partnerships between police and probation-parole however the current status of partnership what they have is informal.

Len Sipes: Okay. Well, let me see if I can summarize. You took a look at 700 law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas and you found that 70% of those agencies had an informal relationship with parole and probation, and about 30% had formal relationships, say even memorandums of understanding, and that it really comes down to the leadership of both the parole and probation entities and law enforcement as to whether or not these were really viable, working relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: That is correct, but once they have – so those who had the formal partnership, they dearly enjoyed the partnership. They think that they got a lot of the good relationship with the probation and parole agency.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Matz: Yeah, actually if I can add just a little extra context too that’s been kind of interesting is when you try to look at, okay, ones that are formalized, sort of why are they formalized, and what you’ll find a lot of times is that there was some sort of federal funding, grant funding that supported that sort of formal partnership. So a lot of those maybe are left over, and I know Dr. Kim can speak to it more with Texas, but they had the Project Spotlight there for a while which sort of motivated those agencies to develop these formalized partnerships.  Now we’ve talked about the Night Light in Boston when it originated in the early ’90s, that was considered the first formalized partnership, but when you think about informal, there’s been these sort of individual associations between officers for, you could probably stretch if back to the ’50s or something. So these always been these sort of informal networks that kind of occur in just a natural sort of organization setting but it’s really the past sort of 15, 20 years where we’ve started to see these formalized partnerships, and that’s really important for a couple of reasons. One is if you’re going to evaluate it and determine what kind of impact it has, it has to be formalized. It has to have some sort of logic model, if you will, to go with that.

Len Sipes: Well, but it strikes me as something that is fairly recent, I agree with you. It’s probably been on an informal basis between individual police officers and individual parole and probation agents, but you know here in Washington, D.C., we have an extraordinarily highly-structured relationship with not only the Metropolitan Police Department. We have it with the U.S. Park Police. We have it with the FBI. We have it with the CIA. We have it with the Secret Service.

We have all of these very specific involvements in terms of them and us, and when I say all these other agencies it’s 80%, 85%, 90% going to be with the Metropolitan Police Department. We meet with them on a leadership basis. Our top leadership meets with their top leadership. Our people in the field, branch chiefs meet with commanders of police districts, and there is also, I’m very proud to say, a lot of interaction because of the fact that there’s leadership from the top, a lot of interaction between individual police officers and individual community supervision officers. That’s what we call parole and probation agents in Washington, D.C.  So in D.C. it’s very structured, it’s very robust, but I just get the sense that outside of the District of Columbia, there’s really not a lot of agencies that have this type of formalized structure in terms of the relationship with law enforcement and parole and probation. Am I right or wrong, either one of you?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct.

Len Sipes: Okay. And why is that, Dr. Kim? Why is there a reluctance of law enforcement and parole and probation to sit down at the same table and to forge these cooperative understandings with each other?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Actually, that’s the need for future research. We did not find what prohibit the formation of a formal partnership so in the near future I hope we can initiate more research. However I can say what we found is those who had the formal partnership had a strong organizational culture within the agency which emphasized the importance of working closer with the other agencies, recognizing parole or probation as an integral part of the larger community rather than simply threat to public safety, the single greater predictor for success for police-probation-parole partnership.  And also the other important thing is implementing formal partnership requires strong leaders endorsement to change the organizational culture or implement the formal partnership, nurture them, grow, and be successful over the long-term.

Len Sipes: Well, that was the key finding, I think, out of the first summation that you gave of your research in the state of Texas, that it really was the leadership between law enforcement and parole and probation that really kicked off on these 30% or so of formal relationships and 70% informal. It was the leadership aspect of that that really propelled these formal relationships.

Dr. Bitna Kim: Yes.

Adam Matz: I think that’s right too. The leadership aspect is really important. There was qualitative research actually where there were some interviews done with not only police chiefs but also probation chiefs to get an idea, and also the officers within those organizations, and what kind of came out of that research was basically that if you didn’t have the support from the top, then those partnerships were never going to develop, and I think that matches with Dr. Kim was saying.  The other thing too, to think about the police organizations and Dr. Kim mentioned culture. If you think about sort of the community policing movement that happened kind of in the ’90s, that really kind of opened the door for more dialogue between police and probation and parole.

Len Sipes: Agreed.

Adam Matz: That really kind of made police a little bit more flexible, a little bit more – what’s the word – accepting of the probation and parole officer’s sort of mission which is to help. I mean, on one point it’s accountability but on the other it’s also helping these folks kind of get their lives put back together, and so that’s a big part of that. – And I think what’s interesting with these informal and formalized partnerships, the formalized are kind of concentrated in more urban areas also; and then if you think about what sort of agencies are more likely to have sort of a community policing drive to it versus maybe militaristic – and there are still a lot of militaristic type of police agencies out there that may or may not be sort of willing to partner with probation and parole, or at least not in the aspect of re-entry as we think about it typically.

Len Sipes: Well, there is also a lot of parole and probation agencies that are organized amongst law enforcement lines. They are police officers, they carry guns, so there’s a lot of parole and probation agencies that fall into that category as well.

Adam Matz: That’s exactly right, and that’s exactly a good point, and that was my thought. You took it right out of my head. You’re exactly right on that. There is a lot of diversity in probation and parole across the country. There are some places that do have a law enforcement orientation whereas others have more of a social work orientation, and I’m not sure there’s any research that really gets at which one of those two sort of camps are more likely to partners. It’d be interesting to find that out.

Len Sipes: Yeah, I’d love that, because it would strike me that those parole and probation agencies with the law enforcement orientation would cooperate on a greater degree with the law enforcement agencies because the missions become very similar, and that’s what I want to get into in the second half but I’m going to reintroduce both of you with this whole question as to how good are these partnerships, and how good are these partnerships for people coming out of the prison system, and how well people on probation do but let me reintroduce my guests one more time.  Bitna, she is Bitna Kim, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology, www.jup.edu. Adam Matz, a Research Associate with the Council of State Governments and the American Probation and Parole Association, the leading agency in this country representing parole and probation issues. Adam’s website is www.appa-net.org.  All right, so the question now becomes we have law enforcement and parole and probation cooperating with each other. You know, from the standpoint of warrant service, from the standpoint of enforcement, from the standpoint of GPS, from the standpoint of accountability, that part of it I get and that would flow back-and-forth. We work with MPD all the time on all those issues if there’s a high-risk offender or individuals under GPS supervision. By the way, the folks from the Metropolitan Police Department can track our people on GPS through their own computers in their own cars.  So from the law enforcement end of it, that I get; but from the reentry and from the assistance end, I mean it’s pretty clear from the research that successful parole and probation is one part accountability but a second part of treatment so I’m not quite sure that our law enforcement friends are going to be that supportive or that understanding on the treatment side of it. Now, am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: You know, that’s actually a really good discussion point and it’s a really broad discussion so it’s kind of tough to kind of narrow that down, and I think to just back up just a second too, there’s multiple different types of partnerships and multiple ways to even think about this. One of them is enhanced supervision which is a joint patrol, and that’s really where you get the police officers and the probation-parole officers who go out together to do these house visits and kind of —

Len Sipes:  That’s what we do in D.C., yes.

Adam Matz: Yeah, with the accountability tours, I believe.

Len Sipes: Yes, and very successful.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think in that sort of example if you can get the police officers, their presence kind of does help to provide a sense of accountability. It also helps to reinforce the probation’s authority, I guess, with the offender, or the probation or parolee, and that’s probably where I would see more of the assistance in terms of the reentry as well. There were some anecdotal accounts when it came to Boston that having the officer there, they could maybe help coordinate services, suggest services for folks, also with the families in those areas.  But it’s never really clear on anything that’s been documented so far how far that really goes, and obviously I think that’s the area that needs a little more examination because, like you said, it’s very clear that accountability, the police are used to that, and probation and parole working with police on that is really probably the easiest part of it, and a lot of that can be done just with information-sharing which is another type of partnership.

Len Sipes: Well, here’s the conversation I had with a friend of mine in the Metropolitan Police Department here in D.C when we had an offender who got himself into trouble. They said, “Well, he had several drug positives, why didn’t you revoke him?” – And my response was that if we revoked everybody with drug positives or if we revoked everybody who had problems under supervision, we would revoke a lot of people. We involve intermediate sanctions where we get in, and we are progressive in terms of how we respond to an individual in terms of what we have that person do, all the way from community service work to going to a day reporting center to putting the person under various forms of GPS, and those forms of GPS can be tightened and tightened and tightened.  And what we do is we take a behavior that is inappropriate or drug-positives, and we try to fix that problem. He’s not going to work and he’s not looking for work so fine. He’s going to be on GPS until he finds a job. We find that many people come under compliance pretty quickly once they’re on GPS, and they suddenly go out and get that job, so this whole concept of intermediate sanctions is something that is hard for my friend in law enforcement to grasp but intermediate sanctions is part and parcel to good parole and probation within this country, correct?

Dr. Bitna Kim: That’s correct, I think. I agree potentially between the police and probation-parole agency offering new, really good benefit and opportunity but also both sides of the practitioner agree there are lots of challenges. One of the one is I think, as you mentioned, that this is a mission distortion which means the given professional orientation becomes skewed by the influence or ideology of the particular agency. So law enforcement and correction agencies share the common goal which is the public safety by the crime reduction however each pursue this goal from the different perspective.  So police agency takes the full concern being enforcers, protecting the community by the arrest of criminal suspects in traditionally. Probation-parole agency on the other hand, is expected to both protect the community, and they heavily tag offenders by monitoring offenders and guiding them through treatment to service. Probation-parole officer especially receptive to adapting a law enforcement orientation where official focus solely on the role of the enforcement as the opposite to the probation-parole reintegration need, although by say that police-probation partnership are anticipated to result in stronger mission distortion among probation-parole officer than among police officer. Working with the probation officer within the active partnership also entailed the risk of law enforcement officer suffering from role confuse.

Len Sipes: Suffering from what, now?

Dr. Bitna Kim: Suffering from what kind of a role they have to play, in other words they’re confused in terms of their role. So I think the original research found, they examined the implementation of police-probation partnership and found that the police officer involved in the program, the partnership, they felt what they should do by this the partnership.

Len Sipes: I would imagine a lot of this is going to be an opportunity for the parole and probation agent to explain to the law enforcement officer what his or her job entails and what’s important to them, and the fact that the offender under supervision successfully completes supervision, that is extraordinarily important to the parole and probation agent. I would imagine to the police officer, he just does not want that individual to engage in any law-violating behavior at all. So it’s an opportunity for both to sit down and explain to the other person what their jobs are and the fact that those jobs mesh in terms of the long-run, which is public safety, but in the short-run requires a bit of understanding from each other.

Adam Matz: Yeah, and I think you’re right about the communication part there and the two agencies. They have to communicate which each other’s mission is, for one. I mean, they have to have some sort of inner-agency meetings to basically get to know each other and understand what the goals are. – And you mentioned intermediate sanctions, graduated sanctions, those strategies that probation and parole uses, well, the police officers are not going to be aware of that, and there’s going to be certain aspects of probation and parole that simply police just aren’t going to be in tuned to, and that’s where that communication is really important.  And part of the thing, and it’s kind of an interesting dynamic, is that for probation and parole, when you increase supervision, particularly if it’s not necessary, if it’s low-risk type offenders or moderate, however, you basically increase the odds that you’re going to revoke or there’s going to be a new offense, etc., and it’s sort of ironic in a way that if you do too good of a job, you actually make things worse for those offenders because when you revoke them, you put them back in prison, it’s like starting over, and you have to go through the whole process all over again.

Len Sipes: For those lower-level offenders in particular, yes.

Adam Matz: Yes, yeah, and that’s something I don’t think the police officers – I know they’re aware of it because there’s all kinds of examples where they’re frustrated with seeing the same folks go in and come back, go in and come back, the revolving door. You know, police officers talk about that pretty regularly, and I don’t think they quite understand everything from the probation and parole perspective on that, so really that’s just I think the communication between the two.  But I think if it’s communicated effectively, the way that the police officers can really help probation and parole – and this has been sort of talked about and written about – is really sort of functioning as extra eyes on the street because the reality is probation and parole, they’re not on the street. They do home visits somewhat regularly but it’s not every day, it’s not every week. It may not even be every month in some cases.  So the police officers, if they communicate with probation and parole, they’ll know who these folks are, and they’ll be able to reinforce with the probation officer so if they see someone out, they don’t necessarily act on it but they can report that back to the probation and parole agency, which is very helpful.

Len Sipes: Let me toss something out, and again I’m going back to the fact that I was a law enforcement office for six years and I was a spokesman for law enforcement agencies as well as correctional agencies. The Maryland Department of Public Safety was both Corrections and Law Enforcement. The average police officer wants to see the average person coming out of the prison system or the average person on probation, he or she wants to see them succeed, and will report to the parole and probation agent, “Look, Benny’s been hanging out on the corner, and we’re getting complaints from the neighbors that he’s being loud, and I suspect that he’s smoking pot again, possibly being involved. I’ve got intelligence that he’s involved in other things as well. You need to intervene in this person’s life and intervene quickly because I think we’re going to lose him.”  I think in many cases, that’s not an abnormal interaction with law enforcement officers. The vast majority of them, virtually all of them, want to see these individuals succeed under supervision and so they communicate strategies and issues to that parole and probation agent so that parole and probation agent can take the action necessary to get the person involved in treatment or at least, if nothing else, to get them off the corner.

Adam Matz: Yes.

Len Sipes: Am I right or wrong?

Adam Matz: No, I think you’re right on that, and I think in most places that’s the interaction you’ll see. Obviously if the communication is there and they know who those offenders are – there are some places in the country where there’s no communication. They don’t know the difference between people who are on probation and those who are not.

Len Sipes: Right.

Adam Matz: So for those jurisdictions where they know that and they have that information, you’re exactly right. That’s exactly what I’ve seen and that’s exactly the kind of feedback that I’ve gotten.

Len Sipes: Well Bitna, from your research, are we to be encouraged by these burgeoning relationships? Is this something that is in the best interest of public safety, the best interest of the offender? Is this within society’s best interest? Do you think these have a way of increasing and getting better?

Dr. Bitna Kim: I think. I think because state and local government across the entire United States facing reduced budget so law enforcement agency, correction agency, experience residual effects by staff reduction or declining research. However community expectation do not decline with the economy, as you know, so because of that, agencies are challenged to find a new and creative way to more with less. One way, one best way is to share resource and drive control together. I think the answer is the partnership between police and community partnership. Definitely that can be one solution what we can do more with less.

Len Sipes: Well, I agree with you there. The fact that budgets are being cut throughout the country, they’re being cut everywhere, and at parole and probation agencies as well as law enforcement agencies, that’s one way of dealing with the budget cuts, that they’re talking more and they’re creating a more effective environment for public safety, and hopefully they’re creating a more effective environment for the individual offender.  If the that offender, the person under supervision, if he or she knows that they’re being carefully watched by law enforcement, I’m going to guess and suggest that they’re going to be more careful in terms of being involved in anything nefarious. Adam?

Adam Matz: Yeah, I think, well, the budgets and everything, it seems like a few years back, it was particularly bad. It seems like —

Len Sipes: A couple of seconds left.

Adam Matz: — things have been improving but yeah, I would say particularly what’s focused here and where these partnerships can really be beneficial is with your sort of high-risk folks, and where these programs are really paying off with this is when they’re doing these sort of inner-city urban gang problems, street gang problems. That’s where I really see this coming together and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:29:16].

Len Sipes: Okay. So ladies and gentlemen, our guests today have been Bitna Kim. She is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Adam Matz, Research Associate with the Council of State Governments, the American Probation and Parole Association.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your criticisms, we appreciate your comments, and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Prison Realignment’s Impact on Parole and Probation-Joan Petersilia-DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/06/prison-realignments-impact-on-parole-and-probation-joan-petersilia-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Back at our microphones, the respected Dr. Joan Petersilia – www.law.stanford.edu – one of the best-known and respected criminologists in the United States. I’ll read very quickly from her bio. Dr. Joan Petersilia has spent more than 25 years studying the performance of U.S. criminal justice agencies and has been instrumental in affecting sentencing and correctional reform in California and throughout the United States.  She is the author of 11 books about crime and public policy, and her research on parole reform, prisoner reintegration, and sentencing policy has fueled changes in policies throughout the nation. A criminologist with a background in empirical research and social science, Dr. Petersilia is a Faculty Co-Director for the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. The topic today is going to be the extraordinary penal experiment, correctional experiment currently happening in the state of California, commonly known to the rest of us as Realignment. Joan Petersilia, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Thank you for having me.

Len Sipes: You know, this is the biggest penal experiment in modern history, and it’s something that most of us within the criminal justice system throughout the country are completely unaware of. This may be the biggest correctional experiment in the last quarter of a century anywhere throughout the United States and possibly anywhere throughout the world. So what I’m going to do is ask you to start off with a basic overview of what’s happened in the state of California.  Before going to that, I wanted to tell the listeners that this has every bit of importance for parole and probation and local jails as it does for mainstream corrects. So can you give me a sense, Joan, as to a basic, fundamental understanding of the California Criminal Justice Realignment Act?

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Certainly, and don’t apologize for the fact that you don’t know about it. I think what’s the most interesting thing is most Californians are just now, 18 months after it started, just kind of finding out about it. It happened very, very fast here in California. Last May, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs here in California that were arguing that California’s prisons were too overcrowded to provide Constitutional health and mental health care. This was the result of two long-standing class-action lawsuits that began in 1990 here in California urging the state to reduce its prison population in order to be able to treat the mentally ill, the suicidal, and then it turned into overall medical care, getting people medications, seeing doctors, etc.  So that case was going on in the state for nearly 20 years. The plaintiffs felt the state was not reducing prison staff enough. They took it all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ordered California in May of 2011 to reduce its prison population. At the time it ruled, California’s prison population was 172,000, and they ruled that California had to get its prison population down to about 120,000 by this June, of June 2013.

Len Sipes: That’s a 50,000 reduction in population.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: 50,000 reductions. They decided that California had to reach 137.5% of design capacity which California had two choices: either build up capacity – we have 33 prisons here in California. One choice our Legislature could have made is if instead of reducing the prison population because it was all about you must maintain 137.5% of design capacity, which given the current prison population when they ruled meant we could only house about 120,000 prisoners.  So California faced the issue of whether or not it should expand. It had several choices: one, it could expand its out-of-state contracts with private providers; and it chose to do that for about 10,000 prisoners; or it could start a building construction program which we simply didn’t have the money to do. At the time the Supreme Court issued its ruling, California was 26 billion dollars in deficit in terms of its state budget.

Len Sipes: Yes.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: So the legislature then signed a bill very, very quickly. It in fact was signed within 24 hours of being introduced with basically no public comment.  It was signed, passed in May of 2011, and it basically is called California Public Safety Realignment. What it does, in a word, people say that “realignment,” it kind of was by design so that kind of nobody would realize what was going on because it sounds like something you might have done at the chiropractor or something. I mean, people just didn’t understand this was about prisons and about prison reduction at a massive scale. But what the word “realignment” meant was that prison after October 1st – so it was signed in May, it went into full-fledged; anybody’s sentence after October 1st was sentenced in a new penal code regime. 500 felonies, some of them quite serious actually, most drug possession, most drug sale, auto theft, forgery, identity theft, domestic violence, child abuse, things that were lesser levels of all of those crimes, in fact previously that offender would have gone to prison if sentenced for one of those 500 crimes – after October 1st of 2011, they could no longer be sentenced to prison. So if they were convicted of that crime, they had to stay in the county jail, and importantly, it didn’t change the actual length of time that they could serve in jail, it just changed the place where they had to serve the sentence.

Len Sipes: So jails now become the focal point of both people coming out of the prison system and people being sentenced.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Right. Jails in a very huge way now, jails, kind of the workhorse and the unexamined part of the criminal justice has now become a huge focal point in California, as does probation. So the first part of realignment changed the penal code, sent about 30% of historical people who would have gone to prison, they now can’t go to prison. The second major thing they did, which is something that I think everybody across the nation had watched and I personally worked on, I worked on the drafting of this legislation, that if you are violated for a probation or parole, technical violation, you can no longer go back to California prisons. That was a huge—

Len Sipes: You can’t go back to prison.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: You cannot go back to California prisons as of October of 2011 if you are violated for a technical parole violation unless you’re a lifer prisoner. So, for 99% of people, they no longer faced prison at a technical parole violation. For them too, the maximum sentence was a jail term and in this case, the legislature basically did impose a sentence. They could not serve greater than six months in jail where they had, on average, served at least one or two years in state prison. That was a major change. The third major change that realignment did is that California, prior to realignment, was the only state that put everybody on post-parole supervision, and they put pretty much everybody on post-parole supervision for three years. Realignment changed that, and it said, “You’ll only go on state parole if your current conviction is a violent or serious crime,” which was about 40% of all people going out. “The 60% of you are going to be realigned, and you’re going to go to county probation for supervision instead”  And so if you think about the combination of these three things – new felony convictions, probation and parole violators don’t go back to prison, and many of those coming out, 60%, no longer go on parole – you see how the prison population would dramatically decline, and it did. So today, from that height of 172,000 people, we have about 123,000 people locked up today.

Len Sipes: And you’re no longer number one in the country. Texas now becomes the largest penal system in the United States, and California is number two.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Right. And so, when you introduce the subject of the most massive experiment, California in essence has shut down or let out, when you think about 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners, and in California, that equals the size of eight prisons, has basically declined, and the parole population, because of what I just told you on the third element, the parole population has declined by 60%. And so we have now, in terms of state control over the California criminal justice population, basically we’ve reduced it by half, if you add probation and parolees, of who is in charge of criminal defendants, and there’s a lot of reasons we could talk about why that was so important for the legislator to construct it like that.  Part of it was that California’s Correctional Guard Union had in fact priced themselves out of the market. It was so expensive for the state to continue to house prisoners, under all of the litigation and the health care costs that they had agreed to over the years that the cost right prior to it, and it still is the cost of housing an inmate in California, is $54,000 a year per inmate.

Len Sipes: That’s amazing. That is amazing.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: So our litigation costs and the costs of the personnel in California had made that the legislature basically had to downsize the state system in order to save money, if nothing else. So what they decided to do is to take half of the savings – so if you had $54,000 for that prisoner and you would have spent them to house him in state prison, the state basically told the counties, “We’ll give you half of that. We’ll give you $25,000 for each prisoner that historically this county sent to prison, and we’ll give it back to you in terms of a blank check.”

Len Sipes: And that’s either to house them or provide rehabilitation programs.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: So what they did, which is also the most amazing thing that has ever happened, is they didn’t tell the counties how to spend that money. They basically said, “You need to come up with a committee,” and they said, “the committee contains the nine key criminal justice actors in your county.” We have 58 counties in California. They said, “You’ve got to have the police, you’ve got to have the sheriff on it, the public defender, the DA,” so they dictated in the legislation this group that came together, and they basically will have authority to spend the check that you’re going to get, and as I said, in the first year it was $1 billion, in the second year it’s an additional $1 billion. So we are now 18 months into this experiment and $2 billion has been given to the California local criminal justice communities to spend in whatever way they think will best serve their needs.

Len Sipes: All right. For the listeners, what I want to do is just summarize and get on to some policy issues in terms of all of this. Let me see if I can summarize and see if I’m somewhere in the ball park. You’re talking about a reduction of 172,000 offenders behind bars in the state prison systems down to 120,000; that the court ruling had to be 137% of design capacity. This was dealing with the constitutionality of the prison systems, specifically dealing with medical care. It is a prison issue, a jail issue, and a community supervision issue.  But every state in the United States – and this is why I want to broaden the discussion – every state in the United States is having some issue to some degree with the same issues that are going on in California, which is why what we’re discussing has implications for every state in the United States. Every state out there is saying that we can no longer afford the level of incarceration that we currently have, and every state out there is talking about downsizing to some degree. I do realize that prison populations have gone up in some states but not many. Generally speaking, they’ve either leveled off or decreased, so this has issues for the entire country. What are the policy implications of all this?

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, I think you’re absolutely right that this is not California-centric. This is, as we know, 19 states have closed prisons. I think public opinion is that the public is now forcefully voting to get kind of the lower level, particularly offenders who were involved with drugs, out of prison. We’re redesigning penal codes across this country for those kind of downsizing in the penal code. You know, we upsized and now we’re going to downsize, not only in a population but who we think deserves prison.  And so for me the question has always been, and I think this is the question that the whole nation needs to be asking as criminologists and policy-makers: “If not prison, what?” And that to me, we don’t have a good answer to, and we know we don’t like prisons. I mean, I think everybody is now pretty much of the opinion that prisons serve an incapacitation view purpose, and that for some people, we need that, and that’s enough, and we need to keep prison for violent and serious offenders for incapacitation, but we no longer believe that it serves as a rehabilitation or a particular harsh deterrent, and we no longer believe that it’s restorative and serves re-entry, so I think everybody’s got that message.  So now the question is; we’ve got the message; the prisoners are coming home; we think re-entry is important; we don’t have the money to fund re-entry well. The first step is let’s just get people out of the criminal justice system who are low-risk and got caught up in the drug war, and we should just get out of their lives and they’ll do just fine. I was also very involved in kind of, and here at Stanford Law School, we led the Prop 36 Three Strikes Reform that just passed in California, and so we also have people that were kind of caught up in the fervor of these very, very long sentences across the country, and I think states are letting those out.  So on the one hand this is a national story but it’s a story that the ending has not yet been written because if not prison – which we all believe we shouldn’t have so much of – what should we have for kind of the lower level offender, for if we don’t do something, rehabilitation, deterrents, we could take any aspect of law, retribution. What about victims and what they deserve? What is the right appropriate level of punishment to serve the other purposes that we have for the criminal justice system?

Len Sipes: In another program, we talked about the problem of over-promising and under-delivering within the terms of community corrections, and I do want to talk a little bit about that, but I want to reintroduce you. Dr. Joan Petersilia, I am so honored to have her today: www.law.stanford.edu. Joan Petersilia, the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, and she is also a Faculty Co-Director of Stanford Criminal Justice Center.  Joan, we talked on another program about the danger of this whole pendulum can easily swing back because we could have a release of individuals from the prison system if we don’t have a good plan in place in terms of dealing with them. If they go out, if they commit a series of violent crimes, if they commit a series of homicides, it becomes a political issue, and then we’re suddenly right back to where we were 10 years ago, so there’s a bit of a danger in terms of all this. You know, it may be wonderful that the experiment is going on and we’re trying different things but unless we get our act together quickly in terms of community corrections, it could blow up in our faces.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, and you’re so right. We have a Republican candidate who just announced this week that he is running for governor against Governor Brown, and his key issue is to repeal Realignment and build up capacity and start building prisons, and so what goes down can certainly come back up, and we’ve got to think about what’s the pressure. Why has the nation kind of lost its luster with prisons? I mean, some of us, I think might say, “Well, prisons didn’t work. We know all the criminogenic effects of prison,” but, for other people, it’s a cost/benefit analysis, and prisons have become so expensive, that in state facing budget deficits, as they have to kind of decide whether to hire a prison guard or a teacher, it’s an easy call.  But the economy is starting to improve and so I think at least again, I’m watching this play out in California. I thought it would take a little longer. I mean, we’re 18 months into Realignment, and we have the first candidate coming out, and we have pictures in the paper. He’s holding a press conference next week. He is now going across the state saying he will appeal Realignment, and he is using those horror stories that you just said that they will use because, of course, people released will commit bad acts. So the question is how to you prepare for that. We all know it’s coming. We’ve lived long enough to know that this is the pendulum swing that we all – how do we kind of fad-proof kind of this better policy that we think makes sense?

Len Sipes: But is part of all of this our fault within the criminal justice system that we have not laid down very clear-cut guidelines for the practitioner community, backed up by very good research and giving them, you know, clear-cut instructions in terms of what works and what doesn’t work? I know the Department of Justice has done this, the Office of Justice programs. I know that others along the lines of Urban Institute certainly are moving in that direction, but practitioners often times will say to me, “Leonard, there is no clear-cut plan. Why in the name of heavens isn’t there a clear-cut plan in terms of those of us doing corrections, community corrections, telling us specifically what to do, how to do it, when to do it, who to do it with?”

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, and you know, we can blame the research community but it’s wrongly placed. We spend not enough much – you know, people complain that we don’t spend enough on programs. We spend even less on research, and so the National Institute of Justice budget, for example, spends about $10 million a year on outcome evaluations for all of criminal justice. That is juvenile, adult, probation, parole, in prison, communities, on and on. That is the annual budget of the National Institute of Dentistry that does evaluations of what causes a toothache, so we have our biggest social problem, a mismatch, with kind of the research that in fact would be helpful to these practitioners.

They’re absolutely right. There is no body. If you came into my office today, I couldn’t pull out off my shelf solid, good evaluations to tell a probationer or parole chief what they should be doing with different risk people, and so if you peel back the onion, if you go beyond just kind of risk responsivity and dosage and some of, you know, motivational, some of that – if you go beyond just the boiler plate of that, you know, there’s not much there, and so I think that is the frustration but it’s not that the research community wouldn’t want to be responsive. They’re facing the same problem as people who are trying to direct a good programming.

Len Sipes: So what’s happening at the ground level in California amongst the practitioner community and the 50 or so counties there in California? Are they coming together? Are they discussing this? Are they coming up with a consensus? Are they moving in a unified direction?

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, to even buttress the comment that I just made, California passed this law – $2 billion, as I told you, and not one dollar devoted to a statewide evaluation to look at how this is happening. Now, we were very lucky here at Stanford. I actually have four research grants from private foundations in the National Institute of Justice to look at how this is going, and really it is going to be, I think, an amazing story to tell a couple of years out. If we look at things though from the first year, I think it has been, um – disaster might be too hard a word to say but it has not gone well for the first year.

Len Sipes: Chaotic.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: I think it has been chaotic; that’s a better word, thank you. Partly as the communities were ill prepared for the influx of the serious kinds of offenders that hit probation, and I think people were scrambling to get programs in place, risk-assessment tools. They were scrambling to get vendors funded so that they could provide services. The second year is looking quite a bit more optimistic. We’re seeing community collaborations come together – probation, the sheriff, the police chief, and the department of mental health, four key people that are starting to emerge as spokesmen for their individual communities – and I think we’re getting something that I think is going to begin in some of the smaller communities but hopefully, I mean the real problem in California is of course, L.A. county. It’s a third of all offenders and they also have the most serious offenders coming home.  But I think we’re going to find some smaller and medium-sized counties that will show us how to do this but it will be a story that we need to have a little patience with, and unfortunately, we’re not doing really outcome evaluations, so what I’m doing is just process evaluations, so we’ll still be struggling to find out how this impacted the individual offender.

Len Sipes: But the sense that I get from reading the literature and reading the materials that you sent before we did this program is that you can almost compare them to falling off the life boat, and now they’re swimming and now they’re trying, all together as one to get out of the water and to help each other and to come to a consensus and work with each other because this is a very pivotal moment in not just California’s correctional history but the entire country’s correctional history. If they can all get together, all agree to some sense of standards and practices, and learn from each other and prosper; this may be something that will have an extraordinarily significant impact for the rest of us throughout the country. They seem to be coming together; am I right or wrong?

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, I very much think so, and we have a really dedicated; I mean, even though we’re all kind of, none of us have money, everybody, I mean, I’m amazed at how the research community has come together in California to try to help these counties. I just published an article that came out a couple of weeks ago that I would urge anybody who wants to know kind of how things are going. It’s called “Looking Past the Hype: Ten Questions Everybody Should be Asking about California’s Realignment,” and it’s kind of a progress report It basically says that Realignment – of course if you’re not following this closely, all you’re looking at is the Supreme Court and whether or not we’re going to meet that Supreme Court mandate with prison reductions, but that to me is not where we should be focused solely.  We need to focus on what this is doing to communities, what it’s doing to crime rate, what it’s doing to the culture of probation. I find that a fascinating question. You know, one of the things that’s happening is some probation officers are starting to be armed. We’re training officers to deal with a much more violent offender because now, of course, much of their caseload has been to prison. What does that do to a culture of rehabilitation which probation was the only agency that had that as their mission? What does it do to offenders? Are they getting involved in more treatment? Are they being discharged? What is it doing to jails? We now have jails that are no longer serving short-termers. We now have an offender who’s serving a 45-year sentence in a county jail.

Len Sipes: That’s amazing, and the county jails weren’t built for that.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: And what does it do to litigation? Will the litigation problems of the state now fall to the county jails? In fact, four of our counties are now facing lawsuits under the exact same condition, which led to Realignment.

Len Sipes: The medical issues, yes.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: The whole medical issues, and you know, how much is this going to cost us? So these are the issues that I think drive crime policy nationally, and I think, well certainly California will serve as a test case.

Len Sipes: Only a couple minutes left. On another program you mentioned that sheriffs are now taking the lead in terms of community corrections, so now you have spokespeople before community corrections for the first time in California, locally elected officials who are now getting up and standing up for community corrections. That’s a C-change.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: It is a C-change, and it was a surprise to me because I think the credibility that the sheriff, the county sheriff has, which is an elected position, and they are seen as the chief spokesmen for public safety. When they get behind probation programs, it’s a whole different message to the public, and I’m seeing them be able to garner attention. I’m seeing them be able to – they’re starting to run some of their own programs. They’re starting to be much more engaged in treatment, and what they tell me, we’ve now interviewed over 100 leaders in California who are responsible for implementing Realignment, and what sheriffs constantly tell us, “These were our people. We always knew they were coming home. We basically know how to handle them best, and this is our responsibility. Give us the money. The state never could do it well,” and I think that is what we’re going to see whether or not they can. Can a local community do it better?

Len Sipes: Instead of just throwing it off on the state and saying it’s their responsibility, they’re now saying they’re our offenders; they’re our responsibility, and that would be a huge difference.

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Right, right.

Len Sipes: Where do we go to from here? We only have about a minute left in the program. What should we be looking for over the course of the next year in terms of an evaluation and a policy assessment?

Dr. Joan Petersilia: Well, I think you’re going to start seeing reports starting to come out. I know our first report we will start publishing at the end of this summer on how things are going. We are actually starting at Stanford. The first meeting is in a couple of weeks, an executive session on Realignment where the 20 key actors in California will participate in a two-year process at Stanford Law School, similar to the Harvard Executive Sessions on Policing. We want a place where we’re going to try to create a body that will speak for how Realignment should continue in the future, guided by research and best practice, but also taking into account the practitioner voice. And so I think California’s going to be an incredibly exciting place over the next couple of years for correctional issues.

Len Sipes: And Joan, I’m going to leave that as your final word. Ladies and gentlemen, Joan Petersilia, and she is with Stanford as a Co-Director for the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. www.law.stanford.edu. Heavens, I really appreciate the conversations that we’ve had, clarifying this extraordinarily important piece of research and issues. I’ll put the document that Joan mentioned within the show notes.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we appreciate even your criticisms, and we want you to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]


Jobs in Corrections-Discover Corrections Website–DC Public Safety Radio

Welcome to “DC Public Safety” – Radio and television shows, blog and transcripts on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

The portal site for “DC Public Safety” is http://media.csosa.gov.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2012/11/jobs-in-corrections-discover-corrections-website-dc-public-safety-radio/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital, this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes, and ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to be talking about jobs in Corrections. It’s an issue of great importance because the vast majority of people in this country who the criminal justice system supervises are supervised by Corrections personnel. They’re supervised by parole and probation agents or they’re supervised within prisons, they’re supervised within jails, but the overwhelming majority are again, in the community being supervised by parole and probation agents.  We thought we’d do a radio program about jobs in Corrections. We have a new website that is created by the American Probation and Parole Association called “Discover Corrections,” and “Discover Corrections,” there’s a league of agencies involved in this with the American Probation and Parole Association taking the lead. Our guest today is Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt. She is a Research Associate for the or with the American Probation and Parole Association., and Mary Ann, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Thank you, and good afternoon.

Len Sipes: Yep. I’m looking forward to this conversation because, you know, this is a very important topic. The quality of our criminal justice personnel means the quality of justice. It correlates exactly with the quality of justice that we end up providing, correct?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Oh, exactly, exactly, and this website offers career-based resources for students and graduates as well as our military veterans and other individuals who are seeking their first job in this career, and for those individuals who may be trying to look at Corrections as a second career.

Len Sipes: You know, and one area during this recession that has always been hiring, and that’s Corrections.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, and not only individuals who are seeking positions as parole officers and probation officer but positions that you may not always think of as positions that are in the career field, like registered nurses.

Len Sipes: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there’s an endless number of individuals with individual specialties that corrections agencies throughout the United States whether they be federal, whether they be state, whether they be local, they need a wide array of people to staff these positions.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, exactly.

Len Sipes: Okay. The website for “Discover Corrections” is www.discovercorrections.com – www.discovercorrections.com. Mary Ann, give me a sense as to all the different agencies that are involved in the “Discovery Corrections” website project.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay. Just to give you a little history, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in an effort to address workforce development issues in Corrections – community Corrections, jails, and detention centers, as well as prisons and institutions – provided funds to the Counsel of State Government, the American Probation and Parole Association, to develop and implement this exciting website. So this innovative project is a collaborative effort overseen by APPA, and our partners are the American Correctional Association, the American Jail Association, and the Center for Innovative Public Policies.

Len Sipes: So you’ve got a lot of people involved in this and it’s funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, so you’ve got federal funding and you’ve got the biggest and best correctional agencies, and very well-respected correctional incremental justice agencies deeply involved in the project, and the American Probation and Parole Association is taking the lead.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. Yes. You know, I can’t say enough regarding our partners and the tremendous amount of work that they put into this project as well, and they really should be commended for all of the material they provided and expertise.

Len Sipes: This will be the first time in the 40-or-so years that I’ve been in the criminal justice system that if you were interested in a career in Corrections, regardless as to where you are in the United States, I mean, you could be sitting in American Samoa and access the website and say, “Son of a gun, that’s something I would like to do in New Mexico” and go for that job.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, yes, and I think when you look at the website, there are four components or key sections to the website. The first one is “Why Corrections”; the second one is “Explore the Field”; the third is “Career Resources”; and then finally you come to “Post your Job and Find your Job.” When you’re looking at the jobs that are available across the country, you’ll find that they’re in Bismarck, North Dakota, Pine City, Minnesota, East Baton Rouge, Idaho. So no matter where you’re looking, there are jobs that are being posted.

Len Sipes: And one of the things that I do want to say, Mary Ann, about the folks who are in Corrections – again, I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over 40 years, started off as a police officer, and I’ve done a lot of different things both on the correctional side and the law enforcement side, and I want to give a shout-out, I suppose, or recognition to people in Corrections. I don’t think there’s any more difficult and exciting job than being a main-stream correctional officer. I’ve been in and out of literally hundreds of prisons, or prisons hundreds of times, and I understand how difficult and how challenging and how exciting that job is; and people, I don’t think correctional officers get the respect that they deserve. I think as far as I’m concerned, as far as a lot of people are concerned in the criminal justice system, correctional officers deserve a huge amount of respect. Parole and probation agents, what we here in Washington D.C. call community supervision officers, again, that is an extraordinarily difficult job. They’re out in high-crime neighborhoods dealing sometimes with people presenting really unique challenges. These are exciting jobs. These are really interesting jobs. These are not boring jobs at all. They pay well in many instances and they have good government benefits behind them so people looking around and they’re uncertain about a career in Corrections, I’m not quite sure they need to be uncertain. I think a life in Corrections is a life of, you know, not just pure excitement from the law enforcement point of view but I think they’re very exciting, very challenging jobs. They’re never boring.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yeah, I agree. My first job – I was in the field for approximately 28 years based out of Minnesota – and my first job was at the Women’s Facility here in Shakopee. I believe that my first job as a Corrections officer gave me the foundation that I needed for a career in Corrections.

Len Sipes: Well, I have first-hand experience inside of prisons. I have first-hand experience riding along with parole and probation agents, and they have my endless, endless admiration in terms of their ability to protect public safety and their ability to try to help the individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. Okay, so we have a website, “Discover Corrections” – www.discovercorrections.com – and you’ve got the mainstream criminal justice agencies, correctional agencies involved in it. It’s both on the jail side, the prison side, and the community Corrections side. We’ve said it’s funded by the BJA, the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice. So how has it been? I mean, have you been successful? Has it placed a lot of people? Do you think that you’re getting the interaction that you’re looking for?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: We’re beginning to analyze some of those key outcomes that you’re pointing out. We believe that people are beginning to go to the “Discover Corrections.” It’s a fairly new website. We are marketing through Facebook and other avenues but we do have close to 200 agencies that have listed jobs on the website.

Len Sipes: That’s great.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: And that also then, you know, when you post jobs, then it brings job candidates, and you see more and more people then accessing the website. But based on our initial surveys, both the job-seekers as well as the employers have provided us with very positive feedback.

Len Sipes: And you said before that there were four primary sections to the website. I’m not quite sure that I gave you full time to explain what they are. Could you give them to me again, please?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Oh, certainly. “Why Corrections” is the first section when you’re looking at the website.

Len Sipes: What is that designed to do, “Why Corrections,” because people are confused about a career in Corrections possibly?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Well, possibly confused or maybe wondering, “Is this the direction should I take and really what does it involve?” It explains the three components. It talks about Corrections as a critical component of the criminal justice system, and that it requires dedication, integrity, and commitment to working with individuals who come into the criminal justice system; and that also that there are rewards and that it can be highly gratifying to work in this field and help people make real life changes.

Len Sipes: Well, I’ve seen it firsthand. I have seen especially on the community correction side with parole and probation agencies, with the treatment side, within prisons, I’ve seen people turn the lives around of people caught up in the criminal justice system. It doesn’t happen every time but certainly it is just amazing to see people go from tax burdens to tax payers, and we owe, again, a debt of gratitude towards the people in community Corrections and mainstream Corrections who helped that person get there.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum, um-hum.

Len Sipes: Now you also have personal stories on the website that I find really interesting. You’ve got some personal stories about people from my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, and you’ve got personal stories from people throughout the country talking addressing why they got involved in Corrections.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly, and that’s I think a very important part of the website. It’s real people telling their stories, and that is in the “Explore the Field” section of the website.

Len Sipes: Okay, so that’s a good segue.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay, and there are stories from wardens within our prisons, and there are probation officers. There are other positions such as there’s a nurse, there’s a teacher, and a variety of individuals who are working in our field, both in community Corrections, jails and detention, prisons and institutions.

Len Sipes: You know getting back to teachers for a second, I remember when I was representing the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which was Law Enforcement and Corrections, and we had the unfortunate privilege I suppose, I can say that now, of taking over the Baltimore City Jail. The state took over the City Jail. And what was truly amazing to me is that the teachers who worked in the Baltimore City Jail who were providing educational services to juveniles and young adults, they had the second highest increase in test scores in the city of Baltimore. Maryland has, I think, the highest test score ranking in the country, and they had the second highest for the city of Baltimore in the Baltimore City Jail, and I was amazed.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Wow.

Len Sipes: I would sit down and talk to those teachers and say, “How did you accomplish this ?” – And working with the correctional officers and working with the teachers, they told me their game plan, and then years ago I interviewed them for the radio with I was with the State of Maryland. Here are teachers working in a correctional setting, producing the second highest increase in grade average scores for an entire city. I thought that that was phenomenal, so again, it’s a wide-open field. We need lots of good people to come into Corrections not just necessarily as correctional officers but as you said, teachers and nurses and administrators and bean counters and accountants and plumbers and lawyers and ten tons of people.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly, exactly, and so then when you’re viewing the website, then you can also then go on to the third section which is “Career Resources,” and that really is designed to provide specific information. So you’re looking at a state and say you’re interested in going to Montana. Well, it will give you a snapshot of how Corrections is organized in that state.

Len Sipes: Oh, that’s great.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Okay, and also then it provides a glossary of common terms, and also there’s a whole list of national links that you can click as a resource.

Len Sipes: So if I want to go to Hawaii, I can go to Hawaii and just work as a correctional officer. I can work as a parole and probation agent.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: You could.

Len Sipes: I could.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: There’s some openings.

Len Sipes: There are some openings. I’ll think about that in the dead of winter. All right, so have we covered three of the four sections of the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, and then the last one is “Post your Job and Find your Job.”

Len Sipes: Okay, and that’s pretty simple. Now anybody within the criminal justice system can post jobs?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Correct, both private and public.

Len Sipes: Private and public. Thanks. I was going to ask that. And so anybody, a 17-year-old searching for his or her future can go to that website and say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to go to Wyoming and they’ve got openings for parole and probation agents in Wyoming.” I mean, it’s open to anybody.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly.

Len Sipes: All right. I think it’s an exciting concept. I’m going to give the website and we’re going to move into the second part of the program. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about jobs in Corrections with Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt. She is a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association. She is the administrator of “Discover Correction,” a really unique website funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, in league with some of the biggest criminal justice agencies in the country, and she is with the American Probation and Parole Association. The website for the American Probation and Parole Association is www.appa-net.org – www.appa-net.org. The “Discover Corrections” website again is www.discovercorrections.com.

Mary Ann, what has been the response of people seeking jobs o the website? Do they find it useful? Do they find it easy to navigate?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: They find it easy to navigate. I think what they would like is to see more job openings but that’s throughout the country, and of course we would like to see more job postings but more jobs are coming available, and if you’re willing to consider relocating, there are positions throughout the country that are available.

Len Sipes: Well, I remember talking to a couple of nurses decades ago who spent five years in Alaska then spent two years in Hawaii, and I’m not quite sure I’m encouraging leaving criminal justice jobs but I would imagine this gives you the same opportunity to travel the country and work for a career in Corrections. The people coming to the website, can they find what they’re looking for? That’s the bottom line. Are they satisfied with their experience?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay, and have they written you back saying, you know, “Gee, I’d like to see more jobs listed,” or “I’d like to see it easier,” or what’s been their feedback?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes, that’s in some of the feedback, and also, you know, I respond to individuals who use other social media outlets such as LinkedIn, and of course people will talk about, you know, it would be nice to be able to stay where they’re at however, you know.

Len Sipes: Yes.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: And then also a number of people throughout the country really recognize the need to be open to be mobile and to consider job opportunities in other areas of the country.

Len Sipes: Sure. It gives you a chance to see the nation and to get a sense as to what’s happening in other areas. If I was a young man, I would love to be a parole and probation agent in Alaska, so there you are. If anybody up in Alaska wants to hire an older individual, please contact me when I retire.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Well, and there are openings. So when you go to the site, there is a U.S. probation officer opening in Bismarck, North Dakota. Pine City, Minnesota, there is a probation officer opening. It’s a lovely part of the country if you like northern Minnesota where it’s very outdoorsy, close to Duluth.

Len Sipes: And I’m glad you brought that up. There’s a lot of federal positions in here. There are federal parole and probation issues that are administered by the individual district courts within the federal system, and there are federal prisons, I’m assuming, that are within the system. So again, if you want to be a correctional officer and have a federal job with all of that security and all the pay that comes with it, and you want to go to a certain area of the country, boom, it’s there for you.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Exactly. And not only are there entry-level positions but there are management and administrative positions as well, so like Salt Lake City is looking for a trial court executive. There’s the Sheriff’s Volunteer Coordinator, which can be an entry-level position. There is also the superintendent of Mental Health Services in Maine; also the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter is looking for a facility director, and a business analysis out of Arizona, the Arizona Judicial Branch. So there’s a variety of positions.

Len Sipes: Well, you know, I’ve been on the website several times and I’m just discovering the full complexity of all the different jobs that are available especially, you know, some of these jobs are really interesting. I mean, you can make a career, an exciting career, a very interesting career in any of these. How does an agency get on your website? Is it simply a matter of calling up and saying, “Hey, I’ve got these 20 jobs I want to advertise?”

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: No, you don’t even have to call. You go to the website and where you see “post your jobs,” you simply click on that and you will be able to create a login, you know, there’s a password etc., register your agency, and then begin posting your jobs.

Len Sipes: And is there a cost to agencies in terms of posting information on the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Is there, I’m sorry, what?

Len Sipes: I’m sorry, is there a cost to post information on the website?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Is there a cost?

Len Sipes: Yes.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: No. T his is free. This service is free so it’s no cost to your agency.

Len Sipes: Mmm, neat, okay. And I guess one of the final questions is launching the “Discover Corrections” website; it is an important enhancement to the field of Corrections, why? Explain why that is. In the past, you sort of were limited, I suppose. If I’m living in Baltimore, Maryland, where I currently live, the only opportunities I’m going to be exposed to are going to be those advertised in the Baltimore Sun. Now suddenly it’s the entire world opens to me, and I would imagine that’s the heart and soul of it.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Yes. And one of the other things, when we really began to examine how we wanted to impact job searching in the Corrections field, was considering some of the feedback that we receive from students. For many students, they do not know now to access career or job information in the field of Corrections. I mean often, at least in the past, you would have to know exactly what agency you wanted to consider employment in, and then you would have to go that agency’s website, where this really allows individuals to go to one website.

Len Sipes: And have it all done right there and see all the varieties of jobs that are open to you.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum. And it also allows employers to search resumes of registered job seekers.

Len Sipes: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: Um-hum, so that’s I think a very positive feature of the website.

Len Sipes: That is a very positive, so I can throw in my own resume upon retirement and then the good folks in Alaska would reach out and say, “Hey, Leonard, come on up. We’d love to have you,” and then my wife would divorce me but that’s beside the point.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: That’s – yes. You know, they can look for the right person because I think oftentimes in this field it is about looking for the right person in that specific position.

Len Sipes: And like any other criminal justice endeavor, we really do have to go through quite a few people to find the right person. It takes a unique human being to be successful in Corrections. Either in mainstream prisons or in terms of community corrections, it takes a unique individual to be able to do these jobs.

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: I would agree. It can be challenging yet also very rewarding.

Len Sipes: Mary Ann, did we cover all the topics?

Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt: I believe so.

Len Sipes: All right, good. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been DC Public Safety. We did a radio show today on jobs in Corrections with Mary Ann Smitz-Mowatt, a Research Associate with the American Probation and Parole Association talking about what I think is an extraordinarily good idea website, a national website, or an international website there at www.discovercorrections.com – www.discovercorrections.com. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We do appreciate your calls. We appreciate your letters. We appreciate your comments. We appreciate your criticisms. And we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

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