Pretrial in America

DC Public Safety Radio

See the main site at http://media.csosa.gov

See the radio program at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2015/12/pretrial-in-america/

Leonard: -From the Nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Pretrial in America ladies and gentlemen is our topic for today. Cliff Keenan the director of the pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia is a back at our microphones www.psa.gov. Cliff Keenan welcome back to DC Public Safety.

Cliff: Leonard, thank you for having me back.

Leonard: One of the reasons that we invited Cliff here today is to talk about pretrial in America. Though I think American United States there is an on-going discussion about reform in the criminal justice system. For those of you who follow the show last week we did a show with Pew about fundamental change in the criminal justice system. pretrial is a component of this on-going discussion in terms of fundamental change in criminal justice policy throughout the country.
We have a discussion at the pretrial level because a lot of people don’t quite understand why a person who was out there on a Tuesday night, and let’s say he is arrested for aggravated assault. He is released from jail either on personal recognizance or bail within a three-hour time period. Citizens are sitting back and going, “Wait a minute, I thought he was arrested. I thought he went to jail. Why is he back out on the street?” Cliff Keenan why is he back out in the street?

Cliff: Well, Leonard you bring up several different issues there, but let’s talk first about why is the person back out on the street. It is a fundamental principle of the American Criminal Justice System that everybody who is arrested is presumed innocent. That person’s liberty interest should not be denied simply because of the arrest.

Leonard: He wasn’t presumed innocent he was seen by a bunch of people beating up his brother in law with a beer bottle. It’s aggravated assault. He’s not presumed innocent. He was witnessed by lots of people possibly witnessed by the cops. Why is he presumed innocent?

Cliff: Well, presumed innocent is the term we use in the eyes of the law. I’m not saying the person didn’t do it, but I’m saying is that even though the officers may have had more than enough probable cause which is the basis for the arrests to be made, that person is still presumed innocent because until a judge or a jury makes a finding of guilt that person is entitled to all of the protections that go along with the presumption of innocence. That begins with setting appropriate conditions of release again. Appropriate conditions of release pending the person’s future court appearances. That determinations needs to be made not by the police officer, not by the prosecutor but by the judge who is going to be making an independent determination as to whether or not this person should be released, and if so under what conditions should that person be released.

Leonard: We really do adhere to the United States Constitution which provides a presumption of innocence until proven guilt. As far as the criminal justice system is concerned legally that person has not been convicted of anything he is being charged with something.

Cliff: Absolutely. Let me go back to the first thing that you referenced which was there seems to be changes taking place today in America. One of the changes is the whole notion of pretrial processes. That seems to be a current phenomenon in the eyes of many around the country, but actually this is something that goes back more than 50 years ago. In fact, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy back in May of 1964. I’m always astounded by this because this was within six months of his brother’s assassination. He convened here in Washington DC the first national conference on bail in criminal justice.
Let me read to you just two quotes. The first was on the opening ceremony of that conference here in DC. What Attorney General Bobby Kennedy said, “There is a special responsibility on all of us here. A special responsibility to represent those who cannot be here, those who are poor those who are unfortunate. The 1.5 million persons in the United States who are accused of a crime who haven’t been yet found guilty, who are yet unable to make bail and serve a time in prison prior to the time that their guilt has even been established. For these people, for those who cannot protect themselves, for those who are unfortunate we hear over the period of the next three days have a special responsibility.” He recognized back then how important the whole bail process was.
On the last day of the conference on May 29th of 1964. Attorney General Kennedy said the following, “What has been made clear today in the last two days is that our present attitudes toward bail are not only cruel, but really completely illogical. What has been demonstrated here is that usually only one factor determines whether a defendant stays in jail before he comes to trial. That factor is not guilty or innocence, it is not the nature of the crime, it is not the character of the defendant. That factor is simply money. How much money does that defendant have?”

Leonard: The interesting thing and I do want to get further along in the program and talk about the difference in the way that we conduct pretrial services here in the District of Columbia because your stats are astoundingly good. You have a whole organization devoted to the pretrial process. Before getting there and talking about what we do in DC and what we do throughout the rest of the country, it is a fact that the vast majority of people however since the attorney general made that announcement are released upon bail. Today, in 2015 we still have that status today. A person generally speaking is released upon their own personal recognizance, if I could ever say that word correctly or they’re released on bail. Today we still a system where how much you can afford to put up is dependent upon whether or not you were released.

Cliff: Well, let me tell you why it works that way today around the country, here in Washington DC and not in the federal system. That 1964 conference on bail convened by Attorney General Kennedy resulted in the passage of what was called the Bail Reform Act of 1966. Within two years of that conference congress was able to pass legislation that started to move the federal system as well as the local court system here in Washington DC because we are the Nation’s capital. At the time we were under congressional authority. Those laws began the change back in 1966. My agency the Pretrial Services Agency had a precursor agency called the DC Bail Agency which was created by an act of Congress in 1967.
We’ve been around for many, many years and over the years our system has changed and has moved dramatically away from the use of money bail or bond, commercial surety bond as a condition of release. Whereas, other states and other jurisdictions around the country have not kept up. That I believe is the marked difference between our jurisdiction and other jurisdictions.

Leonard: Am I correct in the stating that the vast majority of agencies throughout the United States right now still rely upon bail and still rely upon personal release? If you can prove that you are established in the community, that you own a home, that you have a family, that your flight risk is minimal, that’s the … That’s the basis for release today. Correct?
Cliff: In many jurisdictions but not in all jurisdictions. In many jurisdictions it’s still the case that if a person is arrested for a particular crime, say commercial burglary. There’s a bond schedule in that jurisdiction. Commercial burglary in this particular jurisdiction may carry a bond of $10,000 which means if the officer arrested the person for commercial burglary, that person has put up $10,000 otherwise that person stays in jail …

Leonard: Or they go to a bail bondsman who puts up approximately 10% of that.

Cliff: Correct.

Leonard: Or he puts up 10% and the bail agency puts up the other 90%.

Cliff: Well, no. The other 90% is not actually put up at all. That’s one of the problems with commercial surety, with bondsman. Many jurisdictions in fact, don’t require the bondsman to actually put up anything. It’s basically a promise or a guarantee that the person will come back and it’s up to the court if the person fails to show to then take action against the commercial …

Leonard: Whether or not it’s enforced. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Cliff: Yes. Some jurisdictions have found themselves to be on the short end of receiving some of the receipts that they should have from the commercial bond industry because they are again are just not following up on those acts.

Leonard: Okay, but personal release and release by bail is not the least bit unusual in the United States today.

Cliff: Correct, but the reality is if you look at jail populations around the country estimates are between 60% and 70% of the jail populations are pretrial defendants who are unable to make the amount of bail which has been set as condition of release.

Leonard: No, that gets us back to criminal justice reform because what folks or on the conservative side are basically saying that you folks in the criminal justice system all of us need to be far more efficient, and it means to cost taxpayers less money. You’re spending way too much money and you’re not providing the right efficiencies. If 70% of that jail population is there, they are there on a pretrial basis. If there are lower level offenders, we all have heard the stories of people possession of marijuana, lower level crimes in jail for months until the trial comes along. Because they can’t afford to put up a small bail amount say $1,000 or $500. They languish in that jail and yet taxpayers are picking up the tab for keeping them every single day for the months that it takes. That seems to be wildly inefficient.

Cliff: Leonard you’re absolutely right. That’s why many jurisdictions around the country are starting to examine their pretrial justice systems. Because they realize not only is it inefficient, not only is it costly, but it’s also fundamentally unfair. Typically the persons who are not able to post their bond are people who are less affluent than the middle class. Typically they’re persons of color and this desperate impact that these setting of bail are having on some of those populations it’s just fundamentally unfair. That’s why I think many, many jurisdictions are starting to take renewed interest in trying to make some appropriate changes.
Let me also say this here in Washington DC our jail on any given day in this has been consistent for the last several years is operating at about 50% capacity. We don’t have people sitting in jail because of a money bond that they cannot make. Our system is one which is predicated upon people who are dangerous. A finding haven’t been made by a judge that a person is dangerous or a flight risk stays in jail because of that potential risk.

Leonard: I do want to examine that a little bit more. It’s just not DC but throughout the country. Those people where that judge feels that individual who has been charged with a crime is a dangerous individual is a clear and present danger to society, does pose a flight risk based upon what’s happened in the past. They still can keep that person regardless of the system.

Cliff: That’s absolutely correct. In fact, many jurisdictions do not allow the judicial officer to consider safety as a factor in setting conditions. New York for instance, in New York the only conditions that a judge can impose are in order to assure return to court. If a person is an extremely dangerous individual, what the judge will do is set a very high money bond $500,000 or $1 million in the hopes that the person doesn’t have the resources to in fact make that bond, and subsequently get out. Once again there you’re playing with potential risks to community safety because if a person has means and can actually post the bond amount, then there’s no guarantee of safety to the community or return to court guarantees.

Leonard: All right. Well, that’s surprising because I thought in every jurisdiction you could based upon dangerousness. In many jurisdictions throughout the country it is solely based upon the probability of that person returning for trial.

Cliff: Yes that’s absolutely correct.

Leonard: Okay. The bottom line assessment on the part of the Attorney General in 1966 Robert Kennedy, his assessment was those who have money get out and those who don’t have money stay in regardless as to your criminal justice status or guilt or innocence or anything else. It’s still principally predicated on whether or not you have the money to get out.
Cliff: Correct. That’s the way it continues to be to this day in the United States which is why I applaud the efforts that many jurisdictions in fact are undertaking. For instance, New Jersey. They had to pass a constitutional amendment to their state constitution in order to rectify their pretrial justice system. In New Jersey everybody was considered to be bailable. You need a robust preventive detention statute. Some mechanism which is going to protect the due process rights of the accused but also balancing that against the interest of society, the community, and that decision needing to be made by the judge. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, other states around the county. In fact, are looking at making constitutional changes to their state constitution in order to have a stronger statutory foundation in which to operate.

Leonard: We’re about halfway through the program I want to re-introduce our guests Cliff Keenan the director of the pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia. Www.psa.gov. Cliff is considered one of the top experts in the United States in pretrial services. There are a lot of organizations looking to reform a pretrial. Cliff throughout the United States. There’s a National Association of pretrial services or …

Cliff: That’s correct. There’s also an organization here in Washington DC called The pretrial Justice Institute. Anybody who is interested in either looking at historical material or the current state of affairs nationally could go to their website which is just www.pretrial.org. There is a wealth of information. One of the most I think compelling arguments recently is there is a fair amount of research which has been generated both through PJI as well as through the Arnold Foundation which finds that some of the negative collateral consequences associated with even brief periods of incarceration. As little as one two or three days can have on a person.
Think about it. If you’ve been arrested even though you’re presumed innocent but a judge has put a $1,000 bond on you and you can’t make it because you don’t have a $1,000 you know bondsman is going to underwrite a $1,000 bond because it’s not in their interest to do so. You may sit in jail for one two three days perhaps a week if you’re self-employed. You’re not generating any income, if you’re working in the service industry and you’re not showing up for work, you’re not going to be generating any income. If you’re a single parent responsible for watching your kids, housing issues, there are so many collateral consequences associated with even brief periods of detention that I don’t think America is really taking its responsibility to be fair, and to make sure that people who have been assessed as being a risk to the community, or a risk of returning to court are the ones who stay in jail.

Leonard: Well, let’s talk about those return rates. The District of Columbia does it differently from … I’m still going to say most of the organizations in the country. You’re a federal agency in the same way that court services and a federal supervision agency my agency is a federal agency. We have federal funding to do it properly. You have pretrial services agents who do take all individuals because in the District of Columbia the presumption is release. Unless there is a reason to hold the person beyond that, the presumption is release. The presumption is that if you’re charged with a crime, in the District of Columbia beyond dangerousness, or beyond flight risk, that means the great majority of people charged with crimes are going to be under your supervision. You have special units, you have GPS, you do immense about drug testing. You have the money and the structure and the wherewithal to supervise these individuals properly until they go to trial. Correct?

Cliff: That is correct.

Leonard: Most organizations don’t have the resources that you have is that also correct?

Cliff: That is correct, but I would defy any organization or agency or jurisdiction to point a finger at us here in Washington in the pretrial service agency saying we can’t do what you do because you’re a federal agency because you have so many resources. We actually looked at the basic services that a pretrial agency such as ours would actually cause the jurisdiction. There’s looking at the recommendation process in terms of making a recommendation to the judge at the initial hearing in order to help the judge decide whether or not the person is of re-appearing or not, or re-offending or not. We found that that along with the basic supervision to include GPS and some of the other supervision strategies, costs approximately $18 per day per defendant.
Now the current rate for housing a prisoner at the DC jail is about $205 per day. Once again you identified earlier we’re paying a lot of money in keeping people locked up. People who probably don’t need to be locked up to assure community safety or return to court. We’re spending that money without any regard to the negative collateral consequences that the person in his or her family may be subjected to. The flip side is for such a small fraction of that we could be doing what we’re doing here in DC. That’s the message that we’re hoping to get out nationally that there are ways of doing things in a smarter, more effective, more efficient way which are not going to be unfair or prejudicial or biased against one portion of our population as opposed to another.

Leonard: The statistics prove your point of view because the overwhelming majority of the individuals or in your case load do come to trial. The overwhelming majority of the individuals or in your case load are not involved in new criminal activity before that trial date. I’ve taken a look at your stats in the past. I have compared those statistics to National Statistics and your rate of return, and your rate of people who commit crimes before trial. Your data shows you to be phenominally successful.

Cliff: Well, again I agree with that …

Leonard: Is that a stretch or …

Cliff: No, no, no. I said I agree with that. The question is how does one define successful?

Leonard: Well, let’s talk about how we define successful.

Cliff: Let me give you some statistics. We have been tracking how many of our arrested population get released before a case disposition. For the last five years the average has been about 90% of the people who have been arrested by various law enforcement agencies here in DC end up being released at some point after their arrest prior to case disposition which is huge.

Leonard: That is huge 90% are released.

Cliff: Of those persons who are released and this is not just preach trials supervision but those who are also released on personal recognizance. We think is a good percentage of the population. Of all of those who have been released, about 89% on average for the last several years come back for all of their court appearances.

Leonard: All of them?

Cliff: Correct.

Leonard: 89%?

Cliff: Right.

Leonard: Multiple, multiple, multiple times return for trial?

Cliff: Correct. Now once again you have to look at definitions because we consider the first failure to appear even if it subsequently excused by the judge, is still a failure to appear. We’re looking to scrub that number to see how many people end up actually being responsible for willfully failing to appear. I think that number will be even smaller than it is that we’re currently looking at. The other statistic that we look at is how many persons remain arrest free while they’re on pretrial release. That number has been averaging about 88%. For the last several years roughly 88% of our released population do not get re-arrested for any offense. The reality is those persons who are re-arrested it’s typically for minor things. Somebody may have a possession of cocaine case pending, they pick up another possession of cocaine case. The persons who are re-arrested we find that less than 1% are rearrested for a violent crime. Which we think reflects the fact that …

Leonard: Less than 1% are re-arrested for a violent crime while under the supervision a pretrial services agency?

Cliff: Correct. Once again I think you know no pretrial function can guarantee success. We’re dealing with human beings and people are going to do what people will do.

Leonard: There are no guarantees in community supervision.

Cliff: Correct. We do the very best we can and I think that our statistics reflect as you said very successful results. I think that the stakeholders here in the DC Criminal Justice System including the judges in the courts as well as our law-enforcement partners as well as the prosecutors, the defense and even the community recognize our bail system, our pretrial system of doing justice as being a model that others around the country can learn from.

Leonard: That is true that’s no stretch to the imagination they consider people in re-trial look to your system the system that you run here in the District of Columbia as being a model agency. It’s not the public affairs person just blowing smoke. It really is … You are considered to be one of the best in the United States if not the best in the United States. People constantly refer back to what it is that you’re doing as something that other agencies should emulate throughout the country. Not necessarily on constitutional or philosophical grounds although how can you ignore that? How can you ignore the Constitution? How can you ignore the law? Based upon principally, your stats.

Cliff: Correct. Actually Leonard if I could urge your viewers who may not be familiar with the American bail system, if they get the opportunity, an individual John Oliver has a program on HBO which we call The Week in Review. About two months ago he did an entire segment on Bail in America. While it’s humorous It’s also sad because many, many people do not realize the implications that our reliance upon commercial bail, surety bail, if you will has on the average individual who ends up getting arrested. I think even though it’s humorous I think he puts a very appropriate perspective on how illogical as Attorney General Kennedy said, “Our system is if it comes to rely upon money.”
There are two countries that rely upon commercial surety bail to the same extent around the world. Two out of the entire world. The United States in the Philippines. No other countries utilize commercial bail the way we do here. It’s something which I think continues to need to be modified in order to make for a more fair system.

Leonard: But we touched upon this at the beginning of the program. Why this sense of allegiance to monetary bail? There is something philosophically … Something of this philosophically driven I think that where people are saying to themselves, “I know that he’s innocent before being proven guilty.” I understand that but in all probability he is guilty, and at least with the bail system or sometime in jail at least there’s some punishment for the crime that he’s committed. There’s got to be a reason as to why decade after decade, after decade we’re still principally reliant upon monetary bail, or personal release.

Cliff: Well you hit upon an interesting point because there is no way that a person or an individual who gets caught up in the criminal justice system in America should be punished prior to finding of guilt. In fact, in a Supreme Court case back in 1951 the court’s finding was that one of the purposes of bail is to ensure that again presumed innocent persons in fact, are not punished prior to that finding of guilt. Yeah that’s the reality. I think the use of commercial bail and bond schedules is a very easy way for systems a) Some of them rely upon that money to help support court costs. They use it as a revenue generator. Some jurisdictions consider to be An easy way to deal with many, many cases because the judge doesn’t need to make an individualized decision about this person’s flight risk or potential harm to the community.
Again, commercial burglary equals $10,000. Very quick, very simple. To be frank I think many judges abdicate their responsibility to uphold the constitution of the United States as well as their own state by imposing money bail because they can say should something happen if the person were to be released and did something wrong, they could say, “Hey I did what the statute or what our court rules require which was to impose this bond.” Again that shouldn’t be the function of the judge in setting these conditions of release. We shouldn’t do it the easy way, the most expedient way, the quickest way, we should do it in a way that preserves true American justice.

Leonard: It preserves the United States Constitution and at the same time it’s pragmatic because it costs taxpayers a lot less to keep a person on pretrial than in jail. That’s the efficiencies that many people throughout the country are calling for in a criminal justice system. You’ve been able to prove those efficiencies. The case seems to be made.

Cliff: I agree. I think that we are in a very good place here in Washington DC both because of our statutory framework as well as because of the resources that we the pretrial service agency are able to bring to the table. Most importantly I think it’s also because all of the actors especially the judges … they understand what their responsibility is in terms of administering pretrial justice and the way it’s supposed to be administered.

Leonard: Final minute of the program before we have to close Cliff. Is there something we’ve left out of this discussion? Again, so many people come to this program and there are newbies of some congress person, or mayor, or state senator as their aides to discover what the issues are in pretrial. That’s one of the reasons why we do these programs. Is there anything we left out of this discussion?

Cliff: No. I would just urge other jurisdictions to look at all of the reforms that are taking place either within their own jurisdiction or nearby jurisdictions. This is something which … and I chalk a lot of it up to former Attorney General Eric Holder who convened the second Bail Reform Conference just four years ago. I think as a result of that and the work of many of our leaders in the pretrial field, we’re seeing progress around the country and we would like to see it continue.

Leonard: Are we going to be moving towards more of a pretrial services agency in the District of Columbia style of bail and less of a reliance upon monetary bail?

Cliff: In other jurisdictions absolutely. New Jersey is kicking off their pretrial Service Agency program in 2017. We’ve been asked to speak to Pennsylvania, New Mexico, California, New York, any number of jurisdictions are starting to do exactly what we’ve been doing for the last 50 years.

Leonard: At our microphones today Cliff Keenan, the Director of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia. Www.psa.gov. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

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Synthetic Drug Testing in Washington, D.C.

Synthetic Drug Testing in Washington, D.C.-Transcript

DC Public Safety Radio

See http://media.csosa.gov

See radio show at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2015/10/synthetic-drug-testing-in-washington-d-c/

Leonard: From the nations capital this is DC public safety, I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, the topic for today is synthetic drug testing. This is a topic of great importance throughout the United States and we have a new capacity here in the nation’s capital as of October 1. To do synthetic drug testing, to discuss this new capacity we have two guests, Leslie Cooper, deputy director of pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia, www.psa.gov. Gerome Robinson, he is the director of forensics research again for pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia. To Leslie and Gerome, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Leslie: Good afternoon thank you.

Leonard: All right, you know this is a really interesting topic because this is an issue that is, that parole probation agencies, pretrial agencies, criminal justice agencies, throughout the United States are facing right now. We have this new capacity and new equipment, new protocol to test the different people we have under supervision for synthetic drugs. Now, the amazing thing about this is that that’s like twenty-five thousand samples a month, all the samples that we take ordinarily we are to start testing for synthetic drugs. So before getting into synthetic drugs, Leslie, tell me a little bit about the pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia.

Leslie: The pretrial services for the District of Columbia is a small federal entity, we’re actually housed under the umbrella of the court services and offenders supervision agency. We have a fairly simple and straightforward mission which is to promote pretrial justice in enhanced community safety.

Leonard: Is this considered one of the best pretrial organizations in the United States? You have higher rates of compliance, I’ve taken a look at the national averages for pretrial, and the national averages throughout the United States, you have more people returning to trial than just about anybody else.

Leslie: It’s true. I think that we benefit here in DC. We have a very strong statutory structure which allows us to operate from a system that presumes that the best path  is for someone who is awaiting trial is release to the community. Our responsibility in that regard is to conduct risk assessments for individuals who are arrested, and then make recommendations to judges prior to their appearance, and then for those persons who are actually released while [inaudible 00:02:58] we provide the supervision through their appearance.

Leonard: And drug testing. Okay, the presumption in the District of Columbia is release unless there is a public safety reason to hold that person, correct?

Leslie: That it correct.

Leonard: All right so that makes us unique. So it’s not a money bail, in the District of Columbia.

Leslie: That’s correct.

Leonard: Now pretrial does the testing for our agency court services and offenders supervision agency as well as pretrial services, correct?

Leslie: That’s correct, so in addition to our supervision and release detention recommendations function, we serve the primary purpose of providing drug testing for individuals in the adult criminal justice system in the District of Columbia, which includes probation, parole, pretrial, supervised release. We also do some testing for respondents with matters in the DC family court.

Leonard: Okay, but we also do lockup, and this question goes over to Gerome Robinson, director of forensic research for pretrial. Gerome, we have it a bit complicated. We test at lockup, where people who are arrested in the District of Columbia. It is essentially voluntary and, let’s just say 60-80 percent of these individuals do provide samples unless a judge orders it. So, it’s voluntary unless a judge orders it, but the majority do provide samples, correct?

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: Okay. Pretrial, which is the second part of this, is that those court-ordered by the judge, which are the vast majority of individuals under pretrial supervision, right?

Gerome: Yes.

Leonard: Okay. Parole and probation, which is us, court services and offenders supervision agency, like Leslie said, we are a federal agency with a local mission. We tested intake and we do a lot of testing, once or twice a week. It can be that high, you can gradually come off it if you test negative, if you test positive you go back to the original testing schedule, but tests are also based upon the risk level of the person under supervision, do I have that correct?

Gerome: That’s basically correct.

Leonard: All right, so it’s a tri-partied series of tests. I know, Leslie, you mentioned family court and instances, but basically speaking we test at lockup, we test for pretrial, and we test under parole and probation supervision. Those are the three, and twenty-five thousand samples a month.

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: That’s amazing! Twenty-five thousand samples a month, we’re testing for from those three populations, correct?

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: That’s amazing. That’s a lot of drug testing, and we ordinarily test for blood, cocaine, amphetamine, PCP, what else? Marijuana in some circumstances …

Gerome: Marijuana, methadone, opiates.

Leonard: Methadone, and opiates. Oh my Heavens, I forgot opiates. Considering that I’ve been around the criminal justice system for 45 years, how did I leave opiates out of that? We understand that, at all three levels, whether it be lockup, whether it be pretrial, whether it be under parole and probation supervision, some people that come into contact with us are going to use synthetic drugs to escape testing positive. Some sample is going to do that, correct?

Gerome: That’s, yes that’s correct.

Leonard: And there’s research out there that indicates that there are somewhat substantial numbers of people who tested negative but when we retested those urines, we come to find out that they tested positive for synthetic drugs.

Gerome: Yes.

Leonard: Okay, so synthetic drugs is a problem. It’s a problem in the District of Columbia, it’s a problem throughout the United States, and ladies and gentlemen in the show notes, we did a television show about a year and a half ago on synthetic drugs and I’ll be putting the link in the show notes to the television program that we did. So, we’re talking about overall between these three populations and twenty-five thousand samples a month, we’re talking about somewhere in the ball park between twenty-five and twenty-six percent testing positive within any sample.

Gerome: Yeah, overall population.

Leonard: Overall population.

Gerome: Right.

Leonard: Out of all these tests, do we have a sense yet as to who’s testing positive for synthetic drugs? So, we don’t know the number yet because we just started it October 1st.

Leslie: That’s correct, what we have been doing, and I’ll let Mr. Robinson talk a bit about the partnership that we have that started our synthetic testing program, but we started our testing program October 1st and we anticipate having data on the actual prevalence of synthetic use within this population over the next few months.

Leonard: Okay. That is gonna be, the results are going to be instructive as to how many are using synthetic drugs. Now, synthetics can change the ingredients, of what we call synthetic drugs, can change, correct?

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: Gerome, you were talking about, before we hit the record button, as to how you work with the coroners office and the drug enforcement administration and other sources because we have the capacity to change what we’re testing for, correct?

Gerome: That’s correct, and it’s one of the things that has really made this work for us, and for the region, and for the district. It’s the collaoration between the different parties: the DEA, the office of the chief medical examiners, the toxicology unit, the different DC government agencies, social entities, and so on. We’ve all come together to talk about this and give the information and knowledge that we have in our special field. They pulled all that together, and we’re at a good place now in terms of staying close to the cutting edge of the drugs that are coming in, because of this collaboration. The DEA keeps us [inaudible 00:08:33] of what they’re picking up on the packets, and then once we hear that we say, “Well let’s go look and see if we can get a standard on this, or if we can find a metabolite that we can run.”

Leonard: Ah.

Gerome: So that’s what has happened, that’s the key, in my opinion, of why it’s worked so well for us.

Leonard: Okay.

Gerome: Then, of course, we have the support of the agency, the leadership and the agency, to get this done.

Leonard: Okay so everybody’s talking to each other to figure out what we’re going to be testing for, and what it means, so if new trends come up we can be right on top of it.

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: We bought our own equipment to pull this off?

Gerome: Yes.

Leonard: That’s a heck of a commitment.

Gerome: Well, yes, it is, and the last piece of equipment we got was a LCMSMS, which is quite expensive, but necessary.

Leonard: Yeah, prior to that we had all of the instrumentation we needed. So, and I’ll explain maybe later on in the program how we went piecemeal in monitoring this stuff, one technique to another and then moving on to something else, and doing the partnerships and collaboration and all of this. So yeah, they provided the instrumentation that we had prior to getting the LCMSMS, and then they went and they got the LCMSMS, and I’ve been extremely excited and happy about that.

Leonard: Now, we have committed within our budget to test for every sample that comes in. Twenty-five thousand samples a month, we’re going to be testing all twenty-five thousand samples a month for synthetic drugs.

Gerome: Correct.

Leonard: That’s an amazing commitment.

Leslie: It is. We realize, though, the severity of the issue. We, as Mr. Robinson said, are very close partners with the Metropolitan Police Department, with the entire district government, up through Mayor Bowser’s office, with the United States attorney’s office, and everyone is talking about synthetics and with PSA being the agency that does the testing, we recognize that that placed a responsibility on us to actually go out and to procure the equipment that would allow us to provide this critical information to the community at large.

Leonard: Okay but my conversations with my peers throughout the country when we talk about synthetic drugs is that very few people out there are testing for synthetic drugs. We’re not just testing, we’re testing every single sample of every person at lockup, every person on pretrial that’s going through drug testing, every person who’s going through parole and probation supervision through court services and offenders supervision agency, that is a huge commitment.

Gerome: Yes it is.

Leslie: It’s absolutely a huge commitment, again, but out investment in the Washington DC community requires that. Everyone is interested in ensuring and maintaining public safety here in the district and we see it as an investment that’s well worth it. We’re trying to keep DC a safe place for people to live, work, and visit, and we see that as part [inaudible 00:11:35] of our responsibility in carrying out that mission.

Leonard: So the bottom line is, in terms of what it is we’re testing for, the various components of synthetic marijuana, or synthetic drugs, the vast majority, all of those components, we’re testing for and as they change, we’ll change as necessary for all twenty-five thousand samples a month. Again, to me, that’s a huge undertaking that’s not happening throughout the rest of the country. That’s just my information, I don’t know if that’s completely accurate, but that’s the sense that I’m getting from talking to my peers throughout the country. Synthetic drugs are obviously illegal, I mean I want to make that point clear just in case we have anybody caught up in the criminal justice system listening to this broadcast.

Gerome: They have to be scheduled. I mean you have to realize, I think you already know this, that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of compounds that come under that terminology.

Leonard: Yes.

Gerome: Of course, the DEA doesn’t schedule every one of those, they schedule ones that they see as becoming a problem. If they hear of people getting sick or dying from some of these compounds, they’ll put it on their schedule. So, you know, we monitor the schedule that they create, and we base our components on that schedule. So right now, in the LCMS, we’re looking at thirty-one compounds.

Leonard: Okay.

Gerome: The screening looks at about, I think close to the same amount.

Leonard: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Gerome: It depends of what they are.

Leonard: But we’ll change it as necessary, I mean, the coroners office says, “Hey, we’re discovering this new compound.” The DEA, “We’re discovering these new issues at the east coast.” So we can change, and reflect, and report that back to the courts, report it back to the parole commission.

Gerome: I mean, that’s what we’ve seen. When we first started, we saw JWH-018073 and then that dried up, and then we had to move to something else, then UR-144, and the XLR-11 came in. What has amazed me, though, is that’s been several years and UR-144 and XLR-11 are still showing up, and that’s what we mostly see. Recently, they’ve been AB, AB-FUBINACA, AB-PINACA, all these -aca names, have been added to the profile.

Leonard: So the bottom line is, if that person who is caught up in the criminal justice system is using synthetics to get around the drug testing requirements, that person is in for a big surprise, very shortly.

Leslie: That’s the message that we’d like to convey.

Leonard: That is the message, where if you were doing this to get, to fool us within the criminal justice system, that stops on October 1, 2015.

Leslie: Correct. We think that part of the reason why you may see certain spikes in use is for that very reason, that people believe that you can use these substances while under criminal justice supervision, and use them undetected. So we recognize that challenge, we are prepared to meet that challenge to the extent possible. To your earlier point we are constantly trying to keep on top of the changing compounds just to make sure that we are trying to keep pace as quickly as possible with what we see out in the samples.

Leonard: Synthetic drugs, synthetic marijuana, is often times being sold in storefronts throughout the District of Columbia. This is, I want to make this perfectly clear being we have a national audience, this is happening throughout the United States. This isn’t, it’s in Milwaukee, it’s in Los Angeles, it’s in San Diego, and I would daresay for twenty percent of our audience, that are international it’s in your city as well. It looks almost like a pack of hot rocks from years ago, from decades ago, I mean they’re very colorful packets, they look like something that you would buy for fifty cents, like candy almost. You get the impression when you buy synthetic marijuana, synthetic drugs, that this is something that has to be legal because gee, look at the packaging. I mean, heroine’s not packaged that way, cocaine’s not packaged that way, amphetamine’s aren’t packaged that way, this is packaged in such a way to convey to people that this must be a legal drug, because my goodness I’m buying it from the local grocery store, I’m buying it from the local gas station.

Gerome: Also, to attract the younger individuals in the community: teenagers, and so on. Although, a large portion of adult populations are using it too.

Leonard: Obviously, we deal with adults on supervision, we’re talking about, you know, [inaudible 00:16:36], it’s twelve thousand on any given day. The population for pretrial on any given day, Leslie, is about seven thousand?

Leslie: Just over four thousand.

Leonard: Four thousand, I’m sorry. So, right there you’re talking in the ball park of thirty thousand human … I’m sorry, twenty-thousand human beings on any given day. The people going through lockup, I mean that’s tens of thousands of people a year, I’m assuming.

Leslie: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Leonard: I don’t know the number, off the top of my head, so this is an adult population taking this, but the really scary thing is these packages make it seem to kids that this is safe to take.

Leslie: Certainly, I mean the packages are labeled, “Not for human consumption,” however, we know that as they are presented they are fairly attractive and I think you are absolutely correct in that when you see something on a store shelf you make an assumption that it is safe for some type of human interaction.

Leonard: I would make that assumption.

Leslie: So, again, our hats are really off to this city for the efforts that it has undertaken to crack down on the sales of these particular substances. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job with both regulatory efforts and enforcement of those, to really try to get these products out of the stores, just because of the dangers that can be associated with their use.

Leonard: We’re more than halfway through the program, the topic today is synthetic drug testing, the fact that as of October 1 pretrial services agency, who does the testing at lockup, that does the testing for pretrial, and does the testing for court services and offenders supervision agency, those on parole and probation, as of October 1, all twenty-six thousand samples a month, twenty-five thousand samples a month, are going to be tested for synthetic drugs. At our microphones today, Leslie Cooper, deputy director pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia and Gerome Robinson, director for forensic research, again at pretrial services agency. Both of our agencies are federal agencies, www.psa.gov.

So, what do we see, what do you expect is going to happen come October 1? I would imagine word is getting out, little bit by little bit, to the population that we’re now testing for synthetic drugs. What will that mean?

Leslie: I think what will begin to happen is people will begin to recognize the use of synthetic drugs in a way we already recognize the more commonly known substances. So again, from a risk mitigation standpoint on both the pretrial and the [inaudible 00:19:10] side, what you’ll see is our continued existing response to abuse of any drug. What we do in those instances, when positive drug tests are received on and individual contributor, we coordinate with the releasing authority, alert them to their use, we may impose …

Leonard: Which means the courts, in your case, for pretrial.

Leslie: Correct. For us, it’s going to be the courts on the [inaudible 00:19:31], it will be the parole commission, or the court for someone who is on probation, and so we will notify that releasing authority, let them know what our efforts have been internally, to try to stop the abuse. Then, when we’re unable to stop the use on our end, after providing probably both sanctions and an opportunity for treatment, we then do refer back to either the court or the parole commission and ask them to take action.

Leonard: Okay so the bottom line is that this is a person that could be really facing jail time, prison time, if the person doesn’t comply with their standards of supervision, what is expected of them on the pretrial level, and on the parole and probation level.

Leslie: That’s correct. In violation of a drug test in condition by repeatedly testing positive could result in revocation of supervision, so yes, that’s correct.

Leonard: And we do know that those individuals, taking a look at your data Leslie, the individuals that don’t do well on pretrial supervision are the individuals who are caught up with heavy duty drug use.

Leslie: We do have information that shows that those people who are suffering from some form of addiction tend to do more poorly in terms of their outcomes. Again, our primary outcomes at pretrial are to ensure that they’re not re-arrested during the pendency of their case, and also to make sure that they show up for court each and every time, and we do find that there are variations in the outcomes for individuals who are using drugs actively during the period, yes.

Leonard: We find within court services and offenders supervision agency those folks who were in pretrial, I mean those folks who were on probation or coming out of prison, that it’s the heavy duty drug users who don’t do well, the people with mental health issues, drug issues, co-occurring disorders, so finding out who the synthetic drug users are, and intervening meaningfully in their lives, is part in partial to public safety.

Leslie: Absolutely, we consider substance abuse to be one of the primary domains that is necessary to be examined in order to put together a community supervision plan and that’s either at the pretrial or post-adjudication phase.

Leonard: Criminalogically speaking, that’s been the basis for drug testing for decades. I mean, the best practices as of decades ago, is to drug test, and research indicates that the more you test, the less they get involved in drug use and the less they get involved in criminal-based activities. So, drug testing has been in-partial, and we probably do more of it than just about any other criminal justice agency I’m aware of.

Leslie: I think one of the benefits is that we do have our in-house testing laboratory, so again, having the ability to test in-house and then have a quick turn around for result does help drug testing become a substantial part of the supervision planning process, yes.

Leonard: You know, Gerome, in a lot of agencies, they take their drug testing requirements and they farm them out, and they send them out, to an outside lab, and what we have done, as of, since the beginning of [00:22:49] pretrial …

Leslie: Actually, even prior to that.

Leonard: Really?

Leslie: Prior to that. Pretrial existed prior to that, and Mr. Robinson can probably speak because it’s near and dear to his heart that pretrial was one of the first agencies to actually have it. I think the first pretrial agency to have in-house testing, that dates back to 1984.

Leonard: Wow, and Gerome, have you been around that long?

Gerome: I got here in October 1989.

Leonard: Okay.

Gerome: So, they had a few years on me.

Leonard: So the whole idea is that bringing it in-house, having complete control over the process, is part in partial to public safety. When it’s not sent out, we control the whole thing [inaudible 00:23:31].

Gerome: Yeah, and you can adjust, to whatever is coming down the pike, like Franciscan synthetics, I mean, we’re able to adjust I think very well to testing for this.

Leonard: We control cost that way, correct? I mean, it’s a lot more expensive if you farm this stuff out.

Gerome: It can be, yes.

Leonard: So we control cost and we have the flexibility to move in any direction we want, and I think that’s part in-partial to the federal commitment to the public safety in the District of Columbia, the fact that we have brought it in-house, it’s always been in-house, it’s under out control, and we have the flexibility to move in any direction we want. We’re not dependent upon re-negotiating a contract with an outside vendor.

Gerome: Yes.

Leonard: Okay. So, what is the major misconception about synthetic drugs?

Gerome: First, is that they’re not dangerous, right. That, in the early stages, they may have been not as dangerous as they are now.

Leonard: But they have gotten increasingly more dangerous.

Gerome: Yes, the thing is, they change it so much, they tweak it so much, you don’t know what you’re getting, and so now, like I mentioned, some of those other compounds, they’re coming in. If you remember the problem we had this summer with the people in homeless shelters, overdosing and what not.

Leonard: Yes.

Gerome: I suspect that a lot of these new compounds were coming in and affecting populations.

Leonard: We really never have, it’s not like it’s and FDA approved drug, where they say, “Oh by the way we’ve changed the compounds,” when you ingest this stuff you don’t have a clue as to what you’re ingesting.

Gerome: You haven’t, that’s the big problem, you don’t know what, I mean the chemists don’t know how it affects people, they just change the drug and put it out. There’s no quality control in this business.

Leonard: So what worked in terms of testing last week may not necessarily work immediately because we would have to get the data from the DEA, get the data form the coroner’s office, get the data from other criminal justice agencies and change our formula in such a way to be sure that we’re testing for what’s on the street.

Gerome: Well we have to, of course like you said be aware of those compounds, and work with our partners and the industry to cover those drugs, so that’s a little much, a bit off a lee time, you have to work on that, but it’s doable.

Leonard: Okay, and Leslie, the bottom line in terms of all of this, in terms of the biggest message we want to get out about synthetic drugs, is he folks, we’re testing!

Leslie: The bottom line is do not roll the dice. It is not a safe bet to assume that if you are under criminal justice supervision in the District of Columbia, that you can us synthetic drugs and get away with it.

Leonard: And if you’re not currently under supervision of pretrial or probation or people coming out of the prison system, or just being locked up for it. If you’re locked up and it’s turned into a positive, then that’s something that can’t have an effect in terms of either your release or your future involvement in the criminal justice system. So the bottom line is beyond health reasons, because I’m not quite sure why anyone would ingest something they are completely unaware of what it could do, I mean, the chief of police here in the District of Columbia, Cathy Lanier has said that there are people out there who just pass out, who are committing bizarre behaviors and are being involved in criminal activity. I’m not quite sure that they set out that evening to be involved in bizarre or criminal behavior. I think that being under the influence of synthetic drugs has a way of creating, or contributing to violent behavior, correct?

Leslie: I think you make a very good point in that synthetics pose a tremendous challenge to both the public safety and the public health systems, I’m pleased to hear that within the District of Columbia we are partnering very effectively, I think across both sides of that, just to make sure that we’re covering that from every aspect. I do want to just underscore what you just said, which is that you don’t know what the outcome will be. You don’t know what it’ll be on your health, you don’t know what it’ll be with your status within the criminal justice system, and those to me are two very good cautionary reasons to why you should avoid using synthetics.

Leonard: The Metropolitan police department here in the District of Columbia, and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States are cracking down on the use of synthetic drugs, because, again, anything if you’ve ever seen the television show, and we’ll post the television show in the show notes, that we did about a year and a half ago, the packaging of this makes it so conducive to kids who end up taking this, and that could produce a psychotic episode. That could have an impact on a child for the rest of their life.

Gerome: Yes.

Leonard: So this is something that everybody needs to stay away from, and the criminal justice system is now testing it and recognizing it, it’s dangerous, and that’s the bottom line, correct?

Gerome: That’s correct.

Leonard: All right. Anything else that I left out, Leslie? Anything that you want to put it?

Leslie: Just to reinforce the fact that we are definitely committed to continuing to look into new and emerging drugs. My hat is absolutely off to Mr. Robinson and the entire team over in pretrials laboratory, that is actively working day in and day out to identify those new compounds and really help to keep us on the cutting edge so that we, again, can keep the city a safe place to be.

Leonard: Because the bottom line is that the components of drugs are always gonna change to some degree and we’ve got to stay on top of this, and so we are staying on top of it by having folks like long term veterans, Robinson, and bringing in that process in-house and having our own equipment and then committing the budget.

Leslie: Absolutely.

Leonard: To twenty-five thousand samples a month. I want to thank my guests today, Leslie Cooper, deputy director of pretrial services agency for the District of Columbia, and Gerome Robinson, the director of forensic research, www.psa.gov, www.psa.gov, ladies and gentlemen this is DC Pubic Safety. We appreciate you comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very very pleasant day.

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Pretrial in America-Pretrial Justice Institute-Pretrial Services for D.C.-National Award Winner

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/2014/05/pretrial-america-pretrial-justice-institute-pretrial-services-d-c-national-award-winner/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Today’s show, ladies and gentlemen, pretrial in America, and a topic that I think has great importance to each and every one of us in the criminal justice system. Cliff Keenan the Director for Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia, he’s here, www.psa.gov. Spike Bradford, he is the ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, www.pretrial.org. And to Cliff and to Spike, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Spike Bradford:  Thank you, Leonard.

Cliff Keenan:  Glad to be here.

Len Sipes:  All right, this is a topic that is misunderstood, this is a topic that I think a lot of people do not have a clear sense. But the bottom line behind the pretrial services movement in the District of Columbia and throughout the country is that the person is innocent until proven guilty. A wide variety of conferences, people came together back in the 60s to establish the fact that unless it’s necessary from a public safety point of view, a person should be released before trial. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  Leonard, I think you’re absolutely right. In fact, the conference you’re referring to was convened by then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who in May of 1964, so almost 50 years ago, convened judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, scholars, academics to look at the issue of bail in America. And this is what he said on the opening day of that conference. He said, “There is a special responsibility on all of us here, a special responsibility to represent those who cannot be here, those who are poor, those who are unfortunate. The 1.5 million persons in the US who are accused of crime, who haven’t been yet found guilty, who are yet unable to make bail and serve a time in prison prior to the time that their guilt has even been established; for those people, for those who cannot protect themselves, for those who are unfortunate, we here over the period of the next three days have a special responsibility.” On the last day of that conference this is what he said. And keep in mind, this is Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and this is five months after his brother was assassinated –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  Focusing America’s attention back then on the issue of bail in America. This is what he said, “What has been made clear today in the last two days is that our present attitudes towards bail are not only cruel, but really completely illogical. What has been demonstrated here is that usually only one factor determines whether a defendant stays in jail before he comes to trial. That factor is not guilt or innocence, it is not the nature of the crime, it is not the character of the defendant, that factor is simply money. How much money does the defendant have?”

As a result of that conference, Congress back in 1966 passed the Bail Reform Act, which greatly changed at the federal level and for the District of Columbia the way persons were going to be treated in their pretrial context. They were moving away from money as being the sole determining factor and looking more towards whether or not a person posed a danger either to the community or a flight risk. As a result of the Bail Reform Act, the DC Bail Agency, the precursor to the Pretrial Services Agency, for which I’m now the Director, was created, and we have seen many changes over the years. And here in the District we’re happy to say that money is not a factor in terms of persons who’ve been charged with the crime but not convicted yet. Those persons are not being held at the jail because they don’t have money the way Bobby Kennedy recognized. Those persons are either detained because a judicial officer has found that the person is a flight risk or a danger to the community, or more likely, they’re released on personal recognizance or released to Pretrial Services and we provide the supervision and services that the need.

Len Sipes:  And I do want to go over the fact that within the District of Columbia the people who remain arrest free for any crime, 88%, people who remain arrest free for violent crimes, 98%, people who make all scheduled point appearances, all scheduled court appearances, because there are many, 87%. Your statistics indicate that you can provide that constitutional mandate of innocence before guilt, of pretrial based upon dangerousness rather than the ability to post money, and at the same time, making sure that people show up and that they show up arrest free during that period of supervision. So the Pretrial Services Agency in the District of Columbia has proven itself time after time to be certainly one of the premier pretrial services agencies in the country.

Cliff Keenan:  That’s correct. I mean we are unique, because we are a federal law enforcement agency, so we do receive our funding through OMB and from Congress. Unlike many other jurisdictions where either a county or state is responsible for this responsibility, under the DC Revitalization Act of 1997, our function, as well as probation, parole functions, the court functions, those all became part of the federal system. However, what we have found, as you point out, is the system that we have is not only fair to the individual arrestees, i.e. the defendants who are pending trial, but it’s also proven to be safe for the community as well as for the fair administration of justice.

Len Sipes:  Spike Bradford, Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, you’ve heard Cliff go off on his monologue, which I agree with. I buy into single word.

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  Do you have any response, any reaction?

Spike Bradford:  Well, first of all I mean we know that DC Pretrial is a stellar organization in doing things that so many other jurisdictions across the country are not. And at Pretrial Justice Institute we typically frame the issue as what are the problems in pretrial in America, which, unfortunately, there are many, and what are the solutions. And there are two primary problems as we see them, both of which DC has been able to mostly overcome. The first one is that in jurisdictions across the country most of the detention and release decisions pretrial are based on money.

Len Sipes:  Right. Now why is that? Considering everything that Cliff’s just run through, the majority of pretrial releases within the United States are not based upon dangerousness to the community, and not based upon a monetary bail, but in the majority of the country they are. So why is that? Is it the rest of country doesn’t get it?

Spike Bradford:  I mean I wouldn’t say that they don’t get it, they just don’t get it yet, we hope in our work. We have a long history of associating money with pretrial release in this country and, unfortunately, we don’t have a huge bank of research that shows that that works. Really, when we do the research we find that there’s no correlation between the amount of money someone can pay to the court and the risk that they pose either of not coming back to court or being rearrested during the pretrial period. So, so much of the release and detention decision is made on money and not risk, which just has numerous outcomes, you’ve got over 60% of local jails in the country are full of pretrial detainees, those people who’ve been arrested and booked but not convicted of that charge yet. So that’s a lot. I mean that’s over 60% of people in jail who are also associating with convicted people in jail are of a pretrial status. But the converse side of that is that you have high-risk defendants, people who when we do test them score a higher risk of being rearrested or not showing up to the court, they’re getting out.

Len Sipes:  Because they can make the monetary bail.

Spike Bradford:  Because they pay their bail. Yeah.

Len Sipes:  So then I mean in the District of Columbia we take a look at dangerousness and everybody else is taking a look at the dollar unless there’s a no bail provision?

Spike Bradford:  I wouldn’t say everybody else. I mean there are definitely jurisdictions across the country, some states, some counties that are doing it closer to the way that DC does it. And that’s the way that we’re hoping things are moving across the country is that people are realizing, one, jail is expensive and our jails are full of pretrial detainees, so how can we change that, and two, there’s new science out that shows that so many high-risk defendants are getting out just because they pay their way. And there’s wonderful new research that shows that even a short stay in pretrial detention, one or two days, increases negative outcomes like being rearrested, recidivism, up to two years after your offense is cleared.

Len Sipes:  But when we have 98% of people in the District of Columbia who have been charged with violent crimes, they remain arrest free through that process, 98%. I mean that’s basically showing that you can manage these individuals on pretrial and not have them get involved in a lot of crime. Some crimes it’s inevitable. Some of our people who are supervised by us on a pretrial basis or on a parole and probation basis, through my agency Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, it’s inevitable that some individuals are going to find their way back into the criminal justice system by arrest during their periods of supervision. But this is astounding. 98% arrest free for violent crimes in the District of Columbia. So it can be done, it’s being proven in the District of Columbia. Is it a matter that we are federally funded, Cliff, and we have the resources and we have the staff and we have the ratios? We even have money for treatment. We have money that other pretrial agencies will never have. Is it a matter of money, or is it a matter of philosophy, is it a matter of management, or all three?

Cliff Keenan:  I think it’s all three, but it’s also culture, Len. Many jurisdictions, as Spike alluded to, have been using a money bond schedule probably for generations, and it’s very hard for judges, many of whom in some jurisdictions are elected, so they’re worried about making a decision that a person who he or she releases may end up doing something bad on the outside. Many judges are probably reluctant to move away from a system that they have been using for many, many years. The Unites States and the Philippines, as far as I know, are the only two countries left in the world which still utilize some form of commercial surety. And commercial surety, for those who don’t know it, that’s where if a judge imposes a $5,000 bond and if the person doesn’t have the $5,000 personally they could secure the services of a commercial bond company to put up, usually for 10% of the bond amount, an insurance policy in order to get the person out of jail. So it’s very, very much a commercial activity, which has, again, been in place for many, many years. Our jurisdiction, Kentucky, Colorado, there are number of jurisdictions which are moving away from a straight up bond schedule. But once again, you’re dealing with judges and prosecutors and defense attorneys who are accustomed to doing things the way they’ve always been done and changing that culture along with having the resources to put in place probably contribute to some of the length of time it’s taken to get change.

Len Sipes:  There’s a wide variety of organizations out there that have contributed to the pretrial movement since the 1960s. But in essence, it says the standards use the least restrictive conditions of release that reasonable will assure the defendant’s appearance in court and protect public safety. Now, is that a constitutional right to the least restrictive pretrial arrangements? Or it’s obviously not, because we have hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the country being in violation in of the constitution. Where does the constitutionality of pretrial stand for pretrial release?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, the constitutionality, again, I mean at the federal level, that what you just read is basically written into the federal law as well as the DC law. Many jurisdictions, if not most, also have the same language within the statute, which give to the judicial officer who has the responsibility for making that release or detention decision. There should be presumption of starting point that release because of the presumption of innocence should be what is triggered first. Once again though, in many jurisdictions, which do rely upon schedules, if the charge is burglary, the bond schedule which has been put in place by that court system could be $5,000 –

Len Sipes:  Right,

Cliff Keenan:  And the judges don’t look at the individual, they don’t look at the individual’s ties to the community, they don’t look at the individual’s potential risk based upon substance abuse, mental health issues, prior criminal record, doesn’t look at the employment history of the individual. They see the 5,000 dollar amount as being tied to that charge and that’s what they go with.

Len Sipes:  So, Spike, you think that this is simply the way that we’ve done business throughout the Unites States for the last couple century and we’re so inculcated with that way of doing business that we can’t see a pretrial release model?

Spike Bradford:  I think that’s a lot of it. I mean a lot of the questions that I get when I start talking about moving away from a money-based release decision are just, “Well, if we don’t charge them money, what do we do?” And the answer to that really is a number of things. We sort of we measure their risk along those two measures. Are they going to come back to court and are they likely to be rearrested pretrial? And then we have a graduated system where really low-risk people can just get out on a promise to return, maybe they get court date reminder via text or e-mail or something like that. Medium risk folks might have supervision or monitoring. They have to someone like Cliff in Cliff’s office. They might have GPS monitoring and ankle bracelet. Really, truly, people who measure to be dangerous, and particularly for violent crime, we support preventive detention. And a lot of states don’t really actually have that statute where you can detain someone without bail. So what they typically do in lieu of that is they just throw out a huge number and hope that that person can’t meet it.

Len Sipes:  In essence what we’re saying is, “Let’s judge that individual who’s been arrested based upon his or her dangerousness, let’s not judge that person based upon their ability to put up 10% of the bail amount.” Is that what we’re saying?

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely. And –

Len Sipes:  Well, that seems to be awfully commonsensical.

Spike Bradford:  Well, you would think so, but there really is a tie to money. I think people just really, really are tied to using money, and we want to move that towards the understanding of risk.

Len Sipes:  We’re more than halfway through the program talking about pretrial in America. We’re talking to Cliff Keenan, Director of Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia, www.psa.gov, www.psa.gov . We’re also talking to Spike Bradford; he is the ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, www.pretrial.org, www.pretrial.org. Gentlemen, in most of the conversations I’ve had with individual citizens throughout my 25 years representing correctional agencies it has been, “Why in the name of God is this person back on the street? He was arrested. I saw him assault Mr. Smith five hours ago and he’s back in the community. Why in the name good God is he back in the community?” And then they pick up the phone and then they call me and then we have to get into a discussion as to what pretrial is and what pretrial is supposed to be. So what do we say to people? I mean the guy’s back in the community five hours later. We saw him assault Mr. Smith down the street, but he’s been released on pretrial. Cliff, how do we justify that to the average person?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, I’m going to ask Spike in a moment to address it, because I know that PJI has actually done some market surveys asking regular people their impressions about pretrial release and the use of bail and risk assessments and that sort of thing. But I know here in DC we have a number of community courts. So we have the community court judges, we have the prosecutor, the defense, and pretrial, and other actors in the criminal justice system go out to community meetings. And that question is often first on the mind of the citizen –

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Cliff Keenan:  Saying, “This person continues to come back time after time.”

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  The most important thing is making sure that citizens understand and appreciate the American criminal justice system, starting with that presumption of innocence. And the judges and the defense attorney and the prosecutors and we at pretrial remind them, “If you or one of your family members were arrested and charged with an offense, wouldn’t you want that same presumption of innocence? Wouldn’t you want the ability to be able to be free pending the case’s disposition in court in order to be able to help prepare your defense, in order to continue working, to continue caring for your family, without having to worry about putting up thousands of dollars for a cash bond or a surety bond that you may not be able to meet?” And when you put it in that perspective, they say, “Well, I could see it in that situation, but, again, this guy who continues to litter my property –”

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  “Or deposit trash.” They don’t have the same tolerance level for that. So I think in a philosophical way most people would agree. But when they’re talking about the recurring nuisance or the frequent flyers we call them here, that’s a separate issue, and I’m not sure that that’s the vast majority of people who’re being held without bond in the jails around the country.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you want to take a shot at what seems to be on every citizen’s mind, the idea of people who just get out time after time after time and come back to the community?

Spike Bradford:  Well, sure. I mean Cliff had mentioned the polling that Pretrial Justice Institute did almost two years ago, and we’re getting ready to do that polling again in this next year. So we talk to just normal people and ask them questions about pretrial and risk and commercial bail bonding and that kind of thing. And what I think was most surprising from those findings were that, yeah, people want dangerous people to stay in jail and people understand we can’t hold everybody in jail. But when you say to them, “What do you think about using a risk assessment to measure a defendant’s risk and then base their release on that measure?” They say, “Isn’t that what you’re doing? How are we doing it now? Why aren’t we measuring risk?” They’re really surprised.

And, again, I think there’s a tendency to associate money with risk, but we know that that doesn’t correlate. So it’s not a really hard sell, once you do the sort of ground level education to people, say, “This is what we’re doing now. This is what it looks like with risk.” And you get a lot better outcomes and you don’t have our jails full of primarily poor people, low-risk poor defendants who are just there because they can’t afford to get out.

Len Sipes:  Our bottom line is to individually assess every person that comes into the criminal justice system and to individually assess that person on a variety of factors, but certainly one of them being the danger to community. If the person presents a clear and present danger to the community there’s no problem in terms of detaining him until trial, but that does not apply to the vast majority of people that come into the criminal justice system. Very few people fall into that clear and present danger category. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  You’re correct. And, again, when we did a very informal analysis last year to try to address this very question, at the time there were 2,300 persons who were detained at the jail and its various facilities, including its halfway houses. Out of that 2,300 we estimated about 300 were true pretrial defendants who had a single charge pending against them. And for the most part those were individuals charged with murder, assault with intent to kill –

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  Serious, serious violent offenses.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Cliff Keenan:  The rest of the individuals so 2,000 of them were charged with already having been parole violators, they were being held for probation violations, they were multiple offenders, there were things other or they were sentenced, there were other factors holding them. And when you compare that number, so slightly more than 10%, with what PJI statistics show that over 60%, if not more, of jail arrestees around the country are pretrial defendants, that’s astounding, it’s astounding.

Len Sipes:  Yes. It is. All right, so the bottom line is if done right it works the vast majority of the times. It’s never going to be perfect. We understand that. We in the criminal justice system understand that it will never be perfect better than anybody else. But the overwhelming majority of the people who are on pretrial throughout the United States do show up for their court appointments. And that’s the whole idea, right, Spike?

Spike Bradford:  Absolutely, absolutely. I mean I think we instantly sort of get an image of an arrestee that’s the worst of the worst, but honestly you or I could be arrested today and the chances are overwhelmingly that we’re going to make our court appointments. We don’t want any more disruption in our lives than possible. One thing I wanted to say about risk assessments, pretrial risk assessments is that what’s exciting right now is there’s a whole bunch of new science about how to do them and what’s important. And the way that they’ve been done and created previously has been consensus based.

So a bunch of players from a jurisdiction all get around a table, judges, prosecutors, everybody in the system, and they say, “Well, what do you think is important? What are important factors for returning to court or for community safety?” And these people have wealth of experience. That’s fine. But when you sit down and you actually take data from previous cases and you run that and say, “Well, who came back? Who didn’t? Who got rearrested?” Those set of factors from the consensus model towards the evidence-based model are quite different. For example, how long have you been in the community? You would think, well, a stable community person, that makes you more likely to comply.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Spike Bradford:  Scientifically, that’s very low on the list. How many kids do you have? Nope, doesn’t really show up statistically –

Len Sipes:  What does show up?

Spike Bradford:  On the list of factors. Sort of there’s a short list of static factors that are the most relevant, and they are. What’s your current charge? Have you been arrested for a violent felony? Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor? How many failure to appear warrants have you had? And how many convictions have you had? And there’s a few more that I can’t recall right off my head. But what’s interesting is that they’re all static factors that most jurisdictions keep data. And you can really just punch it in a computer and get a score. Now that score should be used to inform a decision by a person about what happens to that individual.

Len Sipes:  What percentage of defendants, what percentage of jurisdictions are individually assessing defendants as they walk in through the door, do you have a guess?

Spike Bradford:  If I had to guess, I mean it is a very small percentage, I would say 10%. There’re over 3,000 counties in the United States, and we did a survey a few years ago that showed there were 300 pretrial services programs. Now that’s different from using risk, they had a legitimate program. And it’s not just the small percentage that are using risk, there’s even smaller percentage that have a validated risk assessment tool which has gone through a process to really show that it’s reliable and replicateable.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you want to come into the conversation?

Cliff Keenan:  Well, one important thing that I think we need to keep in mind when we’re talking about a validated risk assessment or any risk assessment instrument is the fact that this is a predictive tool, it is not something that will guarantee a person will not fail while on pretrial release. It’s a predictive tool, and many judges, many prosecutors, even though they understand the science associated with having an evidence-based statistically validated risk assessment, still ask the question, “Well, can you assure me, can you promise me this person is not going to screw up if released?” And then answer is no.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s impossible.

Cliff Keenan:  Exactly.

Len Sipes:  It is utterly and completely impossible to make a promise like that.

Cliff Keenan:  But there are expectations, and for some jurisdictions, who have relied upon the way of doing business, they’ve always done it, they’re willing to basically go with the way they’ve always done it, because nobody can make a promise or an assurance that would necessarily satisfy them.

Len Sipes:  Well, when I take a look at your report, which is up on your website, when I take a look at people who remain arrest free doing pretrial release, and it’s violent crimes in 98%, that’s pretty close too. I guarantee that 98% of the violent remain arrest free doing the period of pretrial release. And that the overwhelming majority close to 87, close to 90%, 87% make all scheduled court appearances. So once again, gentlemen, I ask the eternal question. If we’re doing this in the District of Columbia and we’re doing it well, again, we’re not promising 100% accuracy 100% of the time, that’s impossible to deliver, but if we’re doing it this well and we’re not relying upon monetary bail, why isn’t everybody else throughout the country embracing what it is that we’re doing? There’s got to be a reason.

Spike Bradford:  I think what we’ve got already.

Len Sipes:  Tradition.

Spike Bradford:  Tradition, sort of cultural norms. And I think it’s institutionalized. And pretrial reform I think is moving faster than a lot of sort of other institutional reforms, healthcare, education, things like that, where we know there are a group of people with science behind them that have a good direction. It’s just a matter of education, getting out there. Exciting thing that’s happening is Bureau of Justice Assistance and PJI is the initiative coordinator for this project called Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative and applications are being accepted now for this pilot program. So they’ll be going to three jurisdictions in the country to sort of set up a model system to get a risk assessment tool going and to use supervision and monitoring as well as some other conditions that are in that program. So we’re pushing out the good model and it’s just going to reach critical mass soon I hope, especially with the increased awareness of over-incarceration and all the money that gets wasted. And we spend over nine billion dollars every year detaining pretrial defendants when a vast majority of those could be supervised in the community.

Len Sipes:  We’ve got a minute and a half left. I hear this all the time from everybody within the criminal justice system. It costs millions; tens of millions of dollars to run jails, only put the people who pose a clear and present danger to the community in the jails, everybody else put out under pretrial supervision. That will save cities, counties, states literally billions of dollars over time. Am I right or wrong?

Cliff Keenan:  You are absolutely correct. And the unfortunate thing is it is taking 50 years since the first bail reform conference, but I do applaud Attorney General Eric Holder who three years ago now convened the second bail reform conference, and a lot of the pretrial reform that you’re seeing taking place recently is certainly due to him and the work of the Pretrial Justice Institute in making sure that this stays on everybody’s radar.

Len Sipes:  Cliff, you’ve got 30 seconds, you got the final word. What’s your sense of all this, conclusions? I’m sorry, Spike.

Spike Bradford:  Okay. Oh, wow! So, yeah, I mean I would agree with Cliff that the tide is moving in the right direction, it’s been 50 years. We have a group called the Pretrial Justice Working Group along with BJA. It’s over 150 organizations that are all working towards this same goal of moving from money to risk safe effective pretrial systems.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, I can’t tell you how important this topic is, pretrial in America. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had Cliff Keenan the Director for Pretrial Services for the District of Columbia, www.psa.gov, and Spike Bradford, ‎Director of Communications for the Pretrial Justice Institute, www.pretrial.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have themselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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A National Consensus on Community Corrections-National Institute of Corrections

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/2013/12/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]

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Pretrial Supervision and Treatment-DC Public Safety Radio

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/12/pretrial-supervision-and-treatment-dc-public-safety-radio/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[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 topic is pretrial and treatment in pretrial and one of the main points that I want to make from the very beginning is the fact that where we have two million people in the present system throughout this country, we have  many millions more who are involved in the pretrial process.  They are arrested, they go through the pretrial process and this whole concept of treatment within pretrial, actually from a sheer numerical point of view, takes on much greater importance than those—than the discussion of treatment within the correctional setting.  There are literally millions of people going through the arrest process, going through the pretrial process, all throughout the United States and my guess is that the vast majority of them do not receive treatment of any kind by their pretrial agency.  To talk about this issue, we have two principals.  One is Terrence Walton, he is the Director of Treatment; and two, is Michael McGinnis, he is the Deputy Director of Treatment.  Both represent the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia and they’re my sister agency for the court services and a federal supervision agency.  Pretrial Services is a federal agency like we are at CSOSA.  And to Terrence and to Michael, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Michael McGinnis:  Well, thank you, Len, good to be here.

Terrence Walton:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, gentlemen, first of all, Michael, let’s go and set some basics up.  The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia does what?

Terrence Walton:  Why don’t I take that one if I could?

Michael McGinnis:  Yeah, go ahead.

Terrence Walton:  I’ll take it, all right.  Listen, the agency does a lot and it’s hard to capture it but essentially we’re responsible for two big tasks. The biggest task is and the first task is to assist the court in making release decisions. So when a defendant is arrested and is being considered for release, Pretrial Services conducts an interview, reviews criminal history, talks with the defendant directly, talks sometimes with collaterals to get a sense of who we have, and then recommends to the court either release or detention.  And if they’re going to be released, the many of them we recommend they be released with certain conditions that they must comply with.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  That’s our first big task, helping the court make good release decisions.

Len Sipes:  And a good release decision is based principally upon two things:  A) risk to public safety and B) whether or not the defendant will return for trial, do I have that right?

Terrence Walton:  That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right.  There’s lots of ways to say it, but those are the two big things. We don’t want them to jump bail, we don’t want them to disappear and we also don’t want a subsequent arrest if we can help prevent that.

Len Sipes:  And you’re talking about conditions of supervision.  There are many conditions of supervision.  You could put the person under GPS surveillance; have the person constantly being tracked.  There’s a lot of reporting requirements for that person and the treatment component, the very reason why we’re doing the program today, could be a component of pretrial release, it could be a condition of pretrial release.

Terrence Walton:  That is exactly right and in fact, because a significant number of defendants who are arrested in DC are testing positive for drugs or report drug use—in fact it’s about 33% of the adult population test positive for some drug other than marijuana.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  We don’t test for marijuana at lockup, so if we did, it would be twice that number.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  But we’ve talked about cocaine, heroin, PCP, amphetamines.

Len Sipes:  The drugs with the largest correlation to serious crime.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right, 33% of our population will test positive for that coming in the door and that’s 60% of the juveniles will test positive for some drug, and in that case it’s almost always marijuana.  So the size of those populations and for many of those adults, we’re recommending release conditions that include requirements that they drug test and that’s done by our agency and processed in our own lab, as well as other release conditions.  And that’s really the second big task.  The first big task is recommending release conditions.  And the second big task is supervising those conditions and keeping the court aware of how the defendant’s doing.  But I think Michael will agree with this, that it’s not simply just us overseeing and reporting what happens.  Pretrial Services is involved in trying to help motivate defendants, help them do the right thing, figure out their obstacles that will keep them from being able to comply and help them solve those problems.  So we see—we respond to the court, we have a law enforcement responsibility but we’re very much centered on the needs of the defendant and how best we can meet those needs in a way that helps them to do the right thing.

Len Sipes:  Well, Michael, the question goes over to you now.  For many people involved in the criminal justice system, they have mental health issues.

Michael McGinnis:  Um-hm.

Len Sipes:  How do we expect that individual to do well under pretrial or do well under any sort of supervision, whether they come over to us after they’re found guilty—how are they going to do well unless they get the treatment they need to stabilize themselves and to deal with their mental health issues, correct?  I mean, it does come down to that level of basics.

Michael McGinnis:  It definitely does and one of the things that we have here at the Pretrial Services, our Specialized Supervision Unit, and this is a unit that after a defendant is assessed and would be found perhaps with a current issue and they would meet the requirements of this unit, this is a unit that would—specializes in working with that population.

Len Sipes:  Um-hm.

Michael McGinnis:   So they could either be—they would get them immediately connected into a mental health program and a substance abuse program if needed.  If they were going to move them on to a mental health community court, you know, for diversion, that would be part of their job.  But all the PSOs that work in there have a background in working with this population.

Len Sipes:  And PSOs are?

Michael McGinnis:  Pretrial Service Officers.

Len Sipes:  Okay, fine, thanks.

Michael McGinnis:  Right, have a background on this unit and a great interest in working with this current population.  Which has, since I’ve been in this field and it’s been over 20 years working in this field, is this population is probably our most increasing population.

Len Sipes:  Um-hm, yeah, no doubt about it.

Michael McGinnis:  We had, when I started with pretrial, we had one unit, an SSU unit, that’s a Special Supervision Unit, and now, because of need, we have two.  So we have almost 18 Pretrial Services offices serving over 661 people in the program.

Len Sipes:  That’s amazing.  Terrence, give me a sense as to all the other treatment programs that you guys put on the table for people.

Terrence Walton:  Yeah, Michael mentioned the mental health component.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  We also have a unit that does nothing but assesses. We have a social services assessment center that assesses men and women who are released and even those who are being considered for release, we conduct both addiction assessments as well as mental health assessments from that shop.  Once we identify individuals who need treatment, there are really three big options for them, drug treatment.  One is the drug court program, which is the Superior Court Drug Intervention Program, a pretrial program that has been around since 1993.

Len Sipes:  A successful program that’s been noted nationally.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely and one of the first ever to show up on the scene.  That’s the program of choice.  It has a complete regimen of incentives and sanctions, a single calendar, lots of contact with the judge

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  Lots of opportunities for people to get the help that they need.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  For those—for folks that don’t qualify for drug court because of criminal history or some other disqualifier, we have another program called New Directions, which they can get the same treatment as a drug court defendant. The court supervision isn’t as close because these defendants are on various different calendars and they are incentives and sanctions, but while in drug court, there are both judicial sanctions, sanctions that come from the bench, from the judge as well as administrative sanctions, the ones that come from the supervision officer.  In New Directions, all sanctions are administrative, all administered by the supervising officer.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  Those are the two main programs.  There’s one other option.  Sometimes individuals are not eligible for New Directions either because they’re about to go to sentencing perhaps or some other reason.  We have another track for those, where we’ll put them in treatment somewhere, temporarily, under a sanction contract, primarily to prepare for a transition to CSOSA probation, to probation here in the city.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  So those are the three big options and they are all based on treatment needs.

Len Sipes:  So in essence it is a combination of either substance abuse or mental health, and Michael, these are all, I’m assuming, cognitive-based programs where we help the decision-making process of the individuals involved in the criminal justice system.  I mean, a lot of people don’t quite understand cognitive treatment but we really can, and the research is pretty clear on this, we really can intervene in the lives of other human beings and help them rethink their decision-making process.

Michael McGinnis:  Right, that’s the key word.  I mean, helping someone rethink what they’re doing.  You know, a lot of people that come in when they’re in the throes of an addition or they’re in this mode of what I call concrete-type thinking, that they’re repeating something over and over and getting the same result.  You know, especially in our treatment program, which is our PSA STARS program, most all of our interventions are of the cognitive, behavioral kind.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:   But what’s also important, I just wanted to speak to a point that Terrence was talking about.  In two of our programs, in the New Directions programs and in the drug court programs, the Pretrial Service offices that involved in those programs, they’re not only Pretrial Service offices, they’re also licensed clinicians and licensed substance abuse counselors.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:   So they’re providing not only the supervision but they’re also providing the clinical services, and that’s very unique to that program because they have a key perspective in working with the offender.

Len Sipes:  Well, that’s one of the points that I wanted to make.  Gentlemen, let’s cut to the chase. We are not just talking about pretrial in the District of Columbia; we’re talking about pretrial throughout the United States.

Michael McGinnis:  Yes.

Len Sipes:  Well, for that matter, we’re talking about pretrial in the western industrialized world.  Same situations for Canada, same situations for England, same situations for Australia, New Zealand, France.  These are all the same issues that everybody is wrestling with throughout the country.  We, in the District of Columbia, because we’re a federal agency, we have resources that the overwhelming majority of pretrial agencies do not have.  To my knowledge, the overwhelming majority of pretrial agencies don’t have a dime for treatment.  They have to put this person into a waiting list someplace and that person could wait quite some time before they get involved in treatment and for the love of heavens, they could have their trial before every get involved in treatment.  So there is that difference, we have to admit that right up front, correct?

Terrence Walton:  That’s correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, the second thing is that you can tell within the stats.  I mean, we have one of the best return to trial rates in the United States.  Our stats are quite good.  And probably one of the reasons why they’re good is that we do have people involved in treatment programs because the research is abundantly clear it can’t just be a matter of supervision.  As I said to Michael at the very beginning, if you have somebody with a mental health problem, they need treatment.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.

Len Sipes:  So if you combine treatment with supervision, you get better results.

Terrence Walton:  I think that’s right.  And Len, I want to add one other I think difference between what we have here in DC and what exists elsewhere in the country that doesn’t cost any money and that is, we have a Bail Act.  We have a statute that really supports Pretrial Services.  Most folks don’t know this but there are very few bail bondsmen in the District of Columbia.

Len Sipes:  Are there any?

Terrence Walton:  Very few.  There may be one or two but there are very few.  Because Pretrial Services as an industry, as a field I should say, has a belief in pretrial justice, essentially saying that if an individual needs to be detained, if they’re dangerous, they should be detained regardless of ability to pay.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  And if they don’t need to be detained, if they’re not a danger to society, then it’s fundamentally unfair for them to be held merely because they can’t afford to post bond.  So instead, we have a Bail Act, which heavily encourages the court to consider release of those who are safe to release with conditions, that pretrial supervises, that helps to assure public safety and return to court.  And that doesn’t cost money, that takes political will and it takes advocacy and it takes being able to battle the interest groups that wouldn’t like that.

Len Sipes:  Well, it does take come money because I would imagine judges sitting on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia know that there are treatment options, know that there are GPS options for following that person 24 hours a day if necessary, know that our staffing levels are probably lower than most pretrial agencies throughout the country.  My guess would be that the judge within the Superior Court here in the District of Columbia, they would be more apt to release a person on pretrial because they know they’re going into a top-rated organization that generally speaking does an excellent job of returning that person to trial

Michael McGinnis:  And I agree with you 100% and they also know that when a substance abuse problem is identified or a mental health issue is identified and is treated, the failure to appear and the re-arrest rates go down with the population that we’re working with.

Len Sipes:  Right, so they have –

Michael McGinnis:  And that is very big.

Len Sipes:  Yeah, and if a judge in Milwaukee wants to put the person on pretrial, I would imagine he or she is going to say, well, you know, well, they were handling cases of 200 to 1, 200 defendants to 1 Pretrial Services officer, they have on room for treatment, gee, I’d better stick this person in jail.  So I would imagine that you save the system money as well as have a higher rate of success.

Terrence Walton:  Well that’s exactly right.  I mean, some of us are motivated by the fact that it seems fundamentally fairer to do it this way, but others, the reality is, is it saves money. That if we can allow a person to stay in their community and at the meantime address their pro-social needs, we save in jail costs.  That’s another important point.

Len Sipes:  Ladies and gentlemen, our guests today are Terrence Walton, he’s the Director of Treatment; and Michael McGinnis, the Deputy Director of Treatment for the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, a federal agency.  The website is: www.psa.gov.  As I move throughout the country and as I talk to my counterparts throughout the country, they ask about Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia.  It’s one of the best-known pretrial agencies in the country and having one of the best reputations.  Principally I think, because we have a level of funding that so many other agencies simply do not have and the level of training and a level—you’re just a good agency and I think people recognize that within the criminal justice system throughout the country.  Alright, where do we go to from here?  So the average person in the District of Columbia, the average person in Milwaukee—why am I bringing up Milwaukee so many times today?  The average person in Honolulu, the average person in Anchorage, Alaska says to themselves, the police finally got this idiot who’s been bothering the community and three hours later, he’s back on the street.  Where is the justice in that?  So you guys face that issue all the time.  I mean, we have to hit that square, that nail squarely on the head and what people don’t understand is that they are defendants, they are not offenders and within our system, you are not guilty until you’re proven guilty, correct?

Michael McGinnis:  That’s correct.

Terrence Walton:  No, that’s right, and you know, there’s a balance here, that there’s a constitutional presumption of innocence and that means that unlike convicted offenders, the individuals who have not yet actually been convicted of their offense, have certain rights, and that we go to great effort to be sure that we’re using the least restrictive means possible to assure community safety.  Now I want to put a caveat there because we respect the presumption of innocence, but recognize the possibility of guilt.  And so because of that second piece, that’s the reason why we also assess criminal history, we assess the seriousness of the charge so that in the event this person is guilty, how serious is this, and that is factored into our recommendations.

Len Sipes:  And you’re not talking about a short assessment, you’re talking about a rather lengthy, well thought-out assessment in terms of trying to get at that person’s risk to the community and that person’s treatment needs and that person’s past criminal history.  I mean, it’s a pretty complete overview that you do with that individual.  When you make those recommendations to the court, you probably know more about that person than his kid brother.

Terrence Walton:  Well, that may be true and it happens in a couple of stages.  There was the initial stage, pre-release, where we do a comprehensive interview and review the records that we have to make initial decisions.  But also other factors are considered there, that there are sometimes prosecutors who have positions and defense attorneys who have information, that’s all presented to the court as they’re making a release decision.  Once the defendant is released, if he or she is released to our supervision, then if we have any reason to think they need one, we do an additional assessment, a clinical needs assessment that’s designed to look at both treatment needs, at mental health needs as well as social service needs.

Len Sipes:  And many people caught up in the criminal justice system do have needs.  I mean, there was a piece of research out a little while ago and now—I remarked on Milwaukee or kept bringing Milwaukee up a little while ago, now I’m bringing mental health back up—that 55%, according to a Department of Justice document, 55% of people called up in the criminal justice system self-assess or assess themselves.  It was not a political designation but they did a self-assessment as having mental health issues.  So this issue of mental health is something that is really driving much of our service component within the criminal justice system, assuming we have the programs there to service them to begin with.

Michael McGinnis:   I think unfortunately, our prisons have been used as our mental health treatment centers in this country and as you’re saying, most people, when they—  To go back, I just want to go back to what you were talking about—

Len Sipes:  Please, please, Michael.

Michael McGinnis: -our funding here.  It’s not only that we have the funding to provide these services.  Our Director, Susan Shaffer, is also a real believer in the treatment of the offender that comes in and she puts a lot of her energies and times into this.  And it really is a big piece of our agency because before I came to pretrial, I’d been running programs for alternatives to incarcerations, therapeutic communities.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Michael McGinnis:  Taking programs behind the wall.  And people are just cycling in and out of these, of our prisons without having these issues identified.

Len Sipes:  But that’s the fundamental problem because I’ve talked to my peers throughout the country and they’re going to go, Leonard, I hear you on your daggone radio programs and you focus on public safety first, but you say that you have to have these treatment components because the research is clear that supervision doesn’t work unless you have a treatment component, and I got news for you, Leonard, I don’t have a dime for treatment.  You know, but I want that person to get mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, if I want to find some assistance in terms of that person getting work or getting occupational training, I’ve go to put him in a long line, where that person basically waits for months, unless I get a court order to move that person to the head of the line.  There’s a lot of frustration out there, we all believe in treatment, we all believe in that component being necessary, but most of us don’t have the money for it.

Terrence Walton:  Well, there’s no easy answer to that.  What many communities have done is done the best they can to leverage the resources that exist.  There is professional treatment, there are faith-based organizations, there are peer support groups, which isn’t formal treatment, but it can sometimes do the same job.  There are lots of options in most communities, especially around alcohol and drug issues, for people who need help to get some of that.  You know, I also encourage—there continues to be federal monies and state monies and grants available for organizations who have a will to go after it.  It’s just worth doing it.

Michael McGinnis:   I think it’s—but it’s a great point, Terrence, because you and I were just kind of talking about this earlier this morning, is the whole field is moving more towards this recovery-orientated system of care, where we’re kind of looking at some—that treatment, that line for treatment is different for everyone and there are many options, like faith-based options, there are community options, I think a lot of these other pretrial service organizations that might not have the funding, you know, to have their own treatment centers or put people in treatment—they need to look to these community organizations, to start partnering with these community organizations in hopes of linking their offenders up to services.

Len Sipes:  Well, and everybody’s got to come together and make this a priority.  I mean, there is limited treatment monies available, but as you all have said, I mean, there’s the Salvation Army, there’s the faith-based community, there are private individuals, there are people who will do this on a pro bono basis.  You’ve got to have the will to go out there and make those connections and that becomes extraordinarily important.  But I do believe that again, one of the reasons why we do as well as we do is because look at the two of you—I mean, we have the Director and Assistant Director of Treatment for a pretrial agency.  I mean, there are people, organizations out there that would kill to have a Terrence Walton and a Michael McGinnis sitting before their microphones.

Terrence Walton:  Well, Len, you know, it starts with the will though.  I mean, it starts with the desire, recognition that it’s important, that it’s necessary. And I want to take a minute to share something with our listeners that I think is important, that helps to underscore why it’s so important that we address the underlying issues of men and women who come through our systems.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine is a really collection of physicians who practice addiction medicine and who sort of govern the field and give us guidance and space on research and medicine to help us understand addiction and addition recovery.  And they’ve recently come out with a new policy statement that we don’t have time to go over—I hope people will go to asam.org to see more details.  But they’ve given for the first time a policy statement defining addiction.  And let me give you the most interesting piece of that to me, that they have defined addition primarily as a brain disease, a disease that affects a couple of major systems in the brain.  One is the reward system, as well as the command center, the logic and reason system of the brain.  And here’s what important.  They have through PET scans and SPECT images and MRTs, they have been able to look at brain activity and identify deficits in those areas of active addicts. But here’s what’s interesting.  We’ve known that for a long time and we’ve assumed that it’s the drug use that has caused those problems.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  What ASAM and other researchers have discovered is that for many, probably most current addicts, those brain deficiencies existed before they ever picked up a drug.

Len Sipes:  That’s interesting.

Terrence Walton:  It might have been genetic or as a result of traumatic life experiences growing up that changed the –

Len Sipes:  A biological predisposition.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  That biological predisposition, by the way, is clearly there established for alcoholism as well.

Terrence Walton:  Absolutely.

Len Sipes:  So why wouldn’t that biological predisposition be there for substance abuse.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.  So there’s the biological piece as well as the environmental that they have done studies on monkeys and others that—and I wish I had time to tell you about one—but where they demonstrated that by changing the environmental situation, by depriving organisms of nurturing and affiliation, that they change their brains.

Len Sipes:  Give the public a sense of hope here because I’ve said that the research is abundantly clear.  They do better with a combination of supervision.  And we’re not leaving out the supervision component.  Whether that person’s in treatment or not, we still supervise that person to the best of our availability and that could include, again GPS supervision where we track them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  We’re not leaving out the supervision component.  And sometimes supervision is an integral part of treatment.  Sometimes that supervision officer, their first question is, are you taking your medication, are you going to treatment?  Well, we know whether they’re going to treatment regardless.  So sometimes that supervision component is an integral part of the treatment component but the bottom line is, to the public who, you know, say to themselves, you know, look, I’ve got schools underfunded, I’ve got the elderly to take care of, you’re talking about treatment for criminals for the love of heavens—defendants, I understand.  You know, we have to give them a sense of hope that what we do is successful and not only in the life of that individual, but we are protecting them by doing this and we’re doing that correct?

Michael McGinnis:  Well, of course we are.  I mean, I think as we all know here, there’s not enough jail cells across this country to put people in and treating people is a lot less expensive than putting people behind—

Len Sipes:  So it’s going to save them their taxpaying dollars.

Michael McGinnis:  There’s studies out for every dollar that’s invested in treatment.  There’s a savings of $4 on that individual.

Len Sipes:  And years ago, Rand said it was 7 to 1.

Michael McGinnis:  Yeah.

Len Sipes:  We’re also protecting public safety though.

Michael McGinnis:  Right.

Len Sipes:  I mean, that is a message that needs to be put on the table that their life is going to be safer if we provide substance abuse treatment or mental health treatment.

Terrence Walton:  If you don’t treat an addict, if you simply incarcerate an addict, when they come out eventually, and the vast majority of men and women who are incarcerated are eventually released.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  They will still be an addict.

Len Sipes:  Right.

Terrence Walton:  And so all of the problems that causes to our property and our lives and well-being will just continue.  It is a smart investment to see if we can address those issues and the justice system is helpful because it gives—holds people accountable and it gives them a little external motivation to stick with it, to go to the groups, to take the medicine until it kicks in naturally.  It’s an essential component.

Len Sipes:  But get back to the public safety point again because I do want to keep hammering this point home.  If the person doesn’t do well, the person doesn’t go to treatment, doesn’t take their medication, is not enthusi—well, not enthusiastically involved—is not meaningfully involved in the treatment process, we go back to the court and they could choose to incarcerate that person until trial.

Terrence Walton:  Well, that’s right, there’s some whose releases are revoked based on a decision that they are a danger to society if they aren’t treated successfully.  And there’s also in the drug court, there’s a number of other possible sanctions short of incarceration that’s designed to punish the behavior quickly and briefly and encourage them to get back on track.

Len Sipes:  And motivate them all at the same time.

Terrence Walton:  That’s right.

Len Sipes:  To get back on the track.  Okay, final minute of the program.  We save the public, the research states that we save the public a ton of money through the treatment and supervision process, number two that we enhance public safety, their odds of being victimized by this individual are greatly decreased, so we do that.  What am I missing, what is the final word on what the public needs to hear?

Terrence Walton:  Oh, I guess the final word would be that this matters to each and every one of us, that most of us have been affected by addiction and crime, one way or the other and this is a good, wise investment for anyone who cares about this.  And I encourage communities out there to do the best they can to make it happen.

Len Sipes:  Terrence, you’ve got the final word.  Ladies and gentlemen, our guests today, Terrence Walton, Director of Treatment and Michael McGinnis, the Deputy Director of Treatment of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia.  It’s a federal agency, www.psa.gov.  The program that Terrence mentioned in terms of drug standards, substance abuse standards, asam.org.  Ladies and gentlemen again, this is DC Public Safety.  We appreciate your calls, we appreciate your letters, we appreciate your emails and we appreciate your guidance and please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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