Illinois Adult Redeploy Initiative-National Criminal Justice Association

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2014/03/illinois-adult-redeploy-initiative-national-criminal-justice-association/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes:  From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to be talking about the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program. At our microphones we’ve got people from throughout the United States. Mary Ann Dyar, she is a Program Administrator of the Adult Redeploy Program in Illinois. Jack Cutrone, he is the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And we have Cabell Cropper, he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. This program is really interesting, ladies and gentlemen. Landmark legislation, it seeks to promote local alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent offenders. In order to meet this goal, the legislation empowered the Criminal Justice Information Authority to create the Adult Redeploy Program, which provides monetary incentives to help communities pay for evidence-based, rehabilitative and supervision services. In exchange for monetary incentives and technical assistance, localities agree to reduce the number of offenders remanded to the division of correction there in the state of Illinois by 25%. While the initiative is only a little more than two years old, it’s already diverted 1,200 offenders and it saved an estimated 20 million dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, again, Mary Ann Dyar, Jack Cutrone, and Cabell Cropper the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Welcome to DC Public Safety.

Mary Ann Dyar:  Thank you for having me.

Jack Cutrone:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  All right, Jack, give me a sense of the program. You’re the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. You guys, by the way, have been doing this for decades. I can’t, I’m not aware of a state in the Unites States that has been more data driven than the state of Illinois through the criminal justice authority in the state of Illinois. You guys have been around for decades.

Jack Cutrone:  Yes. We have. And we actually have been doing the best job that we can to try and educate policy makers and legislators about the benefit of using evidence-based practices programs in the criminal justice area in order to produce the best results. And the Adult Redeploy Program was enacted through some landmark legislation in Illinois, which was the Crime Reduction Act of 2009, an act that our agency certainly welcomed. It created a much stronger database decision making policy for the state. And one aspect of that was the creation of the Adult Redeploy Illinois Program.

Len Sipes:  And so it’s been in existence for how long, a little over two years?

Jack Cutrone:  Actually a little – the act was passed in 2009. I think the first site went up in early 2011. Is that correct, Mary Ann?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Yes.

Jack Cutrone:  So it’s actually been in operation for about three years, but those were the earliest pilot sites. And Mary Ann has done a wonderful job of promoting the program to local jurisdictions throughout the state and has expanded it immeasurably.

Len Sipes:  And, Mary Ann, why don’t you talk to me about the process of redeploying or throughout the state of Illinois?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Well, the goals of Adult Redeploy Illinois are to reduce crime and recidivism at a lower cost to taxpayers and provide financial incentives to counties or judicial circuits to create effective local level evidence-based services and to encourage the successful local supervision of eligible offenders in the reintegration into the locality. Those goals are stated in the Crime Reduction Act. How we do that is providing grants to local jurisdictions. That might be counties; it might be groups of counties that come together, review the data as to the number of eligible offenders that they’re sending to the Department of Corrections, and when I say eligible, that’s nonviolent offenders, per the statute, that are going into the Department of Corrections on charges that would’ve been eligible for probation. And they look at the data, they look at the gaps in their services and their supervision capabilities.  When I say supervision, again, that would be probation, their probation departments, primarily, and they determine, if funds were available, who would be their target population to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders going to prison, and what would be the target intervention focused around an evidence-based practice. They submit to us a mini-strategic plan that basically gives the context, describes the data, describes their target population, and then what it is they want to do. And an oversight board, that was basically enacted by the Crime Reduction Act as well, reviews those grant requests and makes them in exchange for the commitment to reduce by 25% the number of people they send to prison from that target population they’ve identified.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, you –

Jack Cutrone:  And let me –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, please.

Jack Cutrone:  I’m going to lose track .

Len Sipes:  Go ahead.

Jack Cutrone:  I was going to pick up on something that Mary Ann was speaking about.

Len Sipes:  Please.

Jack Cutrone:  In terms of the local jurisdictions developing a goal identifying their target population, because the statute provides actually for a penalty if the local jurisdiction doesn’t meet its reduction goal, we through – and I’ll call the Criminal Justice Information Authority CJIA, because that’s a much shorter term that we usually employ – CJIA houses criminal history record information, and once they identify their target population, we run through our database and calculate how many individuals from that population they have sent to the Department of Corrections over the past, over the prior three year period. And that’s how we establish the goal number in order to beat that 25% reduction. So in a way it sort of keeps them honest, but, frankly, none of the jurisdictions have ever had a problem with meeting the goal. For the most part, they exceed it greatly.

Len Sipes:  Well, I do want to talk more about that in terms of how they met that goal and what percentage were and what were the issues, controversies, discussions that the different counties throughout the state of Illinois had. But I do also want to get in the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association, Cabell Cropper. Cabell, the whole idea here is that the project Redeploy has done something wonderful that the National Criminal Justice Association wants to bring to the attention of everybody else throughout the country. And I do want to point out to the listeners that the National Criminal Justice Association has been at the forefront of making sure that everybody out there understands what programs work, the fact that they’re throughout the country, they recognize good programs, programs that really do need attention. So the role of the National Criminal Justice Association has been rather profound in terms of bringing these experiences to the rest of us in the criminal justice system, agreed?

Cabell Cropper:  That’s correct. That’s right on target. And what we’ve been doing nationally as the representative of the state administrating agencies, those agencies in each state that’s designated by the governor to manage criminal justice systems coming from both federal and state governments, we provide support in terms of working with these agencies to put in place comprehensive multi-disciplinary stakeholder driven strategic planning processes. And specifically with the Adult Redeploy Program we have provided some support to Mary Ann and her staff in overall kind of the high-level of strategic planning. And also we then use our experience to bring that program to other state agencies, pointing out the effectiveness and how it is a good example of a data driven strategy that ends up saving money as well as providing better outcomes for both the offenders and the community. So, yeah, so we are, we look to state agencies like the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to lead the way on these kinds of initiatives. And this particular one is of national significance that we like to bring to the attention of other states.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, before we go back to our friends in Illinois. Am I right in saying that the true innovation within the criminal justice system doesn’t necessarily come from those of us in Washington DC, it seems to percolate up at the county and state and local levels, and that’s one of the real strengths of the National Criminal Justice Association, because you represent all of the criminal justice authorities within the 50 states and territories?

Cabell Cropper:  Absolutely. That’s exactly right. All the programs that we consider now best practices, the promising practices have come from a state or local level. Starting with drug courts back in the 90s all the way through now to the whole probation program in Hawaii –

Len Sipes:  Yes.

Cabell Cropper:  And now programs like Adult Redeploy. So, yes, definitely, it does not come from DC.

Len Sipes:  So, Jack and Mary Ann, basically we’re sitting here because Illinois has been (a) doing evidence-based research for how long, Jack? I mean I think my entire criminal justice existence, which spans 40 years, I can’t remember the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority not being there.

Jack Cutrone:  It’s actually been in existence a bit over 30 years. There was actually a predecessor agency that had a slightly different name, but, yeah, we’ve been around for altogether probably about 40 years.

Len Sipes:  And have the people in the state of Illinois, the criminal justice authorities throughout the state, the people in the legislature, the governor’s office, has it been your experience that they really pay a lot of attention to the evidence-based research that you’ve been producing for decades?

Jack Cutrone:  It certainly has been a growing movement, not only in Illinois, but nationally, towards applying the principles of evidence-based or empirically driven programming throughout the criminal justice system. It was something that was actually I think adopted from the medical field, initially, where they realized that some of the treatments they were giving there was no data to support their effectiveness. And that idea certainly has taken hold in the criminal justice field and among policymakers and legislators in Illinois.

Len Sipes:  Well, I just wanted to be sure that the evidence, rather, the audience really understands that Illinois was one of the leaders in this country in terms of moving into evidence-based practices. Mary Ann, talk to me about the experience of getting Adult Redeploy into the counties and jurisdictions throughout the state of Illinois. I would imagine at the beginning it was not the easiest of sells, was it or was it not?

Mary Ann Dyar:  There’s a lot of, well, first of all I should mention that the Adult Redeploy Illinois Program is based on a successful Juvenile Redeploy Illinois Program that’s been operating since 2005, and during that time has built up an impressive reputation for bringing down the number of juvenile offenders in the juvenile prison system. In fact, they have beat; generally, the Juvenile Redeploy Illinois sites have beat their 25% reduction goals and have been over 50%. In one site they went from sending 83 kids to juvenile prison a year to 11 –

Len Sipes:  Wow!

Mary Ann Dyar:  Through the interventions, the evidence-based interventions that were funded by Redeploy Illinois. So we were able to leverage that reputation and that understanding from the juvenile side and go into the communities and talk with them about how this might be replicated in the adult criminal justice system. And you’re correct; it wasn’t always an easy sell. Not only are we talking about the difference between the way juvenile offenders may be regarded by the community and their ability to be rehabilitated versus hardened adult criminals, but we’re also talking about the concerns on public safety that are very high-profile to elected officials, whether it be prosecutors, even in our state judges are retained through popular vote. So we did have to talk with them in terms of the evidence base that really does support that. They could be doing more harm than good by sending nonviolent offenders to prison. And this is an opportunity for them to invest in their local communities and get better results.

Len Sipes:  It sounds a bit like the Justice Reinvestment model. I just did a radio program with the Urban Institute, Nancy La Vigne. And we just did this program last week. And the whole idea was to do it smarter, do it better, do it evidence-based, take a look at who you’re incarcerating and why, who you’re putting into the criminal justice system. And that actually has a way of lowering recidivism, making it safer for the public, and at the same time, saving a tremendous amount of money and some of that money is reinvested back into the local communities to provide services. It sounds like what you’re describing with the Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Initiative is Justice Reinvestment.

Jack Cutrone:  Indeed. That is correct. It’s Illinois’ version of Justice Reinvestment.

Len Sipes:  And then that works for you. What I just said, that scenario of smarter, better, evidence-based, data driven, lowering recidivism, protecting the public, and saving tax paid dollars, that all applies here.

Jack Cutrone:  Absolutely.

Mary Ann Dyar:  Right. Yeah. And another thing that was mentioned in your program, which I thought was excellent, on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, is the cultural shift that we’re trying to promote is not only are we trying to demonstrate that you can get better results for less cost with this particular population if you utilize the best research out there and the technology that’s out there in terms of information sharing, but you can also have a different way of looking at the individual who is coming into this system on a nonviolent charge. Particularly if it’s driven by underlying needs in substance abuse, mental illness, even economic conditions can drive people to make decisions that are considered antisocial. If a community can look at that individual and what’s underlying their criminal behavior and then invest in proven practices to address those issues, then you’re talking about a cultural shift from send them away and throw away the key.

Len Sipes:  Well, what I want to do when – I’m halfway; we’re more than halfway through program. Let me reintroduce you and then, Jack, we’ll come back to your comments. Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re doing a program on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program. Pretty doggone successful initiative as far as I can tell. Mary Ann Dyar, she is the Program Administrator, Adult Redeploy in Illinois. Jack Cutrone is the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And Cabell Cropper, he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Again, we’re indebted to the National Criminal Justice Association for this program, and bringing, again, a decade’s worth of exemplary experience from the States to the attention of everybody else, so we can mimic and we can copy. Jack, you were trying to get in a comment.

Jack Cutrone:  Well, I just wanted to amplify on what Mary Ann was speaking about and in response to the topic you brought up about a culture shift. Her job has been made much more difficult in Illinois by the fact that we have a non-unified court system. So each local jurisdiction is run by a chief judge who’s largely autonomous, staffed by a state’s attorney who’s an elected official, therefore, autonomous, answerable to voters. And our experience and our research shows that there is a widely varying point of view about appropriate sentences to be given on individual cases across the state. The same offense in one county might produce a much different sentence in another county, sometimes much harsher. And Mary Ann has done a great job in terms of promoting the idea of producing a better result through the use of proven  practices, rather than just keep going doing the same thing we’ve always done and getting the same results, and she’s a marvelous salesperson with that.

Len Sipes:  Cabell, but the experience that Jack just talked about is something that we’re going through throughout the United States, is it not? This whole idea of having this discussion at the state level, having it at the county level, having it at the local level, everybody coming together and having this grand conversation, which seems to be taking place in thousands of locations. Having a conversation as to how can we do it smarter, better, cleaner, crisper, how can we reduce the burden on state government, and at the same time, how can we create a criminal justice system that reduces recidivism, reduces reoffending, and save money at the same time? That’s a conversation that’s happening everywhere, right?

Cabell Cropper:  That’s correct. By the weakened economic situation in the country we’ve been through the past several years that were pulling out of, but that really provided the impetus to begin to look very critically at how we were spending money in the criminal justice system. And it’s really grown into this movement in terms of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and some of these other programs like Adult Redeploy that look at how are we spending the money in criminal justice and how can we do a better job of that and be smarter about it

Jack Cutrone:  Oh, sorry, Cabell.

Cabell Cropper:  No. I was just going to, yes, that’s happening in almost every state and now more and more the local communities.

Len Sipes:  Mary Ann, that’s –

Jack Cutrone:  Because I wanted to comment –

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, Jack.

Jack Cutrone:  I wanted to comment on that too, because the Adult Redeploy Program is really exemplary in terms of using federal funding to stimulate pilot projects in the state. When the Crime Reduction Act was passed 2009 creating Adult Redeploy, given Illinois’ current budget issues, the legislature was unable to provide funding. Governor Quinn of Illinois was very interested in promoting the program and we worked with the governor’s office to use four million dollars in American Reinvestment Recovery Act dollars to form a pilot or provide pilot funding for the programs. Once we had it up and running, we were able through our capture of data to take it the Illinois legislature and said, “Look, this is our program. We are saving the state money.”  We were able to persuade the General Assembly even in extremely tight economic circumstances to start funding it with state money; initially a two million dollar appropriation to cover the time period in which the federal funding was running out, and then last year a seven million dollar appropriation, and the governor has requested another seven million dollars this year. So it’s kind of using federal money to create a laboratory in the States to identify and put into effect good practices and programs.

Len Sipes:  Well, I find it amazing, because we have this conversations at the national level, we have them at the state level, but then again, we have Mary Ann who’s done it all at the local level. And, Mary Ann, you were talking about the difficulty, the sea-change, the cultural change, trying to bring everybody onboard and the fact that it was not easy. What do you think the principle at the county level; the principle ingredient was in terms of bringing them on? Because you’ve got 1,200 offenders diverted, you’ve saved the state 20 million dollars, the locals get funding as result of that, but what was the magic ingredient, the secret sauce that actually made that happen at the local level? Was it your pervasive, you being so persuasive, or was it some policy initiative?

Mary Ann Dyar:  Well, I think there’re a number of things that I can point to other than my persuasive or persuasion practices. But essentially, one thing is that we were working from, as you’ve alluded to earlier, a situation where Illinois has been discussing evidence-based practices and has been training actually many players in the system throughout the probation system on evidence-based practices for over ten years. What we often found though, is these individual players in the system got excited about what was possible and excited about the research, excited about the new tools that they were provided, but there was no funding to support it. And in fact, funding continued to be cut back from county probation budgets over the last several years, actually quite dramatically, making it impossible to implement these practices.  When they found out that there was some funding available that would actually incentivize them to implement what they learned, I think we found a lot of players that were just really excited about the opportunity, and they really carried the ball forward on that. I can’t say though that we haven’t been really benefited from or have been benefiting from the national dialogue, and what the National Criminal Justice Association has done in order to promote these conversations about evidence-based practices and the opportunities for getting better results at a lower cost.

Len Sipes:  And that’s one of the beauties about Cabell’s organization, the fact that they act as a central clearing house for state criminal justice agencies to have this discussion. So, again, thanks to the National Criminal Justice Association. Jack, are you coming in?

Jack Cutrone:  Yes. I just wanted to amplify on some of what Mary Ann was saying in terms of how we make it attractive to the local jurisdiction. We are talking about a population of in the criminal justice system that traditionally had gone to the Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections in Illinois, unfortunately, has a three year return rate, recidivism rate, of almost 50%. These practices that we are talking about we know it’s going to produce a much lower recidivism rate. So when we’re talking to local jurisdictions, what we’re talking about is the basic product of the criminal justice system, which is public safety. And we can demonstrate to the local jurisdictions that these practices mean less crime. Data driven, empirical, empirically driven evidence-based practices, become somewhat esoteric, but if you talk in terms of, “You’re going to have less crime in your county as a result of this program.”

Len Sipes:  It’s less –

Jack Cutrone:  That becomes meaningful.

Len Sipes:  But we really haven’t dived into that point. It’s less crime because of the programs that you all put in place, whether it be drug treatment, whether it be mental health, whether it be vocational, whatever it is, they’re getting, the people diverted are getting the programs they need to stay out of the criminal justice system. There’re lower level offenders that get the programs that they need. Is that the bottom line?

Jack Cutrone:  It’s part of a bottom line. Mary Ann mentioned it earlier. When you take people who are nonviolent, who are low-risk, and you impose a very strong sanction, such as imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections, you are actually increasing the chance that they’re going to commit another crime.

Len Sipes:  Because of the research that –

Jack Cutrone:  So –

Len Sipes:  Says that you’ve got to pick the most dangerous that people that who really needed the high-risk offenders, and that’s where you put your services or your incarcerative resources, and to the lower level people you try to divert. But you divert them in the programs, right?

Jack Cutrone:  Absolutely, absolutely. And I don’t mean to pick on the Illinois Department of Corrections. They, as are all state agencies, being victimized by falling state revenues and lowered budgets. I’m sure the Department of Corrections, if it had adequate funding to put in enough programs in place, would have a much lower recidivist rate, but the fact is in this financial climate that just can’t be done. And Adult Redeploy offers an alternative.

Mary Ann Dyar:  And I should mention that our oversight board, which is defined and established by the Crime Reduction Act, is co-chaired by the Director of the Department of Corrections and our Secretary of the Department of Human Services. And I think that that sends a very strong signal about how the solution to getting better results to drive down crime and recidivism is a collaboration, requires a collaboration between supervision strategies, effective supervision strategies, and human services that address underlying causes of crime.

Len Sipes:  Well, Mary Ann, you’ve got the final word. I think the program, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Adult Redeploy Program, again, it’s amazing’ 1,200 offenders diverted, saving the state over 20 million dollars, and at the same time, protecting public safety. That is a heck of a combination. Our guests today, ladies and gentlemen, have been Mary Ann Dyar; she is the Program Administrator, Adult Redeploy in Illinois. Jack Cutrone, he is the Executive Director of the famous Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. And we have Cabell Cropper; he is the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association. Again, thanks to them for putting together this program. The website for the Criminal Justice Information Authority and the project Redeploy is www.icjia.org/redeploy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments, we even appreciate your criticisms, and we want everybody to have yourselves a very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Employing Ex-Offenders

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/2014/02/employing-ex-offenders/

[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 is Employing Ex-Offenders. We have two people under our supervision here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and a Job Development Specialist to talk about this whole process of employing people caught up in the criminal justice system. We have Kenyan Blakely; he is with the Department of Human Resources, the DC Department of Human Resources as a Support Services Assistant. We have Kenneth Trice; he is with the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church. He is with Facilities. They’re doing facilities and maintenance. And we have Tony Lewis, star of the Washington Post and lots of other media. He is a Job Development Specialist here at the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency, www.csosa.gov, www.csosa.gov. On the front page of our website we have radio shows, televisions shows, trying to entice employers into a discussion called crowd sourcing in the social media world, to try to gain some sense of perspective as to what it takes for us to employ or to prompt the employment of people under our supervision. On any given day we have 14,000 people under our supervision, any given year, 23,000, but half are unemployed. Tony Lewis, your job is a Job Development Specialist for CSOSA, welcome.

Tony Lewis: Welcome. I mean, thank you for having me Mr. Sipes.

Len Sipes: I really appreciate all of you guys being here to have this discussion, extraordinary important discussion. Tell me how easy is it to convince employers to hire people under our supervision.

Tony Lewis: It’s not that easy. It’s pretty difficult actually. You know, the analogy that I always use is it’s like as if I have a store, right, and all the merchandise in my store is perceived to be broken and I’m trying to convince the customer to buy it because I have faith in it, I know that it works, but to them they feel like it’s broken. So typically that’s what I do every day all day is trying to convince people that something they perceive to be broken is not necessarily broke and it actually can get the job done. And I think we have a lot of talent in terms of our client base. We have a lot of motivated people, talented people that are ready to go into the workforce.

Len Sipes: Now, I have been doing this, doing radio and television about the criminal justice system for about 20 years. I have spoken to hundreds of people under supervision, who used to be under supervision who are currently employed and their lives are going along just peachy.

Tony Lewis: Sure.

Len Sipes: We know that the research indicates that when they’re employed, the better they do under supervision, the less they recidivate, the less they come back into the criminal justice system. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. You and I have both talked to hundreds and hundreds of people who have successfully made that transformation from the prison system to being good citizens through employment. So what’s wrong with our message? What are we not doing that we should be doing to prompt the people, employers, to hire people under our supervision?

Tony Lewis: To me I think we are taking all the proper steps. I think what happens is that there’s a stigma associated with people that have been incarcerated, previously incarcerated. And so when one person or two people, you know, so to speak, that happens to get an opportunity and blow their opportunity or reoffend, I think it can never—it has a much more significant impact than a hundred people that do it the right people. And I think that’s the issue more so than us not taking the proper—cause we’re preparing our offenders that we supervise, we’re taking them through steps for them to prove their commitment, we’re presenting talented and people with the proper skill sets to do the job and I think hiring policies across the board is probably the biggest barrier. Because hiring policies take like such a broad stroke in terms of have you ever been convicted of a felony or, you know, it’s no case-by-case basis. People are not looked at as individuals. They’re grouped into these pools and they’re put into groups where these stereotypes are really prompted by one or two individuals that made bad decisions. And so I think we’ve got to chip away at the hiring policies and maybe look to redefine those.

Len Sipes: Www.csosa.gov is the website. On the website you’re going to find radio and television shows, again, designed to prompt that conversation with the employment community. We’re inviting people to come and talk to us and give us information in terms of what it is that we can do in terms of making it easier for people to hire people under our supervision. I want to go to our two gentlemen who are currently under supervision. And we have Kenyan Blakely as I said and Kenneth Trice. Gentleman, either one of you can go and run with this question. So, everybody, not everybody, there’s a lot of people out there who have the stereotype that people who are caught up in the criminal justice system, I’m just not going to deal with them. I’m not going to hire them. I don’t care about them. I’m not going to support programs for them. It’s a little harder when you’re sitting here face-to-face as I’ve talked to literally thousands of people who are doing well, who were once caught up in the criminal justice system, but now they’re doing well. People use the word criminal, well that applies to both of you. They say I’m not going to hire criminals. So I’m going to start off with Kenneth. Are you a criminal, is that how you see yourself?

Kenneth Trice: No Leonard, I’m not a criminal.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Kenneth Trice: I just made bad judgments.

Len Sipes: Right.

Kenneth Trice: And now I’m okay.

Len Sipes: And you’re okay because of why, because of how, what happened? I mean, you’re with one of the greatest faith institutions in Washington, DC, the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church. I mean, it’s known, not just throughout the District of Columbia, it’s known throughout the country. Is that how you were able to cross that bridge, by working with them?

Kenneth Trice: No. It came from my CSO.

Len Sipes: Your Community Supervision Officer?

Kenneth Trice: Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay. Otherwise known as Parole and Probation Agents for everybody listening throughout—beyond DC.

Kenneth Trice: Yes. It started with him. He put me on GPS leg, angel bracelet.

Len Sipes: Right, Global Positioning System monitoring.

Kenneth Trice: And then he referred me to the VOTE Unit and from there I went into Project Empowerment and from there I got placed at Greater Mount Calvary. From there I was just in the program and then once my time was up they picked me up, I started as a part-time worker. That phase lasted for maybe four or five months and then they hired me full-time, benefits and everything and now I’m just focused. It’s all about determination and perseverance. You’ve just got to be—you’ve got to know what you want, bottom line. If you feel that you—you’re going to do wrong regardless, its just nature, but you have to I guess overlook it, I guess.

Len Sipes: What did the job mean to you in terms of crossing that bridge?

Kenneth Trice: Well, it means a lot. I’m no longer, I mean, I’m still looked at as maybe an offender. I don’t want to call myself a criminal. I’m looked at as an offender but now that I have gainful employment I feel that another employer will hire me. They may overlook my background being as though I’ve been working now.

Len Sipes: But you believe that you’ve proved yourself, that you have crossed that bridge, you are now a taxpayer, you’re not a tax burden, you are what everybody in society wants you to be.

Kenneth Trice: Yes sir.

Len Sipes: Okay, and how does that feel?

Kenneth Trice: It feels wonderful.

Len Sipes: And what message would you give to other people who have the opportunity to employ somebody like you?

Kenneth Trice: Please employ them.

Len Sipes: And they would do that because of why? They would employ somebody caught up in the criminal justice system for what reason?

Kenneth Trice: To give them a chance to prove themselves.

Len Sipes: All right. And Kenyan, Kenyan Blakely, again, working for the Department of Human Resources for DC Government, a Support Services Assistant, the same questions are going to go to you, I mean, these are tough questions. I use the term criminal advisedly. I have heard from employers in the past I’m not going to hire ex-cons, I’m not going to hire criminals and it is like they—what they are meaning is is that everybody falls into one category. They have a mental image of exactly who they are. They have a mental image of the fact that they’re going to create problems for me, thereby; I’m not going to hire them. But then again I sit down with the two of you and I don’t see fangs, I don’t see blood dripping from your teeth, I see just two regular guys who are now doing well partially because of employment, correct or incorrect?

Kenyan Blakely: Correct.

Kenneth Trice: Correct.

Len Sipes: All right, well tell me that. Get closer to the microphone.

Kenyan Blakely: I’ve always—I’ve had jobs, you know, I’ve been on—probably since prior to being on CSOSA and I went on a bunch of job interviews, went on job interviews this go round and I’ve had people pull me to the side and say your resume is excellent, your work ethic, everything, but it’s just, you know, it’s just that background. You can’t pass that background check or it’s not in my hands, it’s in someone else’s hands and they want to go with—but they took a chance on hiring them. Why you can’t take a chance on hiring me? You have people who have committed no crime ever in life, but their work ethic sucks. So you have to take a chance on someone, why not take a chance with someone who has a lot to loose, but a lot go gain too also. So, you know, it’s give and take with it. Like I’ve had people straight up tell me to my face outside of the office, I want you, I want you for this position, but I can’t bring you in. And they would just tell me, you know, don’t stop looking, and I’ve never stopped looking. I’ve always had two jobs. I’ve always had a part-time job on the weekend and now I have full-time employment. Like I said, I’ve started in the program with Tony a whole, almost a year in the program and I got a phone call and it’s like come upstairs you’re going on an interview. I’m like interview for what? They were like people watch you.

Len Sipes: That’s great. What does the job mean to you in terms of your ability or inability to return to crime?

Kenyan Blakely: It was never really—it was choices that we made. Those choices were wrong. I admit those. I’m the first to admit anything that I’ve every done wrong, but now, you know, as a father, I’m a father of two, you know, you just want to be able to not leave them anymore. Not to lose everything that you’ve gained, lose it over and over and over, come home to have nothing, now I’m building to have everything that I lost to have back. You know, I have a daughter that’s six, I have a son that’s 12. I never want to leave them again. I never want them to look up and be like where’s my dad. I can’t talk to him when I want to. I can’t see him. So those are the things that linger in the back of your head at all times. So when I come to work on them days I don’t feel like getting up, those are my get up, let’s go and it’s no holding back, no, oh, it’s cold outside, I don’t feel like getting, no, I’m in there every day.

Len Sipes: Tony Lewis, we have credits, tax credits—

Tony Lewis: Yes.

Len Sipes: For people who do hire people under supervision, we do have a bonding program, there’s a Federal bonding program that mitigates the amount of risk that they have. All of this is available on our website, www.csosa.gov. All right, so from a societal point of view it is extraordinarily important that people who we supervise find work.

Tony Lewis: Absolutely. It increases public safety for one. Like you spoke about people working are less prone or less likely to break the law and these two gentlemen can attest to that. They’re a representation of many people—the ones that we are able to get employed. And the program that they spoke about is the Transitional Employment Program that we have here at CSOSA. That’s in partnership with the DC Department of Employment Services. Where we basically place individuals in jobs where we pay they salary. It’s a stipend, a subsidized wage, but it gives them an opportunity to audition and so you can see these people for themselves and not just a person on paper that broke the law in the past. And that may be ten years ago, it may be two years ago, it may be 20 years ago, it gives an opportunity for that person to highlight their skillset, learn new skills and it’s for people to see them as human beings and not just a quote, unquote, criminal. And so the beauty of that program is that that’s what it affords to no cost to the employer. Now I know that’s not something that exists all across the country, but when people have an opportunity to see these guys every day and to gauge their work ethic and see their personalities and to know that they’re fathers and things like that, it really helps the employer to see them in a different light.

Len Sipes: But that’s the thing that always killed me gentleman, and anybody can come into this conversation, is that you can have the image; you can watch the 6:00 news and hear the news about somebody doing something terrible to another human being. You can watch the 6:00 news, the 11:00 news, pick up the newspaper, read the same sort of stuff, there’s a certain point you say to yourself, man, the people involved in this stuff, I’m not going to have anything to do with. I’m going to move as far away as I possibly can from them and I’m just not going to have anything to do with them. But then, again, you sit and talk eyeball-to-eyeball as we’re doing now and you’re just regular guys. You’re not the stereotype that you think of at the 6:00 news. You’re just regular guys.

Kenneth Trice: Exactly.

Len Sipes: You’re not the stereotype that you think of at the 6:00 news, you’re just regular guys. How can we transmit that, hey, I’m a regular guy, I just need a chance. I understand I screwed up. I understand I made mistakes, but please do not hold that against me for the rest of my life. How do you transmit that information to people who hire?

Kenneth Trice: I think a lot of companies need to change their hiring process. Not just to—you’ve got two strikes against you, you have one, either your credit is bad or you’re a criminal. Why should those two things stop you from gaining employment? Like you need employment. If you don’t have employment for people they’ll turn to do other things to a life of crime.

Len Sipes: They’re going to say, but I’ve got plenty of people who don’t have those backgrounds. I’ve got plenty of people with good credit without a criminal background, why am I going to hire the dude—

Kenyan Blakely: I got a point for you.

Len Sipes: Go please.

Kenyan Blakely: If you have all those people that you work for, do a background check after the fact, a lot of them won’t tell you that they have a criminal past after they’ve been hired. So you will never know if you don’t go back and do a background check every year or so often on an employer. You have employees who’ve been at companies prior to them getting in trouble but the company will never know, but they’ll be like, oh, we don’t—once you have the job it’s okay. What you do before that—

Len Sipes: Because they get to know you.

Kenyan Blakely: Exactly.

Len Sipes: They get to see you as a worker so the criminal background disappears because all they see is a good worker. How do we get people to that point? But hold that thought cause I want to reintroduce everybody. Ladies and gentleman, this is DC Public Safety. We’re talking about employing ex-offenders. We’ve got Tony Lewis, Job Development Specialist with my agency, the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency, www.csosa.gov. We have Kenyan Blakely, he is with the Department of Human Resources for the District of Columbia, Support Services Assistant and we have Kenneth Trice, he is with the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church. He is with Facilities & Maintenance. How we convince, again, you know, get beyond the stereotype, get you in there, sit down, talk to you because all three of us, four of us in the room know that after six months that criminal history disappears. All we have to do is get beyond that point of hiring and that point of success. How do we get to that point?

Kenyan Blakely: Give people a chance.

Len Sipes: Okay, but there again, they’re going to say, once again, I’ve got some people here without a criminal history and I’ve got some people here with a great credit background. If I’ve got to give somebody a chance, I’m going to go with a guy without a criminal history and without a bad credit history. I’m going to increase the odds of a successful employment in their minds by employing the person without the background.

Kenneth Trice: I think what happens, Mr. Sipes, is that when you find, from a business standpoint, it’s about the bottom line, right.

Len Sipes: Right.

Kenneth Trice: So for me as a job developer, my thing is to say I’m not asking for a hand out, I’m here to help you by being able to connect with talent, right, something that’s going to increase your bottom line, going to increase your productivity. And the other part of that is that it’s no way, you know, when you hire whomever, no matter what their background is, you don’t necessarily know what you’re getting. So businesses have to, I think, take a standpoint to say if this person’s crime does not have a rational relationship, so let’s be very clear, we’re not saying if you robbed a bank, you should be able to work at Wells Fargo, right.

Len Sipes: Or if you’re a sex offender you should be doing daycare, nobody’s saying that.

Kenneth Trice: Absolutely, no, nobody’s saying that, but if I committed a crime five years ago that has no relationship to the job, why can’t I work there?

Len Sipes: We have, the bottom line I want to make is that we have good people right now under our supervision; we have 14,000 human beings under our supervision right now, 23,000 human beings under our supervision in any given year. We’ve got people right now ready to go who are not a risk to public safety, who have real skills, who don’t have drug positives, they’re ready to go right now. We can give them tax credits to get them involved in the bonding program, plus they have their Community Supervision Officer, known elsewhere as a Parole and Probation Agent, who can help the employer deal with problems if they come up.

Kenneth Trice: And a Vocational Development Specialist.

Len Sipes: And a Vocational Development Specialist and in many cases training that we and the District of Columbia and other cities throughout the country get involved in and plus we have GED programs, we have educational programs, we have job readiness programs. Why would you not come to us if we can deliver a talented person ready to work.

Kenneth Trice: Sure. And sometimes people that you’re hiring, even if the person’s out of college, sometimes people out of college haven’t necessarily even, in my mind, had the training. I mean, I think about the training that we provide here at CSOSA and I think about, wow, if I had that going into the job market, like if I learned things, I mean, just whether it’s interviewing, whether it’s, you know, just gaining a concept of workplace expectations. I learned that on the fly. We’re preparing people to enter the workforce and stay there through our programming. I mean, you know, and even we’re taking steps to even interface with people pre-release, myself and Mr. Blakely, our first communication started when he was in River’s Correctional Institution via teleconference. And then he met with Whittington and she did what she does and then he got referred from her to the program. Kenny Trice met with Dr. Sutton and she did what she does in terms of prepping him and gauging his readiness and gauging his commitment. Then he got referred to the program. So there’s rigger in terms of what we do because when we present people to the workforce, we’re trying to present someone that we’re going to be confident in, somebody’s that already proven to us that they’re legit and that they’re ready. So it’s not just like, hey, somebody gets off a bus from prison and we’re sending them to you as the employer and saying, hey, you should give them a job. No, we’re taking the proper steps to ensure that whoever we refer to you is somebody that’s going to come in and increase your productivity.

Len Sipes: Okay, and so, and anybody can jump in on this conversation, don’t hold back. Okay, so, generally speaking, within the District of Columbia, generally speaking, within major cities throughout the country, you have unemployment somewhere around six to eight percent. We have unemployment at 50%.

Kenneth Trice: Sure.

Len Sipes: Okay, so all the wonderful things that we’ve just said, bonding programs, tax credits, training, GED, workforce development, you’ve got all that going for us, you’ve got a Job Developer whose going to work with you, you’ve got a Community Supervision Officer, ala, Parole and Probation Agent, but yet you can not escape the numbers, six to eight percent versus 50%. Why is that?

Kenyan Blakely: I think a lot of people just need to wake up from what they’re doing and really understand that you need gainful employment, like you can’t play with it, I don’t care what it is that you do, but, bottom line, you don’t want to be too old and not be able to get a job. Like me, I just want them to know that I have skills; every day that I go to work I’m showing you my skills.

Len Sipes: But, bottom line, how many people are there like you?

Kenyan Blakely: There are a lot. There are a lot.

Len Sipes: So tell me, how many?

Kenyan Blakely: I think there are over 20,000 in this city that want to work.

Len Sipes: All right. So we’ve got thousands of people right now—I can’t speak for everybody in the District, I’m talking about people under our supervision here at CSOSA. We all know the folks. We interact with them every single day.

Kenyan Blakely: Sure.

Len Sipes: And we know that some aren’t ready, we know that some are still struggling, we know that some are pulling drug positives, we know that some are hanging out on the corner causing problems.

Kenneth Trice: Right, but we’re not talking about them.

Len Sipes: We know that, but we’re not talking about them.

Kenneth Trice: Yep.

Len Sipes: We’re not asking for charity.

Kenyan Blakely: Exactly.

Len Sipes: Okay, so if we’re tossing them off to the side and we’re talking about people, real grown-ups who are ready to work and who are going to do a good job for you, how many are we talking about?

Tony Lewis: I think we, in the City, I mean, under supervision I think probably out of your 14,000, I think you probably, strongly, probably half. I’m going to give you 7,000.

Len Sipes: Seven thousand human beings that aren’t employed that are ready to go. They’re not employed for what reason?

Tony Lewis: Some people I think they just need a chance or just some people they have to show that they want to work, like the work ethic. Like everybody that comes through the program isn’t going to make it, everybody that comes through CSOSA, we already know isn’t going to make it.

Len Sipes: Right.

Tony Lewis: You know, you have those who like, when they come through the door, hey, I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it.

Len Sipes: Right.

Tony Lewis: Life doesn’t work that way. Until you get that in your head that you’ve got to follow these rules, cause most people, we don’t want to get up and go to work, we want to sit home, you know, you have to work, that’s just it. I have never been the type person that didn’t want to work.

Len Sipes: Yeah, I’ve never been able to figure out how to get around not working. I’ve been looking for that my entire life and I haven’t found it yet. But, you know, Kenyan, I talked to you, you’re interviewing perfectly, you have bright eye, you know, eye contact, delivering everything perfect, I would hire you in a second.

Kenyan Blakely: Appreciate that.

Len Sipes: I would hire you in a second. You know, Kenneth, same way with you. You’re looking at me direct, you’re interviewing well, I would hire you in a second. What is it that I am getting that everybody else is not getting? Everybody else is sitting out there and saying, okay, dude, look they’re caught in the criminal justice system. I already told you I’m not going to hire somebody caught up in the criminal justice system.

Tony Lewis: Most companies just can’t get past that.

Kenyan Blakely: It’s that, it’s background.

Kenneth Trice: The hiring policies, and especially Len, when we’re talking about today’s world, talking about 90% of job searches done via the internet and you have, you know, questions, have you ever been convicted of a felony. And a lot of times you check yes, that’s it for you, that’s an eliminator. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, it doesn’t matter what you did, it’s like no. And especially, we’re talking about here in the District of Columbia where you have probably the most bustling job market in the country, right, where you’ve got the most moved to place America. People are coming here solely because of the strength of the job market but we have native Washingtonians, we have people under supervision who can’t get a job at all. You know what I mean? It shouldn’t even be an issue but at the end of the day people aren’t being judged on their skillset, they’re being judged just solely based on crime.

Len Sipes: All right. And there’s a certain point—what we’re saying is is that fundamentally, morally, ethically, that could be wrong, is wrong, but more importantly, we’re saying to a business person, because business hires, does 80% of the hiring, you’re not protecting your bottom line because there are good people that you could be hiring.

Kenneth Trice: Precisely.

Len Sipes: You’re not making the money you could be making, you’re not doing as well as you could be doing because we’ve got 7,000 people ready to rock and roll right now.

Kenneth Trice: So, and 7,000 people, something that Kenyan brought up, that may possibly work harder than your just normal Joe Blow, because they have everything to lose. They’re going to value their job because they know they just can’t go anywhere and get a job.

Len Sipes: You know, in the 20 years of interviewing people that’s one of the most powerful points is that I’ve got so much to lose I am not going to screw this up.

Kenneth Trice: Yes.

Len Sipes: And that’s a powerful incentive, I mean, look, I mean, Kenyan just basically said, I’m not going to leave my kids again.

Kenneth Trice: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: And we’re not talking about just people under supervision, we’re talking about the fact that most people under supervision got kids.

Kenneth Trice: That’s right. Exactly.

Len Sipes: So we’re not just talking about them, we’re talking about kids. So now instead of the 7,000, let’s times it by two just to be on the average, so now we’re talking about 14,000 human beings.

Kenneth Trice: Yep.

Len Sipes: Let alone spouses, you know—

Kenneth Trice: Sure. Sure.

Len Sipes: And another 7,000, we’re up to 20,000 people. We’re up to 20,000 people affected and their lives are coming to a halt because you’re saying to yourself, Mr. Employer, this guy ten years ago committed a burglary, I’m not touching him.

Kenneth Trice: Sure.

Len Sipes: Is that it? Is it that stark? Is it that real?

Kenyan Blakely: It’s that real.

Len Sipes: And what we’ve got to do to get beyond that reality is what gentlemen? How do we convince them?

Kenyan Blakely: Give them a chance.

Len Sipes: Give them a chance.

Kenyan Blakely: Just give them a chance. But like me, for instance, my last interview that I went on, they looked at everything, they asked me questions about it, they went straight to it and I told them if you give me a chance I won’t let you down. Everybody that sat in front of me—there was four people on the panel. I left out, an hour later I got an e-mail, offer letter and everything, you know, just like we’re going to give you a shot. It was two other people and they gave me the shot and I was happy. And to this day they’re still looking at me like, Kenyan, you’re in here. I’m trying, like I don’t want to—like I’ve been at my job almost a year. I come from—my first agency was, as a matter of fact, what was that—the Agency for Public Affairs, and I was under the Mayor’s Office, I worked for Officer of Partnerships and Grant Services and now I work for DC Department of Human Resources. And like I met so many people through the agencies, through District Government and, you know, they don’t know your story until you talk to them and then when you give them some insight they’re like wow, like you came from that to this. Yes, I did. Like a lot of people can’t walk in those shoes.

Len Sipes: Tony, you’ve got 30 seconds before we have to wrap up. I’m going to give you a chance to close. What do we say to people, what do we say to employers, what do we say to their husbands and wives, what do we say to get them to give people like Kenyan, like Kenneth, a chance.

Tony Lewis: Bottom line is that we have talented, motivated people that can potentially bring new ideas, can increase your productivity and an overall sense, I think it’s just better for society and our community when we have people gainfully employed. It leads to a safer environment, it leads to a more productive environment and, you know, we need everybody who can help should and I think we’re moving in the right direction and at the same time the people that we supervise also have to be accountable to continue to do the right thing and not reoffend.
Len Sipes: Everybody’s got to pull together.

Tony Lewis: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Everybody’s got to row the same boat in the same direction.

Tony Lewis: Yes sir.

Len Sipes: All right. Gentleman, I really want to thank you very much for being with us today. It was an extraordinarily important topic. I do want to remind all of our listeners, again, at our website, www.csosa.gov. We have a series of radio and television shows where we talk about this issue of hiring people under supervision. We really do want people to call us, contact us, let us know how we can do a better job of preparing people to be employed with their company. You can always give me a call, 202-220-5616, 202-220-5616. Ladies and gentleman, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have yourselves a pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Employment-Reentry and Criminal Offenders-Council of State Governments

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/2013/11/employment-reentry-criminal-offenders-council-state-governments/

[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, employment and criminal offenders and reentry. We have two guests from the Justice Center and the Council of State Governments. We have Henry Rosen. He’s a policy analyst, Reentry Program, National Initiatives, Council of State Governments Justice Center; and we have Phoebe Potter, she’s a senior policy analyst, again, Reentry Program, National Initiatives, Council of State Governments Justice Center and to Henry and to Phoebe, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Henry Rosen:  Thank you very much. Thank you for having us.

Phoebe Potter:  Thank you.

Len Sipes:  Right. Now this is an extraordinarily interesting topic, because you’ve written quite a few publications explaining this whole concept of dealing with people caught up in the criminal justice system, and employment – “Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies”. I’m gonna have a link to this document within the show notes, but for those who don’t have an opportunity to write it down, the website is www.csgjusticecenter.org; www.csgjusticecenter.org. Needless to say, one word, Council for State Government Justice Center.org. You know, this whole concept of offenders and employment is one of the most difficult topics we have within the Criminal Justice System. It is something that has been discussed for decades. It is something that has bedeviled us for decades. It all has some sort of impact on reentry. So let’s start off with, before we start off with a topic, give me a sense of the Justice Center – what it does – the Council of State Governments and what they do.

Henry Rosen:  So the Council of State Governments is a national, non-profit, membership organization providing services and support to states and elected officials that are part of the Council. As the Justice Center, we are the criminal justice arm, under the larger umbrella of the Council of State Governments and what we do is we work with state agencies, governors, counties, mayors, sheriffs, a host of people working in the criminal justice field – courts included, to help develop data driven or research supported policies that improve public safety, as well as improve the lives of folks involved in the criminal justice system, and sort of bring the evidence base on effective public safety and recidivism reduction strategies into the policy and practice sphere, all while minimizing cost to taxpayers and folks.

Len Sipes:  The Council of State Governments, I mean, it’s a wide array of issues that they deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Henry Rosen:  Certainly.

Len Sipes:  Correct?

Henry Rosen:  Correct.

Len Sipes:  So the criminal justice policy is just one of them. The Justice Center is just there to deal specifically with criminal justice policy.

Henry Rosen:  Correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, I can’t think, also, Phoebe, I’ll throw this question over to you – I can’t think of a major issue where the Council of State Governments and the Justice Center, I can’t think of major issue in terms of offender reentry, of people coming out of the prison systems, what to do about crime and criminal justice issues; I can’t think of a major issue where the Council of State Governments and the Justice Center have not been involved. Correct?

Phoebe Potter:  That’s right. I mean, we support a wide range of programs through the Justice Center that cover a whole host of different issue areas. Employment is just one of many programs that we’ve undertaken. We address health problems, behavioral health specifically, some mental health and substance abuse issues. We have a courts program. A lot of the justice reinvestment work going on across the country – so states reforming corrections policy comes through the Justice Center. We’ve had the opportunity to partner with a number of federal agencies, foundations, to kind of pursue a wide range of work through the Justice Center.

Len Sipes:  And American Probation and Parole Association is through the Council of State Governments correct?

Henry Rosen:  Correct, good friends of ours, yeah.

Len Sipes:  Right, so you all are integrated. So that’s just one example. I mean, that is the leading national organization for those of us in Parole and Probation so it’s integrated. There’s just layer on top of layer in terms of what the Council of State Governments does and what the Justice Policy Center does.

Henry Rosen:  Correct. We’re definitely sort of corrections and courts and law enforcement and policy and APPA. They’re our go-to anything, supervision related.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Now, let’s get into this issue of employment and people coming out of the prison system and employment of people who have never been in the prison system or who are on probation. First of all, the vast majority of people on community supervision, and we’re talking about 400,000 on any given day, correct? Out of the 7,000 people under, I’m sorry, it’s 7 million people under correctional supervision, 4 million are on parole and probation and there are far more than that under pre-trial supervision. We’re not even talking about those individuals today. So the concept of employing people who are on community supervision, those 4 million people, that’s an enormous undertaking, is it not?

Henry Rosen:  Yeah. Certainly. You know, I think one of the things that we see is you know, folks involved in the criminal justice system, whether they’re returning from incarceration, or under community supervision, the supervision officers and even the people themselves are prioritizing employment as sort of the key to staying crime free.

Len Sipes:  Right, but you know, we’ve been discussing this for years. I mean, there has been a lot of major initiatives, the department of labor, lots of other organizations have tried this concept in the past, and the results have been confusing. So talk to me about that. I mean, everybody, every politician in this country will say the best way of stopping people from going back to the criminal justice system is a job, but the research doesn’t necessarily say that. Correct, or incorrect?

Henry Rosen:  That’s correct.

Phoebe Potter:  Right, so I think that one of our goals with this project was to take a more nuanced look at that relationship between recidivism or the likelihood of people reoffending when they’re back out from prison or jail, and employment. And what role does employment play in keeping people crime free? And I think one of the main myths that we want to distill through this is that just job acquisition alone, just placing somebody in a job is going to be some sort of silver bullet for reducing recidivism. And so how can we better understand what it is about employment that matters and what other things we need to deal with to promote successful reentry. And that’s one of the big goals of this project.

Len Sipes:  So, I’m assuming somewhere along the line your partners, who are your partners on this project?

Henry Rosen:  The project is funded by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and Annie E. Casey Foundation and we also partner closely and get guidance from the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, and then Mindy Tarlow, the Chief Executive Officer from Center for Employment Opportunities was a huge partner and help in this, along with Sheila McGuire and there’s another advisory committee that we work with – folks who work in the Corrections and Reentry field as well as the Work Force Development and Policy field and some researchers, both from non-profit organizations, actually working for corrections agencies as well as social science research organizations.

Len Sipes:  Here’s my assumption. Everybody was sitting at a table several years ago and said, and took a look at the existing research regarding people coming out of the prison system, people on probation and recidivism and everybody sat there and said, “You know what, the research is confusing. These results are confusing. In some cases they work, in some cases they don’t work. In some cases where they work the rate of recidivism, the reduction just wasn’t that much. There has to be something nuanced to all of this. There has to be not just the placement of a job, but has to be more qualitative than quantitative and here, in the briefing sheet which you prepared for me, which I absolutely adore, you say there’s a much more nuanced relationship between employment and recidivism but things like job stability, satisfaction with employment, willingness to take low end jobs and to work up, and having realistic job expectations are related to recidivism. In short, it’s people’s attitudes about work that matter and if we don’t address anti-social attitudes, placing somebody in a job is not going to get us very good results. That seems to be the heart and soul behind the entire research in terms of its findings and in terms of its structure and in terms of its recommendations. Correct?

Henry Rosen:  Correct.

Len Sipes:  Okay, tell me about that.

Henry Rosen:  Well, I think, you know, in that assessment of what works to promote job readiness or connect someone to employment and reduce recidivism, the idea that those factors are important is not necessarily unique. What it actually comes from are guiding principles in the Corrections and Reentry field to help policy makers and folks working in Reentry make decisions about who to serve and what kinds of services they’re enrolled in to promote better outcomes. We call those the “risk, need, responsivity” principles. And those essentially say that there are some key variables, some criminogenic need, risk and need factors that are most associated with the likelihood to reoffend. And typically, you know, people might think that having a job or you know, a mental health need, or substance abuse need, or a housing need are the things that will help someone transition back into the community, but those principles actually suggest that it’s more along the lines of attitudes about crime, attitudes about work, you know, having pro-social relationships in the community, family ties, those sort of attitudes and behaviors are what are most closely linked to the likelihood of reoffending. And so instead, if we can work to address those attitudes and those behaviors and sort of those other stabilizing factors, then someone is more likely to be successful upon return as opposed to simply, you know, offering a job or a place to stay.

Len Sipes:  Phoebe, is sort of the whole idea here is that you know, it is a matter of that individual’s pro-social attitudes, how he or she sees a job, how he or she sees the employer, how he or she sees themselves, how he or she sees their own prospects?

Phoebe Potter:  Right, exactly, those attitudes and obviously those attitudes affect more than just work, right? And I think that’s why they’re so strongly prevalent in the research around what helps reduce recidivism. It’s just how somebody interacts in a pro-social environment and work is such a key component of that, that obviously in the employment field it really comes out that way.

Len Sipes:  Okay, so when you consider the fact that such a high number of offenders here, under Court Services and Offender Supervision, 14,000,  in any given year – in any given day, 24,000 any given year; we have a high number and so does the rest of the country, who have mental health issues. We have a high number and so does the rest of the country in terms of substance abuse issues. We have a high number with lousy job histories, bad school histories – so we’re talking about individuals who have a lot to deal with, whether they’re in prison or not, whether under community supervision or not. And so it’s just not a matter of the right attitude, it’s just not a matter of being pro-social about the job, it’s breaking through all of those barriers, all of that baggage that comes with that individual offender. Correct?

Henry Rosen:  Yeah. I don’t think we’d ever say that, you know, in that regard, we’d never say employment, in and of itself, is a silver bullet. I think what we’re sort of getting at is, you do need to address some of those other issues and barriers that makes someone likely to be unsuccessful in other settings besides just the job setting. If you can help someone become successful, you know, connect with their family, develop a strong peer support network, and rethink sort of their attitudes about crime and behavior, then they’re gonna succeed in the job environment just as they will in the family environment or in the community.

Len Sipes:  Okay. Now everybody here is looking forward to this interview in terms of my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, because they want to know, we’re out there every day. I mean, on the front page of our website, our radio shows, television shows, www.csosa.gov. We have radio shows, television shows, we’ve done articles, the Washington Post has covered us with front-page coverage. I mean, we’re trying to have this conversation with employers to get them to tell us what it is that we need to do, what it is the people under supervision need to do to make themselves become more employable. We’ve had a series of conversations with lots of employers over the course of years, we have our own vocational training staff, educational staff; we work, we do anger management, we do behavioral – I’m sorry, what am I looking for? – Cognitive behavioral therapy, Thinking for a Change. We’re doing all of that, and yet at the same time, our folks are saying, “But we still have to break through the barrier of the stereotypes of people who have criminal histories; having employers who are willing to give these individuals a second chance. That – they see that as the biggest problem. The lack of employers willing to provide a second chance. So they want to know, okay, they’ve read the report, they love what you’ve written, they’re very supportive of what you’ve done, but how, their question to you guys is, how do you break through that resistance barrier on the part of employers, their reluctance to hire people under supervision?

Phoebe Potter:  Right. So, you know, the white paper was written from a service and a programmatic perspective. Helping, kind of, practitioners and providers think about how to develop programming that addresses these factors that we’ve just been talking about, that we need to address. But obviously the piece you’re just talking about is critical, you know, counterpart to that. And we touch on it in the white paper a little bit, you know, about the issues of collateral consequences, they need to break down barriers to employment, engage employers. And what we’ve done, as part of this larger project, beyond writing the white paper, is actually developed some other resources and partner with other folks around that, you know, kind of other half of the problem. Almost the, you know, kind of the supply issue of which jobs are out there. And so that is something that we’re very, you know, attuned to. And I think the work that CSOSA has done around employer engagement is kind of a model that a lot of other jurisdictions should be looking at in terms of trying to break down the stigma, talk to employers about opportunities and engage them effectively. We’ve worked in New York State and they have a Work for Success initiative that’s doing similar work to engage employers, help them understand the legal rights of people coming out in terms of access to jobs, talking about incentives that are out there for employers such as the work opportunities, hacks, credit, federal bonding –

Len Sipes:  Right, bonding programs, yes.

Phoebe Potter:  So yeah, so all of those pieces we touch on in the white paper, but you know, I think our larger strategy in addressing this problem at the Justice Center goes beyond what we’ve done in the white paper, is tackling this issue of employer engagement.

Len Sipes:  Okay, because they want the next white paper to be on breaking down the barriers. Because, you know, I’ve talked to people under supervision who have been years away from their last criminal activity, years away from their last positive test for substance abuse; they’re completely compliant. They have skills, and they have an education and yet they can’t find work.

Phoebe Potter:  Right.

Len Sipes:  So there’s, you know, there are low hanging fruit in any population and we go after those first, because they’re the easiest to place, and yet you still talk to that person six months later without a job is frustrating ‘cause – so we formally ask you guys [Laughter], that the next white paper be on that particular topic. Before we get into the second half – the show is going by like wildfire, we want to reintroduce our guests. Ladies and gentlemen, we have Henry Rosen, Policy Analyst, Reentry Program, National Initiatives, Council of State Governments, Justice Center and Phoebe Potter, again, Senior Policy Analyst for the same organization, Council of State Governments, www.csgjusticecenter.org, www.csgjusticecenter.org. We’re talking about a, what I consider to be a ground breaking piece of research. Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies from the Justice Center. The Council of State Governments will have links to all the documents within the show notes. So where do we go to from here? Let’s talk about this.

Reentry matters because, my God, there are 700,000 people being released from state and federal prisons every year, and an awful lot of those, 40 to 50% return to the prison system. The states can’t afford this rate of return. It has real implications for public safety, criminal victimization. We do believe that done right in terms of your recommendations, we could reduce that rate of recidivism considerably, correct?

Henry Rosen:  Correct. That’s the hope, certainly.

Len Sipes:  So reentry does matter?

Henry Rosen:  Yeah, it certainly does. You know, I think that, you know, personally I’m from Montana. The state is barely a million people. When I hear stats about more than 600,000 people returning from incarceration, my God, that’s more than half my state. I can’t imagine that and I think, you know, folks are returning at such a high rate, they’re cycling in and out of jails at such a high rate, if there’s a way to sort of disrupt that cycle and provide the services and supports to make someone successful, I mean, the benefits of employment in that sense are sort of endless. You’re providing someone with a means to support their family and contribute to a tax base, and likewise keeping them out of a very costly system that ends up being you know, on average, the fourth largest line item in any state’s budget.

Len Sipes:  Fewer people being victimized, literally, the possibility of saving billions of dollars at the state level and the federal level in terms of people not coming back to the criminal justice system. So the secret sauce in all of this is what? What we talked about before, a nuanced approach to the employment issue.

Phoebe Potter:  So you know, I think we talked about kind of having a nuanced appreciation for what employment can do to help reduce recidivism and some of the takeaways from that conversation are that, one, is be part of a more kind of comprehensive strategy to adjust to the pretty complex needs of this population and we touched on the fact that there’s mental health problems and substance abuse and housing and there’s a lot of dynamic needs that all interact with each other, really. So employment is one part of the puzzle. And the other part that we talked about, right, is that employment is not just about job acquisition, it’s about understanding how employment is really kind of a tool to help people connect with pro-social, you know, associates and the community. And so it’s about people’s attitudes towards jobs, if people want to see them be successful.

Len Sipes:  But how do you get them to the point where they have the right attitudes?

Henry Rosen:  So, I think one of the things that we proposed and outlined in our paper and as an agency at the Justice Center, we are strong advocates of is enrolling people in services that like cognitive behavioral therapy, like Thinking for Change, programs that are aimed at restructuring those attitudes about you know, their peer relations, about crime, and towards the community. And so for those who are most likely to reoffend, if you’re providing them or if you’re placing them into services that offer that opportunity, that offer opportunities for social learning, to practice the skills, you know; how to interact with co0workers, how to interact with peers, how to interact with your family, that’s going to improve the likelihood that they’ll be successful, whether it’s an employment program or some other kind of service, they’ll sort of be armed with the skills to succeed in that scenario. So what we’re really trying to get the field to think about is how you identify people with the greatest need in that area, and then sequence and build services that address those needs, or address those issues.

So the highest risk folks, who are sort of, you know, the most anti-social, the hardest to work with typically, they will benefit most from intensive behavior change type services, coupled with job readiness services. Things that promote soft skills. “Why should I be to work on time? How do I interact with my coworkers?” You know? “What’s the value of doing an exceptional job versus the bare minimum?” Things that, you know, promote sort of positive workplace attitudes and behaviors. Focus on those things for the high risk folks, who are less job ready. For the individuals who are not high risk, who have strong relations with their family, have had, you know, held a job prior to their incarceration, maybe have completed some level of college education or technical vocational school, they don’t necessarily need those same kind of intensive services. They’ll likely do very well on their own, but they will need support from you know, the workforce development field or their supervision officer in terms of breaking down those barriers you mentioned earlier about “why should I hire someone with a criminal record?” They don’t need those services, they need someone to help them sort of navigate those challenges of communicating their record and finding the right job for them, as opposed to the more intensive behavior, change based services.

Len Sipes:  So Phoebe, it’s a matter of picking the right person through a needs analysis, a risk and needs analysis, to figure out who this person is, what that person needs, to give that person an appropriate level of intervention. But that appropriate level of intervention could be fairly complex. I mean, it could be a GED, which is complex unto itself. For a person who doesn’t know how to read, they’re not going to do well on the job. So it can go there. To job training, which is complex and very difficult and expensive, but all that needs to be wrapped up in a cognitive, behavioral therapy like Thinking for a Change. Basically, rearranging that person’s attitudes towards, maybe, authority figures? Right?

Phoebe Potter:  Yeah, that’s right. And these aren’t simple strategies, you know? When you’re talking about your highest risk, highest needs populations, but to Hank’s point, you know, our goal with the white paper and what we were seeing in the field and trying to address is that a lot of jurisdictions are using a one-size-fits-all model. Which means your resources are probably too intensive for a lot of people and not intensive enough for a lot of people, so you’re not getting, really, any benefits across the board. So how can we restructure the way we triage our resources in a way that, you know, we’re kind of pouring more resources into those more intensive services, but only for the population that needs it, and defining that more clearly and then reducing the number of services that go to the lower risk, lower need population. Which, you know, not only do they not necessarily need, we’ve actually seen through the research can be made worse off if they’re provided too intensive service, they’re put in programming that aren’t appropriate.  And so it’s not, you know, necessarily about needing a lot more resources, it’s about changing the way we triage our resources that we do have to get a bigger impact and that’s a big goal of the white paper.

Len Sipes:  And I think that’s what I’m hearing from American Parole, Probation and Parole Association, what I’m hearing from the Council of State Governments, what I’m hearing is, “Focus your resources on your high risk individuals and scale down for everybody else.” But that’s assuming that the criminal justice system is supple enough, sophisticated enough, to employ those sort of strategies. I mean, we are the criminal justice system. We’re not exactly known for our nuanced approach to anything. It is a great, big, moving, giant blob that has its own speed and has its own attitudes and being that precise is not necessarily our forte, but that’s what you’re saying to us. We need to be far more nuanced and use tax paid dollars in the best possible way.

Phoebe Potter:  That’s right, but I think we’ve seen a lot of advancements in the corrections field in the last, you know, five, ten years, around the use of risk assessment especially to be smarter about how we triage our resources and who we place in programs and you know, I think a big part of that has been the support the Second Chance Act has put out in the field, kind of promoting these principles for a long time now and giving a lot of jurisdictions the resources to start to invest in these investment tools and case management strategies that we’re talking about. You know, and Second Chance Act reauthorization out now, we’re really excited about the opportunity to kind of build on that progress that we’ve seen. But it’s not simple and one of the things that the white paper does that is kind of taking it a step beyond just risk assessment, we’re also kind of asking the field to be more kind of sophisticated in the use of job readiness assessment too. So not just knowing the risk level of an individual, but also better appreciating, “What are their job readiness needs as well, from a work force perspective?” And so that is a little bit new, I think, in terms of what we’re asking the field to look at and do.

Len Sipes:  I’m reading from your briefing notes. So the key takeaway from all of this is that we can’t treat all individuals in the same way. Now the criminal justice system is famous for that. I mean, every person with a substance abuse problem goes in a group, and it’s one group and there’s one formula and there’s one way. It doesn’t matter what drug of choice, how long they’ve been using, their age, their complexity, whether they’re a high risk or low risk, everybody goes to a group because that’s all we have the capacity to do. Part of this is a matter of us, in the criminal justice system, understanding the nuances. Part of it is money. Part of it is the fact that we have to have dollars to back up what it is that we do, correct? And dollars are hard to come by nowadays.

Henry Rosen:  Yeah, I think that’s a major concern of folks working in this field and you know, especially and including the workforce development field. I think a lot of work force development practitioners are very eager to learn about effective strategies they can use when working with ex-offenders and you know, the services that NIC offers to that end are phenomenal, they do great work. I know that work force investment; membership agencies out there are looking for new ways to tackle those issues. And one thing that we’re hoping to say is, you know, given the pot of money that you have, if you use a risk assessment to identify the risk and need level of individuals, the highest risk folks, the lowest risk folks, and then needs related to their recidivism, and then you layer that in with the job readiness and employability assessments that the Workforce Development Practitioners are using, you can begin to understand of that $1,000 you have to spend, you should be spending $500 on these two people, you know, $100 on these two people, and then you know, the rest of the money, whatever else you’re doing. And obviously I’m not very great at math on the fly. But the point being that essentially –

Len Sipes:  Close enough.

Henry Rosen:  You know, the people who need that $500 a day program are, those have got to be your high risk, high need folks that have the employment need as well as the job readiness need, whereas the lower risk folks, they’re not going to benefit as much from that intensive service and so it’s not necessarily important that you put a lot of money into that service for them.

Len Sipes:  Go ahead, please.

Phoebe Potter:  I do think it’s worth noting that, you know, we’re not asking for every agency that’s working with this population out there to go out and buy a risk assessment tool tomorrow. A lot of this is going to be accomplished through better collaboration with key partners and most major corrections agencies at this point are using some level of risk assessment, you know, the sophistication of the risk assessment tool might vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but ultimately, you know, if you’re a community provider, you know, listening to this right now and kind of panicking about the need to invest in a bunch of assessment tools, chances are your corrections agency, you know, in your jurisdiction has some of that information that you can tap into if you develop those partnerships. And that’s another big thing that has been pushed with Second Chance Act, is increasing the collaboration. So from a resource perspective, you know, I think partnerships are a key way to getting this done.

Henry Rosen:  That’s exactly right. You know, it think probation and parole officers will have an offenders case plan and it may have the risk assessment information on that case plan, but if you’re a workforce development practitioner or some other reentry service provider, you’ll have no idea what those numbers mean. So it’s really sort of up to those two agencies to come together and understand what that information means, and how to use it to drive decision-making.

Len Sipes:  We only have a minute left. I want to get this message across to the aide of the mayor of Milwaukee and the aid to the governor in Oklahoma and they’re listening to this program because they’re searching for information about employment and the criminal offender population. If done well, this can work. That’s what I get from your paper. We can be far more effective if we used a nuanced approach and we couple all these different programs with programs that help that person think better, be better, perform better while on the job. So it’s the attitude that becomes the crucial component of all this.

Phoebe Potter:  That’s right.

Henry Rosen:  Definitely.

Phoebe Potter:  This is founded, you know, this framework we’ve presented is founded on years of research and we’ve seen programs that have started to take this integrated approach have significant impacts on recidivism.

Len Sipes:  Tell me about that.

Phoebe Potter:  Sure, you know, at the beginning of the show, Hank mentioned that Mindy Tarlow for the center of employment opportunities was a key partner on this project. CEO operates the Transitional Jobs Program that has done a great job of integrating, you know, the kind of those risk, need, responsivity principles we talked about. Focusing on high risk people, and addressing criminogenic needs in a wrap around approach that goes beyond just job acquisition. So really building skills and you know, we’re evaluating and found that they did have significant impacts on recidivism among that high risk population. So kind of demonstrating the importance of focusing on high risk and also the need to have that wrap around approach. So we are seeing results that this can work.

Henry Rosen:  Right? And the way they did that is they had, they placed people into work crews, where they were trained on the skills they needed. They had sort of a work crew manager, almost like a peer leader, who sort of navigated them through the work process and they provided an opportunity to sort of practice those good, workplace behaviors on the job and debrief on that afterwards, and that was really effective.

Len Sipes:  Well, we’re leaving everybody with a note of hope in terms of this and this is something that I think all of us in the criminal justice system are really looking at with great joy, because we think this provides us with a roadmap that maybe we didn’t have that clear of a roadmap before. “Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies”, ladies and gentlemen, is the name of the research. I’ll have the notes within the show notes as to the exact address for that document, or you can go to www.csgjusticecenter.org , the Justice Center, the Council of State Governments. Our guests today have been Henry Rosen, Policy Analyst, Reentry Program, National Initiatives, Council of State Governments, and Phoebe Potter, again, Senior Policy Analyst for the same organization. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments and we even appreciate your criticisms and we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Systematic Change and Criminal Justice-Pew Public Safety Performance Project

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/2013/11/systematic-change-criminal-justice-pew-public-safety-performance-project/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host Leonard Sipes. Ladies and gentlemen, our title for today’s show: Public Opinion, Sentencing, and Parole and Probation. We’re very happy to have Adam Gelb. Adam is the Director of the Public Safety Performance Project, which helps advance policies and practices in adult and juvenile sentencing and corrections that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and control correctional costs. As project lead, Adam oversees Pew’s assistance to states and also research. He’s been involved in crime control and prevention for the past 25 years as a journalist, congressional aide, a senior state government official. He graduated from the University of Virginia, and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Adam, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Adam Gelb: Great to be with you, Len.

Len Sipes: Full disclosure. Adam and I worked together in the state of Maryland when he was a senior aide to the lieutenant governor, who eventually ran for governor. And I was leading public information for a state agency, law enforcement and correctional agency. So Adam and I have worked together. I’ve seen Adam lead this charge in person. Nobody is a more passionate person and a more knowledgeable person on the issue of crime and justice. I want to read very quickly from one of the findings from Pew, in terms of the research that they do. “American voters believe that too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on prison. Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.” Number three. “Support for sentencing and correction reforms, including reduced prison terms, is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial and ethnic groups.” Adam, the whole idea of Pew and the Public Safety Performance Project, give me a definition in one sentence.

Adam Gelb: You said it very well yourself, right?

Len Sipes: Yeah, I did, but I –

Adam Gelb: We have –

Len Sipes: We need to hear from you, in one sentence.

Adam Gelb: We help states advance policies and practices that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.

Len Sipes: When you and I talked in the past and I say, “Adam, this whole issue of offender reentry.” You said, “Leonard, we’re not an offender reentry program. We’re about systematic policy change within the criminal justice system; within the United States. That does the things that you just articulated.” Correct?

Adam Gelb: That’s right, yeah. Our project does look at the bigger system than just the very tail end of the system and making sure that when offenders get out of prison they’re set up for success.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Gelb: We look at the whole system from front end to back end, and, right, the bulk of what we do is join into partnerships with states. When the governor, senior legislative leadership, the chief justice, and judicial leaders, say, “We’ve got a problem here, we’d like to take a look at it, see what we can do about bending the curve on our corrections growth and making sure that prisons are holding the right people.” And then we come in, and working with a bipartisan, inner branch taskforce, take a look at the state’s data. What specifically is driving the population, what’s caused it to rise? We also do a look at the corrections and reentry policies. To what extent is that agency or agencies implementing what we know to be evidence based practices? Based on that, and at only at that point, once we’ve taken a look at the data and the trends, do we then start to fashion policy solutions. And based on what the research says about what works, based on what other state experiences have been about what works or not, then we help the state put together a set of policy recommendations. And then thirdly, and this is really important about what we do, is that we don’t just help the state and that taskforce put together a nice pretty report with fancy graphs and great recommendations that’s going to sit on the shelf. All right, there’s an integral involvement of all the stakeholder groups and agencies from the get-go, and certainly the governor and the legislative leadership. And so our reports tend to make it across the finish line in the legislature and not sit on a shelf.

Len Sipes: What you’re looking for is systematic change at the state level. You’re looking for systematic policy changes that reduce cost to state yet at the same time improve public safety.

Adam Gelb: That’s exactly right.

Len Sipes: All right. And through that – and I’m going to say this, and it’s not my opinion. I’m not expressing my opinion at all. I’ve talked to a wide variety of people at the national level, at the state level. Some people believe – again, I represent the federal government. I work with a lot of federal agencies. I do not mean to embarrass them. I love them half to death. But a lot of people express the opinion that Pew is not a leader in this issue of systematic change within the criminal justice system, Pew is the leader. Pew writes material in such a way that the average person can understand it, the average member of the general assembly, that person’s aide; citizens can understand what it is that you’re talking about. You have a wonderful flow in your writing. You have a comprehensive strategy in terms of your media events, of the video that you create. There’s something very, very strategic in terms of the way that you communicate. You communicate in a way that government seems to be incapable of doing. Am I right or wrong?

Adam Gelb: Well, we have a few advantages there, both in terms of resources and in terms of the politics, right? Pew is an independent organization that’s self-funded to do this work and so we do have a little bit more freedom to be creative in the way that we communicate.

Len Sipes: And government cannot. That’s the interesting thing. People have simply said Pew can, that’s the answer they’ve given, that Pew has the ability to communicate, government has an innate inability to communicate.

Adam Gelb: Well, take the polling that you started off the segment with here.

Len Sipes: Right, right.

Adam Gelb: We are able to go out and partner with some of the top pollsters in this country. One of the top Republican pollsters and one of the Democratic pollsters team together on the poll that you mentioned and were able to document, with research and public opinion, where people are on this, right. And I think the point that you’re making and one of the reasons why we’re seeing so much change around the country at this point is that elected officials are, I think, finally catching up with where voters and citizens are on these issues. People are sick and tired of the revolving door.

Len Sipes: How many states are you talking about, that Pew is involved in?

Adam Gelb: About half the states. Over the past seven years –

Len Sipes: So you’re talking about 25 year – 25 states over the course of the last seven years, systematic examination as to how they do business, systematic examination as to how they can change?

Adam Gelb: That’s right.

Len Sipes: 25 states in the United States and you’ve been able to do that on a systematic basis.

Adam Gelb: We’ve been working hard. We’ve had a tremendous amount of help from our partners at the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, the Vera Institute of Justice, the Crime and Justice Institute, and many others.

Len Sipes: Office of Justice Programs, yes.

Adam Gelb: BGA and the Office of Justice Programs, an integral partner in this effort. And it’s been an amazing public-private partnership, particularly in that our strength and focus of our dollars can be on the front end of these reforms, trying to make sure that there is a solid policy package put together and making it across the finish line to legislature. And then BGA has been able to really come in after that and provide some support to these states to make sure that the changes, and there are lots of them in many of these comprehensive packages, are actually implemented. Because I think we all realize that a lot of this structural policy change that you’re talking about sometimes isn’t worth the paper that it’s printed on unless there’s real follow-through by the courts and by probation and parole agencies.

Len Sipes: Okay. I do, just out of respect for Pew, is to get across the point that Pew is multilayered, Pew has been around for, what, 150,000 years, and multilayered, they do a lot of different things. It’s really surprising how Pew is a daily part of my life as a bureaucrat within a federal agency in terms of daily news summary, in terms of the material that you give me, in terms of public opinion of polls, Pew is multilayered.

Adam Gelb: It certainly is. There are projects in many different areas of public policy, health policy, environment policy, and it’s been fabulous that the Institution has committed as much energy and resource as it has over the past seven years to an area that is not really commonly thought of in a lot of philanthropic circles.

Len Sipes: Okay. Let’s get down to the 25 states. Office of Justice Program, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Pew, Council of States, I mean the lot of organizations involved in terms of systematic change within states. I talk to reporters and reporters say, “Okay, so this is all going on, this sense of systematic change at the state level. How many criminologists have we talked to over the course of our careers who said, “I really believe that we should systematically do it differently,” that we do over-incarcerate, that there should be more alternatives to incarceration? I contend that reporters and street cops are two of the most jaded groups of people on the face of the earth. They’re cynical. They look at me and their question is, “So what? Show me the results as to where the alternatives, whatever they happen to be, that are truly having an impact in terms of reduced crime, and improved justice, and at the same time reductions in costs for the criminal justice system. Show me. Show me. Show me.” When I respond, I run off a list of research that has had an impact, and their response is, “Okay, that doesn’t quite do it for me.” Because most research projects when they are successful, not all are successful, run in the ballpark of about 15% reduction in recidivism. They’re interested in a safer America. Can you deliver on a safer America?

Adam Gelb: I think we’re seeing governors and state legislators and judicial leaders across this country in those 25 states that have gone through the justice reinvestment process, I think we’re seeing them deliver.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Gelb: Right? And they are. And I hope it’s well known with your audience that Texas was one of the first states to go through this kind of process, and that in Texas, in the last seven years, the prison population has stabilized. They expected to have to spend at this point now more than two billion dollars to accommodate the increased growth that they were projecting. They haven’t had to spend that money. The recidivism rate, pro-revocation rate, in that state is down by well over a third. And public safety, the most important piece of this puzzle, has improved across the state. The crime rate in Texas is back down to where it was in the 1960s.

Len Sipes: And reporters are going to say, “Well, Leonard, but most states have seen reductions in crime across the board.” We’re just coming off an almost continuous 20 year reduction in crime across the board, as measured by the FBI, as measured by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, for the last couple years, it’s starting to go up, both on the property and violent crime. So the fact that there have been reductions in the past in any state can be explained, as a journalist would say, by the reductions in all states. So how do we through  systematic change, prove that we’re improving public safety, that we’re making people’s lives safer?

Adam Gelb: I think the numbers clearly show it, right. There’re national trends and then there are state by state trends. And what you really have to do if you want to examine this closely is take a look at Texas, take a look at South Carolina, take a look at Georgia, take a look at Ohio, and some of the other states that have made these changes. And what’s clear is that they’ve been able to save a tremendous amount of taxpayer money by not having to build and open and staff new prisons. And they’ve been able to do so while continuing along with that general national trend towards lower crime over the past several years. And in the last couple years the numbers also sort of mirror the national average. So what’s starting to happen, Len, is that there’s the myth that incarceration and crime rates move together in some lock step. That myth is being shattered. It’s being shattered in state after state across the country, where states that have reduced their incarceration rates have also reduced their crime rates. In fact the 29 states that have reduced their incarceration rates over the past few years, the crime rate has gone down in all of them but three.

Len Sipes: So and that’s your point. The point is, is that there has been systematic change in these states if you’re going to predict the fact that there’s been less incarceration, that your crime rate has gone up, that hasn’t happened.

Adam Gelb: No it hasn’t and –

Len Sipes: So it’s gone down concurrently with a reduction within prison population?

Adam Gelb: It has. And I think the conversation at the national level when you talk at sort of a big conceptual level, that it immediately does go toward, “Well, what’s the relationship between crime and incarceration?” At the local level, the state level, what policy makers are starting to realize, when they’ve seen, “Okay, we’re not building these prisons, okay, we’re scaling this back and crime is going down.” or it’s maybe starting to tick up a little bit, nationally what’s going on here? They start to look at other factors that influence the crime rate, particularly the police. And this is where, right, that you need to make sure, in part of these conversations, what’s happened with the ranks of police forces across this country gets some time in that conversation. Because police forces have had to lay off, in some cases, tremendous portions of their –

Len Sipes: Oh, in New Jersey there are towns that have laid off 50% of their people.

Adam Gelb: So –

Len Sipes: It’s been amazing what’s going on throughout the country.

Adam Gelb: Right. So at the local level people are starting to see, this is not all just about how many people you put in prison and how long you keep them there, definitely one factor. Nobody in this conversation, in a serious conversation about these issues is going to argue that the increased imprisonment didn’t have any impact on the reduction in crime.

Len Sipes: And that’s a good point.

Adam Gelb: What we’re seeing now, though, is that most people, including policymakers, realizing that we have passed a tipping point on this. We’ve long since now passed a point of diminishing returns, where not only will more prisons not necessarily reduce crime, they’re just not even close to the most cost at more prisons, not close the most cost-effective way to reduce crime.

Len Sipes: I want to get very quickly to the other thing that I’ve heard from reporters, this issue is principally a way for states to cut costs, not necessarily public safety, but a way to cut costs. But before I get to that I’m going to reintroduce you. Adam Gelb is at our microphones today. He is the Director of the Public Safety Performance Project of Pew. And certainly Pew, as I said before, I’m not quite sure that I can be more praise or suggest more praise for Pew than I possibly can. It is either the leader of change in the criminal justice system in this country or certainly a partner with a lot of other organizations in terms of systematic change within the criminal justice system within this country. www.pewpublicsafety.org, www.pewpublicsafety.org. The criticism that, “Leonard, okay, so all these states are doing all these things because they’re tired of spending so much money on incarceration and that’s all you’re doing. Yes, you’re cutting costs and that’s well documented, but they’re doing it solely for that, they’re not doing it for systematic change within the criminal justice system.”

Adam Gelb: Budget trouble is definitely bringing states to the table; it’s just not the meal.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Gelb: Right? Policymakers across the country are not holding their noses and saying, “I know this going to really cause an increase in crime and I hate to do it, but we do have to, at the state level, make ends meet, we have to balance our budget, so we’re just going to have to make some of these tough policy calls.” That is not what we see happening in state after state. What we do see happening are three things. First is they are seeing the success of states like Texas and South Carolina and other states that we just talked about, states that have significantly bent the curve on their prison growth, and even reduced population, and are seeing reduced recidivism because of the reinvestment into stronger probation and parole programs, and they’re seeing those state crime rates go down. So they’re starting to see this iron linkage broken between locking up more people and having safer streets. The second thing that’s happening is they’re becoming increasingly aware of where the public is on this and I think our polling has helped there; but more and more just in daily conversation you find that people realize at this point after 25, 30 years of ever increasing prison populations that we’re not going to build our way to public safety and that there are much more effective and less expensive approaches for lower level offenders. They also are aware and think that they don’t have some specific amount of time that they want to see offenders behind bars for. The want to see a high percentage of the sentence served, but they don’t really care if that’s a five year sentence or a three year sentence. They just want to know when the judge says three years; you’re going to serve pretty much all that three years. That is starting to seep into some of these conversations. Other parts of the public opinion constellation here include victims speaking out and also saying, “Now, this is not all about locking up as many people for as long as possible.” This is, “I realize these people are going to get out and I want them to pay restitution, I want them to be held accountable, but I also don’t want them to claim new victims.” And so we need to strengthen reentry. We have business leaders, Len, stepping forward in many of these states and saying this is now an issue just the overall economic vitality of the state. The corrections budgets have been the second fastest growing part of state budgets behind only Medicaid.

Len Sipes: That’s what I want to explore.

Adam Gelb: And this is not the right way to go. Let me just add that you certainly have a lot of conservative voices that you’ve mentioned that are speaking up here now and realizing that having 1 in 100 adults behind bars is not consistent with conservative notions of limited government and fiscal discipline.

Len Sipes: Let me get into that. For the first time in my over 40 years within the criminal justice system, I’m seeing people on both sides of the political asile come together under one banner, under one topic, and that is, again, systematic change. Doing it differently, getting a better result for our criminal justice dollar. I’ve not seen that before. I’ve not seen some of the public opinion data that you’re sharing swinging in the direction of, “Hey, let’s not have 75%, 80% recidivism in terms of re-arrests, let’s not have 50% recidivism in terms of re-incarceration. The state simply can’t afford that. My God! We don’t have money for schools; we don’t have money for colleges. Can we reduce this rate of recidivism? Can we rearrange how we do things?” I’ve never seen such a coalescence of opinion from despaired groups before on this issue of crime and justice.

Adam Gelb: There’s a tremendous shift that’s happening and it’s hard to put your finger on exactly why it’s happening. Why is Jeb Bush, why is Newt Gingrich, why are Grover Norquist, Bill Bennett, David Keene, why are these folks who are and have been leaders of the conservative movement coming forward now and saying the system has gotten too big, it’s gotten too expensive, it needs to be rethought dramatically?

Len Sipes: It needs to be more effective at what it does.

Adam Gelb: And it really derives – right, the point in time is sort of what’s hard to fix. The reasons behind it are not difficult to discern at all, right. One is straightforward limited government. 1 in 100 behind bars, almost 1 in 31 under some form of correctional supervision, prison, jail, probation, parole, it’d be even a little higher if we counted pretrial. That is big and it’s costly. And so that’s one perspective, the limited government perspective and the fiscal discipline perspective. There’re also big strains of this movement that look at the victim piece of this and recognize that serving time in a state prison does not do anything to help make that victim whole, particularly lower level property offenders, that it’s more consistent with conservative notions of justice.

Len Sipes: The focus is violent offenders versus nonviolent offenders. And so much of this focus is looking at the nonviolent offenders and can we do, “Something else with the nonviolent offenders.”? The violent offenders – we’re basically making room for the more dangerous folks, are we not, in terms of this whole concept of effectiveness?

Adam Gelb: That is a constant theme in the States. What policymakers tell us they want to see out of the policy packages, and they certainly see this when they look at the data, in terms of increasing numbers of technical violators taking up prison space, is that’s not who they want behind bars. They want behind bars the serious, the chronic, the violent, and the high-risk offenders.

Len Sipes: Okay. We only have eight minutes left in the program. I want to ask a personal question and I want to move on to more policy issues. Number one, you’ve ridden this horse from the very beginning, and I would imagine, as you’re sitting on top of your horse, when started with Pew, when you’re looking out at all you can see is 10,000 cattle milling about. And you’re saying to yourself, “It’s impossible to get all these critters moving in one direction.” And you have. So what is your personal sense of accomplishment after all these years, or non-accomplishment?

Adam Gelb: There are a lot of cynics who think that this is all about the budgets. As you just said, that we’re really not adding a lot of value here, this would be happening anyway or it’s happening only because the budgets. That there’s really not some fundamental shift in the national conversation here and even if there is it’ll be temporary and it won’t last much longer beyond when budgets recover. That’s not what we see happening. We do see a fundamental shift in the conversation and the perspective on this issue happening. We had for a long time a situation where policymakers thought it was the right approach to this issue and it was their job to say, “How do I demonstrate that I’m tough on crime?”

Len Sipes: Right.

Adam Gelb: Now what they’re saying is, “How do I get taxpayers a better public safety return on their correction spending?” And I think that’s an important shift and it’s one that’ll last.

Len Sipes: Give me five specifics. Because I think it was a very modest answer. I think I would’ve been scared half to death sitting on top of that horse looking out at the sea of cattle that I’m trying to get moving in one direction. I think you’re being modest. Number two. And I think Pew is being modest. I think Pew should crow more about what it’s done. I think it’s been a sea change. Number two. Give me, and reporters ask me this all the time, give me the five fundamental changes that one needs to advocate for to provide a systematic change that reduces cost and improves public safety all at the same time. The first from a parole and probation perspective that I always give is to do an independent analysis of that individual to judge their risk to public safety and to judge what their need are so you’re dealing with that person individually and not just as a class so you can design a program that will specifically deal with what it is that he or she needs. Risk and needs assessment. That’s one of my answers, do you have others?

Adam Gelb: There’re many. To build off of what you were just saying. We do know now what works to stop the cycle recidivism. No magic bullets. No way to guarantee that somebody’s not going to commit another crime. But we do know how to do risk assessment much better. We do have much better surveillance technology. We know –

Len Sipes: GPS, is that what we’re talking about?

Adam Gelb: We’re talking about GPS; we’re talking about rapid result drug tests.

Len Sipes: All right.

Adam Gelb: So we know more about how to change behavior, we have better technologies to help us do that. We need to get –

Len Sipes: To better accountability tools?

Adam Gelb: Across the board.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Gelb: It’s very different. The challenge is less so in terms of knowing what to do but in terms of actually getting it done.

Len Sipes: Right.

Adam Gelb: And what we’re seeing in these states is the recognition that there are a good number of lower level offenders in the prison system, particularly those who are technical violators and not having committed a new crime or not been convicted of a new crime. And if you can change laws and practices about who goes in, and you can capture some of those savings and reinvest them into some of the probation and parole programs that follow the evidence based technologies then you can have a tremendous impact on both cost and on public safety.

Len Sipes: All right, so the state saves 20 million dollars, you want 10 of that reinvested in the programs, parole and probation or rehab programs or treatment programs that could have a direct impact on the rest of the people staying out of the criminal justice system.

Adam Gelb: That’s the formula.

Len Sipes: Okay. What else?

Adam Gelb: One of the things that we’re seeing a lot of interest in the states in is in swift and certain sanctions. The states are realizing that you have to hold people accountable –

Len Sipes: Sanctions mean the guy under supervision screws up and you’ve got to do something about it.

Adam Gelb: There’s an immediate and a swift response, but it’s not severe. You don’t wait until somebody violates 10, 12 times and then do something about it. There’s a lot of interest in incentives, all right? For a long time the prison system has incentivized good behavior behind the walls by saying you could earn credits off your sentence. What we’re seeing now is a lot of states interested in transferring that concept to the community and saying, “If you’re out on probation or parole and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re going to treatment, you’re testing clean, and so on, you’re paying your victim restitution, then you can earn time off your supervision period.” And that does two things. It incentivizes good behavior by offenders in compliant behavior, and then it calls off the lower risk offenders off of case loads, right, so that supervision officers can actually spend their time on people who are not complying. And that’s what research tells us is going to produce the biggest impact on public safety.

Len Sipes: People have suggested to me that we’ve got to reduce the amount of time spent on parole and probation. If you have a person for five years on parole and probation that person’s going to go back. You cannot, the pope could not live a clean life during an endless period on parole and probation. I apologize if I’ve been disrespectful to anybody. Few could live five years on parole and probation without messing up, without the possibility of returning back to the system. So what some people suggest is that you tell the person, “You give me one good year of no violations, you work, no drug positives, you do all the things you’re supposed to do. If you’re a nonviolent offender, I’ll go back, and then after a year of compliance, I’ll go back and recommend that we no longer supervise you.” But across the board, people are recommending lower times for supervision on parole and probation.

Adam Gelb: That’s right. I think practice is starting to catch up with the research on this question.

Len Sipes: Anything else quickly? We’ve got about 30 seconds left.

Adam Gelb: Yeah, I think you were asking about interventions and programs.

Len Sipes: Yes.

Adam Gelb: I’d like to really put the emphasis on the process.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Adam Gelb: I think one of the reasons why states have been as successful as they have been working with us and CSG and others on this is that they have not put the cart before the horse. They’ve taken a look at their data; they’ve taken a look at their systems, and from that, determined what policies and programs are missing and what’s the best fit. And that has just been an absolutely critical part of this process. It’s changed the whole thing around from, “What’s a good program? Or what should we do ideologically?” to “What does the data say?”

Len Sipes: So if we’re going to have systematic change we need systematic analysis. And that’s where Pew, and BJA, and OJP, and the Center for State Governments, that’s where they all come in.

Adam Gelb: That’s right.

Len Sipes: All right. Adam, it’s been a fascinating conversation. It went by way too fast as it always does. Adam Gelb is the director of the Public Safety Performance Project for Pew. www.pewpublicsafety.org, www.pewpublicsafety.org. Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your comments. We even appreciate your criticism. And we want everybody to have themselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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Green Corrections’ Impact on Cost Savings and Reentry-National Institute of Corrections-DC Public Safety

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/2013/04/green-corrections-impact-on-cost-savings-and-reentry-national-institute-of-corrections-dc-public-safety/

[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: From the nation’s capital this is DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. We have a really interesting show today, ladies and gentlemen. We have a show on green corrections which is more than the concept sounds. What we’re talking about is economic development, what we’re talking about is saving millions of dollars for state correctional facilities throughout the United States. We’re also talking about inmate training today and using green corrections as a way of transitioning offenders from the prison system to the larger community. We have via Skype from the State of Washington, Washington Department of Corrections, Dan Pacholke. He is assistant secretary, www.doc.ua.gov. Also, we have Stephanie Davison. She is a senior program officer for FHI360, www.fhi360.org. Again, both Dan and Stephanie are here to talk about green corrections. Dan and Stephanie, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Dan Pacholke: Thank you.

Stephanie Davison: Thank you.

Len Sipes: All right. Good. Before we start, what is FHI360, Stephanie?

Stephanie Davison: FHI is an international development organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals internationally.

Len Sipes: Okay and you’re under contract to the National Institute of Corrections which is the producer of today’s show, Donna Ledbetter, was kind enough to set up this show today. So you’re under contract to the National Institute of Corrections of the US Department of Justice, correct?

Stephanie Davison: Yes, we’ve coordinated several activities for green corrections through NIC for the last few years.

Len Sipes: All right. Stephanie, the first question goes to you. What in the name of heavens is green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Green corrections is a series of programs in which correctional system can operate the prison system to be more environmentally friendly and hopefully save money and then also operate education and training programs for offenders geared toward job placement once they exit.

Len Sipes: And that’s pretty interesting because we’re talking before the program, Dan, that the State of Washington had save, what, well over $3 million by implementing green corrections?

Dan Pacholke: Yes and between the years 2005 and 2010, we saved about $3.5 million by using basically, you know, environmental greening principles.

Len Sipes: And give me a sense as to what you mean by environmentally friendly principles?

Dan Pacholke: Well, I mean – I mean some of it comes down to reducing your carbon footprint. We have zero waste garbage sorting centers, composting. We’ve done a lot on different energy packages, strategies to save water, strategies to save waste water, so just in some of those bulk areas about, you know, ways in which you spend money that aren’t wise or unproductive so we’ve reduce a lot of expenditures in those areas and ultimately we’ve asked questions about why we buy things only to throw them away and try to eliminate those items upstream also.

Len Sipes: People don’t understand, Dan, that the correctional systems are like big cities and I don’t know how many prisons that you operate there in the State of Washington but each and every one of them – when I was with the Maryland Department of Public Safety, we had 23 correctional facilities throughout the state. They all held between 2000 to 3000 individuals. I mean they were operating like little cities so there are, I would imagine, endless opportunities to go green and save any state a tremendous amount of money.

Dan Pacholke: Absolutely. I mean there’s what, 2.3 million people incarcerated in federal state and county prisons and jails across the country.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: And as you look at some of these strategies that, you know, as we’ve kind of talk about it, at least a couple of them, you know, we’re giving you examples of a relatively mid-sized prison system so if you apply that you know across the country I mean there’s lots and lots of money that can be saved just in the sense of savings and on top of that you can begin to use prison as a mechanism to assist a community in meeting other needs as well.

Len Sipes: Well, it’s an amazing concept. I’m really enjoying this because in this day and age where all of us within the criminal justice system are charged with saving taxpayer dollars. I mean we would do that regardless but nevertheless. I mean this is one way of saving tax paid dollars and providing job training for people coming out of the prison systems. Stephanie Davison, why don’t you tell me a little bit about that concept of training people – training inmates for jobs in green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Right. So training individuals for green jobs is very similar to training individuals for regular jobs. You’re just tweaking what you’ve done.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: For example, FHI has worked with the State of Minnesota to green their programs in which we worked with their teachers to think about how to use green products and green training concepts…

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: …to connect inmates to jobs in green fields after exiting.

Len Sipes: But give me a sense as to what sort of jobs are we talking about.

Stephanie Davison: Sure [PH] jobs. So almost any job can be made green.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: A common one would be carpentry. You may be using green cleaning products green finishing materials. You’ll also learn how to produce your products where you create less waste.

Len Sipes: Okay. But are there specific training like an electrician, like a plumber, like any other person involved in hard skills. I mean is there green corrections that would lead to a career path?

Stephanie Davison: It can, yes. There are a lot of green certifications. They’re valued in different ways within different communities throughout the US. For example the US Green Building Council has a lead certificate to do construction in green manners.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: That can be great. It requires some time so it’s not necessarily valued in every community.

Len Sipes: Right. But I mean there are hard and fast jobs where that inmate can come out into the community and find himself or herself employed as a result of being involved in green corrections.

Stephanie Davison: Yes. Some of the solid ones would be landscaping.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: That’s considered a green job. It’s something you can be trained within the correctional facility especially states like Washington have gardens that could be used to train offenders.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: And then they can be – enter those sorts of jobs once they exit.

Len Sipes: Okay, Stephanie. Dan is not light up. So you’re going to have to answer this question. Why would the National Institute of Corrections, which is part of the bureau – Federal Bureau of Prisons, part of the US Department of Justice, why would the National Institute of Corrections care about green corrections? Why would they’d be involved?

Stephanie Davison: I think there are two reasons. One is it can save the taxpayer’s money…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …and, two, it can have benefits to the offender upon reentry.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: There are jobs. There are also some behavioral aspects that we can talk about different programs that can benefit an offender when they leave.

Len Sipes: Okay. Talk to me about the behavioral aspects.

Stephanie Davison: So there are some programs and I’ll let Dan jump into this little bit more such as dog training programs that they’ve learned or from experience can find that offenders within the yard are calmer. There’s less incidence of violence and then when they exit, reentry is often smoother.

Len Sipes: Dan, you mentioned in the pre-show about this concept of making safer correctional facilities. In the 14 years that I spent with Maryland Department of Public Safety, our philosophy was anything that made that day productive for that inmate created a safer prison facility. I would imagine you will go along with that thought?

Dan Pacholke: Absolutely and I believe that’s one of the reasons why NIC is interested. In addition to cost containment and cost savings for reentry, on top of that what you want to do is make for a safe operating environment in the prison both for the staff that work there and the offenders that live there as well. So part of what can be done, I supposed, in the greening effort is to create opportunities for an inmate to contribute and I use that word opportunity to contribute because it’s meaningful activity in the sense – from the sense of an inmate. So whether it’s dog restoration or training dogs or whether it’s working with endangered species, both plants and animals, or whether or not it’s contributing to scientific research, what the inmates gain from that is the sense that they’re contributing to a broader social need. It’s something your family can benefit from. It’s something the community can benefit from and what we’ve found is that inmates that are involved in those kinds of activities tend to be less likely to violate rules. It makes them more – a more therapeutic environment in that regard. So it does enhance institutional safety and ultimately begins to change the nature of prisons so that community partners and organization see a prison as a benefit to someone that can contribute to local geographic community needs and there are several states that are doing environmental restoration today.

Len Sipes: How many states are involved in green corrections, either one of you?

Stephanie Davison: I would say a large proportion of states are involved to one degree or another.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: For example, many states are involved just because the governor has set forward executive orders that reduce the set goals for energy reduction over time.

Len Sipes: Right and, Dan, give me an honest answer here. I’ve been in the criminal justice system for over 40 years and somebody came to me and said, Leonard, you’re now going to be doing green corrections. I would have sat there and went, eh? What is green corrections? Because the order came down on high from the governor’s office to reduce expenditures but when – after talking with you and talking with Stephanie, I get the sense that this has major payoffs economically, major payoffs in terms of the safety of the institution, and major payoffs in terms of reentry upon release.

Dan Pacholke: It does. I mean when you think of corrections, the center of the plate is always like evidence-based practices, doing things that reduce the likelihood that inmates reoffend upon release. Over the last five years, we’ve been in extremely lean economic times nationally…

Len Sipes: Yes.

Dan Pacholke: …and so we tend to engage in issues that are more on the margin that are complimentary to an evidence-based framework. So on the one hand, its low cost opportunities to program offenders, to get offenders involved in meaningful activity. Engage more offenders to make the prison safer. There is the environmental economics to it. They’re going to reduce the operating cost over a long period of time, over life cycles, and then, of course, you know there is the benefit to the community that kind of goes along with that, the reentry, the job training, the skills upon release. So it’s really complimentary to that framework and it begins to broaden kind of the scope of corrections in a way that we wouldn’t have done in good economic times. I think it is the product of tougher economic times where partners are reaching out for each other in order to accomplish a goal.

Len Sipes: All right. It’s taking lemons and making lemonade.

Dan Pacholke: Correct.

Len Sipes: Yeah, yeah I like that. Now, but help me with this sense and a lot of people that are going to be listening to this program today may not be familiar with the inside of prison systems. I have always maintained that you can walk inside of a prison and either feel that lack of tension or feel the tension almost instantaneously as soon as you walk in through the front door. Feel free to correct me, feel free to disagree, but a lot of the institutions that I’ve walked into in the past that have been based upon a therapeutic environment, based upon the inmates involved in lots of different things, their days are filled with different issues where – that they find humanizing. You can walk inside of that prison and immediately feel it. You can immediately feel the lack of tension because the inmates there are – again, they’re involved in constructive activities. I’m getting the sense that some of the things that we’re talking about with green correction fills that bill. Am I right or wrong?

Dan Pacholke: No, you’re absolutely right and you can certainly, you know, feel the difference in institutions that have a lot of activity than those that don’t in such attention. So, yes, you know green corrections are the philosophy of a sustainable prison. Certainly aids to a much calmer operating tone, a much more pro-social environment, you know, in area that has greater humanity which really is an environment that’s more conducive to the educational, vocational training, or cognitive behavior change…

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: … is that the context to prisons begins to change in a humanizing sort of way.

Len Sipes: If all the states of the United States employed green corrections and I am going to come back to you guys for more – for a larger number of specific examples as to what green corrections is because I’m still a bit confused. I understand landscaping, I understand dealing with animals, I understand mulching, I understand that sort of thing, but I’m getting a sense that it does go a little bit beyond that. I may be missing that but in essence what we’re dealing with here is stakeholder buy in. We’re talking about is that you don’t do this on your own. I would imagine the state of Washington and other states have to reach out to other people to help them implement a green corrections program. Either one of you can talk to me about that?

Stephanie Davison: So when we worked with several states, they find external partners both from other state agencies and then community-based organizations are critical.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: For example, in Maryland, they used the Department of National – Natural Resources…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …to give inmate opportunities to do restoration projects within their community. That’s critical.

Len Sipes: Okay. So they take the prelease offenders and they go out and they do restoration projects.

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: Okay. Okay. So, again, help me with the cynical side of spending 40 years in the criminal justice system. Okay. So they go out and dig holes and put in trees. I mean but we are talking about the possibility of jobs upon release. So anybody can go out and dig a hole put in a tree.

Stephanie Davison: Right.

Len Sipes: So help me understand that.

Stephanie Davison: So they’re learning how to maintain the tree and either an urban forest or a traditional forest over the long term.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So that’s an important skill. Another example in Maryland is right to know they were leaning how to deconstruct an old prison and then they’ll build signs made out of the old bricks.

Len Sipes: Really?

Stephanie Davison: It’s an interesting project.

Len Sipes: And that’s – and that’s the Maryland Correctional Institute at Jessup?

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: Yes. That’s the prison you’re talking about.

Stephanie Davison: Yes, I am.

Len Sipes: I’ve been in there a thousand times under – under nasty circumstances.

Stephanie Davison: Yes.

Len Sipes: And I’m so happy when they closed the prison down. So they’re taking the – their dismantling the prison and they’re doing what with it?

Stephanie Davison: And they will be using the bricks from the prison to create signs within the community.

Len Sipes: That is neat.

Stephanie Davison: It’s a cool project and it’s great because the old building won’t be going into the waste stream.

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: And all of those products will be in a very visible way contributing to their community.

Len Sipes: Well that’s neat. Maryland should start a buy-a-brick program. This is an authentic brick. You know what we used to call that institution?

Stephanie Davison: No, I don’t.

Len Sipes: The cut.

Stephanie Davison: Oh.

Len Sipes: Yes and it has a world famous because it was an old prison it was called the cut, some people say he was named after the railroad cut that ran by it and the other people say it was nicknamed the cut because of the all the stabbings at the place. So it has a very, very – just in case the listeners are remotely interested, it has a very unique background. Ladies and gentlemen we’re doing a show today on green corrections and I find this really interesting. Dan Pacholke, he’s the assistant secretary of the State of Washington Department of Corrections, www.doc.wa.gov. Stephanie Davison, she is a senior program officer with FHI360. It’s www.fhi360.org. They are a contractor to the National Institute of Corrections of the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the US Department of Justice and they’re trying to implement this concept of green corrections throughout the United States. There is a website that I do want to say which is a website at the National Institute of Corrections specifically focusing on green corrections, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. I’ll give that one more time now and at the end of the program, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. Donna, I hope I got that correct, okay. I’m getting a thumbs up. All right. Where do you we go to with all of this? I mean are states really buying into this? Are states really – I mean you said the bulk of the states, Stephanie. Is this is something that they’re enthusiastically pursuing or they’re saying, oh, my gosh, here’s another mandate from the governor, another mandate from the federal government although I don’t think it’s a mandate. I think they’re simply guiding. So as you go out and talk to hard bitten state correctional administrators when you talk to them about green corrections, what sort of reception do you get?

Stephanie Davison: It really varies on the state and it depends on who you’re talking to. If you’re talking to someone who needs to save money…

Len Sipes: Right.

Stephanie Davison: …then they buy into it right away.

Len Sipes: There you go.

Stephanie Davison: They understand it. If it’s an officer working the yard, it’s a little different.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: And we found that buy in is really important with those individuals.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So – and I’ll let Dan speak to this a little bit more but we found it’s important to have an understanding of why green is important when you’re trying to do it at a grassroots level. When you’re trying to get the officer to get on board that they have to understand the why.

Len Sipes: Right. But they do see the obvious. I mean look, I’ve been in, as I said before, some prisons where there are a lot of programming and the officers within the prisons with lots of programming are much happier human beings because the level of violence goes down and, Dan, quickly correct me if I’m overselling this concept but in those institutions where there are lots of programs where they are meaningfully engaged in doing pro-social things throughout the course of the day, either GED programs or substance abuse or they’re doing work-related programs, because I think this is part of correctional industries. Dan, is this part of correctional industries in the State of Washington?

Dan Pacholke: No, it’s actually – well, it is but I mean it’s part of the Department of Corrections as a whole and certainly correctional industries is involved in sustainability activities also.

Len Sipes: Right and we should explain what the correctional industry is. It’s job programs within prisons.

Dan Pacholke: Correct. I mean it really does two or three things. It mimics real world business activity inside the prison.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: So they create real world jobs. On top of that they provide, you know, job training and then ultimately they produce products that are useful to state governments and certainly our department as well.

Len Sipes: Right. But to Stephanie’s point of some of the correctional staff – I mean they may not get it, they may not understand it at the very beginning but if it calms the institution and makes their day more productive and makes their day safer, I would imagine there is a certain point where they say, oh, okay, now I get this.

Dan Pacholke: I think in the last five years that a lot of correctional staff that have been sold on the cost containment aspect of it.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Dan Pacholke: It does save money and it takes it out of areas where stuff like garbage or energy and it allows us to buy equipment or training or whatever the case maybe for line level staff. So on the one hand, I think they get the cost containment. On the other hand, as you’ve indicated, correctional officers know that meaningful activity to an offender gets them out of the housing unit, gets them involved in something and in most cases, with few exceptions, they are less prone to act out, less prone to violate rules.

Len Sipes: Now, the other thing that comes to mind is that all – most of the prisons that I’ve been in, either in the State of Maryland or beyond the State of Maryland, are pretty stark places. I mean it’s barbwired, it’s concrete buildings, it’s not designed to look nice. It’s designed to keep inmates in the prison. The first rule of corrections is I shall not escape. So we’re talking about a pretty stark environment here and I would imagine if you start using the common areas of the prison system and start landscaping them and start doing things with them that brings an environment. I mean, look, the average correctional officer has got a tough job. They are in there for 20 or 30 years. The average inmate could be in there for 10 or 20 years or longer. So they’re all in this very confined area. It’s stark. It’s not the prettiest of areas. I’m guessing that if you green up these areas and teach inmates how to sustain them being green, I would imagine that cannot transform but it can certainly add to the pleasantness of the interactions of inmates and staff throughout the course of the day. It makes simply – makes a nicer environment.

Dan Pacholke: Well, it certainly changes the culture or context of incarceration. Even in high security facilities, you can find places to create green space or you can do organic gardening or you can co-locate dog training areas next to housing units and certainly bringing dogs into living unit adds an element to it that is not typically there and will bring a calming aspect. You’ll see them laughing or smiling which is not always the case. So you know part of what you’re doing in bringing nature inside prison is you’re creating more of therapeutic environment and it’s not missed by the offender population and certainly, it creates a better environment for staff as well. So there’s great examples out there how you can do it in very high security prisons and you know all the way down to low security prisons. There are some model 2000 prisons out there today that are doing everything in the areas of gardening and garbage sorting and composting and raising tilapia, dog training, and bicycle restoration that have highly programmatic routines you know, 100 inmates involved in activities that would be greening activities.

Len Sipes: Bicycle restoration, that didn’t even cross my mind and as a fairly avid bike rider, that intrigues me. Tell me more about bicycle restoration?

Dan Pacholke: Well, once again, I mean once you adopt a green principle or sustainable principle in your mind that you want to do things that are sustainable and also that you wanted to contribute to the community, I mean, you start outreaching a little bit. We probably have four prisons that receive bicycles either from police departments or from special interest groups in the community. They bring them in. They often times contribute money. We set up an area where offenders will do bicycle restoration and then typically, they’re turned back over to community and they give them to children in need. So once again, it’s an opportunity to contribute to something larger than themselves. It’s an opportunity to give back to children. It’s an opportunity to work with community partners that are interested in the outcome that you’re going to achieve. So essentially a community begins to see you as a resource rather than a black hole behind a big wall that we just throw money into.

Len Sipes: That’s an interesting concept. I mean that is – I’ve never heard of that. I mean I’ve been in part of this system for – again, for decades and bicycle restoration, what a great idea. How long has that been going on in the State of Washington?

Dan Pacholke: Oh, you know, I think we started the first one probably 6 or 7 years ago.

Len Sipes: Wow.

Dan Pacholke: We probably have half a dozen prisons that are doing it today but along those same lines, it’s the same thing we’re going canine rescue. We have canine rescue in 12 different prisons across the state and, of course, there are many, many dog advocates and training everything up to assistance dogs. Once again, a community has a need, it’s tough environmental times, they need help. They provide training to the inmates. It is a therapeutic activity and then in the end, of course, the community, you know, gets the animal and we have 100% adoption rate. So as you start going down this line about a being a good community partner, I mean there are several states and we’re one of them that are doing environmental restoration projects whether it’s raising the endangered Oregon spotted frog or the Taylor checkerspot butterfly or endangered puri [PH] plants that there are community partners, scientists, biologists, US Department of Fish and Wildlife that need assistance in taking care of or nurturing or growing these creatures or plants. They lack funding and, of course, prisons are full of people that have nothing but time.

Len Sipes: Right.

Dan Pacholke: Many times they are pretty talented as well so – once again, it’s another way to bridge and to give inmates an opportunity to contribute and certainly give a community partner a different view inside the prison where they begin to see you as a resource that can help solve local problems.

Len Sipes: You know the more I talk to the two of you about this the more encouraged – the more enthusiastic I become because when you first hear the term green corrections, Dan, you’re not quite sure what it means and where we’re going with this but that’s true. I mean if you’re doing a lot of community restoration for inmates at the pre-release level who can safely go out, if you’re doing things like repairing bikes or taking care of wounded animals or training dogs, I mean, my heavens, how many millions of dogs are there in this country that needs some sort of intervention or they’re simply going to be put down. So it sounds as if the State of Washington is being really innovative in terms of coming up with not just pro-social things for the inmate population to do but a way for the prison to contribute to the betterment of the larger community.

Dan Pacholke: Yeah. I think that is part of what you’ll find across the country. I mean Maryland is doing steps around Chesapeake Bay, you know and Ohio is doing stuff with the Cincinnati Zoo and I think they’re about ready to start a restoration project on an endangered salamander called the hellbender and so there are different examples out there where people are beginning to engage community partners in a way that provides opportunities for inmates that are therapeutic, they teach empathy, compassion, and responsibility. At the same time, you’ll have scientists or biologists or both that are interested in these projects and ultimately, you know, we have a controlled environment where we can develop protocols around some of these science restoration project so you begin to expand the kind of agenda of greening a corrections. I mean you start with something simple like cost containment, certainly moving areas to training and jobs and then, of course, you bridge into more local geographic community needs and we’re certainly in need of many, many more environmental restoration projects across this country.

Len Sipes: It’s an amazing thought. Okay, we’re in the final couple of minutes of the programs Stephanie. Well, tell me more about – I’m hearing all these wonderful things coming out of the State of Washington and so you’re telling me that other – and Dan did mention that Maryland is doing some stuff, Ohio is doing some stuff, does everybody get green corrections?

Stephanie Davison: Not everybody…

Len Sipes: Do they understand it?

Stephanie Davison: … gets green corrections but they could.

Len Sipes: They could.

Stephanie Davison: I would encourage people to go the NIC website…

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: …and look an example of – and look at a guidebook called the Greening of Corrections: Creating a Sustainable System.

Len Sipes: Right. Okay.

Stephanie Davison: We have examples from all over the country from the deep south to the progressive west and you can see how it can be done anywhere.

Len Sipes: Okay and we are talking about, as Dan said, $3.5 million worth of savings. So if you do it for no other reason besides saving taxpayers – you know, 50 times, 50 states, and seven territories x $3.5 million that’s a lot of money and I’m going to give the website out one more time before the close that will give greater time for the close, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections, www.nicic.gov/greencorrections. Okay. We’re in our final minute of the program, who wants it? Stephanie, any final wrap up?

Stephanie Davison: One final word, I’d like to say in the next few months, we’ll be releasing a challenge on challenge.gov so that…

Len Sipes: Really?

Stephanie Davison: …State Departments of Correction can share their activities with us and then we’ll be able to broadcast them and share them with a larger community.

Len Sipes: Okay.

Stephanie Davison: So keep your eyes peeled for that.

Len Sipes: So you’re going to pit one state against the other and see who’s doing the best, right?

Stephanie Davison: A little bit. We want the examples of the best work that’s being done.

Len Sipes: And, obviously, some of the best work that’s being done is being done by the Washington Department of Corrections. So, Dan, how’s it feel to be known for something else besides the day-to-day grind of corrections? I mean the people come to you and say, hey, tell me more about green corrections in the State of Washington.

Dan Pacholke: Well, I think it’s – on one hand, it’s fun. I mean it is in activity that started kind of on the margin and has worked its way more to the center of the plate. It’s really encouraging for us, I supposed all of us, just to see more growth in the area of people like Stephanie, you know NIC, other states like Maryland, Ohio, and Oregon and California. I mean there’s lots of people doing different activities out there so, you know, one of these days, we’re going to see a new prison design that’s based on sustainable principles that articulates or identifies everything that we’re talking about here. So I’m just interested in seeing more best practice come of it and learning from others and hopefully continuing to push this in a way that’s both economically beneficial as well as humanizing corrections and making the operations of prison safer.

Len Sipes: Dan, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re doing a show today- have done a show today on green corrections produced by the National Institute of Corrections. Our guests today have been Dan Pacholke, assistant secretary of the State of Washington Department of Corrections; Stephanie Davison, she is a senior program officer with FHI360, www.fhi360.org. Ladies and gentlemen this is DC Public Safety. We appreciate your calls, letters, concepts, criticisms, and please yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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