Comcast Interview with Nancy Ware

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2014/11/comcast-interview-nancy-ware/

Yolanda Vazquez:  Hello, I’m Yolanda Vasquez, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I am joined now in the studio by Nancy M. Ware, she is the Director of the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency. Nancy it’s a pleasure to have you here in our studio.

Nancy Ware:  Thank you, Yolanda.

Yolanda Vazquez:  So, I was asking you earlier to give us a little brief history of CSOSA as you call it, and I was saying you established in 1997 by the US Congress but you said actually, that was part of an Act. You were established a little bit later. Tell us a little bit about how you were formed initially.

Nancy Ware:  Sure, well originally in 1997 actually, we had the Revitalization Act at Washington DC, which federalized a lot of the law enforcement agencies. And CSOSA was one of those agencies. So they moved probation and parole from the courts and from our parole board, which was in DC, over to this federal executive branch agency. And that’s how CSOSA was formed and we were formally put in place as an executive branch agency in 2000.

Yolanda Vazquez:  And the reasoning behind that was to kind of lift some of the burden from the state level agencies?

Nancy Ware:  That’s right. That’s correct. And also to consolidate a lot of the functions under one branch, one area of government. We also have other parts of the federal government that have take over responsibility like the prison system which is under the Federal Bureau of Prisons and our US Parole Commission which is part of the Federal US Parole Commission now. So we have a number of functions that have been federalized.

Yolanda Vazquez:  It’s good to get a good overview like that. So tell us a little bit more about CSOSA, and what are some of the things that you do and the population that you serve?

Nancy Ware:  Well, we’re responsible for supervising men and women who are on probation/parole. We supervise release in the District of Columbia. So although we’re a federal agency, we’re focused specifically on DC code offenders. And although we also have responsibility for interstate, which means that we also work with other states who have people who are on probation/parole or who are also in the District of Columbia, so we have relationships with other states. But primarily we’re focused on those individuals who live in the District of Columbia. And we have about fourteen thousand individuals under our supervision on any given day, and about twenty-four thousand throughout the course of a year.

Yolanda Vazquez:  How do you go about prioritizing your list of services to the various populations?

Nancy Ware:  Well, we really use a lot of research and evidence based practices in our practice throughout CSOSA, so what we do each year is to take the pulse of emerging trends and emerging issues across the population and also across the District in law enforcement. And as a result of that we’ve put in place specialized units throughout our agency to focus on emerging trends like mental health issues, which we’re finding to be more and more a concern among our population. Mental health and substance abuse have become an issue as well. Well, substance abuse has always been an issue, but we also have co-occurring disorders that we’re working with. And so we’ve put in place specific units and well-trained staff and contractors to work with that population. We also have units for women, domestic violence, we have specialized units working with youth and that’s a new one.

Yolanda Vazquez:  Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Nancy Ware:  Yeah, that’s one that’s particularly of interest to me because we were having a lot of challenges with our young men in particular under twenty-five. And it was very difficult to get them to comply with their conditions of supervision. So we formed two campuses we call them, the Northwest and then Southeast and Southwest to serve that population better.

Yolanda Vazquez:  And it’s been a wonderful experience, the past two or three years for you, working with this?

Nancy Ware:  It has. It’s a great agency.

Yolanda Vazquez:  It sounds like it is. Well Nancy, we really appreciate you coming in. We had the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Thank you so much for your time and explaining so much to us about what you do.

Nancy Ware:  Thank you.

Yolanda Vazquez:  Thank you so very much! And that’ll do it for this edition of Comcast Newsmakers. I’m Yolanda Vazquez. Thanks for watching everybody. We will you see you again real soon.

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Youthful Offenders – 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.

Television program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/2014/02/youthful-offen…-public-safety/

[Video Begins]

Len Sipes: Hi and welcome to DC Public Safety, I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. Today’s show is on youthful offenders, and there’s a lot of research in parole and probation, and parole and probation caseloads, but two factors seem to be the most important – one, focus on the high risk offender with supervision and treatment and two, focus on youthful offenders, because the gain to public safety could be significant. Our guests today on the first half are Jim Cosby – he is the Chief Community Services Division for the National Institute of Corrections and Dr. Lisa Rawlings, a special assistant to the director of my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And to Lisa and Jim, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Lisa Rawlings: Thank you.

Jim Cosby: Thank you.

Len Sipes: I can’t think of a more important topic than youthful offenders. It seems to be where all of us are going, criminologically speaking. It seems to be where corrections and community corrections especially is going. So Lisa, we have a new initiative here, within our agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, focusing on youthful offenders, correct?

Lisa Rawlings: Correct. As you mentioned, we focused on high risk and really making sure that we deploy our resources to the offenders who have the highest risk and we found that the young adults, the 25 and under population really are over-represented in this high risk population, so it’s important to focus on them for that reason, because they require more supervision resources and they’re really not getting the outcomes based on all this investment. And then two, I really appreciate you mentioning the importance of the, the importance of the impact on the public good and that we really can arrest this criminality at a younger age. We really can have a long-term benefits down the road.

Len Sipes: Well, Jim, considering that this population is most criminogenic between the ages of 15 and 25, if you can meaningfully impact the youthful offender, if you can get him off of that offending track, that drugs and crime track and get him into more productive activates, there’s the process, there’s the possibility of literally saving society from thousands upon thousands of crimes, correct?

Jim Cosby: Oh, absolutely. I think, you know, the best thing that we can do is divert those that we can safely divert from the system. You know, the research now demonstrates that, you know, first and foremost you have to assess the offender so that you know what you’re dealing with and you have to then set up your interventions, like Dr. Rawlings talked about. You have to be able to target those interventions on those high risk offenders and then you need to be able to case manage those folks and have the appropriate interventions delivered in a timely way with the correct amount of dosage.

Len Sipes: Lisa, what we’re doing in the pilot program, we’re going to eventually move all of this over to a full-fledged program for all younger offenders, but at the moment, we have a pilot program in two districts and we are trying to assist them, both in terms of supervision, providing accountability, and treatment at the same time. Correct?

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. And what’s been unique about this approach is we’re not just piloting an approach to supervising young adults, but we’re also looking at how we are working together as a team. And so the teams are very integrated. We have our treatment specialists and our vocation and educational staff working alongside the community supervision officers to really provide a very holistic approach, to understand this young person as an entire person. And so that we’re not just focusing on them as a case, but as an individual. And we named our pilot program “Young Adult Initiative” rather than “Youthful Offender” because we thought it was important to make sure that we did not label these young people at a very early age. That we look at them as a person, a whole person, and we focus on their potential and try to support that.

Len Sipes: Is that the key issue? Because so many individuals caught up in the criminal justice system, they were used to being round peg, round hole. They’re used to a system where they, people have low expectations, people honestly don’t care about them, and they really don’t get treatment, they really don’t get services. People are so willing to write off individuals at a very early age and I think that’s the age where we can capture them, that’s the age where we can divert them. I think the strength of our program is taking a look at these individuals as individuals rather than just a class of people.

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. And all of the staff have been hand-picked to work on this initiative, have been especially trained on a model that takes this approach. It’s called the “Good Lives Model”. It really focuses on a holistic approach.

Len Sipes: Well, let me go over to Jim in terms of the research, because NIC, first of all, the National Institute of Corrections is the premier agency in terms of telling the rest of us throughout the country what it is that we should do. Assessing an individual becomes extraordinarily important, making sure that you have the right person. Because, you know, we don’t want to put too many resources into lower level offenders, correct? We want to focus on higher risk offenders, and then I want to get over to either one of you as to why younger people are falling into that high risk category, but that’s the first thing, right? With no – not an overwhelming amount of resources on low risk offenders.

Jim Cosby: That’s right. I mean, agencies today are strapped financially. There’s just not enough resources to go around, so we’ve used the science to really begin to determine who we should focus our resources on. And again, it is the high risk, medium to high risk offenders, that’s where you get the biggest bang for your buck. Focusing on those individuals is going to get you a lower return of recidivism, which means fewer crimes in the community. Fewer crimes in the community means improvement in public safety.

Len Sipes: The question is, I suppose, whether or not you’re focusing on a person that you believe, through various risk assessment tools, is out there committing four or five crimes a year, versus those people who are committing 40, 50, 60 crimes a year. You want to go after those high risk offenders, target them, and bring down those rates of recidivism.

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. And when you talked about the high risk – you know, 85% of our population of 25 and under are screened into these highest risk categories.

Len Sipes: That’s amazing.

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely.

Len Sipes: Think about that for a second. 85%! So that goes to my second question, why? Criminologically speaking, I think I know the answer, but I want to get your answer. Why do so many people fall into that high risk category? Does it simply come with the territory because of age?

Lisa Rawlings: Well, there are a number of things. We talked with our staff, who’ve been working with this population. We also held focus groups with some of the young adults to really learn more about their experiences on supervision and some of the drivers for this. And we also kind of did some analysis of the characteristics of this population to really understand a little bit more about what was happening. And we were finding that according to our staff, they have many specialized needs. That there’s a lot of trauma that’s been unaddressed; that they have poor experience with structure and don’t have enough role models, and that they’re often involved in many multiple systems, social services systems, and there needs to be a better sense of collaboration. But that they also, at 20, at 25 and under, haven’t really developed the maturity level to really handle all of these competing demands and also some of the trauma and emotional challenges that they have experienced.

Len Sipes: Jim, before the program we were talking about the National Institute of Corrections and other agencies developing tools and those tools were improving all the time in terms of assessing high risk, younger individuals, in terms of programs to provide assistance, and/or supervision. And that these tools are getting better, these programs are getting better and hopefully we’re going to have a better impact in terms of public safety, in terms of cost effectiveness. Some of these programs, done well – there was a recent piece of research on doing construction sort of training, occupational training within prison systems throughout the country – and they said that you can basically have a program that pays for itself with a two to three percent reduction in recidivism. So part of this is dealing with the taxpayers unwillingness to fund more programs, part of this is dealing with the taxpayers willingness to have programs to protect the public safety, and part of this is a lot of people’s concern, that we’ve got to start doing a better job of helping individuals under supervision. So clarify that for me.

Jim Cosby: Well, what you’re really talking about is the heart of the Justice Reinvestment Act. And what the Justice Reinvestment Act says is that we’re going to give you the science, we’re going to give you the implementation, we’re going to give you the tools at the state, local level, to teach you how to better manage offenders. And those reductions in recidivism, which equals public safety improvements in our view, is that simply you get a savings that should be then reinvested back into the programs, that are actually helping reduce the recidivism and the crime to begin with. So that’s the entire package behind justice reinvestment and it’s proving very successful. The assessment process, the case management process, the interventions that are made, the amount of time that the officer spends with the particular individual is key. You know, we’re no longer really – and the science today is no longer really driving us towards an adversary relationship between the officer and the individual, under supervision. What it is, it should be an engagement with that individual. It should be a piece where that officer is working to make that individual successful. Because when the offender succeeds, we improve public safety.

Len Sipes: And one of the things, one of the points that I did want to make, Lisa, through a question to you, is that virtually everything that Jim is saying we incorporate in terms of our day to day activities, correct? In terms of having that constructive relationship with the person under supervision, doing that assessment, having a pretty thorough sense as to who that person is, what their potential is, where they’re going. We do all of that. That’s the point that I want to make here, right?

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. And that was a big part of the design of this initiative in that we wanted to do all that, but do it in an expedited fashion, because we knew that we were losing these young adults a little quicker than we were the older population and so we really focused on shortening the time frames for the assessment, streamlining and expediting the interventions and then again, working as a holistic team, so we’re not just focused on their supervision requirement. But what are some of their needs and challenges and how can we support and facilitate them in their success.

Len Sipes: One of the challenges, I think, is their age. I used to work with kids on the street in the city of Baltimore, as a gang counselor. I’ve run groups in prison systems. A challenging population. A lot of them came from backgrounds, as you mentioned a little while ago, Lisa, that aren’t the best. Disadvantaged backgrounds – a lot of them had a single parent, sometimes that single parent wasn’t available. Sometimes they come out with chips on their shoulders, very large chips on their shoulders. This is not the easiest population to deal with, but the potential for productivity and public safety is enormous.

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. And we really wanted to make sure that we were able to have staff who really understood that and were interested and really motivated to work with this population, because building rapport is going to be the biggest part of the success of this initiative.

Len Sipes: And that’s, we’ve trained our staff to do just that in terms of how to build rapport, how to break through the barriers, how to do cognitive, behavioral therapy, which is basically thinking for a change. And all of that, Jim, is once again backed up by the research.

Jim Cosby: It is. And the engagement that we’re talking about here really goes to the heart of the matter, about changing behavior. You know, Dr. Rawlings’ officers cannot change someone else’s behavior. I can’t make you change, you can’t make me change. What I can do is provide you with the opportunity and the treatment to help you want to change for yourself. And when that happens, you get a lot of bang for the buck and you get a lot of improvement in public safety.

Len Sipes: But too many times in the past we’ve given up. Too many times in the past we’ve said recidivism rates for younger offenders, for high risk…

Jim Cosby: Well, this is not a throw-away population, though. I mean, and that’s part of the problem that we face.

Len Sipes: That’s such a good point.

Jim Cosby: This is not a throw-away population.

Len Sipes: That’s such a good point.

Jim Cosby: These are youthful offenders, you know, these are people that are going to be our citizens and continue to be our citizens in this country. WE can’t throw this population away.

Len Sipes: So we have to bring the very best, the state of the art, we have to bring our “A” games to this particular population because of that particular reason. These individuals are our future. Either we can, they can spend the rest of their lives behind bars, or they can spend their lives being taxpayers and productive citizens, correct?

Lisa Rawlings: Absolutely. At CSOSA we’re really invested in making sure that we recognize that this is not a throw-away population and we really invest the best of what we know will work. And we did that in our pilot phase so that we could really refine it and tweak it before we roll it out to the entire population, but we have a very motivated, well experienced, well trained staff that are involved in this. They’ve been trained – again, like I said – especially on this holistic model.

Len Sipes: They volunteer for this, correct?

Lisa Rawlings: They volunteered to do this because many of them have had experience working with youth.

Len Sipes: There you go.

Lisa Rawlings: And then they’re working alongside other professionals who are treatment specialists, they have social workers and they have behavioral health backgrounds and educational backgrounds to really bring all the resources together in a very coordinated fashion, to serve these young people.

Len Sipes: We’ve got 30 seconds. Jim, do you have anything else to add?

Jim Cosby: I would just say one last thing is that I think the program that they have at CSOSA is really exciting. We have 70% of the offender population in the community and we get 30% of the resources. We’ve got to apply more resources to this population so that we don’t have a throw-away generation.

Len Sipes: Jim, I love that point of view, and you’ve got the final word for the first segment. Ladies and gentlemen, watch it for the second segment, as we have two individuals who are community supervision officers known elsewhere as parole and probation agents, who supervise this particular, young adult population. They’re going to be here, talking about their experiences, please stay with us.

[Music Playing]

Len Sipes: Hi, welcome back to DC Public Safety, I continue to be your host, Leonard Sipes, continuing our discussion on youthful offenders. We have two new guests with us who spend their day to day lives dealing with helping with supervising people in supervision – youthful offenders. Stephanie Thompson is a community supervision officer with my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. And Christopher Barno is a treatment specialist, again, with my agency, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and to Chris and to Stephanie, welcome to DC Public Safety.

Stephanie Thompson: Thank you.

Len Sipes: Stephanie, you spent 17 years in two agencies, doing community supervision work and you volunteered for this particular population, so tell me why you volunteered to work one of the toughest gigs in parole and probation?

Stephanie Thompson: Well, I have to say, prior to coming to CSOSA, when I was working with at risk youth, I was able to work with them closely and I saw a need that they weren’t getting prior to coming into the group home. And then as I left there and I applied for CSOSA and became a CSO, I was seeing some of those same kids that I cared for come through the building and it just made me realize that there was still some work needed to be done. And I actually enjoy working with the population that so many people may feel like it’s the hardest – but I actually enjoy getting through to them and helping them to succeed outside of what some people may think. There are actually a lot of success stories in reference to the young adults.

Len Sipes: I find dealing with them fascinating and Chris, the second question goes to you – as a treatment specialist, tell me, you are involved in what we call cognitive behavioral therapy, Thinking for a Change. You arrange, you do the assessments, you do referrals in terms of substance abuse, mental health. Tell me about your role?

Christopher Barno: Well, I mean in the first segment, you know, we heard about all the science that goes behind what makes this work. Well we bring the art to the science with the treatment, with the different interventions that we are able to provide to the young adults. And so with that, that’s the treatment specialist’s role.

Len Sipes: It’s interesting because we talk, at the headquarters level at our agency, and I interact with people throughout the country, and it’s all talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, because we’re not doing what you’re doing. I remember doing what you’re doing. It’s hard. It’s interesting, it’s challenging. I think, when I was a gang counselor in the streets of the city of Baltimore, I was never happier, out with the kids, on Friday night, on Saturday night, on Sunday night. But it was very volatile. At the same time, it broke my heart because I saw so many individuals who had clear potential for being a law abiding citizen, basically decided to toss that off to the side, and I always said that’s because of their upbringing, their lack of respect for themselves, their lack of respect for the world around them, and the fact that nobody ever gave them a chance. If you provide them with a real chance – not just treatment, because it has to be supervision, but if you combine the two, can we make a difference?

Stephanie Thompson: Yes, I believe we do. We can make a difference. I feel that if you, first of all if you’re really sincere and passionate about what you’re doing, all the other barriers won’t be a problem, you’re going to continue to try to press on and find a way to break through with the young adults. I think the fact that we have a treatment specialist on site, we have a psychologist on site, as well as our co-workers who help one another, just not with your particular caseload, but we help each other with everyone’s case load. And so it’s like a sense of family- the community. You know how they say “it takes a community to raise a child” – well, we’re like that kind of community, where it takes all of us to help this young adult and in doing so we have found, you know, quite a few turnarounds. There’s probably about seven young adults that I know of personally who are extending their education to college. They’re actually enrolled in college. Some of them didn’t think they were going to be able to get into college because of their background, their criminal background. But just to know that, you know, to tell them to try, no matter what the barriers are and actually seeing that it was, they were able to get in it is just, brightens up their day and it shows that they can still be a law abiding citizen and go to school and make a career in something that they choose.

Len Sipes: But, what I, the term that I’ve used, Chris, this question’s going to go to you – the term that I’ve used in the past is a “chip on your shoulder the size of Montana”. A lot of the individuals, younger, especially the younger individuals, they have – they’re very cynical. I’ve always said there’s nothing more cynical than reporters, street cops and young offenders. No particular group. They don’t like the world, they don’t trust the world, they don’t trust you. They don’t trust me. They don’t trust anybody. They don’t trust the clergy, they don’t trust the president, they don’t trust the Pope, they don’t trust anybody except their peers and their own family members. Am I in the ballpark, right or wrong?

Christopher Barno: 100% correct. But I think one of the things that we really try to instill in these young adults is a sense of hope. But we don’t just talk about it, we actually are providing opportunities for these young men and it’s contagious. You know, they talk amongst themselves, they talk with their peers, you know, in the lobbies of the different field sites, and you know, when one person gets an opportunity, his friend, his peer says, “I want that same opportunity.” And so it spreads. And it spreads like wildfire. And that’s what we’re beginning to really see with the young adults. As opportunities are being afforded to these young men, and they’re having success, their sense of hope, their sense of pride, their esteem is just going through the roof. And it’s making all the difference in these young men’s lives.

Len Sipes: And you know, it’s just so ridiculously important to me, when we’re talking about this particular population. Jim on the first half said, “They’re not a throw-away population.” For too many years, society has treated this population as a throw-away population. Reporters I talk to are very cynical about our chances. People that I talk to are very cynical. And not necessarily our program here, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, but all high risk, young offender programs. Because they’ve seen programs in the past that haven’t worked all that well. Jim and Lisa really hammered home the fact that we’re running a state-of-the-art program with state-of-the-art tools. Do you think we have the tools? Do you think we have the wherewithal to be successful? Can we give hope to the naysayers?

Stephanie Thompson: Yes, I believe we can give hope to the naysayers. If you really, if you were able to spend one day to kind of like see what we do, you will see that the holistic approach that we have is very helpful. For instance, when Chris was talking about the, having some type of – it’s contagious, when they find out one person’s doing one thing, they want to do it. I totally agree, because we have a Copper Cabling program that a lot of our offenders from the ages of 19 to 21, that they’re able to participate in. And they love it.

Len Sipes: What program? I’m sorry – the what?

Stephanie Thompson: The Copper Cabling program.

Len Sipes: Really? A vocational program?

Stephanie Thompson: Yes. And I actually went there, I actually was able to observe some of the young adults and they loved it. They loved the fact that we were even there to observe them in the program. And when they hear about it, then I have the other young adults, “Well, you know, this person said I’m here, can you get me in here?” I’m like, “Yes.” But we try to prepare them. “When you get in, you want to stay in. You need to focus.” And a lot of times a lot of those young adults don’t have any time management. They’re not disciplined. And we try to help them to learn about time management and being disciplined. So we hold them accountable for their actions but yet give them that guidance.

Len Sipes: Well, Christopher, I think that’s – bouncing off of what Stephanie just said, is that, again, in many cases they’re not dot your i, cross your t, very precise sort of people. They have to learn time management, they have to learn, in some cases, basic social skills. And in some cases, they’ve got to learn that when a boss jumps their derriere that they can’t react negatively or they’re going to get fired – stuff that we were all taught as children, they haven’t been taught. Am I right or wrong?

Christopher Barno: 100% correct. And that’s why the team approach is so important in what we do, because not only do we have the supervision officers, we have the treatment specialists, we have the educational specialists, we have the employment specialists all working with these young men and because the way that they’re supervised on such a more intensive level, they’re at the office more, they have more contact with all the different team members. So we’re able to really get a chance to know these guys in a more personal level and really understand what it is that they need to be successful out in the community.

Len Sipes: What is the most important thing for their success, as far as you’re concerned, when taking a look at an individual? What is the key to their success?

Stephanie Thompson: Well, we would definitely want to reduce recidivism, within the District of Columbia, but getting their GED and their high school diploma, that’s one of the major components.

Len Sipes: Okay, because that’s a bridge to help them cross to the other side.

Stephanie Thompson: Exactly. And a lot of them don’t realize that if they just get that high school diploma, GED, it will open doors for a lot of other things. And then you have those barriers where they may have some type of educational disability that they’re afraid to mention, but once you get that rapport with them and they open up, you’re able to better assist them and because we have everyone right there on site, they don’t have to go into a room of people where they’re unfamiliar with and feel like they can’t open up. They feel a little more safe and that the confidentiality is going to stay within the room.

Len Sipes: Years ago, somebody mentioned to me, and I experienced it when I was working with younger offenders, and you tell me if I’m right or wrong, so many of them were covering up for fear. So many of them were covering up bad experiences in the past and in fact, some of the toughest people that I was ever around were some of the most fearful. Is that still correct?

Christopher Barno: Still correct.

Stephanie Thompson: They’re afraid to be successful amongst their peers and we’re trying to teach them how to you know, think beyond that. And that’s part of the reason why we had the challenge to change groups, where it’s trying to help them change the way they think. And there’s different phases to that and once they complete that, if it’s some criminal thinking that they need to work on, they’ll go into that program, or if they’re actually involved in educational vocational. So we keep track of where they are and try to slowly but surely, depending on the time that they have, try to get them when they are out in the community. They can be successful. And pray and hope that they won’t return back into probation.

Len Sipes: Sure. But Chris, the treatment component, we have the resources available for this particular population?

Christopher Barno: Yes, I believe we do. And it’s more than just the substance abuse resources, it’s the educational resources, it’s the employment resources that are available and the opportunities for these young men. And that’s what’s making the difference for these young men that are beginning to succeed and excel where they haven’t had opportunities or made any real progress in the past.

Len Sipes: And once we get beyond the pilot program phase, it will be young women involved in the program.

Stephanie Thompson: I hope so. I’m sure.

Len Sipes: Which we do have young female high risk offenders?

Stephanie Thompson: Yes. We do, and we’re not ignoring them, but like you said, this is a pilot phase.

Len Sipes: It’s a pilot program, we’re just starting and we’re getting our feet wet and then we’re going to be moving on to everybody else.

Stephanie Thompson: Exactly.

Len Sipes: And I think that’s the key issue with so many of the women offenders that I’ve talked to before, coming from tough backgrounds and they’re very vocal about those tough backgrounds. I mean, when I interview them for the radio show, I compare it to standing in front of a shotgun. Where the guys are reserved and don’t talk about it, the women offenders, boom, they’ve just put it on the line in terms of their own backgrounds and it’s horrific. Working through those horrific backgrounds must take a toll on you personally, I think? Does it?

Stephanie Thompson: It does, but at the same time, I try not to focus on their, the charges that they have. I try to focus on the individual in front of me and I try to leave that behind, just focus on what we’re going to do now. What’s your goals now? And try to get them to think beyond getting off supervision. The majority of them are like, “I just want to get off supervision.” So try to get them to think beyond getting off supervision. What are you going to do once you get off supervision?

Len Sipes: What’s your game plan for life?

Stephanie Thompson: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Len Sipes: And Chris, that’s how we have to approach this. It’s not while you’re under our supervision. What are the coping skills, what are the tools that you’re going to employ a year and a half after you get off of supervision?

Christopher Barno: And I’m always having that conversation with the young men and I tell them, you know, “One day your supervision’s going to end and you’re not going to come back to CSOSA.” You know, they smile at me. And I say, “But it’s going to be realistic, it’s going to happen. And we need to have some things in place for you so that when that day comes, you’re going to be ready.” You know, whether it’s furthering your education, gainful employment, meaningful employment, – a career. So you know, it’s really about, again, what I mentioned earlier. Instilling a sense of hope in these young men so that they can see that there’s more to life than just being on supervision.

Len Sipes: It’s a matter of reshaping young lives rather than simply incarcerating young lives.

Christopher Barno: Yes, that’s 100% correct.

Len Sipes: It is. You’re reshaping individuals . And that’s tough to do. That’s hard to do, but I would imagine if anybody can do it, we can because of our resources and smaller case loads.

Stephanie Thompson: Correct.

Len Sipes: I mean, most parole and probation agencies are not equipped to deal with what it is that we’re doing. I mean, most parole and probation agencies would throw them out into the community and say, “Go to here for your anger management and go to there in terms of substance abuse.” We pretty much provide that in-house to a large degree.

Stephanie Thompson: Yes, and that’s a significant part of the young adult program, is that when you’re in like general supervision, you have to refer them outside for these resources, but to actually be right here. And then you have issues with transportation as well. So to actually have it right in-house will help a lot and I believe that helps with the young adults to feel like they do have a chance to really succeed.

Len Sipes: And Chris, doesn’t it say to them that if we’re doing it in-house and packaging it all together and everybody else is talking to each other, then they really do have an opportunity to succeed?

Christopher Barno: 100% again, correct. I mean, it’s really – the other thing that it helps them see is that, you know, they see all of us on a regular basis. They’re not going to different field sites, they’re not going to different places in the community to get the services that they need. It’s all right there.

Len Sipes: And Chris, you’ve got the final word. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching this program on dealing with youthful offenders. Watch for us next time as we look at another very important topic in today’s criminal justice system. Please have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Video Ends]

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