Violence Reduction Program

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– Audio Begins –

Len Sipes: Hi everybody and welcome to DC Public Safety. I’m your host, Leonard Sipes. From our microphones in downtown Washington, DC we have three guests with us today. We have Bryan Young. Bryan is the Program Manager of the Violence Reduction Program and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about. Individuals on community supervision on parole, on probation, what are we doing and what are other agencies doing regarding violence reduction? We have many individuals with a background of violence on our caseload, it’s all parole and probation agencies do. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re examining the violence reduction program today. Along with Bryan we have Michelle Hare-Diggs and Michelle Hare-Diggs is a Treatment Specialist for the Court Services under the Supervision Agency. And Lisa Siler(?). she is the Community Supervision Officer for again, the Court Services and Supervision Agency and always the commercial before we get going, ladies and gentlemen, we’re up to 130,000 requests on a monthly basis. We really appreciate all of your letters, all of your emails and even a couple of phone calls in terms of how well we’re doing, suggesting new shows and asking us to consider new topics and sometimes some gentle criticism. So we really appreciate all of your comments and you can get in touch with me directly at my email Leonard, l-e-o-n-a-r-d dot Sipes, s-i-p-e-s at CSOSA dot gov or follow me on twitter which is twitter dot com and slash Len Sipes, S-I-P-E-S. And so to Bryan and to Michelle and to Lisa, welcome to DC Public Safety.
Bryan Young: Thanks.
Len Sipes: Bryan Young, you’re the Program Manager for the Violence Reduction Program. First of all, explain to me, what is the Violence Reduction Program?
Bryan Young: The Violence Reduction Program is a three face program that we’ve put in place for young men 18 through 35 who have a history of violent weapon or drug charges. And basically what we’re trying to do with those guys is bring them into a program and work with them to develop skills to reduce the likelihood that they’ll continue to engage in aggressive acts or even in violent acts when they’re in a community. So how we do that is basically we look at people who are eligible. We do an assessment and pretreatment process. We follow that with a twelve week, twenty four session cognitive behavioral therapy.
Len Sipes: And cognitive behavioral therapy means what, Bryan?
Bryan Young: Well, you’re working a way a person thinks and you’re working on behavior that’s related to their thinking patterns. But the fundamental thing that we’re trying to achieve through the program is trying to do two things. We’re trying to put programming in place based on research about what works in community corrections.
Len Sipes: Mm-hmm?
Bryan Young: And then there is strong research that suggests that cognitive behavioral programs tend to be more effective in working with offenders to change behaviors that are related ongoing criminality. And then in the anger management realm, or the violence reduction realm where we’re focused here, again the cognitive behavior programs are the programs that tend to perform best and what we’re trying to do through those sessions are role play, psycho educational lessons, other techniques to help guys learn and understand what anger is, help them recognize how it creates problems in their life, help them change their thinking patterns around certain instances, provocations, situations so that they could develop new skills so that as they experience anxiety or depression or a sense of humiliation or guilt or anything that triggers anger, which may in turn trigger violence, we want the to have the skills to change their behavior so that when they are confronted with those issues, the next time around, they respond differently than ,
Len Sipes: Virtually every program that we have, whether it be domestic violence, whether it be substance abuse, whether it be the mental health treatment, we teach individuals how to deal with life’s circumstances without reacting or overreacting to those circumstances. And that’s the heart and soul of the cognitive behavioral therapy approach, correct?
Bryan Young: That’s correct.
Len Sipes: And so is cognitive behavioral therapy teaching people a new way of thinking through situations? A new way of reacting to situations? And that is truly evidence based. There is a ton of research that basically says that’s the way to go, correct?
Bryan Young: That is correct.
Len Sipes: Okay. And who comes into these programs? You know, people hear violent criminals and/or violent offenders on community supervision and people say, well, what are they doing under community supervision? If they’re violent, why aren’t they in prison?
Bryan Young: Well, they’re not in prison. Some of them have been in prison and they’re returning to prison with parole supervision following what we called supervised release in the District of Columbia. Some of the guys may have committed, their current charge may not be serious enough to warrant a prison charge this time, but they may have violence in their background.
Len Sipes: Right.
Bryan Young: We want to get both of those kinds of people into the group.
Len Sipes: Right. But the point is that we don’t choose ,
Bryan Young: No, we didn’t choose ,
Len Sipes: , those community supervision right?
Bryan Young: That’s up to the ,
Len Sipes: I mean, they come out of the prison system or the courts put them on probation and they have , the history of the violence then, isn’t it in society’s best interest to try to deal with a problem that they’ve probably had for quite some time in terms of overreacting to provocations?
Bryan Young: Absolutely. And if we don’t we’re not doing the best that we can based on what we know is out there, based on research and literature on these problems to promote public safety.
Len Sipes: Right. And, okay, we’re going to go ,
Bryan Young: , that would be irresponsible of us not to ,
Len Sipes: Yeah, I mean, if we ignored it and then I’m going to suggest that in most cases, most probation agencies, all they would do throughout the country, most parole and probation agencies would simply refer them to the local health clinic to whatever program that would be available there. There’s not a lot of violence reduction initiatives going on to my knowledge anywhere throughout the country.
Bryan Young: True.
Len Sipes: Yeah. And so that’s what makes us unique in this capacity. Okay, so, but, we’re not talking, we’re not going to suggest that we have all of the resources to deal with everybody who has a history of violence. We have a pretty concrete, very specific research based program, but, you know, we’re only probably, like we say in terms of mental health, like we say in terms of substance abuse, like we say in terms of other programs, we have programs to deal with the domestic violence. We have programs to deal with a wide variety of issues, but rarely do they hit everybody in a comprehensive way, correct?
Bryan Young: That’s correct.
Len Sipes: So we’re talking about, you know, we’re talking about hitting some, but certainly not all. And probably not close to being all.
Bryan Young: Right. And so the trick is in what we try to do as an agency recognizing that you can’t touch everybody, we try to look at the level of risk that each individual presents to public safety. The people that present the most risk are the people we target first and get into these programs.
Len Sipes: Right. And that’s exactly what the research says, research says that you don’t have to go after everybody, you’ve got to focus on the people who pose the most significant risk.
Bryan Young: Absolutely.
Len Sipes: Okay. We’re going to go over to Michelle Hare-Diggs and Michelle is a Treatment Specialist. She is, again, with my agency, the Court Services Offender Supervision Agency. Michelle, one of the things that always interests me in terms of dealing with offenders, and I have a history, I’ve done counseling in the Maryland system. I’ve done Job Corp where the kids had criminal histories. I’ve done gang counseling on the streets of Baltimore City. So I have some sense of what’s it’s like in the real world to deal with offenders. And people who have behavioral problems. And I’ve always used this phrase, that many of them have attitudes, chips on their shoulders the size of Montana. Am I right or am I wrong?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Well, they initially come in with attitudes just because they don’t want to be in a group setting. It makes a lot of them nervous to be in a group setting.
Len Sipes: It would make me nervous to be in a group setting.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Me too.
Len Sipes: Yeah. So, I mean, but that’s something they got to get over.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Right.
Len Sipes: Okay.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: And they do.
Len Sipes: And so tell me a little bit about the treatment process.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Well, the first phase really helps them with that fear of the group setting. The first phase is treatment readiness. It gets them comfortable with me. It gets them comfortable with each other. It just makes them familiar with each other. So by the time we get to phase II, which is the meat of it, the calm group itself, controlling anger management and learning , controlling anger and learning to manage it , at that phase, they’re comfortable with each other and myself and are able to share and get the most out of the program.
Len Sipes: Bryan and I talked about this whole concept of thinking for a change some people call this in other states, the idea of teaching an individual how to deal with provocations, how to deal with circumstances, day to day circumstances. And we’re not talking necessarily somebody coming after them with a knife, we’re talking about day to day interactions with other human beings where they don’t overreact to those set of circumstances. It is extraordinarily difficult to take a person who has responded in a particular way throughout their course of their lives and suddenly teach that person not to respond that way, correct?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: It is. You’re right. It’s very difficult. But it is showing them a totally different way. That’s what the whole group is. It shows them different ways of thinking. It shows, it helps them identify how, right now we’re working on cognitive distortions, it’s helping them realize that they way that they have been thinking has got them into the situations that they are in.
Len Sipes: One of the things that I’ve done in my past life is I’ve sat with the Commissioner of one of the correctional divisions in the State of Maryland. We were about to do a couple, a series of statewide crime summits. And that particular Commissioner and I sat with probably 100 individuals who were juveniles who were being juvicated(?) for homicide at the Baltimore city jail. And we said we’re not going to use your names and it took us about a half an hour (chuckle) to warm up and to gain their trust. But in essence this is what the kids said to me about violence. My words, not theirs. Mr. Sipes, you have to understand violence is good. Violence keeps me safe. It keeps my property safe. It keeps my baby safe. It keeps my mother safe. It keeps my mother’s home safe. Violence is a very natural reaction to the environment that I grew up in and you don’t understand it’s something I have to do. To one kid who basically murdered somebody else for a provocation, he stepped, accidentally or not, stepped on his foot while sitting on a stoop on Baltimore steps. And in front of his girlfriend. And he basically said, I said, you’re going to be, if you’re convicted, you’re going to be in prison probably for the rest of your life. Wouldn’t you rethink that situation if you had to do it over again? He said to me, again, my words, not his, Mr. Sipes, you just don’t understand, I had to do what I had to do. I didn’t have any choice in the matter. Now, when you come at it with that sort of mindset, that’s an extraordinarily difficult place for you to be.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: It is.
Len Sipes: First of all, am I right?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: You are right. And it is a natural, anger’s a natural emotion for so many different people, so many different individuals. So we just try to get them to weigh the costs. And that’s the whole purpose of this program, to weigh the costs and the costs and the benefits of what their anger can cause them.
Len Sipes: And they can do that. I mean, that’s one of the points that the public needs to hear, that it is possible to reorient a person’s thinking in terms of how they handle day to day provocations.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: You’re correct.
Len Sipes: You know? And, but that’s the meat of the situation, I think, how do you get them to understand that? How do you get them to come to that conclusion?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: We do. With role play exercises, they have homework assignments. We do a lot of cost benefit analysis where we take different examples and we have them weigh what would be the cost of this, what would be the benefit of this? And which situation would you choose? We had a gentleman just last week, he was re-arrested. He was stopped by the police for a crime that he did not commit. And he was able to maintain himself in order for the person who was robbed, for her to come, he had to wait for her to come to the scene and identify that he was not the person. But if this were any other situation he admitted that he would have lost his cool and it would have made the situation worse. But he was able to maintain himself. He didn’t get upset. And he was just able to keep his cool.
Len Sipes: And another one of the things that Bryan and I were talking about before the program is that there are dozens and dozens and dozens of examples that members of the group have brought to us that basically substantiate what you’ve just told us. That they, you know, they’re in with their baby’s mother and she’s yelling at him because he’s not doing what he needs to do and he doesn’t get upset, he doesn’t yell, he doesn’t scream and he doesn’t raise his fists. Now, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, that was a big change for that person.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: It is. And they also learn relaxation techniques, which really helps in a lot of their home settings. They learn how to mentally take themselves away from things that might cause them to be angry. And we teach this, not just in the home setting, we teach them to do this at work, we teach them to do that in the probation office, whatever the case is, just to help them maintain themselves.
Len Sipes: Do they really understand the concept? When I was with Job Corp, Job Corp was an amazing arrangement where they would take care of your medical care, your food, they would train you, get your GED, relocate you to another city. Help you with an apartment, but you your tools if you took the , and so it was a pretty good comprehensive program for kids who were unfortunately in a jam. And many of them willingly crossed the bridge from law violation to law abiding behavior, from tax burden to tax payers. They made that conscious choice. A lot of them didn’t because they didn’t know how. You know, you could give a person a GED, you can give them a plumbing certificate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she knows how to cross that bridge. When their done with this treatment process, do they really know how to cross that bridge from violent to non violent behavior?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Well, we just encourage them. It takes practice. It doesn’t happen over time. We also have phase III of the program which they’re matched up with community coaches that help them along the way, that help them. So they’re not just left, you know, to defend for themselves. They have like a mentor, that’s what they are, they’re life coaches, who have been through the same situations and who are able to coach them and give them and give them helpful advice. And they meet with these coaches once a week.
Len Sipes: That’s great. Okay, we’re going to go over to Lisa and one of the reasons why we invited Lisa into the program is that she’s a Community Supervision Officer, most people would know them as Parole and Probation Agents throughout the country. And Lisa, I screwed up your last name, didn’t I, when I made the introductions. It’s Lisa Sylor(?).
Len Sipes: Syler.
Len Sipes: Syler. Syler. Okay. I apologize for that. And Lisa, now you’ve been and probably why don’t you rearrange that microphone just a little bit. Thank you. You’ve been in this program for how long?
Len Sipes: I started in, I believe the cases were assigned to me in January. So this is my first phase of the program. The first time I’ve been involved with the violence reduction program.
Len Sipes: The Community Supervision Officers are basically the heart and soul of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. Now we have a dual role. We have an enforcement role and we will not hesitate to put somebody back in prison.
Len Sipes: If need be, yes. Yes.
Len Sipes: If need be. If need be. But at the same time we have a treatment role. The research is abundantly clear that if we provide services to individuals they do a lot better than if we don’t provide services. So we try to provide mental health assistance, domestic violence assistance. We try to provide drug treatment or refer the person to drug treatment resources. We try. We have our own group called Vote who helps them in terms of their educational and vocational needs. We try to get them in the programs. We advocate for them. We work for them. And the violence reduction program seems to be just along the lines of any other program that we do. It’s a service. It’s a treatment program. But at the same time you play that dual role. And you walk a very tough tight rope between enforcing public safety and helping the individual.
Len Sipes: Yes. A lot of what my role is initially my role was really just to encourage the guys to attend groups and to try to give it a chance. Because, you know, in the beginning you’re kind of thrown in together, you’re given a new CSO and they don’t really explain, I have to break it down for them and make it, I have to kind of become a salesman, I’m like a used car salesman that really has to get them to buy into the program. And get them to report as they’re supposed to for their groups. But once they get in they really, they don’t need me to be the one who’s like, keep going, keep going. They really want to come because they’re getting so much out of the group. After they go through the first phase, they really do form a bond together. And they rely on each other for input and information and you know, when one goes, you know, isn’t there, they’re wondering where was he today? You know, there was one guy that had to go back to court for another issue and they were all wondering what happened at court? They asked me, did you know? Did you know what happened? So they really become close. They become their own support system.
Len Sipes: And that’s, isn’t that the key? Because I’m not quite sure they’re going to listen to us.
Len Sipes: It is. Part of it is also ,
Len Sipes: Not to, I’m sorry, Lisa, not to say that we’re not there to provide treatment, we are.
Len Sipes: Yes.
Len Sipes: But I mean, their peer group is the most important influencer ,
Len Sipes: Definitely.
Len Sipes: (Chuckles) Provides the most influence. The peer group, plus the family, plus friends. They’re the groups that really motivate them to either change or continue in a criminal lifestyle.
Len Sipes: Exactly. And they get a lot of support within the group. If somebody’s not understanding, you know, what it is that they’re talking about, they’re not really grasping the information, a lot of the guys will step in and kind of give them their own example and they start to share and try to break it down in a way that everyone is going to understand it, you know, if there’s one particular guy that doesn’t understand it. And with that I get a lot of information from Michelle, from the treatment side from groups, I get a lot of information as to how I can implement. I find out what she’s working on in the group and I can use that in my supervision strategy to kind of reinforce what they’re talking about when they come to me with their, for their supervision needs.
Len Sipes: I’m going to reintroduce the program and reintroduce the participants because we’re going to go back to Bryan Young. Bryan Young is the Program Manager of the Violence Reduction Program here at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We have Michelle Hare-Diggs, who is a Treatment Specialist and Lisa Syler. She is a Community Supervision Officer. Okay, Bryan, you’ve heard from Michelle, you’ve heard from Lisa, anything to add or subtract?
Bryan Young: Nothing to add or subtract other than to say these two working together really demonstrate and exemplify what we’re trying to do here. The whole process of working with somebody is to identify their risk and we want to target the highest risk people first, but we also have to identify their needs. And that issue of criminal peers, you know, it’s one of the big six criminal , it’s one of the big six needed for criminal recidivism that we look at. And the program is designed to help everybody make good decisions around what their peer group is. Their attitudes towards authority and towards normal things like getting up and going to a job and those sorts of things. So the collaboration here and both people becoming a change agent is really exemplified by what Michelle and Lisa talked about.
Len Sipes: Mm-hmm? It is difficult in the minds of so many people. And again we’re not afraid to hesitate for public safety reasons to put the individual back in prison. But if we can take an individual who has always responded violently, now, Lisa you’re suggesting that I’m saying something wrong. Go ahead.
Len Sipes: No, I’m suggesting completely the opposite. I completely agree. I think we have a responsibility to the community to identify those individuals who just really aren’t putting forth the effort to change and aren’t putting forth, you know, they’re really not taking advantage of the services and they’re just continuing on the path and when the need comes we will address that and go to the, you know, have them put back in jail as you said. However, I also think that we have a responsibility to help people get out of their own way. And this group really helps people understand that what they’re thinking, they’re thinking translates into behavior. A lot of times these guys really don’t understand that the thoughts that go into their head make them behave in a certain way. They think that it’s just a natural reaction.
Len Sipes: And I totally agree with that. Totally agree with that. And I totally agree with that in terms of substance abuse. I totally agree with it in terms of mental health. I totally agree with it in terms of education. I totally agree with it in terms of getting jobs. There’s nothing there I disagree with. The research is abundantly clear, the more you help them the better they’re going to do, the less they’re going to recidivate, the fewer prisons we’re going to have to build, the less taxpayers are going to have to pay out for their behalf. The flip side of that is something else we have to deal with is that I get a newspaper summary every day, or a variety of newspapers summaries every day. And in essence what the newspaper summaries say on a daily basis is a violent person does something violent again. Now, if the public gets a steady stream on the radio and the television and the newspapers a violent person does something again, they’re going to sit here and listen to this program and say, oh, a bunch of bureaucrats from downtown, DC, don’t you understand that – you know, we’ve got to target these individuals, and in some cases we do because they show propensities toward violence that there are risks to public safety again. We’ll target them and we won’t hesitate to work with the courts and the parole commission to return them to the prison. But what you’re saying is that we got to do a better job of providing services, which is exactly what the research has to say.
Len Sipes: I really think that with the information that we can get from the program, the way that it’s applied to the offenders, they’re not just going in and having groups, they’re also having psychological testing. We’re also finding out what their functioning is. All of this comes together so that we get a better picture of the individual and of the need base. I mean, if we’re going to try to talk to a person who doesn’t have the vocabulary and doesn’t have the ability to process vocabulary, that’s another issue. So if we can identify that, we can use that and figure out this person maybe not words is not the way they communicate as effectively, they’re more of a hands on learner, then we can start to make them do steps. You know, I always say baby steps, we’re going to do one thing at a time and by that we’re able to change behavior. You have to really find and identify what it is at each person, what the issue is, within the group that’s the way that the group is set up, we’re able to not only in a group setting, but also individually identify this person has this issue, you know, this seems to be an issue with this person. And with that we’re able to work together through the treatment specialists and the supervision side we’re able to work together to help this person move, kind of get out of their own way and understand that their thoughts are what get in their own way. And if they can stop their thoughts or change their thinking then their behavior changes. And we get examples of it all the time in how the behavior is changing.
Len Sipes: And I think that’s the most powerful thing because, you know, again, I’ve been in this business for a while and it’s always very gratifying when you take an individual who doesn’t know how to deal with the world as it is.
Len Sipes: That’s the hugest part. You know, a lot of things we take for granted that, you know, we know how to ride the subway or we’re even able to read a map to figure out how to get from point A to point B. And you have a 19 year old kid that sits in front of you and says, I don’t know how to ride the subway. I don’t have the funds to get down here every day because I can’t afford to pay for a cab. Wait a minute, you live so many blocks away but you can’t figure out how to ride the subway? For him it was such an obstacle because he just was terrified to figure this out. So then it brought to my attention, okay, we have to go back to kind of a few more steps back than I thought we were. A lot of times people are afraid to tell you what their abilities and their deficiencies are. And once you ,
Len Sipes: So am I by the way.
Len Sipes: (Chuckle) Yeah. Exactly right.
Len Sipes: So are most people.
Len Sipes: It is.
Len Sipes: My wife chastised me severely last night because of a fight that we had a couple of days ago when I just got around to telling her the reason for it. And she said it took you three days to tell me then, huh?
Len Sipes: Yeah.
Len Sipes: You know? And I’ve got Michelle over here laughing. Everybody’s going through the same experience. And so the person is naturally reluctant to say, hey, I can’t deal with the subway.
Len Sipes: So part of, and the part of the group and the part of being able to interact with the offenders and the guys is to really try to pull this information out. What are the needs? You know, we have the assessment and we have the screener, and it really gives us a good indication but from there we need to probe further to find out if this is an issue, how big of an issue is it? You know, if education is an issue, are we dealing with just the fact that he dropped out? Or are we dealing with an even bigger issue of comprehension and having other learning disabilities?
Len Sipes: When I ran a group in the Maryland prison system I had two individuals squaring off at each other. And I was like, have we not discussed this, guys? Have we not discussed that there is a better way? I was like, you’re really going to assault the other person in prison in a treatment program? How many years do you think this is going to add on to your sentence? Do you really want to go that far? And I said, and they both backed off and I said, this is it. This is the heart and soul of this, gentlemen. I said, it’s just not squaring off with each other while you’re in a prison setting, it’s also walking down the street and somebody has a perceived insult or your friend and neighbor, you know ,
Len Sipes: Exactly. Or girlfriend, or your ,
Len Sipes: The day to day living without getting overly emotional about stuff that you shouldn’t be getting overly emotional about.
Len Sipes: I think a lot of it is too, and Michelle can touch on this more, is identifying the emotion. Because a lot of times they think it’s anger but it’s really not.
Len Sipes: Okay, and that’s a lovely point that I want to get to Michelle. In some of the other programs that we have talked about this kind of an offender, you know, you sit down with this guy and, you know, he’s got this hard attitude. And he looks hard. And he acts hard and all that is, in many instances, and again, I’m going to get emails saying I’m making excuses for criminal behavior, I’m not. All that is, is insecurity. All that is, the harder that person appears, the weaker that person really is. That’s a shell that that person has learned to put on for his entire life, am I right or wrong?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: You’re right. A lot of times they just don’t even know how to identify the source of their anger. So in the group we touch a lot on focusing on what are your emotions really? It might not even be anger, it could be jealously. It could be depression. So we try to focus on identifying what is your real emotion? And is that what is causing the , the mask that you’re putting on. Are you angry? What are you putting that mask on for? What is it to hide? Is it that you’re really jealous of your brother? Or is it that you’re really sad that your father was never around?
Len Sipes: Or the fact that you’ve raised yourself from the age of eight?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Exactly.
Len Sipes: Which to me, in most cases, the offenders we’re dealing with.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: And actually there’s two gentlemen in my current group who they really have realized that they’re just angry at their father. One of the fathers had passed away. He’s still angry. And he’s able to identify that now. So he’s working on writing a letter to his deceased father.
Len Sipes: And a lot of males, but especially female offenders, are victims of sexually violence at a young age.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Yes.
Len Sipes: By people who they know. So if that happens to you, how do you go through life without that chip on your shoulder the size of Montana. And that’s not an unusual occurrence for males, but especially it’s phenomenally large for females.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Yes, you’re right.
Len Sipes: So I mean, that’s just, isn’t that, isn’t that the heart and soul of everything we’re talking about here? And one of the reasons why the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, my agency, our agency, is trying to address this, is that these individuals are never going to shake it. They may grow out of it because recidivism decreases dramatically at age forty and above, but between zero and 40 how many times is he going to go to prison and how many people is he going to hurt until he learns not to do it and to think about it in a different way? To think about how he or she interacts with people on a day to day basis?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: Well, we’d like to think that the coping skills that they’re gaining from the group will help them get through this.
Len Sipes: But that’s it. How do you interact with, how do you deal with life as it is without clenching a fist? How do you deal with life as it is without jumping in somebody’s face?
Michelle Hare-Diggs: You use your relaxation techniques, you use your peers. You have to. You have to. If you want to stay in society that’s what you have to do. You don’t want to go back to prison. You have to find different ways to manage and to cope to get through this.
Len Sipes: All right, we only have about 30 seconds left in an extraordinarily fascinating program. Bryan, did you want to wrap up or do you want to let Michelle do it or Lisa or what do you want to say? Lisa, oh, Michelle, let me go back to you again, in essence, I’m just going to remind the public one more time, it is possible for these individuals to change. The larger public doesn’t believe that. But our experience is that it is possible for people who have lived, histories, who have had histories of violence to interact with the world truly as it is without resorting to violence.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: It is possible. I mean, it may not happen overnight, but it takes practice and it can happen.
Len Sipes: And that is the bottom line in terms of what it is that we’re trying to do.
Michelle Hare-Diggs: That’s the bottom line.
Len Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, this is DC Public Safety. I’ve been your host, Leonard Sipes. At our microphones today was Bryan Young Program Manager for the Violence Reduction Program, Michelle Hare-Diggs, Treatment Specialist, again for the Violence Reduction Program. And Lisa Syler who is, I finally got her name pronounced correctly and she is a Community Supervision Officer. I want to thank everybody for all of your letters, all of your emails, your phone calls for suggestions, criticism and comments about the show. Keep them coming in. And please have yourselves a very pleasant day.

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Meta terms: violence, violence reduction, violence prevention, crime, criminals, criminal justice, prison, incarceration, parole, probation, corrections,

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