Hire One

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) has launched “Hire One,” a new campaign to directly connect area employers with a pool of talented people who are ready, able and eager to work: justice-involved men and women who hope to get a second chance.

The “Hire One” initiative aims to team employers with an untapped and under-utilized talent pool. CSOSA supervises thousands of people on probation, parole or supervised release in the District of Columbia. Gainful employment is the cornerstone of stability and growth. Too often those that have been justice-involved are marred by their past transgressions. The path towards redemption and restoration starts with an opportunity.

Businesses that have hired CSOSA referrals have praised the commitment and loyalty these new employees bring to the workplace. Now, in an expansion of its longstanding job placement efforts, CSOSA is asking area employers to commit to hiring one of the Agency’s referrals, confident that they’ll be asking for even more new candidates once they do.

“Our Agency has the talent pool, training resources and partnerships to provide employers with the right match,” said CSOSA Director Richard Tischner. “We have a proven track record of placing people in all kinds of work, with men and women of all skill levels. We will be partners throughout the ‘Hire One’ process and follow up afterwards to make sure all needs are met. The result is a win-win for everyone, benefiting the employer, the new hire, and the community.”

Director Tischner announced the program on October 1, at the annual conference of the D.C. chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). CSOSA has been working with SHRM and its nationwide “Getting Talent Back to Work” initiative. At the conference, CSOSA premiered a “Hire One” video as part of a panel discussion featuring some of its many partners.

The outreach to SHRM is part of a broader effort in which Director Tischner and other CSOSA leaders will meet with businesses throughout the D.C. area to recruit them into the program.

SHRM has been a leader in second chance hiring. In his keynote remarks to the conference, SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., thanked the D.C. chapter’s HR professionals for the work they’ve already done on this issue, adding that it the cause is “near and dear to my heart.”

“We need great workers,” Mr. Taylor said, adding that “people make mistakes” and deserve another chance. “We know we can make a difference for our community, these individuals, and their families,” he said.

More information about CSOSA’s Hire One initiative can be found in a brochure, “Hire One: A Call to Action,” as well as in a one-page Hire One Fact Sheet. Questions also can be directed to Vocational Development Coordinator Tony Lewis at 202-369-0775 or tony.lewis@csosa.gov.

Fellowship Opportunities at CSOSA

CSOSA is now accepting applications for a fellowship program to provide new opportunities to people who have successfully completed a period of probation, parole, or supervised release. This program, similar to “Credible Messenger” efforts around the country, calls for the selected candidates to use their own life experiences to work with CSOSA’s supervision and treatment staff to assist offenders in a variety of ways, including goal-setting, social and emotional support, and decision-making. The program is part of a broader jobs initiative being launched by the agency, including a “Hire One” campaign that will be aimed at recruiting area employers.

A total of five temporary positions (GS-3 or GS-4) were created, and applications are being accepted through August 23, 2020. The new hires will be with CSOSA for up to six months, with the possibility of one six-month extension. These paid positions are expected to help those selected for the program move forward with their own careers, while helping others. The object is more than just employment. CSOSA also hopes to provide these temporary employees with the opportunity to enhance their skills and obtain vocational certifications that private employers may need.

Through the First Step Act and other initiatives, the President has endeavored to make the transition from the justice system back into society smoother. The fellowship program, designed with support from the Office of Personnel Management, is consistent with that policy direction.

The job application can be accessed on USA Jobs at https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/575115700.

Also see:  Fellowship Opportunities

CSOSA'S Community Outreach Reaches Hundreds of People Online

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) remains as dedicated as ever to community outreach throughout the pandemic, using its virtual Community Justice Advisory Network (CJAN) meetings to reach hundreds of District residents.

Since April, the Agency’s Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialists (ICAS) have held nine CJANs in collaboration with community partners including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the D.C. Office of Human Rights, the D.C. Department of Employment Services and other D.C. government agencies.

The ICAS staff, part of the Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs, proved that navigating the coronavirus pandemic through virtual CJANs can provide the community with resources while keeping people connected.

“CSOSA was proud to continue our CJAN meetings virtually during this unprecedented time in our city, using Zoom and Facebook Live,” said Supervisory ICAS Trina Stewart. “The virtual CJANs not only provided an outlet for us to stay connected with people in the community but to also gain new community partners along the way, while engaging current partners including the U.S. Census Bureau, D.C. Board of Elections and the Metropolitan Police Department.”

ICAS Christine Barron and ICAS LaToshia Butler initiated the virtual CJANs by launching a series focusing on empowering women involved in the criminal justice system, providing information about entrepreneurship, domestic violence, sexual assault, and citizenship rights. Other CJAN topics included the importance of mental health during the pandemic, navigating employment challenges, and bias crime awareness. A variety of guest speakers provided valuable insights at the sessions. The program on mental health, for example, included appearances by experts with the Psychiatric Institute of Washington and MBI Health Services, LLC.

“Virtual CJANS can help bring a sense of community to populations that are easily overlooked,” said ICAS Butler. “Because the Agency quickly responded by providing the necessary technology, we were able to meet the needs of our partners and the community.”

The virtual CJANs allowed participants to gain valuable information to assist them in navigating the new challenges of reentering society and avoiding recidivism, while maintaining a safe social distance. “Like many organizations, CSOSA unexpectedly began conducting some business virtually,” said Ms. Stewart. “The virtual CJANs exceeded expectations. We plan to continue engaging the community and our partners virtually beyond the pandemic.”

“CSOSA is finding new ways to foster community partnerships with organizations like Prestige Services to provide mental health services for the people we supervise,” said ICAS Barron. “It is our responsibility to practice social distancing and to make sure that we are doing our part to keep the community and staff safe and it is also our responsibility to find creative ways to stay connected with the community we serve.”

PPPS Week 2020

The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) has declared July 19 to July 25, 2020, as Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week (#PPPSWeek)! This annual celebration recognizes the great work done by community corrections professionals on a daily basis. Here, at CSOSA, we again join the APPA and a host of other agencies throughout the country in thanking the community corrections and supervision workforce. Every day, they work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and assist justice-involved individuals in their quest for successful reentry.

We are particularly grateful for our supervision workforce this year as they have readily adapted to changes in supervision as a result of the current health pandemic. “This year, especially, you have demonstrated great ingenuity and resolve in continuing our important work on behalf of the community we serve. You are giving the people we supervise opportunities to stay on the right path, and holding them accountable when they make choices that threaten public safety,” said CSOSA Director Richard Tischner.

On July 20, 2020, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s Delegate to the House of Representatives, thanked the dedicated public servants who carry out community corrections and supervision services “for their commitment, compassion, and contributions to healthier and safer communities.” Norton noted that CSOSA and our sister agency, the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA), “are dedicated to reducing recidivism and enhancing public safety in the nation’s capital. CSOSA and PSA are recognized as model community supervision entities because of [our] use of evidence-based practices and community partnerships.”

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a proclamation “salut[ing] those who have chosen this socially and civically important career.” Echoing Norton’s reference to the community partnerships forged by CSOSA, Bowser remarked that “community supervision agencies are valuable partners of DC government agencies, non-profits, neighborhood-based groups, and all who strive to make our nation safer and stronger.”

To all of CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers and to the Pretrial Supervision Officers of our sister agency, PSA, we salute you for your unceasing efforts to positively impact public safety in the District of Columbia. We also thank all of our staff, who make it possible for our supervision officers to effectively enhance public safety for those who visit, work, and live in this city.

Getting a Second Chance Requires a Community Effort

April is nationally recognized as Second Chance Month, a time when the nation recognizes the obstacles that formerly incarcerated people face when returning to the community. Second Chance Month also is an opportunity to recognize how CSOSA’s staff works tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that the Agency serves as a model community supervision agency that enhances public safety, reduces recidivism and supports the fair administration of justice through adhering to its guiding principles, “Community, Accountability, and Justice.” This work can only be done with the support of the community and our partners.

Even for those who have never been involved with the criminal justice system, family can serve as a significant source of support. This is especially true for those under supervision. Some of CSOSA’s most important partners are the family members of those under our supervision.

Returning citizens, as well as CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers, view their families as members of the community of support needed to ensure that they successfully complete supervision and make the most of their second chances.

“Family support is very important. There are a lot of barriers that returning citizens face when they come home,” says Community Supervision Officer (CSO), Lorraine Smith. “Transportation, housing and financial support are the types of support that family members provide to returning citizens.”

In the case of Ms. Kyonna F. Brown, who served four years in a maximum security prison, being able to maintain connections and support from her family and secure a strong support network was the difference between freedom and re-incarceration.

“I had written down my goals and had a plan, and even with being the resilient person that I am, I still I would not have the success that I have had without the support of my family,” says Brown. “Having support for housing, transportation, finances and mental health was essential to my becoming the person that I am today.”

Family members also provide structure and accountability that some under supervision credit as their source of strength and what deters them from returning to criminal behaviors. “Helping to create a prosocial environment where there is open communication and partnerships between the family, the CSO and supervised individual can help them avoid returning to old behaviors that may have led to incarceration,” says CSO Smith. “The more support a returning citizen has, the better chances they have of success and that support is primarily from the family.”

The willingness of families to partner with CSOSA and be a part of the community supporting their loved one helps provide accountability and ensure that the terms of their release are being met, ultimately leading to successful completion of supervision. “My life stopped when I was arrested at 21,” says Ms. Brown. “When I was released from prison, I wanted to pick up where I left off, but having that extra push and encouragement from family can make you turn away from committing a crime. I found that having support from family was much stronger than the support from those who might be just getting to know me.”

After overcoming incarceration and successfully completing supervision, Ms. Brown is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker and life coach, helping women become emotionally and mentally stronger. “I had to surround myself with people who were doing what I wanted to do and remind myself of where I had come from and where I did not want to go back to,” she says. “It’s okay to move on, it’s okay to thrive and grow.”

New Supervision Data

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) relies on data in order to provide evidence-informed and evidence-based supervision to justice-involved individuals in the community. These data are integral to measuring our progress towards our strategic goals. Specifically, working to reduce recidivism by targeting criminogenic risk and needs using innovative and evidence-based strategies; integrating offenders into the community by connecting them with resources and interventions; strengthening and promoting accountability by ensuring offender compliance and cultivating a culture of continuous measurement and improvement; and supporting the fair administration of justice by providing timely and accurate information to criminal justice decision makers.

Take a closer look at our factsheets (recently updated with fiscal year 2019 data) to learn more about the agency, the demographics of our supervised population, the criminogenic and stabilization needs of those we supervise, and the various types of community supervision.

CSOSA Leads Trip to Two Prisons in Outreach Effort For Men About to Be Released

Other Agencies and Providers Joined Trip and Related Event

More than 100 men who soon will be released from prison met one-on-one this month with staff from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and other community partners during visits that took place at two correctional facilities.

Associate Director Cedric Hendricks led a contingent from CSOSA on a two-day trip to visit men who soon will be returning home after serving sentences in federal prison facilities in Virginia and North Carolina. The trip was part of a variety of outreach efforts that take place throughout the year that make connections with men and women about to be released.

In addition to Associate Director Hendricks, 19 other CSOSA staff members made the visits on Dec. 3rd and Dec. 4th to FCI Petersburg, in Hopewell, VA, and the Rivers Correctional Facility in Winton, NC. They were joined by representatives of the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health, the District of Columbia Board of Elections, the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and Voices for a Second Chance, a non-profit that works with justice-involved individuals.

As Associate Director Hendricks explained it to the group at Petersburg on Dec. 3rd, “This is all about your future and you being successful. It’s all about getting the help you need to be successful.”

CSOSA has been making annual visits to Petersburg and Rivers for years because the populations at those facilities include large numbers of District of Columbia inmates. The visits are in addition to trips that staff members regularly make to facilities housing men and women nearing release. The in-person visits are part of efforts that also include quarterly information-sharing videoconferences with inmates at numerous facilities throughout the country.

Men at both prisons were eager to meet with the visitors, seeking information in the one-on-one discussions about housing, jobs, and other services and making connections that they hope to continue once they are back in the community. Many were preparing to move to the Hope Village halfway house, and others were nearing release directly back into the District of Columbia, including one man who had just two days remaining.

The men were anxious to return but also worried about their futures and repairing relationships with their families and the community at large.

The group from CSOSA – including Community Supervision Officers, case managers, and others – explained the mechanics of supervision and the ways CSOSA can help. Nearly every participant at Petersburg and Rivers personally met with Vocational Development Coordinator Tony Lewis, a reflection of the importance of employment in re-entry.

While members of the CSOSA team were visiting River’s Correctional Institution, an interactive videoconference was conducted from the agency’s headquarters in the District of Columbia. Employment and training partners who are dedicated to contributing to the success of returning residents, as well as reducing recidivism, participated in a productive exchange with the individuals who will soon be coming home to our community.

A particular highlight was the participation of a former Rivers resident, who spoke of the success he has experienced, as he is now employed in the construction trade by Miller and Long after going through training with the Building Futures Program of the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council (MWC), AFL-CIO. Other presenters included representatives of the Congress Heights Service Center, the Office of Apprenticeship Information and Training of the D.C. Department of Employment Services and the United Planning Organization (UPO).

The trip was organized by Associate Director Hendricks and Supervisory Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialist Trina Stewart. The federal Bureau of Prisons and the GEO Group Inc., which runs the Rivers facility, helped facilitate the visits.

CSOSA expressed thanks to Ms. Anne Dukes, Reentry Affairs Coordinator at FCI Petersburg, and Ms. Sydell Green, Release Preparation Program Coordinator at Rivers, for welcoming the team. The participants who made the trip have already had follow-up discussions about ways to collaborate so that the men coming home transition safely back to the community.

National Night Out

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) joined residents and community leaders from across the District of Columbia to celebrate National Night Out, an annual campaign that takes place in cities across the nation on the first Tuesday of August. The campaign promotes relationship building between local law enforcement and the communities they serve, while highlighting crime prevention, safety awareness and community action.

Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, National Night Out was launched in 1984 with the support of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers from across the nation. The campaign encourages police and community partnerships, while providing communities with a fun setting to engage police officers and other law enforcement representatives.

National Night Out has become more than a campaign encouraging police and community relationship building. It has become a celebration with neighborhoods from across the nation hosting block parties, cookouts and other community events that open the door for community members to meet and ask questions of the police officers patrolling their neighborhoods while fostering positive interactions between law enforcement and community members.

Success Story | Robert Butler

Type “definition of success” into an Internet search tool and you are bound to get a wide-ranging variety of responses. Regardless of how you define success, many find that the path to achieving it is not a straight line. Persevering in the face of obstacles and setbacks is critical. We acknowledge that while every path to success does not look the same, for justice-involved individuals, close supervision, as needed, and access to resources to address stabilization and criminogenic needs help to smooth the path to successfully completing supervision.

CSOSA’s mission is to effectively supervise adults under our jurisdiction to enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, support the fair administration of justice, and promote accountability, inclusion and success through the implementation of evidence-based practices in close collaboration with our criminal justice partners and the community. In doing this work, we remain steadfast to our guiding principles of community, accountability, justice.

Watch the video to learn about some of the challenges Robert Butler has faced on his journey to successfully reintegrate into the community. Read more about how CSOSA partners with the District of Columbia’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) on the Pathways Ambassador program in our article on Pathways to Supervision Success.

PPPS Week 2019

We are once again joining the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and a host of other agencies in recognizing members of the community corrections and supervision workforce during this year’s Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week (PPPS Week) – July 21 to July 27, 2019.

During this PPPS Week, community corrections professionals are encouraged to consider the theme of APPA’s upcoming Annual Training Institute – Passion, Courage, and Endurance: Transforming Community Corrections. According to APPA Executive Director Veronica Cunningham, this theme “speaks to the noteworthy changes to the adult and juvenile justice systems, not just from an infrastructure, operations, or programmatic perspective, but also with a renewed look at employee engagement, professional development, and health and wellness strategies for community corrections employees.”

On Thursday, July 18, 2019, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s Delegate to the House of Representatives, acknowledged in the Congressional Record that “[t]he work of [community supervision] professionals ultimately results in stronger and safer communities for all.” Norton went on to note that, beyond providing close supervision and striving to reduce recidivism, community supervision professionals connect those we supervise to supportive services, community-based resources, and programs that help them successfully complete supervision.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a mayoral proclamation in honor of PPPS Week, noting that CSOSA and PSA partner with other agencies to promote successful reentry, reduce recidivism, and prevent crime. DC Councilmember-at-Large Anita Bonds thanked CSOSA and PSA for “closely supervising justice-involved individuals within the District of Columbia with dignity, compassion, and an eye towards reintegration in the community.”

Here at CSOSA, we are grateful for our Community Supervision Officers who work tirelessly to positively impact public safety in the District of Columbia. We recognize the hard work of the Pretrial Supervision Officers of our sister agency, the Pretrial Services Agency. We acknowledge and are grateful to all those who make it possible for our supervision officers to effectively enhance public safety for those who live, work, and play in this city.

CSOSA Director Richard Tischner said, “the employees at CSOSA save lives – we do this by helping individuals make positive choices, holding others and ourselves accountable for actions, building partnerships that transform our community, and working together as a team united by our critical public safety mission. Our jobs may not be easy – we often must deal with difficult people, situations, and circumstances, and much of the change we aim to achieve is incremental, sometimes uncertain, and often without acclaim. I just wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your dedication and emphasize the tremendous importance and value of your work. I recognize that CSOSA’s greatest resource is you. Thank you for your ideas, expertise, passion, energy, and your continued commitment to enhancing public safety and saving lives.”

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