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Republic of Georgia Site Visit

Submitted by Monica Santiago, Special Assistant to the Associate Director, CSOSA Community Supervision Services (CSOSA Newslink, Winter 2005)

On January 26, the Department of Justice in collaboration with NIC requested that CSOSA host a delegation from the Republic of Georgia. The Republic of Georgia is situated at the dividing line of Asia and Europe. The Republic of Georgia is an ancient country of rugged mountains and a very determined people. Annexed by Russia in 1801, it regained its sovereignty in 1918. It then suffered through 70 years of Communist rule and suppression, finally declaring its independence from Russia in 1991. The people there say they "Never gave up," and those people now have their long-desired freedom.

The Republic of Georgia was mandated by the Georgian Government to develop a parole, probation, and pre-trial system. Four senior Georgian officials Eka Tkeshelashvili, Deputy Minister of Justice, Alexander Arakishvili, Chairman of the Probation Department, Zurab Abashidze, Head of the General Inspection, and Paata Lezhava, Member of Parliament have been charged with the incredible task of developing a document for governmental approval on how the parole, probation, and pre-trial systems will function and operate in that country.

On February 10, 2005, CSOSA hosted the Georgian Delegation from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The delegates started their day by first meeting with the Director, Paul A. Quander, Jr., Associate Director Jim Williams, and PSA's Deputy Director of Operations Spurgeon Kennedy. The delegation was provided overviews of CSOSA and PSA, which included the budgetary process, as well as pre-trial's operational process. Associate Director Thomas H. Williams and two Department of Justice staff then escorted the delegation to a meeting with Chief Judge Rufus C. King III at the DC Superior Court. Judge King facilitated a discussion about the District of Columbia's legal system, arraignment court procedures the PSI process and it's impact on the court's sentencing decision, violation proceedings, and the role of the CSO and judiciary.

The delegation was able to observe Magistrate Judge Michael McCarthy conducting pre-trial bail review hearings. Judge McCarthy recessed the court proceedings to address the delegation in his chambers.

Following lunch, the delegation was taken to the Taylor Street field office for a tour. During their visit, the delegation met with several CSS staff including Supervisor Jamaall Claggion who explained the urine collection, chain of custody, urinalysis and analyzing process. They were also afforded the opportunity of observing a VOTEE learning lab in session, a SMART presentation, and an offender interview. Branch Chiefs William Ashe and Valerie Collins, and SCSOs Karen Banks, and Linwood Williams provided presentations. The Day Reporting Center Coordinator, Curtis Atkinson, also gave a presentation.

The day ended with a tour of the Shaw II community corrections center where the delegation met with Director Ken Setter and staff who explained the halfway house concept and the facility's relationship to CSOSA, the Court, USPC, and the community. CSO Emanuel Lawton discussed the TIPS process and the offender's re-entry challenges.

The delegation was extremely thankful and appreciative of the opportunity to speak with staff and to learn a little bit of what we do in the Agency. The site visit for the delegation from the Republic of Georgia is another example of the positive reputation that CSOSA enjoys in both the national and international communities.

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