Returning Citizen Sunday in 4D

On Sunday, October 21, 2018, the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ opened its doors to returning citizens in collaboration with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative, and the Assembly of Petworth.

After Peoples Congregational’s morning service, justice-involved individuals received clothing; book bags; and information on voting, housing, employment, and other social services.

What originated as a desire from one of CSOSA’s Fourth District (4D) Community Justice Advisory Network (CJAN) partners, Reverend Venita George, to help a few of CSOSA’s clients “became much bigger when we pulled in more resources,” says Elba Gonzalez CSOSA’s Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialist for 4D.

CSOSA has CJANs in each of the District’s seven police districts. CJANs are comprised of residents and key stakeholders, such as Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, faith-based institutions, schools, non-profit and civic organizations, businesses, government agencies, and local law enforcement entities. CJANs meet regularly and mobilize community resources concerning public safety; identify and address community public safety issues; share information about the challenges justice-involved individuals face; and educate the community on public safety issues and the work of CSOSA. CJANs create an environment where issues are resolved at the community level and community resources can be leveraged to enhance and expand services that support the successful reintegration of justice-involved individuals into the community.

Returning Citizen Sunday was the fruit of the Fourth District’s Community Justice Advisory Network. Rev. George and Ms. Gonzalez called on sponsors and solicited support from DC Councilmembers. CSOSA community supervision officers participated giving those under supervision an opportunity to earn community service hours and contact credits.

Gonzalez recalls, “The most powerful part of the day, was the message from David Bowers. He highlighted that we are all returning citizens, we are all returning from a sin or a wrong doing and asking that we be received. He stressed for us to think of how we can be proactive in reentry and to talk about reentry more.”

 

COMPLAINTS

Overview

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency’s (CSOSA) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigates possible instances of internal violations of laws or regulations, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, and allegations of misconduct by CSOSA employees. The OPR is an impartial investigative body that reports to the director of the agency and performs its administrative investigations without influence from any other component or employee within the agency.

If, after the administrative investigation, the OPR determines that the allegations are substantiated, CSOSA’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) reviews the investigative report for legal sufficiency. Once OGC deems the report legally sufficient, OPR forwards the report to the appropriate associate director, who provides the report to the appropriate management official. The management official, who acts as the proposing official, recommends the proper remedial action after consulting with the Office of Human Resources, Employee and Labor Relations.

How to File a Complaint

You must submit complaints against CSOSA employees in writing to CSOSA’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Complaints should contain as many details as possible. Your complaint should, at a minimum, answer the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Who are you making a complaint against?
  • What happened?
  • When did it occur?
  • Where did it occur?
  • Who are the possible witnesses?

You should also attach to your complaint copies of any evidence that might be useful to the investigation. We recommend that you keep copies of any documents you submit to OPR, as this information will not be returned to you.

As part of the preliminary analysis stage, the OPR will interview anyone who submits a complaint to determine whether a full investigation is warranted. This helps to ensure that employees are not investigated due to frivolous complaints. A complaint may be accepted from an anonymous source if there is enough factual information to support the claim. Anonymous complaints are not preferred, because OPR will not be able to follow up if additional details are needed.

Where to File a Complaint

Please submit your written complaint in one of the following ways –

By regular mail or hand delivery to:

Director, Office of Professional Responsibility
Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency
800 North Capitol Street NW
Suite 6000
Washington, DC 20004-2902

By fax to (202) 442-1965 for complaints against management or senior officials or to (202) 442-1966 for complaints against non-supervisory personnel.

Obstacles to Employment

In a recent publication from the DC Policy Center, Robin Selwitz explores the myriad obstacles individuals who have been involved in the criminal justice system face when seeking employment.

Involvement in the criminal justice system leads to a litany of aftereffects, commonly known as collateral consequences, which can result in unanticipated burdens to those trying to reintegrate into society and lead productive, law-abiding lives. These collateral consequences can make it difficult to secure stable housing and gainful employment, among other issues. Mounting research indicates that there are significant benefits for our communities in helping justice-involved individuals overcome barriers to employment and other collateral consequences.

In the District’s highly competitive and saturated job market, gainful employment remains an intractable challenge. For some, it is further compounded by the additional challenges posed by their history of involvement with the justice system. One promising mechanism to address unemployment for men and women with criminal histories is entrepreneurship. Watch our latest episode of DC Public Safety to learn more about the innovative approaches to addressing this issue in the District.

Read more on Obstacles to Employment for Returning Citizens in DC  on the DC Policy Center website.

Success Story | Anthony Hopkins

After 27 years of substance abuse and living a life he described as “lost,” Anthony Hopkins found himself in police custody once again after avoiding his community supervision officer. With the support of many, including two CSOSA community supervision officers who worked diligently to keep him on the right path, Hopkins was able to turn his life around.

The challenges Hopkins faced were not unique to him. Eighty-three (83%) of those entering supervision in 2017 reported having a history of substance abuse. Half of CSOSA’s employable population is unemployed. A person is employable if they are not retired, disabled, suffering from a debilitating medical condition, receiving Supplemental Security Income, participating in a residential treatment or sanctions program, or participating in a school or training program. A little more than one out of every 10 individuals under CSOSA supervision had unstable housing in 2017. Those living in a homeless shelter, halfway house, transitional housing, hotel or motel, or who have no fixed address are considered to have unstable housing.

CSOSA’s community supervision officers use evidence-based strategies, such as cognitive behavioral interventions, to change the thinking, behavior, and attitudes of those under supervision. CSOSA partners with District and federal agencies, community-based organizations, and faith institutions to connect the justice-involved individuals under our supervision with resources to facilitate their success under supervision and in the community.

Watch the video to learn more about Anthony Hopkins’ journey and to find out how his life has changed.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month | October 2018

Domestic violence is best understood as a pattern of abusive behaviors–including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion–used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use of a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.

For more general information about domestic violence, including potential warning signs for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline‘s information page: Is This Abuse? Get the Facts.

(From the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence)

VICTIM SERVICES

In 2001, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) launched the Victim Services Program (VSP) to serve residents of the District of Columbia who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual offenses, traffic or alcohol-related crimes, or property crimes. VSP is committed to responding to victims of crime with compassion, understanding, and respect.

VSP works with Community Supervision Officers (CSOs) to decrease the incidence of recidivism and re-victimization. VSP also partners with victim service agencies to identify crime victims, provide education on victim rights, and deliver orientation and technical assistance to victims and the community. Additionally, VSP connects victims with resources to address the effect of victimization.

Contact Information

For more information about CSOSA’s Victim Services Program, please contact:

Bonnie Andrews
Victim Services Program Manager
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
(202) 585-7360 (office)
Bonnie.Andrews-Craig@csosa.gov

For information on Victim Impact Panels, please contact:

Victim Impact Panel Mailbox
(202) 442-1818
VictimImpactPanel@csosa.gov

Thank You, Former Director Nancy Ware

It is with great fondness and appreciation that the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency bid farewell to our former director, Nancy M. Ware.

Appointed by then-President Barack Obama, Ms. Ware served as director of CSOSA from December 2011 to December 2017. Her accomplishments over the past six years are numerous. A few of the highlights from her tenure as director include:

  • Developing and implementing a full training curriculum for our Community Supervision Officer Academy.
  • Specialized programming and focus on young adults under CSOSA supervision.
  • Expanding the number of and improving the programming at CSOSA’s Community Engagement and Achievement Centers (formerly known as Day Reporting Centers).
  • Implementing behavioral health teams for those under our supervision.
  • Implementing the Triage Screener to expedite the process of assigning those under our supervision to appropriate teams.
  • Expanding Community Resource Day videoconferences to nearly 30 Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities housing District of Columbia inmates nearing release.
  • Instituting Family Reunification Videoconferencing for incarcerated mothers to stay better connected with their children.

These and other efforts undertaken and completed during her tenure embody CSOSA’s guiding principles of community, accountability, and justice. Moreover, Ms. Ware’s many intra-agency efforts to improve effectiveness and operational efficiency reflect a sentiment that she continuously emphasized – One Mission, One Agency.

A native Washingtonian, Ms. Ware has devoted her professional career to public service, working to ensure that the nation’s capital remains safe for those who reside in, work in, and visit the District of Columbia; and striving to afford juveniles and adults who have become involved in the criminal justice system opportunities to contribute and thrive.

We thank Ms. Ware for her years of dedicated service to criminal justice in the District of Columbia, especially the past six years as our director.

We wish her the best of luck and full success in her future endeavors.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Justice-Involved Individuals

Mounting research indicates that there are significant benefits for our communities in helping men and women that have been involved in the criminal justice system find employment. Unfortunately, some employers remain reticent to hiring someone who is or has been involved in the justice system, as evidenced by the need for laws such as Ban the Box, which, among other things, makes it illegal for an employer to inquire about criminal history prior to making a conditional offer of employment.

In the District’s highly competitive and saturated job market, gainful employment remains an intractable challenge. For some, it is further compounded by the additional challenges posed by their history of involvement with the justice system. In order to realize gains in public safety, it is imperative to remove barriers that can empower these individuals to take control of their destinies. One such mechanism for empowerment in the employment sector is entrepreneurship which provides a promising approach to address unemployment for men and women with criminal histories.

Check our latest episode of DC Public Safety to learn more about this important topic.

 

PPPS Week 2018

We joined 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 15 to July 28, 2018.

The APPA chose “Restoring Trust and Creating Hope” as this year’s theme to encourage supervision professionals “to celebrate the amazing work you are doing to support efforts to make our neighborhoods whole” and “to continue developing and strengthening community collaborative strategies and programs that offer solutions to societal issues.”

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser recognized the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia as ”invaluable community corrections agencies” who work “to promote successful reentry, reduce recidivism, [and] help make our communities safer and stronger.”

Here at CSOSA, we continue to be guided by the principles of community, accountability, and justice. Thanks to our own hard-working Community Supervision Officers and PSA’s Pretrial Services Officers, who enhance public safety in the District of Columbia for those who live, work, and play here.