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.”

More Than 240 Prisoners Attend Community Resource Day

CSOSA joined with government and community partners on June 18th in presenting the latest Community Resource Day event, providing information about key services and programs in a videoconference to more than 240 returning citizens who will soon be released from incarceration.

The all-day program was attended by District of Columbia inmates who were viewing it in 22 prisons, with the biggest group watching from the Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, N.C. The topics covered included release planning and supervision, family strengthening and support; education; employment readiness, training and placement; health care, housing, faith-based partnerships and Justice Involved Individual community partnerships.

Four times a year, the Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs (OLIPA) partners with the Rivers Correctional Institution, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), various D.C. government agencies and community-based resource and service providers to help people get ready for re-entry. More than 30 speakers presented on June 18th.

The presenters included representatives of CSOSA, the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA), the University of the District of Columbia, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and a host of other partners. They described the services they provide, offered advice, and answered questions from the attendees. Some of the speakers were returning citizens themselves who have successfully transitioned into the workforce and community.

OLIPA also produces a Community Resource Day package, which is distributed to Rivers and federal corrections institutions that house a significant number of D.C. inmates.  The package includes reference materials for those who want more information or who missed the presentations.

A team of CSOSA employees, organized by OLIPA’s Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialist (ICAS) Denise Reed, presented the event at the CSOSA field site located at 2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. CSOSA’s Office of Information Technology provided support on the broadcast. CSOSA launched the Community Resource Day program more than 15 years ago. The next videoconference is expected to take place in September 2019.

CSOSA Director Tischner Tours Milwaukee Jobs Training Program

Joseph Project

Director Tischner is with Pastor Jerome Smith Sr., of Milwaukee’s Greater Praise Church of God in Christ

CSOSA Director Richard S. Tischner and other key agency staff members recently visited a faith-based program in Milwaukee that has successfully trained scores of returning citizens and helped them find well-paying jobs in manufacturing and other sectors.

The mid-May fact-finding mission was arranged at the suggestion of Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who talked about the program – called the Joseph Project – during the Director’s confirmation hearing. Senator Johnson chairs the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and has supported the Joseph Project since its founding.

CSOSA has its own array of training and employment programs, including its Community Engagement and Achievement Centers (CEAC), and is planning to expand its outreach even more by building on its own success and successful efforts elsewhere.

“We appreciate the invitation from Senator Johnson to learn about an employment readiness program that improves employment outcomes and success for those under supervision,” said Director Tischner.

Founded in 2015, the Joseph Project began as a constituent service through Senator Johnson’s office. Senator Johnson found that manufacturers throughout the state were struggling to fill positions, while people in the central city of Milwaukee were facing challenges in finding employment. Staffers with Senator Johnson’s office began working with Pastor Jerome Smith Sr., of Milwaukee’s Greater Praise Church of God in Christ, to identify people in need of employment who were ready for a change. The church runs the program.

The Joseph Project is a voluntary initiative designed to assist unemployed Milwaukee residents secure and maintain permanent employment through providing resources, education and support. With a more than 70 percent job retention rate, the program focuses on stabilizing some of the most disenfranchised citizens of Milwaukee, many of whom are returning citizens. Although Wisconsin’s economy heavily relies on manufacturing, the manufacturing plants are located quite a distance from the Milwaukee city limits, creating additional employment obstacles. To assist participants in overcoming this obstacle, the Joseph Project provides participants transportation to and from work via their shuttle service that runs 24/7.

Once a month, a new group of 15 to 20 participants attends free week-long sessions, taught by volunteers at the church. The participants undergo four days of intensive, boot camp-styled job readiness training, where they work on subjects including workplace etiquette and attire, résumé writing, interview skills, time and stress management, and conflict resolution. The fifth and final day is interview day, in which the participants are interviewed for positions with the Joseph Project’s many manufacturing partners. During Director Tischner’s visit, for example, nearly 20 people took the class and emerged with job offers by the end of the week.

“Because the Joseph Project recognizes that employment is one of the most important factors in helping those under supervision live stable and productive lives, they have been able to connect hundreds of Milwaukee residents to meaningful careers and place them on a better path,” Director Tischner said.

For returning citizens, employment security can begin while still incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated at the Milwaukee county jail who participate are permitted to leave the jail daily in order to attend classes so that they are ready to work if offered a position after their release.

“We are grateful to Senator Johnson and Pastor Smith and the dedicated program staff at the Joseph Project for taking the time to share this innovative approach with CSOSA,” said Director Tischner. “We hope to draw from the best practices we observed  in Milwaukee in expanding CSOSA’s employment outreach initiatives.”

Accompanying Director Tischner on the trip were Congressional Affairs Specialist William Miles, Vocational Development Coordinator Tony Lewis, and Special Assistant Hyun-Ju E. Park.


WASHINGTON – More than 70 employees and officers of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) worked together in a citywide clean-up to launch of the District of Columbia’s Summer Crime Initiative.

The May 31, 2019 event – “Team Up to Clean Up” – started with a kick-off rally at the Mary Virginia Merrick Community Center, in the 4300 block of 4th Street SE, before volunteers from CSOSA, MPD, and other agencies headed to more than 20 locations throughout the District of Columbia. During this day of service, the volunteers cleaned up trash from blocks and streets and promoted community pride to launch a summer of activities. CSOSA, MPD and other law enforcement partners will work together throughout the summer on public safety measures and participate in a series of community events, including the annual National Night Out.

“This is about being out in the community, working, and showing that we care,” said Associate Director Marcus Hodges of the Office of Community Supervision and Intervention Services. “We want to improve the community and will do everything we can to do it.”

“A clean community is a safer community and that’s what this is all about,” said Associate Director Cedric Hendricks of the Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs. “It’s also about partnership, showing our collaboration with the community.”


The locations included sidewalks, public parks, curb areas, and streets, such as the 1900 block of 15th Street SE; the 2700 to 2900 blocks of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE; the 5000 blocks of B, C, and D Streets SE; the 5000 block of Benning Road SE; the 3100 to 3600 blocks of 14th Street NW, the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Canal Street SW, and many other neighborhoods. At many locations, residents came out to greet the volunteers.

This was the third annual “Team Up to Clean Up” event. As in the past, the District of Columbia’s Department of Public Works provided support at the many locations.

Second Chance at Work

In recognition of April as Second Chance Month, CSOSA invited leaders and representatives of business and training programs to Second Chance at Work – an event drawing attention to the obstacles justice-involved individuals face when entering the workforce and highlighting the work that CSOSA and our partners do to prepare people under supervision for the workplace.

President Donald J. Trump declared April Second Chance Month to “draw attention to the challenges that former inmates face and the steps we can take to ensure they have the opportunity to become contributing members of society.” For too many returning citizens, the obstacles imposed by a criminal history compound their employment struggles. Beyond highlighting these challenges and celebrating those who have successfully reintegrated into the community, Second Chance Month provided an opportunity to express sincere gratitude to individuals and organizations that have provided the support, resources, and jobs that facilitated their success.

“Although our mandate is to provide community supervision, we have long recognized that people are more likely to successfully complete supervision when certain stabilization needs are met,” said CSOSA Director Richard S. Tischner. “Steady and gainful employment is one of the top needs. Unfortunately, about half of the employable people under our supervision are unemployed.”

During the Conversations with the CEAC segment of the event, guests toured one of CSOSA’s Community Engagement and Achievement Centers (CEACs) and learned how our staff prepare clients for entry into the workforce directly or provide skills acquisition through completion of a vocational training program. Guests also heard from CSOSA partners including Building Futures, DC Central Kitchen, the EZ Street Music Industry Academy, and the Hope Project about the value of giving a second chance.

The second part of the program — Second Chance Successes – featured successful CSOSA clients who have obtained employment or occupational certifications, achieved stability, and are compliant with the conditions of their supervision, sharing the stories of their struggles and achievements in their own words. The triumphs of these clients are not only a testament to their hard work and determination, but they also demonstrate what can be accomplished through the collaborative partnerships established by the CEAC.

Guests heard remarks from Congressman Danny K. Davis, United States Representative from Illinois’s Seventh Congressional District and co-sponsor of the Second Chance Act; Ahnna Kim Smith, Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Council of the District of Columbia; Elissa Silverman, At-Large DC Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development; and Antwanye Ford, Board Chair of the Workforce Investment Council of the District of Columbia.

Finally, during What’s in it for My Business?, representatives from the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services educated guests about the benefits of hiring returning citizens, including funding opportunities, bonding, and the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit.

Our work does not stop because Second Chance Month is over. We have asked each of the employers that participated in the event to commit to hiring one person who is or has been under CSOSA supervision. If you are an employer or training program interested in partnering with CSOSA, contact Michael Bonds, Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Specialist, at or (202) 220-5458.

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