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.”

 

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.

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.

 

#TeamUpToCleanUp2018

On Friday, June 1, 2018, officers and employees of Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) joined forces for a community clean-up event, kicking off the District of Columbia’s Summer Crime Initiative and building on the longstanding public safety partnership between CSOSA and MPD. The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) also participated in the community service event.

#TeamUpToCleanUp volunteers met to clean up trash and separate recyclable debris from MPD-selected areas of the 5th, 6th and, 7th Districts.

During this day of service, volunteers and residents not only cleaned up, but also supported a sense of community pride by decreasing litter and trash and bringing awareness to the city’s recycling program and quest for environmental wellness.

As the temperature rises, the incidence of crime often increases as well. This Team Up to Clean Up event marked the start of CSOSA’s Summer Crime Initiative. Community outreach activities, clean-ups, Saturday reporting and programs for those under our supervision, accountability tours, neighborhood knocks: these are a few aspects of our comprehensive, evidence-based efforts to promote public safety. We will also continue to partner with MPD for its Summer Crime Initiative activities.

Grand Opening of CSOSA at 2101

On August 1, 2017, we held the Grand Opening of our newest field site at 2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE. This state-of-the-art facility is located less than half a mile from our old Anacostia field site and a bit closer to the Anacostia Metro Station.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Councilmember Anita Bonds, Judge Milton Lee, and Reverend Ronald Miles joined Director Nancy Ware, Deputy Director James Berry, and Associate Director Cedric Hendricks in welcoming guests to our new location. After remarks and the ribbon cutting ceremony, guests were invited to tour the facility and learn about the innovative supervision activities that would occur inside.

Community partners, successful justice-involved individuals, and CSOSA staff were stationed around the building to provide greater insight as to how the spaces could be used to further our mission of effective supervision, thereby enhancing public safety in the District of Columbia.

#TeamUpToCleanUp

On Thursday, August 31, 2017, officers and employees of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) joined forces to participate in a community clean-up event. “Team Up to Clean Up” was part of the District of Columbia’s Summer Crime Initiative (SCI) Close-Out and built on the longstanding public safety partnership between these two agencies.

The “Team Up to Clean Up” volunteers cleaned up trash and separated recyclable debris in selected SCI areas of the 5th, 6th and, 7th police districts. Specifically, volunteers worked in residential areas, public curbs, and walkways of Starburst Plaza at the corner of Benning and Bladensburg Roads NE and the 700-900 blocks of 19th Street NE, in the 5th Police District; the 3700 to 3900 blocks of Minnesota Avenue NE, in the 6th District; and Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcom X Avenues SE, Morris & Elvans Roads SE, 16th & W Streets SE, and the 4200 block of 6th Street SE, in the 7th District.

During this day of service, volunteers and residents of these neighborhoods not only engaged in an effort to clean up, but also supported a sense of community pride by decreasing litter and trash and bringing awareness to the city’s recycling program and quest for environmental wellness.