Success Story | Antoine Johnson

“I wasn’t a bad kid, but I made some bad choices that landed me in some terrible spots,” says Antoine Johnson. Those choices led to substance abuse, criminal activity, and ultimately incarceration.

Separated from his parents, Mr. Johnson began experimenting with alcohol and illicit substances at age 12. At age 16, he was caught in a stolen vehicle. Like many who have been in the juvenile justice system, Mr. Johnson became involved in the adult justice system.

After successfully completing CSOSA supervision, Mr. Johnson joined the agency as a Credible Messenger. The Credible Messenger program grants qualified individuals who go through the job application process and are accepted, the opportunity to work for CSOSA for a six-month term. Credible Messengers positions are open to those who have completed a period of probation, parole, or supervised release.

Credible Messengers use their prior life experiences to provide support to people under supervision—assisting current supervisees in articulating their goals and navigating systems to obtain services in the community. In turn, Credible Messengers receive valuable work experience that increases their employability and marketability for future career opportunities.

Watch the video to learn more about Mr. Johnson’s story and experience.

Success Story | Tarisha Settles

Tarisha Settles found herself moving in and out of the criminal justice system, a cycle fueled by her substance abuse. Like many justice-involved women throughout the nation, Ms. Settles is a mother. Although the vast majority of people involved in the criminal justice system are men, Ms. Settles was among the rising tide of women who have been incarcerated or subject to community supervision since the 1980s. Despite the 14-fold increase in the number of justice-involved women over the past four decades, much of the programming and interventions in the field remain focus towards men. Women are often left to navigate a system that was not built with them in mind and unprepared to address all their needs.

In September 2010, CSOSA launched our women’s teams to provide gender-responsive supervision services and address the challenges facing women under supervision. In furtherance of our mission, CSOSA’s approach to community supervision requires us to consider the whole person when creating and implementing an individualized supervision plan. Our community supervision officers consider a person’s criminogenic and stabilization needs. Our programming is designed to address a person’s criminogenic needs, which are directly related to criminality, such as substance use, anti-social associations and attitudes, and lack of achievement. We build strong relationships with other agencies and community partners to address the stabilization needs of the people we supervise. Stabilization needs are the non-criminogenic factors that may hinder the effectiveness of supervision programming if left unaddressed, such as unstable housing, untreated mental health issues, unemployment, and lack of education. Although some of these needs are common among many justice-involved individuals, some are more specific to women involved in the criminal justice system or present differently than in their male counterparts.

According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, “[g]ender-responsive and trauma-informed policies, practices, and programs recognize that women have distinct histories, pathways to offending, and experiences in the criminal justice system. These approaches address issues that may contribute to women’s involvement in the justice system, such as domestic violence, abuse, and victimization; family and relationships; trauma; and poverty, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.”

Ms. Settles experienced supervision before and after our gender-responsive approach was implemented. Watch the video to learn more about her story and experience.

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.

Success Story | Kenneth Baldwin

Kenneth Baldwin spent nearly three decades in the grips of an addiction that began at age 13. He turned to drugs as a means of dealing with the responsibility he felt for his parents’ divorce and escaping an abusive stepfather.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood experiences have a significant impact on health and opportunity throughout the course of a person’s life. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), in particular, have been linked to substance abuse as well as an increased likelihood of experiencing violence as a victim or perpetrator. ACEs include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; witnessing domestic violence committed against a parent; and divorce. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that ACEs are linked to an increased likelihood of early initiation into substance abuse.

For some individuals, like Baldwin, substance use issues can lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency’s Re-entry and Sanctions Center (RSC) is a holistic and multidisciplinary residential facility that provides intensive assessments and reintegration programming for high-risk individuals with extensive substance use and co-occurring mental health histories who are under the supervision of CSOSA or the Pretrial Services Agency. Those referred to the RSC receive a complete physical and psychological evaluation, counseling, treatment readiness, diagnostic, and referral services to other treatment facilities. The cognitive behavioral interventions offered at the RSC focus on treatment readiness and motivation.

CSOSA’s Faith and Community Based Mentoring Partnership (FCBMP) matches people under supervision with mentors from faith-based institutions and the community, who can provide prosocial support and guidance. The FCBMP also refers offenders to various resources to address their identified needs, thereby fostering an environment conducive to their successful completion of supervision. In years past, CSOSA has recognized mentors and mentees, like Baldwin, who have committed an exceptional amount of time or energy to their mentoring relationship over the course of the preceding year.

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 how these CSOSA programs played a role in Baldwin’s evolution. You can read more about Baldwin’s life in Recovery: “I Found I Had a Purpose,” a profile that appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of CatholicU Magazine.

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.