|A Guide to Treatment, Education and Job Related Services Within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA)|
|By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.|
All of us at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) receive telephone calls and e-mails from family and friends asking for information on programs to assist their loved ones currently under parole, probation, or supervised release.
Family involvement, support and encouragement are crucial to successful outcomes of people on community supervision. We appreciate your interest.
In an effort to assist those who are trying to help, we offer the following overview of services. CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers (CSOs—the professional supervising or assisting the offender—known elsewhere as parole and probation officers or agents) are your first contacts for information.
CSOSA is a federal, independent agency supervising and offering services to people convicted of D.C. code violations or who have been accepted for supervision through the Interstate Compact Agreement. We do not provide assistance to individuals not convicted of D.C. code violations or accepted through the Interstate Compact Agreement; we do not assist individuals living in adjacent states.
The CSOSA Website
Many of the resources listed on the CSOSA website (see below) are available to anyone. Please note that there are a wide array of government and private organizations providing services beyond those offered by CSOSA.
Please see www.csosa.gov. The top of the main page offers a button marked “Offender Reentry.” The section marked “Reentry Resources” provides a comprehensive overview of assistance available throughout the city.
Washington, D.C. Government and Non-Profit Providers
The District of Columbia government provides the majority of services available to people on CSOSA supervision. You can find comprehensive, up-to-date listings of social services available through the DC government at “211 Answers, Please!” (http://answersplease.dc.gov). For general employment information available at the District’s one-stop workforce development centers, please contact the DC Department of Employment Services at 202-724-7000, or see (http://does.dc.gov/does).
Services Available from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
CSOSA supervises 16,000 offenders on parole, supervised release or probation every day. CSOSA enforces the conditions and requirements imposed by the court or the US Parole Commission (such as drug testing and finding employment) and also refers individuals to supportive programs.
An individual supervision and treatment plan is developed for each offender.
The CSOSA Starting Point: Risk and Needs Assessment
Every individual entering supervision receives a comprehensive risk and needs assessment. The assessment identifies the particular areas in which the offender needs assistance and accountability. The assessment is updated throughout the year.
The Role of the Community Supervision Officer (CSO)
We encourage you to contact your friend’s or relative’s CSO, but please note that most information regarding an individual’s status on supervision or program participation is protected under the Federal Privacy Act. This information cannot be shared with anyone other than relevant government agencies without the offender’s written consent. Within these limitations, however, CSOs can be helpful and encouraging to family members and loved ones trying to assist offenders.
If you are uncertain of the name and telephone number of your loved one’s CSO, please contact 202-585-7377.
The CSOSA/Faith Community Partnership
CSOSA works with a wide variety of faith institutions throughout the city to coordinate a network of support services for people returning to the District from prison. Many of these services are also available to offenders not under CSOSA’s supervision, as well as probationers. CSOSA’s faith partners provide an array of services including mentoring, drug counseling, emergency food and clothing, job placement, housing assistance and more. See the CSOSA reentry web site mentioned above.
Substance Abuse Treatment
In fiscal year 2010, 90 percent of offenders entering supervision self-reported a history of illicit drug use. The connection between drug abuse and crime has been well established. Long-term success in reducing recidivism among drug-abusing offenders depends upon two key factors:
CSOSA’s treatment resources are focused on the highest-risk, highest-need individuals. We also work with District government to place other individuals, as appropriate, in city-funded treatment as slots are available.
Offenders access treatment in several different ways:
The Reentry and Sanctions Center (RSC)
CSOSA’s 102 bed Reentry and Sanctions Center (RSC) provides 28 days of intensive assessment and pre-treatment programming for individuals with long-term histories of substance abuse and criminal involvement. These individuals are the highest-risk, highest-need offenders under CSOSA supervision.
Offenders are generally referred to the RSC directly upon release from prison or early in their supervision period. Participation for offenders is voluntary, though some defendants are court-ordered to participate. The program provides offenders and defendants with tools to prevent relapse, improve family relationships, and modify deviant behaviors.
After completion, most participants are placed in custom-designed community-based programs to continue treatment.
The Secure Residential Treatment Program (SRTP)
The Secure Residential Treatment Program (SRTP) is a 32 bed, residential 180 day program operating within the DC Department of Corrections’ Correctional Treatment Facility.
The program is an alternative to incarceration for individuals facing revocation by the US Parole Commission. The primary focus is a comprehensive, intensive cognitive behavioral model aimed at the inmates’ individual criminal and substance using lifestyle rather than a focus on substance abuse alone.
Core treatment components include pre-screening, intake, orientation, assessment, crisis intervention, individualized treatment planning, inmate psycho-education, abstinence directed counseling, supportive group and individual counseling, urine toxicology screening, comprehensive case management, anger management education, spiritual education and group counseling, recreation therapy, group/individual psychotherapy, relapse and recidivism prevention, community re-integration, supervision compliance planning, discharge planning, introduction to community support meetings and continuity of care planning.
Mental Health Services
CSOSA contracts with mental health service providers for psychiatric screening and evaluation; psychological case reviews; pretreatment counseling; aftercare counseling; medication compliance/education groups; and full battery assessments on an as needed basis.
CSOSA does not provide mental health therapy or medication management. Based on the assessment results, CSOSA will refer the individual to the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health for appropriate services.
CSOSA has a supervision branch comprised of six teams that specialize in managing offenders with mental health issues.
Violence Reduction Program (VRP)
The Violence Reduction Program (VRP) is a programmatic intervention that blends best practices from the literature – such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mentoring – into a three-phase treatment intervention for men, aged 18-35, with histories of violent, weapons, and/or drug distribution convictions. The goal of the VRP is to help offenders:
Several specialized treatment interventions are provided to offenders who have committed certain types of crimes or are assigned to special supervision caseloads:
Traffic Alcohol Program (TAP)
Offenders are court-ordered to complete the Traffic Alcohol Program (TAP) following conviction for traffic and/or alcohol related offenses.
Sex Offender Assessment and Treatment
CSOSA contracts with treatment providers to assess and treat individuals convicted of sex offenses, as ordered by the Superior Court or U.S. Parole Commission.
Domestic Violence Treatment
As part of CSOSA’s supervision of offenders with domestic violence convictions, offenders convicted of domestic violence may be court-ordered to participate in an 18-week Family Violence Intervention Program or a 22-week Domestic Violence Intervention Program.
One example of a community-based program providing services for women offenders and their families is Our Place DC (www.ourplacedc.org). The phone number is 202-548-2400. Our Place works with CSOSA to bring comprehensive services to women offenders.
CSOSA has specialized supervision teams, treatment services, and groups for women offenders. Women offenders have unique and challenging needs that are best met through gender-specific groups.
CSOSA Treatment Specialists facilitate a 12-session Anger Management group program. Participants attend one 90-minute session each week.
Educational Assistance and Job Placement--Vocational Opportunities, Training, Education, and Employment Unit (V.O.T.E.E.)
The Vocational Opportunities for Training, Education, and Employment (VOTEE) Program assesses and responds to the individual educational and vocational needs of offenders. Vocational Development Specialists provide direct assistance in preparing offenders for job readiness training, community-based vocational and rehabilitative programs, and job search/placement and retention assistance. The unit also provides adult basic education and GED preparation courses at one of four learning labs staffed by CSOSA Learning Lab Specialists. The Learning Lab Specialists assist offenders in improving their educational levels. In addition, the Learning Labs provide information systems technology training and referrals for certification training.
CSOSA’s Community Supervision Officers (CSOs) are responsible for creating a supervision and treatment plan for each offender under CSOSA’s supervision. Please contact the CSO supervising your friend or family member if you would like to discuss your loved one’s needs. Your support, encouragement and guidance are often critical elements that keep many offenders from returning to crime or drugs.
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