Skip navigation

Council for Court Excellence - Second Chances: Returning Citizens' Re-Entry Struggles and Successes in the District of Columbia, 2016

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
DECEMBER 2016

BEYOND
SECOND CHANCES
RETURNING CITIZENS’ RE-ENTRY STRUGGLES AND
SUCCESSES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Council for
Court Excellence
Improving Justice for the Community

w w w. c o u r t e x c e l l e n c e . o r g

Council for
Court Excellence

About the
Council for Court Excellence
Formed in the District of Columbia in 1982, the Council for Court Excellence (CCE) is
a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization that envisions a justice system in the District
of Columbia that equitably serves its people and continues to be a model for creating
stronger and more prosperous communities.
CCE’s mission is to enhance the justice system in the District of Columbia to serve the
public equitably. CCE identifies and proposes solutions by collaborating with diverse
stakeholders to conduct research, advance policy, educate the public, and increase civic
engagement.

Council for Court Excellence
1111 14th Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005-5628
202.785.5917
courtexcellence.org
facebook.com/courtexcellence
twitter.com/CCE_for_DC

ON THE COVER
Returning citizens pictured: Kawan McCoy, Trevor Dixon,
Sakenia Hammond, Vedo Hall, James LeBlanc, Chearie Phelps-El,
and Victor Blanco.
Cover photos courtesy of Kristin Adair, © 2016.

Copyright © 2016 Council for Court Excellence.
Reproduction in full or in part by permission only.
Download this report at
www.courtexcellence.org/digital-library
Request a hard copy by emailing
info@courtexcellence.org

Council for
Court Excellence
Improving Justice for the Community

Council for
Court Excellence
Improving Justice for the Community

Acknowledgments
In consultation with CCE’s Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by Carol Elder Bruce, Esq., and its Re-entry
Subcommittee, chaired by Theodore C. Whitehouse, Esq., this report was written by CCE staff members June
Kress, D.Crim.; Ben Moser, MPA; Emily Tatro, Esq., and former senior policy analyst Tracy Velázquez, MPA.
Several CCE interns also contributed to this report: Sylvia Ashley, Samantha Farish, Fleming Farrell, Kirsten
Flicker, Indira Galvez Guzman, Devon Hays, Ellen Hornsby, Christian Lake, Abigail Mitchell, Elias Schultz,
Kimberly Soy, David Weinraub, and Alejandra Whitney-Smith. CCE staff members Sarah Medway, J.D.,
LL.M., and Danny Reed contributed editing and production support.
CCE thanks the returning citizens, D.C. residents, community and legal services providers, and others who
participated in interviews and focus groups for this report. CCE also thanks the various local and federal
government agencies who provided data to CCE.
CCE is especially grateful to the government and community stakeholders who reviewed drafts of this report
and provided valuable feedback.
Beyond Second Chances would not have been possible without the financial generosity of
Anonymous
William S. Abell Foundation
Brokell Foundation
The Jovid Foundation
and donors like you.

CCE gives special thanks to Kristin Adair for providing the returning citizens’ portraits throughout this report
and to Spitfire Strategies for communications services, including numerous pro bono hours.

Portraits of Re-entry
The black-and-white portraits on the cover and throughout Beyond Second Chances are people who have
returned home to D.C. from incarceration. They have shared their struggles and successes, and they lend their
faces and voices to Beyond Second Chances to help convey the collective story of many more just like them.
These wonderful photographs are generously provided pro bono by Kristin Adair.
PHOTO CREDIT FOR PORTRAITS THROUGHOUT REPORT:
Courtesy of Kristin Adair, © 2016.

P R E FAC E

CCE’s History of Criminal Justice
Reform Efforts

For the last 34 years, the Council for Court Excellence has made criminal justice a major
reform priority and has worked to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal
justice processes in the District of Columbia. We have engaged in sentencing reform,
pushed for the creation of two community courts to divert people from prison and jail,
and advocated for the rights of crime victims and their families with the enactment of a
D.C. crime victim bill of rights.
But it was not until 2005 that CCE began a more serious and focused examination of the issue of re-entry and
the prospects of removing the collateral consequences of conviction for D.C. residents who have a criminal
record. Collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders representing the local and federal government, direct
service providers, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, lawyers, judges, and others, CCE conducted a survey of
expungement statutes nationwide, because the District did not have one in place, and produced a report and
legislative proposal that resulted in the D.C. Council passing the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006.
From there, we began to explore the relationship between unemployment and recidivism. By conducting
surveys of returning citizens and the business community, as well as research into legislative best practices
elsewhere, we published Unlocking Employment Opportunity for Previously Incarcerated Persons in the District
of Columbia in 2011.
Less than a year later, CCE worked with the D.C. Council to adopt a bill, the Re-entry Facilitation Act of 2012,
that contained two of our report’s five recommendations: (1) Address employers’ liability concerns about
hiring a person with a criminal record by offering a method that would ban the revelation of the employee’s
criminal record in a civil negligent hiring lawsuit and (2) Establish a certificate of good standing program,
available to persons with a criminal conviction upon completion of their sentence, probation or community
supervision. The bill also amended the 2006 Criminal Record Sealing Act, such as reducing the amount of time
a person must wait to seal eligible convictions.
In June 2013, the D.C. Re-entry Facilitation Act became law, and we set out to talk with the business community
about our report’s findings and the subsequent legislation. We addressed the Workforce Investment Council in
the fall of 2013; a year later, we sponsored a forum for the business community, Hiring People with a Criminal
Record, moderated by PNC Bank regional president Michael Harreld. The forum featured Harry Wingo, thenCEO of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, and business leaders and experts on re-entry and employment. D.C.
Council chair, Phil Mendelson, presented on legislative reform efforts.
Since then, CCE has examined the subject of parole and how we might change the course of people who remain
incarcerated long after they presumptively would have been paroled at the completion of the low end of their

www.courtexcellence.org | i

indeterminate sentence (e.g., 10 to 30 years). D.C. has not used indeterminate sentencing since passing the
Sentencing Reform Amendment Act of 2000. Some people sentenced prior to the act, however, have remained
incarcerated beyond their parole eligibility because of how the D.C. Board of Parole used its discretion in
applying its guidelines.
CCE is also committed to removing, or at least lessening, the many obstacles to expungement that have inadvertently arisen since the passage of the Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006. Simultaneously, we are attempting
to unpack the issue of certificates of good standing that have not been implemented by the D.C. government
in any meaningful way. Finally, we are working with the Community Justice Project at Georgetown University
Law Center to research appropriate options for a clemency process for D.C. Code offenders that will be more
accessible and fair.
In 2014, CCE revisited the District’s re-entry system to expand on our previous re-entry work that focused on
obstacles to employment for returning citizens. This work has culminated in the report that follows, which is
the most extensive, comprehensive examination of re-entry in the District to date. We are optimistic that the
findings and recommendations we present will lead to reforms that will reunite families, strengthen communities and raise the quality of life throughout the District.

ii | Beyond Second Chances

Table of Contents

Preface: CCE’s History of Criminal Justice Reform Efforts.................................................................................i
Executive Summary.................................................................................................................................................v
Introduction: Why This Report?............................................................................................................................1
1.	 An Overview of D.C.’s Returning Citizens....................................................................................................3
2.	 An Overview of D.C.’s Re-entry System........................................................................................................9
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................25

3.	Housing............................................................................................................................................................27
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................36

4.	Employment....................................................................................................................................................39
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................55

5.	Education.........................................................................................................................................................57
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................64

6.	 Physical and Behavioral Health....................................................................................................................65
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................78

7.	 Women’s Re-entry..........................................................................................................................................81
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................89

8.	 Re-entry for Young Adults............................................................................................................................91
	

Recommendations..........................................................................................................................................99

9.	 LGBTQ Re-entry..........................................................................................................................................101
	

Recommendations........................................................................................................................................105

10.	 Social Supports.............................................................................................................................................107
	

Recommendations........................................................................................................................................112

Appendix...............................................................................................................................................................113
A. 	 Glossary of Acronyms................................................................................................................................113
B. 	 Recommendations by Agency/Decision-maker.....................................................................................118

Executive Summary

The path home from time in the criminal justice system is a rocky one, no matter who has
to walk it or where they are headed. But here, in our nation’s capital, that path is incredibly
complex and laden with obstacles, such as overlapping local and federal jurisdictions,
a lack of resources to help returning citizens, and systems that do not always serve the
unique needs of specific populations.
In a city where 1 in 22 adults is under some form of correctional control on any given day,i simplifying that
path will benefit thousands of District of Columbia residents, their families, and the entire city by helping
returning citizens move beyond second chances to fulfill their full potential.
Through a review of previously unreleased data and a series of in-depth interviews with returning citizens and
service providers who see firsthand the obstacles that these people too often confront, this report provides
the most complete picture to date of the unique challenges that returning citizens face in D.C. The report also
includes examples of promising re-entry service models from jurisdictions around the country and from the
District of Columbia. Finally, the report outlines the Council for Court Excellence’s (CCE) recommendations
to improve our neighbors’ reintegration into the community.

Main Findings
In compiling this report, CCE first sought to identify the challenges that returning citizens face nationally
and in the District of Columbia. While each of these has a variety of contributing elements that must be
addressed—and CCE’s recommendations to do that are detailed in the report—these are the top-line findings:
•	 D.C.’s criminal justice system is unique compared to the rest of the nation with its mix of local and federal
jurisdictions. Different standards and procedures between these jurisdictions can complicate the re-entry
process.
•	 D.C. Code offenders are often sent to facilities throughout the country, including as far away as the West
Coast, despite the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) policy to attempt to place them within 500 miles of D.C.ii This
distance isolates offenders from the support systems of family, friends, and local service providers that are
crucial to their successful return.
i	

ii	

U.S. Census data show that there are about 504,242 adults in the District of Columbia as of 2015. The
population under correctional control in D.C. on a given day (excluding average daily arrests) was 22,999,
equivalent to approximately 456 out of every 10,000 adults, or 1 in 22 adults.
CSOSA. (2014). Re-entry in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.

www.courtexcellence.org | v

•	 The population of D.C. Code offenders is starkly homogeneous. Although slightly less than half of all D.C.
residents are black, more than 96 percent of D.C. Code offenders incarcerated at BOP facilities are black.
The struggles that result from a criminal record are experienced almost entirely by D.C.’s black community.
•	 The U.S. Parole Commission (USPC) uses its own guidelines for granting parole, despite the existence of
D.C. rules.iii In fact, the entire process for granting or revoking parole or supervision under the USPC does
not effectively serve D.C. Code offenders.
•	 The D.C. Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA) has not been able to achieve its mission—to
coordinate and monitor service delivery to returning citizens, and make policy recommendations regarding
returning citizens to the mayor—due to limited funding and resources.
•	 Lack of affordable housing is a persistent problem: 90 days into community supervision, 22 percent of
employed returning citizens, 32 percent of unemployed returning citizens, and 38 percent of unemployable
returning citizens face housing instability. D.C. is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities
for housing in the U.S.iv and public housing options are extremely limited, complicating returning citizens’
search for stable, long-term housing.
•	 Employment is a major problem for returning citizens. Among employable returning citizens entering
supervision during 2015, 71 percent reported they were unemployed.v Unfortunately, D.C.’s job market
poses special challenges for the city’s returning citizens. In 2012, nearly half of all job openings in the D.C.
metro area required a college degree,vi a rate 10 percent higher than other metro areas. It is projected that
by 2020, 76 percent of all jobs in the D.C. metro area will require postsecondary education.vii
•	 Access to care for physical and mental health issues is greatly lacking. For example, offenders incarcerated
locally in D.C. and on Medicaid are able to have their coverage suspended instead of revoked while they
serve their sentence. But D.C. Code offenders in BOP custody around the country do not have a process to
renew their Medicaid coverage before their return and consequently may face gaps in health care access.
•	 D.C. does not have enough high-quality, re-entry-specific programming, and the gaps are greatest for programs designed to accommodate the needs of special populations, including women, youth and members
of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (and/or questioning) (LGBTQ) community.

Top Recommendations
Identifying the obstacles for returning citizens was just the first step. CCE’s next goal was to develop remedies
to change official policies and practices and to improve the enforcement of existing policies and practices.

Brief for Council for Court Excellence as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner, Bailey v. Smoot, cert. denied,
2016 WL 4524368 (U.S. Apr. 14, 2016) (No. 15-1217).
iv	 See, for example, Elkins, K. (2016). The 11 most expensive cities in America. Business Insider.
v	 CSOSA. (2015). Employment at 90 days and educational attainment of 2015 CSOSA entrants. Unpublished
raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
vi	 Rothwell, J. (2012). Education, job openings, and unemployment in metropolitan America. Washington,
D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
vii	 Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). Recovery: Projections of jobs and education requirements
through 2020. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University.

iii	

vi | Beyond Second Chances

While the report outlines in detail numerous recommendations for reform, the following are likely to have
the most significant impact:
1.	 MORCA FUNDING: MORCA should be fully funded in the next budget cycle so that it can implement
the recommendations included in the D.C. Inspector General’s report and the University of Maryland’s
assessment of the agency and better serve D.C.’s returning citizens by operating as a re-entry hub, coordinating referrals to service providers and helping to develop and implement policy ideas.
2.	 BOP LEADERSHIP: CCE reiterates the D.C. Re-entry Task Force’s recommendation that the BOP should
create an ombudsman position focused specifically on D.C. correctional issues.
3.	 HOUSING: Correctional facilities and housing providers should permit and assist returning citizens to
apply for and reserve housing up to 90 days prior to release.
4.	 EMPLOYMENT: Research should be conducted to determine incentives that would encourage employers
to hire returning citizens; such incentives should then be developed, implemented and evaluated.
5.	 HEALTH: D.C. government agencies responsible for health care-related benefits should ensure that people
who have disabilities and chronic illnesses—including serious and persistent mental illness—face no gap
in service coverage for either Medicaid or disability benefits. Furthermore, the BOP should send a weekly
list of people being released from their facilities to the Department of Healthcare Finance to prevent gaps
in Medicaid coverage and allow for medication and medical services not to lapse.
6.	 HALFWAY HOUSES: The BOP should not renew Hope Village’s contract. Instead, it should use the
updated statement of work to hold a new halfway house provider accountable for offering high-quality
services, including workforce engagement, connection to behavioral and physical health services, securing
housing, family support and offense-specific issues, by tracking outcomes such as employment, engagement
in treatment, and recidivism.

Conclusion
CCE’s research clearly reveals that D.C.’s returning citizens face a variety of challenges that returning citizens
elsewhere simply do not confront. Overlaps in federal and local jurisdictions, along with a lack of support systems and services, combine to create daunting obstacles to successful re-entry for thousands of people coming
home to the District of Columbia.
It does not have to be this way. Many best practices, programs, and approaches described in this report can
be adapted for use by the D.C. government and by federal agencies to increase returning citizens’ chances for
successful reintegration.
The issues CCE identifies and the solutions this report recommends will go a long way to alleviate many challenges returning citizens face in D.C. This report, however, should not be considered the end of this process.
Indeed, it is a blueprint. Policymakers, service providers, and returning citizens have the opportunity to work
together to tackle the most pressing issues of our re-entry system. Our community should ensure that returning
citizens have the tools and resources they need to successfully come home. For their sake and for the sake of
our city, we must take substantive, corrective action now.

www.courtexcellence.org | vii

I NT R ODUCTIO N

Why This Report?

The number of people in state and federal prisons in the U.S. has tripled over the past
30 years from approximately half a million in 19841 to more than 1.5 million in 2014.2 In
comparison, the U.S. population has increased only about 37 percent, from about 236
million to 324 million.3 Local jail populations have increased as well. Today, 1 in 110
adults in the U.S. is in prison or jail. One in 36 adults is under some form of correctional
supervision, either on probation, parole or in community-based corrections.
In 2015 in the District of Columbia, approximately 1 in 22 adults was under some form of correctional control
on a given day,4 affecting thousands of individuals, their families and entire communities. Most people serving
sentences in prison or jail will eventually be released, and increasingly, governments, policymakers and neighbors recognize the need to assist returning citizens so they can successfully reintegrate into their communities.
The U.S. continues to witness a sea change in criminal justice policy that is often associated with the bipartisan consensus that enacted The Second Chance Act in 2008, affirmed by its reauthorization in 2015. Despite
today’s political uncertainties, criminal justice reform consensus remains alive and well. In April 2016, the
Department of Justice created National Re-entry Week to highlight re-entry efforts nationwide.5 Attorney
General Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and
other leaders hosted events around the country, recognizing federal and local efforts to eliminate the barriers
that returning citizens face.6 Just last month, on November 30, 2016, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates
issued a memo directing the BOP to reform its halfway houses.7
While re-entry is now part of the national conversation, returning citizens still struggle with a host of challenges that are very much a part of the landscape in the District of Columbia. With the publication of this

1	
2	

3	
4	

5	
6	
7	

Beck, A. J., & Gilliard, D. K. (1995). Prisoners in 1994. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
Kaeble, D., Glaze, L. E., Tsoutis, A., & Minton, T. D. (2016). Correctional populations in the United States 2014.
Washington, D.C.: BJS., p. 2. These numbers do not include the population of people incarcerated in local
jails.
U.S. Census Bureau (USCB). (2016). Population of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Department of Justice (DOJ). Retrieved from USCB: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00
US Census data show that there were about 504,242 adults in the District of Columbia as of 2015. As is outlined in the table below, the supervised population in D.C. on a given day (excluding average daily arrests)
was 22,999, equivalent to approximately 456 out of every 10,000 adults, or 1 in 22 adults.
DOJ. (2016). Department of Justice to launch inaugural National Re-entry Week. Press Release. Washington,
D.C.: DOJ.
Ibid.
Yates, S. (2016, November). Reforming federal halfway houses. Washington, D.C.: DOJ, Office of the Attorney General.

www.courtexcellence.org | 1

report, it is our intention to provide an overview of the D.C. re-entry system, along with recommendations
for improvement. It is also our intention that this report breaks out of the traditional mold of policy papers,
written by experts who work at an arm’s length from their subject matter, by presenting the voices of men and
women who have returned from incarceration to home, as well as the many organizations that work tirelessly
to serve them, their families and their communities.
Input and information for this report were gathered from a number of sources. Two focus groups of returning
citizens were held at CCE in late 2015. Combined, there were seven men who had been back in the community
for between two and 30 years. Additionally, we conducted individual interviews, toured various facilities and
engaged in an in-depth analysis of data from D.C.’s primary offender supervision agency and data from many
other primary and secondary sources. The diversity and comprehensiveness of these conversations, coupled
with research and analysis, have provided CCE with a better understanding of the barriers to success that
challenge returning citizens on a daily basis. We hope we have adequately covered the myriad issues and presented the innovative approaches we found locally and nationally that are lessening or removing such barriers.
This report is organized into 10 chapters which begin with an overview of D.C.’s returning citizens and the
District’s complex, bifurcated criminal justice system that returning citizens enter and exit both locally and
through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Chapters 3 through 6 cover returning citizens' daily challenges with
housing, employment, education, and physical and behavioral health. Chapters 7 through 9 focus on particular populations of returning citizens who provided unique and distinct voices that illuminated their specific
needs. These voices included women, young offenders and members of the LGBTQ community. The final
chapter outlines social supports like family ties and mentoring that we believe can make a positive difference
to returning citizens.
In each chapter, we have attempted to present re-entry in the national context juxtaposed with and often
reflected in the issues and opportunities facing D.C. To mitigate against a report that simply uncovers problems,
we have made a conscious effort to present promising practices locally and nationally, as well as numerous
recommendations—some very concrete and others more aspirational—in an effort to move the needle forward.
D.C.’s public and private sectors must strive to replicate policies and programs that are working but must also
find new solutions that can disrupt the status quo.
The recommendations at the end of each chapter are ordered to comport with each chapter’s structure. Appendix B compiles all the recommendations and identifies the agencies and organizations that could collaborate
to implement each reform.
The District has unique re-entry obstacles. These many challenges, however, should not prevent the city from
becoming a place where returning citizens can move beyond second chances and fulfill their full potential.

2 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 1

An Overview of D.C.’s Returning
Citizens

The District of Columbia has a unique criminal justice system, involving a complicated
mix of local and federal facilities and agencies. Under this system, D.C. Code offenders,
or individuals who have violated a portion of the D.C. Code rather than federal law, may
face additional obstacles as a consequence of being incarcerated by the Federal Bureau
of Prisons (BOP), rather than in a state system as is the case in most other jurisdictions.
We start with an overview of D.C.’s returning citizens because this report is meant to focus on the people—
through their own voices—whose lives and communities are affected by short- and long-term incarceration,
by the separation of thousands of miles between home and prison and by the challenges they face upon return.
First, a note on language. This report uses the phrase “returning citizen” to describe the people around whom
this report centers because it is the preferred terminology in the District, as expressed by the community of
people who have been directly affected by involvement with the justice system. CCE strives to use “people first”8
language in all situations and will use terms like “incarcerated person” or “person with a mental illness” throughout this report, unless quoting a direct source or referring to an official
or legal term. “Returning citizen” includes both previously incarcerated
people and people with criminal records, classifications which often,
but do not necessarily, overlap. For instance, a person can be arrested
and spend significant time in jail awaiting trial and have the charges
dropped, or be convicted of a misdemeanor and never spend a day in
jail, and still face the consequences of justice system involvement when
returning to his or her community. It is a term of art chosen to express
people’s desire to be fully included in the life of their community—to
work, go to school, vote, serve on juries, raise their children and contribute taxes. Also, the term “returning citizen,” as used throughout this
report, does not exclude people who are not U.S. citizens.
It is difficult to estimate how many returning citizens currently live in
D.C. There are two challenges: First, people are mobile, and someone
incarcerated five years ago might not still live here. Conversely, people
with conviction records from other jurisdictions move to the District.
Second, the District’s criminal justice system is bifurcated, comprised

8	

A N TH O N Y P LE A SA N T

Returning Citizen

See La Vigne, N. G. (2016). People first: Changing the way we talk about those touched by the criminal
justice system. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.

www.courtexcellence.org | 3

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RETURNING CITIZENS

CHAPTER 1

of many federal and local components, each with its own data systems to track people, and these different data
systems do not always tell the same story.
So how many people are we talking about? Figure 1 shows that in 2015 more than 23,000 people were directly
involved with D.C.’s local adult justice system, roughly 4.6 percent of the city’s total adult residents, or 1 in
every 22 adults. This figure does not account for people from D.C. who are arrested, prosecuted, incarcerated
and supervised in the federal system or youth under age 21 who are involved in the juvenile system, nor does
this count include returning citizens who have completed their sentences and are no longer under supervision.
As of 2012, D.C. was home to an estimated 67,000 people with a D.C. Code or federal criminal conviction,
roughly 1 in 8 adult D.C. residents.9 This estimate does not include people who were arrested or jailed without
ever being convicted of a crime.

9	

Cognato, B., Raderstrong, J., & Sager, J. (2015). A data needs assessment for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs: Identifying, collecting, connecting key data for D.C.’s returning citizens. Washington,
D.C.: The George Washington University.

4 | Beyond Second Chances

Figure 1: One-day count of people under correctional control in D.C. in 201510
AGENCY

JURISDICTION

Metropolitan Police Department
Law enforcement agency for the District of
Columbia

District of Columbia

Pretrial Services Agency for the District of
Columbia (PSA)
Formulates release recommendations and
provides supervision and services to adult
defendants awaiting trial in D.C. Superior
Court

Federal entity with local
jurisdiction

D.C. Department of Corrections (D.C. DOC)
Central Detention Facility (CDF/D.C. Jail)
Main detention facility for adult pretrial
defendants and adults sentenced to less
than one year

District of Columbia

ONE-DAY COUNT
91
adult arrests
(daily average) 11
4,822
Supervised adults
awaiting trial

1,690
All D.C. DOC
facilities

Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF)
Secondary detention facility used for
special populations, including women,
youth, and people with acute health needs
Fairview: Halfway house for women
Hope Village: Halfway house for men
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Responsible for adults and youth sentenced
as adults confined for D.C. Code offenses

Federal agency with local
jurisdiction

4,796
Does not include
D.C. residents in
prison on federal
charges.

Federal agency with local
jurisdiction

11,691

Fairview: Halfway house for women
Hope Village: Halfway house for men
Court Services and Offender Supervision
Agency for the District of Columbia
(CSOSA)
Supervises adult D.C. Code offenders on
probation, parole, and supervised release
Total number of people under correctional
control in D.C. on a given day in 2015
Estimated total adult population in D.C.

23,090
504,24212

10	 Data cited in Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). (2016). Justice system involved individuals.
Washington, D.C.: CJCC.	
11	 It is important to note that the majority of people arrested will not be formally charged by prosecutors.
According to data provided to CCE by D.C. DOC, only 12 out of every 100 persons arraigned will be
committed to D.C. DOC for pretrial detention, and another 18 percent who are released on recognizance
pending adjudication are subsequently incarcerated at D.C. DOC, whether in pretrial or sentenced status.
12	 USCB. (2015, July 1). QuickFacts: District of Columbia. Web. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00

www.courtexcellence.org | 5

CHAPTER 1

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RETURNING CITIZENS

The population of D.C. Code offenders is starkly homogeneous. Although slightly less than half of all D.C.
residents are black, more than 96 percent of D.C. Code offenders incarcerated at BOP facilities are black.13 Less
than 4 percent of those in prison are women.14
The percentages are similar for people in the custody of the D.C. Department of Corrections: 94 percent are
men, and 6 percent are women. More than 90 percent are black, and 43 percent are age 30 or younger.15 Among
incarcerated women, 30 percent are between the ages of 21 and 30, and only 1 percent are age 21 or younger.16
It is also instructive to show the communities from which the incarcerated population is drawn. The map in
Figure 2 shows where people in D.C. Department of Corrections (D.C. DOC) custody lived prior to incarceration.17
Figure 2: D.C. inmates by census tract of residence
July 2014–December 2015 18

Libraries
Recreation Centers
2012 Wards
INMATES BY CENSUS TRACT
0–15
16–40
41–72
73–135
No Inmates Reported

13	 CSOSA, Office of Research and Evaluation. (2016, November). Distribution of District of Columbia inmates
adjudicated in D.C. Superior Court and housed in BOP facilities, by state and gender. Washington, D.C.:
CSOSA. The percentage excludes 317 incarcerated people who were in transit to or from a BOP facility at
the time the data were tabulated.
14	 Ibid. The percentage includes 317 incarcerated people who were in transit to or from a BOP facility at the
time the data were tabulated.
15	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC.
16	 Ibid.
17	 Ibid.
18	 Ibid., p. 11.

6 | Beyond Second Chances

The majority of these individuals come from Wards 5, 7 and 8, are black and are men. There are a multitude
of stressors on neighborhoods due to the incarceration of their residents. High numbers of people are incarcerated for often brief, but consequential, periods of time in the D.C. Jail.19 The median length of stay at D.C.
DOC is 19 days for men and 7 days for women.20 Such a median length of stay, albeit short, can have a series
of unintended collateral consequences for an individual, such as losing a job or being unable to recuperate lost
wages. Longer-term incarceration creates even more serious stressors that are covered throughout this report.
The D.C. DOC, including the D.C. Jail, CTF and some beds at the halfway houses, hold people who are awaiting
trial and those who have been sentenced to misdemeanors or are otherwise serving sentences of less than a
year in duration. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the D.C. DOC had 10,114 intakes and 10,414 releases. This was a
slight decrease from FY2014 (11,245 and 11,577 intakes and releases, respectively) but a continuation of the
trend of substantial reduction from FY2011 when there were more than 17,000 intakes and releases each.21
Approximately 1 in 5 people incarcerated by D.C. DOC have experienced two or more periods of incarceration
in the past year.22 In FY2016, the overall average length of stay for men in custody was 161 days; for women
it was 80 days.23 However, in the same period, the median length of stay for women released from D.C. DOC
was 11 days; for men it was 18 days.24 Twenty-three percent of men
and 11 percent women were in jail for longer than three months prior
to release.25
D.C. no longer has its own prison facility, so incarceration is even more
complicated for the population of D.C. Code offenders who receive
sentences of more than one year, often but not always due to the more
serious nature of their crimes. This population is sent to facilities
throughout the country, though it is BOP’s policy to place them within
500 miles of D.C. when possible.26
The map in Figure 3 shows the distribution of D.C. Code offenders in
2016 who were adjudicated in D.C. Superior Court and housed in BOP
facilities by states throughout the nation. The already difficult re-entry
process, which this report will describe and analyze in detail, is made
even more complicated for D.C. residents incarcerated out of state, who
are often unable to meet face-to-face with family, friends and local service providers to prepare for their re-entry.

VI CTO R BATTLE

Returning Citizen

19	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
20	Ibid.
21	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC.
22	 Ibid.
23	 Ibid. These numbers indicate the percent of incarcerated men and women in custody by legal status—pretrial, sentenced, felon, misdemeanant, parole violator, and/or writ/hold—and average length of stay. These
numbers do not generally represent the larger arrest/intake population, but instead people with more
complicated legal statuses.
24	 Ibid.
25	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
26	 CSOSA. (2014). Re-entry in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.

www.courtexcellence.org | 7

CHAPTER 1

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RETURNING CITIZENS

Figure 3: Distribution of District of Columbia inmates adjudicated in
D.C. Superior Court and housed in BOP facilities as of October 31, 2016, by state27

WA
2
OR
3

ME

ND

MT

MN
19

ID

SD

WI

MI
2

WY

UT

CA
61
AZ
84

IN
80

IL
13

CO
52

KS
14
OK
31

NM

TX
65

PA
711

IA

NE

NV

NY
46

MO
31

AR
5

OH
8
KY
305

WV
969

AL
9

MA:
CT:
RI:
NJ:
DE:
MD:
DC:

34
9
0
264
0
255
240

NC
441

TN
6
MS
26

VA
329

VT NH
45

GA
49

SC
155

LA
49

No BOP Facilities / No D.C. Inmates
FL
144

1–12 inmates
13–85 inmates
86–149 inmates
150–496 inmates

HI
AK

497–969 inmates

Most of D.C.’s incarcerated population has been—for nearly two decades since the 1997 Revitalization Act—
under the control and jurisdiction of the federal government, the details of which this report covers in Chapter 2.
This arrangement has had some positive impacts on re-entry, such as an infusion of federal dollars. Nevertheless,
despite increased resources, the incarceration of D.C. residents at prison facilities throughout the country has
had devastating effects on the re-entry process and on entire communities. Research has shown the importance of family visits and continuity of services between prison and the community. For most D.C. residents in
BOP facilities, both of these are virtually impossible. Families and service providers lack the resources to visit
facilities spread across the country, and it is difficult and expensive to maintain contact through phone calls.
Some small changes to BOP procedures—such as allowing a small number of people to return to the D.C. Jail
from BOP in order to serve the last few months of their sentences closer to home and receive the family and
service supports they need—have brought about improvements. But without a significant reimagining of where
and how D.C. residents are incarcerated, re-entry efforts will be constrained. In the next nine chapters, we will
cover the struggles of re-entry in and to D.C., as well as dozens of recommendations that we offer as a way to
reimagine the re-entry process beyond second chances.

27	 CSOSA, Office of Research and Evaluation. (2016, November). Distribution of District of Columbia inmates
adjudicated in D.C. Superior Court and housed in BOP facilities, by state and gender. Washington, D.C.:
CSOSA. Graphic developed by Sima Designs using CSOSA data for CCE. Total number does not reflect
317 incarcerated people who were in transit to or from a BOP facility at the time the data were tabulated.

8 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 2

An Overview of D.C.’s Re-entry System

Introduction
Around the country, government agencies and courts enforce and uphold laws specific to
their jurisdiction and are funded by their state or locally at the county or city level. Much
like those states and localities, the District of Columbia has its own local laws, outlined in
the D.C. Code. The District’s criminal justice system, however, is unlike any other jurisdiction in the nation because it is subject to the control of both federal and local agencies.
The District can point to 1997 as the turning point when Congress enacted the National Capital Revitalization
and Self-Government Act (the Revitalization Act) with the goal to “relieve the District of Columbia Government
of major financial and management responsibilities by having the federal government assume responsibility for
functions typically funded by state governments.”28, 29 As a result, D.C.’s prison, Lorton Reformatory, was closed,
and the federal government took over corrections and other criminal justice system functions, including the
District’s courts and its probation and parole agencies.
Today, much of the D.C. criminal justice system, from prosecution to re-entry planning, remains under the
federal government’s control. This chapter will outline that complex system to serve as a foundation for this
report. We begin with the courts and governmental agencies that supervise D.C. Code offenders and returning
citizens in the District of Columbia, followed by an overview of agencies, nonprofit organizations and coalitions
that provide support to the returning citizen community. Many of these entities are featured throughout this
report, particularly those that provide direct services to returning citizens, whose own voices describe their
first-hand experiences.
This chapter will devote a significant amount of coverage to halfway houses in light of the many challenges
that they present for returning citizens. We will also, however, present one promising practice in Montgomery
County, Maryland, that is a different path and might be seen as a model. Furthermore, this chapter will dedicate a significant amount of attention to certain aspects of the District’s organizational network of support for
returning citizens, some of which are government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

28	 CSOSA. (n.d.). National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997. Web. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA. Retrieved from http://www.csosa.gov/about/history/revitalization-act.aspx
29	 Bouker, J. (2016). The D.C. Revitalization Act: History, provisions and promises. Washington, D.C.: The
Brookings Institution., p. 90-91.

www.courtexcellence.org | 9

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

Criminal Justice System Authorities
Like most places in the U.S., there are two separate criminal justice systems at work in D.C. The first is federal,
and this report refers to people involved in that system as federal offenders. Federal offenders are people charged
with violating federal laws, who are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia and sentenced to serve time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If
released to the community, they are supervised by U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services. This is the same system
that anyone in the country is subject to if charged with violating federal law.
Most people in the District, however, are charged with violating D.C.’s local laws, and this report refers to
people involved in that system as D.C. Code offenders. This second system is D.C.’s equivalent of a state system,
but because of D.C.’s unique position as a federal district, D.C. Code offenders follow a chain of custody and
supervision that bounces back and forth between local and federal agencies.
Generally, after being arrested for a violation of D.C. law and arraigned
at D.C. Superior Court, a federally funded and controlled court with
local jurisdiction, a person is either conditionally released under the
supervision of the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA),30 which is a federal
agency with local jurisdiction, or confined by the D.C. DOC (local
agency), either at the Central Detention Facility (CDF or D.C. Jail) or
the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF). The D.C. DOC operates
the D.C. Jail, which houses only male offenders. The Corrections Corporation of America, a private, for-profit company, currently operates
CTF, which houses all female offenders, juveniles being adjudicated
as adults, and some male offenders. In February 2017, however, D.C.
DOC will assume operations of CTF.31 It is also possible, on occasion,
that a person will be confined at a halfway house facility while awaiting
trial, particularly if he or she is participating in a work-release program.
C H A RL IE C U RT IS

D.C. Code offenders are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for
the District of Columbia (USAO D.C.), a federal office within the
Department of Justice (DOJ) with local jurisdiction. Juveniles and some
misdemeanor crimes are prosecuted by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General (D.C. OAG), a local agency.
D.C. Code offenders are tried in the D.C. Superior Court. If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor and
sentenced to less than a year of incarceration—or is still awaiting trial and has not been awarded conditional
release—he or she will remain either in the custody of the D.C. DOC. 32
Returning Citizen

30	 Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA). (n.d.). About. Web. Retrieved from
https://www.psa.gov/?q=about
31	 For more information on the conditions of the D.C. Jail and CTF, see Washington Lawyers’ Committee
(WLC) for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. (2015). D.C. prisoners: Conditions of confinement in the District of
Columbia. Washington, D.C.: WLC.
32	 Corrections Information Council (CIC). (2016). CIC Pop-Up Think Tank: Reimagining CTF. Washington, D.C.:
CIC

10 | Beyond Second Chances

A D.C. Code offender’s typical path through D.C.’s adult criminal justice system
PRE-ADJUDICATION

Arrested by MPD
and charged with
violating local D.C.
criminal law

Conditional release
under PSA supervision
while awaiting
adjudication

Prosecuted by USAO at
D.C. Superior Court

Or
Held by D.C. DOC
at CDF or CTF

POST-ADJUDICATION (IF FOUND GUILTY)
If sentence is less than
one year, incarcerated
by D.C. DOC at CDF
or CTF
Or

Sentenced

Transferred to federal
halfway house prior to
release from custody

If sentence is one year
or more, incarcerated
by BOP
Or
If sentenced to
probation, supervised
by CSOSA

Supervised by CSOSA
after released from
custody
If sentenced under old
laws, must win parole
grant hearing at USPC
If alleged to have
violated terms of
supervision, USPC
conducts revocation
hearing

If a defendant is sentenced to probation or time served with community supervision, he or she will be supervised by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), created in 1997 to perform community
supervision for D.C. Code offenders.33 CSOSA is another federal agency with local jurisdiction over D.C. Code
offenders who are on probation, parole and supervised release.34 As of October 2014, 12,990 people were under
CSOSA supervision.35 Of those, 10,587 resided within the District of Columbia.36
If a defendant is convicted of a felony and sentenced to a year or more, he or she will be sent to a BOP facility. BOP prisons are scattered around the country, and some D.C. Code offenders are housed as far away as
Washington State and California, although many are in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.37

33	 CSOSA. (2016). History. Web. Retrieved from http://www.csosa.gov/about/history.aspx
34	 Parole decision-making functions for people with felony convictions are handled by the United States
Parole Commission, and not CSOSA. See Ibid.
35	 CSOSA. (2014). CSOSA overall offender profile. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
36	Ibid.
37	Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 11

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

To address geographic separation and other issues, D.C. criminal justice reform advocates in 2016 met with
the staff of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections (Colson Task Force), a bipartisan group
of policymakers and criminal justice experts tasked with examining how to improve the federal correctional
system. In that meeting, D.C. representatives requested, among other things, that BOP establish a director of
D.C. federal corrections to serve as the point-person for re-entry services for D.C. Code offenders and communication with the BOP about this population. In its final report, however, the Colson Task Force did not
address any D.C.-specific issues.38
Furthermore, D.C. Code offenders tend to be held in the highest security facilities, at least for the first several
years of their sentence. As was explained by Philip Fornaci, former director of the D.C. Prisoners’ Project,
“The brutal reality of confinement within this system, combined with the isolation that is exacerbated by long
distances from D.C., creates additional re-entry challenges for D.C. prisoners and for the D.C. community.” 39
As of October 2016, 4,873 D.C. Code offenders were in BOP custody, 96 percent of whom were men.40 When
approaching the end of one’s sentence, a person will often be transferred from a BOP prison to a privately run
residential re-entry center (RRC or halfway house) that contracts with the BOP.
Upon release from custody, a person serves his or her term of parole or community supervision under CSOSA,
and CSOSA’s Transitional Intervention for Parole Supervision (TIPS) team works with returning citizens to
develop a re-entry plan.41 If someone is returning directly to the community from prison, this plan is developed
at that facility; if the person is transitioning to an RRC, the plan is not developed until the individual gets there.42
If a person is accused of violating the terms of his or her parole or supervision, that person will face the U.S.
Parole Commission (USPC), which is federal. If the person serving parole or supervised release is found in
violation, they will be returned to the custody of the BOP;43 however, they are most likely to be held at the D.C.
DOC while awaiting their hearing.44
The USPC has the ability to grant and revoke the parole of offenders sentenced under an old sentencing scheme45
and to revoke the community supervision of code offenders sentenced under D.C.’s new sentencing scheme.46
38	 See generally, Charles Colson Task Force. (2016). Transforming prisons, restoring lives: Final recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
39	 Housing of D.C. felons far away from home: Effects on crime, recidivism and re-entry: Hearings before the
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, (2010). (Testimony of Philip
Fornaci).
40	 CSOSA, Office of Research and Evaluation. (2016, November). Distribution of District of Columbia inmates
adjudicated in D.C. Superior Court and housed in BOP facilities, by state and gender. Washington, D.C.:
CSOSA. Total number in BOP custody includes 317 incarcerated people who were in transit to or from a
BOP facility at the time the data was tabulated.
41	 CSOSA. (2016). Offender Re-entry. Washington, D.C: CSOSA.
42	 Ibid.
43	 Buchanan, A. E. (2015, August 14). Improve D.C.’s parole practices. The Washington Post.
44	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016. According to the D.C. DOC, “on
an average daily basis, more than 450 inmates [in their custody] are parole violators,” most having violated
technical aspects of the conditions of their release, or are not being held at D.C. DOC for charges other
than parole violation. For individuals awaiting a final USPC decision, “the average length of stay prior [to
the decision] exceeds 100 days. These inmates comprise more than 15 percent of the incarcerated population [at D.C. DOC].”
45	 Hoffman, Peter B. (2002). History of the Federal Parole System. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.
46	 DOJ. (2016). Frequently asked questions. Web. Retrieved from DOJ: https://www.justice.gov/uspc/frequently-asked-questions#q7

12 | Beyond Second Chances

The USPC replaced the former D.C. Board of Parole when it was abolished by the sentencing reform process required by the Revitalization
Act of 1997.47 The Revitalization Act followed 10 years after the federal
government abolished parole for federal offenders, when the USPC,
which seemed to be gradually running out of incarcerated people over
whom it exerted authority, was supposed to be in a “phase-out” period.48 Instead of being phased out, the 1997 Act gave the USPC a new
population to oversee, and D.C. Code offenders soon became the largest population over whom the USPC has jurisdiction, with D.C. Code
offenders, parolees, and people under supervised release accounting
for nearly 83 percent of the commission’s current jurisdiction.49 The
remainder are federal offenders, consisting of federal prisoners and
parolees sentenced under old laws, transfer treaty, and military justice
offenders.50
C LA R E N C E J O H N SO N

The USPC uses its own guidelines for granting parole, despite the exisReturning Citizen
tence of D.C. rules.51 In April 2016, 17 people who were judges, U.S.
Attorneys and defense attorneys during the era of the D.C. Board of
Parole—plus a former chairperson of the Board of Parole itself—signed a letter expressing their opinion that
the USPC’s guidelines are applied in a manner that is not consistent with the intent of judges who handed out
indeterminate sentences.52 The expectation at the time was that a person would be released at their minimum
sentence, unless there were specific and articulated circumstances, such as poor conduct in prison, that warranted additional incarceration.53 This does not appear to be the USPC’s practice. Judge Mary Ellen Abrecht,
one of the signatories to the letter, said, “I was surprised that the Parole [Commission] was sort of ignoring
the judge’s sentence and establishing their own guidelines as to what kind of time the offense was worth.” She
explained, “When you’re a judge making a sentence, you expect that your sentence [will be] honored.”54
Many people do not have an attorney to advocate for their release at their USPC parole grant hearing because
there is no guarantee of representation, and it can be difficult to find attorneys knowledgeable about the D.C.
Code who can reach D.C. Code offenders dispersed at prisons across the country. These factors have led to
comparatively low rates of attorney representation. Between 2001 and 2006, less than 1 percent of D.C. Code
offenders had representation at their parole grant hearings.55 This is considerably less than the representation
rate for federal parole hearings during the same time, which was just less than 10 percent.56

47	 Hoffman, Peter B. (2002). History of the Federal Parole System. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.
48	 Ibid.
49	 DOJ. (February 2016). FY2017 performance budget Congressional submission: United States Parole Commission. Washington, D.C.: DOJ., p. 16.
50	 Ibid.
51	 Brief for Council for Court Excellence as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner, Bailey v. Smoot, cert. denied,
2016 WL 4524368 (U.S. Apr. 14, 2016). (No. 15-1217).
52	 Ibid.
53	 Ibid.
54	 Rodd, S. (2016, September 30). D.C.’s broken parole system. Washington City Paper.
55	 Ibid.
56	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 13

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

Furthermore, participation in rehabilitative programming became a requisite for granting parole under the
USPC system.57 Participation in such programs is difficult due to the lengthy waitlists for rehabilitative programming. For example, the waitlist for the Residential Drug Abuse Program at the BOP was 6,980 people
long for FY2008 and 4,807 people long for FY2012.58 Other programs are only available at particular prisons.
For instance, as of September 30, 2016, “only two of the 100-plus BOP facilities have residential sex offender
programs.”59 With such a small number of programs, it is hardly surprising that between 2008 and 2012, the
waiting list for sex offender programs rose nearly fivefold from 381 to 1,776 incarcerated people.60
Parole and revocation hearings, held after a person is alleged to have violated the terms of their release, also
present challenges. Many of these hearings are held locally at the D.C. DOC and people are usually represented by attorneys from the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia’s (PDS) Parole Division.
But, as Avis Buchannan, director of PDS explains, “In many cases, a person leaves a hearing with a favorable
recommendation only to find that the decision has been overturned and a harsher sentence imposed by an
unnamed commissioner he or she has never met and who did not attend the hearing.”61 Opportunities to engage
in diversion processes at this stage exist, including a Mental Health Docket and a program called Short Term
Interventions for Success, but capacity is limited.62
Overall, the process for granting parole and revoking parole or supervision under the USPC does not effectively
serve D.C. Code offenders.
We now turn to the subject of halfway houses in detail because of the many challenges they too present for
returning citizens.

Halfway Houses
Across the country, the BOP contracts with halfway houses that house and provide re-entry services to men and
women approaching their release from custody.63 The BOP has great latitude in determining a person’s length
of stay. A BOP guidance memo issued in 2013 explains that a “placement less than 90 days [at a residential
re-entry center] is typically not considered sufficient to address multiple re-entry needs,” and that a stay of
several months up to the maximum of one year may be necessary to achieve a returning citizen’s re-entry goals.64
In 2015, then-Attorney General Eric Holder introduced a new Statement of Work (SOW) for RRC contractors
that requires halfway houses under all future contracts to provide public transportation vouchers or transpor-

57	 Ibid.
58	 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). (2013, July). Bureau of Prisons: Timelier reviews, plan for
evaluations, and updated policies could improve inmate mental health services oversight. Washington,
D.C.: GAO.
59	 Ibid.
60	 Ibid.
61	 Buchanan, A. E. (2015, August 14). Improve D.C.’s parole practices. The Washington Post.
62	 DOJ. 2016, February. FY2017 performance budget Congressional submission: United States Parole Commission. Washington, D.C.: DOJ., p. 11-12.
63	 BOP. (2016). Completing the transition. Web. Retrieved from BOP: https://www.bop.gov/about/facilities/
residential_re-entry_management_centers.jsp
64	 Dodrill, D. S. (2010). Memorandum for Chief Executive Officers: Revised guidance for residential re-entry
center (RRC) placements. Washington, D.C.: BOP., p. 4.

14 | Beyond Second Chances

tation assistance to help residents secure employment; requires federal halfway houses to allow residents to
have cell phones to facilitate communication with potential employers and family; and improves and expands
home confinement, where an individual lives in the community, often with family, while still in BOP custody
and under the supervision of an RRC, by increasing the use of GPS monitoring.65 However, residents are not
allowed phones with internet access, limiting their usefulness.
In addition, the SOW has retained a policy authorizing RRCs to take 25 percent of residents’ gross wages
and funds from Veterans Assistance, Workers Compensation, Social Security, retirement income or income
from the sale of property. Known as “subsistence
payments,” these charges are framed as a way to
“promote financial responsibility” and remain in
place until release from custody “to enhance
successful re-entry.”66 As of November 30, 2016,
the Deputy Attorney General for the United
States encouraged BOP to issue more waivers for
subsistence payments to indigent people.67 This is
an appropriate step, but subsistence fees should
be altogether eliminated from the federal law.
Such mandatory payments, however, and the BOP’s
rationale for them are not grounded in reality.
There is no research to show that garnishing RRC
residents’ wages promotes financial responsibility.
In fact, given that most people leave prison with
little or no savings or income, this garnishment
compounds the challenge of saving for rent, paying
child support and paying fees and fines. Rather,
subsistence payments appear to be a cost-saving
measure for the BOP and RRCs.
Double-bunked room in Hope Village.

We introduce Teresa Hodge, a returning citizen
(Tracy Velázquez/CCE)
whom you will hear about and from throughout
this report. Teresa reduced her stay in the halfway
house from six months to six weeks after quickly securing a job and transferring to home confinement status.
However, she still had to give 25 percent of her gross income to the halfway house for the full six months,
even though she was not living there. As of August 1, 2016, individuals under the supervision of an RRC but
in home confinement status have been granted relief, but all those residing at an RRC must still make subsis-

65	 DOJ. (2014). In new step to fight recidivism, Attorney General Holder announce Justice Department to
require federal halfway houses to boost treatment for inmates prior to release. Press release. Washington,
D.C.: DOJ.
66	 BOP. (May 2015). Statement of work (SOW): Residential re-entry center. Washington, D.C.: BOP., p. 57-58.
67	 Yates, S. (2016, November). Reforming federal halfway houses. Washington, D.C.: DOJ, Office of the Attorney General.

www.courtexcellence.org | 15

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

tence payments.68 Putting 25 percent of resident’s wages into savings accounts to be used by the resident upon
completing the RRC term would better support successful re-entry.
Approximately half of D.C.’s returning citizens spend time in a halfway house at the end of their sentence.69
While some D.C. Code offenders in BOP facilities return to halfway houses outside the District, most men go
to Hope Village, a 300-plus bed apartment complex in Southeast D.C., that has been under a set of long-term
contracts with the BOP that are expiring in October 2016 and October 2017.70 The women’s facility, Fairview
Halfway House, is in Northeast D.C. and has approximately 45 beds.
CSOSA also requires some high-risk returning citizens to temporarily reside at its Re-entry and Sanctions
Center and to participate in a four-week assessment and reintegration program.71 Unlike BOP halfway houses,
CSOSA does not require payments or earning garnishments of persons residing at this center.
The D.C. Corrections Information Council (CIC) is a D.C. agency tasked with inspecting the correctional
facilities that house D.C. Code offenders. In 2013, the CIC inspected Hope Village and found numerous deficiencies.72 In 2014, the CIC also inspected Fairview, issuing a generally favorable report about the facility.73
Hope Village and Fairview do not issue annual reports about improvements, and it is unclear whether the
issues that the CIC identified in its reports have been addressed.
One significant issue at Hope Village is the safety of its surroundings. Data from the Metropolitan Police
Department confirms this, as shown in Figure 4.

68	 BOP. (2016). Completing the transition. Web. Retrieved from https://www.bop.gov/about/facilities/residential_reentry_management_centers.jsp
69	 CSOSA. (2014). CSOSA Fact Sheet. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
70	 BOP. (2016). Completing the transition. Web. Retrieved from https://www.bop.gov/about/facilities/residential_reentry_management_centers.jsp
71	 CSOSA. (2006). Re-entry and sanctions center. Web. Retrieved from http://www.csosa.gov/supervision/programs/reentry_sanctions_center.aspx
72	 Bonner, M. R., Huffman, K. A., & Whittaker, S. (2014). Hope Village report. Washington, D.C.: CIC. CIC has
not released a new or updated report on Hope Village since May 2013. CCE acknowledges that Hope
Village may have addressed some of the issues highlighted in the 2013 report.
73	 CIC. (2014). The Fairview RRC. Washington, D.C.: CIC.

16 | Beyond Second Chances

Figure 4: Reported crimes within 1500 feet of Hope Village, August 2014 - August 201574
VIOLENT CRIMES

INCIDENTS

Homicide

9

Sex abuse

3

Robbery excluding gun

6

Robbery with gun

14

Assault dangerous weapon excluding gun

20

Assault dangerous weapon gun

20

TOTAL VIOLENT CRIME
PROPERTY CRIMES

72
INCIDENTS

Burglary

16

Theft

39

Theft F/Auto

32

Stolen Auto

18
TOTAL PROPERTY CRIME

109

TOTAL CRIME

177

One of the participants in CCE’s focus group left the forum early because he was concerned about his safety
returning to Hope Village after dark. Many of the men expressed similar concerns about the safety of the
neighborhood, asking “Have you been there? It’s rough.”
Recently, advocates have regularly heard from men whose placement at Hope Village has been revoked after a
mere accusation of a disciplinary violation. The D.C. Prisoner’s Project explained that men are being removed
from Hope Village and sent to Piedmont Regional Jail in Virginia, often for minor rule violations. After being
transferred almost 200 miles, these men are often found guilty of the disciplinary charge in-absentia while the
hearing is conducted back at Hope Village without the person accused. The Prisoner’s Project reports, “Clients
tell us that they serve the rest of their sentences at Piedmont without access to re-entry services, and are given
a bus ticket back to D.C. upon their release.”75

74	 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). (2016). Crime map. Online data set. Retrieved from http://crimemap.dc.gov/CrimeMapSearch.aspx.
75	 CCE correspondence with E. MacLeod, Legal Fellow, D.C. Prisoner’s Project, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, November 9, 2016.

www.courtexcellence.org | 17

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

I N T H E I R O W N VO I C E S :

Returning Citizens Share Their Experiences with
Hope Village Halfway House
In order to hear directly from people who have experienced life inside of D.C. halfway houses,
CCE and University Legal Services conducted a listening session with current and recent
Hope Village residents. Their experiences, described below, are juxtaposed with Hope Village’s official policy.
The BOP’s RRC Employment Policy: “RRC staff assist inmates in obtaining employment
through a network of local employers, employment job fairs, and training classes in resume
writing, interview techniques, etc. Ordinarily, offenders are expected to be employed 40
hours/week within 15 calendar days after their arrival at the RRC.”76
D.C. Returning Citizens on Hope Village’s Employment Assistance: “Keith,” a returning citizen, described Hope Village staff members as complicating his employment search, even
preventing him from going to a job interview because they had not first verified it. “I went to
a job site Wednesday, and [Hope Village staff] didn’t give me a bus route to get there, they
just gave me the address. All I knew was that it was by Nationals Stadium. So I got down by
Nationals Stadium, but I couldn’t find it.” In addition, Hope Village residents are not allowed
to have cell phones, an essential tool for finding a job.
Keith did note one particularly helpful staff member at Hope Village, someone who "actually
cares. If she sees that you are trying, she will bend with you… She got me directions, and
called places where I wanted to apply. If I ever had a problem…I’d call her. It got to the point
where there was a trust level that was built.”
Hope Village interviewees described a lack of transportation tokens that “causes guys to lose
jobs.” They were frustrated with Hope Village staff calling their places of employment, which
contributed to employers viewing them as unprofessional or unreliable. “When staff knew
I had to get to my job, they would tell me to clean something at the halfway house, making
me late. But I knew I had to play the game so I wouldn’t be sent back to prison.”
The BOP’s RRC Substance Use Treatment Policy: “RRCs offer drug testing and substance
abuse programs. Based upon the inmate’s needs and substance abuse history, they may
be referred for substance abuse treatment by contracted treatment providers. In addition,
inmates who have completed the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) while confined
at a BOP institution are expected to continue their drug treatment with these certified community treatment providers under contract with the BOP.”77
D.C. Returning Citizen Speaks to Hope Village’s Substance Use Programming: “I appreciate

76	 BOP. (2016). About our facilities. Web. Retrieved from BOP: https://www.bop.gov/about/facilities/
77	 Ibid.

18 | Beyond Second Chances

it for being able to go to the halfway house and everything, but I’m more depressed in there
than when I was locked up. I used to smoke PCP. I asked for a program ‘cause of the urges
… [but was not enrolled in one]. How are they still open?”
The BOP’s RRC Health Care Policy: “RRC contractors provide offenders an opportunity to
access medical and mental health care and treatment. The intent is to assist the offender in
maintaining continuity of medical and mental health care and treatment. Inmates ordinarily
transfer from an institution to an RRC with an initial supply of required medications.”78
D.C. Returning Citizen Speaks to Hope Village’s Health Care: When Keith broke his foot, he
called Hope Village, and the halfway house refused to pick him up at the hospital and told him
to catch the bus, for which he didn’t have tokens. He ended up walking back to Hope Village
on his broken foot. Another returning citizen told CCE, ”I was out of my [blood pressure and
cholesterol] medicine since last month and they just sent me to Unity yesterday. And I still
have to wait maybe another week till I get them.” He reported not receiving his medications
until late in the evening, hours after dinner was served, despite his doctor’s instructions to
take them with food. When asked who helped him plan for his medical treatment after his
release, he responded that Hope Village had not discussed this with him, so he sought out
assistance with this from University Legal Services.
Another concern is that Hope Village does not provide adequate mental health services.
One returning citizen in our focus group had this to say on the subject: “I did sixteen years in
solitary confinement at [a] super-max prison … I went to jail at 19 and came out when I was
40. When I came to Hope Village, I received no psychological therapy counseling.”

Other Comments About Hope Village Operations:79
Regarding Hope Village’s food services, one resident said “[T]hey peanut butter and jelly you
to death. I understand you’re not at home, but they give you baby portions.”
“The people who are really going to listen to you and understand you and help you are few
and far between. I don’t care if it’s a pass,80 any type of problem, you’re hungry, you need
your medicine, or whatever it is. A person who cares is just nonexistent. So you’re stuck with
these people who don’t care [and] are mean, or they’re circumventing the rules to adapt to
what they got going on instead of it being about us.”
“Their mindset is ‘we’re dealing with uneducated, violent, childish-minded thinking people.’
When we come there, you’re talking to a grown man who has survived stab wounds, 20 or
30 years of prison. They know that you have to humble yourself because your freedom is
on the line…”

78	 Ibid.
79	 Velázquez, T. (2015, February). Notes from a tour of Hope Village. Unpublished notes on file with CCE.
80	 Ibid. A “pass” is the documentation needed for a resident to receive permission to leave the premises for
any reason: work, medical or mental health appointments, family visits, school, or any other services.

www.courtexcellence.org | 19

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

“Am I still in prison or in society? When they say you are still incarcerated in Hope Village and
other halfway homes, that’s the truth. You are truly still incarcerated, mentally, physically and
emotionally. Hope Village is a true failure. Yes, it’s a place to house us, but is it a place to
grow and be productive? I can tell you hell no.”
“[Who we] need [working] in Hope Village [are] returning citizens. Returning citizens can
help other returning citizens [with] things we might not tell you, or things you might not
understand.”

Promising Practices: The Montgomery County Pre-Release Center
The statue in front of the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center (PRC) is called Starting a New Life. A man
and a woman both hold an old-fashioned metal lunch box and share a kiss as one of them heads off to work.
For Stefan LoBuglio, the former director of PRC, the sculpture is a statement about the importance of employment for people leaving the county’s jail. “Adults need to work,” says LoBuglio. “Being able to support oneself
and one’s family is a key human need.”
PRC’s primary focus is to assist returning citizens secure and
keep employment. “When people step off the van from the
jail,” says LoBuglio, “their heart starts to pound when they hear
they have to work in 28 days. They say, ‘How am I, a convicted
felon, going to get a job?’ But the reality is that 80 percent of
returning citizens do get jobs, including those convicted of
violent offenses.”
“PRC is still rare in the way we operate,” notes LoBuglio. “Looking at criminal justice policy across the country, pre-release is
not broadly accepted as an important component to successful
re-entry. And it really should be. The ‘missing link’ in re-entry
is having these types of programs.”
PRC primarily accepts people currently serving sentences at
Montgomery County detention centers, although it has some
residents from the Maryland state prison system. There are 171
residential beds. A person can stay at PRC for as long as a year,
although the average stay is 105 days. PRC staff select program
participants from jail who are within a year of their release,
then file a request with the appropriate court for their transfer. Even people convicted of violent offenses can
participate in PRC. It does not admit people who escaped or attempted escape from another facility or have
additional pending criminal charges. Because of the program’s focus on employment, program participants
must be able to work legally in the U.S.

Starting a New Life at Montgomery County
Pre-Release Center (Tracy Velázquez/CCE)

20 | Beyond Second Chances

“Here in Montgomery County, they chose a different path.”
STEFAN LOBUGLIO, FORMER DIRECTOR, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PRE-RELEASE CENTER

In operation for more than 40 years, PRC staff have developed a routine for new participants that has proven
successful. People arrive at PRC from jail and immediately meet with a case manager, then go through orientation. They are assessed for job readiness and other issues that may require services. By the end of the first
week, a re-entry plan is developed for each program participant.
Ben, a PRC resident, noted, “I was pushed to make sure I have a resume and look for work. I was in a D.C.
halfway house previously. You can see the difference. In D.C., there were no computers, no resources. If I were
still there, I wouldn’t have a job.” Luisa, another PRC resident and military veteran, said, “I feel PRC is giving
me a chance. It’s helping me get back on my feet.”
Derek, also a PRC resident, described the PRC philosophy toward employment. “They help us, but we have to
help ourselves. Ms. Nelson [a work release coordinator] and the others, they can’t hold our hands. If we need
a birth certificate, social security card, we have to get that first, and they’ll help with that. If you want, you can
go to school. If you end up in a job that’s not right, they will help you find something that is. But they know
once we leave, there’s no more PRC out there. We’ll have to do everything for ourselves.” LoBuglio concurs,
which is why PRC focuses on placing program participants in private sector jobs. “Many residents expect us
to give them a job. We say you have to get the job yourself. But we’ll help you work on your resume and help
you follow through with an interview.”
PRC residents learn how to disclose their record when employers ask about it. According to LoBuglio, returning
citizens “need to be able to explain what happened, what they learned from it. We cut off the instinct to say,
‘No one will hire me because I’m an ex-felon.’ We short-circuit that.”
PRC’s 40-year presence in the community is an asset to program participants seeking employment. According
to PRC resident Cody, “Because a lot of employers have hired people from here, I knew they wouldn’t judge me.
One of my managers was PRC once, too. Those who came before have opened doors for us. And the better we
do, it’ll help open doors for others, too.” http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cor/prrs/index.html
REPLICATING THE PRC MODEL
PRC has measurable outcomes to show for its work. When residents leave, 99 percent of them have housing and
more than 80 percent have private sector jobs. During their first three years after exiting PRC programming,
there is a 28 percent reconviction rate for nonmisdemeanor offenses, considerably lower than the 42.5 percent
reconviction rate of re-entering citizens as reported in an analysis of re-entry rates among 30 U.S. states.81
Arthur Wallenstein, now-retired director of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Corrections

81	 Minton, T. D. & Golinelli, D. (2014). Jail inmates at midyear 2013 - statistical tables. Washington, D.C.: BJS.;
Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (MCDCR). (2014). Montgomery County,
Maryland, master facilities confinement study. Montgomery County, Maryland: MCDCR.; MCDCR. (2016).
Pre-Release and Re-entry Services. Web. Retrieved from http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cor/prrs/
index.html; and Cooper, A., Durose, M., Synder H. (2016). Recidivism of prisoners released in 30 states in
2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Washington, D.C.: BJS.

www.courtexcellence.org | 21

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

and Rehabilitation, points to the strength of the PRC staff. “All of our line staff have bachelor’s degrees, and
more than half the staff have master’s degrees.” What also makes the PRC program strong is the support of the
courts and police. “We’re part of the functioning of Montgomery County,” says LoBuglio. “It’s expected that
people will come here. On any given day, the county manages 30 percent of sentenced adults in community
corrections. Without the prerelease facility, we would need a larger jail.”
“Since the 1970s,” notes LoBuglio, “the majority of jurisdictions quadrupled their incarceration rate. Here in
Montgomery County, they chose a different path. Our incarceration rate is less than 100 per 100,000, compared nationally with 231 in jail per 100,000. It can’t be explained just by affluence or demographics; these are
changing. I believe it’s largely due to the innovation we’ve seen here in our justice system, and both our pretrial
and prerelease programs are a big part of it.”82
Can the PRC model be replicated across the country? According to Wallenstein, because programs like PRC
have some risk, many criminal justice systems throughout the country bypass programs like these. Wallenstein
believes public officials need to be willing to accept some risk, recognizing that all the people in a prerelease
center like the one in Montgomery County will be back in their community.
“It may be easier for a sheriff to get money for a jail” than a program like PRC, according to Wallenstein. However,
prerelease programs have a chance to improve public safety and put lives back on track. “Give us a chance to
intervene,” Wallenstein says. “If you do, the benefits will accrue to society.”

Support for Returning Citizens
In addition to the web of supervisory agencies in D.C., there exists a community of support for returning citizens
comprised of government offices, nonprofit organizations and coalitions, whose purpose is to help returning
citizens successfully reintegrate into society. This section will outline some of the limitations and successes of
the returning citizens’ support community in the District. Many of these support organizations, such as local
nonprofit organizations, are also highlighted throughout this report.
MAYOR’S OFFICE ON RETURNING CITIZEN AFFAIRS
Established by the D.C. Council in 2007, the recently renamed Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs
(MORCA) is tasked with “coordinating and monitoring service delivery to ex-offenders in the District of
Columbia” and “making recommendations to the Mayor to promote the general welfare, empowerment, and
reintegration of ex-offenders in the areas of employment and career development, health care, education,
housing, and social services.”83 The concept behind MORCA is unique—it is one of only six agencies of its
kind in the nation84—and it was recently lauded for “taking on prisoner re-entry as a basic municipal service.”85

82	 LoBuglio, S. (2015). Personal interview with Stefan LoBuglio, Chief, Pre-release and Reentry Services Division,
Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished
interview notes on file with CCE.
83	 Council of the District of Columbia. (2007). D.C. Act 16-243. Codification District of Columbia Official Code.
84	 See Appendix C in Cognato, B., Greene, D., Raderstrong, J., & Sagers, J. (2015). A data needs assessment
for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens’ Affairs (MORCA): Identifying, collecting, and connecting key
data for D.C.’s returning citizens. Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University.
85	 Clark, A. (2015). Will D.C. be the first U.S. city to escape the prison trap? Next City.

22 | Beyond Second Chances

However, MORCA has had difficulty achieving its mission due in part to a meager budget and limited staff.
A 2015 assessment of MORCA by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General concluded that MORCA “lacked
fundamental organizational mechanisms and resources” to educate returning citizens about re-entry services
or to collaborate with D.C. re-entry organizations.86 The inspection had three major findings: (1) organizational deficiencies impede [M]ORCA’s compliance with D.C. Code; (2) [M]ORCA needs better coordination
with D.C. organizations to improve service delivery; and (3) ineffective collaboration hinders [M]ORCA from
developing new policy and initiatives.87 Twelve recommendations for improvement were included in the report.
In a recent assessment of MORCA conducted by the University of Maryland, researchers concluded that an
inadequate budget was the agency’s biggest challenge.88 While MORCA’s total FY2015 budget was $376,026,89 its
program budget allocated to be spent on returning citizens was only $10,500.90 As one staff member explained,
“We have a big need to provide services through programs, and we served 5,000 people in 2014 with a $10,500
program budget. That’s about $2 a person…”91 The D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety,
which oversees the budget and performance of MORCA, wrote in its 2015 Budget Report that “the Committee was at first quite confused as to how [M]ORCA was operating at all [emphasis added] given its minimal
[program] budget...”92 However, the committee “had serious hesitations about allocating more funding to [M]
ORCA as the agency [was] currently organized and operated.”93 Instead, the committee recommended that
funds for services to returning citizens be increased for other agencies, such as the Office of Victim Services
and Justice Grants,94 essentially charging those agencies with MORCA’s statutory responsibilities.
MORCA has not had the staff expertise for the robust grant-writing needed to make the agency more financially
solvent.95 In 2015, MORCA employed four full-time staff and had one full-time program specialist on detail
from the D.C. DOC.96 The inspector general recommended that MORCA submit a budget enhancement request
to fund a full-time contractor to write and obtain grants. Yet, from 2011 to 2015, the agency only submitted
two grant applications and was only awarded one grant from the District’s Justice Grants Administration.97 The
86	 Office of the Inspector General (OIG). (2015). Office on Returning Citizen Affairs: Report of inspection (OIG
No. 15-I-0069). Washington, D.C.: OIG.
87	 Ibid.
88	 Kearney, M. S. & Whitehead, T. L. (2015). Ethnographic assessment of the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Returning
Citizen Affairs White Paper. Washington, D.C.: University of Maryland.
89	 OIG. (2015). Office on Returning Citizen Affairs: Report of inspection (OIG No. 15-I-0069). Washington, D.C.:
OIG.
90	 Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety (CJPS). (2014). Report and recommendations of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety on the Fiscal Year 2015 budget for agencies under its purview.
FY2015 Committee Budget Report. Washington, D.C.: Council of the District of Columbia.
91	 Kearney, M. S. & Whitehead, T. L. (2015). Ethnographic assessment of the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Returning
Citizen Affairs White Paper. Washington, D.C.: University of Maryland., p. 25.
92	 CJPS. (2014). Report and recommendations of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety on the
Fiscal Year 2015 budget for agencies under its purview. FY2015 Committee budget report. Washington,
D.C.: Council of the District of Columbia., p. 48.
93	 Ibid., p. 49.
94	 Ibid.
95	 OIG. (2015). Office on Returning Citizen Affairs: Report of inspection (OIG No. 15-I-0069). Washington, D.C.:
OIG., p. 6. As is explained in the inspection, the role of MORCA, as mandated by statute, was so unclear
that not even the D.C. Council was sure if the agency was intended to function as a service coordinating
agency rather than a service provision agency. If MORCA’s role for the returning citizen community was
clarified, MORCA might be more successful in applying for and securing funds.
96	 Ibid., p. 6.
97	 Ibid., p. 16.

www.courtexcellence.org | 23

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

inspector general noted that “[M]ORCA’s minimal success with securing grant funding and poor utilization
of District grant-writing resources limit the services it can offer returning citizens.”98 In 2016, in response to
the inspector general’s suggestion that MORCA pursue more, MORCA applied for four grants; none, however,
were awarded.99
MORCA’s difficulty pursuing grants has been compounded by its poor use of case management and data
software and its inefficient referral management system. MORCA has not had adequate staff to conduct client
intake and manage client data, so agency interns have been responsible for this.100 Despite an effort to create
a joint data management system with D.C.’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), MORCA has
continued to rely on a paper-based case management system.101 As a result, the inspector general found that
“[M]ORCA cannot generate recommendations and policy statements, produce reports, conduct data analysis
on clients and services, or anticipate emerging trends in client services.”102
Despite MORCA’s shortcomings, the agency has been successful in a series of its initiatives. For example,
MORCA recently teamed with Events D.C. to provide a 16-week Customer Service Training program for formerly incarcerated women. The program has helped the women by providing “soft skills training, professional
development and internship experience at the Washington Convention Center.”103 And, as you will read later,
the agency has helped thousands of D.C. returning citizens secure IDs.
A recent leadership change at MORCA by District Mayor Muriel Bowser positions the agency to focus on, and
perhaps cure, some or all of the deficiencies outlined above. In September 2016, Brian Ferguson was appointed
to serve as MORCA’s director, replacing Charles Thornton who served in that role since 2011. Ferguson brings
direct experience to his position not only because of his work related to the District’s Ban the Box legislation
aimed at people with criminal records but also because he himself is a returning citizen.104 CCE has met with
Director Ferguson and conveyed our concerns about MORCA’s past performance as well as our hopes for his
successful tenure helping MORCA to fulfill its role as a re-entry hub.
OTHER SUPPORT EFFORTS
While MORCA officially serves as the District’s official re-entry support agency, there are a few other D.C.
agencies that also provide assistance to improve outcomes for returning citizens. The Office of Victim Services
and Justice Grants funds returning citizen initiatives at various D.C. nonprofit organizations and government
agencies. In addition, the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) has begun to collaborate with
the D.C. DOC on re-entry-related programs. In 2015, the mayor launched prerelease re-entry initiatives with
D.C. DOC and DOES to help train incarcerated men in finding work once they are released.105
98	 Ibid.
99	 CCE correspondence with S. Harris, MORCA, November 2, 2016.
100	 OIG. (2015). Office on Returning Citizen Affairs: Report of inspection (OIG No. 15-I-0069). Washington, D.C.:
OIG., p. 19-20.
101	 CCE correspondence with S. Harris, MORCA, November 2, 2016. For the past year and a half, MORCA has
been using Salesforce—a data-tracking software—for other administrative functions, such as referral management.
102	 OIG. (2015). Office on Returning Citizen Affairs: Report of inspection (OIG No. 15-I-0069). Washington, D.C.:
OIG., p. 19-20.
103	 CCE correspondence with S. Harris, MORCA, November 2, 2016.
104	 Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM). (2016, September 9). Mayor Muriel Bowser names Brian Ferguson as
Director of the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizen Affairs. Press Release. Washington, D.C.: EOM.
105	 Anderson, J. (2015). IG report: Returning citizens office lacks “fundamental” ability to help ex-offenders.
Washington City Paper.

24 | Beyond Second Chances

NONGOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS AND COALITIONS IN D.C.
Support efforts on behalf of returning citizens in the District of Columbia are also provided by several nonprofit organizations and coalitions. Some of these organizations, such as Free Minds Book Club and Writing
Workshop, provide programming directly in support of justice-involved people in the District of Columbia,
including people who are incarcerated, are returning citizens or have a criminal record. Other organizations,
such as Bread for the City and the D.C. Central Kitchen, were not created to support solely the needs of justice-involved people but have found that this population accounts for a large part of the communities served
by their programs. There are several other nonprofit organizations that are working to improve the re-entry
outcomes in D.C., and this report will highlight their work in succeeding chapters.
Finally, the National Re-entry Network for Returning Citizens, the D.C. Re-entry Task Force and a host of other
task forces, working groups and coalitions also exist in D.C. These groups are generally comprised of returning
citizens, lawyers, nonprofit organizations, representatives from government agencies and law enforcement,
religious and community leaders, educators and ordinary citizens interested in providing second chances to
returning citizens. These entities provide much-needed community support and advocacy for the re-entry
community while providing a forum that brings the diverse, and often complex, network of stakeholders
together in common purpose.

Recommendations
Based on the foregoing data, description and returning citizens’ voices, CCE offers eight recommendations to
improve outcomes for the members of our community who deserve second chances and beyond. Some of these
recommendations are concrete and might be implemented in the near term. Others are far more aspirational
and will require significant input and pressure from the wide variety of advocates this chapter has described.
1.	 “Re-entry begins on day one” is a common phrase among criminal justice professionals and facilities. The
reality, however, is that many returning citizens are simply not prepared to re-enter the community. The
BOP, halfway houses and D.C. DOC should coordinate to ensure that re-entry planning is conducted
at least three months prior to a person's release. Such planning must be holistic and individualized,
and should consider employment, applications for disability benefits and Medicaid, education and
housing, as well as information about parenting, money management, technology and useful information, such as how to use a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) SmarTrip
public transportation fare card.
2.	 The USPC is not carrying out its duties in the manner in which D.C. law anticipated, causing many people
to spend more years behind bars than expected or warranted. The District should advocate to Congress
for USPC regulations and procedures to be rewritten to better address the needs of D.C. Code offenders,
or else for the amending of the Revitalization Act so that the USPC no longer has jurisdiction over D.C.
Code offenders, in which case the District must also reconstitute the D.C. Board of Parole.
3.	 Significant federal action is required to improve the reintegration of D.C.’s returning citizens. CCE and many
advocates believe this will require greater coordination and closer communication with the BOP. The BOP
should create an ombudsman position focused specifically on D.C. correctional issues.

www.courtexcellence.org | 25

CHAPTER 2

AN OVERVIEW OF D.C.’S RE-ENTRY SYSTEM

4.	 The D.C. CIC inspected Hope Village in 2013 and found numerous deficiencies, confirming what returning
citizens have said for years about the poor conditions and services there. The BOP should not renew Hope
Village’s contracts when they expire in 2016 and 2017.
5.	 Given the many problems outlined at Hope Village, the 2015 SOW introduced for RRC contractors by
former Attorney General Eric Holder should be utilized to its full extent. The BOP should use this SOW to
hold a new halfway house provider accountable for offering high-quality services, including workforce
engagement, connection to behavioral and physical health services, securing housing, family support
and offense-specific issues, by tracking outcomes such as employment, engagement in treatment, and
recidivism.
6.	 Based on the experience of returning citizens at Hope Village and Fairview, as compared with model
programs like Montgomery County’s Pre-Release Center, agencies and organizations should strive to
provide case management that is client-centered.
7.	 The Montgomery County Pre-Release Center’s 40-year presence in the community is an asset to program
participants seeking employment. This organization is part and parcel of Montgomery County and, as a
result, is seeing better outcomes for returning citizens. RRCs serving D.C.’s returning citizens should
replicate the Montgomery County PRC model, by gathering community input on decisions that affect
their surrounding neighborhoods, meaningfully engaging with the community, and treating community-based organizations as active partners.
8.	 Finally, with new leadership now in place, MORCA has an opportunity to become a model agency for
the rest of the country. Its new director already has a clear blueprint for change based on two thorough
examinations. MORCA should be fully funded in the next budget so that it can implement the recommendations included in the inspector general’s report and the University of Maryland’s assessment
of the agency and better serve D.C.’s returning citizens by operating as a re-entry hub, coordinating
referrals to service providers and helping to develop and implement policy ideas.

26 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 3

Housing

Introduction
Housing is a basic human need. Yet finding appropriate housing can be the most significant problem that returning citizens experience.106 It is estimated that one-fifth of
returning citizens become homeless soon after their release.107 According to a report
by the Vera Institute of Justice, “at any given time in Los Angeles and San Francisco, 30
to 50 percent of all people under parole supervision are homeless.”108
Housing presents both immediate and long-term challenges. Some returning citizens may transition to a
residential re-entry center or halfway house before release, which can allow time for planning to find housing.
Others are sent directly home from prison but do not have a place to stay on their first night out, not to mention
for the months and years to come. Family members or friends may offer a place to stay in the short-term, but
many returning citizens go from nights on couches to nights in shelters to sleeping on the street. Many are
jobless and without savings and are likely to have other financial obligations such as restitution or child support.
Nationally and in the District of Columbia, there are several reasons why finding and maintaining housing is
difficult for returning citizens, including a lack of affordable housing and the challenges of public and transitional housing. This chapter will describe these challenges as well as the changing landscape of housing public
policy that may be starting to provide some relief to returning citizens. We will also review several organizations that are engaging in best practices to connect people to stable housing. Finally, we conclude by offering
a number of recommendations concerning re-entry and housing.

National Context
According to a 2012 Urban Institute report, correctional departments rarely connect returning citizens to
housing, with no particular agency responsible for providing housing for individuals leaving prison and jails.109

106	 Clayton, S. L. (2005). Hard time: Ex-offenders returning home after prison. Corrections Today., p. 60.
107	 National Alliance to End Homelessness. (n.d.). Re-entry. Web. Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.
org/pages/re_entry
108	 Rodriguez, N., & Brown, B. (2003). Preventing homelessness among people leaving prison. New York City:
Vera Institute of Justice.
109	 Biess, J., & Fontaine, J. (2012, May 7). Housing as a platform for formerly incarcerated persons. Washington,
D.C.: Urban Institute., p. 3.

www.courtexcellence.org | 27

CHAPTER 3

HOUSING

In addition, for many returning citizens, and most people across the U.S., affordable housing is not available.110
Returning citizens also face challenges with public housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires lifetime bans from public housing for returning citizens convicted of certain offenses.
Individuals involved with the manufacture or production of methamphetamine on federally assisted housing
property, as well as sex offenders subject to a lifetime registration requirement, are prohibited from admission
to public housing and the Section 8 Program that provides housing vouchers.111 Outside of these cases, public
housing authorities have broad discretion in determining their admissions and occupancy polices for people
with arrest or conviction records.112

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
The situation for returning citizens in the District of Columbia mirrors the national context. But for people
returning from correctional facilities that are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, the challenges are even
greater. While approximately 80 percent of all people incarcerated at the BOP spend time at a halfway house
facility113 prior to release from custody, many people incarcerated at the BOP, and almost all those held at the
D.C. Jail, are released directly to the community.

Returning Citizen's Voice
Teresa expressed her continued frustration
with the stigma of being labeled a returning
citizen: “When I went to get my first apartment, the form asked, ‘Have you ever been
convicted of a felony?’ and I thought, Ever?
Not just have you been convicted of a felony
in the past three to five years?‘ I felt like my
record was holding me hostage.”

The lack of affordable housing is a persistent problem. The
District of Columbia is consistently ranked as one of the most
expensive cities for housing in the U.S.114 Data from the 2014
American Community Survey, reflected in Figure 5 below,
show that fewer than 1 in 3 rentals in D.C. cost less than $1,000
per month, with fewer than 1 in 5 less than $750 per month.115
Moreover, the number of affordable units is shrinking. In 2002,
about 40 percent of the rental units were low cost, that is had
rent and utility costs of less than $800 per month. By 2013, lowcost housing represented just one-fifth of the rental housing
stock.116

110	 National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). (2013, February). Housing spotlight: America’s affordable
housing shortage, and how to end it. Washington, D.C.: NLIHC.
111	 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2001). Housing Choice Voucher Program
guidebook. Washington, D.C.: HUD.
112	 Federal Interagency Re-entry Council. (n.d.). Re-entry MythBuster!: On public housing. Washington, D.C.:
The Council of State Governments Justice Center.
113	 See Yates, S. (2016, November). Reforming federal halfway houses. Washington, D.C.: DOJ, Office of the
Attorney General.
114	 See, for example, Elkins, K. (2016). The 11 most expensive cities in America. Business Insider.
115	 USCB. (n.d.). Fact Finder. Web. Retrieved from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.
116	 Rivers, W. (2015, March 12). Going, going, gone: D.C.’s vanishing affordable housing. Washington, D.C.: D.C.
Fiscal Policy Institute.

28 | Beyond Second Chances

Figure 5: Monthly rent of occupied units in D.C. (five-year average, 2010–14)117

41+27+15710x
10%

7%

41%

15%

Under $500
$500 to $749
$750 to $999
$1,000 to $1,499
$1,500 or more

27%

Public housing in D.C. presents another set of challenges for returning
citizens. The D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) owns and manages 56
public housing properties with about 8,000 units located throughout
city. Tenants pay 30 percent of their income as rent. The waiting list for
public housing, however, may be as high as 32,000 people,118 and the
waiting list is currently closed to new applicants.119 At the time of this
report’s publication, it was not known when the list might be reopened.
While the DCHA works with returning citizens to ensure a pre-existing
spot a person had on the waiting list remains active, the chances of their
securing subsidized housing remain slim to none, given there may be
tens of thousands of people ahead of him or her.

CO URTN E Y STE WA RT

Returning Citizen

Finding stable housing is an additional challenge, with approximately
half of returning citizens in D.C. starting off in transitional housing.120 According to CSOSA, “almost 20 percent
of reentrants on parole or supervised release who began supervision in FY2014 did not have stable housing at
the start of supervision. Of these, roughly 85 percent were in homeless shelters.”121
Figures 6 and 7, based on 2015 data from CSOSA, illustrate that housing instability does not affect all returning citizens equally. People who are unemployed or unemployable are more likely to be in unstable housing
situations. Likewise, people with mental illness entering CSOSA supervision from prison are more likely to
lack stable housing.

Ibid.
CJCC. (2013). Directory of Housing Resources for Returning Citizens. Washington, D.C.: CJCC., p. 32.
District of Columbia Housing Authority. (n.d.). Homepage. Web. Retrieved from http://dchousing.org/.
Sipes, L. A., Jr. (2006). Returning from prison to Washington, D.C.—”We make transition possible.” Washington, D.C.: CSOSA., p. 2.
121	 CSOSA. (2015). Offender population profile: court services and offender supervision factsheet. Washington,
D.C.: CSOSA., p. 2.

117	
118	
119	
120	

www.courtexcellence.org | 29

CHAPTER 3

HOUSING

Figure 6: Housing stability by employment status
90 days after entering CSOSA supervision122
Employed

Unemployed

Unemployable

78+22+x 66+32+2x 57+38+5x
2%

22%

5%

32%

78%

66%

38%

57%

Stable Housing

Unstable Housing
Unknown Housing

Figure 7: Housing stability by presence of mental health
condition upon entering CSOSA supervision, 2015123
80
70
60

66%

Stable housing

56%

Unstable housing

50
40

38%

30

26%

20
10
0

Mental Health
Condition Reported

No Mental Health
Condition Reported

According to Tammy Seltzer, director of the Jail and Prison Advocacy Project at University Legal Services
(ULS), “releasing people to the street is not OK. People in D.C. have started calling the shelter at Second and
D Streets [The Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), D.C.’s largest homeless shelter] the District’s
‘third halfway house’ because there are so many returning citizens there. Some people can be successful going
122	 CSOSA. (2015). Housing stability by employment status 90 days after entering CSOSA supervision. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
123	 CSOSA. (2015). Housing stability by presence of mental health condition upon entering CSOSA supervision,
2015. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE. The housing situation is unknown
for 6 percent of people with a mental health condition and 8 percent of people with no mental health
condition.

30 | Beyond Second Chances

to a shelter, but it’s in spite of rather than because of it. If more permanent housing can’t be arranged, then
short-term solutions need to be created.”
Beyond transitional housing, there are single-room occupancy housing and permanent supportive housing
options in D.C. These resources serve the city at large, so there are often waiting lists. But even these, with
modest rents, may be difficult for many returning citizens. Furthermore, these housing facilities often serve
only specific populations, such as HIV-positive men or seniors, which, while essential for those populations,
can restrict other returning citizens from accessing much needed beds.
In D.C., many of these houses limit the stay of their tenants to four to six months, which is rarely enough time
for reintegration. On the one hand, many require that tenants have no serious medical problems and be tested
for conditions like tuberculosis.124 On the other hand, many transitional facilities require that a person meet
specific criteria, such as having a mental health or substance use disorder or having (or not having) dependent
children.125
Some facilities may also require a photo ID for entry, which can be challenging for a citizen recently returned
to the community.126 Among the many service providers that CCE interviewed was a volunteer from the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), an outreach mission of Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church that since 1980 has
provided services to people in need. “What would also be helpful is if transitional housing and shelters would
provide their users with lockboxes to keep track of important documents. During this difficult transition, people
lose documents all the time, and it’s really frustrating for them.” Overnight and temporary shelters typically
have fewer requirements but often have gender and age restrictions and are only open in the evenings. More
to the point, an overnight or temporary shelter is not a long-term solution.
Another housing barrier is the complicated referral process required of returning citizens across the city.
According to the Legal Advocacy Coordinator at Bread for the City, reducing or eliminating this process would
greatly help returning citizens. Many agencies require referrals for services to establish residency and need. This
requirement, however, takes time and money that might be better spent on returning citizens’ needs. Bread for
the City has had some success in eliminating the referral process for the Capital Area Food Bank. If a person
wants to visit the Food Bank, he or she no longer needs a referral from Bread for the City but can simply go

ME LVIN AN D RAD E
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been dealing
with parole and getting a job or keeping a job.
My biggest success as a returning citizen has been doing the
right thing and staying out of trouble and meeting and staying
with the good people.

124	 CJCC. (2013). Directory of housing resources for returning citizens. Washington, D.C.: CJCC., p.28.
125	 Ibid., p. 11.
126	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 31

CHAPTER 3

HOUSING

and bring proof of residency, such as a utility bill.127

Returning Citizen's Voice
Another returning citizen, who preferred to
speak anonymously, expressed further frustration with finding housing. “I came from a
halfway house. Stability is an issue. I don’t
have housing. Housing is a big problem in
D.C. The city doesn’t have an open [public]
housing list. Apartments do a background

When asked about her housing experience, one returning citizen, Taylar, commented, “I expected housing to be the easiest
part of my re-entry—and it definitely was not.” Taylar was
placed in a transitional housing unit with a roommate who
threatened her with a knife, and she has since been relocated.
Taylar’s circumstances, and challenges, are unfortunately too
common. Without predictable and safe housing, returning
citizens face even more difficulty dealing with other barriers—particularly employment or substance use treatment.128

check, so I can’t get housing. It’s like a revolving door for failure. Many program providers
come into the jail and say they can help us
get housing, but when you get out, they can’t
provide what we need.”
These sentiments were echoed by Tammy
Seltzer, “We need to look at our treatment
system and whether it’s following a ‘housing-first’ model. Right now, there are a lot of
barriers, and many programs require a person
to be clean and sober for so many weeks

Shifts in Housing Public Policy for Returning
Citizens
Despite these challenges, we are now beginning to see some
favorable trends in housing public policy that may signal
an opening for returning citizens. According to guidance
released by HUD in April 2016, housing providers with a
blanket ban on applicants with a criminal history could be in
violation of the Fair Housing Act due to the disparate impact
such policies have on racial and ethnic minorities.129

before accepting them. We know it’s easier

In the District of Columbia, the legislature has introduced a
bill that would provide protection for rental applicatnts with
housing.”
criminal records in the private housing market. Known as the
Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016, the
legislation is modeled after Ban the Box legislation for employment applications—an issue this report covers
in Chapter 4. If enacted, covered landlords would be prevented from asking about a rental applicant’s criminal
history until after a conditional offer has been made and, even then, may only inquire about convictions. After
disclosure of any convictions is made, landlords could only withdraw the rental offer “to achieve a substantial,
legitimate, non-discriminatory interest” based on several factors, including the nature and severity of the
offense, the age of the applicant at the time of the offense and the amount of time that has passed since the
offense was committed. The bill provides for applicants to seek remedy to any violations of the law at the D.C.
Office of Human Rights (OHR).130
to become clean and sober when you have

127	 Bread for the City. (2015). Interview with legal advocacy coordinator at Bread for the City. (T. Velázquez,
interviewer). Unpublished interview notes on file with CCE.
128	 At times, housing for returning citizens if further complicated if their families, who may have once lived
in the District at the time of a family member’s conviction, have moved elsewhere since their release. An
individual’s conditions of release could stipulate that they must be supervised within the jurisdiction where
they were convicted and sentenced. This presents a challenge for returning citizens who might otherwise
want or need to live with family.
129	 Kanovsky, H. R. (2016). Office of General Counsel guidance on the application of Fair Housing Act standards
to the use of criminal records by providers of housing and real estate-related transactions. Washington,
D.C.: HUD.
130	 D.C. Council. B21-0706, "Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016''. Washington D.C., 2016.,
p. 4.

32 | Beyond Second Chances

Suitcase Living—Dedicated to the Homeless (Seen and
Unseen)
Adapted with the author’s permission from a Sept. 7, 2015, blog post by Taylar Nuevelle, a
returning citizen living in Washington, D.C., who also writes under the pseudonym Amme Voz.
Nuevelle returned home in 2014 after being incarcerated at both D.C.’s Correctional Treatment
Facility and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. See https://ammevoz.wordpress.com for more stories
and information.
On August 21, 2015 I officially stopped being homeless and moved into a one-bedroom apartment that
is my home. In the year since my release from prison I
have bounced between the halfway house, two re-entry
houses, and a supported independent living program.
They were physically and emotionally violent places, so
I kept searching for a safe place to call my home.
On June 22, 2015 I became part of another statistic.
Quite frankly, it’s getting kind of irritating. I was forced out of my apartment by the mental
health provider that was supposed to be serving me and I joined the tribe of the homeless. No,
I was never in a shelter, or street homeless. I was a part of the homeless that are invisible and
terrified of what hitting bottom really means. The homeless that have no fixed address, but
someone else’s home to sleep in—
someone to be beholden to.
Those sleeping on the couches of
friends, families or people who pretend  to want to help us—we are
homeless.
I started a journey that would lead to
suitcase living that lasted exactly two
months. Suitcase dwelling was difficult and riddled with anxiety when I
stayed with a friend and her family.
It was even lonelier and harder after
moving to a motel room paid for by
a government agency that assists
those who survive domestic violence with temporary shelter.
The motel where I was housed was
in a pretty shady neighborhood. To
get to public transportation, I had to
walk three quarters of a mile, which

Courtesy of Taylar Nuevelle.

www.courtexcellence.org | 33

CHAPTER 3

HOUSING

is nothing. However, I had to walk over a bridge that abuts a wooded area and this is where
the homeless live. Each morning as I headed to work or to appointments, the first thing I saw
on my walk was a man’s closet, bathroom and bedroom.
It was a reminder of where I might end up. It was a reminder for me to be grateful and to not
give up.
Getting free from suitcase living has been difficult and terrifying. Every day as I hunted for an
apartment and was rejected time after time, the clock was ticking. I was terrified that the man
I saw each morning was foreshadowing as to my new home.
Yet, I am lucky. I am surrounded with love from people who owe me nothing. Other than my
niece, I have received no support from family. I sit here amongst my things and I know how
vulnerable I was/am and that so many came forward and fought for me with their privilege,
words, power, honesty and steadfast support for and belief in me.
However, I continue to struggle with feeling safe and secure. I am slowly unpacking because
I am terrified of feeling at ease. Tonight, I finally put all the dishes away. Yesterday, I set up
my baking rack and most of the books are living their lives on their shelves. The clothes are
struggling to slowly make their way out of the suitcases and bags. The shoes are still in baskets,
and my leaning bookshelf laptop desk sits empty. I am afraid to set it up and write my stories
on it. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall.
I get up every morning thinking there is much to do for the many who have been silenced by
poverty and homelessness and imprisonment. A roof over their heads is just a start.

Promising Practices
Re-entry programs that include housing have shown positive results and impact on the lives of returning citizens. Below are some examples of programs across the nation that have demonstrated success.
THE FORTUNE SOCIETY
Operating in three New York City locations, the Fortune Society has helped returning citizens with a “continuum of care” since it was founded in 1967.131 In September 2011, the organization, along with Jonathan Rose
Companies, opened a residential community called Castle Gardens in Harlem. Not only did Castle Gardens
provide affordable housing to people with a history of incarceration, but it also offered short-term housing
options to help people become more stable until they were ready for greater housing permanency. The mayor
of New York City supported the development and referred to Castle Gardens as a smart investment that could
help New York economically and create new jobs. Aside from housing, Castle Gardens also offers residents
on-site services, including help with substance use, counseling and case management.
Castle Gardens also welcomes older returning citizens who have aged during long periods of incarceration,132

131	 Fortune Society. (2011, January). Aging and the crimingal justice system. The Fortune News, 44(1), 1-20.
132	Ibid., p. 12-13.

34 | Beyond Second Chances

with a supportive housing program that has had a positive impact. One
of the program’s participants, Warren Y., was 74-years-old when he was
released and came to The Fortune Society in 2014 looking for help since
the prison had failed to give him any discharge planning services. The
organization took him in and provided housing. Warren said, “There is
nowhere else that can do this. It doesn’t smell or feel like a shelter; this
is a first-class program.”133 http://fortunesociety.org/
RETURNING HOME—OHIO (RHO)
This program is another housing option that has been shown effective
in helping returning citizens. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation
and Correction (ODRC), along with the Corporation for Supportive
Housing, developed the initiative to reduce recidivism and prevent
homelessness for people who are returning to Ohio from state prison.134
This program also provides permanent housing with supportive services
that help residents stay stable.

P H I LLI P M O SBY

Returning Citizen

One factor that promotes program viability is a focus on coordination. Effective partnerships facilitate successful re-entry programs, and collaborations with ODRC that
include the Ohio Department of Mental Health, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Services and supportive housing providers, result in effectiveness and sustainability. Program outcomes, as
well, have been found to be exceptional, with less likelihood of clients being rearrested or re-incarcerated.
http://www.csh.org/csh-solutions/serving-vulnerable-populations/re-entry-populations/local-criminal-justice-work/returning-home-ohio/
BURLINGTON HOUSING AUTHORITY
This authority in Vermont assists incarcerated individuals with housing placements at its Offender Re-Entry
Housing Program through a contract between the Department of Corrections and the Burlington and Winooski
Community Justice Centers. Landlords can partner with the program to coordinate lease agreements.135 Part
of their vision is to provide placement in a permanent housing program for returning citizens.136 With this
program, safety and security for communities and returning citizens has increased.137 There are also housing
situations available where returning citizens can focus on staying sober. Recognizing that transportation can
be an issue, this program also seeks housing that has access to bus routes.138 http://burlingtonhousing.org/

133	 Ibid., p. 13.
134	 Corporation for Supportive Housing & ODRC. (2014). RHO program manual. Web. Retrieved from http://
www.csh.org/rho-program-manual-2014-final/
135	 Burlington Housing Authority (BHA). (n.d.). Offender Re-entry Housing Program. Web. Retrieved from
http://burlingtonhousing.org/index.asp?SEC=6739A171-53A1-4137-92E8-60EC67AD46C8&Type=B_
BASIC.
136	 BHA. (2014). Burlington Housing Authority Offender Re-Entry Housing Program policy and procedure
manual. Burlington, VT: BHA., p. 7-8.
137	 Ibid.
138	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 35

CHAPTER 3

HOUSING

THE TEXAS OFFENDERS RE-ENTRY INITIATIVE (TORI)
This initiative understands that returning citizens need a stable living environment, and they partner with various programs, shelters, property owners and housing authorities to accomplish this. TORI has been successful
in reaching its goals by decreasing the rate of relapse from substance and alcohol abuse by 50 percent.139 It has
also employed 63 percent of the citizens enrolled in the program, which would have been difficult if it were not
for the housing portion of the program that offered them a stable living environment.140 http://medc-tori.org/

Recommendations
Like all residents, returning citizens need affordable, available, safe and long-term housing. Based on the
challenges and opportunities we have covered in this chapter on housing, we offer the following seven recommendations:
1.	 Returning citizens face housing challenges, but so do their family members and friends. Support should
be provided to family and friends to house returning citizens, including protection from eviction and
confidence that their own privacy rights will be protected.
2.	 The lack of housing options provided to returning citizens before they are released from prison or jail
sets them up for failure or at least for unavoidable challenges upon re-entry. Securing housing should
become one of the most important, if not the most important, priorities for returning citizens, with
correctional facilities and housing providers, permitting and encouraging returning citizens to apply
for and reserve housing up to 90 days prior to release.
3.	 Having a place to live makes a significant difference in a person’s ability to feel safe and to adjust to life
after incarceration. The housing-first model that providers utilize for people who are homeless, also discussed in Chapter 6, should become the standard for returning citizens. Public and private sector service
providers should ensure that returning citizens—especially people with mental and physical health
needs and who are homeless—have housing that enables them to feel safe and adjust to being released
from prison or jail. This will require community needs assessments and building sufficient capacity
to meet those needs.
4.	 The lack of affordable housing in the District of Columbia remains one of the city’s most intractable problems. This is particularly the case for returning citizens who are not likely to be employed or have savings
when released, but may face financial obligations and discrimination because of their criminal record. The
D.C. government should continue to increase affordable housing options and add returning citizens
to the list of demographic groups considered priority populations.
5.	 Other barriers to housing concern the wide array of eligibility requirements. Some housing opportunities
require a clean bill of health while others are geared towards only those returning citizens with specific
diagnoses ranging from mental health issues to substance abuse. Such eligibility details are complicated
and burdensome. The D.C. government and nonprofit stakeholders should collaborate to clarify and
streamline the patchwork of eligibility for housing-related services.
139	 TORI. (n.d.). About us. Web. Retrieved from http://meD.C.-tori.org/
140	 Clayton, S. L. (2005, April). Hard time: Ex-offenders returning home after prison. Corrections Today , p. 69.

36 | Beyond Second Chances

6.	 Housing is one of the greatest challenges facing people who return home from incarceration, and in D.C.,
housing options do not easily present themselves. The D.C. government and nonprofit stakeholders
should collaborate to create a tracking system to determine the availability of beds in various re-entry
housing programs, allowing them to place returning citizens more efficiently and effectively.
7.	 Housing policy must shift to reverse the decades of discriminatory treatment by landlords and others. The
utilization of background checks to summarily exclude people with criminal records should be examined.
Maintaining the safety and security of current tenants should not result in rejecting all returning citizens as
future tenants. The D.C. Council should enact the Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of
2016, introduced by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, to prevent unwarranted discrimination against
people with criminal records in housing markets, and ensure the subsequent law is enforced by OHR.

www.courtexcellence.org | 37

C H APT E R 4

Employment

One of the primary findings in CCE’s 2011 report, Unlocking Employment Opportunity
for Previously Incarcerated Persons in the District of Columbia, was that “a criminal record
is an enormous impediment to employment [in the District of Columbia].”141 Five years
later, this remains true. This chapter will describe the barriers to employment faced
by returning citizens nationwide and in the District of Columbia, along with a series of
examples of what success can and does entail with respect to training, securing work
and keeping a job. The chapter will also include shifts in employment public policy that,
once again, signal a positive direction, followed by promising practices by several local
organizations doing important work and, finally, recommendations for change.

National Context
Employment is a key element of success for most people, not just those with a history of incarceration. Unemployment is closely related to poverty: More than a third (34 percent) of adults ages 18-64 who are not working
live in poverty, compared with only 3 percent of those who work full time year-round.142 A 2011 Gallup poll
showed that across advanced economies, people who are employed report they are thriving at a rate 21 percentage points higher than those who are unemployed.143
Unemployment can also take a more personal toll. In a separate poll of Americans, Gallup found that while
5.6 percent of people with full-time jobs said they are depressed or are currently treated for depression, more
than twice that percentage who were unemployed—12.4 percent—said they are depressed.144 Furthermore, a
2004 study indicated that “women whose male partners experienced two or more periods of unemployment
over a 5-year period were almost three times as likely to be victims of intimate violence as were women whose
partners were in stable jobs.”145
From a public safety standpoint, increased employment levels for people post incarceration leads to decreases

141	 CCE. (2011). Unlocking employment opportunity for previously incarcerated persons in the District of
Columbia. Washington, D.C.: CCE., p. 5.
142	 Center for Poverty Research. (2014). What are poverty rates among working adults? Davis, California: UC
Davis.
143	 Clifton, J., & Marlar, J. (2011). Worldwide, good jobs linked to higher wellbeing. Gallup.
144	 Adams, S. (2014, June). How unemployment and depression fit together. Forbes.
145	 National Institute of Justice. (2004). When violence hits home: How economics and neighborhood play a
role. Washington, D.C.: DOJ, p. 2.

www.courtexcellence.org | 39

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

in drug dealing, violent crime and property crime.146 Yet finding and keeping a job is particularly challenging
for people with a criminal record. National surveys of returning citizens find that as many as 60 percent to 75
percent remain jobless up to a year after release.147 Reasons for this include lack of work experience, lack of
education and employer hesitancy to hire.
LACK OF WORK EXPERIENCE
When hiring, employers often prefer or require job candidates to have previous work experience, making it
difficult for returning citizens who cannot show a track record of relevant employment. One returning citizen,
who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that “organizations need incentives from the government to hire
us. We are willing to work but don’t have the experience.” Philadelphia, for instance, offers tax credits to businesses that employ qualifying returning citizens.148

Returning Citizen's Voice
One returning citizen interviewed for this
report, Chearie, lamented, “All I want to do is
work, but I can’t work because they won’t hire
me… I guess I see why people reoffend.”
As Tammy Seltzer from University Legal Services explained, for people who cannot work
due to disability, it can take months or years to
become eligible for Social Security disability

Many people who have been incarcerated have less work experience than their non-incarcerated counterparts. One study
that followed individuals from their teenage years into early
adulthood showed that women who had served six months or
more in an adult institution had accumulated, during the 10
years of the study, less than half the work experience of those
who had not served time. Previously incarcerated men had
only 65 percent of the years of work experience than men who
were never incarcerated.149 Another study of a jail population
determined that less than half (49.3 percent) were working
full time at the time of their arrest and more than a third (35.8
percent) were unemployed.150

benefits (SSI and SSDI), which can incentivize
recidivism. “Without income, returning citizens
can’t secure even the basics of life. I’ve had
three clients in last two months arrested for
shoplifting. One guy stole a package of bologna, a loaf of bread and an iced tea.”

LACK OF EDUCATION
Many people who have served time have low educational
attainment. A 2002 national survey of people in jails showed
that more than 32 percent did not have a high school or GED
diploma, while less than 3 percent had a college degree.151 As
Figure 8 shows, the U.S. unemployment rate for all people ages
25 and above without a high school diploma is 8 percent, nearly

146	 Urban Institute. (2006). Understanding the challenges of prisoner re-entry: Research findings from the
Urban Institute's prisoner re-entry portfolio. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
147	 Pager, D., & Western, B. (2009). Investigating prisoner re-entry: The impact of conviction status on the
employment prospects of young men. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.
148	 City of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Philadelphia Re-entry Program (PREP) Tax Credit. Web. Retrieved from https://
beta.phila.gov/services/payments-assistance-taxes/tax-credits/philadelphia-re-entry-program-prep-taxcredit/.
149	 Raphael, S. (2014). The new scarlet letter? Negotiating the U.S. labor market with a criminal record. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research., p. 32-33.
150	 Harlow, C. W. (1998). Bureau of Justice statistics special report: Profile of jail inmates 1996. Washington,
D.C.: DOJ., p. 3.
151	 James, D. J. (2004). Selected characteristics of jail inmates, by conviction status, 2002 and 1996. Table.
Washington, D.C.: BJS.

40 | Beyond Second Chances

three times higher than those with a bachelor’s degree.152 Unemployment for African-Americans without a
high school diploma is more than twice that percentage, at 17.2 percent.153 Furthermore, median income for
people without a high school diploma is only 43 percent of people with a college degree.
Figure 8: Earning and unemployment rates by educational attainment
Unemployment rate

Median usual weekly earnings
Doctoral degree

$1,623

Professional degree

$1,730

Master’s degree

$1,341

Bachelor’s degree

$1,137

Associate’s degree

$798

1.5%
2.4%
2.8%
3.8%
5.0%

$738

Some college, no degree

5.4%

$678

High school diploma
Less than a high school diploma

1.7%

8.0%

$493
All workers $860

All workers 4.3%

Note: Data are for persons age 25 and over. Earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers.
Source: U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

In addition to formal education and industry-specific skills, many returning citizens do not have the proper
training to succeed in an interview or on the job. When individuals are incarcerated, they often have little to
no interpersonal skills development. These “soft” or “core” skills include the ability to get along with others in
the workplace, come to work on time every day, and have a positive attitude and work ethic.154
EMPLOYER HESITANCY TO HIRE
Perhaps the largest employment challenge facing returning citizens is that employers resist hiring employees
with criminal records. A study conducted in New York City where people alternately posed as having or not
having a criminal record showed that having a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a callback or job
offer by nearly 50 percent (28 percent vs. 15 percent). The same study showed that the “criminal record penalty” suffered by white applicants (30 percent) was roughly half the size for black applicants with a record (60
percent).155 A similar 2004 study in Milwaukee demonstrated the complex interrelationship between race and
incarceration. Black applicants with a criminal record were called back only 5 percent of the time, while white
applicants with a criminal record were more likely to be called back for a job than black applicants without
one (17 percent compared with 14 percent).156
A survey of Los Angeles employers in 2001 showed that two-thirds of employers said they would hire workers
152	 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (2016). Employment projections. Chart. Washington, D.C.: BLS.
153	 BLS. (2016, February 10). Labor force statistics from the current population survey. Washington, D.C.: BLS.
154	 Washington State Correctional Industries. (n.d.). Developing soft skills. Web. Retrieved from https://www.
washingtonci.com/offender-re-entry/developing-soft-skills.html.
155	 Pager, D., & Western, B. (2009). Investigating prisoner re-entry: The impact of conviction status on the
employment prospects of young men. Washington D.C.: DOJ., p. 4.
156	 Pager, D. (2003). The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of Sociology, 108(5), 937-75.

www.courtexcellence.org | 41

EMPLOYMENT

CHAPTER 4

with a spotty employment history and 4 in 5 would consider an application from someone unemployed for a
year or more, but only 1 in 5 said they would accept an application from someone with a criminal record.157
Increased use of criminal background checks means that it is almost impossible to avoid the issue of past convictions and arrests. A 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that more than
92 percent of U.S. employers performed criminal background checks either on all prospective employees or
for some positions.158 Of those who did conduct checks, 73 percent said that even a nonviolent misdemeanor
conviction would be “somewhat” or “very influential” in their decision not to extend a job offer.
Figure 9: When conducting criminal background checks on job candidates,
how influential is (or would be) the discovery of each of the following in your
decision to NOT extend a job offer?159
100

5%
22%

80

95%

26%

Not at all influential
58%

60

Not very influential

74%
32%

Somewhat influential

51%

Very influential

40
35%
1%
Nonviolent
misdemeanor
conviction

Arrest record that
did not result in
conviction

3%
0

24%
6%

2%

5%
Violent felony
conviction

24%

Nonviolent
felony conviction

37%

Violent
misdemeanor
conviction

20

Preventing employers from asking about criminal history during the application process is one way to combat
this hesitancy, although a recent study found that laws “banning the box” on applications may inadvertently
cause an increase in racial discrimination.160 Researchers found that when employers were not able to ask
whether an applicant had committed a crime, they were more likely to discriminate against black applicants,
with the race gap for callbacks between similar white and minority applicants increasing from 7 percent to
45 percent.161

157	 Holzer, H., Raphael, S., & Stoll, M. (2003). How willing are employers to hire ex-offenders? Focus, 23(2),
40-43.
158	 Ibid.
159	 Ibid.
160	 Agan, A. & Starr, S. (2016). Ban the box, criminal records, and statistical discrimination: A field experiment.
U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 16-012.
161	 Ibid.

42 | Beyond Second Chances

D.C. Re-Entry Landscape
For D.C. returning citizens, unemployment is likely to be as high or even higher than across the U.S.162 Among
returning citizens beginning CSOSA supervision during 2015, 34 percent of returning citizens (i.e., parole
and supervised release) reported circumstances making them unemployable (e.g., student status, retirement,
disability) after the first 90 days of supervision. Of those considered to be employable, 71 percent reported
they were unemployed.163
While people under CSOSA supervision do not represent the entire returning population, the data shed light
on the challenges returning citizens are likely to face: 31.5 percent of people on community supervision have
less than a high school or GED certificate.164 Educational attainment self-reported to the D.C. DOC is comparable: 36.2 percent of men incarcerated by the D.C. DOC said they have less than a high school education,
54.6 percent reported earning a high school or GED certificate, and only 3.1 percent reported having a college-level education. Similarly, 35.5 percent of women incarcerated by the D.C. DOC said they have less than
a high school education, 47.9 percent reported having a high school or GED certificate, and only 4.1 percent
reported having a college-level education.
Given these low levels of educational attainment, D.C.’s job market poses special challenges for the city’s returning citizens. In 2012, approximately half (49 percent) of all job openings in D.C. required a college degree.165
This is significantly higher than other metro areas, where the share of job openings requiring a college degree
or higher was 39 percent. It is projected that by 2020, 76 percent of all jobs in D.C. will require postsecondary
education, a higher rate than any state in the nation.166 That leaves only 24 percent of D.C.’s jobs that are projected to require a high school diploma or less.167

A N TWOIN E GLOVE R
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been getting
a job.
My biggest success has been getting my birth certificate and
social security card.

ACCESS TO IDENTITY DOCUMENTS
Beyond the low level of educational attainment among many of D.C.’s returning citizens, there are a number

162	 CSOSA. (2014). Community supervision program: annual performance budget request, fiscal year 2015.
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
163	 CSOSA. (2015). Employment at 90 days and educational attainment of 2015 CSOSA entrants. Unpublished
raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
164	 CSOSA. (2016). Community Supervision Program: Congressional budget justification and performance
plan/report, fiscal year 2017. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
165	 Rothwell, J. (2012). Education, job openings, and unemployment in metropolitan America. Washington,
D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
166	 Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). Recovery: Projections of jobs and education requirements
through 2020. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University.
167	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 43

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

of other challenges to securing employment. One such challenge is access to valid identification—including
birth certificates, social security cards and driver’s licenses—that are often lost during periods of incarceration.
Without this documentation, it is difficult for returning citizens to prove their identity to potential employers.
CSOSA provides a letter acknowledging a returning citizen’s D.C. residency, but it does not help returning
citizens prove their identity or U.S. citizenship, which are requirements to obtaining a REAL ID (driver's
license or non-driver's identification).168 The process to obtain the correct documentation can be frustrating
and expensive. The D.C. Council recently passed the Improving Access to Identity Documents Amendment
Act of 2016, which, if funded, would waive the fees for copies of birth certificates, driver’s licenses and nondriver’s identification for people living at less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line.169 Promisingly, DOJ
announced on November 30, 2016, that BOP will begin covering the cost of state-issued identification cards
and birth certificates, and assist people incarcerated at the BOP in obtaining these documents prior to moving
to a halfway house.170
Currently, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will waive the cost of a REAL ID if within six
months of release, a returning citizen presents the agency with a letter from CSOSA confirming D.C. residency.
MORCA has also developed a partnership with the DMV that has provided 2,250 returning citizens with
nondriver’s identifications since August 2015.171 But if it takes more than six months for the returning citizen
to obtain the appropriate supporting documentation, if the person is not under CSOSA supervision or if the
person is trying to obtain a birth certificate or social security card, the options for assistance are limited. Only
one service provider assists D.C.’s returning citizens with covering the cost of various types of identification:
TAP. Introduced in the previous chapter, TAP helps low-income and returning citizens acquire identification,
including social security cards and birth certificates.
According to a TAP volunteer, about one third of TAP clients live in halfway houses, and many more are
returning directly to the community from jail or prison. The volunteer told CCE that the program tries to treat
everyone with the utmost respect and asks about them as a person, not just as a client. “We try to create an
encouraging environment… It seems that these people are constantly told that they are going to fail or mess up.”
CRIMINAL RECORDS AND THE INTERNET
Another challenge to employment that returning citizens face is the surfacing of one’s criminal record during
the application process. The District of Columbia allows for limited sealing of criminal records,172 which can be
beneficial for people with low-level offenses committed in the past. For example, in 2015, after D.C.’s marijuana
laws changed, the D.C. Council passed a law allowing for the sealing of arrests, charges and convictions of
criminal offenses that have since been decriminalized or legalized.173 However, because of the web of agencies
involved in sealing a record, an employer may still find out about a sealed or expunged conviction because one
or more local or federal agencies has not updated its system. In addition, companies that harvest justice system
records may not purge information they had previously gathered; consequently, an individual looking for a job
or promotion may appear to be lying or misleading about a past offense, jeopardizing his or her chances for the
168	 Bread for the City. (2016). ID packet and next steps worksheet. Washington, D.C.: Bread for the City.
169	 Improving Access to Identity Documents Amendment Act of 2016, B21-0736, 21st Council. (2016).
170	 DOJ. (2016, November). Justice Department announces reforms at Bureau of Prisons to reduce recidivism
and promote inmate rehabilitation. Press Release. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.
171	 Personal communication with S. Harris, MORCA, November 8, 2016.
172	 See D.C. Code §16-802 and §16-803.
173	 D.C. Code §16-803.02 (2015).

44 | Beyond Second Chances

position or advancement. Furthermore, employers can often find information about arrests and convictions
from the internet without ever conducting an official background check. This may lead employers to make
decisions based on incomplete or unreliable information, such as arrests on charges that were later dismissed,
or even inaccurate reporting.

What Success Might Entail
While the challenges to finding and keeping a job are many, several factors are also key to helping returning
citizens successfully secure and maintain employment. This section will outline several examples of programs
and practices that may contribute to success.
PRE-RELEASE EFFORTS TOWARD EMPLOYABILITY
People who participate in a work-release job while incarcerated have a better chance of finding a job upon
release.174 One returning citizen we interviewed noted that enrollment in a work-release program might help
change an incarcerated person's mindset, since he or she would have the chance to go home to a job and would
not have to explain gaps on a resume or application.
In addition, incarcerated people who receive employment counseling prior to release often have more positive
outcomes than those who do not.175 Many correctional agencies have sought ways to provide opportunities for
job experience and training. These may include cafeteria, custodial or other prison-related tasks or common
prison industry work. However, returning citizens we spoke to indicated there is often too great a focus on
low-wage jobs and not enough focus on those skills and experiences that employers desire most.
As one returning citizen stated, “We need the chance to earn certificates. We have nothing to show for our work
while we’re [incarcerated].” For people who have a degree, there is even more limited programming available.
As one interviewee, Teresa, described, “There was beading, card-making—elementary skills—and not stuff to
actually help you get a job.”
Overcoming technological barriers would also make a difference. Many people do not have the skills, before
and after incarceration, to keep pace with changing technology in the work world, leading to intimidation,
disenchantment and discouragement. In addition, job readiness training that includes concrete tools like
up-to-date resumes and mock interviews would help returning citizens be more ready and feel more confident.
Prison education and employment training are important keys to success. People who participate in such
training have lower re-arrest rates upon release. Yet these programs lack sufficient funding and are simply not
engaging enough of the prison population.176 A recent report commissioned by the BOP identified an access
gap of approximately 10,000 programming slots for occupational training in federal prisons.177 People also

174	 Urban Institute. (2006). Understanding the challenges of prisoner re-entry: Research findings from the
Urban Institute’s Prisoner Re-entry Portfolio. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
175	 Ibid., p. 4.
176	 Western, B. (2008). From prison to work: A proposal for a national prisoner re-entry program. Washington,
D.C.: The Brookings Institution., p. 13.
177	 The Boston Consulting Group. (2016, September). Reducing recidivism through programming in the federal prison population: Final report: BOP programs assessment. Web. Retrieved from https://www.justice.
gov/dag/page/file/914031/download.

www.courtexcellence.org | 45

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

identify difficulties completing employment and education programs in prison because they may be transferred
to another facility where they may be placed at the bottom of a waitlist for program participation.178
There is tremendous variation in available job training because D.C. Code offenders are housed in BOP facilities
across the country—despite hosting 11,000 programs, only 18 programs are standardized at every BOP facility
nationwide.179 Returning citizens have reported that in some facilities, there are quality and innovative training
programs, but this is not always the case; and even where good programs exist, there are limited spots available.
While MORCA and CSOSA engage in outreach to the prisons closest to D.C., the reality remains that there
is little linkage between available prison training programs and employment in the District. Given that the
period of time immediately after release is the most vulnerable time for the returning population,180 providing
BOP training that is more relevant and available to D.C. returning citizens could make yet another difference
in success versus failure.
For people serving short sentences at D.C. DOC facilities, there are several avenues for people to receive employment readiness services. DOES has implemented the D.C. Jail Work Readiness Program, which provides men
with six weeks of prerelease workforce training and development.181 They are provided separate housing units
to support their 30-hour-per-week job readiness and life skills courses, with case managers who supervise the
transition to additional training or a direct job placement upon release.182 This program is further discussed
in Chapter 10.
EFFORTS TOWARD EMPLOYABILITY WHILE ON COMMUNITY SUPERVISION
CSOSA is also taking a number of steps to improve employment opportunities for people on probation, parole
or supervised release. Such opportunities include providing assistance in education, training, and employment;
maintaining a mentoring program; building relationships with employers to create pipelines to jobs; and partnering with DOES and its Project Empowerment, which provides people with both workforce training and a
period of paid employment with area businesses.
CSOSA measures rate of employment at 90 days. The agency has made some progress in reducing the number
of people who are unemployed and increasing the percentages of those who are employed during the past five
years, as is shown in Figure 10.

178	 Greco, V. (2015). Personal interview with V. Greco while incarcerated in a Maryland state prison. (T.
Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished interview notes on file with CCE.
179	 The Boston Consulting Group. (2016, September). Reducing recidivism through programming in the federal prison population: Final report: BOP programs assessment. Web. Retrieved from https://www.justice.
gov/dag/page/file/914031/download.
180	 Western, B. (2008). From prison to work: A proposal for a national prisoner re-entry program. Washington,
D.C.: The Brookings Institution., p. 16.
181	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016. “[The program] serves relatively
few inmates because of the way it is designed and the lack of sentenced misdemeanants in the population.”
182	 EOM. (2015). Mayor Bowser announces new programs to support the District’s returning citizens. Press
Release. Washington, D.C.: EOM.

46 | Beyond Second Chances

Figure 10: Employment of people on CSOSA parole or supervised release at 90 days183
50
44%

42%

44%

43%

40%

Employed

40
31%

31%

34%

32%

31%

Unemployable

30
20

Unemployed

16%

14%

16%

17%

15%

10
0

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Employment Status by Year

Interestingly, the 2015 unemployment figure for returning citizens at 90 days (40 percent) is very similar to
that for the U.S. population in 2015 who lost their jobs and were still looking for work at 15 weeks, or 105 days
(43 percent); see Figure 11. In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that 35 percent of people are not
in the labor force,184 similar to the percentage of “unemployable” people under CSOSA supervision.
Figure 11: Unemployed persons in U.S. by duration
of unemployment, 2015 annual average185

29+28+43x
2015 Average

29%

43%

Less than 5 weeks
5–14 weeks
15 weeks or more

28%

There are several policy implications of this data. First, supervising agencies should consider that finding a
job is challenging for anyone without a job, so expectations must be set accordingly. Also, the time frame for

183	 CSOSA. (2015). Employment of people on CSOSA parole or supervised release at 90 days. Unpublished
raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
184	 Hipple, S. F. (2015). People who are not in the labor force: Why aren't they working? Beyond the Numbers:
Employment & Unemployment, 4(15), 4.
185	 BLS. (2016). Household data annual averages: 30. Unemployed total and full-time working by duration of
employment. Washington, D.C.: BLS.

www.courtexcellence.org | 47

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

measuring employment status should be such that differences between the general unemployed population
and returning citizens can be better evaluated. For example, more research is needed to determine whether
returning citizens either fall behind or pull ahead of the general unemployed population after six months or
a year back in their communities.
Unfortunately, training programs and other employment assistance are virtually nonexistent at the BOP’s
residential re-entry centers in D.C.—Hope Village for men and Fairview for women. Run by private, for-profit
companies, these entities are not providing resources to help people secure employment and are located in an
area with few employment opportunities. Since research has shown that returning to a more disadvantaged
neighborhood leads to less employment and lower wages,186 improvements in the way halfway houses are run
in D.C. could bring about a welcome change for returning citizens.

CALVIN WOOD L AN D
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been helping
other offenders to be successful with navigating the new D.C.
systems. How to help newcomers gain employment and to find
ways to stay out of the institution.
My biggest success is not having returned to jail now for 24
years. I've started the Calvin Woodland Sr. Foundation and
became very influential in the returning citizen community
as the chief of staff for a sitting councilmember. I'm currently
outreach coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health
that speaks to some of the traumatic experiences that young
people face and the stigmas that prevent them from seeking
help.

Shifts in Employment Policy for Returning Citizens
Similar to housing public policy, with the passage of D.C.’s Ban the Box legislation in 2014, the employment
landscape for returning citizens in the nation’s capital has begun to shift. Officially known as the Fair Criminal
Record Screening Amendment Act (FCRSA), this law prohibits businesses from asking about an applicant’s
criminal record on an employment application. In addition, employers cannot ask about a criminal record until
an offer of employment has been extended. The offer may only be withdrawn based on an applicant’s criminal
record, if the employer can establish the record is relevant to the position.
Since the law’s enactment on Dec. 17, 2014, more than 417 complaints have been filed, most of which have been
resolved through mediation. According to the OHR, which is responsible for the law’s enforcement, “several
very well-known national corporations have changed their applications and hiring process due to FCRSA

186	 NIJ. (2013). Research on re-entry and employment. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.

48 | Beyond Second Chances

charges that were filed against them with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.”187 In June 2016, the Office of the
District of Columbia Auditor released a report, The Impact of “Ban the Box” in the District of Columbia, that
examined the implementation and effect of this law.188 The report concluded that in many cases, the complaints
were due to a lack of awareness among employers rather than a determination to circumvent the law.
Although some positive strides have been made, some question its effectiveness. One returning citizen, Keith,
whom CCE interviewed, said that Ban the Box “is great for people like me… but at the same time, there’s no
way I can hide that I’ve been in prison for 20 years, just no way. Because I’m a returning citizen, I can only get
a part-time job at Safeway, even though in prison I learned how to do legal work.” In 2003, the CJCC recommended that the District consider expanding tax credits for businesses that hire ex-offenders,189 however, little
progress seems to have been made on this recommendation. Legislation, such as Ban the Box, and expanding
tax credits should be further researched to determine whether they can be effective in reducing employer
hesitancy to hire.
Another returning citizen, Taylar, has also struggled to find employment. Although she eventually found a
job, she expressed her continued frustration. “In D.C., you can ‘Ban the Box,’ but you can’t ban Google. Most
people look me up and toss out my resume.”
There is no federal law prohibiting employers from requesting an applicant’s job history, but several states
have laws restricting employers’ use of arrest and criminal history records in making employment decisions.
In Pennsylvania, for example, “felony and misdemeanor convictions may be considered by the employer only
to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment in the position for which he has
applied.”190 In practice, the owner of a pharmacy might be able to reject an applicant with a felony narcotics
conviction, while a retail clothing store might not be able to reject that same person’s application.191
In many jurisdictions, people with certain criminal convictions are prohibited from obtaining licenses, permits
or certifications. In D.C., these prohibitions include pawn broker, general contractor or barber/cosmetology
licenses, among many others.192 This presents a challenge for returning citizens whose entire professional
experience might be in a field that requires a license that they are now barred from having. Furthermore, an
person’s participation in occupational training programs offered at BOP facilities,193 such as a cosmetology
program, might be of no benefit to them upon release if they are unable to obtain the licensure required to
work in that field.
Denying someone’s employment based on his or her criminal record might violate Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently based on their race,
187	 CCE e-mail correspondence with Brian Ferguson, Human Rights Officer, D.C. OHR, October 1, 2015.
188	 Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA). (2016). The impact of “Ban the Box” in the District of
Columbia, Washington, D.C.: ODCA., p. 2.
189	 CJCC. (2003). Comprehensive re-entry strategy for adults in the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.:
CJCC., p. 7.
190	 Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLSP). (n.d.). Your employment rights to not be rejected based
upon your criminal record. Philadelphia, PA: CLSP., p. 2.
191	 Ibid.
192	 Ibid., and see generally, American Bar Association (ABA). (n.d.). National inventory of collateral consequences: The District of Columbia. Online data set. Retrieved from http://www.abacollateralconsequences.
org/search/?jurisdiction=13.
193	 For a full list of occupational training programs available at BOP facilities see generally https://www.bop.
gov/inmates/custody_and_care/docs/inmate_occupational_training_directory.pdf.

www.courtexcellence.org | 49

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

K E N N E T H C. E ASTON -E L
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been finances.
My biggest success has been obtaining government employment.

national origin, color, sex, religion and any other Title VII-protected characteristic. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission’s enforcement guidance has explained that there may be a Title VII disparate treatment liability where covered employers have rejected an African-American applicant based on his criminal
record but hired a similarly situated white applicant with a comparable criminal record. Title VII prohibits
“not only decisions driven by racial animosity, but also decisions infected by stereotyped thinking.” Therefore,
an employer’s decision to reject a job applicant based on racial or ethnic stereotypes about criminality rather
than qualifications and suitability for that position is unlawful disparate treatment that violates Title VII.194
In 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
alleging that the company’s criminal background screening process violated black applicants’ Title VII rights.
In 2009 and 2011, WMATA significantly expanded and made stricter its policies regarding applicants with a
criminal history. In 2011, the policy was expanded to allow for the termination of certain current employees
for previous criminal offenses, even if they had disclosed their backgrounds in their original screenings.195 As
of the printing of this report, the case is still pending.
There has also been a growing interest in entrepreneurship for returning citizens as a way around employment barriers and toward financial stability. The D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development
(DSLBD), in conjunction with DOES, MORCA, CSOSA and Capital Area Asset Builders, began operating the
Aspire to Entrepreneurship Pilot Project this year, a training designed to help 25 returning citizens turn their
idea for a business into an operational business plan. Participants engage in a training curriculum, develop a
relationship with a mentor, and peer review one another’s plans. They are paid a stipend while in the program,
and Capital Area Asset Builders is providing an eight to one match on every dollar of funds participants save
for their business or educational expenses during the program period.196 In July 2016, the D.C. Council passed
the Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program Act of 2015,197 which, if funded, would require
DOES and DSLBD to establish a business development program similar to the Aspire pilot.
194	 See U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (n.d.). Consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: IV. Disparate treatment
discrimination and criminal records. Web. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_
conviction.cfm.
195	See Little v. Wash. Metropolitan Transit Authority, No. 1:14-cv-01289 (D. DC. filed July 30, 2014); and Background Screenings, WMATA Finance and Administration Committee. Web. Retrieved from https://www.
wmata.com/about_metro/board_of_directors/board_docs/101013_FABackgroundScreening10102013.
pdf
196	 Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity (DMGEO). (n.d.). Aspire to Entrepreneurship Pilot Program. Washington, D.C.: DMGEO.
197	 See generally District of Columbia Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program Act of 2015,
B21-0463, 21st Council, 2016.

50 | Beyond Second Chances

Promising Practices in D.C.
In addition to shifts in public policy, several D.C.-based nonprofit organizations are engaging in best practices
to help returning citizens succeed in the area of employment. We have selected three such programs and include
several others from around the country at the end of this chapter.198
D.C. CENTRAL KITCHEN’S CULINARY JOB TRAINING PROGRAM—A RECIPE FOR
RE-ENTRY EMPLOYMENT

Courtesy of D.C. Central Kitchen.

For more than 25 years, D.C. Central Kitchen’s (DCCK) Culinary Job Training program has been proving that
there are paths out of chronic unemployment. About three-quarters of the participants in the training program
have a criminal record. Of those who complete the 14-week program, only 6 percent end up back in the justice
system. The Kitchen spends $10,000 for each person who completes the job training program, but the return
on investment for both the individuals and society is significant.
Marianne Ali, director of the training program, said that DCCK quickly discovered that only teaching people
how to cook was not enough; the program also had to focus on what would support and motivate people,
and began to incorporate a number of noncooking components, such as weekly transition group meetings
for returning citizens. A clinical social worker is also available to help participants address personal issues,
such as the effects of trauma. Previous program graduates in the restaurants where participants intern, the
chefs they work with and the staff people who train them constantly reinforce that trainees are deserving and
capable of success.
Participants are actively recruited from a variety of places, including CSOSA, halfway houses, Prince George’s
and Arlington county jails and other social service agencies. In addition, DCCK holds regular information
sessions throughout the year and hosts an Agencies Relations Brunch to encourage service providers to refer
people to the Kitchen. As a result of this rigorous outreach, the trainee classes are diverse, with students ranging
in age from 21 to 66.
198	 Additional information about these organizations can be found on their websites listed at the end of their
program descriptions.

www.courtexcellence.org | 51

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

Returning Citizens' Voices
One participant in CCE’s returning citizens
focus group summed up his job search experience: “Trying to find employment is like
climbing up a mountain.” Others in the focus
group described frustration with the stigma
attached to black males, particularly those
from Ward 8. “[Employers] look at your mailing address,” another participant added, “I
felt it kept me from getting hired.” Moreover,
the new culture of applying to jobs online was
viewed as particularly problematic for people
with criminal records, because it is impersonal and does not allow returning citizens to
present themselves as quality applicants and
explain their story to employers.
Returning citizen Teresa applied for a call
center job, where she would be using her
own phone and computer in her own home.
When asked if she had ever been convicted
of a crime and she checked “yes,” the online
application logged her out, and she was
prevented from proceeding. Frustrated, she
asked, “Who could I have hurt or stole from in
my own home on my own computer?”

While the program is open to anyone, applicants need to have
a level of readiness that will enable them to fully participate.199
People with a history of substance use must be clean and sober
for 180 days. There is a five-day trial period for applicants to
fully understand the rigors of the program; after that, they must
commit to a 14-week program divided into three sections. The
first seven weeks are held at DCCK. There the students attend
a therapeutic self-empowerment class in the morning and traditional culinary classes in the afternoon. The following four
weeks consist of internships, either through DCCK’s own social
enterprise catering and meal preparation—the Kitchen serves
five thousand meals a day to 80 different organizations—or in
area restaurants. During the final three weeks, the students are
in “job search mode,” going through mock interviews, refining
resumes and developing other core workforce skills until they
graduate. DCCK remains actively engaged with their graduates
for a year postgraduation, maintaining an open door thereafter
to be a lifelong resource.
Over the years, DCCK’s focus on returning citizens has
expanded, not only because they comprise a large percentage of its target audience but also because they often have
the characteristics that enable them to be successful in the
Kitchen’s program. Many are frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to them and have a tremendous sense of
urgency to make up for lost time. In addition, for people still
under CSOSA supervision, there is the additional support that
CSOSA’s community supervision officers (CSOs) can provide.
Currently, CSOSA refers about a third of the Kitchen’s trainees.
Because of this close working relationship, DCCK was able
to negotiate with CSOSA so that meetings with CSOs would
be scheduled so as not to interfere with the training program.
https://dccentralkitchen.org/

AIMHIRE D.C.
Participants of this program are homeless, at risk for homelessness or have been on long-term unemployment;
approximately 40 percent of the participants have been involved in the criminal justice system. The program
offers some soft skills training but mostly does on-the-job training and job placement, helping clients to attain
certificates applicable to jobs. The timeline for each participant ranges from two weeks to two months, with
an average of two months to place a client into a job. AimHire offers three months of retention services, and it
works with the client and the employer to proactively resolve any issues that may arise so as to promote more

199	 Due to restrictions on some of their funding, registered sex offenders cannot be accepted.

52 | Beyond Second Chances

long-term employment. According to director Jermaine Hampton, AimHire has an approximately 86 percent
retention rate. https://friendshipplace.org/job-placement/
STRIVE D.C.
Modeled after STRIVE New York in New York City, STRIVE D.C. offers skills training in construction and
customer service, complete with case management and certification for job required skills, such as CPR/first
aid, rigging and food handling. According to its website, STRIVE D.C. has served more than 2,400 residents,
placing about 60 percent of them in full-time jobs, and 70 percent of those are continuing to work or to pursue
additional education. http://strivedc.org/introduction/

Promising Practices Nationwide
Organizations around the U.S., like the ones we describe next, are also engaging in best practices to make
returning citizens’ experiences more successful.
SECOND CHANCE SAN DIEGO
Second Chance is another organization based on STRIVE’s model. Its motto is “Better Attitudes, Better Preparation.” Its website boasts placing more than 4,000 graduates into employment since 2003, with 1,754 local
employers and an average starting wage of $10.05 through its job readiness training. Second Chance, like
STRIVE, emphasizes individual accountability, and participants are expected to engage in 160 hours of instruction. http://www.secondchanceprogram.org/job-readiness-training

CO RW IN K N IGH T
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been resources.
My biggest success has been becoming a business man—
nonprofits, catering, and youth programs.

THE PHILADELPHIA MAYOR’S OFFICE OF REINTEGRATION SERVICES (RISE) JOB
READINESS TRAINING
This program is offered through the city specifically for returning citizens. RISE focuses on soft-skills training
and runs for three consecutive weeks. http://rise.phila.gov/services/job-readiness-training/
WISCONSIN COMMUNITY SERVICES
This nonprofit agency offers more than 40 programs, providing various services in southeastern Wisconsin, one
of them being workforce development. The employment and training services programs include employment
attachment assistance and long-term career planning, computer literacy, sector-specific training and support

www.courtexcellence.org | 53

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

services through case management. It also provides “employer first” skills trade trainings in the construction
field through its pre-apprenticeship certificate training. These training services are designed specifically for
returning citizens. http://www.wiscs.org/programs/policy_and_workforce/training/
THE OSBORNE ASSOCIATION, NEW YORK
The Osborne Association widely develops programs for a broad range of treatment, education and vocational
services each year to more than 8,000 people who have had conflict with the law. Their career center provides
career development and coaching, soft skills training, environment and financial literacy education, and job
search and retention support. The four-week program at Osborne includes traditional workforce development
workshops (cover letter and resume writing, soft-skills, workplace socialization, interview techniques), facilitated therapy with a focus on job readiness, environmental literacy, financial literacy and hard skills training
with an introduction of three building trades: carpentry, electrical work and plumbing.
Participants are tested in math, reading and comprehension. This is done with the Tests of Adult Basic Education,
and participants must test at the ninth grade level in all three areas. Additionally, they must pass a drug screen,
show proof of involvement with the criminal justice system and provide documents of identification. Participants are trained in a 10-hour occupational safety and health training course and on-site training preparation
for the food handler’s certification at the end of the program. Upon completion of the program, participants
are prepared and coached to interview for employment opportunities with direct-partner-employers, and many
apply for positions with private-sector companies. http://www.osborneny.org/programs.cfm?programID=52

GE RAL D CL ARK
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen is finding a
job.
My biggest success has been being back together with
my family.

SAFER FOUNDATION, CHICAGO
Upon entering Safer Foundation’s program, clients go through a six-hour orientation and intake session. Clients
complete assessments to identify barriers and interests and are reminded that they are responsible for putting
in the time and effort to get their lives back on track. After completing orientation, clients are able to take a
job readiness class that is held weekly. They learn essential skills, such as interviewing, workplace etiquette
and how to address their background. Safer Foundation offers supportive services as a part of its employment
services to address barriers returning citizens may face, such as court-mandated substance abuse counseling, anger management and mental health issues. The Foundation also has sector managers who work with
employers and Safer’s staffing company to discuss hiring its clients. Safer’s Transitional Employment Program
places its transitional employment clients into 90-day employment opportunities to help them get back on
their feet. Its website has a page specifically for employers that includes incentives for hiring returning citizens.
http://www.saferfoundation.org/

54 | Beyond Second Chances

C L A RE N CE AL E XAN D E R
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been trying to
move around in the halfway house.
My biggest success has been joining the DOES Project Empowerment Program.

Recommendations
Employment is a key element of success for most people, not just those with a history of incarceration. Returning citizens need and deserve more opportunities that will help them find and keep a job to support themselves,
their families and their communities. Based on the challenges we have covered in this chapter and the many
examples of what employment success could look like, we offer the following seven recommendations:
1.	 To bridge the gap between low levels of educational attainment among D.C.’s returning citizens and D.C.’s
changed and changing job market, new and better opportunities for education, training and skill-building
are critical. Expand adult education opportunities with a focus on high school diplomas, secondary
education and job skills that are in high demand in local markets.
2.	 Returning citizens, like many people in need in the District of Columbia, seek assistance and support from a
variety of organizations, government programs and entities scattered through the city with widely divergent
missions and resources. Going to one location for ID, another for food bank access and yet another for
help with resumes and job placement can be time consuming and frustrating. The District government,
in consultation with service providers, should develop and fund comprehensive programs that provide
not just employment skills and training but also meet the holistic needs of returning citizens.
3.	 We have presented examples from supervision agencies like CSOSA and service-providing organizations
like DCCK where flexibility—and partnerships—have resulted in positive outcomes for returning citizens.
Scheduling supervisory meetings so as not to interfere with training schedules seems straightforward and
reasonable. Yet this type of flexibility is likely the exception rather than the rule. D.C. criminal justice
agencies should continue to increase the flexibility of the requirements for probation, parole and
supervision so that they do not jeopardize or impede work or training.
4.	 Despite legislative reform, like Ban the Box, and follow-up efforts to counter discriminatory practices among
employers, the stigma of having a criminal record and serving time affects thousands of people in D.C. and
around the country every single day. Moving the needle on employer hesitancy to hire will require knowing
more about what is behind that hesitancy and what we can do about it. Research should be undertaken
that asks employers about incentives that would encourage them to hire returning citizens, and such
incentives should then be developed, implemented and evaluated.
5.	 Because D.C. Code offenders are housed in prisons all over the country, their opportunities to enroll in
and complete training programs while incarcerated are limited. It has also been shown that there are few
linkages between available prison training programs and employment opportunities in the District. Finally,
it is clear that the vulnerability of returning citizens is greatest immediately after release. More can be done

www.courtexcellence.org | 55

CHAPTER 4

EMPLOYMENT

to provide pathways for success in these critical areas. The BOP should replicate quality job training
programs at more facilities where D.C. Code offenders are housed, and the D.C. DOC should gather
the necessary data to track outcomes from its work-release program and expand participation in the
practices that work.
6.	 Identity documents are necessary to start a new job, but financial assistance for returning citizens to obtain
these documents is limited and scattered over various agencies and non-profits. The mayor and D.C.
Council should work together to fund the Improving Access to Identity Documents Amendment Act
of 2016 in the next budget, and DMV, DOC, MORCA, and CSOSA should work in conjunction with
non-profits to educate returning citizens about the benefits of this law.
7.	 The Council for Court Excellence worked with the D.C. Council nearly a decade ago to develop legislation
to permit the sealing of some criminal records, but the process today is complicated, limited and in need of
reform. The D.C. Council, in consultation with key stakeholders, should not only consider legislation
to expand the type of offenses that are eligible for sealing and expungement but also consider requiring private companies that collect criminal records to purge information about arrest or conviction
records that have been sealed or expunged.

56 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 5

Education

Education is crucial to employability in the District of Columbia, where soon more than 7
in 10 jobs will require a college degree.200 While the District has made strides in meeting
the complex educational needs of returning citizens, programs and policies must continue to be improved. This chapter will present data on levels of educational attainment
nationally and in D.C. for men and women, along with a description and analysis of the
barriers that returning citizens face, in prison and upon return, related to education and
training. One promising practice, the Academy of Hope Public Charter School, provided
CCE with invaluable comment on the challenges facing students who have served time
and how the school is responding.

National Context
Education is an essential asset to re-entry. Without adequate education, returning citizens may be unable to
secure a wage-earning job or one that pays a wage that can support them, their families and their legal obligations. Most returning citizens, however, do not have the education necessary to be competitive in the job
market. Nationally, 56 percent of men in the general population have completed some college or higher, while
only 23 percent of men in prison have had some post-high school education.201 Just 15 percent of all men have
not completed high school, compared with 40 percent of men in prison.202
Women in prison also have lower levels of educational attainment than the general population, although women
in the general population and in prison are more likely to have education past high school and less likely to have
not completed high school.203 Only 14 percent of women overall do not have a high school degree, compared
with 37 percent of women in prison.204
Across the U.S., making up for this educational deficit often begins in prison or jail. Programs in prison typ-

200	 Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2010). Help wanted: Projections of jobs and education requirements
through 2018. Washington, D.C.: Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.
201	 CSOSA. (2014). Community supervision program: Annual performance budget request, fiscal year 2015.
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
202	 Ibid.
203	 Ewert, S. & Wildhagen, T. (2011). Educational characteristics of prisoners: Data from the ACS. (Working
paper number SEHDS-WP2011-08). Washington, D.C.: USCB.
204	 Ibid., p. 18.

www.courtexcellence.org | 57

CHAPTER 5

EDUCATION

ically offer GED classes, and some offer college classes and special education options.205 While incarcerated
people are generally not eligible for Pell Grants, the new Second Chance Pell Pilot Program will offer financial
assistance to a small number of people in prison for the first time since the 1990s.206 The program will enroll
more than 12,000 incarcerated students, likely to be released within five years of beginning coursework, by
partnering with 67 colleges and more than 100 federal and state penal institutions.207
In unveiling the program in June 2016, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez explained the choice of the name:
“Many of the people that we’re trying to help frankly haven’t had a fair first chance… people with a criminal
record have remarkable potential, and it’s up to us to unlock that potential.”208
A 2013 study showed that correctional education programs make a difference: Participants were 43 percent less
likely to recidivate than those who did not participate.209 Prison-based educational programs may also improve
a person’s chances of obtaining employment after release. The odds of securing a job in the community upon
release were 13 percent higher for people who participated in these programs.210 The DOJ just announced
on November 30, 2016, that it plans to build a “semi-autonomous school district within the federal prison
system, which will offer programs for literacy, high school diplomas and post-secondary education, along with
expanded opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities.”211 When implemented, this will be a major
step in the right direction.
Pursuing college may present a different set of barriers for returning citizens. The Common Application for
college admissions includes the question, “Have you ever been adjudicated guilty or convicted of a misdemeanor,
felony, or other crime?” This can lead to discrimination against applicants; a survey of colleges indicated that
94 percent viewed convictions for a violent crime or sex offense negatively when it came to admissions, while 9
in 10 viewed any felony conviction negatively and 3 out of 4 viewed drug and alcohol convictions negatively.212
Sixty-six percent of colleges and universities collect criminal justice information during the application process.213 Of those, less than half have written policies on how to use this information, and less than 40 percent
train their staff on how to interpret applicants’ criminal history.214
Finally, financial aid is difficult for returning citizens to acquire, given that the federal government restricts

205	 Brazzell, D., Crayton, A., Mukamal, D., Solomon, A. L., & Lindahl, N. (2009). From the classroom to the community: Exploring the role of education during incarceration and re-entry. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.,
p. 7.
206	 U.S. Department of Education (ED). (2015). U.S. Department of Education launches Second Chance Pell
pilot program for incarcerated individuals. Press release. Washington, D.C.: ED.
207	 ED. (2016). 12,000 incarcerated students to enroll in postsecondary educational and training programs
through Education Department’s new Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. Press release. Washington, D.C.:
ED.
208	 Korte, G. (2016, June). Pell grants for prisoners: Obama to give inmates a second chance at college. USA
Today.
209	 Davis, L. M., Bozick, R., Steele, J. L., Saunders, J., & Miles, J. N. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of correctional education, a meta-analysis of programs that provide education to incarcerated adults. Santa Monica,
CA: Rand., p. 32.
210	 Ibid.
211	 Yates, S. (2016, November). Reforming federal halfway houses. Washington, D.C.: DOJ, Office of the Attorney General.
212	 Center for Community Alternatives (CCA). (n.d.). Reconsidered: The use of criminal history records in college admissions. Brooklyn, NY: CCA., p. 18.
213	 Ibid., p. 8.
214	 Ibid., p. 16.

58 | Beyond Second Chances

financial aid assistance for at least a year following release of people convicted of felony drug offenses.215

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
The District of Columbia is, in many ways, a reflection of the national context. CSOSA data from 2015 indicate
that approximately 34 percent of people on parole and more than 43 percent of people on supervised release
did not have a GED or high school diploma.216 This is problematic in light of the District’s job market, as was
described in Chapter 4, with many living-wage jobs and a very high percentage of all jobs in D.C. requiring
postsecondary education.217
These lower levels of educational attainment impact employability. As Figure 12 indicates, those returning
citizens in D.C. with a GED or high school diploma in 2015 were nearly twice as likely to be employed than
those who did not complete high school.
Figure 12: Employment of people on CSOSA parole or
supervised release at 90 days by educational attainment, 2015218
50
Less than high school

55
40

3%

35

8%

30
12%

20

10
5
0

High school diploma
Postsecondary

3%
7%

25

15

GED diploma

8%

2%
4%
5%

1%
17%

15%

5%
Employed

2%

1%
15%

Unemployed

Unemployable

Unknown
Employment

D.C. returning citizens face many of the same barriers to education and training while in prison as their counterparts around the country. While the BOP provides a myriad of educational, vocational, and occupational
programs at its facilities throughout the country, not every incarcerated person is eligible to participate in

215	 Grove, J. (2011). Focus on education for the formerly incarcerated. Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board., p. 2.
216	 CSOSA. (2015). Community supervision program: Annual performance budget request, fiscal year 2016.
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA. Estimates are based on offender populations as of September 30, 2014.
217	 Byrd, T. (2013, October 10). Education and the needs of returning citizens. Education Town Hall. Washington, D.C.: We Act Radio.
218	 CSOSA. (2015). Employment at 90 days and educational attainment of 2015 CSOSA entrants. Unpublished
raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE. Data categorized as "unknown" not included in the
above chart, as it was less than 5 percent for each category.

www.courtexcellence.org | 59

CHAPTER 5

EDUCATION

every program.219 Some programs, for example, only accept participants with certain custody levels. D.C. Code
offenders may be excluded from some BOP programs due to their risk assessment score or custody level.220
As Philip Fornaci explained in testimony to Congress, “Unlike most federal prisoners whose sentences were
handed down in federal court under federal charges, D.C. prisoners are primarily convicted of local ‘street
crimes.’ As a result, most D.C. prisoners tend to be held in the highest security facilities, at least for the first
several years of their sentences… If they are serving long sentences, D.C. prisoners can anticipate being moved
to a different prison every three to five years, and often more frequently.”221 Therefore, if a program is only offered
to people in minimum security, a person with a higher custody level will not be approved for participation.
All BOP programs are developed with a time frame, which also affects a person’s eligibility for participation. For
example, some programming is only available within a certain number of months from release; people serving
indeterminate sentences under the old parole system, have reported that BOP staff are using the “top number”
rather than the “bottom number” in determining a release date, thus making them ineligible.222 Furthermore,
as was discussed in Chapters 2 and 4, waitlists for BOP programs are significant. This, too, presents a challenge
for D.C. Code offenders who are frequently transferred between facilities,223 which may limit their ability to
participate in certain programming.
Financial barriers exist as well. One CCE focus group participant said
that while he was incarcerated in California, he was involved in a solar
panel training program, but did not have the few hundred dollars he
needed to fully complete the training. Furthering one’s education can
become an overwhelming challenge for returning citizens who have
other financial responsibilities.
Another issue is the availability and relevancy of the training. Teresa
told CCE she knew people in prison who had participated in training
programs in cosmetology and welding, but these programs typically
admitted only 15 people at a time. Additionally, Teresa was critical that
many of the training programs available were not relevant to the outside
world and that her friends left prison thinking they had qualifications,
only to find that they needed other training entirely.
With an emphasis on vocational training in prison, college-level classes
are less common. As one returning citizen referred to her time in prison,

TYR O N E PA R K E R

Returning Citizen

219	 For more information on the types of programs administered by BOP, see generally, BOP. (2015). A
directory of Bureau of Prisons’ national programs. Web. Retrieved from https://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/docs/BOPNationalProgramCatalog.pdf
220	 Housing of D.C. felons far away from home: Effects on crime, recidivism and re-entry: Hearings before the
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, (2010). (Testimony of Philip
Fornaci).
221	 Ibid., p. 2.
222	 Byrd, T. (2013, October 10). Education and the needs of returning citizens. Education Town Hall. Washington, D.C.: We Act Radio.
223	 Housing of D.C. felons far away from home: Effects on crime, recidivism and re-entry: Hearings before the
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, (2010). (Testimony of Philip
Fornaci)., p. 2. As was discussed in previous chapters, incarcerated people who are transferred from one
prison to another are placed at the bottom of the waitlists for programs at their new facility.

60 | Beyond Second Chances

RO BE RT AN D RE ' ROS E
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been today's
technology.
My biggest success has been being personally optimistic. I
see nothing but success and opportunities through my eyes.

“There were no college courses there, so I couldn’t do any classes… That would have been good to have.” In
some ways, having a college education may work against people while they are incarcerated. Unlike many
returning citizens, one of CCE’s interviewees, Taylar, had a college degree before her incarceration; prison
staff determined she had “no educational deficits” and consequently made her ineligible for classes or training.
It is also the case that some returning citizens have learning disabilities and behavioral health problems.224
Consequently, obtaining a correct diagnosis, treatment and special accommodations are critical for a returning
citizen to succeed educationally.
For incarcerated youth with special needs, this is a particularly serious issue, because special education services are often not made available to them. In response, over the past 25 years, the U.S. Department of Justice
and nongovernmental organizations have initiated class action litigation in the District of Columbia because
of the lack of education services available to incarcerated people, especially those in juvenile facilities with
disabilities.225 The Department of Justice claims that inadequate education practices for these youth violate
their statutory rights to education services.226 According to Joseph Tulman, professor at the University of the
District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, “The failure by the BOP to provide special education
services also violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”227 Failing to provide eligible incarcerated
people with special education and related services “is discriminatory and impedes their access to education
and rehabilitation services to which they are entitled while in the legal custody of the BOP.”228
Once released, returning citizens find other challenges to pursuing their education. CCE’s interview with the
staff of the Academy of Hope Public Charter School revealed a number of such challenges. Some students have
a high school or GED certificate from years past and think that they are ready to pursue a college degree or
technical education, but when they must demonstrate their subject-matter knowledge, it becomes clear that
some of this knowledge has evaporated during their years of incarceration. Rather than going on to higher
education, these individuals must relearn language and math skills. Similarly, some people with a high school
degree may have received a diploma without ever mastering the material. Returning citizens may become
224	 Brazzell, D., Crayton, A., Mukamal, D., Solomon, A. L., & Lindahl, N. (2009). From the classroom to the community: Exploring the role of education during incarceration and re-entry. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.,
p. 9.
225	 Dignity in Schools Campaign. (2008). The right to education in the juvenile and criminal justice systems
in the United States: Submission to Vernor Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Human
Rights Council, United Nations. New York City. Web. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/
images/asset_upload_file164_38663.pdf
226	 Ibid.
227	 Tulman, J. B. (n.d.). Statement by Joseph B. Tulman to the Charles Colson Task Force. Washington, D.C.
228	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 61

CHAPTER 5

EDUCATION

demoralized when they realize they have even further to go than they thought.229
In addition to academic challenges, returning citizens face logistical problems in pursuing their education.
Academy staff told CCE that, upon their release, returning citizens must secure housing and employment and
re-establish bonds with their families. Pursuing education requires a significant financial and time commitment, one that returning citizens are often unable to make upon their re-entry. One new school aiming to help
students overcome these challenges is the Goodwill Excel Center. Opened in August 2016 in downtown D.C.,
this public charter school caters to adult students who face barriers to attendance by providing transportation
stipends, compact eight-week semesters, on-site child care and both high school diploma and industry certification tracks.230
Maintaining needed government benefits can also be an issue. As currently structured, Temporary Aid to Needy
Families (TANF) does not emphasize the importance of education—just employment, any employment.231
Therefore, if a returning citizen is enrolled in classes and on TANF and the TANF case manager finds them a
job, the individual must prioritize the job over the education, even if the job may not be on a career track that
would lead to higher earnings in the future.
The real expansion that is required for success is a bridge between prison education and training and re-entry.
As the U.S. Department of Education stated, “Strengthening and aligning education services provided in correctional institutions and the community to support successful movement between the two,” can make a more
streamlined transition for returning citizens.232 Another major component of connecting correctional and
community education involves planning the education path of incarcerated citizens before their release. This
involves finding appropriate educational programs, ensuring they have the flexibility to fit into the returning
citizen’s life and making sure financial aid is available for people who need it.
Overall, success would be the improvement of prison education systems, the creation of a strong system of
interaction between prison education and postprison education, and the development of more accessible—and
flexible—programs for returning citizens. At least one jurisdiction is taking strong steps in that direction. In
January 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo reintroduced plans to provide college education to people in New
York state prisons, saying, “Far too many of our young people end up trapped in our criminal justice system
with no path out… it can’t be that every door is closed except the one back into prison.”233

229	 Academy of Hope. (2015). Interview with Academy of Hope Public Charter School staff. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished notes on file with CCE.
230	 Goodwill Excel Center. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.D.C.goodwill.org/
excel-center/frequently-asked-questions/.
231	 See generally, Hahn, H., Kassabian, D., & Zedlewski, S. (2012). TANF work requirements and state strategies
to fulfill them. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
232	 Tolbert, M. (2012). A re-entry education model: Supporting education and career advancement in low skill
individuals in corrections. Washington, D.C.: ED., p. 7.
233	 McKinley, J. & McKinley, J. C. (2016, January 10). Cuomo proposes higher-education initiative in New York
prisons. The New York Times.

62 | Beyond Second Chances

Promising Practices
THE ACADEMY OF HOPE PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL
D.C.’s Academy of Hope Public Charter School is an adult public charter school with campuses in Wards 5 and 8. The Academy provides
“tailored educational services for adults who, due to low-literacy and
insufficient basic skills, are not able to find or retain living-wage employment and are often trapped in a cycle of poverty.”234 While the Academy
does not specifically track students who are returning citizens, it knows
from the conversations between staff and students that many of the
latter have served time.
To accommodate the complex lives of its students, the Academy offers
a great deal of flexibility, offering day and night programming at two
locations. It also permits students to put their education on hold for a
term or more and return when they are ready. Moreover, the Academy
does not require students to take a minimum number of credits.

SH A M O N VI N E S

Returning Citizen

Academy staff told CCE that although many of its students had been in
prison, few indicated on their enrollment form that they had heard about the school while incarcerated. Students cited word of mouth, the library and online resources as the typical way they learned about the program.
The school is also doing more to respond to the unique needs of returning citizens. It recently applied for and
received funding to test 200 adult students for learning disabilities. This is essential because it can provide such
students with extra time on the GED and other standardized tests. The same is true of other disabilities and
health issues that may require an individualized track for the person to be successful.
It is important to recognize that achieving educational goals is as much about progress as it is success. Academy staff noted that when people are better able to manage their finances, read to their kids and help them
with their schoolwork, they feel more self-confident overall. Jamie Kamlet, advocacy manager at the Academy,
described a man working on his high school degree who was still struggling with multiplication. When he
passed a test on the five times table, he held up his test and kissed it. Whether it is achieving competency in
mathematics or going to college, all returning citizens have a right to an education that meets them where they
are both academically and personally.
The environment fostered by the Academy is proving successful. In the 2015 school year, 71 percent of the
Academy’s students who attempted the GED exam passed; 77 percent of students who attempted the IC3 exam
(a “digital literacy” certification) passed; and 82 percent of learners at the school entered a postsecondary
educational, apprenticeship, or occupational skills training program.235 http://aohdc.org/

234	 Academy of Hope. (n.d.). Our impact. Web. Retrieved from http://aohD.C..org/what-we-do/our-impact.
235	 Academy of Hope. (2015). Annual report: School year 2014-201, Washington, D.C.: Academy of Hope., p. 9.

www.courtexcellence.org | 63

CHAPTER 5

EDUCATION

Recommendations
This chapter has focused on how education is crucial to employability, nationally and in the District of Columbia, and correlates to lower
levels of recidivism. Returning citizens need and deserve increased and
improved education programs in prison and upon their release. Based
on the challenges we have outlined—and the description of what success might entail—we offer the following five recommendations:
1.	 Lower levels of educational attainment impact employability, so
much so that returning citizens with a GED or high school diploma
are much more likely to find a job than those without. The District
of Columbia government, in consultation with the nonprofit
community, should continue to increase the availability of high
school diploma programs that offer flexible schedules and other
supports to adults.

R O N A LD CO LE S

Returning Citizen

2.	 Pursuing education requires a significant financial and time commitment, and some returning citizens may find they cannot meet
these challenges. Moreover, restrictions on federal aid for education may complicate the process further.
MORCA, social service providers and re-entry community advocacy organizations should focus on
assisting returning citizens with enrolling in educational courses and applying for financial aid as part
of their transition home.
3.	 CCE’s research has uncovered the possibility that D.C. Code offenders are being excluded from or declared
ineligible for educational programs while in federal custody. The BOP should increase access to GED and
college courses at BOP facilities for D.C. Code offenders.
4.	 While the District has made some strides in meeting the complex educational needs of returning citizens,
programs and policies must continue to be improved. The D.C. DOC should undertake to have an evaluation conducted concerning the quality of its GED and special education services that would include
the establishment and implementation of a formal improvement plan.
5.	 Learning disabilities and behavioral health problems contribute to the negative school experiences that
often precede incarceration. A correct diagnosis, treatment and special accommodations are critical. The
BOP should make special education services available at BOP facilities to people under 22 years of age
or house those who qualify at the D.C. DOC where they can utilize existing services.

64 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 6

Physical and Behavioral Health

Introduction
Returning citizens experience more health problems than the general population,236
commonly facing mental illness, chronic physical illnesses and substance use disorders.
There is also growing concern surrounding America’s aging prison population and their
medical needs.237 This chapter will cover the toll that physical and mental illness has had
on returning citizens and will highlight certain issues like HIV or AIDS that are particularly
prevalent in the returning citizen community, followed by promising practices and a
series of recommendations.

National Context
According to BOP data, incarcerated people age 50 and older are the fastest growing segment nationally,
increasing 25 percent from 24,857 in FY2009 to 30,962 in FY2013.238 It is estimated that the BOP has spent
19 percent of its overall budget on this increasing population that is more costly to incarcerate due to their
increased medical needs. While it is constitutionally required to provide health care in correctional facilities,239
the care can be of variable quality.
Once people are released, however, a lack of health insurance and other barriers contribute to lapses in treatment and to more serious health outcomes.240 Studies have shown that people with physical and behavioral
health problems while in jail and prison have more re-entry difficulties upon release, particularly with respect
to employment and recidivism.241
Many justice-involved individuals have substance use disorders, either alone or co-occurring with mental illness.
As of 2015, of the 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons and jails, 1.5 million met the medical criteria for substance

236	 Bingswanger, I. A. (2010, October 25). Chronic medical diseases among jail and prison inmates. American
College of Correctional Physicians. Retrieved from http://societyofcorrectionalphysicians.org/corrdocs/corrdocs-archives/winter-2010/chronic-medical-diseases-among-jail-and-prison-inmates
237	 Chiu, T. (2010, April). It’s about time: aging prisoners, increasing costs, and geriatric release. New York.: Vera
Institute of Justice.
238	 Office of the Inspector General. (2016). The impact of an aging inmate population on the Federal Bureau of
Prisons. Washington, D.C.: DOJ. Data are for the entire BOP population, not only D.C. Code offenders.
239	 ACLU National Prison Project. (2005). Know your rights: Medical, dental and mental health care. Washington, D.C.: ACLU.
240	 NIC. (n.d.). Mentally ill persons in corrections. Web. Retrieved from http://nicic.gov/mentalillness
241	 Ibid.

www.courtexcellence.org | 65

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

use or addiction, as is illustrated below in Figure 13.242 Moreover, 458,000 had histories of substance use and
were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offense, committed their offense to get
money to buy drugs, were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation, or shared some combination of
these characteristics.243
Additionally, many people in the justice system use drugs to self-medicate as a way to cope with trauma. In
a 1999 study, 19 percent of incarcerated people in state prisons, 10 percent of incarcerated people in federal
prisons and 16 percent in local jails or on probation reported they had been physically or sexually abused
before their current sentence.244 These figures are higher for women. Slightly less than half of the women in
correctional populations have indicated past abuse, compared with 1 in 10 men.245 There is a strong relationship
between having been physically and/or sexually abused and being dependent on or abusing drugs and alcohol.246
Moreover, many people in the justice system have serious mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder
or schizophrenia.247 More than half of the people in state prisons and 45 percent of the people in federal prisons
have symptoms or a recent history of mental health problems.248 Incarcerated people in state prisons are four
times as likely as adults in the general population to have a serious mental illness.249
Figure 13: Percent of prison and jail inmates with
mental health and substance use disorders, 2010250
50
42%

41%

Men

40

Women
30

26%

23%

20%

20

14%
8%

10
0

28%

Both mental health
and substance use
disorders

Mental health
disorders only

Substance use
disorders only

None

242	 The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). (2009). Behind bars II: Substance abuse
and America's prison population. New York: CASA.
243	Ibid.
244	 Harlow, C. W. (1999). Prior abuse reported by inmates and probationers. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.
245	Ibid.
246	 Jane Leibschultz, J. B.-T. (2002). The relationship between sexual and physical abuse and substance abuse
consequences. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 22(3),121-128.
247	 Kim, K., Becker-Cohen, M., & Serakos, M. (2015). The processing and treatment of mentally ill persons in the
criminal justice system. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
248	 James, D. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. Washington, D.C.:
DOJ., p. 22.
249	 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2013). Behavioral health barometer: United States, 2013. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
250	 CASA. (2009). Behind bars II: Substance abuse and America’s prison population. New York: CASA.

66 | Beyond Second Chances

Reducing substance use dependence while in prison can have a highly positive effect on re-entry outcomes. As
Figure 14 illustrates, as few as 15 percent of people in need of treatment receive it while they are incarcerated.251
Figure 14: Percent of prisoners meeting criteria for drug dependence or substance use disorders who are receiving treatment or other programming (self-help or peer counseling)252

100

14.8%

17.4%
No treatment or programs

80

Other programs

34.8%
60
40

41.0%

50.4%
41.6%

20
0

Treatment

State prisoners

Federal Prisoners

C H E ARIE PH E L PS -E L
The struggle is real. I feel like a champ. The battle with mental
health, staying clean and sober, and keeping my head above
water.
My biggest success as a returning citizen has been being free.

Returning citizens with substance use issues frequently return to drug use for a variety of reasons, including
lack of treatment options that fit into their other obligations. Fewer than 1 in 10 participate in formal treatment programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.253 One study found that within 8 to 10
months after release, roughly 4 in 10 returning citizens with substance use problems reported alcohol or other
drug use.254 The period directly after release, which is a particularly stressful time, can lead to relapse; in fact,
there is a three- to eightfold increased risk of drug-related death during the first two weeks following release.255
Regarding returning citizens with mental illnesses, many leave prison without sufficient medication supplies
and may face a gap in services while they wait for Medicaid or Social Security disability benefits to be rein-

251	 JHC. (2013). Health disparities in the criminal justice system: Quick facts. New York: JHC., p. 22.
252	 Ibid.
253	 Mallik-Kane, K., & Vischer, C. A. (2008). Health and prisoner re-entry: How physical, mental, and substance
abuse conditions shape the process of reintegration. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute., p. 59.
254	 Ibid.
255	 JHC. (2013). Health disparities in the criminal justice system: Quick facts. New York: JHC.

www.courtexcellence.org | 67

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

CHAPTER 6

stated. Carl Wicklund, former executive director of the American Parole and Probation Association, noted in
an interview with CCE that in many communities it can take a long time for a treatment slot to open.256 He
added that many county service providers simply do not have the capacity to handle the sheer numbers of
returning citizens with mental health needs.257
People being released from prison or jail may not have connections to mental health treatment, other supportive
services or housing. When this is the case, many people can quickly decompensate, causing them to experience
a worsening of symptoms, which can in turn result in behavior that leads to a violation of release conditions or
a new crime.258 They may also have difficulty keeping track of meetings with their parole or probation officer,
and other obligations, if they are under supervision.

“When I was with the Maryland Department of Public Safety for 14 years,
the staff explained to me that mental health treatment was designed
to do nothing more than stabilize [inmates’] experience while in prison
or while in jail. It had little to do with stabilizing that experience in the
community.”
LEONARD A. SIPES, JR.
	

Source: Sipes, L. A., Jr. (2006). Returning from prison to Washington D.C.—"We make transition possible.”
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA., p. 2.

Returning citizens with mental health issues have significant trouble acquiring and maintaining employment.
In one study, only 36 percent of men and 26 percent of women with mental health conditions had found any
employment within the first two to three months out of prison.259
Chronic physical ailments are another common characteristic of people in prison and jail. Compared to the
general adult population, incarcerated individuals are more likely to have hypertension, asthma, arthritis, cervical cancer (for women) and hepatitis.260 HIV and AIDS infection is another particularly pervasive problem
in our nation’s prisons, with a rate five times higher than in the general public261 and with many undiagnosed
prior to incarceration.262 We will return to the subject of HIV and AIDS in a forthcoming section on the District
of Columbia, which has one of the highest HIV-infection rates in the U.S.

256	 Wicklund, C. (2015). Phone Interview. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished notes on file with CCE.
257	 Ibid.
258	 Human Rights Watch. (2009, September 22). Mental illness, human rights and US prisons: Human Rights
Watch statement for the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Human Rights and the
Law. Web. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/09/22/mental-illness-human-rights-and-us-prisons#_Prisons_and_Prisoners
259	 Mallik-Kane, K., & Visher, C. A. (2008). Health and prisoner re-entry: How physical, mental, and substance
abuse conditions shape the process of reintegration. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute., p. 38.
260	 Bingswanger, I. A. (2010, October 25). Chronic medical diseases among jail and prison inmates. American
College of Correctional Physicians. Retrieved from http://societyofcorrectionalphysicians.org/corrdocs/corrdocs-archives/winter-2010/chronic-medical-diseases-among-jail-and-prison-inmates
261	 Justice & Health Connect (JHC). (2013). Health disparities in the criminal justice system: Quick facts. New
York: JHC.
262	 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, July 22). HIV among incarcerated populations. Web.
Retrieved from http://www.cD.C..gov/hiv/group/correctional.html.

68 | Beyond Second Chances

As with mental health treatment, continued treatment of physical health conditions upon release from prison
can falter as well. One study indicated that 2 in 3 men and 3 in 4 women with physical health conditions received
treatment during prison.263 Eight to 10 months after release, people receiving treatment for these conditions
dropped to half for men and 60 percent for women.264

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
The myriad issues concerning the health and mental health of D.C. returning citizens in many ways mirrors
the national context. The District has one of the highest HIV-infection rates in the U.S.,265 with approximately
2.5 percent of D.C. residents living with HIV.266 D.C.’s efforts to combat HIV have made progress: The rate of
people living with HIV has fallen since 2009, and there has been a 60 percent decrease in new diagnoses.267
Despite this achievement, HIV is still a prevalent issue among the incarcerated community. In 2010, 931 people
living with HIV in D.C. were diagnosed in jail.268 However, those numbers decreased dramatically by FY2016
when 46 people living with HIV were diagnosed—a 95 percent decrease.269
HIV disproportionately affects D.C.’s African-American community. In 2012, black people with HIV represented 75 percent of D.C.’s total infected population, and 6.3 percent of the city’s black male residents were
living with the disease.270 In the same year, roughly 3 percent of the primarily black Ward 8 was HIV-positive.
As discussed, black people in D.C. are incarcerated at a rate 19 times higher than whites. Given this, combating
and treating HIV has become a priority of the D.C. criminal justice system.271
For people living with HIV, continuity of medical care is essential. One survey found that among people with
HIV who were released from prison, “only 5.4 percent had filled their antiretroviral prescriptions within 10
days of release, 18 percent within 30 days, and only 30 percent within 60 days.”272 Often, returning citizens are
unable to afford their prescriptions because of gaps in health care coverage or lack of access to a physician.273
In response to this, D.C. Department of Health (DOH) has collaborated with the U.S. Parole Commission
to ensure that any HIV-positive person released from the federal prison system remains on treatment and is
immediately connected to medical care.274 DOH also provides for a 30-day supply of HIV medication to people

263	 Ibid., p. 21.
264	 Ibid., p. 1.
265	 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). (2012, July). Fact sheet: The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: KFF.
266	 Curry, C. (2015). How Washington D.C. cut its epidemic-level HIV rate by 40 percent. Vice News.
	
UNAIDS considers an HIV epidemic to be when the infection rate is more than 1 percent of the population.
267	 Ibid.
268	 D.C. Department of Health (DOH). (2013). District of Columbia community health needs assessment,
volume 2. Washington, D.C.: DOH.
269	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016. “[In FY2016, ]267 individuals
previously known to be HIV positive were incarcerated at DOC.”
270	 KFF. (2012, July). Fact sheet: The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: KFF.
271	 See, for example, DOH. (2013). District of Columbia community health needs assessment, volume 2. Washington, D.C.: DOH.
272	 Center for American Progress (CAP) & Movement Advancement Project (MAP). (2016, February). Unjust:
How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT people. Washington, D.C.: CAP.
273	 Ibid.
274	 DOH. (2011). Mayor Gray announces new Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS. Press release. Washington,
D.C.: DOH.

www.courtexcellence.org | 69

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

released from D.C. DOC. Furthermore, Unity Health Care—the health care provider for D.C. DOC—offers
a continuity of care program in the community, where about 45 percent of people released from the jail seek
medical services in Unity’s neighborhood clinics.275
Other health issues that returning citizens face involve lack of access to healthy foods and good nutrition in
general. Many returning citizens live in places where fresher food options are not available, and this can have a
significant impact on their physical health. As one of Bread for the City’s legal advocacy coordinators described,
“Little things can make a big difference [in the lives of clients.]” Last year, she advocated for WMATA to add
a bus stop on one route in Southeast D.C. to help nearby residents get to the grocery store more easily. Not
being able to get to the store may lead to eating less healthy food at more expensive carryouts.
For older people experiencing re-entry, the aging process itself presents a host of problems, such as aging
out of employment training programs for returning citizens, having fewer family and community support
contacts, discovering a drastically changed city upon return, and for people serving longer sentences, having
longer gaps in their resumes as a further barrier to employment.276
While CSOSA does not have detailed data on the range of chronic health issues affecting people under its
supervision, the agency does keep track of mental health or substance use diagnoses when returning citizens
come under its supervision. In 2015, 691 people entered CSOSA supervision from prison with a mental health
diagnosis, 670 without a mental health diagnosis and 58 whose mental health history was unknown at the
time data was gathered (see Figure 15a).277
Figure 15a: Reprted mental health status of people entering
CSOSA supervision from prison in 2015

49+47+4x
4%

49%

47%

Mental health condition reported
No mental health condition reported
Unknown

As Figure 15b demonstrates, people who entered CSOSA supervision from prison in 2015 with a reported
mental health condition were more likely to have a co-occurring substance use disorder, to be unemployed

275	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
276	 ODCA. (2016). The impact of “Ban the Box” in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.: ODCA.
277	 CSOSA. (2015, December). People entering CSOSA supervision from prison with health diagnoses.
Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.

70 | Beyond Second Chances

or unemployable278 and to have unstable housing compared with the CSOSA population without a mental
health condition.279
Figure 15b: Characteristics of people entering CSOSA supervision
from prison in 2015, by reported mental health status

100
82%

80%

Mental health
condition reported

80
63%

67%

60
44%
37%

40

No mental health
condition reported
40%

26%

20
0

Substance use
disorder

Unemployed or
unemployable

Unstable
housing

Less than high
school diploma

CSOSA provides treatment to approximately 25 percent of the population under its supervision who are in
need.280 CSOSA refers lower-risk returning citizens to the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), the
agency primarily responsible for addressing the substance use treatment needs of eligible District residents.281
While it does not have funds for medical care, CSOSA does advise returning citizens to register for the D.C.
Health Benefits Exchange Authority, an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), or for Medicaid.
In D.C., adult individuals earning up to 210 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for Medicaid coverage; there are different rates for children, parents and pregnant women.282 This can be of tremendous benefit
to returning citizens. The ACA can also be a source of affordable insurance for people who are low income
but not eligible for Medicaid.
While people in jail or prison are not eligible for Medicaid, they are able to resume their benefits once they
return to the community rather than having to start over and reapply for coverage. This is the result of the
District changing its Medicaid policy to “suspension of coverage” rather than “termination” effective October
278	 An unemployed person does not have a paid job, but is available to work, whereas an unemployable
person does not have a paid job, but is not available to work, for example, due to disability, retirement
or because they are a student. In the above chart, people with self-reported mental health conditions
are more likely to be unemployed or unemployable than people without. A person with a mental health
condition and without a paid job may be categorized as either unemployable (e.g., if their condition is
recognized as a disability or they are a student) or unemployed (e.g., if their condition is not severe or is
sufficiently well controlled or managed and so is not a disability).
279	 CSOSA. (2015, December). Comparisons of people entering CSOSA supervision from prison in 2015 with
and without a mental health condition. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
280	 CSOSA. (2014). CSOSA fact sheet: Re-entry in Washington, D.C.. Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
281	 Ibid.
282	 Anderson, C. (2016). District of Columbia Medicaid: D.C. Medicaid eligibility among most generous in U.S.
Web. Retrieved from https://www.healthinsurance.org/D.C.-medicaid/

www.courtexcellence.org | 71

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

1, 2015.283 The D.C. DOC works to send a weekly list of people it is releasing to the Department of Health
Care Finance, which manages Medicaid. For a person who had been on Medicaid, his or her status must then
be changed from suspended to active, and then the individual may immediately access health care services.284
This process, however, does not extend to D.C. Code offenders who are in BOP custody around the country.
The BOP does not provide a similar list of people who are about to be released. Consequently, those individuals
may face gaps in coverage that allow their medications and medical services to lapse. While Unity Health Care
has been assisting some people at the D.C. Jail apply for Medicaid prior to re-entry, there does not appear to
be an equivalent service for people in BOP custody.285

JAME S L E BL AN C
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been stigmatization.
My biggest successes have been marriage, employment,
and sobriety.

Other improvements are evident in the District’s handling of people under supervision who have mental health
issues. CSOSA’s Behavioral Health Unit uses the standard of “substantial compliance” rather than “strict compliance,” which is a step in the right direction. But the reality is that not all people in need are supervised by
this particular team. As a federal agency, CSOSA is required to provide accommodations to supervisees with
disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. One such accommodation is the use of collateral contacts, which according to Tammy Seltzer, are an even more flexible approach whereby a supervisee can establish
contact with his or her supervision officer in an alternative setting rather than coming to the office. CSOSA
has been creative by ensuring face-to-face contact continues but in less traditional locations. “One CSO met
with her client on a certain park bench once a month… that way they’d have the face-to-face that is required.”286
The D.C. Jail has also taken steps to improve its care of people with mental health diagnoses while at the jail
and just prior to release. A Mental Health “Step Down Unit” became operational at the jail in May 2016, and
the first four incarcerated people graduated the nine-week program to general population in September 2016.
The unit provides a therapeutic, trauma-informed environment to serve as a “step down” from the acute mental

283	 Seltzer, T. (2015). Personal interview with Tammy Seltzer, Director, D.C. Jail & Prison Advocacy Project, Disability Rights D.C. at University Legal Services. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished interview notes on
file with CCE.
284	 Ibid.
285	 Ibid.
286	 Ibid.

72 | Beyond Second Chances

health unit, which is now reserved for people currently experiencing a mental health crisis.287 Advocates like
Seltzer believe this type of unit can help reduce the use of segregation and provide assistance to people who
are about to transition to the community. The new unit currently only serves men. However, according to D.C.
DOC, “DOC and Unity [Health Care] will consider appropriate programming for mentally ill women [based
on evaluation of the program and population size and needs].”288
Seltzer also believes that the D.C. DOC is working to focus more on rehabilitation. But in order to provide a
truly trauma-informed environment, a culture shift needs to occur. “Staff can’t just take a class on trauma…
There needs to be buy-in at all levels to change the culture… with a focus on how to help people be successful
rather than trying to break them down.”289
The responsibility for improving outcomes for returning citizens with mental health diagnoses is not that of
correctional facilities alone. In recent years, other government agencies and community organizations have
acknowledged their role in ensuring successful outcomes for returning citizens. Beginning in 2016, for example, “DBH is requiring that Core Service Agencies connect with their clients or future clients in the [D.C.]
DOC while they are incarcerated and prior to release in all FY2017 [funding request proposals] to strengthen
linkages to community care upon re-entry.”290
In addition, MPD has taken steps to ensure that each of its officers will receive Crisis Intervention Training, a
course offered by DBH that teaches officers to recognize the signs that a person may be experiencing a mental
health crisis, use de-escalation techniques, and determine the most appropriate police action.291 However, in
D.C., officer choices other than arrest are quite limited unless the person poses an immediate threat to themselves or others. One jurisdiction that has successfully increased options for law enforcement to assist a person
with mental illness is Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas. Bexar County changed its laws to allow police to
provide non-custodial transportation to care for people in need of connection, or re-connection, to mental
health services.292 A 48-hour sobering unit is available to people brought in by law enforcement, accompanied
by more intensive long term mental health and substance use treatment.293 Since its creation in 2008, it is estimated that the Bexar County system has saved the county around $50 million by keeping people with mental
illnesses out of jail and effectively treating their conditions.294
287	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016: “The Step Down Unit serves in
coordination with the Acute Mental Health Unit to assist incarcerated people who have demonstrated the
ability to work towards becoming functional in communal environments successfully make that transition
over a nine-week period. Programming in the unit includes contractually provided medication management, substance abuse awareness and treatment, trauma informed care, and mindfulness. Volunteer
provided programming includes art and music therapy, anger management training, parenting groups,
and AA/NA groups.”
288	 Ibid. It should be noted that, as it is currently formatted, the Step Down Unit is a 9-week program, and the
average and median lengths of stay for women detained at D.C. DOC are 7 and 39 days, respectively.
289	 Seltzer, T. (2015). Personal interview with Tammy Seltzer, Director, D.C. Jail & Prison Advocacy Project, Disability Rights D.C. at University Legal Services. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished interview notes on
file with CCE.
290	 CCE Correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
291	 MPD. (2013, June 13). MPD recognizes Crisis Intervention Officer of the Year. Press Release. Washington,
D.C.: MPD.
292	 Evans, L. (n.d.). Blueprint for success: The Bexar County model. How to set up a jail diversion program in
your community. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Counties., p. 26, 38.
293	 Gold, J. (2014, August 19). Mental health cops help reweave social safety net in San Antonio. WNYC.; Evans,
L. (2016, October 31). Finding a ‘better way’ to help people with mental illness. Huffington Post.
294	 Gold, J. (2014, August 19). Mental health cops help reweave social safety net in San Antonio. WNYC.

www.courtexcellence.org | 73

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

It remains to be seen what the future holds for corrections and related agencies in the District of Columbia.
Despite shifts in policy and changes in culture that have vastly improved outcomes for justice-involved people
with mental health diagnoses, there are currently several contract and leadership transitions happening in
the District that will have a significant impact on treatment afforded people with mental health issues and/or
co-occurring disorders. For instance, D.C.’s CTF, which for many years has contracted with the Corrections
Corporation of America, will soon be returned to D.C. DOC management. In addition, D.C. DOC Director
Thomas Faust left his position in November 2016, and D.C. Jail Warden William Smith retired in September
2016. The city is also searching for a permanent Chief of Police since Cathy Lanier’s retirement in September
2016.295

A RE T U RN I N G C I TI Z E N ’ S PE RS PE CT IVE

Taylar’s Story
Taylar recently returned to D.C. after four and half years in prison. Taylar grew up poor and
was placed in foster care. She experienced major abuse and trauma throughout her childhood and marriage and continues to suffer from mental health barriers. Taylar has an anxiety
disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which were made worse through bullying
from other prisoners. She felt the prison showed little concern with or capacity for treating
her mental health conditions; however, she found a prison chaplain and a psychologist who
were both caring and qualified people. Taylar entered a horticulture program that she found
highly valuable. She was able to decide what to plant and how to help the plants grow best.
It was not necessarily educational but rehabilitative and gave Taylar a sense of purpose when
things were so bleak.
But as often happens in prison, Taylar was transferred to another facility, one where she was
sexually molested and physically abused. However, she said there have been some positive
aspects to her re-entry process. For one, she has found a good network of staff members in
CSOSA that have supported her and helped her get back on her feet. She’s also found a community in church, where she feels more comfortable opening up to people as they are open
to giving her a second chance.
Re-entry service providers should be aware that someone with a mental health or substance use
disorder may require more intensive services to help overcome or address these challenges.
Taylar notes, “Returning citizens with mental illnesses have different needs—I don’t need to be
taught how to clean my house.” Taylar’s anxiety and PTSD still affect her daily life since leaving
prison; “I feel like my mental illness cloaks me in shame, and I worry that I’m blackballed to
get a full-time job in D.C.” While Taylar’s mental health has generally improved since leaving
prison, it is still a struggle. She has been placed in local group therapy that meets three hours
a week, but Taylar has found this unhelpful.

295	 MPD. (n.d.). Cathy L. Lanier. Web. Retrieved from http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/cathy-l-lanier.

74 | Beyond Second Chances

Promising Practices
A SMARTER APPROACH TO RE-ENTRY FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS IN
OKLAHOMA
In 2005, with funding from the state legislature, Oklahoma launched the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental
Health Re-entry Program (CMHRP) to better serve people with mental illness leaving the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (OK DOC). This collaboration between the Department of Mental Health and Substance
Abuse Services (DMHSAS) and the OK DOC was originally funded for only six months, but after its initial
success, the program was continued through a combination of support from the Oklahoma Department of
Health, donations and grants. According to project director Donna Bond, the “savings well exceeded the cost.”296
This program was designed to offer a continuity of care for people with mental illness at selected state prisons
through the use of specialized prerelease services followed by intensive postrelease case management. The
services are intended only for offenders with mental illness most at risk for recidivating, and this past year,
the program has served approximately 100 individuals, nearly all whom qualified within Oklahoma City and
Tulsa counties, which constitute about 40 percent of the state’s population.
The Department of Health staff are co-trained for their work in the correctional facilities. “Prior to release,” said
Donna Bond, “those within the mental health unit work with DMHSAS discharge managers to agree upon
a community-based level of service, evaluate eligibility for benefits, facilitate conversations with the Social
Security Insurance Administration and partner with the person being released to apply for Medicaid.” Case
managers work with people due to be released on a monthly basis and conduct in-depth assessments “face
to face,” which can either be in person or through a video conference call. Upon release, returning citizens
engage with a case manager and certified peer recovery support specialist from the Re-entry Intensive Care
Coordinating Team. This is to ensure they have connected with a community-based mental health care provider and followed up with benefits applications as well as with the goals and referrals made in the returning
citizen’s mental health re-entry plan.
One integral part of the system is the use of the OK DOC’s classification system of mental illness levels to
ensure people are getting the right services. A second important aspect is the cooperation and communication
between CMHRP staff and Social Security disability benefits evaluators. This includes information sharing
agreements that make mental health records more accessible and SSI training for CMHRP staff so they know
how to determine eligibility. The result is an impressive allowance rate for public benefits of about 90 percent.
A third important component of CMHRP is its inclusion of probation and parole officers from Oklahoma City
and Tulsa counties who are invited to CMHRP meetings so that, upon release, returning citizens with mental
illness are placed with officers who are involved and knowledgeable about the program and its participants.
The CMHRP team is able to grow and mature through monthly meetings with guest speakers, usually program participants, who are an excellent source of feedback. Bond emphasizes that successful outcomes
cannot just be measured in rearrests. CMHRP serves people with some of the highest rates of recidivism who
have recidivated before; many who end up reoffending do so after a much longer time lapse than previously,

296	 Data and/or information provided in this section are attributed to: Bond, D. (2015). Personal interview with
D. Bond, SMART Project Director & Manager of Criminal Justice, OKDOC. (T. Velázquez, interviewer).

www.courtexcellence.org | 75

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

which is still considered a success. Greater outreach and more interactions with members of the outreach
team lead to success. As well, the program permits participants to continue to get services as long as they
would like, with the goal being for them to transition out naturally and into community-based programs.
https://www.ok.gov/doc/Organization/Administrative_Operations/Health_Services/Mental_Health_Services/

A SE RV I C E P ROV I D E R’ S P E RS PE CT IVE

An Interview with Tammy Seltzer, director, D.C. Jail
& Prison Advocacy Project, Disability Rights D.C. at
University Legal Services
When asked how re-entry is different for people with mental illnesses, Tammy Seltzer remarks,
“I’m often reminded of a quote about Ginger Rogers, that she did everything Fred Astaire did,
only backwards and in high heels.” 297
As director of the D.C. Jail & Prison Advocacy Project, Seltzer advocates for many justice-involved
D.C. residents with mental illnesses, as well as people with other—or co-occurring—disabilities.
Her experience has shown her that people with mental illness face the same barriers as other
returning citizens, but they have additional challenges. First among these is the illness itself.
“Many people erroneously think medication is a magic bullet. But people with a serious and
persistent mental illness are often symptomatic, even with medication. Someone involved in
the supervision of one of our clients doubted he was taking his medication, though blood
tests showed he was. The client heard voices every minute of every day. Imagine what it’s like
trying to navigate the world while hearing voices or having depressive thoughts telling you,
‘why bother?’”
Many medications her clients take have side effects that can affect their success with re-entry.
For example, some medications slow down thinking and reasoning, so it is harder for a person
to follow directions. This might cause them to miss a meeting or to misunderstand what their
supervision officer expects them to do. Or they may still have paranoia and anxiety, making
it hard to take public transportation or go to meetings where they know they will be in close
quarters with other people. This can be worse if someone has been in solitary confinement.
“Unfortunately,” adds Seltzer, “people with mental illness are subjected to segregation, either
for disciplinary reasons or for ‘protection’.” Keeping them away from other people has very
detrimental effects. This is true for anyone in solitary but especially so for people with mental
illness. And many are being released directly to the streets after significant time in segregation.”
Seltzer notes that people with mental illness on community supervision often have more

297	 Data and/or information provided in this section are attributed to: Seltzer, T. (2015). Personal interview
with Tammy Seltzer, Director, D.C. Jail & Prison Advocacy Project, Disability Rights D.C. at University Legal
Services. (T. Velázquez, interviewer). Unpublished interview notes on file with CCE.

76 | Beyond Second Chances

requirements, which can make it even more challenging to stay compliant with the terms of
their release. For example, they may have special conditions for supervision, such as keeping
appointments with mental health providers and staying on medications. They may not be able
to work because of their disability, and even if they are considered “employable,” they may
have more challenges getting hired.
As Seltzer explains, for people who can’t work, being declared eligible for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) can take months or years. Best practices and Social Security regulations
support prerelease applications, but BOP, halfway houses, and D.C. DOC generally do not assist
individuals with disabilities in applying. ULS is the only legal service provider in the District that
offers prerelease application assistance and their resources are limited. ULS’s assistance makes
it five to seven times more likely that D.C. residents with mental illness will receive benefits
than if they applied on their own.
People with a mental illness may also lack family support. People with a mental illness or
co-occurring disorders may become estranged from their families due to past behavior, or
other family members may also have serious mental health issues that keep them from being
able to support the returning citizen.
When asked what things could be improved to help people with mental illness returning to the
community from incarceration, Seltzer responded that these fall into two categories—linkages
and preparation. Linkages include such services as Medicaid, Social Security benefits (SSI),
mental health case management services and housing. “It’s about reducing obstacles and
increasing the support… Everyone tells us how important it is for University Legal Services to
reach into prison and help them. We try, when we can, to get folks linked [to services] before
they get out. Everyone should leave prison knowing who their provider will be… There should
be assessments that look at their needs. Do they have housing? Do they have someone to help
them apply for Social Security disability benefits four to six months before release? It can take
that long to receive a decision approving benefits.”
Another way to reduce the challenges of re-entry, Seltzer commented, is to keep more people
out of the system in the first place. “We need to look at our treatment system and whether it is
following a ‘housing-first’ model. Right now there are a lot of barriers; many housing providers
require a person to be clean and sober for so many weeks before accepting them. We know it’s
easier to become clean and engage in treatment when you have a safe and stable place to live.”
Seltzer believes modernization in terms of programming can also reduce justice involvement.
People with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are most likely to go into
the justice system, but the District lacks truly integrated treatment options. In her opinion, the
District’s addiction treatment programs lean heavily on “personal responsibility” models popular 30 years ago rather than evidence-based practices such as medication assisted treatment.
“As a result,” she observes, “important decision makers like judges, police and parole hearing
examiners think treatment does not work, or worse, that returning citizens are not interested
in recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In terms of people being re-incarcerated, ULS often sees its clients go back to prison or jail for
failing to comply with the terms of supervision. CSOSA has begun making accommodations

www.courtexcellence.org | 77

CHAPTER 6

PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

for people with mental illness on supervision, but sometimes these come too late. For people
returning to supervision, “you may not know their needs when they first come out. So it should
be a continuous process of looking at what accommodations are necessary.”
But for people without disability accommodations like these, they may end up being revoked.
As Tammy described, “Another client couldn’t stand to be around all those people [at the
CSOSA office]. He’d sign in, pace around, and if he didn’t get to see his CSO within a few
minutes, he would leave. That wouldn’t count as a face-to-face visit. Many people with mental
health illness need to be greeted right away and seen within five minutes.”
Particularly because incarceration is so damaging for people with mental illness, reducing revocations for technical violations, i.e., sending someone back to jail for breaking rules, should be
a priority. “There should be another mechanism or layer before someone is revoked," Tammy
said. "What else can we try, particularly when they haven’t committed a new offense? This is a
lot about fear… fear that people with mental illness will be more dangerous or violent, even
when we know this isn’t the case.”

Recommendations
This chapter has focused on the physical and mental health challenges that returning citizens face while incarcerated and upon their return to the community. Chronic illnesses commonly need proactive and aggressive
treatment to maintain satisfactory health; without this, returning citizens are at risk for decompensating
physically and mentally and for reoffending and being re-incarcerated. Returning citizens need and deserve
better physical and mental health care and more modern and innovative treatment modalities. Based on the
challenges we have described in the foregoing overview, we offer the following eight recommendations:
1.	 Research has shown that mental illness and substance use disorders require treatment that is coordinated
among agencies and providers and is based on best practices. The BOP, D.C. DOC and DBH should work
together to improve the quality of substance use and mental health treatment so that care provided
through their agencies, as well as through core service agencies and other community providers, is in
line with evidence-based best practices.
2.	 Research has also shown that mental illness and substance use disorders are frequently co-occurring and
that people with these conditions often end up in the justice system. These two treatment systems are not
well-integrated and, therefore, cannot adequately meet the treatment needs of this population. D.C. government agencies should work together to increase the availability of integrated treatment for people
with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, both while they are incarcerated and
once they return to the community.
3.	 Crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers is a good first step, but the District must also
provide these officers with safe, cost effective options for assisting people with mental illness that do not
unnecessarily end with incarceration. The D.C. Council, MPD and DBH should collaborate to develop
pre-arrest diversion programs for people with mental illness.

78 | Beyond Second Chances

4.	 Having a place to live makes a significant difference in a person’s ability to feel safe and to comply with
treatment. As also discussed in Chapter 3, the housing-first model that providers utilize for people who are
homeless should become the standard for returning citizens. Public and private sector service providers
should ensure that people with behavioral and physical health needs who are homeless have housing
that enables them to engage appropriate care upon release from prison or jail. This will require community needs assessments and to build sufficient capacity to meet those needs.
5.	 Accessing benefits to which people are entitled is, at best, a confusing and frustrating experience, with more
serious consequences for people with physical or mental illnesses. D.C. government agencies responsible
for health care-related benefits should ensure that people who have disabilities and chronic illnesses—
including serious and persistent mental illness—face no gap in service coverage for either Medicaid or
disability benefits. Furthermore, the BOP should send a weekly list of people being released from their
facilities to the Department of Healthcare Finance to prevent gaps in Medicaid coverage and allow for
medication and medical services not to lapse.
6.	 Applying for benefits, either SSI or SSDI, can be a costly process in terms of obtaining medical records which
are necessary to complete the application process. The D.C. government should work with hospitals and
other health care providers to create fee waiver or fee reduction programs for medical records requested
by returning citizens or their service providers for the purpose of obtaining benefits.
7.	 Community-based service providers know that flexible and innovative treatment approaches can make a
difference in outcomes for their clients. Supervision agencies should recognize that people with mental
illness may have difficulty with strict compliance of rules of supervision and should craft a “problem
solving” approach to supervision, in line with federal disability law, that creates accommodations to
support the well-being of the individual while maintaining public safety.
8.	 Handing someone a piece of paper with a name and phone number is often just not enough. Public and
private providers should expand the use of “warm hand-offs,” providing an introduction and connection to services rather than a referral that can be difficult for people with physical and mental health
problems to follow up on independently.

www.courtexcellence.org | 79

C H APT E R 7

Women’s Re-entry

Introduction
Women enter the criminal justice system often under different circumstances than men,
with histories of abuse, mental illness tied to early life experiences, substance use disorders, economic and social marginality, homelessness or dysfunctional relationships.298
Beyond these very personal challenges, women returning citizens face the demands of
raising children—often on their own. This chapter will examine the myriad circumstances,
both nationally and locally, faced by women returning citizens, present promising practices by local service providers as well as model programs outside of D.C., and offer
several recommendations to positively impact women’s re-entry.

National Context
Nearly one-third of the world’s incarcerated women are in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. has as many incarcerated
women as the next three largest women-imprisoned populations combined: China (approximately 103,766),
the Russian Federation (53,304) and Thailand (44,751).299 As of 2013, 205,400 women in the U.S. were incarcerated, representing about 9.3 percent of the nation’s incarcerated people.300 Most of these women, except for
the 5,361 women serving life sentences, will eventually re-enter the community.301
Compared to men, the population of women in prison is low, although it has risen over the years from 1 in 20
of the total prison population in 1980 to about 1 in 11 today.302 Women have consistently made up a greater
proportion of jail populations, and this percentage has also been increasing, from 11.4 percent of people in
jail in 2000 to 14.6 percent today. The average daily number of women in jail at mid-year 2014 was 109,100.303
Their offenses are also different than their male counterparts’. Twenty-four percent of women in state prisons are
there for substance use violations, compared to 15 percent of men, and most women in state prisons have been

298	 Bloom, B., Owen, B., & Covington, S. (2005). Gender-Responsive Strategies for Women Offenders. Washington, D.C.: DOJ., p. 5.
299	 Walmsey, Roy. (2015, July). World female imprisonment list (third edition). London: Institute for Criminal
Policy Research.
300	 Ibid.
301	 Nellis, A., & Jean, C. (2013). Life goes on: The historic rise of life sentences in America. Washington, D.C.:
The Sentencing Project.
302	 Cahalan, M. (1986). Historical corrections statistics in the United States, 1850-1984. Washington, D.C.: BJS.
303	 Minton, T. D., & Zeng, Z. (2015). Jail inmates at midyear 2014. Washington, D.C.: DOJ.

www.courtexcellence.org | 81

CHAPTER 7

WOMEN’S RE-ENTRY

Returning Citizen's Voice
While in prison, Taylar dreamed of starting
an organization to advocate for both those in
prison and returning citizens who have their
rights violated by unfair systems or incompetent professionals. She wanted incarcerated
citizens to know their rights because as she
noted, “people roll over because they can’t
speak up.” Taylar's organization is now called
the Who Speaks for Me Project.

convicted of nonviolent offenses.304 Women make up more
than one-quarter of all arrests, but they account for less than
one-fifth of arrests for violent offenses.305 Many are arrested
for crimes committed with or for someone with whom they
have had a relationship.306 Given these very different circumstances and outcomes, women have their own specific needs
and unique challenges related to re-entry.
There is growing consensus among service providers, advocates and criminal justice professionals that treatment for
women should be different than that geared toward men,
including how women re-enter the community. There are a
number of reasons for this. First, as we indicated previously,
women in prison have a much more extensive history of abuse

than their male counterparts. This abuse spans physical, emotional and sexual trauma that is sometimes linked to their justice involvement, especially participation in the
drug trade and sex work.307 More than 57 percent of women in state prisons and 47 percent of women in local
jails reported experiencing physical and/or sexual abuse prior to their sentences; by comparison, 16 percent
of men in state prisons and 12.9 percent of men in jails report prior abuse.308
Second, incarcerated women have a higher prevalence of mental illness. Figure 16 shows self-reported mental
health problems among men and women in prison and jail. “Recent history” includes a mental health diagnosis,
an overnight stay in jail, taking medication or being in therapy for mental illness.309

304	 Carson, E. A. (2015). Prisoners in 2014. Washington, D.C.: BJS.
305	 Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Arrests by sex, 2012. Online data set. Web. Retrieved from https://
ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/42tabledatadecoverviewpdf/table_42_
arrests_by_sex_2012.xls
306	 The Sentencing Project. (n.d.). Issues: Women. Web. Retrieved from http://www.sentencingproject.org/
issues/women/
307	 Modley, P., & Giguere, R. (2010). Coaching packet: Re-entry considerations for women offenders. Silver
Spring, MD: Center for Effective Public Policy (CEPP).
308	 Wolf Harlow, C. (1999). Prior abuse reported by inmates and probationers. Washington, D.C.: BJS.
309	 James, D. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. Washington, D.C.:
DOJ.

82 | Beyond Second Chances

Figure 16: Self-reported mental health issues in prisons and jails, by gender310

80

75%

73%

70

70%

62%

60

59%

55%
48%

50

Recent mental health history
Mental health symptoms

48%
40%

40
30

63%

Either

22%
18%

20
10
0

Men

Women

STATE AND FEDERAL PRISONS

Men

Women
LOCAL JAILS

Third, women in prison are more likely to be parents and primary providers of minor children, significantly
affecting their needs in terms of the re-entry process. In 2004, more than 3 in 5 women in state prisons (63
percent) were parents, compared with 51 percent of men.311 More than 64 percent of mothers reported living
with their children in the month before or just prior to incarceration, versus 46.5 percent of fathers.312 Among
parents in state prison who had lived with their minor children just prior to incarceration, almost three times
as many mothers as fathers (77 percent compared to 26 percent) said they had provided most of their children’s
daily care.313 Additionally, while 9 in 10 children of men in prison continued to live with their mother during
their father’s incarceration, only 28 percent of children of women in prison lived with their father instead of
living with other family members or friends or in foster care.314
Reuniting with and supporting their children is a pressing need for many women returning to the community.
As one woman in a CCE focus group noted, “When probation is revoked, they don’t allow you to go home
and deal with your children or housing before taking you into custody. Thank God for my support system. I
would have been homeless without it.” Another woman noted her unique challenges of having special needs
children and limited access to transportation. “I have a child with cerebral palsy and one with epilepsy. I have
to use public transportation to get them around because I don’t have a car.” Teresa Hodge, incarcerated at the
Federal Prison Camp, Alderson, a women’s minimum security prison, said, “I don’t think I would have made
it if my daughter had been a child while I was incarcerated.”
Women returning to the community—not unlike men—have limited access to housing, transitional income
and sustainable employment. Part of the difficulty stems from the countless requirements women returning

310	 Glaze, L. E. & Maruschak, L. M. (2010, March 30). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington,
D.C.: BJS.
311	 Ibid.
312	 Ibid.
313	 Ibid.
314	 Berman, J. (2005). Women offender transition and re-entry: Gender responsive approaches to transitioning
women offenders from prison to the community. Silver Spring, MD: CEPP., p. 4.

www.courtexcellence.org | 83

CHAPTER 7

WOMEN’S RE-ENTRY

Returning Citizen's Voice
Teresa Hodge realized that to be successful,
she needed to be self-employed. She first
turned to eBay and learned how to make
money by “thrifting and upselling clothing.”
Recently, Hodge and her daughter formed
Mission Launch, a nonprofit organization
focused on leadership and personal development for returning citizens. Mission Launch
provides many important services to boost
interpersonal communications abilities.
Hodge’s organization has really taken off in the
past year. They held a “Hackathon” at which
they created tools to aid the re-entry process
and more generally broaden the conversation
among stakeholders in the community. This
was followed up with a “Demo Day,” where
the technology was shown to the public. They
are now working with Baltimore to replicate
this model.
Overall, Hodge identified the biggest issues

citizens—on probation, parole or some form of community
supervision—must meet regarding employment, housing,
welfare and child care while maintaining their health and a
substance-free lifestyle. In addition, the earnings history of
previously incarcerated women is often lower than that of
men, which makes it even more difficult to provide for themselves and their families.315
Over the past few years, the term “gender responsive” has
come into greater usage in regard to criminal justice programming, reflecting an understanding that the criminal justice
system cannot simply put women into programs that have
been successful with men and expect the same results.316 Programs must include provisions that acknowledge the frequent
child care responsibilities of re-entering women, trauma and
abuse experienced before and during incarceration, and specific mental and physical health and substance use conditions
that disproportionately affect women. Many gender-responsive programs have been adapted that include the more open
communication style of women, fit their greater focus on relationships and create an environment based on safety, respect
and dignity.317 Supervision programs are encouraged to create
women-only caseloads and specially train officers so they can
be more effective in helping their clients meet their obligations to society, their family and community.318

facing the returning citizens she works with at
Mission Launch as employment and housing.
“You need an anchor, otherwise you unravel.”
Hodge also identified the “digital divide” as
another challenge for returning citizens. “Even
the issue of social media can be tricky… when
returning citizens start misusing social media,
I tell them, ‘Don’t make more strikes against

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
The proportion of D.C. women in prison and jail is somewhat lower than the national rate. Of the estimated 5,000 D.C.
Code offenders under BOP custody, approximately 4 percent,
or 200, are women.319 Women make up about 7 percent of

yourself.’” Hodge thinks that technology can
also help returning citizens be seen as more
than “ex-offenders.” She has adopted digital storytelling techniques to humanize the
prison and re-entry experience. “If the community understands that we’re still people and
have paid our debt to society, maybe they will
be more inclined to give us a second chance.”

84 | Beyond Second Chances

315	 Modley, P., & Giguere, R. (2010). Coaching packet:
Re-entry considerations for women offenders. Silver Spring,
MD: CEPP.
316	 Bloom, B., Owen, B., & Covington, S. (2005). Gender-responsive strategies for women offenders. Washington, D.C.:
DOJ.
317	 Modley, P., & Giguere, R. (2010). Coaching packet:
Re-entry considerations for women offenders. Silver Spring,
MD: CEPP., p. 16.
318	 Ibid., p. 28.
319	 CSOSA. (2015). November 2015 BOP census data.
Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with
CCE.

the average daily population for the D.C. DOC.320 However, women tend to have a shorter average stay as
compared to men—39 days—and so comprise about 10 percent of the intakes every year.321 Women at D.C.
jail facilities also tend to be older than men: 47 percent of men under D.C. DOC custody are 30 years of age
or younger, as compared to only 31 percent of women.322 Fifty-five percent of women are between the ages of
31 and 50, compared to only 38 percent of men.323
CSOSA data show a number of factors that reflect the special needs of women returning citizens. First, women
on parole or supervised release in D.C. are more likely to have lower educational attainment than their male
counterparts. This is reflected in 2015 data from CSOSA.324
In addition, women returning from prison to the District may be more likely to have an identified mental
illness than their male counterparts. In 2015, while nearly half of men on parole or supervised release had an
identified mental illness, Figure 17 shows that the incidence of mental health issues among women was higher
at nearly 80 percent.325
Figure 17: Self-reported mental health status of people entering CSOSA
supervision from prison in 2015, by gender
4%
100

21%
Mental health condition reported

80

No mental health condition reported

49%

Unknown

60
40

47%
79%

20
0

Men

Women

The challenges facing women on community supervision in D.C. also relate to their employment or employability, which is likely to be less than that for men. Figure 18 shows that employment of women returning
citizens was particularly low in 2015.326

320	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC.
321	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
322	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC.
323	 Ibid.
324	 CSOSA. (2015). Educational attainment of women in D.C. leaving correctional facilities. Unpublished raw
data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
325	 CSOSA. (2015). Percentage of women in CSOSA supervision with a mental health condition. Unpublished
raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
326	 CSOSA. (2015). Likelihood of supervised men to be employed over supervised women. Unpublished raw
data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.

www.courtexcellence.org | 85

CHAPTER 7

WOMEN’S RE-ENTRY

Figure 18: Employment status of people entering
CSOSA supervision from prison in 2015, by gender
2%
100
80
60

10%

5%

17%

33%

Unemployed
53%

Unemployable
Employed
Unknown

40
20
0

40%

Men

40%

Women

The one area of little variation between men and women has been in housing stability. The number of men and
women in stable housing is roughly the same.327
Several of the women in CCE’s returning citizens focus group spoke to tensions between adhering to the
requirements of community supervision and the particular challenges facing women. One focus group participant, who had been in D.C.’s Correctional Treatment Facility, stated, “Most of us here are back inside because
our probation was revoked. Officers are not very understanding that we are trying to go to school, work, have
children and thus can’t make every meeting. As a result, our probation gets revoked.”
Other women spoke to how they may miss scheduled treatment appointments because they have to care for a sick child.
Returning Citizen's Voice
If a woman cannot get a job that pays enough to support
her family, she may turn to making money illegally. Others
“I never had the chance to raise my kids.”
talked about being required to be enrolled in a program near
where a former abuser lives and the re-traumatization caused
—Anonymous returning citizen
by having to go there. Others spoke to the difficulties of safe,
affordable housing and feeling there is no choice but to go
back to a former partner or abuser, despite the risks involved and the trauma of considering the outcomes.
In spite of these many setbacks and challenges, several organizations are doing work that has had a positive
effect on women returning citizens. This section will highlight two local programs as well as two from other
jurisdictions.

The Voices of Local Service Providers
VOICES FOR A SECOND CHANCE
Many women make Voices for a Second Chance (VSC), a D.C. community-based nonprofit, their first stop
327	 CSOSA. (2015). Comparisons of housing stability for male and female reentrants on supervision. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.

86 | Beyond Second Chances

after release. Paula Thompson Felder, VSC’s executive director,
and Michelle Sermon, VSC’s program and case management
coordinator, have seen first-hand the challenges many women
face following incarceration.

Returning Citizen's Voice
“I have been in and out of jail since I was 22.

Tomorrow I will be 41. My son sent me a card
According to Sermon, “the system isn’t designed for women.”
and in it he said, ‘Let’s do this together.’ I want
Many aspects of the current criminal justice system and
to keep my freedom this time.”
re-entry do not set up women for success. Sermon and Felder
emphasize that the women they see who do succeed often do
so because they have built a positive relationship with the
staff or with formal groups of other returning women. These
relationships can help women build self-confidence, express their feelings and feel valued.

Felder described how younger returning women are often unrealistic about their recidivism. They do not realize that they have to make major changes to their behavior to stay out of jail or prison. It takes commitment
to stop using drugs and consistently engage in mental health treatment, which typically requires safe spaces
where women can build supportive relationships. She described how women often seek group therapy upon
their re-entry similar to that which they had in prison, but struggle to find it because there are so few community-based programs. http://www.vscdc.org/

CONSULTANTS FOR CHANGE
Ashley McSwain has worked in women’s re-entry in the District for many years, including with Our Place
D.C., Consultants for Change (C4C) and currently Community Family Life Services. She stressed the need for
continuity in services for women; women not only need various resources but also follow-through during the
entire process. Similar to VSC, McSwain emphasized that “women need a relational approach” and a supportive
environment for their reintegration.
Women also face unique difficulties in acquiring stable housing. Katrina Cheshier and Sara Mullen, who worked
with McSwain at C4C, noted that C4C had two housing partners that serve single women, but about 25 to 30
percent of the women they see have custody of children. This leaves a quarter of the women they see without
a viable housing option. There is also a lack of understanding that time limits on housing are not conducive to
successful re-entry. For a woman in transitional housing, trying to get everything in their lives settled—including their kids, a job, education, identification—and having to find another place to live can just add to that stress.
Some places replicate jails or prisons without even knowing it, starting off as a place of distrust. Shelters are
also a poor option for women: Having to line up at 7:00 p.m. every night to find a bed, to worry about what
they are going to do during the day and who they are sleeping next to can be stressful and traumatizing. While
women may have a criminal record, they are often victims as well.
For several years, C4C received funding from the Justice Grants Administration to manage a women’s re-entry
initiative. This allowed C4C to visit D.C.’s CTF every week to meet with women and provide services, access
to resources and guidance through intensive case management. They worked to ensure success, following the
women’s release from custody, by meeting them in the community to provide a seamless bridge to community
support, but they cannot provide all the needed services. C4C indicated one particularly vital need was trauma

www.courtexcellence.org | 87

CHAPTER 7

WOMEN’S RE-ENTRY

services, estimating that 85 percent of their clients are survivors of trauma.
Regarding family responsibilities, C4C noted that upon release, women are expected to come back and immediately reassume the role of head of the household. They have more expectations regarding family, compared
to men returning, and may have fewer family supports to help them get back on their feet. C4C has also
seen women caught between the demands of employers and the requirements of supervising agencies. Being
successful while on supervision requires a major commitment of time and effort. There are fines to be paid,
mandatory meetings to attend during the work day, required drug testing often several times a week, and paper
work to complete. And these demands compete with women’s equally important obligations as caretakers
and employees. “It sounds like we are making excuses for them, but this is just their reality,” noted McSwain.
http://www.consultants4change.com/

Other Promising Practices
JUSTICEHOME
In 2013, the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City opened JusticeHome, which allows women
to remain in their own homes while they are meeting criminal justice mandates. The intensive approach of
JusticeHome is modeled after a child welfare visitation program with which WPA has had more than a 10-year
track record. The program strengthens a family’s ability to function—that is, be nurturing to children and able
to cope with life’s stresses—while reducing maternal drug use and improving management of mental illness.
According to Gloria Lerner, the director of WPA, “JusticeHome is an especially welcome opportunity because
so many justice-involved women have housing, parenting and mental health needs that can be addressed at
their root in ways that build up women and their families. By contrast, women leaving prison are often homeless upon release and must struggle with subsistence needs before they can even begin to address parenting,
mental health or other issues that contributed to their criminal involvement.”
http://www.wpaonline.org/services/alternative-to-incarceration
THE DREW HOUSE PROJECT
The Drew House Project in Brooklyn, New York, is another example of an innovative program. Instead of
serving time in prison, women go to a supervised residential facility where they can live with their school-age
children who otherwise would have been placed in foster care. While there, the women must meet a variety of
obligations, including paying rent and following house rules. At the same time, they receive help with parenting, addiction and becoming financially stable. In a news story about the program, The Drew House Project’s
founder reported that at $34,000 per year for a mother and two children, it is much more cost effective than
the approximately $129,000 in taxpayer dollars that would have been spent on prison and foster care.328
http://www.housingplussolutions.org/sunflower-houses/family-ati-drew-house/

328	 Robbins, L. (2011, September 21). Staying with children, and out of prison. The New York Times.

88 | Beyond Second Chances

Recommendations
This chapter has focused on the unique challenges faced by women returning citizens nationwide and in the
District of Columbia, from greater trauma and abuse as circumstances often leading to their involvement in
the criminal justice system to the demands they face not unlike all women regarding child care, housing and
employment. Women need and deserve treatment and other programs designed to help them help themselves.
Based on the challenges we have described in this chapter we offer the following seven recommendations:
1.	 Women returning citizens have limited access to sustainable employment and tend to earn less than their
male counterparts. The BOP should invest in programs that provide re-entering women with job preparedness, training and experience and should remunerate women fairly for the work they perform.
2.	 Women in prison are more likely to be parents and primary providers of minor children. Maintaining ties
with their children is key to successfully re-entering the community upon release. The BOP should facilitate access to all forms of family visitation while women are incarcerated, including collaborating to
organize trips to out-of-state facilities, housing women closer to D.C. and video conferencing visitation, and in consultation with the D.C. DOC should consider keeping all women D.C. Code offenders
incarcerated in D.C. for the duration of their sentence.
3.	 Women returning citizens, much like their male counterparts, have limited access to transitional income,
although women still tend to serve as the primary caretakers of their children. The D.C. government and
WMATA should consider providing free public transportation to women returning citizens until they
are more stabilized in terms of income and other benefits.
4.	 Although women and men on parole and supervised release to the District have been shown to have similar
rates of housing stability, women still face enormous challenges to find safe, affordable housing. DCHA,
DHCD, the D.C. DOC and service providers should collaborate to increase housing options and ensure
that such options do not replicate the traumatizing experience of prison and jail.
5.	 Women face myriad tensions between adhering to the requirements of community supervision while
attempting to work, go to school and take care of their children and themselves. PSA, CSOSA and the USPC
should re-evaluate the terms of supervision for women so that they are not unnecessarily re-incarcerated for violations that disrupt their ability to care for family and maintain stable housing and work.
6.	 Women returning citizens have a greater prevalence of mental health problems than their male counterparts.
The D.C. DOC and DBH, in collaboration with public and private sector service providers, should
increase options for therapy and mental health services in and outside of the jail.
7.	 Trauma and abuse are more common among women, prior to and during their incarceration. Moreover,
gender-responsive programming has become more widely recognized among criminal justice professionals
as more effective. The BOP and the D.C. DOC, in collaboration with public and private sector service
providers in D.C., should train staff at all levels on trauma-informed care, as well as increase access to
trauma-informed programming at correctional facilities and within community-based organizations.

www.courtexcellence.org | 89

C H APT E R 8

Re-entry for Young Adults

Not unlike women returning citizens with unique circumstances and needs, youth who
enter the criminal justice system have particular characteristics and face special challenges. This chapter will explore those challenges, including their disproportionate rates
of arrest, incarceration and recidivism, provide an overview of disconnected youth in the
District of Columbia, and describe what efforts are being done—or could be done—to
alleviate the situation.

National Context
Nationwide, young adults are disproportionately represented in the justice system. As of 2013, they comprised
10 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of people arrested for both serious and
nonserious crimes; in 2012, they comprised more than 21 percent of admissions to adult state and federal
prisons; and recidivism rates for young adults released from prison have been significantly higher than for
other age groups.329 Given this disproportionality, finding ways to improve re-entry following justice system
involvement could pay significant dividends both in terms of public safety and improved outcomes for young
adults, their families and the community.
Improving outcomes for young adults who have been incarcerated or otherwise justice-involved depends on
strategies that are responsive to their unique needs. Science suggests that delineating the end of adolescence
and the beginning of adulthood at one’s 18th birthday is artificial, as there is no one moment or age at which
all people can be said to have reached full maturity. Research has shown that people’s brains do not mature
completely until their mid-20s.330 This is played out in the higher incidence among young people between the
ages of 18 and 24 of risk-taking behavior, such as driving while drunk, riding with an intoxicated driver and
using illicit drugs.331

329	 The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSGJC). (2015). Reducing recidivism and improving
other outcomes for young adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. New York: CSGJC.
330	 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). (n.d.). Young Adult Development Project. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Center for Work, Family & Personal Life.
331	 Dayan J, Bernard, A., Olliac, B., Mailhes, A.S., & Kerrmarrec, S. (2010, November). Adolescent brain development, risk-taking and vulnerability to addiction. Paris: The Journal of Physiology, 104(5), pp. 279-286.

www.courtexcellence.org | 91

CHAPTER 8

RE-ENTRY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
Population estimates for 2014 show that about 80,400 young adults, between the ages of 18 and 24, resided
in the District of Columbia and accounted for 14.8 percent of the adult population.332 Beginning with arrests,
young adults in D.C. nearly mirror the national data, making up 27 percent of all arrests in 2013,333 with the
most frequent arrest charges for drug offenses.
Regarding their rates of incarceration, young adults comprised 2,270 out of 10,603 total bookings in 2014 by
the D.C. Department of Corrections.334 Approximately 17 percent of incarcerated women and 21 percent of
incarcerated men were between the ages of 18 and 24 at the time of their commitment to the D.C. DOC. As of
July 2016, 31 percent of all incarcerated women were 30 years or older and 47 percent of all incarcerated men
were age 30 or younger.335 During this same time period, the most common charges for young adult women
in custody at the D.C. Jail were aggravated assault and burglary/robbery (each 13.6 percent), while for young
adult men in custody, the most common charges were burglary/robbery/carjacking (21.2 percent) and assault/
stalking (18.9 percent); see Figure 19.

O N E YO U N G RE T U RN I N G CIT IZ E N ’S PE RS PE CT IVE ON RE -E N T RY
Kales is a 23-year-old who has recently returned to D.C. from a BOP facility. He said that he is
upbeat about his future, particularly due to the support he’s received since his return.
“Not giving up on yourself," he said is what he finds most important. “You know you’ll have
struggles, and it’ll always be hard, but perseverance will get you by.”
He said that, in some ways, it can be harder to be an older returning citizen. For example,
adjusting to technology will be hard for them, as will reconnecting with a family with whom
they’ve lost touch. He also sees his youth as a selling point for an employer.
In terms of what has been most useful to him, he points to Free Minds Book Club and Writing
Workshop. “I could spend two hours telling you all the great things they do,” Kales said. He
believes the organization’s positive energy, its belief in him and its willingness to help him with
a spectrum of needs has made a tremendous difference in his life.
Like many other returning citizens, Kales is highly critical of Hope Village, calling it “the worst
transition experience you could ever have.”
Kales feels that there needs to be more safety nets for young adults when they are leaving

332	 USCB. (2014). American fact finder. Web. Retrieved from Factfinder.census.gov: http://factfinder.census.
gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_S0101&prodType=table. Percentages calculated by authors.
333	 MPD. (2015). Arrest rates of young adults in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with
CCE.
334	 D.C. DOC. (2015). Rates of incarcerated young adults in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors
and on file with CCE.
335	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC., p.
12.

92 | Beyond Second Chances

prison. “A system that guarantees a job placement upon release would be most beneficial, as
that’s where people fall through the cracks.” He also suggested making the D.C. Metro free to
returning citizens for a period of time.
Kales said he would like to continue his education and get a GED certificate, but “I have a
child and a lot of other things going on right now.” He also said that more apprenticeship
programs are needed. He is currently working for Clean Decisions, which hires only formerly
incarcerated people.
In terms of giving back to the community, Kales said he and other younger returning citizens
have a lot to offer. “The juvenile facility should get people my age or even younger to go
speak to these kids. Guys in their 30s or 40s, they’re not going to want to hear from them. But
someone my age—maybe someone they were even housed with at some point—for them to
say, ‘Hey, he’s got a job. He’s doing good.’ Not everybody’s going to listen, but if it’s a crowd
of 12 and we change three—it would be worth it.”

Many young adults who are arrested do not remain in jail and instead are placed under the supervision of the
Pretrial Services Agency (PSA). During 2013, PSA supervised approximately 5,450 young adult defendants,
or 27 percent of all adults that the agency supervises. For people convicted and incarcerated, upon release
they are placed under CSOSA supervision. During FY2014, of the 20,863 people under CSOSA supervision,
18 percent were aged 18-24.336
The only part of the D.C. criminal justice system in which 18- to 24-year-olds are not overrepresented is prison.
According to the BOP, about 12.4 percent of D.C. Code offenders held by the BOP are between 18 and 24 years
of age.337

336	 CSOSA. (2015). Community supervision program: Annual performance budget request, fiscal year 2016.
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
337	 BOP. (2015, February). FOIA request response. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with
CCE.

www.courtexcellence.org | 93

CHAPTER 8

RE-ENTRY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Figure 19: Charge distribution for D.C. Code offenders in custody
who were aged 18-24 at intake, by gender338
WOMEN
Aggravated assault

MEN
13.6%

Bail Reform Act violation

4.5%

Burglary / robbery

13.6%

Assault / stalking

18.9%

Burglary / robbery / carjacking

21.2%

Disorderly / vice

1.4%

Carjacking

4.5%

Drug offenses

4.2%

Conspiracy

9.1%

Failure to appear

3.1%

Contempt

9.1%

Fugitive

0.6%

Escape

4.5%

Homicide / conspiracy / kidnapping

8.6%

Fugitive

4.5%

Other crimes

2.8%

Parole violation

9.1%

Parole or release violation

7.2%

Robbery

9.1%

Property crimes

11.4%

Sex offenses

4.5%

Sex abuse / rape

2.8%

Stalking

4.5%

USDC commitment

7.2%

USDC commitment

4.5%

Weapons

7.5%

Vandalism

4.5%

Writ / US witness

3.1%

TOTAL

100%

TOTAL

100%

Despite being the agency responsible for juvenile justice, most people under the custody of the D.C. Department
of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) are also young adults, not children. In FY2015, 74.9 percent of youth
committed to DYRS were 18 or older.339 This is because juveniles committed to DYRS can remain under its
supervision, either in a facility or in the community, until they turn 21. In 2014, 44 percent of the population
at New Beginnings, the facility in which D.C. juveniles are incarcerated, were 18 or older.340
D.C.’s young adults also have high rates of recidivism. During FY2014, 28.8 percent of young adults under
CSOSA supervision were rearrested; 507 violent arrest charges were ascribed to those rearrested, and 513 young
adults who had their community supervision revoked and were subsequently re-incarcerated.341 In comparison
to older adults, research has shown that returning citizens who recidivate are more likely to be younger—27.5

338	 D.C. DOC. (2015). Rates of incarcerated young adults in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors
and on file with CCE.
339	 Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). (2016). Council of the District of Columbia Committee
on the Judiciary Performance Oversight Hearing, pre-hearing questions and answers. Washington, D.C.:
Council of the District of Columbia.
340	 DRYS. (2016). DYRS census data. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.
341	 Charges may not represent individuals, as one person may receive more than one charge.

94 | Beyond Second Chances

percent of people rearrested in the District while on supervision were age 25 or younger.342 This is in line with
national statistics. A 2002 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that of all adults who had been in
state prison, people in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket had the highest rates of re-arrest (75.4 percent), reconviction (52 percent) and return to prison with a new sentence (30.2 percent) within three years of release.343
CHARACTERISTICS OF JUSTICE-INVOLVED YOUNG ADULTS
Young adults in the D.C. criminal justice system are demographically similar to the overall justice-involved
population—overwhelmingly black and mostly male. For people on CSOSA supervision (probation or supervised release post incarceration), 90 percent are black, about 4.4 percent are Latino and 4 percent are white.344
Other parts of the system show similar racial and ethnic statistics for young adults, ages 18 to 24: 85.7 percent
of arrestees in 2015 were black, 5.3 percent were Latino and 7.5 percent were white.345 For young adults in
DYRS custody as well, recent data show that 100 percent are black.346
In terms of gender, most justice-involved young adults are male: 2015 data show that young men comprised
79 percent of those arrested, 90.1 percent of bookings at the D.C. Jail, 98.8 percent of D.C. Code offenders in
BOP facilities and 83.6 percent of those under CSOSA supervision.347
CSOSA data also indicate that educational attainment is low among justice-involved young adults. Forty-four
percent of people under CSOSA supervision do not have a high school degree, 39 percent have a GED or high
school diploma and only 11 percent have some postsecondary education.348
FOCUSING ON THE NEEDS OF YOUNG ADULTS
Young adults who have been involved in the justice system need specialized programs that recognize developmental differences between them and their adult counterparts. One such program, the Young Adult Initiative,
which CSOSA is piloting, uses enhanced case management strategies to tailor supervision plans for young
men under CSOSA control.349 The initiative provides “streamlined access to programs and interventions;
engage[s] the young adult offender and associated [Community Supervision Program] partners earlier in
the case management process; and uses[s] routine interactions as opportunities to enhance motivation and
reinforce pro-social behavior.”350
Another opportunity to reach young adults is while they are in the D.C. Jail. However, most periods of incar-

342	 CSOSA. (2015). Community supervision program: Annual performance budget request, fiscal year 2016.
Washington, D.C.: CSOSA., p. 4. This estimate is based on all offender entrants, not just those entering on
parole or supervised release.
343	 Patrick, A., & Langan, P. D. (1994). Recidivism of prisoners released in 1994. Washington D.C.: BJS.
344	 CSOSA. (2015). Demographics of justice-involved youth in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors
and on file with CCE.
345	 MPD. (2015). Demographics of arrested youth in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors and on
file with CCE.
346	 DYRS. (2016). Youth population snapshot. Web. Retrieved from http://dyrs.D.C..gov/page/youth-snapshot.
347	 CSOSA. (2015). Demographics of justice-involved youth in D.C. Unpublished raw data analyzed by authors
and on file with CCE.
348	 Ibid.
349	 CSOSA. (2015). FY2016 budget request summary statement & frequently asked questions (FAQs). Washington, D.C.: CSOSA.
350	 Ibid., p. 22.

www.courtexcellence.org | 95

CHAPTER 8

RE-ENTRY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

ceration in the D.C. DOC are short in length.351 While several incarcerated young adults are there long enough
to engage in a variety of programs that could assist them upon release, it can be challenging to develop a
program that fits the need of every person housed at the jail. For example, 2 out of 3 people who are in custody at D.C. DOC for more than 120 days are awaiting transfer to a BOP facility where programming may be
different. For the remaining third, release dates vary, which can make programming more difficult to develop
and implement.352
As with other D.C. Code offenders, young adults are incarcerated at BOP facilities hundreds or thousands of
miles away from D.C. The BOP has already shown some willingness to consider alternatives. For example, some
people under BOP have been transferred back to the D.C. DOC to allow them to better plan for re-entry. D.C.
could consider working with the BOP to allow young adults to remain at a D.C. DOC facility for the entirety
of their sentences. This would allow young adults up to 22 years of age to access any special education services
they are entitled to but which are not provided at the BOP. Remaining local would also help the young adults
to maintain and build connections with family, mentors and other supports who will help them when they
transition back to the community.
REDUCING COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES
While D.C. has made important strides to reduce collateral consequences faced by returning citizens through
its Ban the Box legislation, covered in Chapter 4, significant barriers remain. These can make re-entry difficult
for all returning citizens, but for a young adult, these come at a critical time when job and educational opportunities can have the biggest impact.
D.C.’s Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA) is one tool for reducing these barriers.353 Under this act, qualifying
young adults under 22 years of age who have completed their sentence have the opportunity to “set aside”
their conviction record, allowing them to seek employment or apply to school without having to disclose their
conviction record, although they are required to disclose their arrest record if asked. At the time of conviction,
juveniles and young adults under the age of 22, whom the judge determines may benefit from rehabilitation,
are eligible for sentencing under the YRA for any crime except murder or a second crime of armed violence.
However, set-asides are more difficult to obtain when the nature of the crime is more serious. Furthermore,
even if a previous conviction has been set aside, it can be taken into account when considering sentences for
subsequent crimes and for registration of sex offenders.354
INCREASING THE AGE OF JUVENILE COURT JURISDICTION
Additional reform efforts could involve raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in the District of Columbia. Other jurisdictions have made bold propositions in this regard. In 2015, the governor of Connecticut

351	 See generally, D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.:
D.C. DOC.
352	 CCE correspondence with R. Chakraborty, D.C. DOC, November 2, 2016.
353	 D.C. Code §24-901-906. (1985).
354	 Mendelson, P. (2014, October 10). Report on Bill 18-963, Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2010. Washington, D.C.: Council of the District of Columbia.

96 | Beyond Second Chances

recommended increasing the state’s jurisdiction from 17 to 20 years of age.355 The governor also recommended
allowing low-risk young adults aged 21 through 25 to have their cases heard confidentially, their records sealed
and the opportunity to have those records expunged. Connecticut had already raised the maximum age of
juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 17, and while some feared crime would rise when older teens were transferred
to the juvenile justice system, the state’s prison population dropped to a 17-year low. In fact, Connecticut’s
more rehabilitative juvenile justice system has been credited with giving young people a “second chance” by
not having their law-breaking behavior become part of a permanent criminal record.356
Germany and Sweden offer additional examples of Western democratic countries that have responded to juvenile crime. In Germany, all young adults age 18 to 20 who commit a criminal offense are tried and sentenced
in juvenile court.357 The court then makes the decision whether to sentence the young adult based on juvenile
or adult law. Generally, if the young adult was, at the time he or she committed the crime, believed to be in a
state of mind more similar to a juvenile than to an adult, he or she is sentenced according to juvenile law. If
the young adult is sentenced under adult criminal law, immaturity can still be taken into consideration when
determining a sentence. About two-thirds of young adults are sentenced as juveniles, and it is typically the
least serious offenses, such as traffic violations, that are handled under adult criminal jurisdiction. Germany’s
model is supported by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
In Sweden, laws governing criminal sentencing consider the maturity of juveniles and young adults. People
younger than 15 cannot be prosecuted or criminally sanctioned, regardless of the crime. Although youth between the ages of 15 and 20 can be
prosecuted and sentenced for their crimes, they are nevertheless treated
differently within the criminal justice system due to their age. Under the
age of 21, statutory minimums can be ignored completely. For minors
and young adults, ages 15 to 20, a fine can be substituted for short prison
sentences, the amount of which is also dependent upon the person’s
age. Furthermore, prison sentences in Sweden are proportional to age.
If someone is 15 years old at the time he or she committed the crime,
the prison sentence will be one-fifth of the “normal term.” People who
are 16 years old receive one-fourth of the normal sentence, and people
up to 20 years of age receive three-fourths of the normal sentence.358
The District of Columbia should consider raising the age of the juvenile
court’s jurisdiction, which would have the effect of incarcerating young
adults locally under DYRS’s jurisdiction rather than sending them to
BOP facilities far from home. This would permit the District to provide
the types of services that have been shown to be effective; keep young

CA R LO S TYLE R

Returning Citizen

355	 Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy. (2015, November). Gov. Malloy Launches Conversation on Expanding
‘Second Chance Society’ Initiatives in Connecticut. Press release. Hartford, CT: Office of Governor Dannel P.
Malloy.
356	 Ibid.
357	 Collins, J. & Lousley, G. (2011, July). Sentencing young adults: Getting it right. London: Criminal Justice
Alliance., p. 7-8.
358	 Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A). (2011, September). Young adults and criminal justice: International
norms and practices. London: T2A.

www.courtexcellence.org | 97

CHAPTER 8

RE-ENTRY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

people connected to families, education and positive community supports; and allow for more seamless re-entry
planning for the period following commitment.
The District should also capitalize on its experience with effectively supervising young adults.359 As mentioned
earlier, DYRS already supervises many 18- to 20-year-olds;360 many in this age range are under CSOSA supervision (including 37 under the age of 18);361 and approximately 43 percent of incarcerated people at D.C. DOC
are men between the ages of 18 and 30.362 While a transition to keeping more young adults supervised in D.C.
would be complicated, there are individuals with experience working with this population in a juvenile justice
setting that would make the transition more feasible.
Scientific research lends credence for such transition efforts. As previously indicated, neuroscience research has
shown that people’s brains are still developing well past age 18. This development can be even further delayed
by adverse childhood experiences. Studies have shown that childhood PTSD causes delays in brain maturity,
which is more pronounced in boys.363 Exposure to trauma has also been linked with both juvenile and adult
justice system involvement.364, 365 The juvenile justice system, inherently focused on rehabilitation, could help
break cycles of violence and allow young adults to move beyond past traumatic experiences. In terms of re-entry,
keeping young adults in D.C. and starting more intensive programming could facilitate the creation of systems
of care that continue after a young adult is no longer under the supervision of the court.

Promising Programs
D.C.’S RE-ENGAGEMENT CENTER
In 2014, the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) opened a Re-engagement Center
(REC) to reconnect older teens and young adults, ages 16 to 24, with educational programs. According to OSSE, an estimated 7,500 young people in the District, or 14 percent of people between the ages
of 16 and 24, have not received a high school or GED certificate and are not currently enrolled in
school. While not specifically focused on justice-involved youth, such a center could play an important role in helping younger returning citizens. Despite more than a half million dollars in funding in the
first year, the REC has reached only a fraction of the target audience, successfully reconnecting only 203

359	 The various criminal justice agencies in the District have their own definitions of “young adults.” For example, CSOSA refers to “young adults” as people aged 25 and younger (see generally http://www.csosa.gov/
about/plans-reports/csosa-strategic-plan-fy2014-fy2018.pdf). Given the range of ages outlined in various
agency definitions, it is difficult to ascertain tangible cross-agency data of young adult re-entry in D.C.
360	 The Court Social Services (“CSS”) is responsible for supervising juveniles who have been placed on probation or have otherwise been committed to DYRS. For more information, see generally http://dyrs.D.C..gov/
page/D.C.s-juvenile-justice-system.
361	 CSOSA. (2016). FAQs: Offender population: Does CSOSA supervise juvenile offenders? Web. Retrieved
from http://www.csosa.gov/about/faqs/offenders.aspx
362	 D.C. DOC. (2016, June). D.C. Department of Corrections facts and figures. Washington, D.C.: D.C. DOC.
363	 DeBellis, M. D. & Keshavan, M.S. (2003). Sex differences in brain maturation in maltreatment-related pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 27(1-2), 103-117.
364	 Milaniak, I. & Widom, C.S. (2015, July 1). Does child abuse and neglect increase risk for perpetration of
violence inside and outside the home. Psychol. Violence, 5(3), 246-255.
365	 Gibson L.E., Holt, C., Fondacaro, K.M., Tang, T.S., Powell, T.A., & Turbitt, E.L. (1999). An examination of
antecedent traumas and psychiatric comorbidity among male inmates with PTSD. J Trauma Stress, 12(3),
473-484.

98 | Beyond Second Chances

youth to an education program in its first year.366 The project is being evaluated and is planning to expand.
http://osse.dc.gov/service/dc-reengagement-center
NEW YORK CITY’S YOUNG ADULT JUSTICE SCHOLARS PROGRAM
As D.C. looks for ways to reconnect justice-involved young adults with education, it might consider the New
York City Young Adult Justice Scholars Program. Run in collaboration with a number of community organizations, eligible individuals are those between the ages of 16 and 24 who have had court involvement within
the year prior to enrollment.367 Individuals are selected based on referrals from defense attorneys, probation
officers, individuals working directly with youth transitioning
out of juvenile institutions and community organizations. The
six-month program offers assistance with school enrollment,
Returning Citizen's Voice
GED preparation, college applications and tutoring.
With the recognition that young people also need an array
of other services, a case manager is assigned to each justice
scholar, and other services—such as employment training
and internship and job placement—are provided.368 Youth
also learn about their legal rights in an effort to reduce
barriers to future education and employment. Moreover,
participants receive stipends or incentives in support of workforce engagement, sustained community participation and
achieving milestones.369
http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/programs.
shtml

As one returning citizen in CCE’s focus group
said, “As a youth in the BOP system, there
were a lot of certification programs, such as
college, trades and so forth. Whereas [in D.C.],
they have a food service certificate but not a
food manager certificate. So you’re looking
at a $10- to $15-an-hour job rather than a
$30-an-hour job. There were are no college
courses here either, so I couldn’t take any
classes… that would have been good to have.”

Recommendations
This chapter has demonstrated that many young adults are likely to be dealing with the challenges that played
a role in their initially becoming involved in the justice system, including ineffective education, lack of positive
adult role models and few opportunities to gain job skills or experience. In an effort to advance reform efforts
to improve the District’s handling of youthful offenders, we offer the following five recommendations:
1.	 Providing positive pathways to reduce collateral consequences is critical for the District’s young adults that
are justice-system involved. The District’s justice system agencies should concentrate resources on young
adults’ specific needs by creating specialized supervision and case management teams and potentially
housing them in a separate, local facility.

366	 Office of the State Superintendent of Education. (2016, February). Responses to fiscal year 2015 performance oversight questions. Washington, D.C.: Council of the District of Columbia.
367	 In New York, 16 and 17 year-olds are treated as adults in the justice system.
368	 Cases Youth Program. (2014). Youth programs. Resource Brochure. New York: Young Adult Justice Scholars.
369	 NYC Dept. of Probation. (n.d.). Young adult justice scholars/justice community programs. Web. Retrieved
from http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/programs.shtml

www.courtexcellence.org | 99

CHAPTER 8

RE-ENTRY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

2.	 Legislative efforts in the District of Columbia have already had some positive effects on young adults. But
the legislation in its present form may not be sufficient and should be evaluated to determine feasibility
and potential next steps. The Office of the Attorney General should examine the outcomes from D.C.’s
YRA and, based on the data, recommend amending the legislation.
3.	 Similarly, we need to know more about the viability of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in D.C.,
including an exploration of the interplay with home rule, the options for implementation and the areas for
increased success for justice-involved young adults. The District of Columbia should undertake research
about raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in D.C. to 21, with special provisions for the treatment of
adults younger than 25, as is being considered in Connecticut.
4.	 More local control of young offenders by the D.C. DOC is important because of the limitations of the
BOP’s services for people under its custody. While youth serving sentences of less than one year are held at
D.C.’s CTF with potential to better serve their needs, youth serving longer sentences are scattered around
the country, far from family and community support systems. The District of Columbia criminal justice
system should work with the BOP to keep more young adults incarcerated locally at the CTF with
appropriate services and support systems.
5.	 Even if local control is not feasible, the District should consider other options, such as RRCs for young
adults who are sentenced to a year or more. While the standard length of stay in an RRC is 90 days, the
BOP could increase this, even to the full length of a young adult’s sentence. Such a facility might be better
equipped to provide more intensive and comprehensive services for young adults. The D.C. DOC should
consider the creation of an RRC for young adults under an intergovernmental agreement with the BOP.

100 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 9

LGBTQ Re-entry

While the LGBTQ community is considered its own "special population," members of the
community may also be members of another, for example, women or people of color.
This chapter on LGBTQ re-entry does not intend to exhaustively parse the compounded
nuances faced by people in the LGBTQ community who identify as a member of two or
more special populations. Instead, it will provide a general overview of the problems
facing the LGBTQ re-entrant community in terms of discrimination that leads to homelessness and unemployment as well as the challenges facing LGBTQ returning citizens
who lack specialized services and social supports.

National Context
The LGBTQ community is a special population often overlooked in re-entry efforts. LGBTQ people are more
likely to be incarcerated than the general population. Nearly 8 percent of adults in prison and 20 percent of
youth in juvenile detention facilities identified as LGBT compared to 3.8 percent and 7.9 percent of the overall
general populations, respectively.370 A recent report by the Center for American Progress and the Movement
Advancement Project examined discrimination and stigma as factors that lead to the overrepresentation of
LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system.371 These factors, among others, are not only related to the significant percentages of LGBTQ people within the criminal justice system but also create hurdles for them when
they reintegrate into the community after incarceration. Even more concerning is the fact that both nationally
and in the District of Columbia, few supports and services are tailored to LGBTQ returning citizens’ needs.
Research has shown that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be policed and often find themselves being
arrested for a crime when reporting violence against themselves.372 “For example, police frequently assume
that transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, are sex workers based on their perceived
transgender status and their race, as well as the fact that they are standing, walking or driving in a particular
area.”373 If, for example, a transgender returning citizen were to fall victim to a hate crime, research has shown
that it is highly likely they might (a) be rearrested for being perceived to have committed a crime, (b) experience

370	 CAP & MAP. (2016, February). Unjust: How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT people. Washington, D.C.: CAP.
371	 Ibid.
372	 See generally, CAP & MAP. (2016, February). Unjust: How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT
people. Washington, D.C.: CAP.
373	 Ibid., p. 46.

www.courtexcellence.org | 101

CHAPTER 9

LGBTQ RE-ENTRY

violence at the hands of the police when reporting the hate crime or (c) choose not to report the hate crime at
all for fear of the former two possibilities.374
DISCRIMINATION AND STIGMA: HOMELESSNESS
The LGBTQ community experiences higher rates of homelessness than the general population, especially
LGBTQ youth. This is due in large part to the rejection that LGBTQ people often face from their families and/
or communities. Anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.375 In the
District, nearly half (43 percent) of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.376 One in 5 transgender people report
having experienced homelessness in their lives,377 and two-thirds report having experienced homelessness as a
result of family rejection. In addition, 55 percent of service providers for LGBTQ homeless youth cited family
rejection as the reason for their clients’ homelessness.378
The cycle of homelessness that LGBTQ people experience is particularly challenging if they are also a returning citizen. The lack of family support, compounded by the difficulties the average returning citizen faces in
finding housing, can result in LGBTQ returning citizens becoming homeless after their release, which in turn
increases their risk of recidivating.379
Another contributing factor to LGBTQ homelessness is that the community faces discrimination in housing.
A study by HUD found that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples when applying for housing.380 Likewise, 19 percent of transgender respondents in a separate survey reported being refused a home
because of their gender identity/expression, and 11 percent reported having been evicted for the same reason.381
At present, there is little to no research on the impact of housing discrimination on LGBTQ returning citizens.
DISCRIMINATION AND STIGMA: EMPLOYMENT
Employment discrimination is a significant problem within the LGBTQ community. A 2015 study by the D.C.
Office of Human Rights found that “48 percent of employers appeared to prefer at least one less-qualified

374	 Ibid.
375	 Ibid.
376	 D.C. DHS. (2015). Homeless youth census 2015. Washington, D.C.: DHS.
377	 National Center for Transgender Equality. (2016). Housing and homelessness. Web. Retrieved from http://
www.transequality.org/issues/housing-homelessness
378	 Cited in CAP & MAP. (2016, February). Unjust: How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT people.
Washington, D.C.: CAP.
379	 Lutze, F. E., Rosky, J. W., & Hamilton, Z. K. (2014). Homelessness and re-entry: A multisite outcome evaluation of Washington State’s re-entry housing program for high risk offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior.
41(4), 471-491.
380	 Friedman, S., Reynolds, A., Scovill, S., Brassier, F. R., Campbell, R., & Ballou, M. (2013). An estimate of housing discrimination against same-sex couples. Washington, D.C.: HUD.
381	 Grant., J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L., & Keisling, M. (n.d.). Injustice at every turn: A
report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington, D.C.: National LGBTQ Task Force.

102 | Beyond Second Chances

applicant perceived as cisgender382 over a more-qualified applicant perceived as transgender.”383 Nationally,
between 8 percent and 17 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual people report having been unfairly fired or denied
employment as a result of their sexual orientation, and between 13 percent and 47 percent of transgender
workers reported the same as a result of their gender identity/expression.384

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
While there is no accurate data regarding the number of LGBTQ returning citizens in the District of Columbia,
the city has the highest concentration of people who identify as LGBTQ in the nation—an estimated 10 percent
of the population, nearly three times the rate of the national average.385 Given this, it is important that re-entry
services tailored to the LGBTQ community be made available.
For members of the LGBTQ community who become involved in the criminal justice system, the discrimination they face around housing and employment is even more pronounced. Finding housing and employment
are difficult enough but present even greater challenges when one has a criminal record or has served time.
Indeed, LGBTQ returning citizens are a particularly vulnerable population.
As is the case for all returning citizens, the first step to successful re-entry is being connected to services before
one’s release date. The BOP provides some information to people about to be released from prison regarding
available resources in their community. One of the ways the BOP does this is through its Community Resource
Database (CRD),386 which compiles a list of community-specific resources nationwide for returning citizens.
While an essential tool for the average returning citizen, the database was not designed to meet the needs of
the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ returning citizens require culturally competent, safe and supportive re-entry
services that include appropriately trained service providers equipped to foster a safe space.
Unfortunately, there are few LGBTQ-oriented re-entry programs in the U.S. or the District. Research has shown
that “limited LGBTQ-inclusive re-entry programs contribute to higher rates of recidivism for formerly incarcerated LGBTQ people.”387 LGBTQ-specific or inclusive programs could help returning citizens by understanding
the unique problems they face as a result of their gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, medical needs
382	 Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) is a characteristic of people having a gender identity that
matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Cisgender may also be defined as people who have “a
gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one’s sex.” See Crethar, H. C. &
Vargas, L. A. (2007). Multicultural intricacies in professional counseling. In J. Gregoire & C. Jungers (Eds.),
The counselor’s companion: What every beginning counselor needs to know. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-5684-6., p. 59.
383	 Office of Human Rights (OHR). (2015). Qualified and transgender: A report on results of resume testing for
employment discrimination based on gender identity. Washington, D.C.: OHR.
384	 Cited in CAP & MAP. (2016, February). Unjust: How the broken criminal justice system fails LGBT people.
Washington, D.C.: CAP.
385	 Gates, G. J. & Newport, F. (2013). LGBT percentage highest in D.C., lowest in North Dakota. Gallup. This
ranking is derived from a national comparing the LGBT populations of states. When the District is compared against larger cities with similar populations, it ranks eighth nationally, with 18.1 same-sex couples
per 1000 households. See The Williams Institute. (2010). District of Columbia census snapshot: 2010. Web.
Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Census2010Snapshot_D.C._
v2.pdf
386	 ASCA. (2010). BOP re-entry strategy resource materials. Web. Retrieved from http://www.asca.net/system/
assets/attachments/1624/BOP_Re-entry_Strategy_Resource_Materials.pdf
387	 Policy Link. (2016). LGBT inclusion: Good for families, communities, and the economy. Policy Link.

www.courtexcellence.org | 103

CHAPTER 9

LGBTQ RE-ENTRY

(e.g., people living with HIV, gender reassignment and/or hormone therapy) and family dynamics.
The District has extensive laws and protections, government agencies and other public services available to the
LGBTQ community that are not as extensive in many other jurisdictions. In 2006, the D.C. Council established
the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which provides technical assistance, capacity building and outreach services, and training programs for agencies and organizations around the city.388 The District also boasts a strong
network of LGBTQ-owned, -centered or -friendly organizations and businesses.389 Furthermore, the District’s
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has one of the most comprehensive, culturally competent training
programs of any police department in the nation, which includes innovative programs such as a fully-staffed
LGBT Liaison Unit.390 The District, however, does not have any LGBTQ-specific programs for returning citizens. General re-entry programs may lack the cultural competency needed to support an LGBTQ re-entering
citizen, while LGBTQ social service-providing programs may lack the expertise or resources needed to meet
the population’s unique needs.
Taylar, a returning citizen who identifies as a cisgender lesbian woman, explained that she often feels shunned
by the greater LGBTQ community as a result of having been incarcerated. When considering Taylar’s story,
Meghan Maury, senior policy counsel and the Criminal and Economic Justice Project director at the National
LGBTQ Task Force, said that some in the LGBTQ community may be reluctant to support LGBTQ returning
citizens whose crimes they may view as a “betrayal of the community’s efforts [to gain equality].” However,
Maury reiterated that LGBTQ community and policy advocates are generally supportive of people who are
returning.

Promising Practices
COLUMBUS, OHIO’S INSIDEOUT PROGRAM
Stonewall Columbus, a nonprofit organization that supports the Ohio LGBTQ community, runs the InsideOUT program, designed specifically for incarcerated people and returning citizens in the LGBTQ community.
The program has two components: “Inside,” supporting incarcerated LGBTQ people, and “Out,” supporting
LGBTQ returning citizens.
For the “inside” component of the program, InsideOUT staff and other LGBTQ community leaders visit area
correctional institutions to educate incarcerated people about LGBTQ services and supports available upon
release and to encourage unity among LGBTQ people incarcerated together. Incarcerated LGBTQ people attend
monthly, three-hour sessions over the course of a year covering topics such as family, faith and “pride inside.”
As the program progresses to the ninth month, InsideOUT staff turn over the facilitation of the meetings to
participants in the program.
388	 Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs. (2016). LGBTQ—Who we are. Web. Retrieved from http://lgbtq.dc.gov/
389	 For an extensive guide of LGBTQ organizations and resources, visit or contact the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ
Affairs at (202) 727-9493.
390	 CCE email correspondence with Kelly O’Meara, Executive Director of Strategic Change, MPD, November
7, 2016. Police officers also receive 40 hours of advanced training and work throughout the city supporting
members of the LGBTQ community. The department-wide cultural competency training courses include
topics of: handling interactions with Transgender individuals; domestic violence in LGBT relationships; and
bias-motivated crimes. The replication of a program model of this type is being considered by the Inspector General of the NYPD.

104 | Beyond Second Chances

According to Lori Gum, Stonewall Columbus’ Program Facilitator, “we hope to empower the inmates in these
groups, so that they talk about the issues that are important to them. And the issues and populations are
different at each facility. We’re about to begin our first trans-centered program at Dayton [Correctional Institution] because they indicated that as their need. Inmate-led groups are also how we get them interested, and
get them to stay in the groups.”
The “out” component of the program is a postrelease support group for LGBTQ returning citizens, with InsideOUT staff working with local businesses and organizations to provide referrals for employment. “We try to
engage with returning citizens to stay away from substance use and stay on their meds.” Gum also reported
that about half of the participants involved with InsideOUT suffer from mental health issues, which she noted
is a large contributing factor to LGBTQ recidivism.
Gum said that while InsideOUT is still a work in progress, the fact that a community for LGBTQ returning
citizens exists is monumental. A program participant told her, “When I get out, at least I know I can come to
Stonewall where there will be someone who knows me, cares about me, and is a place I can call home. It’s all
I will have.”391 https://www.stonewallcolumbus.org/programs/insideout

“When I get out, at least I know I can come to Stonewall.”
—INCARCERATED INSIDEOUT PARTICIPANT

Recommendations
Given the District’s high percentage of people who identify as LGBTQ, nearly three times the rate of the
national average, much can and should be done to educate the D.C. community against discrimination and
to ensure the rights of the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ returning citizens. To that end, CCE offers
the following five recommendations:
1.	 Since 2006, the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs has provided technical assistance, capacity building,
outreach services and training programs to serve the LGBTQ community. In the decade following its
establishment, however, efforts have been minimal at best to assist LGBTQ returning citizens. The Mayor’s
Office of LGBTQ Affairs should broaden its focus to include LGBTQ returning citizens with development and implementation of comprehensive, culturally competent training to other executive branch
agencies—such as MORCA, DBH, DOH and DOES—on how best to provide services for D.C.’s LGBTQ
returning citizens
2.	 Similarly, the District’s criminal justice and law enforcement agencies should implement new or update
existing training procedures to replicate the model developed by the MPD, which provides robust,
culturally competent training on how best to respond to and assist the LGBTQ community.
3.	 While the District’s nonprofit community includes many organizations that provide services and supports
to D.C.’s returning citizens, few if any programs are geared toward members of the LGBTQ community
with criminal records or who have served time. The D.C. government in partnership with the nonprofit
391	 Gum, L. (2015). InsideOUT: LGBTQ inmate support group program. Columbus, Ohio: Stonewall Columbus,
Inc. Unpublished program curriculum, available from Stonewall Columbus, Inc., p. 4.

www.courtexcellence.org | 105

CHAPTER 9

LGBTQ RE-ENTRY

community, and with adequate financial support from public-private sources, should encourage local
organizations to broaden their focus to include LGBTQ-centered services.
4.	 Both the LGBTQ and re-entry communities lack data on the challenging issues facing LGBTQ returning
citizens, including but not limited to the impact of housing and employment discrimination. The D.C.
government should encourage research efforts, with support from public and private funding sources,
to collect and analyze data not only on the problems but also on programs that are making a difference.
5.	 Returning citizens need relevant information about services and resources available in the communities to which they will be released. This information is particularly lacking for members of the LGBTQ
community. Accordingly, the BOP should expand its Community Resource Database to include more
LGBTQ-friendly information.

106 | Beyond Second Chances

C H APT E R 10

Social Supports

Introduction
Many returning citizens in CCE’s focus groups and interviews expressed the importance
of a strong support network. Support can take a variety of forms, such as family, mentoring, educational and vocational. These forms of support help to address what one
participant called the “pre-employment barrier.”
Successful returning citizens overwhelmingly identify poor social support as a major barrier that remains
neglected in government and nonprofit organizational programming.392 The Urban Institute found that people
incarcerated in prisons and their families were frequently ill-prepared for the transition from incarceration to
home life and the emotional and logistical complications that would inevitably follow. Additionally, according
to Urban, “on the community level, entire neighborhoods were unable to meet the complex needs of returning
individuals.”393
This chapter will discuss key issues that affect the re-entry process and can make a difference in a person's
successful transition, including family ties, mentorships and institutional programming that is geared toward
informing as well as inspiring people to succeed.

National Context
FAMILY TIES
Empirical research findings on social ties that affect recidivism include three components related to family
relationships. First, social and family ties have a controlling effect on returning offenders’ behavior; second,
they provide emotional support; and third, they facilitate identity transformation.394 While a criminal record
is more likely to lead to exclusion within the larger community, family members are unlikely to consider the
returning citizen’s arrest record as representative of the individual’s real self, but rather they may view it as

392	 Denney, A., Tewskbury, R., & Jones, R. (2014). Beyond basic needs: Social support and structure for successful offender re-entry. Marquette University Social and Cultural Sciences Faculty and Research Publication., p.
39.
393	 Rossman, S. & Fontaine, J. (2015). Safer return demonstration: Implementation findings from a researchbased community re-entry initiative. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.
394	 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Re-entry and the ties that bind: An examination of social ties, employment and recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410., p. 385.

www.courtexcellence.org | 107

CHAPTER 10

SOCIAL SUPPORTS

E UGE N E RAY
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been my family
forgiving me and giving me a strong support system. And also
being uncomfortable because of my prior convictions feeling
that I may get laid off.
My biggest success as a returning citizen has been being
focused and striving to succeed in life, being optimistic. I see
a great future for me.

part of that person’s total personality.395 This holistic perspective gives returning citizens confidence and allows
them to be seen as more than just their arrest record.
Families also provide support for the mental and emotional toll re-entry may have on a returning citizen and
prevent the individual from falling into old temptations that led to prison. People who are incarcerated or
under supervision have many choices, decisions and adjustments to make when they return. Participants in
a CCE focus group told us that upon release, they come home thinking they can overcome and are filled with
spirit and excitement. But the reality of the situation is that they are often unprepared and ill-equipped to face
the challenges. They need support in focusing on steps that will position them to be successful. For example,
they may run into an old friend, and while seeing the familiar face is appealing, it may also have the potential
to misdirect or get them off track.

Returning Citizen's Voice
Teresa, one returning citizen who has spoken
throughout this report, has four siblings, an
adult daughter, a mother and others who
assisted in her transition from incarceration.

Family support is essential not only for transitioning back
to the community but also for facilitating job opportunities.
Research suggests that quality social ties with family lower the
risk for recidivism, in part, by facilitating job attainment.396 As
this report has outlined, returning citizens are usually underskilled and undereducated when they leave prison. Therefore,
they often rely on family connections for job procurement.

She had a place to stay at her mother’s house
once she was released from the halfway house
and a job as a paralegal.
“It comes down to your personal constitution
and the family and support system that awaits
you outside prison… You need an anchor, otherwise you unravel.”

395	 Ibid., p. 385.
396	 Ibid., p. 383.

108 | Beyond Second Chances

MENTORSHIP
Mentorship is another essential component in the successful re-entry experience. According to a study of a re-entry
mentoring program established by Public/Private Ventures, a
former national nonprofit, at the one-year, postrelease mark,
participants who were mentored, regardless of whether they
ever became employed, were 35 percent less likely to recidi-

vate than those who were not mentored.397
One returning citizen in a CCE focus group said that mentorship is increasingly important for returning citizens who may not recognize the new world in which they are living. “They need a mentor… someone who’s
been home and working for about three to five years… someone who will help color their perspective and help
them get reacquainted with the job application process and climate. They need this individual to help them
avoid [the] people and environments that got them in trouble in the first place… someone that will help them
make a lifestyle change.” Indeed, mentorship is an important tool that can make a difference to a person’s job
search and reintegration back to their community.

D.C. Re-entry Landscape
Reuniting with family is important for many returning citizens in terms of child care, employment and housing.
As Figure 20 illustrates, in 2015, 57 percent of people entering CSOSA supervision from BOP facilities had
dependent children, although only a fraction were primary caregivers. Forty-seven returning citizens in 2015,
or less than 4 percent, were the primary caregivers of their dependent children, while 765, or 54 percent of
returning citizens with dependent children were not.398
Figure 20: Parental status of 2015 entrants to CSOSA supervision from BOP

Depedent children, primary caretaker

47 (3.3%)

Dependent children, NOT primary caretaker

765 (54%)

31 (2.2%)

Children, but no dependents

No children

515 (36.3%)

59 (4.2%)

Unknown

0

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

Number of entrants to CSOSA supervision

397	 Cobbs Fletcher, R., Jucovy, L., & Sherk., J. (2009). Mentoring former prisoners: A guide for re-entry programs. Washington, D.C.: Public/Private Ventures.
398	 CSOSA. (2015). Parental status of 2015 reentrants to CSOSA supervision from BOP. Unpublished raw data
analyzed by authors and on file with CCE.

www.courtexcellence.org | 109

CHAPTER 10

SOCIAL SUPPORTS

As Figures 21 and 22 illustrate, while about two-thirds of returning citizens with dependent children had stable
housing, 3 in 4 were either unemployed or unemployable.399

S E AN GL E N N
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been taking care
of my kids. They are number one.
My biggest success has been being free and staying free.

Figure 21: Employment status of 2015 entrants from BOP
to CSOSA supervision with dependent children

42+32+719x
65+28+7x
19%

42%

7%

Unemployed
Unemployable
Unknown
Employed

32%

Figure 22: Housing status of 2015 entrants from BOP
to CSOSA supervision with dependent children.
7%

28%

65%

Stable Housing
Unstable Housing
Unknown

For returning citizens who transfer to halfway houses rather than to family homes, the process of family reunification can be even more difficult. At Hope Village, for example, visits are done in a large open area with other

399	 Ibid.

110 | Beyond Second Chances

residents in sight, which can intimidate small children and provides no privacy for families to discuss sensitive
topics. Having a supportive family structure is often what helps returning citizens succeed.
People who are incarcerated and face the prospects of
returning to their families might also benefit from parenting
programs offered within the prison to help strengthen those
family bonds. According to one participant in a CCE focus
group, “My biggest challenge will be staying focused. I need to
keep my motivation going. I have a barbecue business, a son,
and I take fatherhood seriously. I want to focus on molding
my relationship with my son. It would be good to have an
instructor in here on fatherhood. There are many fathers in
here that need help parenting.”

Returning Citizens' Voices
One focus group participant referred to the
re-entry process as a “long and continuous
journey.” Opinions varied about the journey’s
duration, but everyone agreed that when least
expected, “triggers” will bring to the surface
old feelings and experiences.
Returning citizens must overcome road blocks

Promising Practices
D.C. DOC WORK READINESS PROGRAM
Two CCE staff were given access to conduct a focus group
with three men who were incarcerated in the D.C. DOC Work
Readiness Unit. The men assigned to this unit are within 12
weeks of release and receive work and life skills training from
DOES staff, along with case management and employment
assistance from DOES upon release.

and walls, defensiveness, negativity and mindsets they have used thus far in life to protect
themselves but that now act as barriers. With
every new day is a new opportunity to make a
decision that will either further their success or
hinder it. As another returning citizen noted,
“My life depends on what I’m doing today.”

The Work Readiness Program also encourages returning citizens to identify what led them to engage in criminal activity and to address those issues. According to one focus
group member, the program “gives you a structure of where to go, rather than going back to criminal activity.
We encourage each other to do the right thing… to give yourself a chance and involve yourself in positive things.”
Program participants also receive a number of resources for use when they re-enter the community, such as
information about commercial driver’s licenses, a GED certificate and treatment programs like Alcoholics
Anonymous, as well as assistance with drafting resumes and business plans prior to release. They also learn
about D.C. government agencies and programs that are relevant to their re-entry process.
Focus group participants told us that the program gives them a sense of importance and pride that translates
to life on the outside. “This program was life-saving. I’ve seen so many broken spirits in jail, and in this program unlike in the main part of the jail, everyone has a purpose again. People are open-minded and give you
strength. We are helping one another to know which way to go.”
Work Readiness Program participants also look to one another for encouragement and support. “Here… we
have to break out of our set state of mind. We want to be creative people to help those like us. We see a positive
way of life rather than a negative way of life… The ones that want to make it… we help each other to do so.”

www.courtexcellence.org | 111

L AS H ON IA T H OMPS ON -E L
My biggest struggle as a returning citizen has been family
reunification.
My biggest success has been working to improve gender
responsive re-entry efforts and help create humane conditions
of confinement.

Recommendations
Social supports, such as family ties, mentorships and well-run programs in prison and in jail, can make a difference in the successful transition from incarceration to the community. To that end, we offer the following
three recommendations:
1.	 Returning citizens have opinions about and insights into policies and programs that are making a difference
both positively and negatively in their transition back to the community. Criminal justice institutions
and programs should involve returning citizens in the development of new, and evaluation of existing,
re-entry policies and programs.
2.	 Family ties can have a positive effect on recidivism, build confidence, provide emotional support and facilitate job opportunities. But the physical limitations of prisons, jails and halfway houses are not conducive
to maintaining or strengthening family relationships. Criminal justice institutions, community and
non-profit organizations and programs should create more effective ways to integrate family support
into the prison and re-entry process.
3.	 Mentors and mentoring programs are as vital to a returning citizen’s success as treatment, housing or vocational services. Criminal justice agencies and nonprofit organizations should ensure that mentors are
fully recognized, and compensated when possible, for the value of their time and experience.

112 | Beyond Second Chances

AP P E NDIX A

Glossary of Acronyms

AA

Alcoholics Anonymous

ACA

Affordable Care Act

ACLU

American Civil Liberties Union

AIDS

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

BHA

Burlington Housing Authority

BJS

Bureau of Justice Statistics

BLS

Bureau of Labor Statistics

BOP

Federal Bureau of Prisons

C4C

Consultants for Change

CAP

Center for American Progress

CASA

the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

CCA

Center for Community Alternatives

CCE

Council for Court Excellence

CCNV

The Community for Creative Non-Violence

CDF

Central Detention Facility, or D.C. Jail

CEPP

Center for Effective Public Policy

CIC

Corrections Information Council

CJCC

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

CJPS

D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety

CLSP

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

CMHRP

Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Reentry Program

CRD

Community Resource Database

CSGJC

the Council of State Governments Justice Center

www.courtexcellence.org | 113

GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS

APPENDIX A

CSO

Community supervision officer

CSOSA

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia

CTF

Correctional Treatment Facility

DBH

D.C. Department of Behavioral Health

D.C. DOC

D.C. Department of Corrections

D.C. OAG

D.C. Office of the Attorney General

DCCK

D.C. Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job

DCHA

D.C. Housing Authority

DMGEO

Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

DMHSAS

Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

DMV

D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

DOES

D.C. Department of Employment Services

DOH

D.C. Department of Health

DSLBD

The D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development

DYRS

Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

ED

United States Department of Education

EEOC

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EOM

Executive Office of the Mayor

FCRSA

Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act

FOIA

Freedom of Information Act

FY

Fiscal Year

GAO

United States Government Accountability Office

GED

General Education Development

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

HUD

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

JHC

Justice & Health Connect

KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation

LGBTQ

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning

MAP

Movement Advancement Project

MCDCR

Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

114 | Beyond Second Chances

MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MORCA

Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs

MPD

D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

NA

Narcotics Anonymous

NIJ

National Institute of Justice

NLIHC

National Low Income Housing Coalition

ODRC

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

OHR

D.C. Office of Human Rights

OIG

D.C. Office of the Inspector General

OK DOC

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

OSSE

D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education

PDS

Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

PRC

Pre-release Center

PREP

Philadelphia Re-entry Program

PSA

Pretrial Services Agency

PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress disorder

RDAP

Residential Drug Abuse Program

REC

Re-engagement Center

RHO

Returning Home Ohio

RRC

Residential Re-entry Center

SOW

Statement of Work

SSI

Social Security insurance/benefits

SSDI

Social Security disability insurance/benefits

TANF

Temporary Aid to Needy Families

TAP

Transition Assistance Program

TIPS

Transitional Intervention for Parole Supervision

TORI

Texas Offenders Re-entry Initiative

ULS

University Legal Services

USAO D.C.

United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

USCB

United States Census Bureau

USPC

United States Parole Commission

www.courtexcellence.org | 115

APPENDIX A

GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS

VSC

Voices for a Second Chance

WLC

Washington Lawyers’ Committee

WMATA

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

WPA

Women’s Prison Association

YRA

D.C.’s Youth Rehabilitation Act

116 | Beyond Second Chances

www.courtexcellence.org | 117

AP PE NDIX B

Recommendations Chart

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

1

The BOP, halfway houses and D.C. DOC should coordinate to ensure that
re-entry planning is conducted at least three months prior to a person's
release. Such planning must be holistic and individualized, and should
consider employment, applications for disability benefits and Medicaid,
education and housing, as well as information about parenting, money
management, technology and useful information, such as how to use
a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) SmarTrip
public transportation fare card.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

2

The District should advocate to Congress for USPC regulations and
procedures to be rewritten to better address the needs of D.C. Code
offenders, or else for the amending of the Revitalization Act so that the
USPC no longer has jurisdiction over D.C. Code offenders, in which case
the District must also reconstitute the D.C. Board of Parole.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

3

The BOP should create an ombudsman position focused specifically on
D.C. correctional issues.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

4

The BOP should not renew Hope Village’s contracts when they expire in
2016 and 2017.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

5

The BOP should use this Statement of Work to hold a new halfway
house provider accountable for offering high-quality services, including
workforce engagement, connection to behavioral and physical health
services, securing housing, family support and offense-specific issues, by
tracking outcomes such as employment, engagement in treatment, and
recidivism.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

6

Agencies and organizations should strive to provide case management
that is client-centered.

118 | Beyond Second Chances

X

X

X

X
X
X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Other

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

MORCA	

Halfway
Houses	

D.C.
Mayor	

D.C.
Council	

DBH	

CSOSA	

BOP	

DOC	

X

•	 Congress
•	 USPC

X

X

X

•	 DYRS
•	 PSA

www.courtexcellence.org | 119

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

7

RRCs serving D.C.’s returning citizens should replicate the Montgomery
County PRC model, by gathering community input on decisions that
affect their surrounding neighborhoods, meaningfully engaging with
the community, and treating community-based organizations as active
partners.

CHAPTER 2
An Overview of D.C.’s
Re-entry System

8

MORCA should be fully funded in the next budget so that it can
implement the recommendations included in the inspector general’s
report and the University of Maryland’s assessment of the agency and
better serve D.C.'s returning citizens by operating as a re-entry hub,
coordinating referrals to service providers and helping to develop and
implement policy ideas.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

1

Support should be provided to family and friends to house returning
citizens, including protection from eviction and confidence that their
own privacy rights will be protected.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

2

Correctional facilities and housing providers should permit and assist
returning citizens to apply for and reserve housing up to 90 days prior to
release

CHAPTER 3
Housing

3

Public and private sector service providers should ensure that returning
citizens — especially people with mental and physical health needs and
who are homeless — have housing that enables them to feel safe and
adjust to being released from prison or jail. This will require community
needs assessments and building sufficient capacity to meet those
needs.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

4

The D.C. government should continue to increase affordable housing
options and add returning citizens to the list of demographic groups
considered priority populations.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

5

The D.C. government and nonprofit stakeholders should collaborate
to clarify and streamline the patchwork of eligibility for housing-related
services.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

6

The D.C. government and nonprofit stakeholders should collaborate to
create a tracking system to determine the availability of beds in various
re-entry housing programs, allowing them to place returning citizens
more efficiently and effectively.

CHAPTER 3
Housing

7

The D.C. Council should enact The Fair Criminal Record Screening for
Housing Act of 2016, introduced by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie,
to prevent unwarranted discrimination against people with criminal
records in housing markets, and ensure the subsequent law is enforced
by OHR.

120 | Beyond Second Chances

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Other

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

MORCA	

X

X

X

Halfway
Houses	

DOC	

D.C.
Mayor	

D.C.
Council	

DBH	

CSOSA	

BOP	
X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 DCHA
•	 DHCD

X

X

X

•	 DCHA
•	 DHCD

X

X

•	 DCHA
•	 DOH

•	 DCHA
•	 DHCD

•	 OHR

www.courtexcellence.org | 121

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 4
Employment

1

Expand adult education opportunities with a focus on high school
diplomas, secondary education and job skills that are in high demand in
local markets.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

2

The District government, in consultation with service providers, should
develop and fund comprehensive programs that provide not just
employment skills and training but also meet the holistic needs of
returning citizens.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

3

D.C. criminal justice agencies should continue to increase the flexibility
of the requirements for probation, parole and supervision so that they
do not jeopardize or impede work or training.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

4

Research should be undertaken that asks employers about incentives
that would encourage them to hire returning citizens, and such
incentives should then be developed, implemented and evaluated.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

5

The BOP should replicate quality job training programs at more facilities
where D.C. Code offenders are housed, and the D.C. DOC should gather
the necessary data to track outcomes from its work-release program and
expand participation in the practices that work.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

6

The mayor and D.C. Council should work together to fund the
Improving Access to Identity Documents Amendment Act of 2016 in
the next budget, and DMV, DOC, MORCA, and CSOSA should work
in conjunction with non-profits to educate returning citizens about the
benefits of this law.

CHAPTER 4
Employment

7

The D.C. Council, in consultation with key stakeholders, should not only
consider legislation to expand the type of offenses that are eligible for
sealing and expungement but also consider requiring private companies
that collect criminal records to purge information about arrest or
conviction records that have been sealed or expunged.

CHAPTER 5
Education

1

The District of Columbia government, in consultation with the nonprofit
community, should continue to increase the availability of high school
diploma programs that offer flexible schedules and other supports to
adults.

CHAPTER 5
Education

2

MORCA, social service providers and re-entry community advocacy
organizations should focus on assisting returning citizens with enrolling
in educational courses and applying for financial aid as part of their
transition home.

CHAPTER 5
Education

3

The BOP should increase access to GED and college courses at BOP
facilities for D.C. Code offenders.

122 | Beyond Second Chances

X

X

X

X

•	 DOES
•	 DCPS
•	 Public
Charter
Schools

X

•	 DCHA
•	 DOES
•	 DOH
•	 DSLBD
•	 Unity
Health Care

X

•	 PSA
•	 USPC
X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Other

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

X

MORCA	

X

Halfway
Houses	

D.C.
Mayor	
X

DOC	

D.C.
Council	

DBH	

CSOSA	

BOP	

X

X

•	 DOES

•	 PSA

X

X

X

•	 DMV

X

•	 DCPS
•	 Public
Charter
Schools

X

•	 DCHA
•	 DCPS
•	 Public
Charter
Schools

X

X

X

X

X

X

www.courtexcellence.org | 123

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 5
Education

4

The D.C. DOC should undertake to have an evaluation conducted
concerning the quality of its GED and special education services that
would include the establishment and implementation of a formal
improvement plan.

CHAPTER 5
Education

5

The BOP should make special education services available at BOP
facilities to people under 22 years of age or house people who qualify at
the D.C. DOC where they can utilize existing services.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

1

The BOP, the D.C. DOC and the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health
should work together to improve the quality of substance use and
mental health treatment so that care provided through their agencies, as
well as through core service agencies and other community providers, is
in line with evidence-based best practices.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

2

D.C. government agencies should work together to increase the
availability of integrated treatment for people with co-occurring mental
health and substance use disorders, both while they are incarcerated
and once they return to the community.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

3

D.C. Council, MPD and DBH should collaborate to develop pre-arrest
diversion programs for people with mental illness.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

4

Public and private sector service providers should ensure that people
with behavioral and physical health needs who are homeless have
housing that enables them to engage appropriate care upon release
from prison or jail. This will require community needs assessments and
to build sufficient capacity to meet those needs.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

5

D.C. government agencies responsible for health care-related benefits
should ensure that people who have disabilities and chronic illnesses—
including serious and persistent mental illness—face no gap in service
coverage for either Medicaid or disability benefits. Furthermore, the BOP
should send a weekly list of people being released from their facilities
to the Department of Health Care Finance to prevent gaps in Medicaid
coverage and allow for medication and medical services not to lapse.

CHAPTER 6
Physical & Behavioral Health

6

The D.C. government should work with hospitals and other health care
providers to create fee waiver or fee reduction programs for medical
records requested by returning citizens or their service providers for the
purpose of obtaining benefits.

CHAPTER 6
Physical and Behavioral
Health

7

Supervision agencies should recognize that people with mental illness
may have difficulty with strict compliance of rules of supervision and
should craft a “problem solving” approach to supervision, in line with
federal disability law, that creates accommodations to support the wellbeing of the individual while maintaining public safety.

124 | Beyond Second Chances

Other

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

MORCA	

Halfway
Houses	

DOC	

D.C.
Mayor	

D.C.
Council	

DBH	

CSOSA	

BOP	

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 Unity
Health Care

X

•	 PSA
•	 Unity
Health Care
•	 MPD

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 DOH

•	 DHCF

X

X

•	 DOH

•	 PSA
•	 USPC

www.courtexcellence.org | 125

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 6
Physical and Behavioral
Health

8

Public and private providers should expand the use of “warm handoffs,” providing an introduction and connection to services rather than a
referral that can be difficult for people with physical and mental health
problems to follow up on independently.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

1

The BOP should invest in programs that provide re-entering women
with job preparedness, training and experience and should remunerate
women fairly for the work they perform.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

2

The BOP should facilitate access to all forms of family visitation while
women are incarcerated, including collaborating to organize trips to outof-state facilities, housing women closer to D.C. and video conferencing
visitation, and in consultation with the D.C. DOC should consider
keeping all women D.C. Code offenders incarcerated in D.C. for the
duration of their sentence.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

3

The D.C. government and WMATA should consider providing free public
transportation to women returning citizens until they are more stabilized
in terms of income and other benefits.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

4

DCHA, DHCD, the D.C. DOC and service providers should collaborate to
increase housing options and ensure that such options do not replicate
the traumatizing experience of prison and jail.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

5

PSA, CSOSA and the USPC should re-evaluate the terms of supervision
for women so that they are not unnecessarily re-incarcerated for
violations that disrupt their ability to care for family and maintain stable
housing and work.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

6

The D.C. DOC and DBH, in collaboration with public and private sector
service providers, should increase options for therapy and mental health
services in and outside of the jail.

CHAPTER 7
Women's Re-entry

7

The BOP and the D.C. DOC, in collaboration with public and private
sector service providers in D.C., should train staff at all levels on
trauma-informed care, as well as increase access to trauma-informed
programming at correctional facilities and within community-based
organizations.

CHAPTER 8
Re-entry for Young Adults

1

The District’s justice system agencies should concentrate resources on
young adults’ specific needs by creating specialized supervision and
case management teams and potentially housing them in a separate,
local facility.

CHAPTER 8
Re-entry for Young Adults

2

The Office of the Attorney General should examine the outcomes
from D.C.’s YRA and, based on the data, recommend amending the
legislation.

126 | Beyond Second Chances

Halfway
Houses	

MORCA	

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

X

X

X

X

Other

DOC	

DBH	
X

D.C.
Mayor	

CSOSA	
X

D.C.
Council	

BOP	
X

•	 PSA

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 WMATA

X

•	 DCHA

X

•	 Unity
Health Care

X

•	 Unity
Health Care

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 DYRS
•	 PSA

•	 OAG

www.courtexcellence.org | 127

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 8
Re-entry for Young Adults

3

The District of Columbia should undertake research about raising the
age of juvenile jurisdiction in D.C. to 21, with special provisions for
the treatment of adults younger than 25, as is being considered in
Connecticut.

CHAPTER 8
Re-entry for Young Adults

4

The District of Columbia criminal justice system should work with the
BOP to keep more young adults incarcerated locally at the CTF with
appropriate services and support systems.

CHAPTER 8
Re-entry for Young Adults

5

The D.C. DOC should consider the creation of an RRC for young adults
under an intergovernmental agreement with the BOP.

CHAPTER 9
LGBTQ Re-entry

1

The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs should broaden its focus to include
LGBTQ returning citizens with development and implementation of
comprehensive, culturally competent training to other executive branch
agencies—such as MORCA, DBH, DOH and DOES—on how best to
provide services for D.C.’s LGBTQ returning citizens.

CHAPTER 9
LGBTQ Re-entry

2

The District’s criminal justice and law enforcement agencies should
implement new or update existing training procedures to replicate the
model developed by MPD, which provides robust, culturally competent
training on how best to respond to and assist the LGBTQ community.

CHAPTER 9
LGBTQ Re-entry

3

"The D.C. government in partnership with the nonprofit community, and
with adequate financial support from public-private sources, should
encourage local organizations to broaden their focus to include LGBTQcentered services.

CHAPTER 9
LGBTQ Re-entry

4

The D.C. government should encourage research efforts, with support
from public and private funding sources, to collect and analyze data not
only on the problems but also on programs that are making a difference

CHAPTER 9
LGBTQ Re-entry

5

The BOP should expand its Community Resource Database to include
more LGBTQ-friendly information.

128 | Beyond Second Chances

•	 DYRS
•	 OAG

X

X

X
X

X

•	 DYRS

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Other

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

MORCA	

Halfway
Houses	

X

X

X

DOC	

D.C.
Mayor	

D.C.
Council	

DBH	

CSOSA	

BOP	

X

X

X

X

•	 DOES
•	 DOH
•	 Mayor's
Office on
LGBTQ
Affairs

X

•	 Mayor's
Office on
LGBTQ
Affairs
•	 PSA
•	 WMATA

X

X

X

•	 Mayor's
Office on
LGBTQ
Affairs
•	 PSA
•	 Mayor's
Office on
LGBTQ
Affairs

X

www.courtexcellence.org | 129

APPENDIX B

RECOMMENDATIONS CHART

Chapter

Rec.
#

Recommendation

CHAPTER 10
Social Supports

1

Criminal justice institutions and programs should involve returning
citizens in the development of new, and evaluation of existing, re-entry
policies and programs.

CHAPTER 10
Social Supports

2

Criminal justice institutions, community and non-profit organizations and
programs should create more effective ways to integrate family support
into the prison and re-entry process.

CHAPTER 10
Social Supports

3

Criminal justice agencies and nonprofit organizations should ensure that
mentors are fully recognized, and compensated when possible, for the
value of their time and experience.

130 | Beyond Second Chances

DBH	

D.C.
Mayor	

DOC	

Halfway
Houses	

MORCA	

Nonprofit &
Community
Organizations	

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 Congress
•	 DCHA
•	 DOH
•	 DYRS
•	 Mayor's
Office on
LGBTQ
Affairs
•	 MPD
•	 OAG
•	 PSA
•	 USPC

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

•	 DYRS

X

X

X

X

•	 DYRS

X

Other

CSOSA	
X

D.C.
Council	

BOP	
X

www.courtexcellence.org | 131

Officers and Executive Committee
James D. Berry Jr.
Civic Director

Victor E. Long
Reagan Zambri Long, PLLC

Carol Elder Bruce
K & L Gates LLP

John W. Nields	
Covington & Burling LLP

Paulette E. Chapman
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson,
DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.

Hon. Robert D. Okun	
Superior Court
of the District of Columbia

Barry Coburn
Coburn & Greenbaum PLLC

Tyrone C. Parker	
Civic Director

David H. Cox
Jackson & Campbell, PC

Brian L. Schwalb	
Venable LLP

Leslye Givarz
Civic Director

Elizabeth A. Scully	
BakerHostetler

Larry E. Hinton
GEICO Insurance Company

Laura R. Handman
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Steuart H. Thomsen	
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

TREASURER & FINANCE
COMMITTEE CHAIR

James H. Hulme
Arent Fox LLP

Julia A. Matthews
PNC Wealth Management

John B. Kennedy
The Washington Post

James P. Tuite	
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer
& Feld LLP

NOMINATING

Peter R. Kolker
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP

CHAIR

Hon. Sven E. Holmes
KPMG LLP
PRESIDENT

Irvin B. Nathan
Arnold & Porter LLP
IMMEDIATE PAST
PRESIDENT

Earl J. Silbert
DLA Piper LLP (US)
VICE PRESIDENT

Jack E. Strausman
Pepco Holdings
SECRETARY

COMMITTEE CHAIR

Dwight D. Murray
Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato
& Missner LLP

Natalie S. Walker
Webster & Fredrickson, PLLC
Cynthia G. Wright	
Civic Director

STAFF

June Kress
Executive Director

Ben Moser
Research & Policy Analyst

Jeff Capley
Office Administrator

Danny Reed
Development & Communications
Director

Sarah Medway
Policy Analyst

Emily Tatro
Policy Analyst

Council for Court Excellence
1111 14th Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005-5628
202.785.5917

courtexcellence.org
facebook.com/courtexcellence
twitter.com/CCE_for_DC
linkedin.com/company/council-for-court-excellence

Council for
Court Excellence
Improving Justice for the Community

Council for
Court Excellence
Improving Justice for the Community

 

 

Federal Prison Handbook
CLN Subscribe Now Ad
The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct Side