Summary: Off Paper: The Criminal Justice Podcast from the FJC focuses on issues of federal criminal justice and, more specifically, how those issues affect probation and pretrial services officers and their clients. When an individual has finished serving any time and successfully completed release requirements, that person is “off paper.”
Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, professor of psychology at Stanford University and MacArthur “genius” award recipient explains that although our brains are “wired” to see differences, research shows that self-awareness and thoughtful and deliberate decision making can help end the subtle and subjective discrimination we see and experience in our personal lives and workplaces.
Retired chief U.S. probation and pretrial services officers Tony Anderson, Belinda Alexander-Ashley, Ph.D., and Yador Harrell discuss their personal experiences of racial bias in their lives and careers, their reactions to the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black men and women by police officers, and their suggestions for alleviating racial discrimination in the probation and pretrial services workplace.
U.S. probation and pretrial services officers January Welks and Jennifer Simone discuss how the pandemic has called for new ways of thinking and working, in some cases leading to positive change in both their professional and personal lives. Officers Welks, Simone, and colleagues across the country, on the front line of the pandemic, share the adjustments they make to remain healthy and safe while continuing to keep the wheels of justice moving. Clinical psychologist Guy Bourgon, a second time guest, reacts to their stories and describes how knowing your "why" and being proactive, predictable, and people-focused can help officers manage crisis. He explains how being forced to implement new practices can move organizations and individuals past the inertia that impedes change, making them stronger and better.
Host Mark Sherman talks with bank robber turned Georgetown law professor Shon Hopwood about how the system can help and hurt an inmate’s return to society. Shon’s unusual legal journey began during a twelve-year stint in federal prison for robbing banks. While there, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of two of his petitions, giving his life an unexpected turn. While on supervised release, Shon overcame many of the obstacles that stand in the way of most inmate’s successful reentry into society, to include finding a good job and attending the University of Washington School of Law on a Gates public interest scholarship. Today, he is a member of the bar, teaches constitutional and criminal law at Georgetown University Law School, and represents prison inmates before the federal courts. As a criminal justice reform advocate, he also lobbied successfully for the 2018 passage of the First Step Act.
Host Mark Sherman talks with Judge Nancy Gertner (ret.) of Harvard Law School, Dr. Francis Shen and Dr. Judith Edersheim of Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior, and FJC education attorney Cassandra Snyder about a unique educational initiative developed by the FJC and Harvard that is helping judges, pretrial services officers, and probation officers think through, in a science-informed way, the complex issues they confront every day, and develop alternatives that might serve as an antidote to the revolving door of the criminal justice system.
Chief U.S. Pretrial Services Officer Christine Dozier of the District of New Jersey has become known for her unique philosophy that “reentry begins at arrest.” Chief Dozier served in that role for 15 years before retiring in October 2019. During that time she transformed her agency from being a traditional provider of pretrial services, to one on the cutting edge of innovation not just in pretrial work, but in in criminal justice more generally. Chief Dozier’s approach has enabled the District of New Jersey’s pretrial services office to become a leader in release rates and successful outcomes for individuals on pretrial supervision. She has taken a systems view, illustrating that an individual’s success on pretrial release can have a positive impact on their sentence, reentry to the community following incarceration, and post-conviction supervision. Host Mark Sherman talks with Chief Dozier about the present and future of federal pretrial services, and what she learned as a leader over the course of her tenure.
In this episode of “Off Paper” Clark Porter talks about his journey and his work assisting returning citizens to make the difficult transition from prison to community. Clark Porter was arrested for robbing a post office in St. Louis at age seventeen in 1986. He was sentenced to thirty-five years in federal prison and ended up serving fifteen years. While on parole he received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. Soon after that, he obtained a master’s degree in social work from St. Louis University. Ultimately, Clark was hired as a community resources specialist with the U.S. Probation Office in the Eastern District of Missouri—the same office that supervised him while he was on parole.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from requiring a criminal defendant to pay “excessive bail” in order to get out of jail before trial. Nevertheless, nearly half a million people across the country are in pretrial detention.
Chronic substance use and mental health disorders are common problems for individuals in the criminal justice system. Alone or together, and sometimes in conjunction with other risk factors, these disorders can drive behavior that results in violation of supervision conditions or even in new criminal conduct.
Holistic defense is also called community-oriented defense, therapeutic defense, or holistic advocacy. Whatever the name, its purpose is to solve underlying social and environmental problems that may have contributed to an individual's involvement in crime. It does this by emphasizing teamwork, partnerships with other criminal justice stakeholders, and identification and mitigation of collateral consequences. By doing this, defense attorneys hope to improve public safety by helping clients avoid involvement in the criminal justice system and reducing recidivism. In this episode of Off Paper, federal defenders Kathy Nester (D. Utah) and Maureen Franco (W.D. Tex.), who have been at the forefront of this work in the federal system, talk about the role of the defender in building and sustaining a multi-stakeholder, district-wide reentry infrastructure and in developing and implementing collaborative, problem-solving courts.
This first episode of Off Paper is a conversation with Dr. Guy Bourgon, a clinical psychologist specializing in corrections and criminal justice, and the coleader for Canada's Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS). Dr. Bourgon is recognized for translating research into useful and practical concepts that enhance skills and techniques for promoting client engagement and facilitating prosocial change.
Chief U.S. Probation Officer Connie Smith and Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, both of the Western District of Washington, will discuss the roles of the officer who conducts the presentence investigation and the sentencing judge; individualized sentencing and avoiding unwarranted sentencing disparities; and the importance of taking a science-informed approach in the presentence and sentencing process.
On this episode of Off Paper, host Mark Sherman talks to Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia, Kate Desmond, and Keith Murphy, who work together on the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice’s Smart Supervision Project—an effort to gather and use neuroscientific, culturally specific, trauma-informed research and information in the department’s work.
On this episode of Off Paper, host Mark Sherman talks to Dr. Robert Kinscherff, an individual whose career weaves together many of those threads. Dr. Kinscherff is a clinical forensic psychologist and attorney with more than thirty years of experience in forensic mental health. Mark’s discussion with Dr. Kinscherff explores the many facets of his training and experience and his observations on important issues in supervising justice-involved individuals.
This episode of Off Paper features a discussion of the new post-conviction supervision policy and its implications for federal probation departments, their leaders, their officers, their clients, and their communities. Guests include Chief U.S. Probation Officer and Chiefs Advisory Group chair Jonathan Hurtig (New Hampshire), Chief U.S. Probation Officer and Post-Conviction Supervision Working Group chair John Bentley (South Dakota), Deputy Chief Probation Officer and Working Group member Brad Whitley (M.D.N.C.), and Supervisory Probation Administrator Scott VanBenschoten (Administrative Office).