The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA)

The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA)

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1147-3.ch004
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CSOSA is the agency that supervises residents on probation and parole in the District of Columbia. In 2017, it supervised 16,407 District residents. In that year, 90% of CSOSA's clients' technical violations came from drug use and drug testing violations, and these technical violations caused 10% of the agency's revocation to incarceration in 2017. CSOSA sanctions its clients by sending them to day reporting center and CSOSA performs home visits (an astounding 45,124 in 2017). Yet, to date, there is scant evidence showing any relationship between sanctions, or day reporting centers, or home visits and recidivism and public safety. It's true, there is no agreement among social scientists as to the number of studies needed to confirm that an intervention “works.” However, to date, none of the methods used by CSOSA have been shown to “work.”
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The District Of Columbia Criminal Justice System

The unique set of relationships between local and federal agencies is depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Local and federal criminal justice agencies


In the District, unlike many other jurisdictions where there is a city court, circuit court, and a justice court, there is only a superior court where all criminal cases are filed and prosecuted. If a person is charged with a federal crime, their case will be prosecuted at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The mayor and city council oversee the Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Correction, Office of Attorney General, and Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services. The federal government oversees the Pretrial Agency, the District Court, and the Parole Commission. CSOSA is an independent agency in the federal Executive Branch. In 2018, President Donald J. Trump nominated Richard S. Tischner to serve as the third presidentially appointed Director of CSOSA.


The Court Services And Offender Supervision Agency

On August 5, 1997, the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 (“Revitalization Act”) became law. Under the Revitalization Act, “The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) assumed the adult probation function from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia” (CSOSA, 2018). CSOSA’s Community Supervision Program (CSP) supervises adults released by the Superior Court for the District of Columbia on probation, those released by the US Parole Commission on parole or supervised release, as well as a smaller number of clients sentenced under Deferred Sentence Agreements (DSAs) and Civil Protection Orders (CSOSA, 2018a, p. 1).

Table 1 indicates that the District has substantially more probation than parole clients, i.e., more people under government surveillance than those actually convicted of a crime.

Table 1.
CSOSA client population (2015–2017)

Source: Adapted from CSOSA (2018a, p. 45). Public domain statement:

Table 2 indicates that CSOSA has almost an equal number of clients that are at high-, medium-, and low-risk levels but also a substantial number (3,746) that are not identified by a risk level.

Table 2.
CSOSA: Client levels of supervision

Source: Adapted from CSOSA (2018a, p. 45). Public domain statement:

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