Takeaways from My Interview with The Criminologist

Recently, the SAW Project had an amazing opportunity to be featured on The Criminologist podcast’s episode #114 “Our Interview with Julie Truschel of the SAW Project.” I spoke with Joe Arvidson on criminal justice careers, the American Probation and Parole’s International Relations Committee, and of course, the origins of the SAW Project.  For those interested in listening, the full interview is available at the bottom of this blog.

I also shared a bit of my personal background. Having been raised on a farm in northern Minnesota with very few resources other than family (Mom, Dad, and eight siblings), I learned a strong work ethic.  Being the only family member who had ever wanted to go to college caused a bit of tension and moving out of state to do so created more conflict.  However, it was upon choosing to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder that the real challenges began.  

Boulder, Colorado, is known as a city of liberal thoughts and policies.  Upon arriving in 1982, every conversation in earshot was new and exciting.  Like all university freshmen, I was required to live within the campus dormitories.  Moving into the dorms with affluent people from around the nation brought surprisingly difficult encounters.  Everything was different, from clothing to speech to politics.  Working to become accepted, while being judged based upon rules I’d never heard of, was a task in learning to remake who I was as an individual.  

Drawing from that background of hard work, the university experience was ultimately successful.

I share that story to express some understanding of how difficult it can be to change our behaviors, especially into new and unknown territory.  In criminal justice, we interact every day with individuals who have a lifetime of lived experiences, and who are sometimes from a world of alternate rules.  Learning to change may involve not only new and diverse skills, but that evolution can also bring about a quagmire of issues from a previously supportive network.  Seeing yourself differently can take time and require finding additional communities of support, which takes even more time.  It is hoped that our supervision systems are designed to assist clients with this process.

Expanding a criminal justice system or evolving to a new program model is even more difficult.  The change process is broader, with more complexities of size, scope, and personalities.  In this endeavor however, there are clear support systems and existing agencies with resources available to help.  The National Institute of Corrections can be a great place to start with technical assistance provided as well as a wonderful library available.  Educational podcasts are also excellent resources for learning from others.  Joe Arvidson of The Criminologist has a large volume of pertinent interviews with criminal justice experts discussing a variety of topics from Core Correctional Skills for staff members to the research of Desistance from crime along with many other subjects. 

At the SAW Project, our intent is to offer support to those interested in changing for a better future; whether individuals changing their lives, programs growing their services, or systems redesigning their practices.  Your interest and engagement in our network will allow the SAW Project to expand and support those efforts to evolve.