A few weeks ago DC Casto toured a not-for-profit work release center for women located in Indianapolis, Indiana. One program they have adapted for the women of Craine House is a class modeled on the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange program from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This version of the program is a partnership between university students and the women living at Craine House to discuss readings that focus on issues of poverty, social policy, drug use, abuse and a myriad of factors that impact the lives of incarcerated women. The next step was having the women construct stories of their lives, showing the events, trauma and misfortunes that led to the criminal justice system. Ultimately, the power of writing their personal stories, helped transform these women into strong, determine and productive citizens. I share with you my favorite poem from the book In it together…writings from the inside out.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Take her away, I don’t like her at all
Take away the bruised and broken girl I used to see
Bring back the other girl, that’s the real me
I like the girl with the smile and bright eyes
I like the me that doesn’t hurt inside
For the first time in a long time I saw her today
I had to smile back and ask her to stay
She looked determined, not defeated and frail
She looked so strong, not weak and pale
Mirror, mirror keep her around
She is not lost, she has been found
Recovery and Supports for Women Involved with the Criminal Justice System
This webinar centers on the unique experiences, barriers to recovery and re-entry into society, that women often face during and after incarceration. Experts will address the experiences, needs, and resiliency of women involved with the correctional system, along with effective interventions, programs, policies, and partnerships to help women rebuild their lives. This presentation is designed for anyone working with women who have experienced incarceration, including community and in-custody treatment and recovery service providers.
July 23, 2015 at 3:00-4:30 PM ET (11:00 AM Alaska Time).
Click on the link below to register!
Earn 1.5 Continuing Education Hours from the National Board for Certified Counselors or NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, continuing education credits.
Join the discussion about women's behavioral health on social media with hashtag #womenmatter2015.
The Alaska DHSS Division of Behavioral Health, in collaboration with DOC, has awarded a re-entry services contract to Partners for Progress in Anchorage. The goal of this contract will be reached through collaboration with the community to provide needs-based services prioritized to high-risk offenders. The purpose of this Anti-Recidivism contract is to reduce the number of repeat crimes by former offenders in Alaska, thereby protecting the public, reducing public expenditures for incarceration and related costs, and providing a model for other collaborative re-entry programs in Alaska. The proposed services will reduce recidivism in the Anchorage re-entry population, increase active participation of community partners in the Anchorage re-entry initiative, and increase the number of partners and participants in the Anchorage re-entry community. It is anticipated that approximately 800 people in the Anchorage community will receive re-entry services through this contract. Services will include: case management, comprehensive community support services, referral to treatment, job readiness/job search services, and assistance toward obtaining safe, sober, and stable housing. Employment and stable housinghave been identified as major factors affecting re-entry and are the main two elements of this program. For further information please contact Alysa Wooden, DBH Re-Entry Coordinator
Alysa.Wooden@alaska.gov or (907) 264-0641.
Partnering for reentry success! The DOC, Department of Labor and the Alaska Heavy Equipment Operators Local 302 worked together to bring skills training, mentoring, coaching and confidence to six (6) Hiland Mountain Correctional Center students! “302’s” Administrator/Director Mike Holcomb and his team of instructors provided these six (6) HMCC women with the opportunity to receive pre-apprentice classes, gaining skills that are priceless in terms of employability upon release. On June 26 these six women graduated from the FY15 Heavy Equipment Local 302 Pre-Apprentice Program! Congratulations to each and every one of you and a big thank you to DOL and Local 302 for this opportunity and partnership. Thanks also to Gary Olsen DOC’s Criminal Justice Planner of Education. Way to go!
Hiland Mountain Graduates
Housing security is a critical element to all aspects of our Prisoner Reentry Initiative. Please join this upcoming webinar discussing housing quality, stability and affordability!
Who’s Leading the Leading Health Indicators? Webinar: Social Determinants!
Register Now | July 23, 2015 | 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. ET
Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. Social determinants of health are social and environmental conditions that shape a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes. This Who’s Leading the Leading Health Indicators? webinar will highlight housing security a key social determinant of health.
Join on Thursday, July 23 to learn more about this important social determinant, including how housing quality, stability, and affordability impact health and educational outcomes. You will also hear about interventions and resources that can help address housing insecurity in your community.
The Alaska Prisoner Reentry Initiative (AK-PRI) is all about partnerships, collaboration and working together to achieve quality outcomes for our returning citizens and the communities they are returning to! One of the newest additions to the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) team—a program of the Department of Health and Social Services–is Alysa Wooden, Reentry Coordinator. Alysa originally hails from North Carolina, but has worked with Prisoner Reentry programs in Michigan before moving to Alaska.
As Reentry Coordinator, Alysa will be working closely with the Department of Corrections identifying and developing resources to assist in recidivism reduction. The 24/7 program, an alternative to incarceration that closely monitors offenders for alcohol usage, will be one of the programs aimed at addressing offender recidivism while ensuring public safety that Alysa will be involved with.
Alysa states that she is excited about her new role and adds, “Aiding communities in creating safer neighborhoods through smart justice initiatives is a passion – I am delighted to be a part of the reentry team.” And we are excited to have Alysa as part of our AK-PRI team…welcome!
At the heart of AK-PRI and one of the most important aspects of implementation of the prisoner reentry initiative is the local capacity of any given community to effectively manage the needs of all returning citizens, as they transition back into their communities. Currently there are active coalitions in five communities across Alaska including the service areas of Anchorage, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Juneau and Palmer/Wasilla. The focus of these Coalitions is to: (1) educate the community about the criminal justice system, (2) identify local challenges facing returning citizens, (3) identify local gaps in services and identify collaborative solutions to address identified gaps, and (4) be the local point of contact for DOC in the reentry planning and transition for returning citizens in the given community.
As with all local coalition efforts time is limited because members have their primary job responsibilities and their coalition commitments. Local coalitions have identified full-time coordinators as the key to keep everything moving forward. In an effort to meet this challenge, the Alaska Mental Health Trust, as one of the AK-PRI partners, has committed funding to support each of the five current Prisoner Reentry Coalitions, to assist with the community assessments, formalize the coordinated efforts of the coalition members, interface with the local coalition and the Department of Corrections, and facilitate efforts to connect returning citizen with the needed services and supports to be successful!
To this end, the Trust is requesting proposals from eligible applicants from the service areas of Anchorage, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Juneau and Palmer/Wasilla working directly with established Prisoner Reentry Coalitions to provide coalition coordination and leadership services for the State of Alaska. The RFP can be found be found at http://notice.alaska.gov/177317. Proposals are due July 17. THANK YOU to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for your support and commitment to successful reentry for all returning citizens.
The Alaska Prisoner Reentry Initiative (AK-PRI) is the Department of Corrections plan for reducing recidivism, assisting current inmates in preparing to successfully return to their communities, and enhancing public safety through collaboration with various stakeholders and the state and community level. The AK-PRI initiative is based on the national Transition from Prison to Community (TPC) Framework. On May 28 the DOC sponsored the first meeting of the Alaska Prisoner Reentry Council, co-chaired by Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott. The Council is comprised of policymakers representing public safety, law, behavioral & medical health, Alaska Native tribes, jobs and employment, housing, prisons, probation & parole, communities and successful returning citizens, whose task is to identify and set policy to implement the Recidivism Reduction Plan. In addition, Greg Razo, representing Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is chairing the Alaska Native Focus Group, to specifically address issues of overrepresentation, cultural responsiveness of our correctional system, and returning Alaska Native citizens to their home communities. The Council reviewed and approved the Alaska DOC Recidivism Reduction Plan: Safer Neighborhoods, Better Citizens submitted to Governor Walker in March 2015. The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for October—watch for details.
In addition to the AK-PRI Council, the Implementation Steering Team (IST) also met for the first time on May 28. This is a larger group of individuals that will work in a more “hands-on” approach to making decisions about the best ways to approach the plan and to implement at the community level. The IST will consist of smaller workgroups focusing on transition accountability, data/evaluation/performance, employment, housing and grant development & management. The IST will be tasked with figuring out the “nuts & bolts” of putting our state plan into practice and to operationalize the AK-PRI into the day-to-day work of the Department of Corrections. The IST will also meet again in October to begin the hard work of moving from theory to practice!
To assist with the implementation of the AK-PRI, the DOC has entered into a 3-year contract with the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency (MCCD) to provide technical assistance and consultation services that support comprehensive strategic planning and implementation of efforts to improve offender and justice system outcomes for offenders returning to their communities after incarceration. Dennis Schrantz, MCCD’s Executive Director, is leading the TA; Mr. Schrantz has worked in ten states over the past 10-years, assisting states and local jurisdictions to improve their policies and practices for prisoner reentry. Through this TA and consultation the Alaska DOC hopes to gain valuable insight and direction from the experience of Mr. Schrantz and the ten other states he has assisted to make recidivism reduction and successful reentry a reality! We look forward to our continued partnership!