Persons returning to the community face significant barriers rebuilding their lives after experiencing contact with the criminal justice system (Coates, 2015). Examples include those citizens on probation or parole or those returning to the community after a period of incarceration in jail or prison. These challenges are being magnified by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Currently in Eau Claire County, WI, we do not have a comprehensive reentry program that can serve those being released from jail or prison, so even a brief jail stay could result in the loss of housing, employment, family disruption, health care coverage, or transportation. Recent estimates suggest that each year 15-20 women return to the Eau Claire area after release from prison. In 2017, the Eau Claire County Jail released 4,916 people. Roundtable Revival has a goal of providing resources and programming to support reintegration into the community and reduce recidivism.
We will ultimately offer a variety of reentry programs, including the Mentoring Program, Reentry Peer Support, a First Stop program for people being released from jail, and an alcohol-free tavern as a place where people can gather in the evening to socialize, relax, and have fun. Roundtable Revival utilizes a foundation of Certified Peer Support Specialists. Training for the Peer Support Specialist is provided by the State of Wisconsin and their hours are billable through Medical Assistance. These specialists have the advantage of having personal experience with the criminal justice system and have been trained in understanding the available community resources. Ultimately, we hope that any added programs will contribute to the goal of empowering returning citizens and enhancing their overall physical and mental health. We want to offer them the opportunity for an equal place at our roundtable.
Objectives: For the Mentoring Program, we plan to draw upon the power of a mentoring relationship to empower persons as they seek to negotiate the challenges of obtaining housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, healthcare, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. Funds raised will be used for start-up and initial operational expenses. The outcomes will consist of a tracking success across the areas of individual need and an evaluation of the mentoring program by the mentors and mentees.
Mentoring Program Design: The program will be modeled after similar successful programs, best practices, and evidence-based models. Area churches and congregations, the Synagogue and the Mosque as well as the general community will be approached for support by providing weekly meals, Life Skills presenters, and Mentors. The program will meet weekly at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire for three hours with each session consisting of socializing and sharing a meal, group support and life story sharing, an educational presentation on life skills, and individual mentoring. Mentors will be trained prior to each cycle and will be asked to attend group mentor meetings periodically during the cycle. The initial focus will be providing a safe space for adult females who volunteer and are accepted into the program. If there is enough interest, a second site will serve adult men. We envision conducting mentoring program cycles in the fall and spring. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of each cycle.
All mentors will be asked to complete an initial six-hour workshop training. Group meetings of Mentors will occur prior to the weekly meetings every third week of the program duration. Mentors will be given a manual with a mentor job description and training materials.
Expected outcomes: Our mission is: To cultivate inclusive, accepting, and empowering spaces WITH people who face barriers due to a conviction history: Facilitating full reintegration into our community. We plan to link individuals with community resources for housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. An overall goal of Roundtable Revival is to foster a more responsive and collaborative system for the employment, housing, mental health, healthcare, and substance use and alcohol misuse treatment needs of returning citizens. In addition, we will instill a sense of community and belonging among individuals who are returning citizens.
How the project will be sustained: The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services operates two programs that will be a source of collaboration and support, The Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) and Community Support Program (CSP). We have also established a beginning relationship with the Eau Claire County Jail, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and The Transition Center (day treatment center) in Eau Claire. Roundtable Revival is incorporated as a State of Wisconsin, certified nonprofit social service agency or 501(c)3.
05/18/2020UUPMI is working on similar programs. I am in Evanston IL. Keep us up to date on your successes and challenges.$45.00
05/13/2020Such important work!$50.00
Anonymous04/10/2020With many people being released from jail or prison reentry programs and resources are a pressing need in our communities$100.00