Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $914,021)
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is seeking to implement a program designed to improve the lives of inmates who release via a direct (“flat”) discharge. Inmates released via a flat discharge typically receive less extensive pre-release programming and reentry preparation than an inmate releasing to parole supervision, and do not receive guidance from the justice system following release.
Funds allocated under this grant will establish a program to provide this segment of the incarcerated population with a multi-phased continuum of care that will provide them and their sponsor with much needed programming both prior- and post-release.
The initial phase of the program would be to perform an assessment to determine the inmate’s needs relative to the program. The inmate will then be placed on a designated facility and paired with a coach who will help them complete education goals and reentry planning that addresses issues impacting successful reintegration. In addition, the inmate will complete the cognitive/life skills curriculum, which includes cognitive intervention, substance use triggers and relapse prevention, and mental health first-aid.
During the second phase of programming, the inmate’s sponsor (a family member or close friend that the inmate may be returning to following release), will be identified and undergo training that includes similar curriculum and an additional component educating them on “incarcerated lifestyle”. By providing the sponsors with an understanding of their loved ones’ thought processes and habits, they will be better able to communicate and assist the former inmate as they reintegrate into society.
During the third phase of the program, the inmate’s progress is monitored. The coach will perform routine check-ins to provide encouragement and the inmate’s sponsor will work with a case manager who will provide updates and community outreach resources.
The objectives of this program are to address key individual needs and introduce system improvements by pairing flat discharge inmates with coaches who will provide cognitive/life skills training and encourage pro-social interactions; and improving community conditions by offering comparable training to the inmates’ sponsors. The goals of this project are to reduce crime and enhance public safety by preparing this returning population to maintain a crime-free existence through reentry preparedness and post-release environment risk reduction, while increasing access to justice and building trust between correctional administrators and the community.