How Shasta County’s in-custody and non-residential reentry programs continued services during COVID-19

In Shasta County, California, GEO Reentry operates two different but related programs that focus on reducing recidivism in the county. One is a community-based Day Reporting Center; the other an in-custody program where jail inmates begin treatment and training prior to release, and sometimes transition to the DRC upon release.

Given the vulnerable prison population within both programs, it was essential GEO Reentry Services’ vital programming remained available for participants in non-residential reentry programs at the DRC as well as in-custody treatment programs. But the question was, how?

After losing access to enter the Shasta County Jail during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff who work in the in-custody program found new ways to collaborate with the program’s partners, officials at the Shasta County Probation Department and Shasta County Jail, to continue providing services to program participants in custody.

Staff provided incarcerated participants with weekly intervention packets as well as 30-minute Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy phone sessions with a Behavior Change Manager. During these sessions, the participant and manager reviewed and discussed the interventions they were working on, including behavior change plan goals, relapse prevention plans, Moral Reconation Therapy steps and presentations, and Carey Guides, all of which were used to address a range of participant needs, from reducing criminal thinking and behaviors to treating substance use disorders.

How Shasta County’s in-custody and non-residential reentry programs continued services during COVID-19

GEO Reentry Services’ in-custody treatment programs for corrections agencies are designed for inmates nearing the end of their jail or prison sentences to make sure their transition to a community-based reentry program is seamless. Individuals are carefully selected for the program by the agency, and GEO Reentry staff first perform a risk/needs assessment to make sure treatment plans are responsive to the individual.

Throughout GEO Reentry in-custody programs, participants work closely with their case manager, who holds them accountable and identifies negative behavioral patterns. Before COVID-19, in-custody services provided by staff typically included cognitive behavioral treatment, motivational interviewing, self-directed journaling, substance abuse treatment, life skills, GED prep, release planning and more.

GEO Reentry staff also had to get creative during the pandemic to continue providing services to DRC program participants. Specific modifications to Shasta County’s non-residential reentry programming included instituting daily check-in calls rather than in-person check-ins for participants determined high-risk, and, for cognitive behavioral treatment, one-on-one telephone calls, group teleconferences and communication via online platforms instead of in-person services.

In every way, Shasta County GEO Reentry program staff have gone above and beyond during this pandemic to keep serving in-custody and non-residential reentry program participants, finding creative ways to initiate a routine and introduce various program modifications. As a result, Shasta County staff were able to help participants in both programs stay clean, stay focused and move forward in their reentry journeys during an undeniably stressful time.