Reentry program for long-term offenders featured at national conference

Officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and staff from GEO Care presented a workshop at the International Community Corrections Association’s annual conference in Seattle in November.

The workshop, “From Lifer to Community Member: Making it Work,” focused on parolee reentry and specifically on how to successfully reintegrate long-term offenders into local communities.

The panel featured Jon Stern, chief deputy regional administrator for the CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations Southern Region, Dwayne Cooks, project director for Civic Pit Stop, and Maria Richard, facility director of GEO Care Parolee Services Center in San Francisco. GEO Care’s National Director of Business Development Kathy Prizmich Kernan moderated the panel.

Panel members discussed how states — with California leading the way — are releasing more long-term offenders today, and how it takes unique programming to help prevent recidivism. The panelists also highlighted the unique challenges long-term offenders face.

As an example of an innovative program, the workshop focused on a public-private partnership in San Francisco, in which the state, GEO Care and the non-profit Pit Stop are transforming neighborhoods while also providing gainful employment for long-term offenders who are preparing to reenter the workforce. As it works, Pit Stop hires GEO Care participants to serve as attendants at public restrooms, thereby helping to reclaim many neighborhoods from criminal activity. For many of these program participants, the experience has been life altering.

The residential reentry center uses behavior change treatment, including life skills, substance abuse and cognitive behavioral therapy, which is supported by evidence-based practices. The program is also active in local volunteer and community service activities.

City and state politicians, as well as the public works department, have praised the program. “What we are doing is unique, and it is working,” said Maria Richard, who has worked at the Taylor Street facility since 2000. Located in the heart of San Francisco, the center delivers residential and non-residential programming for federal BOP, federal pretrial and CDCR participants.

To learn more about GEO Reentry’s residential reentry programming in general, click here.