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The Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) has forged partnerships to enhance prisoner re-entry and bring Indiana to the forefront of national discussion surrounding the re-entry process. Each year, almost 20,000 offenders are released from Indiana prisons back into the community in one of the state's 92 counties. Successfully integrating each released offender into his or her community involves coordinating a variety of resources, programs, and agencies, all of which are striving toward a common goal of lowering the recidivism rate and changing lives. The IDOC strives to be the catalyst in bringing all resources together for this common purpose.
In 2003, Indiana was one of eight states to pilot the National Institute of Corrections’ Transition from Prison to Community (TPC) Initiative. The goals of TPC include successful offender reentry to enhance public safety, collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, and correctional practices that are based on evidence. As a result of the initiative, IDOC has integrated case management functions into the Unit Team structure.
Re-entry begins day one, with classification where an actuarial, statistically validated risk-needs assessment is completed for each offender. The assessment is used to design a case plan that drives programming and allows the offender to set goals for re-entry. Evidence-based programs include education, vocational training, life skills, substance abuse treatment, and cognitive-behavioral courses designed to change thinking. During the case planning process, barriers to effective re-entry are identified and interventions are developed to address the barriers. The case plan is reviewed on a regular basis and updated as programs are completed and goals are achieved. The case plan follows the offender from prison to the community. The community supervision agency can build on or supplement the programs and interventions already in place. For instance, an offender who completed substance abuse treatment while incarcerated may be referred to relapse prevention in the community. Case managers work collaboratively with community partners including courts, probation, parole, community corrections, and community service providers to share data and resources as necessary.
One of the aforementioned DOC re-entry programs, PLUS (Purposeful Living Units Serve), is a faith and character-based re-entry initiative. These living units are designed with the purpose of teaching core fundamental values that will challenge participants and focus on positive reinforcement through learned behavior to achieve a more successful re-entry. Another program, CLIFF (Clean Lifestyle is Freedom Forever), is a substance abuse program for methamphetamine addictions. This program provides a positive environment in which offenders learn skills to help them be successful in their re-entry transition. These are just two examples of the types of programs the DOC provides to aid offenders in their travel down the road to re-entry.
When it first opened in July 2006, the Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility (IREF) was the first of its kind in the country. IREF, formerly the Plainfield Re-entry Educational Facility, is dedicated to addressing individual re-entry barriers for each offender. By focusing on education and vocational skills built during the last twelve to thirty-six months of an offender’s incarceration, IREF creates a setting that is as close to community living as possible to help mitigate the shock of re-entry. Inmates are referred to as residents and the prison is set up as an open campus environment. IREF is a good representation of the innovative solutions that the DOC has implemented to address re-entry.
From a community based perspective, the South Bend Re-entry Education Program (SBREP), which started as a Pre-Work Release Program in 1995 for offenders selected to participate in the South Bend Work Release Program, is an 18-24 month preparatory program for work release. SBREP combines a variety of re-entry education programs including, life skills, substance abuse treatment, aftercare and cognitive programs, as well as community service work, to specifically prepare the offender for work release or a Community Transition Program and to bridge the gap between incarceration and supervision on Parole or Probation. SBREP is operated within the confines of the South Bend Community Re-entry Center and is the only Re-entry Center that has both a defined Re-entry Education Program coupled with a Work Release Program.