2008 Demonstration Project and Current Process

Beginning in 2006-2007, the Lancaster County Commissioners supported a series of demonstration projects to develop an infrastructure for a community-based reentry system based on the collaborative efforts of the Lancaster RMO. Currently, this reentry process serves men and women over 18 who were sentenced to the Lancaster County Prison and who are eligible for release on parole. Twenty-seven parolees participated in this program from 2008-2009, 44 were enrolled in 2009-2010, 23 were enrolled in 2010-11, 36 were enrolled in 2011-12, and 19 are enrolled thus far for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

As a part of the assessment process, particularly around determining commitment to the RMO project, representatives from RMO partner agencies conduct a 12 hour Re-entry Life Skills Program for soon-to-be released inmates, in partnership with the Lancaster County Prison. This program covers money management, housing, transportation, re-establishing relationships, healthy/harmful habits, health and mental health issues, community resources and connections to PA CareerLink services in Lancaster County. The curriculum for this Life Skills Program was development by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and is listed on the National Institute of Corrections website as a "recommended curriculum. The intent is to invite prisoners from the sentenced population who would like to be considered for the RMO project, providing a base of possible participants.

Adult Probation and Parole Services (APPS) uses the Level of Service Inventory (LSI-R) to determine risk level and need areas, to facilitate intervention recommendations, and to inform case status which is one part of the admission criteria to the program. In addition, the Pre-Parole Unit of the Lancaster County Adult Probation and Parole Services arranges for drug and alcohol assessment, evaluation of the person's vocational knowledge and skills, and a determination of the individual's need for personal identification using RMO resources.

Before release, offenders who complete the pre-parole activities are selected for the RMO program by the Pre-Parole Unit based on their LSI-R assessment, their completion of the assessment tools described above, and their expressed commitment to the program. They pick a Community Resource Coordinator from one of the contracted provider organizations selected by the RMO. The Coordinator works with the pre-parole officer to develop a Community Reentry Plan for the individual.

The Coordinator makes arrangements to implement the Community Reentry Plan. This includes making arrangements for recommended community-based services, meeting program participants upon release and escorting them to pre-arranged living situations. When necessary, housing is funded for 90 days by the demonstration project. The project often funds other services after release including short-term drug and alcohol services and assistance with income maintenance benefits.

Resources contributed by the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board allow program participants to engage the workforce system for job search, to enroll in a workforce readiness program called Ready2Work, and to obtain specific skill training for jobs as welders, construction workers, machine operators, forklift drivers, printers, and others.

Probation officers, Community Resources Coordinators, and contracted community service providers meet monthly to review each current participant's progress. A committee of the RMO Board of Directors conducts quarterly process reviews of the reentry program.

Below is a summary of our RMO process, linked to the National Institute of Corrections Eight Evidence-Based Principles for Effective Interventions*:

1. Conduct LSI-R on inmates nearing release (PRINCIPLE 1: Assess Actuarial Risk/Needs)

2. Discuss RMO with inmate: offer choices & "self-determination" ⇒ make referral

3. Assign case manager: 90-180 days of intensive service to client (PRINCIPLE 3: Target Interventions – Dosage; PRINCIPLE 5: Positive Reinforcement; PRINCIPLE 6: Ongoing Support in Natural Communities)

4. Create detailed service plan: client's goals for Probation & Parole, Housing, D&A, Education, Employment, Family, Financial, Transportation, Medical/Dental, Spiritual, Legal, Mental Health, Food, Clothing and Other. (PRINCIPLE 2: Enhance Intrinsic Motivation; PRINCIPLE 3: Target Interventions; PRINCIPLE 6: Ongoing Support in Natural Communities)

5. Carry out service plan, delivering needed services: transitional housing, D&A evaluation/initial treatment sessions, legal advocacy, foundational skills assessments, help obtaining ID, job readiness training, pre-employment skills training, job placement and follow-up; focus: client self sufficiency (PRINCIPLE 5: Increase Positive Reinforcement)

6. Case managers, PO's, and service providers meet monthly for case conferencing, progress review, collaborative problem solving (PRINCIPLE 7: Measure Relevant Processes/Practices; PRINCIPLE 8: Measurement Feedback)

7. Track and document client outcomes: placement in permanent housing, employment, compliance with payment of fines & costs, compliance with child support payments, participation in substance abuse programs, participation in skills training programs, recidivism (PRINCIPLE 6: Ongoing Support in Natural Communities; PRINCIPLE 7: Measure Relevant Processes/Practices)

* Implementing Evidence-Based Policy and Practice in Community Corrections, 2nd ed. (October 2009). U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections. http://nicic.gov/Downloads/PDF/Library/024107.pdf