Preparing Offenders for Success
The Department of Corrections begins preparing the incarcerated population for their release from the day they enter the prison system. Through assessments and plans entailing education, treatment, and life skills, Corrections helps offenders set goals for their own recovery, rehabilitation, and learning to give them the tools they will need to return to a successful, crime-free life when they return to the community - as 95% of the population will do.
CAP (Case Action Planning)
During the initial phase of entering prison (Receiving and Orientation), offenders are monitored and take assessments to determine their specific needs while incarcerated. From the resulting inventory, they develop a "Case Action Plan," which specifies which education, programs and treatment needs an inmate has. This helps set goals for individual offenders, and if the inmate both follows prison rules and accomplishes goals in a satisfactory manner, the Board of Pardons & Parole will often consider granting them an early parole date. Prior to women being released, they can go through "YPREP" (Your Parole Requires Extensive Preparation). This effort teams Corrections with various other state agencies and private organizations and seeks to prepare female offenders to successfully transition back into society by addressing housing, employment, transportation, child care, and health care needs. Participating organizations include DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services), Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Workforce Services, and Volunteers of America.
The majority of offenders come to the Department of Corrections with less than a high-school education. We offer basic education through partnerships with community organizations to provide life skills, literacy, GED, high school, and vocational certifications.
Inmates serving time in the Utah prison system can work basic tier jobs, or apply for usually higher-paying and more desirable, skilled jobs through Utah Correctional Industries. UCI offers a wide variety of training experiences and gives offenders real-world work experience both on-site at the prison and off-site through inmate work crews. UCI also puts offenders through real-world application and interviewing processes to help prepare them for the sometimes rigorous and intimidating process of finding a job in the community.
Corrections focuses heavily on treating underlying problems facing two major populations of the prison: substance-abusers and sex-offenders. SATP (Substance Abuse Treatment Programs) and SOTP (Sex Offender Treatment Programs) are offered to inmates, and the Board of Pardons & Parole often expects offenders to complete one of these programs (depending upon their need) prior to their release. The program also has somewhat less structured courses geared toward anger management, domestic violence awareness, and similar issues.
Inmates in prison custody represent more than two dozen distinct religions. In order to meet all of their needs, Corrections facilitates a variety of activities, programs and services. In order to maintain separation of Church and State, the offender population is responsible for working with community representatives to identify volunteers to come inside the prison and administer religious worship. Corrections simply facilitates that process by performing the necessary security and background checks to accommodate this relationship. The prisons employ chaplains, who provide ecclesiastical counseling and non-denominational services. Each is a part-time staff member.
UDOWD has helped nearly 2,000 offenders find work after their release from the prison system (click here for a news release detailing a couple of their stories). The task force works with employers in the community who are open to hiring reformed offenders, who otherwise often have a difficult time finding work due to the stigma attached with having been to prison. This task force simply seeks to level the playing field and give reformed offenders equal opportunity to other applicants. Employment is crucial for offenders leaving prison, since those who find jobs are more able to then find a place to live, provide for dependents, remain busy with a productive lifestyle, and be less likely to fall back into old ways. UDOWD works with offenders who have paroled from prison but are still on community supervision with the Division of Adult Probation & Parole. There are approximately 17,000 offenders on probation or parole supervision at any given time. (Probation = community supervision, possibly in addition to some jail time. Parole = community supervision following a prison sentence). It costs approximately $27,500 to house an offender in the prison system for one year, meaning taxpayers save $27,500 per year for every offender who changes his/her ways, stays out of the system, and does not need to be returned to prison. For more information on UDOWD, click here.