Utah Department of Corrections



Synopsis: Ex-Cell is based on a therapeutic community model (TC), but it's designed to be sensitive to the gender-responsive needs of females, addressing biological, social and cultural differences specific to them. It is designed to facilitate a successful re-entry into society by teaching responsible living. Not only do the women learn the principles of responsible living, but they are immersed in it. They practice responsible living on a daily basis.

The TC seeks to support the development of work responsibilities/skills to enhance employment and career opportunities by facilitating Davis Applied Technical College certificate programs as well as access to Canyon’s School District. Ex-Cell promotes a forty-hour productivity model.  Residents participate in literacy education, GED, high school completion, vocational training, etc.  Ex-Cell encourages employment options for offenders.  The treatment team monitors participant progress.

Duration of Program: 9 months (minimum requirement)

Brief Summary of Treatment ProgramEx-Cell is a TC substance abuse treatment program at the Utah State Prison and consists of 143 residents participating in treatment. Ex-Cell offers gender responsive and trauma informed psycho/educational classes and group and individual therapy. Individuals participating in Ex-Cell can expect to be in the program of a minimum of 9 months to qualify for completion. Ex-Cell  provides individual and group therapy with licensed clinicians, and behavioral modification classes to prepare the residents for transition from prison to the community.

Those offenders assessed by our therapists to have a moderate to severe substance use disorder and a Case Action Plan (CAP) of substance abuse as priority one or two are eligible for participation. 

The Ex-Cell resident will complete courses on the following topics: Recovery Maintenance, “Love and Logic” Parenting, “Why Try,” “Thinking for a Change,” Anger Management, Trauma/PTSD Recovery (EMDR, TREM, Helping Women Recover, Seeking Safety, Healing the Trauma of Abuse), Conflict Resolution, Healthy Sexuality, Communication Skills, Accepting Responsibility, co-dependency, cognitive self change, self esteem, grief and other cognitive behavioral based curriculum. 

Recidivism Rates: Recidivism rates are much lower for residents who complete one of the three therapeutic community treatment programs (Con-Quest, Hope, or Ex-Cell).  Recent research indicates programs at the Utah State Prison have a return-to-prison rate that is a one-third of the numbers of those who leave prison without program participation.

Expectations for Ex-Cell Residents:

Resident Responsibilities - Each Resident participates in, and contributes to, all activities of daily life in the TC. This gives the Resident the opportunity to learn many different social roles such as Peer, Friend, Leader and Mentor. Residents participate in the process of changing themselves and setting the example of positive change for others.

Resident Feedback – Residents are the primary source of teaching and support for personal change. Giving feedback to each Resident is a shared responsibility and is necessary for residents of the TC individual and community success.

Residents as Role Models – Each Resident strives to be a role model for other Residents. Every Resident must be an example by displaying actions of positive change.

Individual Change – The TC Residents engage in the process of change primarily with their peers. Education and therapeutic activities occur in groups, meetings, job functions, and recreational activities. The learning and healing experiences needed for recovery and personal growth, take place in a community or group setting.

Sharing Values – Sharing beliefs and values serve as guidelines for self-help.

Community Work – Structured work in the community includes the many jobs needed to maintain daily operations of the facility.  This work is primarily for self-development.  Learning occurs not only through skills training, but also through adhering to guidelines, accepting and respecting supervision, and behaving as a responsible Resident of the community – being someone on whom others can depend.

Open Communication - The public nature of community experiences is for therapeutic purposes.  The life of each individual Resident, her feelings and thoughts, are matters of importance to the recovery and change process, not only for her, but also for the other Residents of her community.

Healthy Relationships – Healthy Relationships with peers and staff are essential in encouraging community Residents to change.   Relationships developed in treatment are the basis for a positive social network needed to sustain recovery beyond treatment and release.

Community Meetings:

The entire community comes together to deal with issues or solve problems that affect every Resident individually and the community as a whole. Generally in Ex-Cell, there are two types of community meetings.

1) Daily Meetings: Routine meetings held each morning and evening in which residents of the community come together and focus on motivation, communication, and problem-solving activities (when needed).

2) Large Group Meetings (involving entire community): These meetings are held once a week to inform the community of important events, changes or issues that need to be addressed. Staff approved learning experiences, TC Terminology, and TC Training Skits are presented as well as reciting the Ex-Cell philosophy and motto.

Chain of Command:

In Ex-Cell, there is an established Chain of Command (C.O.C.) used to resolve problems or disputes. This C.O.C. ensures that problems are resolved at the lowest level possible, giving the community leadership and Residents the opportunity to handle these issues when possible. Throughout this process staff is present to monitor and ensure ethical standards are followed. The C.O.C. starts with the community Residents themselves. When possible, this is where problems should be resolved. Peer conflict resolutions should take care of any disputes or problems between community Residents.

Committees: There are work groups in each Ex-Cell community called Committees. Each committee focuses on a specific area of the daily function of the community. In Ex-Cell, we utilize the following committees: Feel Good, Expeditor, Paint, and several Leads in charge of Janitorial and Cleanliness standards.

Committee Lead: Each committee has a lead who is responsible for supervising the performance of her individual committee Residents, ensuring that their assigned work is done. Depending on the size of the committee and the workload assigned, Committee Leaders may require Alternate Committee Leads to assist in supervising Residents and managing responsibility. Each Committee Lead reports directly to the community Section Leaders.

Section Leads: A Section Lead’s responsibility is to interact directly with the program staff and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the community. They lead both the morning and evening meeting. Section Leads are the primary form of communication between staff and the general community Residents. Section Lead positions are reserved for those community Residents who have earned the respect of their peers through their behavior and progress in the community.  The Section Lead is a position that community Residents can apply for.  Applications submitted by potential candidates are reviewed by the TC Staff and their decision is made through an interview process.

Staff: In Ex-Cell, staff includes Correctional Officers, Therapists, Counselors and Teachers. The staff is ultimately responsible for the safety and health of the community and each of its Residents. Staff Residents are the source of authority and must approve everything that happens in the community.  It is the responsibility of staff to be aware of all Ex-Cell activities and program-sponsored special events taking place in the community. This holds true for large-scale community plans as well as smaller ones.  Staff also trains the community Section Leads.

Ex-Cell at-a-glance:

• Inmates (called residents here) live in a special section separated from general population with cellmates in a team-building atmosphere.

• Residents "call each other out" for behavior contrary to the program's standards, unlike other parts of the prison where this would be socially unacceptable. This includes even something as simple as failing to wipe down a sink. In this program, it is expected that residents will hold one another accountable to a higher standard. A council of fellow residents will sometimes hold informal hearings and issue light-hearted consequences for such actions.

• Each resident is expected to participate in classes as well as group and individual therapy offered by staff. 

• Residents are required to attend various meetings and classes, including personal change, wellness, communication, living with others, co-dependency, budgeting, criminal lifestyles, cognitive self-change, self-esteem, relapse prevention, grieving, and "Why Try" classes. Generally their treatment lasts anywhere from 6 to 9 months, ending with a graduation.

• Substance abuse educational courses are also offered for offenders waiting to enroll in Ex-Cell through "Pre Ex-Cell."

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