Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative is ready to roll

Reentry initiative panel

After a year of extensive research and planning, the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative has launched its first wave of pilot and demonstration sites. Hundreds of corrections professionals and specialists from the Department of Community Health, the Department of Labor and Economic Growth, Family Independence Agency and the governor’s office have made tremendous progress in getting this comprehensive program off the ground.

A tremendous amount of effort has gone into this project. People are doing outstanding work on this initiative while they are still doing their full-time jobs."

-Director Patricia L. Caruso

"Our vision is that every offender released from prison will be prepared to be successful on parole," said MDOC Policy and Strategic Planning Deputy Director Dennis Schrantz. "We will reduce the return of parolees to prison and we will reduce crime. In simple terms, to be successful, parolees need a job, a decent place to live and support services when they get out."

The Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative (MPRI) is based on a model developed by the National Institute of Corrections that is being adapted for Michigan in conjunction with what has been learned in Michigan through the implementation of the department’s Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative (SVORI). The result will be an original one-of-a-kind MPRI Model.

The initiative is spearheaded by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. A State Policy Team oversees the program and team leader Teresa Bingman, Governor’s Deputy Legal Counsel, is joined by top level administrators from the partner agencies whose services are needed for successful inmate re-entry.

Jeff Padden, President of Public Policy Associates and the Michigan Site Coordinator for the National Institute of Corrections that continues to support the MPRI, was on hand to facilitate the presentation of recommendations to the State Policy Team members Teresa Bingman; Michael Ezzo, Chief Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Community Health; Laura Champagne, Chief Deputy Director, Family Independence Agency; and Robert Johnson, Senior Executive Director, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth; along with Deputy Director Dennis Schrantz and Director Patricia L. Caruso from MDOC. The group gave their enthusiastic approval to the following proposals recommended by the MPRI Executive Management Team that provides the day-to-day oversight of the initiative:

  • The MPRI is adopting the COMPAS assessment tool as a measurement of offenders' risks, needs and strengths. This will assist with the development of a case plan to address the offender’s needs and risks. The Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center (RGC) will put the new assessment tool into action after some additional review.
  • The Case Management Plan and the summary of the plan, called the Transition Accountability Plan (TAP) were approved for implementation. Training at RGC and opportunities to adapt the plans for actual use will start in November. The Department of Information Technology will assist with the development of electronic versions of forms so data can eventually be shared within MDOC and with the MPRI partner agencies.
  • The MPRI Pilot Site Development Committee will analyze the assets, barriers, and gaps of the first seven communities who have begun local re-entry efforts. Staff from local offices of the Department of Corrections (including wardens and local parole supervision authorities), Department of Community Health, Department of Labor and Economic Grwoth and Family Independence Agency near the pilot sites will be designated to work with the initiative and provide support.

Three Phases

The MPRI involves three phases: the Getting Ready or Institutional Phase which takes place during the offender’s term of imprisonment; the Going Home or Re-entry Phase which focuses intensely on the inmate’s transition back to the community; and the Staying Home Phase when community supervision and eventual discharge from prison will occur.

"The lynchpin of the program is the Transition Accountability Plan (TAP) that is prepared for each inmate during the prison intake process and modified as the corrections process unfolds," said Deputy Director Schrantz.

The plan revolves around identifying the inmate’s strengths upon entry into the corrections system and building on those strengths throughout incarceration and continuing until the offender’s discharge.

"If ex-offenders don’t have a home, a job and family or community connections, any education they receive won’t be of much use," said Julie DeRose, MDOC Education Manager. "The key is building on strengths rather than negatives and providing community support after release."

The key to the initiative is to work with offenders while they are incarcerated preparing them for release and continuing to work as partners with Field Operations Administration (FOA) staff after release.

Demonstration and Pilot Sites

Several communities have already initiated many of the MPRI model elements and the push beginning in fiscal year 2005 will be to develop them into full-blown pilot sites that include the entire seven-point MPRI model:

1. The Walk With Me Program in Detroit—This original Michigan re-entry pilot program was developed prior to launching MPRI using federal Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative (SVORI) funds. All phases will be engaged but limited to several neighborhoods in the city of Detroit.

2. The Nine County Rural Northern Michigan Goodwill/MDOC Field Operations Administration (FOA) Pilot—This pilot will demonstrate the MPRI model in rural areas. It is being developed in collaboration with FOA and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and includes residential and case management and federal rent subsidy funds. The full pilot will demonstrate assessment and classification, inmate programming, inmate release preparation, supervision and services, release decision making and discharge and aftercare.

3. The MACOMB Project—This effort, led by the Community Corrections Advisory Board in Macomb County and the Macomb Correctional Facility, includes community leaders and state and local human service providers and prison staff led by Warden Hugh Wolfenbarger. The demonstration site will illustrate inmate release preparation, supervision and services and community—prison interaction.

4. The Genesee Prisoner Re-entry Program—A unique follow-up program for graduates of the MDOC’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) program is being modified to include additional elements of the emerging MPRI model. The demonstration site will illustrate inmate programming, inmate release preparation, release decision making and supervision and services

5. The Kent County Re-entry Council—This demonstration site will exhibit local development efforts with corporations and businesses for employment opportunities as well as the inmate release preparation, release decision-making and supervision and services.

6. The Ingham County/Lansing Work Preparation and Employment Program—This effort will begin with the Capital Area Michigan Works! program and will use small employment service delivery agencies connected with faith-based organizations to connect ex-inmates with mentors. With a focus on employment and related support services, this site will demonstrate inmate release preparation, release decision making and supervision and services.

7. The Kalamazoo County Re-entry Project—This program will build on the organized efforts underway by the Kalamazoo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The site will illustrate inmate release preparation, release decision making and supervision and services.

Each site will be expanded and analyzed as the MPRI progresses. The MPRI will be modified based on the results in each community to reduce crime and parole failure and will eventually encompass the entire state.

"With the initiation of our pilot sites, we have taken the first step toward reducing crime and making our communities safer," said Deputy Director Schrantz. "Inmates who are focused on release make for safer prisons. That is our motto, safer communities, safer prisons."

Michigan Department of Corrections FYI 10-28-04