Minnesota Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan - PDF

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					       MCORP                                       Minnesota Comprehensive
                                                       Offender Reentry Plan


                                General Meeting
                               February 24, 2009
                              9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
               Minnesota Department of Corrections—Central Office


                                      Attendees:

Pat Adams (MN Dept. of Health)             Rob Hope (Goodwill/Easter Seals)
Dennis Avery (Hennepin Co.)                Gary Johnson (DOC)
Farris Bell (DOC)                          Tim Lanz (DOC)
Luis Brown-Peña (DEED)                     Pat Leary (DHS)
Lee Buckley (Governor’s Office)            Diane Lunda (DOC)
Dan Cain (RS Eden)                         Kyle Mestad (Ramsey Co.)
Rick Caligiuri (DEED)                      Jeff Spies (DOC)
Jill Carlson (DOC)                         Holly Wiborg (DOC)
Andy Erickson (Ramsey Co.)                 Reggie Worlds (MN Dept. of Vet. Affairs)
Mark Groves (DOC)

I.     Introductions

Gary Johnson welcomed everyone and explained that the focus of this meeting is the
issue of employment and reentry.

II.    Preliminary MCORP Pilot Project Research Findings: Grant Duwe, DOC

During the development of MCORP, an evaluation plan was designed in order to look at
the effectiveness of MCORP. The extensive collection of data will be able to address a
number of different questions. The three main questions that will guide the evaluation
include:
        1) Does MCORP reduce recidivism?
        2) What impact does MCORP have on post-release employment, housing,
            chemical and mental health?
        3) How do post-release employment, housing and community programming
            impact recidivism?
These questions can be addressed by collecting data from three key areas:
        1) What happened with the offenders prior to their incarceration?
               i.e. criminal history, work history, education level
MCORP Steering Committee                                                      Page 2 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009

       2) What happened with the offenders while they were incarcerated?
            i.e. discipline convictions, program participation, LSI-R score
       3) What happened with the offenders when they were released?
            i.e. employment, housing, community program participation

A randomized experimental design has been implemented. Those offenders who met the
eligibility requirements were randomly assigned to either the experimental group
(MCORP participation) or the control group (regular services). There were eight criteria
that offenders had to meet in order to participate in MCORP:
    • Commit from a pilot county
    • Release to a pilot county
    • Incarcerated at one of the seven participating institutions
    • At least six months of supervision left on their sentence
    • Cannot be required to register as a sex offender
    • Cannot be involved in early release programs
    • Release to regular supervised release
    • Scheduled for release between February and December of 2008
The assignment process began in January of 2008 and continued up to September of
2008. If the eligible offenders were assigned equally to the MCORP group and the
control group, MCORP agent caseload sizes would not be sufficient. Thus, two thirds of
the eligible offenders were assigned to the MCORP group and one third to the control
group. 630 offenders were eligible for MCORP participation. 409 were assigned to
MCORP and 221 were assigned to the control group. Offender assignment had to be
done early during their incarceration, whereas the decision concerning supervision level
is not made until later on in the process. Therefore an offender was considered to be an
MCORP participant until he/she was released to the community and was provided pre-
release services until it was clear that he/she no longer met qualifications. The final
sample includes 269 offenders, with 175 in the MCORP group and 94 in the control
group. This loss, due to attrition, was a result of offenders being assigned to ISR, or
work release or had been found to have detainers or warrants. Pre-incarceration and
institutional data has been collected for each offender. Currently, post-release data has
been collected on 61% of the offenders involved. Supervision agents will continue to
collect and report post-release data through the end of June 2009.

When comparing the two group’s pre-incarceration and institutional characteristics, the
control group should be fairly similar to the MCORP group. The randomized assignment
process is one of the best ways to do this, as it controls for selection bias. However, it
does not guarantee equivalence. There are significant differences between the two
groups for some characteristics. This means it is important to statistically control for
those things when looking at whether MCORP has an impact on things like recidivism.
If MCORP is really making a difference, the post-release data should begin to show a
distinction between offenders in the MCORP group versus offenders in the control group.
The offenders involved in the research were released between February of 2008 and
December of 2008. The average follow-up is six months. The results so far are very
preliminary. However, there are some differences between the two groups. Specifically,
lower rates of reoffending for those in the MCORP group.
MCORP Steering Committee                                                        Page 3 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009


In summary, the results so far are fairly encouraging. The results suggest that offenders
who participate in MCORP are more likely to access services in the community, such as
employment and community programming, particularly mentoring, faith based and
restorative justice programming. These activities appear to have an impact on
reoffending in addition to re-incarceration. Follow-up with these offenders will continue
for the next several years and more complete data analyses will be done. This study will
permit us to look at a number of different aspects that people have always assumed, but
have never been demonstrated empirically.

Dennis Avery mentioned that a cognitive intervention group is being done with MCORP
clients in Hennepin County. He stated that an analysis of this group, compared to
MCORP clients who did not get cog might be useful. If the size of the group that
received cog intervention is large enough and therefore statistically significant, it might
warrant study.


III.   DEED St. Paul Workforce Center Ex-Offender Employment Program: Luis
       Brown-Peña, Program Coordinator

Rick Caligiuri directs job seeker programs at DEED. This branch within DEED includes
Job Service and Veterans Employment. DEED has a contract with DHS to provide
services to various populations of dislocated workers. DEED is seeing more and more
ex-offenders using Workforce Center services and therefore something more systemic
needs to be developed when it comes to working with ex-offenders. Rick introduced
Luis Brown-Pena, an Employment Training specialist who has specific experience in
dealing with this population. He is now located in St. Paul and began The Ex-Offender
Employment Program, a pilot project that started in October to help ex-offenders and
individuals with multiple legal and employment barriers obtain and maintain
employment. It is based on working one-on-one with ex-offenders. There is also a pilot
in Minneapolis and a pilot with veterans. The pilot in Minneapolis has a sequence of
workshops and a certification program called ‘Employment Ready You’ that takes two
weeks to be completed. This program has recently been modified for ex-offenders. The
veteran’s employment representatives are doing outreach, as well as case management to
veterans who are getting out of jail or prison.

In order to get involved with The Ex-Offender Employment Program, a referral form
must be filled out. This helps determine if an offender is job ready. Over 500 referral
forms have been received in the three months the workshops have been offered.
Referrals have been received from all over the metro area as well as various states such as
Iowa, Texas and Illinois. If they are job ready, a structured interview is scheduled in
order to find out how serious they are about seeking full-time employment. Participation
is voluntary and if an ex-offender decides to commit to the program, they must sign an
agreement and attend the two and a half day workshop. Since they have limited slots,
only 40 applicants have been accepted at a time. Mr. Brown-Pena sends out a letter to
MCORP Steering Committee                                                        Page 4 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009

those that were not accepted. Once the 40 applicants find jobs, the program opens for
applications again.

The workshop focuses on what the employers are looking for, personal change, attitude,
cognitive skills and goal setting. Assessments such as MCIS and ISEEK are used and the
Minnesota Careers book is given out. The workshop covers Resume writing, cover letter
writing, how to fill out a job application and an analysis of one’s job readiness status. It
includes skill identification and how to market one’s skills, how to introduce the federal
tax credit benefit to an employer and how to fill out other various employment forms.

The offenders involved with this pilot are from all over the metro area. Currently, some
are as far as Faribault and Rochester. So far, 16 of 40 graduates have been placed in
permanent jobs with an average wage of $13/hr. The next step for this pilot project will
be to expand it around the state. Luis also does workshops throughout the system for
Workforce Center staff, in order to coach them in how to effectively serve ex-offenders.

NOTE: There were three handouts to go along with this presentation. This included a
pamphlet about the Ex-Offender Employment Program, a copy of the referral form and
the findings from the program.

IV.    Goodwill Easter Seals Reentry Projects Update: Rob Hope, Workforce
       Development Manager

Goodwill Easter Seals has been a leading provider of workforce services in Minnesota for
over 90 years. They have had time to hone their workforce development services in order
to understand what works and what does not. As an organization, Goodwill provides
services to nearly 36,000 Minnesotans. They have placed 880 people, and 113 of those
placements were for advancements in their careers. Goodwill Easter Seals has received
over a million donations of clothing and household goods during fiscal year 2008, for a
total of nearly 66 million pounds of items. Revenue of $29 million dollars was generated
from selling those donated goods. He stated that 84 cents of every dollar gets put back
into employment workforce development services.

Goodwill Easter Seals serves a wide range of people. Three years ago, a specialized
reentry services department was launched. This aims to decrease the likelihood of ex-
offenders committing further crimes by using proven practices to improve their
employability and help them obtain and retain a living wage job.

The core services of the Goodwill Easter Seals reentry employment services are based on
the models used for all participants. These services include transitional employment,
skills training programs, employment readiness training, individualized job placement
assistance and retention/advancement support. These services are provided in a
comprehensive fashion. For some programs, everyone will get everything. Other
programs may be based on how many services an individual needs. For example, not
everyone needs transitional employment or skills training.
MCORP Steering Committee                                                        Page 5 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009

Reentry services are provided by staff that has a lot of experience working with this
population. About one third of the reentry team, which consists of about nine staff
members, have also been incarcerated themselves. So, they can bring a perspective that
is very helpful since they can relate to the individuals going through the program.

There are currently four reentry services initiatives at Goodwill Easter Seals. One
program is Re-Entry Works, a project funded by the Joyce Foundation, based in Chicago.
This is part of a three-year, multi-state demonstration project and randomized evaluation.
Another initiative is the Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI), which is a two-year contract
with the DOC that originated from a U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department
of Justice. In this project, a DOC Reentry Coordinator is assigned to an offender,
working with the Parole Agent, in order to help the ex-offender’s transition into the
community. A second initiative is Projects With Industry (PWI). It focuses on the
employment of ex-offenders with disabilities, such as mental health, substance abuse or
traumatic brain injury diagnoses. This is a five-year grant from the Department of
Education. Lastly, Reentry Work Experience is a project that was developed to maintain
the momentum generated by Reentry Works. Goodwill Easter Seals, itself, provides the
funding for this project. Participants need a referral from their Parole Agent or other
community service provider. Recently, a contract was developed to serve a small number
of Hennepin County MCORP clients.

NOTE: There was a handout that outlined the various reentry services offered by
Goodwill Easter Seals.

V.     Veterans Programs Update: Reggie Worlds, MN Department of Veterans
       Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs position is to maximize eligible benefits for
incarcerated or transitioning veterans, to ensure that they have access to housing,
healthcare, income, social services and benefits. The VA is very active with the DOC in
two ways: they attend the monthly Transitional Coalition meetings hosted by the DOC
and attend they transition fairs at various DOC correctional facilities. A lot of
incarcerated veterans suffer from some sort of mental condition such as post-traumatic
stress disorder. The goal is not only to connect them with services after they are released
it is also to connect them while they are institutionalized. When veterans are connected
while they are incarcerated, they can only receive a certain portion of their benefits but
once they are released they can be reinstated to the full amount and of course that link
into the healthcare system is already established.

Over the years, the number of female veterans at MCF – Shakopee has increased by six
times in recent years. The most successful interaction at a facility has been at MCF – St.
Cloud where they met with 30 veterans. This is the highest number they have met with at
any facility. The VA would like to increase their involvement there and their partnership
with the DOC. Veterans should be identified at intake in a way that is mandatory and not
self report because Once offenders are identified, there are services that can be provided
to take care of their needs and the needs of their families while they are incarcerated. If
MCORP Steering Committee                                                        Page 6 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009

there is a veteran who is or can be service connected for a disability, the funds that would
be provided could be transferred out to their family. If a veteran is service connected at a
20% disability level, when they are released they are entitled to vocational rehabilitation.
Veterans are entitled to certain benefits that they have earned through service to the
country and this will also reduce the amount of resources going to public services and
therefore those resources can go to people who do not have these entitlements.

At the next meeting, Reggie will be presenting on their new MDVA Case Management
Outreach Referral and Education (CORE) Program. They have partnered with Luther
and Social Services to provide case management to veterans and military members and
their families that are having some difficulty with readjusting.

VI.    The American Recovery and Redevelopment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Redevelopment Act of 2009 is a stimulus package that may
have some funding set aside for reentry initiatives. It remains to be seen as to whether
reentry funding will be a part of this package.

VII.   Second Chance Act Discussion

A brainstorming technique called World Café was used at the previous meeting in order
to gather ideas from Steering Committee members. One result of the brainstorming
session was the idea that it may be beneficial to include new, key members of the steering
committee. In later meetings, the results of the World Café exercise will be analyzed
systematically.

According to the Department of Justice, the solicitation was supposed to occur yesterday,
February 23rd. The Second Chance RFP was not released in the federal register or
grants.gov. This is not surprising due to a change in dates. There was a webinar done by
Joyfields Institute that had Dr. Gary Dennis, with the Department of Justice, explaining
the Second Chance Act and answering questions about the act. Gary Johnson plans to
have a discussion with Dr. Dennis about the 25% cash match that is required as part of
the grant.

NOTE: A copy of the results from the World Café Exercise was handed out.

VIII. Pilot County Updates

Ramsey County
Andy Erickson relayed that Ramsey County has put out an RFP for employment services
to be provided to MCORP offenders. Eight agencies were at the pre-submission
workshop and there have been 40 requests for applications. The deadline for submission
of proposals is for the end of the month.
MCORP Steering Committee                                                         Page 7 of 7
Meeting Minutes February 24, 2009

Hennepin County Dennis Avery stated that Grant Duwe had presented the preliminary
research findings at the Hennepin County MCORP Advisory Meeting last Thursday and
there were a large turn out of 23 people.

IX.    Update on Reentry at the Legislature: Gary Johnson

Gary and the three pilot counties representatives made a presentation to the Senate Public
Finance Division Committee, in January. Testimony was given by all of the projects that
received reentry money in the last biennium. This included MCORP, The Network, the
U of M, EMERGE and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

The House Public Safety Finance Committee has asked that MCORP and The Network
testify at a hearing regarding performance measures for each endeavor. The date for that
testimony has not been set yet.

The Legal Services unit within the DOC has developed a report about technical violations
of supervised release and the cost benefit of reduced technical violations that is due to the
legislature March 1st. This document explains what it is the DOC does with regard to
revocations and explains the graduated sanctions that are in place as part of revocation
guidelines. Whether or not actual testimony will be needed about this report is currently
unknown.

X.     Next Meeting

       Tuesday, March 24th, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

				
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