2004 INNOVATIONS AWARDS PROGRAM
ID #: 04-S-28LA
Category: _Public Safety/Corrections
State: __Louisiana ______
1. Program Name
CORe - Corrections Organized for Re-Entry
2. Administering Agency
Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections
3. Contact Person (Name & Title)
Warden James M. LeBlanc
Dixon Correctional Institute, Post Office Box 788, Jackson, La 70748
5. Telephone Number
6. FAX Number
7. E-mail Address
8. Website address
9. Please provide a two-sentence description of the program.
CORe (Corrections Organized for Re-entry) follows a three-phase strategy,
which starts with existing programming, then organizes and enhances it so
that offenders will begin preparing for release from the point of entry and is l
be supported systematically when they are released. Offenders are
encouraged and helped to make positive use of their time in custody to learn
marketable skills, develop new behaviors, address deficiencies, and begin
planning concretely for a positive future for themselves and their families.
10. How long has this program been operational (month and year)?
The CORe concept was introduced in January 2002
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11. Why was the program created? (What problem[s] or issue[s] was
it designed to address?)
Reduce the return-to-prison rate
Return offenders to their community as productive, tax paying citizens
Enhance quality of life in communities throughout the state
Reduce crime rates
Increase public safety
Reduce burden on local law enforcement and judicial systems
12. Describe the specific activities and operations of the program in
A. Readiness Programming
Goal: To encourage and assist offenders in making positive use of their time
while incarcerated by learning skills through education and job training
programs, developing new behaviors, addressing deficiencies and beginning to
think in concrete terms of creating a positive future for themselves and their
A crucial part of the CORe mission was the development of a risk/needs
assessment and re-entry plan for each offender at the beginning of their
sentence. The re-entry plan follows the offender from the day he is incarcerated
until he is released from supervision. After the assessment, referrals can be
made to appropriate academic, vocational, faith-based or mental health
programming within the facility. The process determines offender needs and
subsequent goals and objectives to be accomplished. The offender’s progress is
evaluated and modified (if necessary) with an annual evaluation.
The Department provides educational opportunities in basic literacy, Adult Basic
Education, General Education Development (GED) preparation and a variety of
vocational training including electronics, culinary, auto-body, welding and
horticulture. Vocational educational programs are provided through a
cooperative effort with local technical colleges.
The Department also provides mental health and substance abuse counselling to
assist in changing the inmate’s behaviour patterns.
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Religious programs help an offender prepare for successful re-entry into the
community by establishing a spiritual foundation from which he will make sound
moral decisions. Developing partnerships with faith-based institutions that will
help the ex-offenders maintain their good intentions and positive efforts are also
crucial to the success of CORe.
Results of a 3-year study by the Department shows that when inmates are
involved in an effective prison ministry, the percentage of those rearrested drops
dramatically from 41% to 14%. According to an article in the Justice Quarterly
(March 1997) entitled “Religious Programs, Institutional Adjustment and
Recidivism Among Fellowship Programs” a study by the Academy of Criminal
Justice Sciences found that if a person attended ten or more Bible studies during
his incarceration, he is 67% less likely to return to prison than those who did
Dozens of chaplains and hundreds of volunteers comprise the heart of religious
programming, available daily to offenders in all institutions. Space limitations,
however, force services into less than suitable spots like cafeterias and
classrooms. Louisiana’s response was the establishment of a nonprofit,
ecumenical Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation to raise funds to build or upgrade
twenty-one interfaith chapels at Louisiana prisons.
Established in 2000, the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation reached 37 percent
of its goal, raising over three million dollars. As a result, Louisiana is able to
provide enhanced religious programming by providing suitable space. New
chapels have been completed and dedicated at five institutions. Fundraising is
presently underway to build the next group of chapels. Meanwhile,
administrators and inmates at Levy Dabadie Correctional Center in central
Louisiana constructed a chapel with monies from the Inmate Welfare Fund and
Louisiana State Penitentiary applied rodeo proceeds to build a chapel at one of
its out camps.
Unique in the nation is the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Angola
Campus” at LSP. The seminary offers two college-level degree programs for the
inmate population-one for a two-year associate degree and one for a four-year
bachelor’s degree. As many of Angola’s offenders are serving life sentences,
the department sees their role in the re-entry process as mentors – helping other
offender’s transition back into the community. Some inmates who have earned
their bachelors degrees are being transferred to other institutions, where they
work under the supervision of the chaplain to strengthen religious programming.
The Department has begun to establish a relationship with faith leaders
statewide to encourage them to develop and implement faith-based programs to
meet the needs of children and families in the community. In December 2003,
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the Prison Ministry Task force was formed with individuals from the faith-based
community and Department representatives to develop a strong network to aid
offenders and ex-offenders prepare for successfully re-enter society. With a
vision of “Maintaining Our Identity – Uniting for a Cause” the Task Force
sponsored a Prison Ministry Conference in March 2004 to begin developing and
expanding this network. Representatives from the Governor’s office expressed
their support to the over 100 faith-based organizations represented at the
Serious/Violent Offender Re-Entry Grant Initiative (SVORI):
Louisiana received a three-year re-entry grant from the U.S. Department of
Justice, which is being used to support and enhance the Department’s re-entry
initiative. This program will pilot at Dixon Correctional Institute (Jackson) and at
the New Orleans District Probation and Parole Office and is targeting 150
offenders between the ages of 18 to 35 who have been convicted of a serious or
violent offense and are releasing on good time parole supervision.
Following an initial risk/needs assessment to determine programming needs,
each offender is assigned a case manager to help develop and monitor an
appropriate re-entry plan. The case manager works closely with the offender
during every phase of incarceration to ensure continued participation in
appropriate vocational/educational programming. The assessment also
determines other programming needs for the offender including anger
management, parenting, substance abuse, faith-based programming, restorative
justice, and job/life skills training. The case manager ensures the offender has
appropriate housing. Once released to supervision, probation and parole staff
manage the re-entry process to ensure a smooth transition back into the
B. Release Preparation
Goal: To provide offenders with an intensive period of preparation prior to
release focusing on practical survival/adjustment matters such as housing,
employment, abiding by parole requirements and guiding offenders in developing
an accountability plan focusing their behavior upon return to the community.
Standardized Pre-Release (100 hours):
Incarcerated offenders receive intensified preparation in the twelve to eighteen
months before their release. Mandatory pre-release programming for all eligible
offenders will encompass the following components:
Job search and community resources
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Social Security Benefits:
Release preparation includes identifying offenders who are potentially eligible to
receive Social Security Administration benefits and providing assistance in
completing the necessary applications.
Annual resource fairs are be held at various adult correctional facilities to assist
offenders’ transition back to their family, work and community life. Business
owners and service providers (i.e., faith-based, and substance abuse providers)
statewide are invited to participate.
Appropriate, affordable housing available to ex-offenders is difficult to find and,
in many cases, the lack of suitable housing is the cause for their return to
criminal activity. Homeless offenders are be provided referrals or assistance with
placement to transitional housing programs. DPS&C works with the Louisiana
Interagency Action Council for the Homeless to identify and eliminate housing
barriers for ex-offenders.
Staff assists offenders in making decisions regarding education, training and
employment. Each institution has career resource materials available for
offenders. Job skills training, job search skills and job survival skills are essential
for inmates to remain employed after released. In conjunction with the
federally funded SVORI, sixty-four companies in the New Orleans area are
working with staff to hire ex-felons. These employers represent hotels, fast food
restaurants, construction, warehouse, shipyards, and trucking industries, etc. A
website links offenders with potential employers prior to release.
Offenders participating in the federally funded SVORI grant are be provided a
portfolio prior to their release which will include the following information:
Job certificates received during incarceration
Social Security card
State identification card or driver’s license (if offender is able to renew
Community resource directory for their region
Discharge assessment/re-entry plan (community referrals, housing, probation
and parole, education, substance abuse, employment, etc.)
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OSHA Card (if applicable)
State identification or driver’s licenses are made on-site for inmates prior to
discharge. The Office of Motor Vehicles is piloting this program at Dixon
Correctional Institute (Jackson), Avoyelles Correctional Center (Cottonport),
Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, Washington Correctional Institute and Louisiana
Correctional Institute for Women (St. Gabriel).
The Discharge Assessment prepared prior to release is designed to assist
probation and parole officers in managing their caseloads and to prioritize their
supervision lists. The document provides the offender’s work history, disciplinary
record, discharge location (i.e., a dorm, working cellblock, extended lock down),
custody status at discharge as well as educational/vocational accomplishments,
faith-based participation, community referrals, employment and housing plans.
Staff educate releasing inmates about services available through state and
federal social service agencies (i.e., Labor, DSS, DHH, LRS, etc.) as well as
disability social security benefits/applications (medical cards, medical referrals,
mental health referrals and SSI benefits).
C. Community Corrections
Goal: To support offenders in their transition into the community and help them
remain there as productive citizens by monitoring behavior, identifying and
referring them to community programs and developing partnerships with
volunteer groups, local law enforcement, faith-based institutions and other
organizations that can help them maintain their positive efforts.
Alternatives to Incarceration
A surprising number of parolees returning to prison each year – about half,
according to Justice Department officials – have not been convicted of a new
crime. Rather, they are sent back for disobeying one or more of parole’s rules.
Research indicates that the “moment of release” and the early days on the street
present offenders with many obstacles. By cracking down on parolees who
break these rules and who commit technical violations, Probation and Parole
have helped keep prison beds full during an era of lower crime rates. In 1999,
parole violators made up 35 percent of people enter prison, up from 17% in
During 2002, more than 4,000 offenders under probation and parole supervision
in Louisiana were revoked and sent to prison for technical violations-i.e.
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violations other than new felony arrests or convictions. Following revocation,
they went to prison, on average, for 18-22 months. Substantial savings are
possible without compromising public safety if some of these violators could be
diverted to a short-term program (60-90 days), then return to community
supervision following its satisfactory completion.
In an effort to reduce the increasing costs of incarcerating adult offenders while
continuing to provide safety for the community, the Division is taking steps to
develop alternatives to incarceration.
One alternative underway is a residential Probation and Parole Revocation
Center, implemented at a single pilot site in Concordia Parish. The center has
200 beds available and will divert approximately 800 offenders annually by the
end of its third year of operation. That number will include 200-300 technical
parole violators and the remainder, probation violators.
The program was developed to meet three goals: 1) create savings for the state
by reducing the cost of incarcerating technical probation and parole violators; 2)
provide a safe alternative to further incarceration for those eligible to participate
in the program; and 3) address the rehabilitation needs of offenders by providing
intensive substance abuse treatment, moral recognition therapy, anger
management, and other suitable programs.
Intervention and Sanction Grid
Introduced as another “alternative to incarceration” and the Department’s
attempt to reduce the number of technical revocations, the Intervention and
Sanction Grid was developed by probation and parole staff in 2002. The grid
provides intermediate sanctions for each infraction a parolee commits and
addresses the parolee’s needs (i.e., substance abuse, anger management, etc.)
through the New Orleans Re-Entry Center. A sanctioning rationale is needed to
apply to offenders who commit technical violations, but can be safely maintained
in the community with intervention and enhanced monitoring. The grid is
designed to guide probation and parole officers in selecting a response that is
both consistent and appropriate depending on the seriousness of the violation
and the type of offender. It allows for graduated intervention and alternatives to
incarceration without compromising public safety. Additionally, a “seven day
implementation rule” requires officers to apply sanctions and interventions within
seven days of discovery of violations, and to increase sanctions to an appropriate
level, within seven days of continued violation.
The grid is divided into two categories separating non-violent and violent/high
profile offenders, with increased penalties for the latter group. Sanctions are
ranked by severity in four levels with multiple options provided in each level.
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Reprimands, travel restrictions, increased drug testing, community service,
curfews, home incarceration, electronic monitoring and increased contacts are
among the available sanctions. The grid is thus flexible enough to allow for
resource limitations, but includes sanctions for typical violations as well as
graduated penalties and intervention for continued violation or aggregate
violations. Officers can depart from the grid by justifying their decision in a case
narrative, which the Reentry Supervisor must approve. One veteran officer
piloted this grid on all cases under his supervision and reports it has been very
effective. This is a first such effort to quantify technical violations which
increases the accuracy and consistency of response.
The grid has been successfully piloted in the New Orleans area, and will be
implemented statewide in an effort to reduce the number of technical
Another innovation created as an intermediate sanction, benefits typical parole
cases. Working in conjunction with the Criminal Sheriff of Orleans Parish, a 30-
Day Blue Walters Substance Abuse Treatment Program was implemented.
Similar to the traditional Blue Walters Program also housed at Orleans Parish
Prison, this custodial treatment program provides an alternative to revocation,
but treatment in this abbreviated program begins immediately upon arrest, and
does not require a vote of the Parole Board since the offender must volunteer
and sign a waiver to participate in lieu of revocation proceedings. With approval
from the Parole Board, the typical delay of awaiting board action and transfer
into the program has been eliminated.
New Orleans Re-Entry Center:
Freedom of Spirit Ministries has an on-site program operating during and after
office hours so that offenders can receive support to redirect their lives in a
spiritual environment targeting areas such as substance abuse, parenting,
building self-esteem and job readiness.
Regional Work Release:
A long-range CORe objective involves increasing the work release component.
Tax Incentives for Employers:
Employers willing to hire ex-offenders will earn federal income tax credits for
hiring ex-felons. A Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for up to $2,400 for
new hires is available.
Offenders releasing to the New Orleans area receive bus tokens to facilitate their
transportation to job interviews and to attend meetings associated with the re-
entry program. Preliminary plans are underway to expand this service statewide.
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The Department has long enjoyed the benefits of collaborative efforts through
years of experience with multi-agency grants, cooperative endeavor agreements
with local governmental jurisdictions, interagency agreements with state
universities and volunteer service projects with a host of faith-based
organizations. The Department will continue to solicit the involvement of faith-
based organizations, agencies, groups and individuals throughout the state to
join us as partners in supporting the offenders’ return to society.
The Department will develop a database to assist in collecting and reviewing
data relevant to arrest rates, violations of conditions of release (as compared
with a control group of non-participants), and recidivism rates to evaluate the
13. Why is the program a new and creative approach or method?
CORe is a more organized approached to helping the offender obtain the
skills, knowledge and treatment needed to return to the community as a tax-
payer rather than a tax-burden. Louisiana’s reentry program delivers the
benefit of a holistic approach to supervision. By placing renewed emphasis
on services and accountability, we strive to reduce criminogenic factors and
invite the community to join us. Offenders are held accountable to the help
that has been made available through this effort. The larger benefit of
reducing revocation and better preparation for community reintegration
extends to families, neighborhoods where offenders live, prevents
victimization, and ultimately adds rather than detracts from the State tax
basis. It is hoped that the statistical data collected from this effort will
demonstrate the cost effectiveness of our re-entry initiative at a fraction of
the cost currently spent on incarceration, which will also restore communities.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is committed to
the development of partnerships with community providers who will sustain
this important effort.
14. What were the program’s start-up costs? (Provide detail about
specific purchases for this program, staffing needs and other
financial expenditures, as well as existing materials, technology and
staff already in place.)
CORe was introduced as a new way of doing business with existing programs
and resources. Staff volunteers accepted Secretary Richard Stalder’s
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challenge to make a difference in the community by serving on committees
and implementing CORe changes in addition to accomplishing their normal
job responsibilities. Staff volunteers include Wardens, Deputy Wardens,
Chaplains, Executive Staff Officers, Mental Health Staff, Probation and Parole
Administrators and Agents and Clerical Staff. Community volunteers also
serve on CORe committees.
Louisiana received a 3-year re-entry grant from the U.S. Department of
Justice which is being used to support and enhance the department’s re-entry
15. What are the program’s annual operational costs?
N/A – See answer to number 13.
16. How is the program funded?
N/A – See answer to number 13.
17. Did this program require the passage of legislation,
executive order or regulations? If YES, please indicate the
18. What equipment, technology and software are used to
operate and administer this program?
Existing equipment, technology and software are used to operate and
administer this program. Future plans involve developing a case
management system that would follow each offender’s progress from
incarceration until he or she is released from probation and parole
19. To the best of your knowledge, did this program originate in your
state? If YES, please indicate the innovator’s name, present
address, telephone number and email address.
20. Are you aware of similar programs in other states? If YES, which
ones and how does this program differ?
Yes. There are several states that currently have re-entry programs.
However, Louisiana’s is unique in that it involved an evaluation and
restructuring of existing programs and resources as well as utilizing staff
volunteers to create and implement CORe.
21. Has the program been fully implemented? If NO, what actions
remain to be taken?
No. CORe is being piloted in the New Orleans area where 40% of offenders
22. Briefly evaluate (pro and con) the program’s effectiveness in
addressing the defined problem[s] or issue[s]. Provide tangible
The Intervention and Sanction Grid has proven to be an effective tool in
reducing the number of technical revocations. New Orleans probation and
parole staff utilize the grid on offenders in the targeted pilot group; to date,
no offenders have been revoked. Developed by probation and parole staff,
the grid provides immediate sanctions for each infraction a parolee commits.
The grid allows for graduated interventions and alternatives to incarceration
without compromising public safety.
Phase Two will launch the sanction grid statewide.
23. How has the program grown and/or changed since its
Significant program growth is expected during Phase Two when CORe is
24. What limitations or obstacles might other states expect to
encounter if they attempt to adopt this program?
Volunteer staff involvement – motivating staff to participate.
Implementing a fundamental change in the way of thinking about offender
re-entry as it relates to Wardens, Institutional staff, Probation and Parole and
Add space as appropriate to this form. When complete, return to:
CSG Innovations Awards 2004
The Council of State Governments
2760 Research Park Drive, P.O. Box 11910
Lexington, KY 40578-1910
DEADLINE: All original applications must be postmarked or e-mailed by April 20,
2004, to be considered for an Innovations Award for 2004.