Magazine article Corrections Forum

Redefining Rehab an Innovative Jail Reentry Program

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Redefining Rehab an Innovative Jail Reentry Program

Article excerpt

An enterprising group of criminal justice undergraduates at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is helping to set jail inmates back on their feet-and setting a national precedent in the process, according to a press release from the university.

In the first jail program of its kind in the nation, senior criminal justice majors are working closely with licensed social work professionals and counselors in the Harris County Jail to enact a rehabilitation program for inmates as soon as they enter the criminal justice system. Unlike other national jails that provide rehabilitative services only upon reentry to the community, this program-offered as part of the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) Reentry Services-extends training throughout inmates' incarceration.

HCSO social worker Jennifer Herring serves as program manager and is involved in the day-to-day coordination of non-profit support and student supervision. She says the program's objective is to use evidence-based practical approaches to meet inmates-who she and students refer to as "clients"-exactly where they are and determine their needs based on what they identify as barriers in their lives. She insists that a one-size-fits-all method is inadequate to provide her clients with the specialized rehabilitation they need.

"At its core, this program is about helping inmates become empowered, and therefore, make better choices," said Herring. "In accomplishing this main goal, we help make our streets safer, reduce the rates of recidivism and help people find their purpose."

Herring's clients approach her on a regular basis to say, "Thank you for my life. …

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