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SHERIFF CABRAL ANNOUNCES IMPROVED FEMALE PROGRAMMING
In a ceremony to be held Monday, November 13, Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral will officially kick–off a new programming model for women at the South Bay House of Correction. Based on an “accountability model,” the program restructuring is designed to give women more individualized services to improve their chances of success upon re–entry. Making changes to the women’s programming model has been an objective for Sheriff Cabral since she took office in 2002, and she is hosting the ceremony not only to celebrate the success of several years’ work, but also the advancement in the level of treatment for women at South Bay.
“Women’s needs are different from men’s and there are different factors that lead to female crime,” said Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Program Services Julie White. “Sheriff Cabral recognizes these differences and recognizes that women’s programming should be different also,” she added.
The accountability model was created after a long period of research done by the staff at the House of Correction. Under the direction of Deputy Superintendent Gerry Walsh and ADS White, who began looking into programming changes in 2003, the Sheriff’s Department created a task force. The team reviewed research on female crime trends, recidivism rates, and services, and worked with community partners and other correctional facilities to identify the greatest needs of incarcerated women and how they are successfully met. The task force also interviewed female inmates at the House of Correction.
Women’s programming in place at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department inspired the three–phase approach to recovery now in use at South Bay. The first phase begins within a week of incarceration for both sentenced inmates and pretrial detainees. The five–day phase consists of one hour of orientation each day, introducing the women to the rules and regulations of the institution. It also includes an assessment of each woman to gauge her education level, history of alcohol or drug abuse, and factors that could lead her to recidivate. The assessment is used to for an Individual Service Plan (ISP), unique to each woman, which will address her needs.
“The average length of stay for a woman at South bay is about eight months,” explained Director of Women’s Programming Christina Ruccio. “When you factor in parole, most women are only with us for three or four months. We can’t afford to wait to address their needs. With our new programming model, we are starting to look at the best re–entry plan for each woman on day one.”
Phase two follows the orientation and assessment with two weeks of psycho–educational workshops that address addiction recovery, re–entry, domestic violence, and anger management. “National and local research reveals that these are the factors that lend themselves to female crime,” said Ruccio.
The women begin programming laid out in their ISP in phase three and continue until their release. Treatment programs can last from six to sixteen weeks and are tailored to deliver attention not only to the women’s individual problems, but also to their state of mind and level of recovery. For example, the addiction treatment program has been broken into three separate programs, one offering treatment for women who haven’t recognized their addictions, one offering treatment for women who understand their addiction but haven’t taken steps towards change, and one offering treatment for women who have relapsed after being sober for an extended period of time. The end result is a more effective rehabilitation.
Twelve cycles of phase one have been completed since the model was implemented. Several cycles of phases two and three have also been completed, and many women have followed through with their ISPs and have been released. Though it has only been in place for a few months, the accountability model’s success can already be felt within the prison walls.
“Since implementing the new programming model, the staff has had a rejuvenated sense of purpose,” said Ruccio. “The women’s moods have also changed. They aren’t anxious about their release because they have a plan. Sheriff Cabral wanted to give these women a sense of empowerment while allowing them to be responsible for their actions. I think we’ve accomplished that.”