Chittenden Regional Correctional Center (CRCF): Realities of Re-Entry
Vermont Works for Women is co-facilitating a new group at Chittenden Regional Correctional Center (CRCF) called Realities of Re-Entry. This group was developed through a new initiative by Superintendent Theresa Stone to improve the re-entry planning by inmates about to be released, and to support the work of case managers. Realities of Re-Entry bi-monthly groups started this past August and have already served over 100 women. Through this group, we work collaboratively with the women in order to provide them with the most needed assistance such as housing, clothing, transportation, scheduling appointments, preparing for employment, and – perhaps most importantly – meeting expectations of release so they don’t return.
With guidance from the women attending group, we have developed a re-entry planning workbook that participants can use to develop a rock solid re-entry plan. This re-entry workbook serves as a “road map” during meetings with case managers, making meetings more productive and giving the women a tool for communicating their needs clearly and assertively. In the group setting we discuss the potential obstacles they may face upon re-entry and potential solutions for overcoming the barriers. Participants are guided through activities to identify personal strengths and areas for growth.
Above all, at Realities of Re-Entry participants start to understand that it is a CHOICE to keep our patterns from our past, and we ALL have the ability to make a different choice to not repeat patterns that are dysfunctional and no longer serve us in positive ways. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, so becoming aware of our dysfunctional patterns is the first step towards developing patterns that serve us more functionally.
Since starting Realities of Re-Entry, VWW has helped to support a woman locating a court document that enabled her to be re-united with her infant son, and assisted another woman with transition into Valley Vista treatment center upon her release from CRCF.
Another group participant was a graduate of our Trailblazers program, a 7 week pre-apprenticeship training in electrical & solar that VWW offered at CRCF last year. Upon her release to the Brattleboro area, she reached out to us by email within 48 hours of her release to inquire about starting an apprenticeship. VWW has assisted her with applying to a contractor to join their crew on a large local construction project.
Thanks again, you have no idea how much you mean to us… To me … Truly…
– Email message from a recent Reality of Re-Entry group participant
While this is a new group at CRCF, it has proved to be popular and effective for the women that attend. We are starting to address the gap in re-entry services for women returning to the community, and building partnerships with local agencies to serve this re-entry population better. VWW is proud of our current programs with the Department of Corrections, and we look forward to exploring opportunities to expand our offerings in the future.
The women VWW serves at CRCF are so grateful for the assistance and support, but most of all they value the trusting relationship that VWW staff prioritize in all our programming. As author Anne Lamott writes “Mercy is the medicine, the light that shines in dark places.” VWW shines a light on our participants’ strengths and opens their minds to opportunities they weren’t aware of.
The Realities of Re-Entry Group at CRCF is co-facilitated in partnership with:
- Essex Community Justice Center
- Franklin Grand Isle Restorative Justice Center
- Women’s Justice & Freedom Initiative