Recidivism low among jail program participants

Posted Jan. 19, 2011, at 11:23 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County residents who have been convicted of crimes are provided ample opportunity to change their behavior thanks to a collaborative effort between Piscataquis County and the Charlotte White Center.

That effort, which provides in-jail counseling services and a batterer’s program designed as an alternative to jail detention, appears to be changing the mindset of offenders, according to Richard Brown, Charlotte White Center’s executive director.

The nonprofit Charlotte White Center provides support services to people with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health problems.

Not one of the 25 Piscataquis County Jail inmates who received mental health services in fiscal year 2010 reoffended, and only one of eight who completed the batterer’s program reoffended, Brown told the Piscataquis County commissioners Tuesday.

Four inmates were dismissed from the batterer’s program in 2010, Brown said.

Brown shared with the commissioners the contents of a letter from a former batterer. It read: “This training feels like the missing piece of my recovery. The education about power and control and male privilege has brought balance into my life. I have learned to respect boundaries and think about how the other person is feeling, especially women and children.”

Through grants, about $11,000 was earmarked for the batterer’s program last year and up to $31,000 for in-jail counseling services, Brown said.

Regarding the counseling services, Brown said 159 sessions were held during fiscal year 2010 that involved 14 county inmates and 11 federal inmates being boarded at the jail in Dover-Foxcroft.

Brown also updated the commissioners on the LifeJackets program, another collaborative effort the center has with the county. The outdoor and community-service after-school program involves students in five school systems in Piscataquis and Penobscot counties.

The program received an award from the state in October 2009, according to Brown.

“We really believe that the model is very effective in terms of blending the school-based activities where we work on good decision making and self respect and team building,” he said.

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