Friday, September 5, 2014

Hybrid Transitional Living = A Safer New Mexico

It’s no secret that New Mexico has few options for offenders when they are released from prison. The great resources we do have are often strained and the waiting list can be a couple pages deep.
We know many of our offenders need a place to transition when they are released from custody. Somewhere they can continue to receive treatment, work on their education or vocation skills, be held accountable, be safe, you name it.

For us at the New Mexico Corrections Department, it’s not enough to say, “Too bad there aren’t more halfway homes or treatment centers.” We have decided that we must do more to help our offenders and our communities.

96% of the people in prison right now are coming home. Currently we have about 200 inmates that are ready to pack up and leave prison, but there is nowhere for them to go. The release process includes a lot of work from our case managers, parole officers and the Parole Board. Other states seem to have figured out a new approach that we believe will be very successful in New Mexico.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us introduce you to the age of Transitional Housing. To understand transitional housing you must first understand the difference between it and a halfway house. A halfway house is a home where an offender lives post release but does not receive programming in the house, but is seen outside. Transitional Living is a home where offenders post release live and receive structured substance abuse and vocational programming in the facility. The offender is still allowed to work in the community and program at night. 

The New Mexico Corrections Department is 100% committed to creating a hybrid transitional living home. Here is how it works. Offenders who are about six months from release would move into one side of the home (let’s say the left). This left side would be staffed with corrections officers and staff to help the inmate prepare for release. The same way we do things now, except for the offender is being housed somewhere with more freedoms and specifically for inmates who are about to rejoin the community. The big day arrives, parole day. The offender would then be transferred to the other side of the home (the right side). This side would be staffed with treatment providers and probation and parole officers. Our Corrections Industries Division would work to find the offender employment in the community and the department would ensure they make it to work during the day. At night, treatment and education classes would be given to continue to help the offender transition back into our neighborhoods.

We know this program works and in states with comparable houses, their recidivism rate averages about 22% -- a big change from New Mexico’s 47%.

While we are running towards the goal, we have to start small. NMCD continues to work with our partners at the state and county levels to create this hybrid model, but we aren’t sitting back and waiting for something to happen; we are making things happen!

Currently renovation is being completed on what’s referred to the Bullock house. It’s a cottage at our Los Lunas Campus where the Men’s Recovery Academy sits. This cottage will soon hold 16 women and a residential advisor. The women will be placed in jobs and have the chance to slowly transition back into their communities. We are working with private partners to make sure we will continue treatment for these women and really prepare them to stay home for good. It’s not the end all goal, but it’s a start.

So here is the million dollar question, we are all in on this goal, will you join us and make New Mexico a better place?

Monday, August 25, 2014

STIU'S K-9's are cooler than your's...

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a prison K-9? Guts, a nose that could sniff out cell phone, a pretty gnarly bark and a good leader!
Take a look at our K-9's and their handlers.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Corrections Aims to ENDWI

We hear about it nearly every night on the news; drunk driving. At the New Mexico Corrections Department, we work to provide therapy, counseling and education to help drunk drivers stop the cycle, but we know we are only one piece of the puzzle.

There are currently about 500 offenders in a New Mexico prison for drunk driving; 98 of those have either killed or seriously injured someone in a DWI crash.

This is simply not acceptable, and Secretary Gregg Marcantel challenged us to come up with plan to take a bigger chunk of that puzzle. Check out what our staff came up with!

Friday, July 25, 2014

From Segregation to Population

We have been talking about it for months; reducing segregation. But we thought if you could see it, maybe it would help explain how we are achieving this! When Secretary Marcantel and our staff made a commitment to reduce the use of segregation, we had to look at who is living in segregation, why and do they need to still be there?

One group we have focused on is our former gang members who have denounced their membership, followed the rules and have been programming. The restoration to population program was created to help these men, some of whom have have lived in segregation for years, out of Level VI and into a general population setting when they can receive more indepth and longer programming and group therapy sessions.
Take a look at just some of these men and the changes they have undergone as you follow them from Level VI to Level III.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Inmate Fire Crews Doing Their Part

Secretary Gregg Marcantel is always preaching inmate accountability. This is two-fold; holding offenders accountable for their actions, but understanding that a majority of them can and want to be accountable. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the Inmate Fire Crews.

We trekked along yesterday in the Jemez as they did work that may seem small, but could make a huge difference. Take a look!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Our Neighbors Need Your Help!!!

The New Mexico Corrections Department prides ourselves on being good neighbors. Public Safety is our number one goal, and sometimes that takes more than just supervising inmates in the prisons or offenders on probation and/or parole (PPD). We never shy away from stepping up, whether it's officer's using their own money to buy Christmas presents for children of offenders, or volunteering their time to help others, community comes first.

Last year we had a very successful bottled water drive during the floods.
Some of our PPD staff suggested round 2 for the folks currently being displaced by the Assayii fire. Since fire season is here, we thought not only could we host a water and non-perishable food drive for these neighbors, but take in supplies to have ready if future fires break out (of course we hope and pray they won’t).

So, please spread the word that water can be dropped off at any regional or district PPD office. Here is a map of our regions and offices.

We appreciate your help and care for our neighbors!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Most Wanted Offenders" more than just faces on a poster

You may have seen our "Most Wanted" posters. But have you really stopped to look at the faces on the flyers? Sometimes we fall into that "I wouldn't know anyone on this list" mentality, but is that really true?

Every week we sit at a red light next to another driver, stop to get groceries in a crowded supermarket full of unknown faces, hit the gym or take a run/walk around your neighborhood with strangers passing by, or maybe catch a movie/dinner/concert/ or a number of other fun things at a new location. You never know when one of these offenders could pass right by you, but if you ignore the flyer, you will never know.

Second thought, "Why would these people matter to me?" Well, the Secretary likes to say that offenders don't abscond from supervision because they joined the Peace Corps. When an offender doesn't want to check in, follow the rules and stay on track, it's normally because they have fallen back into substance abuse, may have committed a new crime, are hanging out with the wrong crowd, you name it. The New Mexico Corrections Department's mission is centered on public safety, and allowing offenders to not follow the rules and abscond isn't good public safety. We won't stand for it and neither should you.

We are here to help offenders better themselves, but for those that aren't ready to take responsibility and be held accountable, it's important that they face a judge or the Parole Board to be held responsible.

So, will you take a few minutes and get a good look at the offenders on our June flyer? Then look for them when you are out and about; it could make more of a difference than you would ever know.