Tag Archives: CRC

Parenting Halfway House Style

One way to set someone up for failure is to pull them from their support network.

This is the last of my three blogs I have set out about Glenwood Center.

Social support network characteristics of incarcerated women with co-occurring major depressive and substance use disorders

Social support has been conceptualized as including three main components: strength of support, network characteristics, and the types of support offered. Strength of support reflects the perceived level of supportiveness provided by individuals in one’s social support networks (Groh, Jason & Keys 2008). Important social network characteristics include the size of the network as well as the types of the people comprising the network, such as the percentage of substance users within the network (Zywiak, Longabaugh & Wirtz 2002). The types of support provided by one’s social network can be tangible (e.g., exchange of physical items such as money, food, etc.) or intangible (e.g., through exchange of emotional support), or may be problem-specific, such as support for substance use treatment or attitudes of network members regarding a woman’s continued use of alcohol or drugs (Groh et al. 2007Groh, Jason & Keys 2008). Various kinds and sources of support may play different roles in an incarcerated woman’s depression course, substance use recovery, and her re-entry efforts (Bui & Morash 2010Harp, Oser & Leukefeld 2012Johnson et al. 2011aStaton-Tindall, Royse & Leukfeld 2007).

When I got to GWC I was told I could not have visits from ex-felons, which posed a variety of issues. I have been in recovery for multiple years, and let’s face it, the majority of us in recovery have had some issues with the law. Much of my support family has long term recovery, and are now law abiding citizens. One close friend, really family member, was practically a surrogate mom while I was at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center (HMCC), making sure things were taken care of at my home and with my two children. Once I got to the Glenwood Center I was denied any contact with her, although she was finishing up a degree working in the social services arena and was completing a practicum at a local residential treatment center. The issue? She had an SIS from years previously, and therefore I would be in violation of the GWC rules if I was to contact her.

At HMCC, she was able to visit and bring my daughter to see me. At HMCC my daughter was allowed to be dropped off on Friday nights for Girl Scout meetings that met weekly at the institution. HMCC is a correctional institution for women that actually had programs and activities available to decrease the likelihood of recidivism.

Glenwood Center seemed to be pulling me further and further away from communicating with my loved ones. Not only was physical contact difficult, phone contact was difficult as well. Women at GWC had two pay phones, .50 cents a call (more if it was a newer cell number, as it was $1.50 for 3 minutes to call my daughter on her cell phone) and one of the pay phones would not accept money, only calling cards. There were an average of 15 women where I was there at GWC.

 

 

Note from CRC Probation Officer regarding visitation.

Changed their minds, since  my daughters dad had a domestic violence charge , cannot go on passes after all.

Getting clarity: Good luck!

What happens when you put a grievance in. This is how I think it all started.

At first, the reasoning was that the Power of Attorney was invalid due to it being for Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, then after I had put in a request to update the POA, I was told Legal Guardianship is needed to bring my 15 year old daughter to visit. How was the stipulations and rules for visiting at a Community Residential Center more stringent than an official Correctional Facility?

Copy of the BUZZED (cancelled) Resident CIT to obtain an updated POA

Clear, concise, complete. This was handed to me by the Assistant Director at the time, John.

I was still married, so surely he could bring her in, he was, after all, her step-dad. I had gotten approval from my case manager, and after the one visit, this is what I came back to after work.

What happened?

 

I dealt with it as best I could. 14 months later, I got out on ankle monitor.

While there I used a lot of calling cards, thanks to the many who were very supportive and sent them to me. I worked as much as I could and stayed busy, and I stayed as possible reading, writing my pen pals (thank you SWOP Behind Bars) and focused on the day I would get out and how I would let others know that this happens.

I know first hand how being pulled from positive supportive people affects us that are incarcerated. How being separated from our loved ones affect not only our lives, but their lives as well.

We are more apt to act out in ways that hinder us.  Long term solutions for short term problems look reasonable. We use drugs, we run away from GWC, we act out in various ways while trying to make sense of the fears and uncertainties we hold in.

It is a set up for failure and makes no real sense why things are done in such a way. Policies and part of the CRC standards is the reasoning I was told. Something needs to change. Peoples lives are at stake, not only those incarcerated, but our children, who grow up to be adults. This impacts society as a whole, and needs to be addressed as part of the recidivism of incarceration.

What are some of your experiences with parenting in prison or at a CRC?

What are some of the barriers you may have faced with re-entry issues?

What could be changed or is changing?

Halfway houses are halfway there

This is the first of three blog posts I plan on writing about the Halfway Houses in Anchorage, Alaska. 

There are three halfways houses in Anchorage. Community residential centers, CRC’s, to be exact. Midtown and Cordova are now ran by GeoGroup, and Glenwood is owned and operated by TMJ Western. Parkview, owned by GeoGroup as well, closed down last year (2016).

I wanted to sit down and do a few blogs about halfway houses in Anchorage, and where is a better place than to start at the beginning. I went searching for a few key people that were part of the start of CRC’s here in Anchor town.

What I found about the background of CRC’s so far is pretty amazing.

From my limited research thus far, it appears the key player in the creation of halfway houses in Anchorage was William (Bill) Weimar. In the mid 80’s, Weimar saw there was an apparent need for streamlining case management with work release, and embarked on a quest to acquire third party contacts with Alaska Department of Corrections. In 1985 Bill Weimar helped found Allvest Inc. Over time he bought out his partners and grew the company into a multimillion dollar corporation. In 1991, Weimar started another corporation, St. John Investments Inc., which provided contract administrative services to Allvest Inc. At one time Weimar had owned and operated Allvest Laboratories, which did contract urinalysis work, but he sold that company in 1996 to NANA Regional Corporation.

Allvest Inc. led a controversial effort to get the state Legislature to approve a plan that would turn the abandoned Fort Greely Army post into the state’s first private prison. The Legislature approved the proposal and the planning process was under way. The good ol’ boys sat down together and drew out a plan where all would be happy. Money was to be made and strings were to be pulled.

In 1997, Weimar stepped back from overseeing day-to-day operations to focus more on development and corporate expansion. He had hired Frank Prewitt as the company’s new president and chief executive officer. Prewitt had served as commissioner of the state Department of Corrections in 1993 and 1994. The end came in 1998, as detailed in this article from Juneau Empire. Now, I was too young to remember Allvest and the fiasco that sequentially unraveled by the financial liberation it may or may not have took with legislation, but from what I can read thus far, Bill Weimar was a man with a vision, and a heart.

I think I would like the guy if I ever got a chance to meet him. Only via an old friend of his and online articles for research was I able to piece together the legend of this man. This article from ADN, well written by Michael Carey in 2011, shed the most light for me. It sent me on a squirrel chase, looking for the elusive Bill Weimar in order to maybe, just maybe, talk with him. I wanted his thoughts of how he envisioned halfways houses to be, and let him know how far they have fallen from his standard.

No luck.

That is the quick and painless overview of what I was able to find regarding the early days of Anchorage CRC’s.

Now, I will focus on something I personally know about.

The Glenwood Center.

Most people that have never been to a halfway house do not fully understand what the day to day rules and regulations are. I know I had misconception myself until I got to have a very up close and personal understanding of one.

For instance, at Glenwood Center, there is an Orientation Handbook as well as a Resident Handbook. You are identified as a PRISONER not a resident. That is made clear repeatedly. Rules are very similar to Department of Corrections, with similar sanctions as well. One big discrepancy is the staff understanding of the rules they are set to enforce. With a greater window of freedom also comes a greater chance for screwing up. And, lets face it, many of the residents at a CRC did not get there due to making the best choices. Click here for my copies of the Glenwood Resident Handbook and Orientation Handbook.

A halfway house costs the state $99 a day for each inmate, compared to $142 a day for a jail cell.

Looking at the privately ran Glenwood Center, I started the basic search using google.  I was directed to tjmwestern.com which listed an 800 number to report PREA (Prisoner Rape Elimination Act) and states:

The leadership and staff of TJM Western, Inc. (TJMW) have always placed a high priority on creating a safe and healthy environment in which to assist our residents with a successful transition from prison to community.  Our approach to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is to utilize the legislation to provide additional guidance for us to further foster safe programs built on a culture of respect for the rights of all individuals. 

According to TJ Mahoney & Associates on LinkedIn Founded in 1974, TJ Mahoney & Associates is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping prison inmates become responsible, productive members of their communities. Our objective is to improve the likelihood of successful community reentry, thereby reducing recidivism and the long-term financial and social costs of incarceration. We have a successful history of operating programs for both male and female inmates in Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.

When I contacted a staff member no longer working at Glenwood Center I was able to ask them questions about the dynamics of working for TJM Western. This is an excerpt of our conversation. I am keeping the ex staff monitors name private.

8:02PM

Amber

what up doing my next blog on GWC  looking for insider info anything you wanna pipe in

Ex staff member

As far as….?

Amber

What staff was told about for writeups, how did you find the job, what were people paid, what were the office dynamics, I would nt use any names

Ex staff member

As far as writes goes, you guys know the same as we do except that we’re suppose to do it when we choose not to. Found the job on Craigslist. $11.75 is the pay. Office Dynamics… Lol we’re lucky enough to call it that

Amber

What about with the probation officers, how did they feel about writeups, were any residents ever set apart or off limits…?

Ex staff member

Probation officers encourage write-ups for the problematic residents. As far as I saw, NAME OMITTED was the special one because he always snitched on everyone

Amber

what deemed residents problematic, and did anyone ever talk about how GWC is a privatized halfway house, were any perks offered for catching people doing bad?

Ex staff member

Problematic residents are the ones who pretty much cause problems, never follows the rules, never get any house work done. Everyone knew it was a private company so nobody really asked about it. There wasn’t any perks on catching people at all

Amber

What did you feel was the biggest challenge working there? How did the staff feel about management (COS, casemanagers) and vice versa?

Ex staff member

Biggest challenge was really dealing with both staff and residents. Some residents you know make small mistakes and they wanna throw them in the fire for it. Others do things because they don’t care. We gotta determine what’s the actual situation is. You already know how we felt about management and how unorganized they sometimes are

Ask any previous resident of Glenwood Center and you will quickly understand this is lip service. There is very little assistance with a successful transition from prison to community occurring. There is no one to contact regarding the way the rules are construed from the staff hired on Craigslist at $11.75 an hour, and if you do ask too many questions or make waves, you are quickly reminded that being there is a privilege, not a right.

The only reason an offender is there is to work. You must have a job, working a minimum of 32 hours a week. If you do not have a job meeting the minimum requirements you are liable for an IR (incident report) and possibly a preliminary hearing.

What does that mean?

Depending, a violation can cause one to receive extra in-house duties, program demotions, and/or termination from the center.

Interesting supporting info:

https://www.followthemoney.org/research/institute-reports/alaskas-citizens-lock-out-private-prisons

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/crime-courts/2016/08/07/alaska-halfway-house-population-falls-as-corrections-officials-try-to-tamp-down-walkaways/

https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/legislation/2011%20Ordinances/AO2011-001.PDF

 

http://www.prearesourcecenter.org

Live Your Life

Just because I am out on electronic monitoring doesn’t mean that my life is butterflies and sparklers. First of all, butterflies scare the crap out of me. Fun fact: Check my walls and you will see a few butterflies though, dead and under glass or just plain not real.

IMAGINE.jpg

I have come far since July 2014. My life has changed, for the better. I have said countless times back at the halfway house that they didn’t break me. The joke was, at medication call, staff would ask if I had any meds I needed to take and I would reply “Not yet!”.

For those that have never been incarcerated, let me tell you it is a test in patience. It can make you confront your fears or drown in them, and worst yet, you have time to look back and think about what could have been different…what will be different…then finally, what is different.

I find the disparities between women and men in sentencing here in Alaska vastly discouraging, Countless women sit behind bars due to minor violations while men are usually handed far less severe consequences. Us women, on a whole, have a lot to lose. Typically we are mothers and employees, and being incarcerated means our children are the ones who pay, whether by foster care or loss of a parents love. It is not easy for the ones beyond the walls. Jobs aren’t held just because we are in, and finding another one can mean fast food or some other low paying employment. A necessity to remain in good standing with the probation officer as well as a legit way to pay bills.

At the halfway house where I was we were told to take the first job offered. I wasn’t allowed an office job. I had an amazing job offer at a small marketing firm but it was a no-no to have access to a phone or a computer at the halfway house.  My employment background is office and marketing/HR. I had no choice but to go the typical route: restaurant work. If I am guilty of sex trafficking, so be it, but I can honestly say that I have been subjected to labor trafficking just upon the basis of what it was like to find a job and keep a job while there. I have been called a retard and a bitch from my store manager and sent home and not given any option to quit without consequences. A job is money in the pocket to the halfway house, and I was only a number and a check.

I still find it hard to believe that I was sentenced to five and a half years for running a business. Yes, an illegal business, but I truly thought the independent contractor agreements covered me. Excuses and blame, according to the lawmakers. Either way, I carry on. Unbroken. Stronger. Left to gather my thoughts and put it all out there. So, now I can. Now I will. And I hope others follow suit.

Have a great day!