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8/1/2022

(BEAVER DAM, Wis.) — The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) and Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) celebrated the results of a collaborative vocational education program last Thursday, July 28, on the College's Beaver Dam campus.

Six men in DOC care at the minimum-security John C. Burke Correctional Center (JBCC) received their certificate of completion from a 12-week, 12-credit program offered by the College. The men received lab and classroom instruction at MPTC's Beaver Dam campus, learning how to perform basic welding processes, interpret blueprints, apply welding symbols and operate equipment.

“Being able to learn the team-building, problem-solving and other commonly used skills in real world manufacturing and management roles is going to be a great tool for me in my future career path," said Jeremy Thompson.  “I took the initiative to enroll in this program expecting a basic understanding of some welding processes, and I walked away with a reinforced understanding and ability to use advanced math and blueprint reading, as well as very thorough knowledge and skill of setting up and performing GMAW, which is known as MIG welding, and GTAW, which is known as TIG welding."

All six men who started the training went on to complete the program. DOC worked with DWD Apprenticeship staff on getting this program approved as a certified Pre-Apprenticeship program. As a leader in apprenticeship, Wisconsin relies heavily on partnerships to develop high-quality, effective programs that address the state's workforce needs. This program helps participants develop new skills and prepare for Registered Apprenticeship opportunities. 

DOC also worked with the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin (WDBSCW) to combine funding sources to enroll participants in this program. The students received a total of $2,850 through their work in the program and they will also receive a $100 completion bonus.

During his remarks, Sec. Kevin Carr thanked all the groups and people involved in the collaboration.

“I can talk all day about all the people, partnerships and resources it took to reach this day, but at the end of the day, it came down to the will and drive of our graduates," Carr said during the completion ceremony. “You all set a goal, made a commitment and then worked hard to complete this program. You should be extremely proud of what you've accomplished."

The students began their training in March and finished in June. More than 60% of persons in DOC care have five years or less left to serve on their sentence. DOC's mission includes providing opportunities and tools people will need to be successful when they return to the community.

  
7/28/2022https://doc.wi.gov/PublishingImages/NewsItems/interns.jpg

(MADISON, Wis.) — When Probation and Parole Agent Intern Stephanie Faudoa thinks about her summer internship with the Department of Corrections (DOC), she reflects on the impact of her mentor from the Division of Community Corrections (DCC).

“My mentor and supervisor have allowed me to take my leadership skills to a new level," Faudoa states. “They have allowed me to become more knowledgeable in the legal system as well as helped me to not be afraid to challenge myself . . .  they have taught me to lead with passion, dedication, and most importantly, hard work."

This summer, Faudoa has gained a variety of experiences including effectively communicating with clients, reading and writing legal documents, conducting office visits, and learning how custodies are conducted.

Faudoa is one of 15 interns working at the DOC this summer as part of the State of Wisconsin Student Diversity Internship Program (SWSDIP). Since its creation in 1974, the program has placed nearly 4,000 students in summer internship positions throughout the state.

This year, more than 190 internship opportunities were offered throughout all state agencies. Candidates were selected out of a pool of over 850 qualified applicants. The opportunity provides students interested in public service with professional work experiences and a chance to dip their toes into the public sector.

When Melany Lorge, Facility Manager Intern for the Bureau of Budget and Facility Management in the Division of Management Services (DMS) looks back on how her experience has been this summer, she thinks about the impact of her team, stating, “I think what surprised me the most is the amazing team that I've worked with during my time here so far. Everyone has been incredibly open to teaching and helping advance any goals that I might have for my time at the DOC.

“On top of that, they are all genuine people, and it has been a pleasure to get to know everyone and work on their team. Their attitude toward their jobs has shown me what I am striving for in the future . . . Going forward, I know that I will compare a lot of my future jobs to the experience that I had here and know what work culture I operate the best in."

For potential candidates thinking about applying to the program for next summer, both Lorge and Faudoa had insightful advice to give: 

“My advice for someone coming into the program next summer would be to not be afraid of change," states Faudoa. “There are many times in our lives that change is viewed as something that is scary. Although, the way I look at it is that change can actually be beautiful and it can push us to reach goals we never thought possible. It is through change that a person finds their true self and without change, people wouldn't know the wonders of their true potential."

“My advice would be to really evaluate what you want out of the internship before you get started," states Lorge. “The people here really want to make this the best experience for you as possible, and they are willing to mentor in a variety of different ways! My boss has made it abundantly clear that I can choose to shadow any position that I am interested in. Try not to be intimidated by the size of the department overall. Having a large state department to work for, means that you have more resources and connections to explore!" 

To learn more or apply, visit the State of Wisconsin Student Diversity Internship Program website here. Individuals are encouraged to monitor this site early and often for the most up-to-date information.

Interns Stephanie Faudoa (L) and Melany Lorge (R) are part of the State of Wisconsin Diversity Internship Program (SWSDIP) working at the Department of Corrections this summer.
  
7/11/2022https://doc.wi.gov/PublishingImages/NewsItems/PREA.jpg

(MADISON, Wis) — The National PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) Coordinator Working Group recently selected its Chair and Vice Chair for the next two years. The incoming officers are Chairperson Leigha Weber, who has served as the PREA Director for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) since 2018, and Vice Chair Jason Effman, Associate Commissioner and PREA Coordinator for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. 

We recently spoke with them about the National PREA Coordinator Working Group, its work and goals for the future.

First off, for those not familiar, what is the Prison Rape Elimination Act or PREA?

Weber: ​PREA became federal law in 2003 after being passed with unanimous congressional support. The legislation requires confinement facilities – like prisons, jails, halfway houses, and youth detention – to establish policies and implement procedures that will eliminate sexual abuse and sexual harassment of people in our care. It's zero tolerance in practice – so that facilities are safer and people return to our communities healthier.

And what is the National PREA Coordinator Working Group?

Effman: We are a group of agency PREA coordinators/directors from states across the country focused on organizing communication on PREA issues while working with federal partners to identify meaningful ways to help prevent sexual abuse in confinement settings. The National PREA Coordinators Working Group was formed to facilitate collaboration amongst the agency-wide PREA Coordinators for the states and the United States Territories, and to serve as a collective voice for these Corrections Professionals on important policy and practice matters.

How is it helpful to the agencies involved?

Weber: The group facilitates collaboration among the state correctional agencies involved in reaching shared goals, including operationalization of the National PREA standards and, ultimately, prevention of sexual abuse. The group also serves as a collective voice in response to common and evolving challenges faced by PREA coordinators among state, county and private agencies. 

Effman: By working together, we help each other identify promising practices and innovative strategies. We also offer support to peers who are newer to this work.

How long has this group been together?

Weber: Just a few years. The Working Group came from discussions at the 2019 PREA Coordinators National Conference. Currently, Coordinators from nine states make up the PREA Working Group. In this relatively short amount of time, we've developed a strong working relationship with the PREA Resource Center (PRC), which has shown to be mutually valuable. For example, we've had the opportunity to offer our collective perspective and solutions on auditing issues created by the pandemic; review technology and tools for use in the field; and partner on conference planning.

What other groups do you work with?

Effman: We have ongoing communications with the U.S. Department of Justice, PREA Management Office (PMO) and other national subject matter experts in the field like Just Detention International and The Moss Group. We hope to cultivate a reciprocal partnership with the PMO in response to the development of best practices, as the PMO/PRC continue to refine protocols primarily around the audit process.

Weber: We believe the experience of the members of the National PREA Coordinator Working Group is diverse, vast, meaningful and practical – all of which helps our partners develop strategies and solutions that have real-life value.

 

Leigha Weber has been with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' PREA Office since 2014. She is a certified USDOJ PREA Auditor. Prior to joining Wisconsin DOC, she oversaw all major service delivery functions as the Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army of Dane County. She came to Madison from San Diego, where she was the Community Health Program Manager for the Transitional Case Management Program, a joint re-entry initiative of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the University of California-San Diego.

Jason Effman has been Associate Commissioner at the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision since 2013. He was certified by the USDOJ as a PREA Auditor in 2015. He has been with NYS DOCCS since 1999 where he started as an Assistant Counsel. He started working on policy and practice issues pertaining to sexual abuse and misconduct through litigation and regulatory compliance in 2003. Since 2005, he has been representing NYS DOCCS in national activities related to the implementation of PREA.  He is also a member of the New York State Interagency LGBTQ Task Force, has served as a subject matter expert on projects with the National Institute of Corrections, and had the privilege of serving in an advisory capacity on the DOJ/PREA Resource Center project to develop the PREA Audit Instrument.  ​

Incoming officers Chairperson Leigha Weber (L), PREA Director for Wisconsin Department of Corrections and Vice Chair Jason Effman (R), Associate Commissioner and PREA Coordinator for New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
  
6/29/2022

(MADISON, Wis.) — Many take pride in Wisconsin's label as “America's Dairyland." With Wisconsin accounting for 14% of U.S milk production and producing a record number of 31.7 billion pounds of milk in 2021 according to the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the impact of Wisconsin on the dairy industry is undeniable.

The impact of dairy can even be seen in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). DOC's Bureau of Correctional Enterprises (BCE) has many agricultural sites. Two farms near Oregon and Waupun & Fox Lake have a total of approximately 1,000 cows, with 550 to 600 milking cows at a given time. Each milking cow generally produces 90 pounds of milk per day, surpassing the national average by about 24 pounds or 35%, according to Wes Ray, director of BCE. None of the milk produced goes to waste either – any unprocessed milk is used to feed the calves.

Part of how employees accurately track milk production is through a radio frequency ID ear tag on each cow. Employees utilize the software, DairyCOMP 305, to track the production lifecycle of a cow, every lactation, and the amount of milk produced during lactation. This allows staff to make data-informed decisions.

But dairy isn't the only thing being produced at these farms. The self-sufficiency of the farms and dairy allows workers opportunities to learn skills, work on a team and receive some much-needed funds.

Persons in DOC's Care from Oakhill Correctional Institution are employed at Oregon farm, and individuals from the John Burke Correctional Center are employed at the Waupun & Fox Lake farms and Waupun dairy. As members of these teams, they are provided training and work experience that help lead to success in prison and in the community upon re-entry. 

One BCE worker reflects on how working at Waupun dairy has set him up for success before he returns to the community. Starting work folding half-pint containers and moving to roles with more responsibility, he's managed to network and impress employers on the farm, stating, “I have jobs lined up once I get out. People I've met while here have already told me when this is over, you've got a job."

According to BCE's outreach brochure, within three years after being released, 88% of former BCE workers are employed, and 71% have not returned to DOC custody. Additionally, Ray says when former BCE workers get out, they have generally $3,000 more in their accounts than non-BCE workers. This money helps workers pay restitution and provides a little financial cushion. “I think it gives people a little more room to make the decisions they ought to make," Ray shared.

Through roles on the farm and at the dairy, BCE's mission of providing jobs and training for persons in DOC's care to enhance public safety and lead to long-term success has been highly impactful. Learn more about BCE's mission and benefits to those in DOC's care here.

  
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​(WAUPUN, Wis.) — ​Robert Alexander seemed calm and steady through the entire ceremony, including the speech he delivered on behalf of his fellow graduates. It wasn't until after the program, when he was asked by reporters about the rousing cheer he received from his family in attendance, that the emotions of the day caught up with him.

“I spent a lot of my life not being what my mother knew that I was. So, to see the pride in her face… " Alexander said before choking up, then quickly composing himself. “Yeah, I was humbled. I'm tired of not making my momma proud, you know. Seeing her see me do something she knew I could do, it was too long coming."

Alexander and eight others were honored at Waupun Correctional Institution this morning for their work to become just the second group of men to ever graduate from a four-year college baccalaureate program inside a DOC institution.

“When I enrolled in the program, I expected to complete it, because I was entering into a commitment," Alexander explained. “Did I think coming to prison I would be a college graduate? No. I didn't think one of the things I would get out of prison was a college degree."

The degree he and others earned is in Biblical Studies, with a minor in Psychology. It is offered through a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), Trinity International University and the Wisconsin Inmate Education Association (WIEA). Starting in 2017, DOC offered a small space at Waupun Correctional Institution where Trinty established an accredited branch campus. The university provides the staff, curriculum and degrees. The WIEA pays 100% of the tuition, leaving no costs for the students or the state.

“Of course, I can talk all day about all the people, partnerships and resources it took to make this happen, but at the end of the day, it came down to the will and drive of our graduates," DOC Sec. Kevin Carr told the graduates during the ceremony. “To each of you, let me be among the first of many today, to say congratulations."

“When we processed here a little while ago and I saw on the chairs the names and the word 'graduate', I realized that by the time you come up here, shake hands and go back, we need to change the labels on the chairs," said Trinity International University President, Dr. Nicholas Perrin. “Because no longer are you going to be graduates. You'll be Trinity alumni."

“You can't have correction without having education. It's impossible," Alexander said after the ceremony. “For me, getting this education has allowed me to be far more prepared for freedom than I was before. I understand differently and I'm able to think far more critically."

Alexander's release date is not till 2030, but he is already looking to the future. He says he hopes to earn a Master's Degree in Psychology and potentially pursue a career in substance abuse counseling, noting that, “A lot of the things I got into myself, drugs and alcohol were a catalyst."

There are 29 people in DOC care currently enrolled in the program, including the nine graduates. Each was held to the same admissions standards Trinity International University applies to all students, including having at least a high school equivalency diploma.

  
6/23/2022

​(PLYMOUTH, Wis.) ​​— Devonte Jackson sat at a computer screen at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution (KMCI) on Tuesday and explained why the task he was working on may be the most important to ensure his future success

“I want to learn as much as I can about the employment process, including interviewing, job research, and resume development, with the ultimate goal of a job before release," Jackson explained.  “A job where I can continue to develop my skills in order to open up more opportunities."

Opportunity is key for Jackson. He is 27 years old and a felon due to a guilty plea in a 2013 forgery case. He is also among the men in DOC care at KMCI who are using the institution's Job Center in hopes of finding a good job that can help set them up for success in the community.

“Finding a job can be one of the largest obstacles for people leaving DOC care. They've been in prison, so they may have no recent work history, plus there is the stigma of having a criminal record and being recently incarcerated," Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Sec. Kevin Carr said at the Job Center on Tuesday. “We cannot wipe away that stigma, but we can give people in our care a head-start on their job search before they return home."

DOC's Job Centers are a joint effort between the DOC and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). They provide access and support to help people in DOC care create a Job Center of Wisconsin account that they can continue to use when they return home. They also use the Center to look for jobs, apply and interview.

James McInnis, Education Director at KMCI, says one man who used the Job Center received a job offer while still at the facility in late May and began his employment within days of his release.

“Wisconsin, like the rest of the Midwest and United States, is facing a worker quantity shortage," said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “We have, right now, about two open jobs for every job-seeker, so we have been coaching employers around the state that there are many talented, yet underutilized, pools of individuals, including folks who have been incarcerated, who are returning to the communities and can help fill their workforce needs."

Secretary-designee Pechacek was one of several visitors who recently toured the Job Center, which is just one example of how the DOC, under the Evers Administration, is partnering with other agencies to strengthen a state workforce that needs more employees.

Visitors also had the opportunity to tour KMCI's various vocational education classes, including welding, barbering and mechanical design. DOC partners with Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) to provide these opportunities to earn certification in various fields.

“It's important for us because we serve the employers in our district, and we want to make sure that every population has the opportunity to help our employers find the talented workforce they need," said MPTC President Bonnie Baerwald. “We also realize that a lot of justice-involved populations are released at some point in time. So, we want to make sure they have the best opportunity that, once they are released, they don't come back. I'm very proud of the academic programming that we are able to offer here."

“Every year, thousands of people leave Wisconsin DOC custody. Most will be looking for employment when they go home," said Sec. Carr. “With our partners we're giving them the skills to compete for a job and the tools to help them find a job before they leave us. It's a win for them and for the state's economy. 

DOC and DWD have worked to greatly expand the number of Job Centers at DOC institution under the Evers Administration, going from one in 2018 to 11 currently. The one at KMCI is the newest, having been in use just a couple of months. The KMCI Job Center has 12 work stations and is staffed by DWD employees. The institution prioritizes use of the Job Center for those within six months of their release date.


  
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(MILWAUKEE, Wis.) — ​ Lt. Efrim Martin never expect Vanessa, his oldest child and only daughter, to follow in his footsteps and choose a career in corrections.

“When she was younger, she had interest in being an attorney," he said after a shift earlier this week.

“I changed my major a few different times," explained Vanessa. “I wasn't 100% sure of the path I wanted to go down and, to be honest with you, corrections just worked out. It wasn't anything planned."

Efrim said it came as a surprise that she did have an interest, and the surprise got even better with her transferring to the same facility where he works.

This Father's Day – Sunday, June 19 – marks six months since Vanessa transferred to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), after more than a year at Taycheedah Correctional Institution. The 29-year-old Milwaukee native says she just wanted to work with her dad.

“I knew that my dad was coming up on his retirement. We had talked and I wasn't really sure long he was going to go."

“You raise your kids, you get them through school, and the different trials and tribulations in life. And it's something I never imagined, to be able to work with one of my kids," Efrim said.

“There were a lot of emotions about it but, honestly, I feel like it was the best decision ever," added Vanessa.

Lt. Martin has more than two decades experience at MSDF. He is the third shift lieutenant at the facility and Vanessa is a correctional officer on second shift. Though not on the same shift, their workdays sometimes overlap and they work together.

“And to be able to see her in a work environment, which is something that a lot of parents don't get a chance to see. It is a different side of her, but it's a good side. I see a young lady who has matured, has work ethic and is able to articulate herself to PIOC and staff."

And while he tries not to be a parent at work, Vanessa says he dad has offered advice to help her as she began both her career in corrections and at MSDF.

“It helped me to prepare myself in the sense of what to expect; the hours and the environment."

“I want to be able to give her as much knowledge as possible," Efrim added.

“He has always had an open ear. And it's really helped my transition, honestly," Vanessa admits.

Officer Vanessa Martin says she is currently working towards her Master's Degree at UW-Milwaukee, and that she hopes to someday move into a social worker position at MSDF.

Lt. Efrim Martin started at MSDF in October of 2001. He says he does plan to retire sometime in the next three years, but has no firm plans on when he will leave DOC service.

  
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​(MADISON, Wis.) — The Wisconsin Department of Corrections recently welcomed Tifene Brown as the Department's first-ever Equity and Inclusion Chief. Brown will serve as the Department's chief program and policy advisor for equity and inclusion and workforce planning programs.

Since the beginning of his Administration, Governor Evers has set Equity and Inclusion as a priority in the state. In his budget, Evers said, “A diverse, equitable, and inclusive government and society benefits all of us." During his most recent budget proposal, Evers asked for new chief equity officer positions to be created at the cabinet level for all state agencies. While the legislature did not approve this in the final budget, DOC made the decision to reallocate a position internally in order to create a new Equity and Inclusion Chief for the agency.  

We recently sat down with Tifene to get a sense of who she is and how she feels her role will assist in developing and implementing an organizational inclusion roadmap for the agency.

Tifene said to accurately represent who she is today, she has to go back to her childhood. Her family was part of the great migration, where thousands of African-Americans fled the south and came to the Midwest in search of more opportunities and a better life. Her uncle left Mississippi to come to Racine, and it wasn't long after that her aunt and mother followed, making Wisconsin their home.

This experience, according to Tifene, is a daily reminder of her “country-born, city-raised" roots. It has shaped every part of who she is today, from her southern hospitality as she waves hello to everyone she encounters or in her Midwest, down-to-earth demeanor.

Tifene spent 12 years of her career as a Probation and Parole Agent with the Division of Community Corrections before transitioning into education, most recently working as the Director of Student Success at Alverno College in Milwaukee. When asked about how her career took form, Tifene talked about her time as an Agent. “At the time, I was simply looking for stable employment", said Tifene. “I am a mom and had a family. Having a good job and benefits was my priority."

It wasn't until Tifene started working as an agent that she realized how the role supported many of her interests and strengths. “The more I learned my position, the more I started to enjoy it and realize I was exactly where I was meant to be. I've always been someone who connects easily with people, and being an agent allowed me to connect with others and help them in ways others may not be able to."

Over the past several years, Tifene transitioned her skills into education. She began as an Admissions Counselor and worked her way up to the position of Director of Student Success. While this career change was a desirable move for Tifene, it did not come without its own set of challenges. “Early on as an Admission Counselor, I felt as though there was this unspoken expectation to represent everyone who was a minority. Ultimately I felt as if I was doing two jobs instead of having the recognition that we needed to do more work in this area and have better representation for our students."

This experience, however, propelled Tifene into looking for solutions. “I'm the type of person that is always looking for how we can make something better, so I just got right into the, 'how can I resolve this or fix it' mode." While serving at Alverno College, Tifene focused on increasing retention of African American and underrepresented students by employing a Holistic Advising Framework. Tifene meaningfully contributed to the Equity and Inclusion goals of the college by supporting and advocating for students. Now Tifene is looking to take her experience and apply it to her role as Equity and Inclusion Chief in DOC.

“While I'm new to the role, I am not new to this type of work", says Tifene. She is a Gallup certified Clifton Strengths coach, which is an assessment tool used to measure a person's talents and their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Tifene states, “I hope to bring my skills as a coach into this current position and help people incorporate their strengths into their work. Part of my own strength is being able to shape the narrative around who people are and what they are good at. I don't look at people through a lens of weaknesses or deficits, instead I look at the whole person from a strength-based and positive approach and empower each person to be the best they can be."

Tifene is also working on her Educational Doctoral Degree at Alverno College and hopes that she can use her education to assist her as she takes on this new role in DOC.


  
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(NEW LISBON, Wis.) — Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Deputy Secretary Jared Hoy joined representatives from Western Technical College recently, to recognize a group of men at New Lisbon Correctional Institution (NLCI) who have completed their training in the facility's Electro-Mechanical Mobile Training Lab.

“I used to feel, as many of the guys here may feel, I was sentenced to rot, away from my loved ones," said Anthony, one of the student speakers at NLCI's May 23 graduation ceremony. “I have come to realize that fate had a plan for me and all of us. Our mistakes and poor decisions led us here, but it has been a great opportunity in disguise. If we hadn't had our worst days, we wouldn't have been in this position to rebuild our lives."

The Electro-Mechanical students earned a certificate of completion from Western Technical College, which supplies the instruction and curriculum for the mobile training lab. Their recognition was part of a larger graduation ceremony, NLCI's first graduation event since August of 2018.

Other people in DOC care at NLCI were honored at the ceremony for completing their High School Equivalency Diploma, or completing their Computer Literacy Certificate, Customer Service Certificate, Bakery Production course, or Woods: Carpentry and Framing course.

“Knowledge is indeed power. With the practical skills, training and instruction we have received, each of us is better prepared and empowered to succeed and prosper in our future lives as members of the greater community," said Richard, another of the student speakers.

Three groups have completed training in the Electro-Mechanical Mobile Training Lab since it arrived at NLCI, with a fourth group currently learning in the Lab. Western Technical College said its collaboration with DOC is focused on the Electro-Mechanical field because there is a need for these workers in Wisconsin.

“Electro-Mechanical is very hands-on. It's also very high-demand. In Western's district, there's over 200 jobs annually that are available. Those starting wages are between $50,000-$60,000 a year. Individuals can earn up to $100,000 once they've been in the industry a while. So, the need is there from our employers," said Dean Josh Gamer in Western Technical College's Integrated Technology Division, adding that the college tries to act as a conduit to connect those releasing from DOC with Electro-Mechanical training to potential employers.

“Here's the support on the front end, to get you through the program," Dean Gamer explained. “And when you're read to try and do this as a career, we have employers that want to meet you, because there is huge demand and there are employers who are willing to say, 'We definitely believe in second chances.'"  

“I was on a road to nowhere," Anthony told those attending the ceremony. “Now, we all have a brighter future to look forward to. After release, we have the chance to get great jobs in a field that is high demand."


  
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​(MADISON, Wis.) — Several Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Probation and Parole units recently installed Nalox-Zone Boxes in their offices, the agency's latest step to help combat a growing opioid epidemic among clients on supervision.

A Nalox-Zone Box is a rescue kit designed to help prevent death from an opioid overdose. It resembles the AED devices often found in public buildings, except it contains naloxone. Naloxone, which may be better known by one of its brand names, Narcan, is a medicine designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. Each box contains two doses of Narcan, a rescue breathing apparatus to be used for CPR, a community resource card and instructions for how to reverse a suspected opioid overdose. 

“Opioid use and overdoses are a major concern in Wisconsin communities and among people on DOC supervision," noted Wisconsin DOC Division of Community Corrections (DCC) Assistant Administrator Dr. Autumn Lacy. “We're looking for ways to try and address this epidemic through our policies, procedures and various initiatives." 

DCC's Harm Reduction Workgroup recommended to pilot the use of these boxes after learning that Nalox-Zone Boxes were being used as a harm reduction strategy by various states, as well as other public and private agencies throughout Wisconsin. DOC is partnering with Wisconsin Voices for Recovery, a group based in Madison that purchased the boxes, will maintain them and provide the Narcan. Boxes have been placed in several DCC offices throughout the state, with more scheduled for installation in the near future.

“Access to naloxone and related products by our clients is one opportunity to reduce opioid harm," Dr. Lacy said. “We're using our DCC waiting rooms for product accessibility because they are high-traffic areas. The boxes were installed in the entry way in an effort to support anonymity and focus on the lifesaving impact that administering naloxone can have on clients the department is serving."

Wisconsin Voices for Recovery is working to place Nalox-Zone Boxes in other spaces in Wisconsin communities, not just DCC offices. In Fiscal Year 2021, DOC had 964 reported overdoses among clients on supervision, with 154 resulting in death DOC recently created an overdose death review team to identify gaps in resources, and to recommend policy and practice changes to address these gaps. In addition, some DCC probation and parole agents have started providing naloxone to clients that are at risk of an opioid overdose. DCC is aware that this initiative has helped save lives of those on supervision. Along with the naloxone initiatives, DOC supports the funding of all three FDA approved medication assisted treatment options throughout the state. 


Division of Community Corrections (DCC) staff with the newest "Nalox-Zone Box" that was recently installed at the E. Johnson St. Office in Madison. The box was installed in the entry way in effort to support anonymit and focus on the lifesaving impact that adminstering naloxone can have on the clients Wisconsin DOC serves.

  
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​(MADISON, Wis.) — Leaders from Madison College and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) honored graduates at the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOCF) on Friday, May 20.

The honorees included the first group of students in DOC care to earn a Technical Diploma through Madison College's Second Chance Pell Grant program. The 12 students who participated in that program earned their Small Business Entrepreneurship diplomas while at RYOCF.

“These young men come from highly diverse backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common," said Dr. Jack Daniels III, president of Madison College. “They are looking for positive change in their lives and the college's Second Chance Pell Grant program is helping them achieve that."

While the dozen graduates represent the first group of people in DOC care to take part in Second Chance Pell through Madison College, the college is expanding the program and will have a projected enrollment of 60 students across six DOC facilities in the fall.

Wisconsin DOC also partners with Milwaukee Area Technical College to offer Second Chance Pell grants to people in the agency's care.

“I'm proud of our agency's collaboration with the state's technical colleges to make these opportunities available to those in our care," said RYOCF Warden Je'Leslie Taylor. “I'm also proud of the students honored today. It takes partnerships and resources, but it came down to each of these young men setting goals for themselves."

The ceremony also honored a group of young men at RYOCF who earned their High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED).

“It feels really good. I didn't think I could do. The teachers will tell you I used to want to give up, and they always pushed me to better myself and to keep going," said Junior Moreno, one of the HSED honorees. Moreno said he earned the diploma for himself and for his son.

“Just so I could show him a better way. I don't want him to have to come up and do the same things that I did," he added.

Madison College was among a new group of schools included in the U.S. Department of Education's expansion of the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative in 2020. The initiative provides need-based Pell grants to people in state and federal prisons. The U.S. Department of Education announced last month that more colleges are being added to this initiative, bringing the total number of schools able to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment to 200 nationwide. 

  
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​(MADISON, Wis.) — Department of Corrections (DOC) leadership recently recognized hundreds of employees for their talents, dedication and commitment to our agency and the citizens of Wisconsin during a formal ceremony held on Friday, May 6 in the Assembly Chambers of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Employees from across the state, and represented by each division, are honored each year through the selection of diverse awards highlighting their outstanding performance and exceptional contributions. The awards honor individual staff members or groups nominated by their peers or supervisors in three categories: Secretary's SALUTE, Lifesaving & Valor and Spotlight on Excellence, a new award for 2022!

The ceremony was well-attended by the winners, their nominators and several of their guests. The event was also streamed live on DOC's Facebook for those unable to attend in-person. Please help us congratulate the following award winners from the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI), Division of Community Corrections (DCC), Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC), Division of Management Services (DMS) and the Office of the Secretary (OOS):​​

The Secretary's SALUTE Award recognizes individual employees for their contributions to the agency relative to the Secretary's six pillars of success: Service, Awareness, Leadership, Unique, Team and Excellence

SERVICE

  • Alicia Wegener, Amy Brushwood, Corey Brandenburg, Daniel Rigney, Dawn Taskay, Craig Rosenthal, Juan Fernandez, Eric Dichsen, Gina Wimmer, Heather Phelps, Julie Beeney, Kara Knott, Kerry Buechner, Kristi McGee, Kristin Luoma, Laurie Ramsey, Michelle Zindorf, Nancy Bernarde, Rebecca Chapin, Rebecca Laiter, Samantha Bjelland, Samantha Lang, Sujata Karki, DJC Lincoln Hills School Health Services Unit
  • Andrea Olmanson, Angela Riniker, Bronwyn Baldwin, Caitlin Washburn, Christine Freeland, Glen MercierII, Jad Itani, Jennifer Carter, Katharine Ariss, Matthew Foley, Michelle Zaccard, Shancethea Leatherwood, Todd Allen, William Max Levins, OOS Office of Legal Counsel

AWARENESS​

  • Holly Stanelle, DCC Treatment Unit

LEADERSHIP

  • Gary Mitchell, DAI Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center
  • Steven Johnson, DAI Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility

UNIQUE

  • Andrea Robinson, Anna Curl, Anthony Streveler, Barbara Goetsch, Cari Taylor, Casey Bouchard, Daniel Schroeder, Erich Wuerslin, Gina Carney, Grace Knutson, Heather Dedering, Jessica Liptow, Julia Krause, Katherine Mears, Katie Garrett, Kelly Kincaid, Lori Bowers, Maradith Mcquillan, Marie Peterson, Monica Lukach, Nicole Griffiths, Rebecca Mahin, Reid Wurtzel, Robert Fugate III, Ryan Pierce, Sandra Pederson, Sandra Luder, Sandra Cornell, Sarah Messer, Sarah Wescott, Sarah Aho, Steven Landreman, Susan Baumann, Teresa Schultz, Valerie Santana, DCC Sex Offender Registrant Portal Team
  • Akhil Kamunipally, Gregory Baker, James Pyka, Matt Flatau, Mathew Larson, DMS Bureau of Technology Management:

TEAM

  • Alan Barthel, Brian Fellner, Dace Branson, Frederick Boehme, John Binner, Joshua Kratochvil, Michael Heiser, Travis Knecht, DAI Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center
  • Alyson Skelton, Anthony Holt, Jacob Wegner, James Kotlowski, John Bahr, Justin Landaal, Lindsey Hisel, DAI Fox Lake Correctional Institution

EXCELLENCE​

  • Angela Hansen, DAI Bureau of Classification and Movement


The Secretary's Lifesaving & Valor Award recognizes employees for displaying exceptional bravery or who performed a courageous act, above and beyond the call of duty, to save a life or assist in an emergency situation.

  • Julie Smith, DCC Region 7
  • Nicholas Lawler-Benishek, DAI Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility
  • Russell Mezera, DAI Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
  • Angela Thompson, April Albertson, Brian Miller, Christopher Hoch, Cindy Barter, Eric Barber, Jason Kettenhoven, Jennifer Krueger, Jeremy Baxter, Kristopher Allen, Louis Taylor, Michael Sholar Jr., Nicholas Freitag, Randy Nicholson, Richard Markowski, Sara Miller, Terry Sawall, Troy Hoernke, DAI Redgranite Correctional Institution
  • Danielle Robinson, Jonathan Bohnsack, Kaylene Betancourt, Samantha Gauf, DAI Columbia Correctional Institution
  • Brad Schlosstein, DCC Region 4
  • Carlee Mayer, Marc Peterson, Ryan Hartwig, Susan Bender, DCC Region 1
  • Ann Lindahl, Anthony Torres, Juan Ramos, Karen Jazwiecki, LaTosha Logwood, Yennisse Alcantara, DCC Region 3
  • Stacy Rohloff, DCC Region 4
  • Rexford Smith, DAI Wisconsin Resource Center


The Secretary's Spotlight on Excellence Award recognizes employees for displaying leadership and extraordinary service to the agency relative to DOC's Strategic Priorities: Operational Excellence, Transparency & Public Accountability, Workforce Investments or Corrections Reform.

  • Anna Neal, John Beard, Kelsey Adams, Zachary Osell, OOS Office of Public Affairs
  • Vernon Boyd, DAI Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center
  • Connie Baker, DCC Region 8
  • Rick Lamere, DJC Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake School
  • Shannon Butcher, DMS Corrections Training Center
  • Rebecca Hoefs, DMS Bureau of Finance and Administrative Services

RUNNER UP WINNERS

  • Rebecca Heth, OOS Reentry Unit
  • Jennifer Lindow, DAI Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility
  • Kathy Cascadden, DAI Columbia Correctional Institution
  • Katherine Mears, DCC Sex Offender Registry Programs
  • Amy Kober, DCC Region 7
  • Lonnie Morgan, DJC Northwestern Regional Offices
  • Sheila Corroo, DJC Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake School
  • Terry Jones, DJC Grow Academy
  • Gregory Baker, DMS Bureau of Technology Management​
  
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​(MADISON, Wis.) — The Wisconsin Department of Corrections' Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) has had a long and successful partnership with the Madison Public Library. The ongoing collaboration has provided non-traditional learning opportunities to connect with youth at GROW Academy, and help them process emotions and learn new skills. In previous years, the youth have used this time to learn how to record music, however this year the youth had another idea in mind: Podcasting.

Over the last decade, there has been a nationwide shift in approaches to juvenile justice. Reform efforts have reduced the use of secure confinement and instead looked for ways to invest in more community-based programming focused on treatment. In Wisconsin, DOC Secretary Kevin Carr and Governor Tony Evers' administration have taken several steps to end harmful practices in confinement settings, and instead introduce evidence-based approaches to promote self-regulation and pro-social interpersonal skills to help youth understand the cues that trigger emotions.

The GROW Academy is located just outside Madison in Oregon. It offers residential programming and comprehensive treatment for County and State-supervised youth as an alternative to incarceration. GROW also serves as a transitional step down for youth returning to the community. GROW has built a coalition of community partnerships to help offer high-quality opportunities to youth in DOC care, including the partnership with the Madison Public Library.

Rob Franklin, or Rob Dz as he is more commonly known in the community, is the Media Project Bubblerarian for Madison Public Library. Rob Dz engages local youth by incorporating Hip Hop into learning. He has been working with GROW for years, helping youth write, produce and record music.

Springtime at GROW means a new cohort of students for Rob Dz and his co-teachers Tyler Brunsell and Mark "Shah" Evans. The first class began by encouraging youth to think about how they could tell their stories through music. In previous years, the youth have been excited to create and record their own songs, but this year's group had ideas of their own.

“There were mixed emotions from the youth" says Jonathan, a teacher at GROW. “We're always aware of the difficulties that come with connecting with youth, especially teens. It can be challenging and we could tell pretty early on that this group was not connecting with the traditional approaches to music recording."

The lack of interest among youth was surprising to staff and unprecedented for the program, however Rob Dz saw it as an opportunity to find passion in other areas. “We began brainstorming new projects and the youth very quickly turned their interest to podcasting."

With this new project underway, each student was tasked with choosing one topic of interest for their own podcast episode. The episodes, now in the planning stages, will include topics on 1. Nonsense, 2. Sports, 3. Cars, and 4. Real Talk.

“The work is still evolving" says Jonathan. “The youth are working on developing questions and content for their episode. They will interview each other, produce their own theme song for their episode and even create beats to reflect who they are."

Last month we were able to observe the youth as they prepare the four-episode podcast titled, “We GROW".  As we made our way into their classroom, the students were already studying examples of other podcasts. Rob Dz hit stop on the YouTube video playing and loudly exclaimed, “You're about to start your podcast". As the students watched him with an intense look on their faces, he continued. “I want you to think about what your flavor is. What's your personality? That's what podcasts are all about. Personality".

Rob Dz then returned to the screen and hit play. “Lil Durk: Million Dollaz Worth of Game Episode 157" plays loudly and uncensored. You can feel the mood shift in the room. Some of the youth started to tap their feet along the hard floors beneath their desks as the beats of the podcast began to tell its own story. Rob asked the youth if the felt the “vibing" that was happening between the host and the guest, and some youth nod their heads as he adds, “You might have prepared questions but you've got to be flexible. Podcasting is a conversation and feeling the vibe is important."

As the youth take a break, we talked to Rob Dz about his work with GROW and the youth in the community. “Mentorship is important to me. Sharing our stories can be difficult, however using non-traditional methods such as hip hop has been a great way for youth to learn and share."

As the youth made their way back to their desks, they picked up black and silver headphones and wrapped them around their necks. One by one, they opened their laptops containing large, eye-catching “BUBBLER" stickers affixed to the top. The students began working on their beats for their episode. A distinct and palpable excitement seemed to take over the room as the students finally, and somewhat unknowingly, began to experience the impact music can have on one's emotional state. Rob Dz can see the moment happening, but doesn't use any words. Instead he focuses on the music.

The recording of the podcast is still underway, but Rob Dz and the staff at GROW hope to publish it, while still protecting the privacy of the youth in the program.





  
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​April marks National Second Chance Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring the safe and successful reentry of the more th​an 640,000 individuals returning to their communities after incarceration each year. Over the course of the month, we're highlighting the people and programs of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) at the root of many successful outcomes – featuring real stories from those in our care with lived experience. 

As a collaboration between the Reentry Unit, Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work, the Parenting Inside Out-90 Hour (PIO-90) program has been offered at all three women facilities: Taycheedah Correctional Institution, Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center, and Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center, as well as one male facility: Green Bay Correctional Institution. Read more about the parenting skills training program here​.​

 

Developed in the State of Oregon, PIO-90 is a research-based curriculum targeting parent management skills using a cognitive-behavioral and collaborative approach between the parenting coach and the participant. Participants hope to gain skills to strengthen their own parenting and communication styles, while also building a stronger and collaborative relationship with their child's caregivers in the community. Below are a few testimonials from participants on the impact of the PIO-90 program.

“The materials go beyond just parenting and helps develop and encourage growth of us as people. Also helps with communication, listening, etc. in all relationships. Very grateful to have been able to participate, learn, and grow." 

—participant at Milwaukee Women's Correctional Center

“Parenting Inside Out was the most helpful group experience I've had since I been in prison. Mrs. Wertel and Captain Cummings do an amazing job running the class because they also participate by sharing their own personal memories of parenting their kids and also the way they were raised by their own parents…To a person who is really committed, this group can be life changing.  It has a lasting effect on mine." 

—participant at Green Bay Correctional Institution

“I learned so many tools and skills that not only will help me as a parent but in life also dealing with people.  The one tool or skill we learned that is universal is effective communication and listening.  I am a father of three beautiful little girls ages 6, 7, and 8 years old and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to take this program."

—participant at Green Bay Correctional Institution

“I really enjoyed our group. Ms. Tredo did a great job. I have learned a lot of new things to help with my parenting upon release."

—participant at Milwaukee Women's Correctional Center


The Department of Corrections continues to improve upon parenting offerings and recently trained eleven new facilitators in the PIO-90 curriculum. Such expansion will allow for more individuals to be served at the current sites and provide additional support for our current facilitators. We also continue to partner with the UW-Madison School of Social Work to provide technical assistance and support for our facilitators.   


  
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April marks National Second Chance Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring the safe and successful reentry of the more th​an 640,000 individuals returning to their communities after incarceration each year. Over the course of the month, we're highlighting the people and programs of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) at the root of many successful outcomes – featuring real stories from those in our care with lived experience. 

Windows to Work (W2W) is a pre- and post-release program designed to address criminogenic needs that can lead to recidivism, such as employment and education. The Mechatronics Lab is one of five mobile training labs at DOC institutions that teach skills in high-demand fields in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Gateway Technical College.​

Below is a conversation with a person in our care who was enrolled in the Windows to Work program and recently completed training in the Mechatronics Lab at Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOCF). He was given an opportunity to speak with various employers prior to his release, received assistance preparing a resume and cover letter and even scheduled an interview with a prospective employer the day before his release date. He received two job offers — one directly related to his work in the Mechatronics Lab that will allow him to make well over $20/hour in just 90 days after starting employment. He will also receive paid training towards an associate's degree upon the completion of one year of employment.

 

Q: What employment goals did you have for yourself prior to entering the Windows to Work (W2W) program?

A: None. Zero. I thought I would go back to selling drugs.

 

Q: How did the W2W pre-release curriculum prepare you for your reentry and assist you in obtaining employment post-release?

A: With the program, it gave me hope and resources to do better things. It helped me build the confidence for when I got home to be prepared for interviews.

 

Q: Were there any specific barriers to employment that W2W assisted you with (transportation, work supplies or clothing, legal documents, resume, housing, food or financial assistance)? If so, how did this assistance help you become successful?

A: They helped me with my resume, and (helped me) overcome the process of thinking about fast money and leading a stable life.

 

Q: Overall, what do you feel you got out of the program and how did it prepare you to achieve your employment goals?  

A: The confidence to go into an interview for a job that I know I got the job even before it was offered to me. I took so many college classes while in the institution that it prepared me for the work environment, and the Windows to Work helped me with the professional thoughts.

 

Q: How satisfied are you with your experience in the Windows to Work program?

A: I'm satisfied. I believe it would benefit everyone who would take advantage of it in the proper way. It was an enjoyable program and one that I looked forward to going to. It helped me with the positive thinking. It is in its own category – it didn't really trump other programs.

 

Q: What interested you in becoming involved in the Mechatronics Lab at RYOCF?

A: I was supposed to take a different college class, but it was too long. (RYOCF Educational Director) Ms. Davis came to me and asked if I was interested in taking another program. She said, “I'm not going to tell you what it is – you just need to trust me." I did, and the Mechatronics Lab was the best program I took part in.

 

Q: Can you please describe your experience while participating in the Mechatronics Lab?

A: There were ups and downs. It grew into a mini-family in there. Words cannot describe how a person feels in there. It was a great environment and there were no negative vibes. (Gateway Technical College instructor) Mr. Jones knew how to teach us and was a great instructor. No other words than I was thankful for it and the best experience ever.

 

Q: How did your time working in the Mechatronics Lab prepare you for release and achieve your employment reentry goals?

A: They prepared us by 40-hour weeks in the lab and what a work environment is like. I have achieved a job in the field and continue to have interview offers in the field.

 

Q: ​Are there any specific personal accomplishments it created for you pre- and post-release related to employment?

A: It gave me the opportunity to get a well-paying job and to start a career while not worrying about financial survival. Pre-release, is the first time my mom has ever seen me accept something positive.

 

Q: Overall, how satisfied are you with your experience in the Mechatronics Lab at RYOCF?

A: So satisfied!!! On a scale of 1-10, it would rate 100!! 

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