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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.


​(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. 


​(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


  • 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


  • Holly Stanelle, DCC Treatment Unit


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


  • 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:


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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​

​(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.


​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.   


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!! 


​(MADISON, Wis.) — Earlier this week, the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOCF) threw a surprise birthday party for one of their most tenured volunteers, Sister Lois Aceto. Sister Lois turned 91 on Thursday, April 21, and the facility wanted to show its appreciation for all her hard work with the young men at RYOCF, which began when the facility first opened in 1998. It was also a fitting celebration for National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 17-23 this year.

Staff at the facility created and signed cards in preparation for Wednesday's surprise party. The institution also presented Sister Lois with a Dedicated Volunteer Recognition certificate and a Commitment to Excellence plaque, which read, “The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others."

“She's really a rock, she's just so dependable," said Corrections Program Supervisor, Deborah Buettler, when asked what Sister Lois means to the facility. “She has not missed one day without it being pre-scheduled. The joy and the care that she brings comes right out of her."

Sister Lois had nothing but positive things to say about her time volunteering at RYOCF. “It's been a blessing for me, because I've been able to grow with these guys," she said. “This isn't my job, this is my ministry. This is my place to offer my whole being to them."

Sister Lois also shared her thoughts about the importance of the work she does with these young men at the facility. “They're worth the energy. These guys are young yet, they're just starting out," she stated. “They have a chance to change, and you have to have the confidence in them that they will change. They're worth every effort."

Sister Lois has volunteered at the facility for more than 20 years, and teaches conflict resolution and restorative justice. Her work in the community has not gone unnoticed over the years. The Kenosha-Racine Counties Chapter 1123 of Phi Delta Kappa at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside presented Sister Lois with an Outstanding Educator Award in April of 2017. She has also written a book about her experiences as a nun in Bolivia and Spain, titled Journey Toward Justice.

The DOC recognizes the impact that volunteers such as Sister Lois have on those in our care, and we commend her for her dedication and commitment. We wish her a happy birthday and thank her for her service to the state of Wisconsin.​


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. 

Opening Avenues to Reentry​​ Success (OARS) helps individuals living with serious mental illnesses reenter society after their release by providing intensive case management and housing while linking participants to psychiatric treatment and other individualized needs. A joint partnership with the Department of Health Services, the program served 463 participants in FY2021.​​ A former participant shares his experience with OARS below.


My name is David Hehn. I was incarcerated for 14 years from 2007–2021.

When I returned to the world last June, I didn't know how “institutionalized" I had become after spending all that time in prison. I was soon to find out. The world, Milwaukee in general, has changed so very much. Technology is everywhere now. I was in culture shock and wasn't ready for the outside world when I first got out. I was lost. I could have slipped through the cracks if it were not for OARS!

OARS handled me with kindness and basically taught me how to function in the world. I didn't know how to use the bus. OARS got me a bus pass and showed me how it works. When I had no clothes whatsoever, OARS took me to Salvation Army, Goodwill and Walmart. The first time going to a Walmart after being incarcerated was shocking. It was like sensory overload – so many people, so much activity, so many new things. I, quite frankly, had a panic attack. OARS understood. OARS helped me readjust to the world.

I was basically a little kid who had to relearn how to function in the world all over again. OARS understood this and was kind, and most of all, patient. Having so many appointments when I first got out was overwhelming. OARS got me a Walmart phone with minutes to help me manage all of them and showed me how to operate the phone. At first, I couldn't even understand how to make a phone call on a smartphone. I had never seen one since I was incarcerated for so long. OARS showed outstanding patience when dealing with me and even programmed my phone, which I could have never done having been so technologically deprived for so long. Without their help I wouldn't have been able to function. I probably would have ended up being one of those people you see on the street.

I was pretty much so institutionalized that I couldn't do anything on my own the first few days. OARS took me to Our Space, a local mental health organization, and helped me pick out clothes and get household items so I could be independent. There were so many appointments when I first got out that it was overwhelming. OARS took me to these appointments. OARS got me stable and I would like to thank OARS for all it has done for me.​

OARS got me a very nice new bicycle with a lock from Walmart so I could travel around the city. OARS referred me to WCS for job training. I took forklift classes and OSHA classes at MSCS through OARS suggestion and earned both certifications. I had wanted to get back into warehouse work having done so in the 1990's and prior to incarceration. OARS helped make that a reality.

OARS referred me to WCS where they made me a resume and where they guided me on how to use the computer to look for jobs. OARS helped me sign up for FoodShare so I could get food and took me to a food pantry. I got so much food that there is no way I could have carried it around the city. OARS was kind enough to transport me and the food. OARS showed me how to operate the computer checkout at Walmart. There was no way I could have done that on my own in the beginning. I know it's hard to comprehend how inept I was, but being “institutionalized" is real and I had no idea how badly it was until I was released into the world.

I would like to thank them for all they have done for me! OARS recommended places to find work and I'm happy to report that I now feel pretty confident about functioning in the world and have found a job, thanks to OARS and my whole support team at WCS. OARS even found me a mentor with a similar past who has been very supportive and has helped me in time of crisis. I'm currently working and slowly adjusting to being independent. Your programs help reintegrate individuals formerly incarcerated back into society and stabilize our lives so that we can function. I am eternally grateful to OARS and WCS! You guys rebuild lives!!! Thank you for everything you've done and for making the world a better place, one person at a time!!!


​(MADISON, Wis.) — Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) published its Primary Programs report​, a measurement of the effectiveness of programming in the DOC's Division of Adult Institutions.

The Report compared the rearrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates of those in each program with rates for those in a control group, at one, two and three years after return to the community. 

To learn more about the Report and its importance to the agency, we asked a series of questions to DOC Research and Policy Director, Dr. Megan Jones, and Office of Program Services Director, Lisa Reible.


Q - What was the genesis of compiling this data and putting together this report?

Dr. Jones - The Research and Policy Unit began doing this type of program evaluation in 2016. We put together some data looking at outcomes for the same primary programs that are presented in this report. However, at the time, we only had a few years' worth of data and most of the programs were in the process of being redesigned to be evidence-based. So, we decided to wait a few more years before doing the analyses again. Additionally, DOC underwent an audit by the Legislative Audit Bureau a few years ago, which led to a request that DOC produce this kind of evaluation on a regular basis. So, over the last year or so we started working on a new program evaluation, which is much more robust now that we have a larger sample to work with, and now that most programs have completed, or will soon complete, their program redesign.


Q - Why are these programs important?

Director Reible - The report highlights the main reason why these programs are important: they reduce recidivism and involvement with the criminal justice system. Not only do these programs reduce the cost of incarceration to Wisconsin taxpayers, they provide program participants with the tools they need to succeed and reintegrate back into society. Some programs provide participants with skills to join the workforce, while others provide them with skills to manage a healthy life free of substance abuse. When people return to the community and use the skills that these programs provide, our communities are safer.


Q - The Report details how some programs have undergone changes over the eight years measured. How do you think those changes will impact the data moving forward?

Director Reible - A portion of the data in this report is from years when DOC did not have system-wide, standardized program curriculum for our primary programs. With a systemic transition to programs that are proven to reduce recidivism, all future data for our programs will be on programs that are evidence-based. Because of this, DOC anticipates that future outcome data will provide even more significant results.


Q - Why is it important that we measure outcomes of these programs?

Dr. Jones - At the DOC, we want to provide opportunities for positive change and success for people in our care. To do that, we need to ensure that the programming we are providing is actually having the impact that is intended. Ultimately, we want to give people the tools they need to be successful in the community, and to not return to prison after they leave. That's why it's important to regularly assess whether participation in programs reduces recidivism in the community. It allows us to make changes and improvements to programs if they aren't working as intended, and allows us to focus funding on those programs that are most effective.


Q - Can you explain how you created the control group?

Dr. Jones - We used a statistical method called propensity score matching to create a control group for these evaluations. This method is often used in program evaluation, and allows evaluators to match people who completed programming with those who did not on a number of characteristics. The result is a control group that consists of people who look similar to those who completed programming. By doing this, we can have more confidence that any outcomes we see for the group that completed programming were attributable to the program, and not to other factors.


Q - What did you take from the data collected from this report?

Director Reible - This report confirmed what we knew but did not have the data to show: that our programs are effective and making a difference in the lives of those who participate in them! While the programs we provide had external research proving their effectiveness on justice-involved individuals, we now have our own data that demonstrates that what we are doing is effective with the Wisconsin population. The data is also a testament to the impact of the work of our treatment providers and educators who feel strongly about what they do and the difference their efforts make. The report makes it very clear that Wisconsin is safer because of their efforts. 


Black History Month is a tim​e to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans, honor the achievements of generations past and acknowledge the inequities that still exist today. This year's theme, Black Health and Wellness, pays homage to the legacy of scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine who changed the course of our nation's history. We spoke with DOC's Nursing Director Mary Muse on her experiences in correctional nursing to better understand the significance of this important month.


​​What is your current position with the DOC and what has your career path in the medical field looke​​​​d like?

In my position as Director of Nursing, I provide guidance and recommendations for the safe practice of nursing and care delivery across the Department of Corrections. I view my role as articulating standards of professional practice, and promoting the evolution of professional correctional nursing that is impactful for the health outcomes of our patient population and those in our care. As the Director of Nursing I try to articulate a framework for care delivery of practice that improves care, builds trust between those in our care, and leads to improved patients out comes. The other important piece for me is raising the level of professional practice and highlighting the contributions of correctional nurses to public health.

My career path has been focused on making a difference and improving the lives of others. I choose to pursue a professional career in nursing. I knew I wanted to be a nurse at an early age,  I was seven years old, and nursing has been my passion, I have never regretted this career choice, and it has served me well. As a young girl I recall receiving a nursing bag as a gift, and I recall watching the TV show “Julia", my aunt changed careers and became a nurse. I recall how impressed I was with her studying, uniform and work as a nurse. While in grammar school I wrote a letter to Texas A & M expressing my interest in nursing. In high school I focused on the sciences, taking biology and advanced chemistry. I also studied Latin for two years, to prepare me for my nursing career. After graduation I went on to a four year college to study nursing, I was concerned when I learned there was not a guarantee you would enter the nursing program in your sophomore year. That concern and my passion for nursing prompted me to transfer schools so I would be assured of getting into the nursing program.  Following completion of my nursing program I took a nursing position at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, which is where I really developed professionally as a nurse. Michael Reese was an empowering environment for nurses and the work culture was inspirational. My experience at Michael Reese afforded me the opportunity to develop my nursing practice  as a clinician and in leadership. I continued to expand my growth and development over 15 years , promoting to Assistant Nurse Manager and Manager of Pediatrics. I would later assume responsibility for Pediatrics, Women's Health and medical-Surgical Nursing in the role  of  Nursing Manager.  This experience prepared me to assume the leadership role of Clinical Director Medical-Surgical Nursing at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. During my tenure at Truman Medical Center I additionally was given responsibility as the Director for Critical Care Nursing.   I later returned to Chicago as the Vice President for Nursing and Physician and Community Relations for a Community Hospital. In that role I was charged with rebuilding their nursing program and achieving JCHO accreditation which the hospital has lost. I am proud we not only recruited sufficient nursing staff but were instrumental in the hospital achieving its accreditation with the Joint Commission. In addition to leading nursing I also began teaching nursing courses. I have taught in Kansas City and Illinois at Institutions for higher learning.​

My journey to Correctional Health was not planned. I had no knowledge of correctional nursing. A former colleague told me about her current work in correctional nursing, she suggested I come by the jail and invited me to consult with her on some climate issues. In 1995, I ended up accepting a future job offer at Cermak Health Services of Cook County, the health service for Cook County Jail, and began my career in correctional health. When I first started working at the jail,  I noticed the role of nursing and emphasis on professional practice was somewhat different than my experience in the hospital. When I asked questions I was frequently told, this is not a hospital, nursing is different in corrections. I also learned there was a perceived difference in how correctional nurses were perceived and valued.  This experience got my attention and I began to image how I could up lift correctional nursing and improve care  to underrepresented populations. To me nursing is nursing regardless of where you practice. I loved nursing , and my passion led me to commit to correctional nursing. My mission became focusing on  I could turnaround and elevate the level of correctional nursing. That's what got me hooked, and now I've been in corrections for 27 years.


As a medical professional,​ can you talk about the importance of this​​ month and theme?

This theme has importance as we recognize the health disparities and inequities frequently experienced by people of color. The presence of black health professionals can be instrumental in addressing some of these health inequities and developing trusting relationships between the patient and clinician. Cultural competence is an important skill set for health professionals.

As mentioned earlier, acknowledging the contributions of black health professionals is important for educating all people. Expanding the world view of those not of color is helpful in fostering the rich appreciation and history of those of color. It is also important that people of color recognize the contributions of Black Americans to the science of nursing, health and education – like Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a black surgeon and cardiologist at Provident Hospital in Chicago. ​

Dr. Williams performed the first successful heart surgery, founded the first black-owned hospital and established the Provident Hospital School of Nursing to educate and train blacks in nursing when they were not allowed entry into other programs. Provident Hospital continues to meet the needs of the community in Chicago and remains critical in delivering healthcare to an underserved community.


The month of​ February allows us to focus on the many cultural contributions of ​Black Americans who changed the course of history and made a lasting impact in their fields. Are there specific individuals from the Black community that gives you motivation or has been an inspiration throughout your career? Why?

  • There are several Individuals of color have impacted my life and have been an inspiration.  The first would be Cynthia Barnes-Boyd, Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships for the University of Illinois. Cee died in 2017. I first met Cee, while I was in my Masters in Nursing Administration Program and a Manager of Pediatrics at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago. At that time Cee was the Clinical Director for Maternal-Child Health at the University of Illinois Hospital. Cee served as my mentor during my Administrative practicum and we developed a professional relationship and her mentoring continued after I completed my MS degree. My career goal was to become a Chief Nursing Officer, becoming a Clinical Director would be the next professional step to accomplishing this career goal.

  • Lucile Davis, who was Dean of the School of Nursing at Saint Xavier College was instrumental as a role model, supporter and mentor. Dr. Davis gave me an opportunity to participate in writing and preparing for a school base health center grant. She also hired me to teach community nursing. My students and I were based out of a church of the West side of Chicago for their clinical experience.

  • Barbara Nichols, A Wisconsinite and first African American Nurse to lead the American Nurses Association, First black nurse editor of the American Journal of Nursing., Past President of the Wisconsin Nurses Association and served as Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing. 

  • Dr. Janice Phillips A high school friend and professional colleague, Dr. Janice Phillips. (Janice) and I were reconnected because of our careers in nursing. Janice has provided support and a listening ear as I have navigated my professional career in correctional nursing. She has been instrumental in guidance as I have worked to give voice and visibility to correctional nursing.

  • I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Mary Elizabeth Carnegie, that introduction was impactful. It was an honor to meet this distinguished mentor, nurse, educator and leader. Dr. Carnegie was a nurse, educator, serving as Professor and Dean at the University of Florida A&M, an author, She authored three editions of “The Paths We Thread: Blacks in Nursing". She was instrumental in advocating for full recognition of black nurses. She served as President of the American Academy of Nursing from 1978-1979 and is named as a Living Legend of the Academy.

  • Dr. Iris Shannon is another nurse leader that I had the honor to work with and meeting her was inspirational. II met Dr. Shannon while serving on the Community Health Board for Congressman, Danny Davis. Iris Shannon, public health nurse and former Chair for Community Health Nursing at Rush University and served as President of the American Public Health Association. Dr Shannon was instrumental in developing Miles Square Health Center in Chicago

​Others who I feel have contributed to Black Health and Wellness for Nursing include Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first Black woman to earn a professional nursing license in the United States, Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse who set up a British Hotel to care for soldiers during the Crimean War, Harriet Tubman who acted as a nurse during the Civil War to care for black soldiers and blacks escaping slavery, and Susie Taylor who published her memoirs of war time experiences, a nurse and educator.


Is there an​​ything e​​lse you would like to share?

I appreciate the change in how we acknowledge the justice population by using the term “person in our care" instead of “inmate". I certainly encourage continued progression of positively impacting the lives of justice individuals. As health professionals, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to improving the health of those we serve.


Madison, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Friday that it is reopening its facilities for in-person visitation starting Tuesday March 1, due to a continued decrease in COVID-19 activity.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of those in our care and their loved ones as we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic," said DOC Sec. Kevin A. Carr. “Family connection during incarceration has shown to have a positive impact on success upon return to the community, and in-person visitation is one way of maintaining that connection."

As of Thursday, Feb. 24, there were 77 active COVID-19 infections among people in DOC care and 22 DOC employees with active cases across the entire agency.  In addition, 83% of people currently in DOC care have completed their initial vaccine series, and more than 69% of those eligible for a booster dose have received one. This data and more can be found on Wisconsin DOC's COVID-19 Information Home page.

​In addition to in-person visits from approved visitors:

  • Attorney and professional visits will resume beginning March 1
  • All volunteers/contractors will again be allowed access to DOC facilities March 1
  • Resumption of programming facilitated by volunteers/contractors can also resume beginning March 1
  • Medical offsite visits will no longer be subject to case-by-case evaluation and potential limitation starting March 1

Anyone visiting a DOC correctional institution or center will be subject to any current guidance related to masking and testing. ​

This marks the second time DOC has reopened for in-person visits since the beginning of the pandemic. After initially closing its facilities to all but necessary personnel in March of 2020, the agency reopened its doors for in-person visits in July of 2021. However, access to DOC facilities was limited again in December 2021 when infections from the Omicron variant swept across the state.

“Of course, we're happy to resume many normal operations, and we hope there are no more suspensions of those operations. However, we have and will continue to follow the science in our COVID-19 mitigation efforts," Sec. Carr said.

With in-person visits suspended for much of the past year, DOC has offered two free phone calls per week to those in its care. The agency also worked to install video conferencing systems in its facilities to help loved ones stay connected, and that option will remain in place. While in-person visits are resuming, some DOC facilities may modify visitation days/times as needed. 

Wisconsin's Division of Adult Institutions cares for nearly 20,000 incarcerated across 36 institutions and correctional centers across the state.   


(MADISON, Wis.) — ​The latest report from the court-appointed Monitor for Lincoln Hills School/Copper Lake School (LHS/CLS) was filed Wednesday. The 12th Report from the Monitor notes progress made by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) in reaching “Substantial Compliance" with more aspects of a consent decree, which stems from a 2017 lawsuit and investigation into substandard conditions at the facility under the previous administration.

The Monitor's latest visit came January 13-14, and included interviews with 39 youth and 27 staff members at LHS/CLS. The interviews revealed a continuing overall positive atmosphere at the schools, and positive body language and tone among both staff and youth.

“The youth-staff relationship in general seems positive and youth told the Monitor on many occasions that they liked the staff," the report states.

This 12th Report detailed several physical improvements to the facilities, including the renovation of an unused living unit into a recreation space that includes a variety of games and a kitchen where youth can cook/bake. According to the Monitor, “The Unit looks amazing … Staff and youth are enjoying the space."

Other facility improvement work noted in the report includes:

  • Continued work on a lighting project that will significantly improve the atmosphere in living units

  • Replacing boilers in some living units

  • Adding more than 100 fixed cameras around the facility to improve safety

  • Purchasing additional software and hardware for the school's Music Arts Initiative

  • Upgrading electrical in the welding shop, paving the way for use of newer equipment

“The Defendants should be commended for their continuing commitment to improve the physical plant which improves the daily lives for staff and youth," the Monitor wrote in the report.

Gov. Tony Evers recently expressed similar sentiments to LHS/CLS staff, in-person. The Governor visited the schools the week before the Monitor's visit. He toured the facility, met with some of the youth there and thanked staff members for their hard work.

About the latest Monitor's Report, DOC Sec. Kevin Carr said, “I am extremely proud of the work being done by leadership at the schools and in our Division of Juvenile Corrections to update LHS/CLS, and also to improve working conditions for our staff and outcomes for youth in our care. We thank the Monitor for noting the positives steps our agency has taken and for pointing out areas for further improvement."

Those recommendations for improvement include expanding popular programs like music, art and recreation, particularly on weekends. In this report, the Monitor acknowledged the expansion of the welding program to weekends and a decrease in the amount of time designated as weekend leisure activity for youth. However, she called for an even greater increase in structured programming on weekends, when youth have more idle time.

The Monitor heard no complaints from youth during the last visit, in the Fall. This time, the Monitor did hear concerns from some youth, including complaints about food and lack of consistency in rules.

“Youth had good things to say as well such as feeling safe, having some good staff that engage with them, (and) liking the recreation unit and music program," the report stated.

Other items of note in the report:

  • Recruiting should be a priority, but staffing levels remain adequate for the reduced population at the facility

  • Decreasing physical and mechanical restraint of youth during this data cycle

  • Decreasing use of “self-requested" room confinement among youth

“I credit our staff with being flexible as we have adjusted to new behavior response and de-escalation techniques, and implemented a new behavior management system," said LHS/CLS Superintendent Klint Trevino. “Thanks to their hard work, we have made major strides in a relatively short amount of time, and are now in a place where we can continue to make smaller adjustments, fine tune, and keep improving our processes."  


​(MADISON, Wis.) -- Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes joined the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Friday morning to honor the accomplishments of 25 men and women in DOC care who received their diplomas from MATC. All earned their Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree in either the Spring or Fall semester of 2021.

Lt. Governor Barnes commended the graduates, but he also spoke with them about obstacles they may have faced prior to incarceration and will face upon release. “This program is one step in the direction of destigmatizing the reentry process, and helping everyone establish what they want for the future, for themselves and their families," he said. “I want to thank everyone who has helped make this program a success."

“I believe education is vital," DOC Secretary Kevin Carr told the graduates. “That's why I'm so proud of this collaboration with MATC, and why I'm so proud of you today, because it's about you. I can sit here and talk about all the people, partnerships and resources it took to make this happen, but really at the end of the day, it came down to each of you setting a goal and making the commitment to earn your degree. No matter the challenges you face in the future, nothing can take away that degree. Nothing can take away your accomplishment today as a graduate."

The graduates are part of the Second Chance Pell pilot program, a collaborative effort between DOC and MATC that has grown significantly in recent years, from 13 DOC students in the Spring semester of 2017 semester to 192 last Spring.

“For the candidates for graduation today, I use the word extraordinary, for the decision each of you made to take positive step forward," said MATC President Dr. Vicki Martin. “To all of you, I want to say congratulations."

Martin Medina, a person in DOC care at Redgranite Correctional Institution, served as the graduate speaker for the group. He started by saying that, initially, he didn't want to be in the position, explaining that he is naturally an introvert. He also shared a little about his journey growing up a minority in poverty, with no college graduates in his immediate family. He also acknowledged the challenges faced over the past few years along the road to this day.

“But here we are, college graduates," he said to his fellow graduates. “Though change is inevitable, positive change is what matters and that is what we represent today … We make no excuse for the past, just equal opportunity for the future."

Due to current COIVD-19 protocols, DOC held the event and connected the graduates via videoconference, so they could all watch as diplomas were awarded in smaller, individual ceremonies at their respective institutions, including Fox Lake Correctional Institution, Oakhill Correctional Institution, Redgranite Correctional Institution, Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center, Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center, Felmers O. Chaney Correctional Center, Racine Correctional Institution, Drug Abuse Correctional Center, Thompson Correctional Center and Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution.


​(MADISON, Wis.) — Several southeast Wisconsin businesses sent representatives to Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOCF) Thursday morning, where they joined Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Kevin Carr and Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-Designee Amy Pechacek to see the skills young men are learning in the institution's mobile Mechatronics Lab.

The secretaries and the employers got to view the students' final projects and see what they've learned from their Gateway Technical College instructor.

“What a tremendous collaboration," said Secretary Carr. “Two state agencies partnering with one our state's fine technical colleges to help these young men learn skills that make them more attractive to employers in the manufacturing industry."

The Mechatronics lab is the fifth mobile training lab at a DOC institution, part of a continued collaboration between DOC and DWD to improve pre-release workforce training opportunities for people in DOC care.

“This administration is committed to providing people the opportunity to learn skills that can help them be successful. These young men are learning things that will do more than help themselves and their families. Increasing the state's skilled workforce benefits all of Wisconsin," said DWD Secretary-Designee Pechacek.

“When I was in high school, I didn't think of myself as a very good student. That has changed here," said one of the young men learning in the lab, adding that he is now interested in getting his associate's degree from Gateway when his time at the correctional facility is finished.

The Mechatronics lab, a semi-trailer that can be moved between DOC institutions, was completed this year and arrived at RYOCF in June. This is the first group to use th​e lab. They are earning 18 college credits and a Mechatronics Technical Certificate, which they will receive in a graduation ceremony on December 14. The lab can serve up to 12 students per group, and Gateway Technical College intends to train three groups per year.

“These young men should have no problem getting a good-paying job in this field after what they've learned here," said Gateway Technical College instructor J.D. Jones, the man who has been teaching in the mobile Mechatronics Lab.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that refers to the skill sets needed in the contemporary, advanced automated manufacturing industry. The field is at the intersection of mechanics, electronics, and computing. According to Jones, jobs in the field once paid $20-$25 an hour, but are now often paying $25-$30.

In addition to the Mechatronics Lab, Secretaries Pechacek and Carr got a look at RYOCF's new Jobs Lab, another collaboration between DOC and DWD. The Job Lab allows people in DOC care at RYOCF to get a head start on their job search. They can create a Job Center of Wisconsin account, and apply and interview for jobs before they return to their community.

The DOC releases approximately 9,000 people every year, and evidence shows a steady job lowers the chances of a person returning to a DOC institution.

The Evers Administration has made a major invest in mobile training and job labs. Over the past two years, the number of mobile training labs at DOC institutions has increased from one to five. By the end of this year, there will be 10 institution-based Job Labs, plus a mobile Job Lab that can serve multiple institutions.​ 


{​OREGON, Wis.) — Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Kevin Carr joined members of the DOC's Bureau of Health Services and other guests at Oakhill Correctional Institution (OCI) Tuesday, to tour the facility's recently-completed Assisted Needs Facility.

The $7 million addition is the first assisted needs housing in a Wisconsin DOC institution and is designed to meet the needs of an aging population.

“Like any other agency that provides health care, Wisconsin DOC has to adjust to the changing needs of its patients. Like the rest of society, our population is aging," said DOC Secretary Kevin Carr. “As their needs change, due to advanced age and accumulation of chronic medical conditions, we have to adapt our health services to meet those needs. This new facility represents such a step."

The expansion at the minimum-security institution in Oregon will allow patients to receive additional rehabilitative services following prolonged illness or surgery, and regain independent function. In addition, patients will be able to receive long-term care assistance with activities of daily living.

“A number of people in our care have limited mobility and chronic medical conditions that make living in traditional correctional settings difficult, and it is also difficult for our staff to provide them with adequate care and supervision in such settings," said DOC Medical Director Dr. Daniel LaVoie.

This new service at OCI will compliment already existing long-term care DOC provides, including palliative and infirmary care at multiple institutions.

The addition at OCI will be able to house 65 patients. The upper level will have 15 beds for those needing rehabilitative services, and monitoring and care from nurses. The lower level can house up to 50 people who need an adaptive/assisted living environment.

The DOC continues to hire staff for the new Assisted Needs Facility and is expecting to welcome patients in early 2022.

The building was designed by Venture Architects and constructed by Cullen.


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