- Community Work Centers
Community work centers are an alternative facility for inmates to finish serving their sentences. At a community work center, inmates routinely perform work for cities, counties, state agencies and charitable organizations as defined by 501(c)3, and are a valuable source of free labor. Examples of work performed include janitorial work, mechanic work and beautification of roadsides. It is common to see MDOC inmates picking up trash on the highways of Mississippi or at city and state parks.
MDOC currently has 9 community work centers statewide and each houses around 100 inmates. The community work center in Flowood houses all female inmates, which is about 100 inmates. Inmates are drug tested often and failing a drug test is automatic return to an institution.
How does an inmate get assigned to a community work center? First, several criteria must be met. They include, but are not limited to:
- Inmates must be within eight years of their earliest release date
- Inmates must pass a drug and alcohol test
- Inmates must be able to physically perform required work
- Inmates must be free of rule violations for three months
In addition, there are several factors that automatically disqualify inmates from community work centers. Inmates convicted of the following charges are disqualified:
- Escape attempt in the last five years
- Sex crime convictions
- Child abuse or crime convictions involving a minor or handicapped person
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Convictions of any crime of violence
- Violent or sexual offenses which received a plea bargain to a non-violent crime
- Technical Violation Center
The goal of the Technical Violation Center (TVC) is to provide participants with a safe, secure, living environment and programming designed to foster independent thinking and promote successful reentry. Program participants are built on cognitive restructuring, freedom from substance abuse, and the opportunity to retool a skill set beneficial in securing sustainable employment.
The Circuit Court or Parole Board makes all referrals to the program.
Orientation is provided to each participant upon admittance into the facility. At the conclusion of orientation, the Probation/Parole Agent or Counselor evaluates each participant and a program plan is developed. Collaboration with the Program Director solidifies the plan and goals.
The program offers structure within which the participant can function with a clear understanding of all expectations, rules, and regulations. Each participant is taught to accept responsibility for their own actions and emphasis is placed on every individual demonstrating their ability to accept this responsibility.
Along with individual and group counseling, the facility offers personal adjustment training, personal motivation, an alcohol and drug program, recreational and optional religious programs. All program participants are expected to fully participate in the activities identified in their program plan.
Active participation in the comprehensive curriculum allows the participant the opportunity receive the skills necessary for successful transition into the community, while offering public safety through effective supervision and rehabilitative services that transform lives.
- Restitution Centers
MDOC’s restitution center program provides an alternative to incarceration for minimal risk offenders who are in need of a more structured environment. Residents serving time in a restitution center are referred to as residents. Residents who qualify for the restitution center program are required to work and pay full or partial payments to crime victims. Residents also have to pay room and board fees ($10 per day), court fees and establish a savings account. Residents are required to serve a minimum of 40 hours of free community service.
MDOC currently has four restitution centers located in Hinds County (Jackson), Jackson County (Pascagoula), Leflore County (Greenwood) and Rankin County (Flowood). Each restitution center houses about 62 residents. For mailing addresses, Restitution Centers.
How does a resident get assigned to a restitution center? Offenders can be classified to a restitution center 3 ways:
- Revocation of probation by a judge
- Sentenced out of inmate status prior to completion of their sentence
- Sentenced directly by a judge
Candidates are screened for acceptance to the program prior to sentencing. In addition, several criteria must be met. They include:
- Offenders must be a first time offender
- Offenders must not have drug, alcohol or emotional problems so serious that he appears unlikely to be able to meet the obligations of the restitution sentence
- Offenders must be in good mental and physical health
- Offenders must be employable
- Offenders must have a sincere desire to participate in the restitution program
- Recidivism Reduction Program
The Recidivism Reduction Program (RRP) includes four components of programming designed to rehabilitate the offender through education, cognitive behavior therapy (mental and social), Alcohol and Drug (A&D), and pre-employment. The program is for a select population of inmates.
A needs assessment will be administered to determine applicable programming for the individual. Ideally, each component should be implemented in 90 minute blocks daily. The programs are designed to be implemented in a six-month timeframe. Program expectations are outlined during orientation with staff and offenders where offenders sign a participation agreement and other pertinent documents.
The RRP program is available to offenders sentenced under the non-adjudicated statute which allows circuit and county court judges to withhold acceptance of a guilty plea and imposition of a sentence pending completion of court-imposed conditions. The court will direct the cause to be dismissed and the case closed.
MDOC offers community and institutional based RRP to adjudicated and non-adjudicated individuals. When a non-adjudicated candidate is transferred to RRP, the facility personnel screens them. An offender who is statutorily ineligible or is ineligible because of a physical or mental problem will be returned to the jail of the county in which he received the non-adjudicated sentence within 48 hours of the determination of ineligibility. For those sentenced under MCA 47-7-47, current law allows the sentencing judge to retain jurisdiction for up to one year after arrival to MDOC.
- Transitional Centers
The MDOC is committed to providing offenders with opportunities, and specifically, programs that will assist them upon release to the community. Successful reentry helps break the cycle of criminal behavior that often continues from one generation to the next. Providing the needed life skills and coping skills, the Thinking for a Change program better prepares offenders to return safely to the community and to live as law-abiding citizens.
Three components of the Thinking for a Change program include cognitive self-change, social skills, and problem-solving skills. Cognitive self-change teaches offenders a process for self-reflection aimed at uncovering anti-social thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. Social skills instruction prepares offenders to engage in pro-social interactions based on self-understanding and consideration of the impact of offenders’ actions on others. Problem solving skills combine both cognitive self-change and social skills instruction with an explicit step-by-step process for helping offenders address challenging and stressful real life situations.
The Thinking for a Change program includes 25 separate classes, with two classes offered each week. Between classes, offenders are given homework assignments to help practice skills that are taught in class.