An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Executive director’s update: STRIVE program
by Bryan Collier
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in conjunction with the Windham School District, contract providers and dedicated volunteers, provides incarcerated offenders with numerous opportunities to better prepare for a successful reentry upon release. The programs and services promoting positive change in behavior and reintegrating offenders into society, a critical part of the TDCJ mission, are one factor contributing to a recidivism rate in Texas which is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the country.
The continued success of our reentry efforts requires an ongoing commitment to evaluating existing programs and implementing modifications as appropriate, as well as a willingness to explore other models for the delivery of treatment and services. The latest example of the latter is the STRIVE (Strength Through Restoration, Independence, Vision and Empowerment) reentry program which began serving female offenders at the Mountain View Unit on August 26.
The STRIVE program is a collaboration between four TDCJ divisions (Correctional Institutions, Parole, Reentry and Integration, Rehabilitation Programs), agency volunteers and the Windham School District. STRIVE is modeled after a program operating in Arizona, and its purpose is to prepare women for a successful reentry by providing gender-responsive trauma-informed programming, career readiness skills, employment referrals, post-release supervision (excluding participants who discharge their sentence) and community support.
The trauma-informed curriculum addresses issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood trauma, adult trauma, gender socialization, parenting, and substance abuse. Treatment staff will also assist offenders in developing a personal self-care plan.
Examples of the career readiness modules offered to offenders include goal setting, basic computer skills, public speaking and communication skills, interview preparation and mock interviews, job searches, and online applications and employment research.
Assistance with reentry planning, obtaining important release documents such as a state ID, birth certificate and Social Security card, and completing applications for social service is also available to program participants, as are other reentry services.
Offenders will begin participating in the program twelve weeks prior to release. Participants will be G1 or G2 custody and have no felony detainers. Program capacity will be 34 beds initially, with further expansion planned by the end of the year.
Although development of the STRIVE initiative began prior to the 86th Texas Legislature’s regular session, it is consistent with recent legislation directing the department to continue increasing programming options for female offenders. The agency will continue to consider additional options involving new programs or expansion of existing programs that may be implemented utilizing current funding.
Treatment and education, provided in a safe and secure environment made possible by security professionals, and followed by post-release supervision and aftercare, are fundamental to accomplishing the agency’s mission. I want to thank everyone involved with the STRIVE program for your efforts and, as always, express my appreciation to all dedicated TDCJ employees for your contributions to public safety.