Show Me Hope Project seeks to reduce recidivism rate among inmates coming out of county jails
PFH is increasing access to substance use disorder treatment for offenders coming out of county jails in the St. Louis area through the Show Me Hope Offender Re-entry Project. The project, which is being funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will assist offenders serving time in the St. Louis County and Franklin County Jails, as well as some prisoners from the Missouri Department of Corrections who meet the criteria for the program, according to Ron Rice, Director of Community Out-Patient Services for Bridgeway Behavioral Health, a division of PFH. Clients will be referred to the program through the court system. In many cases, an offender will be given an opportunity for early release if they agree to participate in the 98-day program and abide by all of the terms of the program, as well as restrictions set by their probation/parole officers. Although the primary focus of the program is to assist offenders who are dealing with substance use disorders (SUD), Rice said the project will put more emphasis on employment and housing. "Our main goal is to help these clients become productive members of society and decrease the recidivism rate," he explained. "We've found that if they have a job, are feeling productive, and have a place to call home, they are more likely to stay away from drugs and crime." Rice said the services provided through the program will include SUD treatment, including the use of medication-assisted therapy, employment services, housing assistance, and other wraparound services. He said they will work closely with community agencies to meet the needs of their clients. Ron added there will be a lot of emphasis on helping these clients set goals for themselves, and then helping them achieve these goals. He said the program will operate very similar to a program they currently operate in these two counties in connection with the DWI Court. The program in St. Louis County has been in operation for about eight years and has a 98-99% success rate, Ron said, noting they hope to have a similar success rate with this program. "This program is unique in that it is for both men and women, whereas most programs are just for male offenders," Rice said. "We've seen an increase in women being incarcerated and recognized there is an increasing need for programs to address the needs of women dealing with substance abuse issues." Ron said they anticipate serving 543 clients over the five-year period of the grant, with a little more than 100 clients each year going through the program. Rice, who worked as a counselor in the Missouri Department of Corrections for several years, said being able to offer this program is his passion. "I'm very passionate about helping this specific population, particularly those in minority groups, who often aren't given the opportunity to have access to these services." He explained that many times an offender isn't able to hire the private attorney who can help them navigate the court system and get them in to programs such as this. He said other offenders don't trust the system from bad past experiences so don't take advantage of such opportunities. The program will begin accepting clients in October. Rice said the coming months will be spent preparing staff and all stakeholders, including community support specialist, peer support specialists, therapists and employment specialists.