Missouri is Making Prison a Place of Transformation

Ryan, Trevor, Josh, Tracy and Sara outside of MCC prison

Missouri’ Transforms their Department of Corrections

Striving to shed light on the transformative power of innovation within the correctional organizations. Missouri’s prison system has been at the forefront of innovative programs aimed at transforming the lives of incarcerated individuals. Concurrently preparing them for successful reintegration into society. The Fourth Purpose Foundation is excited to support and donate resources to these groundbreaking initiatives. The team’s experience at the various correctional facilities in Missouri offered an enlightened perspective on the impact of these programs. Specifically on the lives of offenders with fellow offenders, the rapport with the officers, as well as the leaders with their staff and the broader community.

Exploring the GLS Program at ERDCC: A Step towards Transformation

CEO & Founder, Josh Smith speaking to the offenders at the ERDCC prison where the attendees just finished the GLS program.

Josh delivered an inspiring speech to inmates who had successfully completed the GLS program at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC). Witnessing firsthand the profound rapport established between the staff and the inmates. The team recognized the program’s impact on fostering positive relationships within the correctional setting. The program’s emphasis on personal development, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills has proven to be a catalyst for transformation. All while instilling a sense of purpose and accountability among the participants. The program’s success serves as a testament to the potential for transformation and positive change within the prison environment.

A Glimpse into JCCC’s Jeff Town Productions and its Impact

Continuing the journey to the Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC), the team got to meet with the Jeff Town Productions team. Witnessing inmates actively engaging in the production of video and music content, the team recognized the program’s pivotal role in equipping individuals with valuable technological skills and a sense of purpose during their transition back to society. The creative outlet provided by the project not only fosters artistic expression but also serves as a platform for self-discovery and personal growth. The impact of Jeff Town Productions extends beyond the prison walls, offering a glimpse of hope and creativity to the broader community.

The creative outlet provided by the project not only fosters artistic expression but also serves as platform for self-discovery and personal growth. While also providing job skills that carry over into the digital age upon reintegration. The impact of Jeff Town Productions extends beyond the prison walls, offering a glimpse of hope and creativity to the broader community. The program’s emphasis on skill development and creative expression has the potential to redefine the narrative surrounding incarcerated individuals. While highlighting their capacity for positive contribution and artistic, professional talent.

Inside the Missouri Prison Research Innovation Network (PRIN) and the Missouri Veteran Project (MVP) at The Moberly Correctional Center

CEO & Founder, Josh Smith with three MVP offenders at the MCC prison.

Midway through the visit, the team explored the Missouri Prison Research Innovation Network (PRIN) and the Missouri Veteran Project (MVP) at the Moberly Correctional Center (MCC). PRIN’s emphasis on transparency and innovation within the prison system is paving the way for transformation within MCC. The collaborative approach to research and data-driven solutions has paved the way for evidence-based practices and informed decision-making within the correctional facilities. Meanwhile, the MVP project’s incentivization fosters a culture of mutual support and accountability, inspiring positive behavioral changes among the incarcerated veterans. The team witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of these initiatives. That underscores the potential for innovation to drive meaningful change within prison environments. Altogether, the collaborative approach to research plus the data-driven solutions have paved the way for evidence-based practices and informed decision-making within correctional facilities.

Overview of NECC’s Dynamo Program Mirroring the Norway Prison Model.

Concluding the visit at the Northeast Correctional Center (NECC), the team got to witness the transformative Dynamo program, which mirrors elements of Norway’s prison model. Witnessing the empowering effects of self-management within the program. The program’s focus on transformation aligns with the broader goal of creating a conducive environment for personal growth and positive behavioral change.

Witnessing the empowering effects of self-management within the program, the team observed how incarcerated men experienced the simplicity of autonomy and tranquility. Furthermore fostering a genuine sense of gratitude and responsibility among the participants. The experience at NECC signified the possibility for innovative programs to redefine the traditional approach to incarceration. Nevertheless emphasizing the importance of dignity and humanity in the process of transformation.

The before and after of the Dynamo program at the NECC. Converted from a two bed prison cell to a one bed prison cell,

The Role of the Missouri Department of Corrections in Innovation

The Missouri Department of Corrections has played a pivotal role in driving innovation within the state’s prison system. While working in tandem with organizations like the Fourth Purpose Foundation to implement and support transformative programs. The collaborative efforts between the department and external partners have resulted in a dynamic and innovative approach to incarceration. Specifically emphasizing transformation, reintegration, and community engagement. The commitment to innovation within the department reflects a shared vision of creating a safer and more compassionate environment for both staff and incarcerated individuals.

Insights from the CLA Midwest Region Meeting

Transitioning from the insightful correctional facility visits– Josh, Tracy, and the team attended the CLA 2023 Midwest Region Meeting in Branson, MO. Where Tracy, shared her personal journey with managing life as a single parent while Josh was incarcerated. Offering a heartfelt perspective that resonated with directors attending the meeting. Her experiences highlighted both the challenges and potential solutions in transforming prisons. While also recognizing the importance of shifting the perspective of prisons into spaces of genuine transformation. She mentioned how the programs witnessed during the tour in MO would have been invaluable when Josh was incarcerated. For that reason, the exchange of ideas at the meeting signified the importance of collaboration and shared learning in driving positive change within the correctional system.

The Vision of Anne Precythe, Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, and the Future of the Missouri Department of Corrections

Photo by: Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The Missouri Department of Corrections will soon experience a shift in leadership with Anne Precythe’s last day being December 5, 2023. Precythe conveyed to Missourinet that now is the right time for her to return to North Carolina to be with her family. She expressed pride in their accomplishments and acknowledged that there is still more to be done, but it’s time to pass the torch to someone else to continue the progress. Precythe noted that their retention rates have been improving, and they have invested much more into the pockets of their corrections staff. Most impressively, Precythe has overseen the allocation of approximately $175 million towards staff salary increases in the state agency. Additionally, they have started various higher education initiatives and career training curriculums. Moreover, professional wellness personnel have been appointed to help state workers become more cognizant of trauma.

Safer Communities: The Ultimate Goal of Prison Innovations

The ultimate goal of the innovative programs within Missouri’s prison system is to create safer communities by addressing the root causes of incarceration and equipping individuals with the necessary tools for successful reintegration. By fostering a culture of transformation, accountability, and personal growth, these programs aim to break the cycle of recidivism and empower individuals to lead fulfilling and productive lives upon their release. The ripple effects of these initiatives extend beyond the prison walls, contributing to the overall well-being and safety of communities.

The Future of Missouri’s Innovative Prison Programs

As the Missouri Department of Corrections transitions to new leadership, the future of the state’s transformative prison programs remains promising. Building on the foundation of innovation and collaboration, the incoming leadership will continue to drive forward the transformative initiatives that have already begun to reshape the correctional landscape. The commitment to creating a more humane, transformative, and community-oriented prison system will be at the forefront of the department’s agenda, as they strive to build a safer and more inclusive society for all.

As the Fourth Purpose Foundation continues its support for innovative programs within Missouri’s correctional facilities, the impact of these initiatives on the lives of offenders and the broader community is underscored. The commitment to fostering positive change and rehabilitation within the prison system is a testament to the transformative power of innovation. Through collaborative efforts and shared vision, Missouri’s innovative prison programs are paving the way for a more compassionate and effective approach to incarceration.

To learn more about the Fourth Purpose Foundation and stay updated on the efforts to support innovative prison programs, visit Fourth Purpose Foundation.

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