Executive Summary

This proposal has been prepared for the CROP Organization by four inmates in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). These men have worked together for nearly a decade and successfully created several programs that have made a noticeable shift in the prison culture of their current institution at CTF-Soledad (Facility C). Between these inmates, there are nearly 80 years of lived experience within California State prisons, over 700 college units, accompanying graduate-level degrees, and four advanced credentials as State-Certified Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) counselors (which prompted awards of senatorial recognition for their contributions to the recover community).

Within this proposal we will present an overview for a proposed Closed Community Placement Project (CCPP) at the Brush Facility in Colorado. The main objective of this project is to implement a model of rehabilitation that could redefine the purpose of incarceration in America. This task will primarily be accomplished through the following:

1. Cultivation of a rehabilitative environment that is expressly designed to foster meaningful and pro-social changes within offenders.
2. The combination of high-quality rehabilitative programming, industry needed job opportunities.
3. The Closed Community’s overall cultural context of dignity and accountability.

We believe the project outlined above will help transform offenders into responsible, accountable and contributing citizens.

The Problem of Present-Day Incarceration in the U.S.

The traditional purpose of most prisons within the United States has been to serve as institutions of retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, and above all else, punishment. Vestiges of this model persist, which have resulted in a two-thirds recidivism rate (within 3 years of release) and multiple prisons reaching nearly 200 percent of their designed capacity. As prison populations soared to levels never seen, legislators and policy makers in states such as California and Pennsylvania began to have conversations about the value of rehabilitation. Because of these discussions, an increased number of rehabilitative models have emerged with the encouragement of funding and expansion of various educational, vocational, and treatment programs to reduce recidivism rates by equipping inmates for a successful re-entry into society.

Whatever progress the current prison model has produced over the last decade; one significant problem remains. Up until now, our nation has viewed offenders as dangerous criminals who need to be isolated from society and severely punished for their crimes. While this perspective may hold some value, what is also true is that this attitude and approach fail to recognize the reality that almost 95 percent of our nation’s offenders will eventually re-enter society. To responsibly address this reality, serious consideration must be given to the nature of ex-offenders that will inevitably be returning to the community. The current model of incarceration removes offenders from the important social networks and family that might help them find employment upon release, while simultaneously reinforcing antisocial ties to those with similarly dismal prospects and outcome. The stigma of incarceration often stifles the employment opportunities of an entire population that has few job skills and low educational attainment, thus reducing their earning potential by up to 30 percent.1 Predictably, this contributes to high rates of recidivism and a growing population of ex-offenders who may never become contributing members of their communities and society. Although there has been considerable progress toward funding and implementing rehabilitative programming, this agenda continues to be administered within a context of punishment. The good news is that if we want to rehabilitate and equip offenders to become productive citizens, countries like Germany provide useful examples for us to consider and emulate.

Our Vision

Our vision is to transform the purpose of incarceration in the United States. More specifically, our goal is to shift away from the punitive model of retribution and employ the model that has proven effective in countries (like Germany) that emphasize accountability, responsibility, and rehabilitation. We will accomplish our vision by creating a culture that recognizes inherent human dignity, self-worth and encourages offenders to acquire industry needed skills for an effective, long-term, and productive return to society.

The goal of Germany’s correctional system is to help offenders understand the environment into which they were born, the thinking they developed during those challenging years, how different life choices could have been made, and how future choices can be both positive and constructive. In addition, substantial job training for labor force occupations and professions that require degrees are encouraged. Those offenders who have proven their trustworthiness and reliability are permitted to work regular jobs among normal citizens outside of the prison (all of whom voluntarily return after work).

Despite Germany’s success, the effectiveness of such an approach will need to be demonstrated or piloted in the United States before policy makers and legislators will commit to such a progressive and proven model.

We, therefore, propose that the Brush Colorado facility be designated as a national pilot program, hereafter titled the Closed Community Placement Project (CCPP).

Our Mission

The mission of CCPP will be to support the individual development of its residents while encouraging and fostering their successful transition back to society. This will be achieved by equipping residents with industry needed skills, discipline, and sense of purpose that will bring value to their families, the companies that employ them, and the communities to which they return or reside.

To accomplish this, we propose synthesizing evidence-based rehabilitative programs that address issues such as substance abuse, criminal thinking, anger management, and family relationships, along with vocational training that provides residents with a facsimile of “real-world responsibilities.” The vocational training will occur at a neighboring industrial park where residents will leave the “Closed Community” to go to work each day. As a result of their decision to program responsibly, residents will earn legitimate wage that enables them to contribute to their families, pay taxes, manage their finances, and essentially participate as citizens.

We envision that CCPP will be an interstate and federal collaboration, meaning the pilot program would include offenders from both state and federal prison systems. While this is an ambitious undertaking, we believe that such a boundary-spanning collaboration is necessary to bring about the ideological shift that is needed to transform the purpose of prison in America.

Program Strategy

Target Population

Before outlining the program description, we must first address the offender population that would benefit the most from the opportunities offered by this project. As mentioned above, German prisons permit their offenders to leave the institution for work if they have proven to be trustworthy and reliable. In order to qualify for the CCPP Pilot Program, offenders must demonstrate the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Trustworthy and reliable behavior for a minimum of three to five (3-5) years crime dependent.
  2. CCPP is a transitional program; therefore, offenders should be within 2-5 years of parole eligibility.

We recommend strategically targeting long-term, first-time youth offenders for CCPP residents. Based on 80 years of collective experience as prisoners, we believe the long-term youth offender population will best ensure this project’s success for the following reasons:

  1. Long-term offenders are less likely to engage in institutional violence and racial gang politics.
  2. Long-term offenders are more likely to support program stability.
  3. Long-term youth offenders will benefit the most from vocational training as they were likely incarcerated prior to developing any meaningful and industry needed job skills.
  4. Legislation and innovative programs designed to support first-time youth offenders are the trend, and they will have the best chance of securing the necessary political support to get this project off the ground.

To clarify what we mean by “youth offenders,” we are referring to prisoners who qualify under California’s Senate Bills 260 and 261, and Assembly Bill 1308. However, if applicable, the youth offender parameters of other states and the federal system should be considered as well. Once the efficacy of this program has been demonstrated, it should be expanded to include a broader offender population.

Closed Community Culture

Administrators and staff have the duty of cultivating a cultural atmosphere that encourages residents to identify as members of a larger community. The divisive culture of most American prisons must be rejected and replaced with a culture that communicates the idea that “there is no us and them, there is only us.” This culture will emphasize the importance of dignity for everyone and the possibility of redemption for those who are willing to work toward a future worth having.

CCPP Foundational Principle

CCPP must perpetually reflect the core values of personal responsibility and accountability. For residents and staff alike, this means owning their contribution (i.e., identifying their choices) for the outcomes in their lives. Additionally, residents and staff will be responsible for building and maintaining a culture of accountability and responsibility, which will help CCPP attain its programming objectives.

Program Overview

Phase 1 (Orientation) 2-3 weeks

  • Closed Community orientation seminar (Leadership-4-Life)
  • Needs assessment
  • Committee review
  • Placed into Substance User Disorder Treatment (SUDT) or support services job assignment
  • Placed into evidence-based programming
  • Enrolled in Men Built for Others (MB4O) leadership development

Phase II (Programming) 1+ year

  • Begin SUDT or job assignment
  • Start Evidence-based programming
    • Substance Use Disorder Treatment (300 hrs)
    • Criminal Thinking (72 hrs)
    • Anger Management (72 hrs)
    • Family Relationships (72 hrs)
    • Career Preparation (72 hrs)
    • College (Open-ended)
  • Begin Men Built for Others leadership development (300 hrs)
    • Understanding one’s story
    • Responsibility 101
    • Honoring one’s word
    • Duty as a citizen
  • Screened into industry
    • Application process
    • Interview process

Phase III (Re-entry) 1+year

  • Career training
  • Life Skills
    • Effective communication
    • Financial planning
    • Problem solving
    • Resume building
    • Interview skills
    • Personal support team development
    • Re-entry readiness

Program Description

Phase 1 (Orientation)

Upon arrival at CCPP, all residents will be placed on orientation (Phase I). This phase will last 2-3 weeks, wherein each resident will undergo the following:

  • Closed Community orientation seminar (Leadership-4-Life): This is a five-day workshop wherein residents are invited into an interactive conversation with trained counselors that support them in discovering responsible and accountable perspectives. Moreover, residents are encouraged to develop a personal guiding vision for their future and identify ways to effectively participate in the community. In essence, this curriculum is an orientation into the culture of CCPP that goes beyond basic life skills and focuses on an individual’s attitude, thinking, and commitment to success.
  • Needs assessment: Residents will have a face-to-face interview with credentialed counselors who will identify and evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, problems, and needs for the development of a success plan. Counselors will gather relevant information from residents and case records about alcohol and drug use, work history, and psychosocial factors. This assessment will then be used to provide the counselors with resources in supporting resident’ rehabilitation. The assessment process will be an ongoing and collaborative endeavor between the counselors and residents to track residents’ progress.
  • Committee review: Residents will attend a meeting with an assigned counselor, a program administrator, and appropriate academic and vocational staff. During the committee review, residents will be given an individualized program success plan.
  • Placement into Substance Use Disorder Treatment (SUDT) or support services job assignment: All residents will either be given an SUDT assignment or support services job position. (Support services includes all assignments that help facilitate the daily operation of the “community”, i.e., culinary, laundry, porters, clerks, yard crew, etc.)
  • Placement into accompanying evidence-based programming: All residents will be assigned to complete classes that address specific criminogenic needs (i.e., Anger Management, Criminal Thinking, and Family Relationships), which have been identified as common factors leading to increased recidivism rates.
  • Men Built for Others leadership development: Each resident will participate in this year-long, one-day-per-week leadership development program. This advanced curriculum will expose residents to in-depth conversations and activities centered around insight, personal responsibility, commitment, and dutiful citizenship.

Phase II (Programming)

Once in Phase II, residents will either begin participating in SUDT or working in a support services job assignment. This phase will last at least one year, wherein each resident will be placed into one of two cohorts-A or B.

Upon opening, CCPP will initially receive approximately 144 residents. This group will be divided into Cohorts A and B, each consisting of 72 residents apiece. For the first six months, Cohort A will be assigned to SUDT, while Cohort B will be assigned to support services. All residents (whether in SUDT or support services) will spend four half-days per week in their respective assignments. Within that same six-month period, all CCPP residents will simultaneously spend two half-days each week attending Criminal Thinking (for the first yearly quarter) and then Family Relationships (for the second yearly quarter). Additionally, each resident will attend Men Built for Others (MB40) leadership development one full day per week (which is a program that runs for one complete year).

Once Cohort A completes their SUDT program, they will then be assigned to support services. Cohort A will alternate with Cohort B (who held those support services positions for the first six months and are now ready to enter SUDT). During this second six-month period, all CCPP residents will spend two half-days each week attending Anger Management (for the third yearly quarter) and then Career Preparation (for the fourth yearly quarter).

With this framework, Cohort A and B residents will be attending rehabilitative programming three full-days and two half-days per week. This leaves significant time for accomplishing college work, recreation, or otherwise engaging in leisure time activities. Please refer to the Gantt charts and quarterly programming schedules in the attached appendix for a visual representation of Phase II’s programming schematics.

At the end of Phase II, residents will apply for employment with CCPP’s industrial partners. The application process into Phase III will be largely contingent upon the employers’ needs and space availability. These details are beyond the scope of this proposal.

Program Schedule

Phase I & II
0600 – 0700 Breakfast
0700 – 0800 Dayroom
0800 – 1130 Attend work assignment & rehabilitative treatment programming
1130 – 1230 Dayroom / Lunch break
1230 – 1530 Attend work assignment & rehabilitative treatment programming
1530 – 1645 Dayroom and yard activities
1700 – 1800 “Community” Count
1800 – 1900 Dinner
1900 – 2100 Dayroom, yard & recreational programming
2100 “Community” lockup

Phase III
The program schedule for Phase III will be determined by the needs specified in the partnership agreements with the industrial partners.

Close Community Staff

CCPP staff will be composed of professionals who uphold an attitude of serving residents under their charge. Individuals employed by CCPP will hold a college education or comparable professional credentials in the counseling field. These employees will also be required to possess a combination of appropriate training in correctional/custody procedures and industry-standard counseling/de-escalation skills.

Most importantly, the staff of CCPP will maintain an attitude that counteracts the stereotypical dogmas of antagonism and separatism that pervade most correctional training protocols. In other words, CCPP staff will honor their duties by upholding the program’s policy to treat residents with dignity and recognizing that redemption is possible.

Conclusion

We firmly believe that the old models of punishment and exploitative labor need to be replaced with a new model of rehabilitation and restoration. As the antiquated “tough on crime” perspectives have proven ineffective, our nation’s correctional system is poised to implement a truly new rehabilitative model. This means moving past the prison industrial complex’s business model of using offenders as commodities and ceasing the practice of using offenders as a source of cheap labor. It is time for a restorative approach that offers an ethical collaboration between industries, institutions, and employees that engenders responsibility and accountability from all stakeholders.

The glaring reality is that regardless of how people may view offenders, nearly 95 percent of these individuals will eventually be released back into society. Considering this fact, and despite the different views that Americans hold concerning how to treat prisoners, we can reasonably agree that we would prefer offenders return as better and productive citizens rather than better criminals.

With that said, the challenge in redefining the context of corrections in America cannot be overstated. We can plausibly anticipate that the endeavor presented in this proposal will receive a significant level of bi-partisan resistance and support from multiple directions. Taking this into consideration, the success of CCPP (and future correctional reformation projects) will be contingent upon effective alliances between political, business (for-profit and non-profit), religious organizations and academic sectors of our country. CCPP is the genesis of a movement that will prompt the cultivation of responsible prison reform within the United States.

Finally, we recognize that as prisoners we are offering these ideas from a limited perspective, and there are blind spots of which we are unaware. It is our hope that this proposal helps the CROP Organization cast a bold vision for the Brush facility. We must reemphasize that engaging strategic partners and soliciting their various perspectives is paramount to this endeavor’s success. While the scope of this project is unprecedented and bold, we firmly believe that with the right support, we can redefine the purpose of the incarceration in the United States.

Appendix of Phase II’s Programming Schematics

Cohorts: A-1 and A-2


Cohorts: B-1 and B-2


Phase II’s First Quarter Programming Schedule for All Residents

A-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM SUDT SUDT MB4O SUDT SUDT
PM Criminal Thinking MB4O Criminal Thinking

A-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Criminal Thinking MB4O Criminal Thinking
PM SUDT SUDT MB4O SUDT SUDT

B-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O Support Services Support Services Support Services Support Services
PM MB4O Criminal Thinking Criminal Thinking

B-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O Criminal Thinking Criminal Thinking
PM MB4O Support Services Support Services Support Services Support Services

Phase II’s Second Quarter Programming Schedule for All Residents

A-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM SUDT SUDT MB4O SUDT SUDT
PM Family Relationships MB4O Family Relationships

A-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Family Relationships MB4O Family Relationships
PM SUDT SUDT MB4O SUDT SUDT

B-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB40 Support Services Support Services Support Services Support Services
PM MB4O Family Relationships Family Relationships

B-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O Family Relationships Family Relationships
PM MB4O Support Services Support Services Support Services Support Services

Phase II’s Third Quarter Programming Schedule for All Residents

A-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Support Services Support Services MB4O Support Services Support Services
PM Anger Management MB4O Anger Management

A-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Anger Management MB4O Anger Management
PM Support Services Support Services MB4O Support Services Support Services

B-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O SUDT SUDT SUDT SUDT
PM MB4O Anger Management Anger Management

B-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O Anger Management Anger Management
PM MB4O SUDT SUDT SUDT SUDT

Phase II’s Fourth Quarter Programming Schedule for All Residents

A-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Support Services Support Services MB4O Support Services Support Services
PM Career Preparation MB4O

A-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Career Preparation MB4O
PM Support Services Support Services MB4O Support Services Support Services

B-1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O SUDT SUDT SUDT SUDT
PM MB4O Career Preparation

B-2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM MB4O Career Preparation
PM MB4O SUDT SUDT SUDT SUDT