Bringing Partners into the Picture: Family-Strenghtening Programming for Incarcerated Fathers. Correctional rules and regulations presented obstacles to delivering services to partners


Driven by security needs, correctional administrators restricted which areas of the facilities could accommodate partners and what kinds of activities involving partners and incarcerated men were allowable.

Most programs needed to consider the monitoring required by the correctional facility for nonincarcerated persons taking part in prison-based services. Occasionally, facilities were not willing to allow programs to deliver any services to partners on prison grounds due to security and monitoring concerns. Certain proposed components, such as couples counseling prior to release, were not allowed by some facilities.

Ultimately, all grantees were successful in identifying available rooms within selected prison facilities that were adequate for educational purposes and appropriate for outside visitors. However, staffing remained a challenge because activities involving contact between incarcerated men and outside visitors required heightened officer supervision, often outside of regular business hours.

Program Solutions
Program Solution: Lack of Trust

During the initial visit with partners in the community, one grantee's case managers initiated an informal getting-to-know-you conversation, postponing enrollment paperwork until a later visit. They invested a lot of time in the initial visit, spending up to 4 hours and frequently bringing food. Investing in the relationship with the partner sometimes alleviated mistrust by making the partner feel heard.

Program Solution: Criminal Records Impede Partner Admittance to Host Facilities

The South Dakota grantee negotiated case-by-case exceptions with the State's Department of Corrections, which enabled about half of the partners who would otherwise have been refused access (on the basis of their criminal records) to participate in prison-based weekend courses.

Program Solution: Institutional Security Rules

Grantees built and maintained relationships with correctional administrators and security officers to enable delivery of corrections-based services to partners without compromising facility security. Strategies included:

  • Developing formal memos with administrators to document program-related protocols and modifications.
  • Holding standing meetings with correctional contacts.
  • Having frequent, informal conversations with correctional officers about program goals and procedures regarding partner involvement.

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