Wednesday, 28 December 2011 16:59

Helping inmates. Program provides training for volunteers

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By William Anderson/Argus Observer

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 11:29 AM PST

One program in the area is helping make that transition easier by providing a helping hand.

Kim Wilson, a volunteer regional chaplain, is inviting anybody interested in helping former inmates make that transition as smooth as possible participate with the Home For Good in Oregon program.

The program began eight years ago by the Department of Corrections.

Jan. 13, Wilson will be holding a training for anybody interested in volunteering for the faith-based re-entry program.

The training is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. at the Snake River Correctional Institution administration conference room.

Wilson said those interested in attending should either bring a lunch or plan on purchasing one during the training.

Wilson, a state trainer for HGO, said one of the reasons for the program is to give inmates the opportunity to learn how to navigate life once they get out of prison as they are preparing to be released.

She said the program is also designed to have individual volunteers in the community who know about specific resources for those inmates help them adjust to life out of prison. Those volunteers help connect the inmates with the resources within the community.

“It really gears them up for going back into the community,” Wilson said. “We are trying to train people to help inmates.”

The HGO program will help volunteers learn how inmates think like a criminal and teach inmates how to manage their lives.

With a recent change in the policies in Oregon, the volunteers will be able to communicate with an inmate about potential employment opportunities upon their release, while working on their behalf outside the prison walls as well.

Wilson said there are three circles of influence in an inmate’s life upon being released, including family/friends, volunteers and the community.

When all three are working together, she said, recidivism is decreased, and inmates are less likely to return to prison.

“If we can connect with one, the impact is huge,” Wilson said.

Wilson is looking for volunteers who are willing to work with inmates, who will be available to field calls from those looking for support upon release and help point those individuals in the right direction.

The volunteers will help teach self-sufficiency and self-reliance and also help them find a job.

Wilson hopes that many males will volunteer because, on average, six to 12 inmates are released back into Malheur County each year, with only one or two of them being female.

“We are trying to build that bridge,” Wilson said.

For those interested in the training, preregistration is not required, and Wilson said she is more than willing to answer questions regarding the program, (541) 212-9342.




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