Wayne, homeless with untreated schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, committed armed robbery. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
In prison, Wayne was placed in a psychiatric unit. There, he finally received the treatment he needed to address the progression of his mental health issues.
Wayne’s prison experience is not unlike that of many people with mental illness who find themselves incarcerated. Prisons have become the only place where many disenfranchised people with behavioral issues have been able to receive the services they desperately need.
But in far too many cases, the progress is undone when these individuals leave prison. They are released to the street in one of our urban centers, without a home, a job, an income or the behavioral health supports and services they need. Not surprisingly, the cycle repeats. Many of these men and women find themselves back in prison within the year.
Innovative Family ReEntry Program Changes The Outcome
In 2015, Family ReEntry opened Dana’s House in New Haven.
At this residential facility, people on parole are seen by a clinical team comprised of a licensed clinical social worker, a case manager, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a parole officer. Case aides offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This ensures resident safety and access to medication and medical care as needed.
But the power of Dana’s House goes far deeper. A therapeutic community of support among the residence is nurtured and developed. Together, the residence address their anxieties and concerns as they prepare to transition into the community.
This innovative reentry program for the reentry was the first in Connecticut, and it remains the only one.
8 Months At Dana’s House
Wayne spent eight months at Dana’s House. He received individual and group therapy, medication management and case management services. He also was able to explore the community around him. Off-site passes, furloughs and access to regional medical and supportive services paved the way for a successful reentry.
Guided by Dana’s staff, Wayne found a furnished apartment and established relationships with a long term behavioral health care provider. He now lives independently, with the assistance of a Conservator. He is participating in a job training program.
“Dana’s House was brought to me by God,” says Wayne, “and my fellow Dana’s House residents remain my brotherhood.” He feels certain that without Dana’s House, he would have discharged from prison, “with nowhere to go.”
Help Meet The Unmet Need
Hundreds of people released from Connecticut prisons each year need the programs that Dana’s House provides. Only a fraction are now being served.
Even worse, the quality post-incarcerations programs that reduce the rate of re-incarceration have been dismantled by successive years of budgeting cutting.
It’s time we stop our retreat. It’s time we take smart step forward to ending the cycle of incarceration Please stand-up and join the fight to transform reentry in Connecticut.