Governor Asa Hutchinson & Reentry Coordinator Nicole Smart
The Arkansas Department of Correction’s Think Legacy Reentry Program has evolved from individual unit programs to a standardized system wide reentry program supported by a specific Administrative Directive (AD 2017-13) and Standard Operating Procedures. The AD and SOP ensure that best practices are incorporated, and all stakeholders clearly understand implementation and management of best practices.
The Think Legacy Program unit is defined as a unit that provides housing, ADC staff facilitators, citizen volunteers, and trained security staff for the facilitation of a 24-week curriculum delivered in a structured environment. The Think Legacy Reentry Program design relies heavily on citizen volunteers and professional ADC staff members to teach and facilitate best practice curriculum. Training and support of staff and volunteers must be ongoing.
National Institute of Corrections, Offender Workforce Development Division-Career Resource Center Employability Curriculum - The National Institute of Corrections developed an extensive employability curriculum for use by state and federal agencies. The curriculum provides facilitator guides, participant workbooks, and a complete interactive training DVD for professional staff members and peer mentors chosen to facilitate the presentation of the material and work in the Career Resource Center.
Math Matters: The Math Matters program allows Think Legacy Reentry Program participants an opportunity to improve math skills needed for employment and daily living. This curriculum also builds self-esteem as participants complete assignments and receive a certificate for successful completion.
The eight-chapter workbook encourages goal setting, and introduces the concept of “career planning” versus “just getting a job.” Assignments help participants find careers based on their innate employment interests. Research suggests that those released from prison, who are career goal oriented, are less likely to return. Participants finish this track with, “Keeping a Job” strategies.
Program Participants are encouraged to develop an extensive community support network.
Supplemental materials are included throughout the Participant Workbook assignments. This supplemental material introduces the participant to resources available in their communities once released. The material comes from a variety of sources: state agencies, non-profit organizations, private companies, and citizens interested in reducing recidivism in Arkansas.
Volunteers and Stakeholders along with the employee facilitator’s and over-seers’ are Think Legacy’s best assets. Some of the organizations that currently assist us are the Governor’s Restore Hope network, The “Brandon” Burlsworth Foundation, the Hope Rise’s Transitional Housing Reentry Foundation, the “Roots” Foundation, The “Good Grid”, Hope Rises, The Magdalene House, Literacy Educators, Arkansas Workforce Development, State Agencies, Adult Education Center (WAGE) at 8 facilities, Delta TRIO, Arkansas Securities, UAMS Mental Health Interns, Daysprings Community Counseling, and many more.
Another component of the Think Legacy Reentry provides is the use of prior offenders that were once incarcerated. Utilizing these offenders is like utilizing a retired employee from Ford Motor Company to teach new mechanics how to utilize their tools, there is no other person better to bear witness to the trials and tribulation of barriers once released than those that have lived it and been successful themselves.
Resource and Reunification Fairs are coordinated at the thirteen (13) Units that house the Think Legacy Reentry Program. Guest Speakers and prior offenders speak to the reentry participants in the morning with a break out session in the afternoon. The break out session consists of vendors, employers and volunteers providing information and employability opportunities once the offender is released. The Arkansas Workforce Mobile Unit is utilized and the Reentry participant’s family is also invited to attend these events.