PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg Probation and Parole Office hosted an open house Tuesday in celebration of the Kansas Department of Corrections Reentry Week.
Kansas Secretary of Corrections Joe Norwood attended the open house — one of many happening this week throughout the state — and said the week was organized by KDOC to highlight the reentry side of corrections.
“We had worked on planning this for a while and wanted to draw awareness to this side of corrections,” Norwood said. “The side that gets offenders back into the community and connects them with resources to help them make a successful reentry.”
In 1999, the recidivism — or return to prison — rate in Kansas was at 55 percent of offenders. Today, that number has decreased to 35 percent. Norwood said that decline has come from the success of evidence-based programming and utilization of resources in communities like Pittsburg.
Pittsburg is located in KDOC’s southern region, and Southern Region Parole Director Sally Frey said the city has been a model for programs around the state.
“The community done a great job pooling resources,” Frey said. “It has been a model for the state on how agencies can partner and work together really well, from community corrections and parole to community mental health and addiction treatment.”
During the open house, visitors were able to tour the parole office, look at programs used by parole supervisors and listen to clients discuss the impact of supervision on their life and outlook.
Frey said much of the programming techniques used in Pittsburg and around the state focus on identifying what offenders feel, and how that causes their actions.
“Focusing solely on punishment and saying ‘don’t do this’ all the time doesn’t always work,” she said. “We teach them how to manage their feelings, build social skills, find work, et cetera to help them back into the community.”
KDOC also offers mentoring programs for offenders — mentors are often offenders who have successfully been removed from supervision — as well as victims services for those affected by offenders.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.