CBS News: Reentry and Sanction Center

This Television Program is available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/video/?p=20

See http://media.csosa.gov for “DC Public Safety” radio and television shows.
See www.csosa.gov for the web site of the federal Court Services and Offender Services Agency.
See http://media.csosa.gov/blog for the “DC Public safety” blog.

(Audio begins)

Reporter 1: Of the 600,000 inmates America’s prisons release every year, almost two-thirds are expected to be back behind bars within 3 years. Proof corrections experts say that we need new ways to prepare inmates for life beyond the prison walls. That’s tonight’s weekend journal, an exclusive look at a program officially launched this month that seems to be working.

Reporter 2: That’s Decarus Wardrett wielding the trimmer. “Little Man” as he’s known at the North East Washington, DC Barber Shop where he works long days. He’s also working hard at staying clean and out of prison.

Reporter 2: Were drugs a big part of your life?

Decarus Wardrett: Yes, marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine, PCP. I’ve used it.

Reporter 2: Wardrette is like most offenders. Up to 70% have substance abuse problems, constantly in and out of prison. 42 year old Wardrett has been locked up 10 times; his last stint, more than 7 years for robbery. His repeated incarcerations put him here,

Decarus Wardrett: I didn’t really want to come,

Reporter 2: In DC’s innovative Re-entry and Sanctions program. Hard core federal inmates spend 28 days preparing for their release back into the community by focusing on the drug problems that likely began their downward spiral in the first place.

Male 1: Yeah, I do have a problem with authority figures.

Reporter 2: Counseling plays a big part and includes psychotherapy, fatherhood training and anger management with specialized treatment plans for each resident.

Paul Quander: It forces you to look at yourself. It’s difficult to go back and talk about what happened in your childhood. It’s difficult to talk about your mother and your mother’s substance abuse. It’s difficult to talk about how the first time you saw someone use drugs it was your grandmother.

Reporter 2: The approach used here is part of a growing trend across the country, preparing inmates for re-entering the community and staying out of trouble. That’s a major shift from the philosophy of the last two decades when the focus was on building more prisons. But a significant push came in 2004 when President Bush proposed funding for re-entry programs and Congress approved the Second Chance Act.

Paul Quander: The bottom line is people are going to come home. And we can have them come home from hardened without any resources, without any hope, or we can invest the money and we can invest in the people and we can invest in our communities. It’s not treatment versus lock them up. It’s treatment to enhance public safety. That’s the key.

Reporter 2: Decarus Wardrett knows that.

Decarus Wardrett: So I’m tired of going to jail.

Reporter 2: It’s not going to happen again?

Decarus Wardrett: No, I pray to God it won’t. You know, we can never say never, but each and every day is a struggle so I pray.

Reporter 1: The Second Chance Act is still pending in the House of Representatives.

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