In November of 2009, KPEP began its Residential Sex Offender (RSOP) treatment program. This was a new population for us, but certainly one which fit our mission and our philosophy. Since the beginning we have provided an alternative to incarceration. At first, we served primarily young male offenders who were sentenced on felony probation. In the mid-1990s we opened our program for women in Kalamazoo. With the closing of state-run corrections centers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the need for programming for parolees increased. We began seeing more referrals for parole violations. In 2004 we started the re-entry program with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. These individuals came to us directly from prison to complete their sentence prior to moving into home confinement, and then supervised release.
The Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative (MPRI) opened new opportunities for KPEP to serve the state and the need for programs for parolees. We have provided mentoring services, employment services and various outpatient programming through MPRI, now simply called Prisoner Re-entry.
When I first approached the board about this new program, there was some apprehension. We had always been a community corrections program for non-violent offenders. To now work with sex offenders was a big change. There were several factors that went into our decision to tackle this program.
We recognized that all these individuals were going to be getting out of prison someday. Did it make more sense to have a structured transition program followed by supervised electronic monitoring or simply release the individual to the community once they maxed out their sentence? We felt that public safety would be best served with a program and we felt we were in a good position with our various facilities to take on this challenge.
While they are with us, the RSOP residents are engaged in an intensive program. This involves a minimum of 25 hours per week of staff-led activities, utilizing a cognitive behavioral approach to change. In addition, each resident must be engaged in a total of 60 hours of structured activity per week. RSOP participants are not allowed to leave the facility without a staff member. They are also all on an electronic monitoring system. We have worked with the MDOC Substance Abuse Services Section to have a strict program that includes not only participant engagement in the treatment process, but also adherence to established rules and programming expectations. If there are rule violations or an individual is not fully engaged in his treatment, he is removed and sent back to prison.
Through February of this year, we have had a total of 658 people enrolled in the program. Of those, 336 successfully completed. 127 were removed as treatment failures and 62 were generally discharged. There were 13 people that walked away from the facility. We have been tracking these individuals after program completion and found only five who have reoffended, one of those for a sex offense. Results such as these highlight the impact RSOP programming has had on enhancing community safety, while reducing recidivism and assisting offenders in becoming productive members of the community.
It is our position that these numbers support the board’s decision to take on this program. The ability to provide a structured program that assists the department with reintegration enhances the process. As an agency, we continue to look for quality, cost-effective ways to fulfill our mission and meet the needs of those communities we serve.