The Bristol Bay Native Association's re-entry program aims to help people formerly in prison reintegrate themselves into the community. The program is looking to expand its services in 2020.
“So what does an average day look like for you?” I asked Karl Clark, Bristol Bay Native Association’s only case manager for the region’s prisoner re-entry program.
"Well, it’s day-by-day. Right now I’m working with some clients…” Clark answered.
In a normal day, Clark works with clients on financial assistance, treatment options, resumes, housing and transportation.
In December, Clark finished his first round of prison visits. He travelled to Wild Goose Correctional Facility in Kenai, Goose Creek Correctional Center in Wasilla, Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward and the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River 23 people interested in BBNA’s program.
“When speaking with the potential clients, they were excited to see there’s a program like this in the Bristol Bay area. " Clark said. "It’s all essentially stuff that, once they get released, we’re here to kinda help them give them a cush(ion), help them out with work skills, a shelter – somewhere that they can stay – and let them know they have people on their side. We don’t want to see them go back into jail.”
The goal of the six- month program is to help returning citizens become as self-sufficient as possible. The first three months are spent securing those services for the client. The final three months focus on post-release life by setting independent family, education, work goals.
To qualify for the program, potential participants must have been in jail for more than 30 days and within 90 days of their release. The program is only open to people who have been convicted of a high-risk misdemeanor or a felony. The Department of Corrections will then conduct interviews to determine that person’s level of needs. The DOC uses the Level of Service Inventory-Revised to score those needs.
BBNA’s Tribal Justice Program manager Gwen Wilson said the LSI-R determines eligibility, and can point people towards additional help.
“And most people are [eligible]," Wilson said. "Even if they aren’t necessarily eligible for the program, the case worker can still provide them with information and referrals to places. They just won’t be eligible for the six month case management piece.”
Five clients have graduated from the program in Bristol Bay so far. But Clark, the case manager, said rural areas don’t have the same access to the services available in bigger areas, like Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“Housing is a beast," he said. "There’s people that are not in our program that I know of who are looking for housing and they’re on a huge waiting list. We’re hoping to get two units here shortly. We’re working on the last details. So hopefully here in a little bit, we’ll have two housing apartments to put our clients in for now.”
BBNA is hoping to expand its case management services this year through cultural and community events. Clark said one client expressed an interest for a business focused on community cleanup and Elder care.
“One of the re-entrants that we currently have talked and touched a little bit on it, that’s what they would like to do," he said. "They’re like you know, ‘Hey I messed up. I want to show my community I’m remorseful and I’m sorry.'' We're looking at what steps would need to be taken for that person to start something like that.”
Clark is conducting his second round of prison visits this month.
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