June 2017
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Family Matters Program

Lack of strong, supportive family relationships can be a significant factor in recidivism.

  • 93% of persons

    entering the Montana prison system are identified as having chemical dependency issues.

  • 90% of persons

    also report a history of abusive and traumatic relationships (with intimate partners and/or with family of origin).

  • 70% of the women

    incarcerated at Montana Women’s Prison (MWP) have at least one minor child.

            Source: Montana Department of Corrections (DOC)

For an inmate, the most important relationships to grow and foster are those with family members or caregivers who parent their children while they are in prison.

The relationship parents have with their children is critical not just to parental recovery and successful re-entry, but to prevention of generational addiction.

The Family Matters program will:

  • reduce recidivism
  • prevent additional trauma to children
  • prevent multi-generational incarceration related to prior trauma experiences
  • increase re-entry success through the development and implementation of assessments that gather family/child information earlier and more regularly
  • expand programming that engages children with their parents, engages children’s community caregivers, and involves extended family both pre- and post-release of offenders
    serve up to 30 families annually for each year of the two-year grant cycle
There are two issues that almost all addicted women share

  • trauma
  • difficulty in relationships due to prior traumatic experiences

Covington “Helping Women Recover” 2008

Offenders interviewed 4 to 8 months after their release cited families as the most important factor in helping them stay out of prison.
diZereta, M. & Shipiro, C. (2007) Asking About Family Can Enhance Reentry
How a child adjusts during a period of parental incarceration is dependent upon:

  • the nature and quality of the alternative caregiver arrangements, and
  • the opportunity to maintain contact with the absent parent

Parke & Clark-Stewart, 2002

The correlation between family structure (particularly in relation to absent mothers/fathers) and crime is just now beginning to be thoroughly researched, however, preliminary data suggests “it is not poverty, neighborhoods, or race, so much as lack of two parenting upbringing that reveals itself in statistics on crime.”
David Levy, J.D. Opening Doors: Bringing Dads into Child Welfare

Family Matters is a Second Chance Act family-based offender substance abuse treatment program.

Participation Criteria & Guidelines

  • Women incarcerated at Montana Women’s Prison who are:
    • medium to high-risk offenders;
    • drug or alcohol dependent;
    • mothers to at least one minor child with whom they intend to maintain at least part-time contact after incarceration;
    • identified as having “relationships” rated in the top two highest criminogenic risks for re-offense at the time of initial incarceration.

Preferential placement in the program is given to women who:

  • have at least one child under the age of 10 years;
  • will re-enter from prison into the Billings community or a community nearby;
  • OR are unable to participate in the current re-entry program (New Path New Life).

Services available to inmates through the Family Matters Program

  • Assessments to determine relationship issues
  • Support and services for families and alternate caregivers
  • Family Group Decision Making Meetings both prior to and after inmate’s release from prison

  • Engagement, individual, group and relationship services for the offender and identified family members and children – includes therapy, parent-child interaction assessments and therapeutic visitation services
  • Assistance with logistical barriers to family or child participation in programs and therapy – includes transportation/lodging assistances, technological aids (Skype, webinar capability), and off-hour supervision and visitation
  • Internal and community partner training focused on the importance of maintaining healthy relationships, bonds with children and alternate or temporary caregivers during parental incarceration

Susy Paddock

Family Matters Coordinator

Email: susyp@forfamilies.org

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