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Berks Organizations Recognized with Criminal Justice Best Practices Awards

by County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania

Oct 02, 2019

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) recently bestowed Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century Best Practices Awards. 

Bucks County Prison received Best Practices Award in the large county jail category for their educational and treatment Hope and Hearts Programs for the offender population. The HOPE (Helping Others Prosper Eternally) program is a voluntary drug and alcohol educations and treatment program for males. It utilizes cognitive behavioral interventions and assists with re-entry into the community and/or community-based treatment. The HEART (Healing, Empowering, and Recovering Together) program incorporates Medication Assisted Treatment, is voluntary and provides intensive substance abuse education for the female population. It was started with grant funds in 2018 and mimics the HOPE program.

Northumberland County received the 2019 Best Practices Award in the small jail category for their County Rehabilitation Center. After the original county jail was destroyed by a fire in 2015 the county wanted to do more than just build a new prison facility and decided to expand on drug recovery efforts for arrested or incarcerated individuals that are affiliated with drugs. They partnered with Gaudenzia and seven other counties including Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Schuylkill, Snyder and Union to create a rehabilitation facility that would assist individuals from all of the counties suffering from drug addictions. This facility offers arrested individuals that are suffering from drug addictions a more productive alternative than prison.

The Juvenile Alternatives Program Award was presented to Berks County for their JusticeWorks YouthCare Program. The JusticeWorks Reintegration program was developed to provide the “missing link” in intensive long-term treatment and residential programs. Aftercare requires the creation of a seamless set of systems across formal and informal social control networks as well as a continuum of community services to prevent the recurrence of antisocial behavior. This program works with the youth as well as the family to which they will be returning and aims to address family dysfunction.

The Partner Award, submitted by Bucks County, was given to The Central Bucks Family YMCA (CBFYMCA). The organization has provided on-site membership for adjudicated delinquents since 1998. The Central Bucks County YMCA worked with the Bucks County Youth Center to create a grant-funded project to train residents of the youth center to participate in training for and completing the CBFYMCA ‘Y Run 5k’ using a couch to 5k training program. This program aims to create a sense of normalcy by engaging youth in volunteer activities within the community and to develop and nurture a sense of accomplishment and pride by obtaining a goal. 

Berks County also received the newly created CCAP Re-entry Award for their Berks Connections/Pretrial Services. The program has provided services to the criminal justice population in the county for more than 40 years and are the leading provider of reentry services in the county. It operates a workforce development program that provides employment readiness, financial literacy, job placement and job retention to individuals returning to the community from incarceration and hosts a Returning Citizens Career Fair which provides them access to employment opportunities second chance employers. The Rebuilding Reentrants and Reading program is a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship program in the construction trades supported through a U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Training grant. To date they have graduated 76 participants. 76% of them were employed within six weeks of graduation.

The Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) Award was presented to the Lycoming County Criminal Justice Advisory Board. Three CCAP PCCD CJAB Regional Specialists submitted nominations based on their interaction with this county CJAB in their application of best practices. Over the past few years the Lycoming County Criminal Justice Advisory Board has accomplished many goals including: providing mental health first aid training to court staff, law enforcement professionals, and prison staff; implementing a Crisis Intervention Team; hiring a CIT Coordinator that serves both Lycoming and Clinton counties; and supported the implementation of the Supportive Housing Program, as well as many others.

CCAP salutes everyone involved in these efforts for being innovative pioneers in meeting the challenges facing all county jails and juvenile justice providers.

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