Voices of Hope and Resilience 2018 Inspirational Calendars now available

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Thursday - September 21, 2017.

We're thrilled to announce that our 2018 "Voices of Hope and Resilience" calendar is now available. This inspirational calendar addresses themes such as gratitude, forgiveness, trust, courage, resilience, and much more. It makes a terrific holiday gift! 

Make a donation to the RMO of $15 or more, and you'll get a free calendar PLUS you'll be providing an additional calendar to a returning citizen to keep track of their meetings and appointments.  

All of the art, quotes and graphic design for this calendar were created by people who have been incarcerated in Lancaster County Prison or other PA prisons and jails.

Get your copy today! Contact us at 717-723-1075 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details, or come to one of our autumn "Trauma and Resilience Series events".

 

Trauma trainings for Lancaster County corrections and parole officers

on Friday - July 21, 2017.

The RMO for Returning Citizens recently provided training to over 400 corrections officers and parole officers in Lancaster County. This work was featured in a recent article in the Lancaster Newspaper (link below).

This was a truly collaborative effort, with partners from Spanish American Civic Association, Advoz, CompassMark and Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County all assisting with the training.

The training team was: Melanie Snyder (RMO-lead instructor), Allison Weber (SACA), Vanessa Philbert (CAP), Jen Strasenburgh (CompassMark), & Angela Keen (CCP), and my fantastic RMO interns (both Millersville University students) Lindsay Mays (MSW candidate) & Beckah Shenk (BSW candidate).

We are also very grateful to the Walters / Unitarian Church Trust, an endowment from Art and Selma Walters to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster (UUCL) for funding part of this training through a grant to the RMO. In awarding this grant, the UUCL Board has acknowledged the contributions of the RMO to achieving the vision of inclusiveness among all humans as well as respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, as promoted by the Walters Trust and UUCL. We are deeply honored to have been awarded this grant from the Walters Trust and UUCL.

This first round of trainings for prison and probation/parole staff is the beginning of the RMO's effort to build the foundation for a trauma-informed criminal justice system in Lancaster County.

Here's the LNP article: 

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/trauma-informed-training-for-lancaster-county-corrections-and-parole-officers/article_dfc9a524-292f-11e7-b008-8f12e2682c1f.html

 

Trauma-Informed Criminal Justice: Reflections on first round of training

on Friday - March 24, 2017.

We recently completed a first round of trainings about trauma for Lancaster County Prison staff and staff of Lancaster County Adult Probation and Parole. Here are some reflections on lessons learned from this first phase of the RMO's work to build the foundation for a trauma-informed criminal justice system in Lancaster County:

I woke up this morning feeling deeply grateful (and a bit tired . . . and relieved) for the experience this week of offering trainings about trauma to the staff of Lancaster County Prison and Lancaster County Adult Probation & Parole. And, as has been the case throughout my career, I feel like I learned more from them than they did from us.

Six days, eleven classes, 261 trained LCP staff and 44 trained Probation & Parole staff later, here are a few insights from this week:

  • Corrections professionals have some of the most stressful and under-appreciated jobs in our community. The situations they are exposed to and required to handle are often traumatic, yet there’s a general sense that they have to just “deal with it” and “be strong.”
  • One of the things Grace Marie Hamilton taught me is that she always made sure she showed as much care and concern for the people who worked within the criminal justice system as for those caught up in it – and I was reminded time and time again this week of how absolutely wise and essential it is for me to maintain that perspective.
  • Most of the people who came to this week’s trainings take their jobs very seriously, take pride in their profession, and care deeply about doing their jobs thoroughly and well. Many of them already do some of the things suggested in the training. Yet, the nature of the work can take a huge toll on them, and for some, can lead to cynicism, detachment, diminished capacity to show empathy or compassion, and a belief that nothing will ever change – including the people under their “care, custody and control.”
  • The lack of adequate mental health treatment and resources is a genuine crisis in our criminal justice system (not just here in Lancaster – this is a problem in prisons and jails across the entire country – see https://stepuptogether.org/) – and as a result, staff are placed in the untenable position of having to deal with the significant mental health issues of incarcerated people without access to the necessary mental health expertise and resources to truly address people’s underlying needs. This creates an enormous amount of additional stress and trauma for the staff.
  • As we talked about the connections between trauma, addiction and mental health issues, we acknowledged that much of what’s historically been done for people with mental health and addiction issues is like giving someone aspirin and an ice pack for a broken leg: while those measures might temporarily relieve the pain and reduce the swelling, the leg is still broken – and if what’s broken inside is never addressed, it may continue to “cripple” the person.

I’m deeply grateful to my training team: Allison Weber (SACA), Vanessa Philbert (CAP), Jen Strasenburgh (CompassMark), & Angela Keen (CCP), and my fantastic RMO interns (both Millersville University students) Lindsay Mays (MSW candidate) & Beckah Shenk (BSW candidate).

We are also very grateful to the Walters / Unitarian Church Trust, an endowment from Art and Selma Walters to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster (UUCL) for funding part of this training through a grant to the RMO. In awarding this grant, the UUCL Board has acknowledged the contributions of the RMO to achieving the vision of inclusiveness among all humans as well as respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, as promoted by the Walters Trust and UUCL. We are deeply honored to have been awarded this grant from the Walters Trust and UUCL.

This first round of trainings for prison and probation/parole staff is the beginning of the RMO’s effort to build the foundation for a trauma-informed criminal justice system in Lancaster County. There’s more to come…but I’m hopeful that this week’s trainings helped to start the conversation.

Trauma Informed Criminal Justice-Part 2

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Monday - February 20, 2017.

How prevalent is a history of trauma among people who are incarcerated or otherwise in the criminal justice system? According to SAMHSA's GAINS Center, here are some statistics:

* the MacArthur Mental Health Court (MHC) study documented trauma histories of 311 mental health court participants in three states and found that:

- 70% of women and 25% of men were sexually abused or raped before age 20

- 67% of women and 73% of men experienced child physical abuse (any kind other than sexual abuse)

- 61% of women and 68% of men had experienced their parents beating or hitting them with a belt, whip or strap

- 46% of women and 27% of men had witnessed their parents hitting or throwing things at each other

- 39% of women and 28% of men had experienced having the father-figure in their childhood home being arrested

- 25% of women and 20% of men had experienced the father-figure in their childhood home using drugs

SAMHSA's GAINS Center also reports findings from the Targeted Capacity Expansion (TCE) for Jail Diversion Study, a 5-year study of men and women with co-occuring mental health and substance use disorders who were in jail diversion programs. This study was funded by SAMHSA from 2002 - 2007. The TCE researchers found that:

* 96% of the women and 89% of the men in jail diversion programs reported lifetime trauma

* 74% of the women and 86% of the men in jail diversion programs reported current trauma

SAMHSA draws the following conclusions from the research on trauma among justice-involved individuals:

"There are high levels of trauma in both men and women, and in justice-involved individuals. Based on these statistics, it is safe to assume that everyone who comes into contact with the justice system has a history of trauma, so criminal justice professionals should take 'universal precautions'."

At Lancaster County Prison, over the past couple of years, the Family Services Advocate, Jen Strasenburgh, has administered the ACEs Quiz to incarcerated parents to assess the amount of trauma they have experienced in their lifetimes. The results, compared to the original CDC/Kaiser Permanente ACEs study, are shown below: