Unlocking Creative Writing Skills in the DOC

In the spring, Andrea Zittlau of Universität Rostock and Jayne Thompson of Widener University brought a Creative Writing Workshop into six DOC facilities to spur creativity and a love for writing in incarcerated individuals. The spring sessions were such a success, the duo are set to hit the road again in October to bring their workshop to another set of facilities.

In this month’s episode of the PA Prisons and Parole Podcast, Andrea and Jayne discuss the workshop, including why they do it, some of their favorite memories of it and what has surprised them most so far.

Class is in Session

Whether finishing a GED or earning a trade certification, the education of incarcerated individuals is critical as they prepare for a successful reentry. As the new school year begins for students throughout Pennsylvania, SCI Pine Grove Principal Allan Berkhimer discusses the educational programs available in the DOC, as well as some exciting developments and future opportunities in the works for incarcerated students.

Striving For Success through Partnerships and Simulations

It’s been more than a year since the STRIVE initiative kicked off in the Scranton area, which brought public and private partners together to streamline providing resources for reentry. Parole Manager Penny Sines and Community Reentry Parole Agent Mary Brotzman discuss what they’ve learned since STRIVE began, share some success stories and explain how the program has benefited reentrants and providers alike. They also spend some time at the end of this episode discussing reentry simulations, including one that host Ryan Tarkowski participated in in the spring.

Helping Individuals with Substance Abuse Disorder through Pharmacotherapy

Our innovative, award-winning Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program is a crucial tool for incarcerated individuals dealing with substance abuse disorder. Our guest this month is Statewide MAT Coordinator Steve Seitchik, and in this wide-ranging interview Steve explains what MAT is, its history in the DOC, what the next steps may be, and how the DOC sets up MAT to continue treatment upon reentry. Steve also shares about some of the successes he’s seen from the program so far.

Educating Inmates on Financial Literacy

Becky MacDicken is an outreach specialist for the PA Department of Banking and Securities who spends many of her days inside our state prisons as she educates incarcerated individuals on the importance of finances. She teaches inmates about a variety of financial topics, including credit, banking, scams, budgeting, investing and so much more, and she works to prepare them to make wise financial decisions so they can succeed. In this month’s episode of the PA Prisons and Parole Podcast, Becky discusses her experiences working with inmates and reentrants, why she loves her job and what changes reentrants should be aware of in the financial world. She also discusses scams that reentrants — and non-reentrants — should be on the lookout for.