Meet the Western Missouri Reentry Team

Mallory Pearson and MO Rep Luke Scavuzzo.The COPS Office announced in the March 2014 Dispatch that we will be highlighting a sampling of the 2013 Sutin Award nominees. Presented here is the first article from the 2013 Sutin Award nominees.

The Western Missouri Reentry Team was founded in 2007 at Missouri Probation and Parole District #28 in Belton, Missouri. The officers at Probation and Parole District #28 supervise the offenders who reside in all of Cass County and a section of southern Jackson County, including Grandview and portions of south Kansas City. The role of the Western Missouri Reentry Team is to assist offenders in successfully reintegrating themselves into society following a term of incarceration, and/or while under the supervision of Probation and Parole following placement on supervision by the Courts. This is an ongoing process that lasts throughout the term of supervision, and sometimes beyond.

Left to right, at the last reentry conference, Leesa Wiseman, former team liaison, Helen Hurley, P&P Field Services Administrator, Rev. Michael Campbell of Dismas House, President, and Shelley Day, team member and brainchild of SCAREE and a lot of other things.By developing a network of community leaders, we are able to better assist offenders in all aspects of their lives, including housing, employment, education, family and spiritual support, finances, mentoring programs, etc. During team meetings, we plan and discuss projects and events, share resources and build community partnerships. We focus on the specific goals of the process and the roles our community will play in assisting these offenders in returning to society and becoming productive, successful citizens. Meetings are rotated around the area and are usually held the third Thursday of each month at 2:00 PM for about 60 to 90 minutes.

Some of our sponsors and members are:
Cass County Sheriff’s Office
Catholic Charities
First Call
Dr. Gay Killion
The Keys are at the Cross Prison Ministries
Missouri Probation and Parole District 28
New Summit Presbyterian Church
Pathways Community Behavioral Health Care
Recovery Lighthouse
The Shepherd’s Way Ministries, Inc.
Social Change Services
Stafford and Stafford Insurance
Thank You Christ Ministries
Welcome House

Some of our ongoing projects are:

Backpacks for Success Program: Backpacks are filled with personal hygiene items and community contact information for recently released offenders in order to provide them with enough supplies to clean up for job interviews and community contacts. This was our first major project and was started by a Girl Scout! You can read how to start your own Backpacks for Success Program below.

Annual Safe and Sober Holiday Party: An event including snacks, gifts, games, craft projects, a visit from Santa, and activities provided to offenders and community members in a safe environment as a safe and sober holiday celebration alternative. Those in recovery are invited to share their journey to sobriety with the group, and we have had many motivational speakers!

Annual Reentry Conference: An event provided to educate the community about reentry initiatives and build partnerships within the community. We just completed our fourth conference last October, and are already working on this year’s conference. If you would like to participate, contact a reentry team member at 816-322-1166.

Annual Safe Communities and Risk Elimination Event (SCAREE): An event on October 31 designed to promote public safety by providing sex offenders an adults-only, fun and safe environment to celebrate the holiday. Attendance at this event is approved and co-sponsored by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, and meets the legal requirements for registered sex offenders currently under our supervision. This program has been successfully utilized for three years.

Other projects have included breakfasts for first responders and local law enforcement during Victims’ Rights Week in April; a summer reading program for children of offenders; a coat drive for needy offenders; assisting in the start-up of the online Cass County Resource Directory; assisting offenders with obtaining furniture, appliances, dental care, etc.; public education presentations regarding reentry; and many other projects.

Cherise Pearson
Probation and Parole Officer II
Missouri Probation and Parole

Backpacks for Success

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Program

By Mallory Pearson, Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient

The goal of the Backpacks to Success Project is to help restore personal dignity and increase the ability to obtain employment by providing a backpack of personal hygiene items and resource cards for recently released law offenders.

Initial steps:

  1. Locate a clean, safe, and adequate area within the district office to store products in an organized manner.
  2. Assign a team of staff to maintain the organization of the products and to replenish items when needed.
  3. Create a checklist of items available, an evaluation form for staff to give feedback, and a location to put a list of items needed.
  4. Initiate community contacts willing to donate items needed, i.e., medical offices, discount stores, local factories, community groups, large corporations willing to host a collection site for samples and other items, etc.

Ongoing steps:

  1. Continue community contacts to replenish donations.
  2. Assign staff to specific contacts as needed.
  3. Assigned staff will create backpacks ready to go for quick needs.
  4. Assigned staff will fill backpacks when needed for clients with specific needs.
  5. Assigned staff will determine needs for special products on a case-by-case basis with the assistance of the MRP Team or other governing body for the project, i.e., CAB, Quality Circle, Personnel Club, etc.
  6. Evaluate project regularly for changing needs.

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