Brain Science and Updates From the Field

Peer Specialist Program presents, makes impression at SCI Albion

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On July 24, 2015, SCI Albion employees hosted a Community Day for the inmates housed in the Residential Treatment Unit (RTU) and  Stairways Behavioral Health’s Certified Peer Specialist program was selected as the only provider  program to present at this event.

Marilyn Goss and Jason Young represented Stairways by giving a presentation to an audience of about 200 inmates.

Goss offered inmates information on the peer specialist program and other services the organization offers.

“It’s important to see peers as people who can assist others who might be facing the same issues,” Goss said.

Young, a certified peer specialist, delivered an impassioned talk in which he addressed the common issues  people with mental illness face despite personally never having had any legal problems himself .

“Even though I have no direct experience with the criminal justice system, it appeared from the feedback I received after the speech overall and from individual audience members that I had made a real connection,” he said.  “I explained to them that hope is real; this was my message to them.”

Every inmate that participated in Community Day signed a Community Pledge, an agreement written by inmates that has 11 actions and values they swore to honor.

Community Day, was developed to demonstrate a healthy sense of respect for social situations and to establish a sense of belonging among the inmates, and coincides with a renewed focus on the value of peer specialists within the state.

Starting last year, SCI Albion has trained inmates as Peer Support Specialists. On June 19, 18 inmates graduated from the program, bringing the total number of CPSS at the prison to 33. Following release from prison, these inmates are eligible for employment based on their training and experience.

Following Stairways’ presentation at Albion, Goss received a positive response from the inmates in attendance.

In a letter voicing his appreciation, one inmate wrote, “Please don’t forget the incarcerated in prison. We are human beings too with heart and feelings.”

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