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Gateway Center serves mental health program to state parole violators

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Every day we use so many abbreviations at the Forensic Outpatient clinic that people will often stop us and ask us what we are talking about.  I think it becomes part of the daily routine wherever we are.  Lately, we have heard, “What is the PVC?  What is a BCC?” 

To understand what the Parole Violator’s Center, or PVC is, first, understand the sensitive nature of the clients that the Forensic Clinic serves.  We serve the population of people that are moving in and out of the criminal justice system, the population that has mental health issues.  These clients are in a state of pre-trial (not been sentenced yet), on probation or parole (out on the streets and living among society) and those living in restricted settings (halfway house and PVC).  A halfway house means that someone is halfway out of prison and is making their way into the community and working to find a place to live.  Halfway back means that the person was struggling on the street and a home setting was not healthy but prison was not an answer so putting them in a monitored environment was necessary.  This person is allowed to still come to appointments and be in the community but on a monitored and restricted basis.

Today, I want to discuss the milestone of being able to provide mental health services to the men at the Gateway facility.

A PVC is where a person on State Parole will be diverted to rather than going back to State Prison.  They have violated their conditions of parole to the point that it is not safe for them to be out on the street, but the parole agent does not want to put them back into at State Prison yet.   Historically, men and women in these settings would have access to a medical doctor but their mental health services would stop at the door.  The medical doctors did their best to assist with providing mental health medications when absolutely needed but they did not have the knowledge of the mental health system or medications that a psychiatrist or certified registered nurse practitioner or other mental health staff would have.  People housed in these situations would have to wait until released to the community or worse, sent back to prison to see mental health professionals.

Through a new contract that the Forensic Outpatient Clinic (FOP) received from the BCC or Bureau of Community Corrections, we have been able to provide not only psychiatric care to the men housed at the PVC but now individual and group therapy.  This has allowed FOP to continue services with current clients and identify men needing services that were not in services in the past.  With having no interruption, individuals can be stabilized and continue at the clinic seamlessly. 

Amy Konkel is the FOP therapist that currently provides services at Gateway and has been trained in MRT therapy.  MRT or Moral Reconation Therapy is a cognitive behavioral program for criminal justice offenders.  It combines education, group and individual counseling and structured exercises designed to foster moral development in treatment resistant clients.  MRT seeks to move an individual from a more pleasure vs pain sense of thinking and reasoning to one of concern for social rules and others becomes important.  Amy runs this group at the center and has started running the group at FOP so that men coming out of the PVC can continue with this treatment as well.  Currently, Amy is the only person trained in Erie County to provide MRT services.

Currently, Gateway and our forensic outpatient team have been working together and have seen an improvement with the men staying at the center since therapy and psychiatric services have been started.  Clients have also reported feeling added support.

- Stairways Forensic Clinic Staff


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