Matching Reentrants with Their New Careers

Dorenda Hamarlund came to the DOC under a grant to set up a pathway for success for inmates preparing to reenter society—and her work was so important the DOC hired her to continue in that role after the grant ended. Now as the workforce development specialist, Dorenda said she is the “Match.com for reentry” as she tries to link soon-to-be-released inmates up with jobs and convince employers to give them a chance.

Veterans Helping Veterans… Inside the Fence

A popular veterans program founded at Hampton VA Medical Center in Virginia has found its way to Pennsylvania—and in an unlikely setting. Veteran “X” has many roles, including educational and therapeutic, but at its core it is about veterans helping each other in a group setting. The program has existed since 2009, and last year it opened its first chapter inside a prison at SCI Huntingdon. Christopher Banks, Huntingdon corrections counselor 2, joins the podcast and discusses the program, how it works and how it’s helping incarcerated vets at Huntingdon.

Aging in Pennsylvania Prisons

As the elderly population in America eclipses younger generations, programs and services for senior citizens are more important than ever—and it’s no different inside our prisons. William Penn Fellow Ebony Johnson is a gerontologist who works directly with aging inmates to learn about their wellness needs. Ebony has interviewed elderly inmates in DOC facilities and is creating programs to help this growing yet under-served slice of the American population. Learn more about Ebony’s work and plans for the duration of her fellowship in this episode of Lockup Lowdown!

Read more about Ebony on our blog, Correctional Newsfront.

A Second Chance for Inmates and the Environment

Shea Zwerver at the Riparian Buffer tree-planting event in October 2019.

A new partnership between the DOC, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is giving inmates the chance to help the environment—and help themselves in the process. In this episode of Lockup Lowdown, meet DCNR’s Shea Zwerver who has led the Riparian Forest Buffer Vocational Training Program and seen inmates transform over the 14-week program as they learn in-demand job skills that benefit the Chesapeake Bay and Pennsylvania environment. Shea explains the program, how it worked and what the future holds for this project and the inmates who took part in it. But first, Shea explains the big question: What the heck is a riparian forest buffer anyway?

Impact of Crime: Showing Inmates a Different View

In 2012, SCI Huntingdon began an Impact of Crime class to help inmates understand their crimes from their victims’ points of view. In this episode of Lockup Lowdown, Unit Manager Tim Strait and Corrections Counselor Lisa Sheeder discuss how the class works, who is involved with it and why this course is important for inmates.