Strategic Initiatives Completed in Fiscal Year 2020
Since 2017, our strategic plan has served as a road map to guide the Missouri Department of Corrections in our mission to improve lives for safer communities. Three themes in the strategic plan inform the initiatives we implement:
- Creating a safer work environment for staff and offenders
- Developing our workforce
- Reducing risk and recidivism
We have made tremendous strides over the past three years toward completing the original 84 division led projects. We started fiscal year 2020 with 36 (41%) of those initiatives completed. By the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020, we completed an additional 15 to bring our total to 51 (61%) completed initiatives.
At the end of each fiscal year, we reassess our plan and set our priorities for the coming year. While many of the incomplete initiatives remain on our placement for the coming fiscal year 2021, other projects have moved to future fiscal years either due to funding, priority, or project considerations. We begin fiscal year 2021 with a clean slate of 27 strategic initiatives we aim to complete. For highlights of our accomplishments so far:
Safer Work Environment
- Hostage Negotiation
Through a partnership with Missouri State Highway Patrol, hostage negotiation teams have been created and have provided this essential training to Department of Corrections staff.
- Pastoral Ministry Program
This initiative provides offenders serving life or lengthy sentences with an opportunity to earn a degree in counseling and divinity in preparation to become peer pastors. These peers assist other offenders inside Missouri prisons. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was finalized with Hannibal University, with classes scheduled to start in summer 2020.
- Probation & Parole Office & Facility Safety
Following an assessment of all Probation and Parole facilities, recommendations have been made regarding safety improvements for consideration in future fiscal years. Probation and Parole leaders are developing a plan to review and implement appropriate recommendations.
- Consistent Entry Practices
Controlling the flow of visitors and staff into institutions helps improve the security of the sites. All Division of Adult Institutions facilities now have a consistent process at entrances, through which all visitors and staff are screened and processed through.
- Youthful Offender Unit
We created a new paradigm for working with incarcerated juveniles with the aim of mitigating the negative effects of incarceration. The initiative provides for developmentally appropriate supervision that will positively affect youth and prepare them to successfully reenter their communities or transition to the general prison population.
Improving the Workforce
- Onboarding for Frontline Staff
Processes and forms were developed for new hires to promote a consistent orientation of all employees in all department locations statewide. The goal is to increase employee retention by fully engaging each new staff member at the start.
- Employee Wages
Corrections employees are among the lowest paid workers in the United States. To help improve our workforce, we obtained the largest-ever pay increase for department employees. We hope retain and support employees who choose to make corrections a career. Employees received a wage increased based upon number of years served at the start of FY2020.
- Mental Health First Aid
Corrections is a stressful job that can take a toll on the physical and mental health of those working in the profession. Staff have been trained in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to help them recognize potential mental health situations and access resources that assist the person in need before the situation escalates.
- Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Communications
In 2018, the legislature passed a number of laws aimed at improving the criminal justice system in Missouri. To support these changes, we developed a communications strategy to provide relevant, timely and integrated information to staff, clients and the public about the projects and initiatives that support implementation of JRI directives and resulting evidence based practices.
- Analysis for Efficiencies in Missouri Vocational Enterprises Operation
Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE), is a key player in developing and maintaining the corrections brand. To keep MVE competitive and operating efficiently, we completed a comprehensive evaluation of its operations. The evaluation helped to identify operational efficiencies, enhance the customer experience, recognize savings that can be passed on to the customer, and ensure offenders are developing marketable skills.
- Program Assessment
Our staff are most effective at correcting unwanted behavior when they have the proper tools in place to effect this change. We contracted with national corrections experts to assess program operations at 17 institutions. This assessment produced a number of recommendations to improve programming, which become a part of the FY2021 strategic plan.
Reducing Risk & Recidivism
- Opioid Initiative
Opioid abuse is a national crisis. Women who are pregnant are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of opioid abuse. The department secured grant funding that expands the Healthy Pregnancy Workshop curriculum to include opioid information and education.
- Offender Construction Crews
Providing meaningful work for the offender population while reducing building costs for the state is win-win proposition. Planning for construction work crews staffed by offenders has been completed, and a process for identifying and assigning offenders to projects is in operation.
- Reentry Unit Data Reporting
People exiting prison face unique challenges to societal reintegration. We developed a data-sharing paradigm that identifies the information needed to ensure individuals have key documents, contacts, employment and service connections as they approach the release date.
- Crisis Intervention Team Reports
Prison Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) now share intervention reports with Division of Probation & Parole staff as well as local law enforcement when an offender is released from custody. These reports document incidents in which offenders were in crisis and also recount the de-escalation techniques used to stabilize them and provide community partners with key information to help improve outcomes once the individual returns to the community.