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June 24, 2020

Peer Support in Jails and Prisons: Enhancing Therapeutic Communities and Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Peer recovery support services (PRSS) are increasingly being offered across diverse criminal justice settings to address opioid misuse and achieve positive outcomes. The power and potential of PRSS come from the unique roles that peers play, promoting both hope and pragmatic steps for change. As peer practitioners move into a variety of roles in the criminal justice system, practice-based evidence and emerging research show (1) the value of providing peer support to incarcerated individuals prior to reentry, and (2) the importance of preparation by residential substance abuse treatment programs and other therapeutic communities to receive and provide appropriate supports to individuals who are returning to their communities.

This session will focus on how supervisors, administrative staff, and organizations can:

  • Set a programmatic context that encompasses a person-centered, recovery-oriented, and peer-led approach to treatment.
  • Recognize the importance of corrections-based residential substance abuse treatment programs and therapeutic communities that include peer-based supports to the recovery of individuals who are returning to their communities.
  • Identify common challenges and explore potential solutions for improving community partnerships that benefit and serve returning individuals.
  • Describe the necessary steps for building your organization’s capacity to support peers in their work with returning individuals.

Our presenters have a broad range of experience developing and implementing person-centered peer support mechanisms and building recovery capital in criminal justice settings:

  • Kelly Gunn, B.S., Program Coordinator at C.O.P.E Program and Project Manager, TOWER Program at the Hamilton County Jail
  • Ben Ekelund, M.P.A., Director of Training and Consulting, TASC's Center for Health and Justice
  • Thomas Corman, Clinical Director for West Tennessee State Penitentiary’s opioid programs

To view a PDF version of the slide deck that was used during this presentation, click here.

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