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New Odyssey House Peer Mentoring Program Targets Parolee Recidivism

OdysseyHouse has been awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement a pre- and post-release mentoring and recovery program for parolees at the Edgecombe Correctional Facility (ECF) in Northern Manhattan. The program builds on the successful peer-mentoring model Odyssey House provides as part of its outpatient services and the intensive 45-day in-prison treatment program it currently operates at ECF for technical violators of parole.

The new mentoring program will provide services for up to 200 parolees and create a bridge from prison to community living during the critical re-entry period when many inmates are at risk of relapse.

Since the ECF program was established in 2008 through a joint effort with New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), New York State Department of Corrections (DOCS), New York State Division of Parole, and Odyssey House, more than 3,660 inmates have participated in a holistic program designed to reduce recidivism and dependence on alcohol and/or drugs. An estimated 80 percent of state prison inmates have histories of drug or alcohol abuse, and approximately two-thirds of offenders in re-entry are re-arrested within three years of release, with 52 percent returning to prison for a technical violation or a new crime.

As part of the Edgecombe Peer Mentoring Program (EPMP), Odyssey House counseling advocates, who are Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors, will work on-site at the prison to provide group recovery services. These groups will enhance treatment services currently offered by Odyssey House to assist inmates in creating a crucial support network that will be in place as they leave prison. This approach will provide a seamless continuum of service for parolees by linking them to a network of peer mentors who will serve as their recovery coaches as they adjust to sober lifestyles in their communities. The post-release component will be provided by volunteer recovery coaches consisting of individuals who have completed treatment and are in sustained recovery. All peer mentors will have received training in evidence-based programs including: Recovery Coaching; Thinking for Change; and Motivational Enhancement Therapy.

Dr. Peter Provet, president and CEO of Odyssey House, said he was excited to be partnering with the Department of Justice and NYS agencies in this innovative program that directs resources at reducing recidivism. “We know we can break the cycle of addiction and incarceration when treatment, law enforcement, and criminal justice agencies work together to provide real alternatives that help people with substance use disorders find a new way of living that supports recovery, offers work and life skills, and protects against relapse and recidivism.”

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