A faith-based program at the Fayette County Detention Center using pastoral experience, Correctional psychology, Wisdom traditions including AA, group dynamics and volunteers. The project coordinator has 17 years experience in correctional consulting and 40 years experience in pastoral counseling (overlapping :-)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Summary Overview Fayette County Program, April 2009

Paschal Baute, Ed. D., Pastoral Psychologist.
Summary Overview, April 2009

Weekly detention center ministry was begun in the summer of 2002. After many visits with Chaplain Stevenson, a program emphasizing the tools of Spiritual Growth was proposed, accepted and begun in March of 2003, with the approval of Major Todd Eads, then program officer. Correctional consulting and ministry was not new to me, as I had begun consulting and teaching in the Federal Correctional system as well as working with delinquent juveniles in the early 1970s. The current chaplain, Rev. Gerard Howell has been supportive and enthusiastic.

The Spiritual Growth program emphasizes tools for behavior change, not merely talk or God-talk. The inmate must demonstrate three changes while in the program: A) the development of an inner life, by prayer, study, meditation and completion of inventories asking for self -examination; B) the daily practice of positive behavior, listening, learning, and following a personal regime of regulated activity: C) Each must be open to ongoing feedback from all others, learning to recognize the blind side and to deal with negative feelings constructively.

We do not believe this program can be successful without daily group process. Addiction is not simply to a substance. It is a life-style with several other addictive processes. For example, there is always an addiction to self-justification. This is why a person can stop drinking but remain a “dry alcoholic,” still with the compulsive thinking patterns that can justify self-defeating behavior. A second pervasive hidden addiction is the addiction to procrastination. There is not merely systemic habits of self-justification that is occasional, but professional procrastinating that is also endemic. Addicts are full of good intentions, but they do not execute. They know they must “try,” but do not know that “trying” is not, is never sufficient. They must act, not try.

The 12 week program has ten necessary components: 1) The workbook of checklists, inventories and handouts compiled by Paschal Baute, pastoral psychologist on the basis of many years experience as a therapist in helping people face themselves and change; 2) A core of volunteers who give their time freely with one regular visit per week, who also offer a diversity of views of spiritual growth; 3) Understanding the Addictive Culture and te Culture of Self-Justification of Irresponsibility and psychological games; 4) Volunteers must be leading a deep personal life of faith and spirituality; 5) Volunteers must be educated as to the community resources for transition; 6) The power of the inmate group to support, encourage, confront and evoke necessary social skills and to help develop leadership skills, 7) The surrender of each inmate to the Higher Power in the working of their own program, which is physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual--engaging body, mind, soul, and heart, a total program of change and transformation; 8) Inmates are held accountable by each other and by their group with regular one on one review with a counselor; 9) much writing is crucial for personal assessment and insight; and a number of questionnaire provided.; 10) an effective Re-entry program which is described separately. Each of these eight components is essential to the program as it has been developed over the past 40 some months.

The program teaches the detention experience as the Training Ground, or “boot-camp” necessary for change. Acceptance into the program is by interview. Only about one in ten is ready for the work involved. We call the program The Fierce Landscape for the Spiritual Warrior. Radical self-examination, intensive work on self, social skills, forgiveness, and anger is required. The program and leadership is guided by a workbook on how to become a competent spiritual athlete by attending to everything one does. The ultimate goal is an ex-offender brotherhood of Spiritual Warriors to support one another and be a force for change and education in the community.

Leadership is two fold, first by the volunteers who provide one lesson per week, each with a special flavor illustrating tasks for spiritual growth. Each volunteer brings their own faith journey and life experience to the weekly discussions, motivated by love. Graduation can occur upon successful completion in a 12 week program. The second necessary leadership program is provided by the inmates themselves, with regular afternoon meetings with shared leadership, and role modeling, counseling, coaching and mentoring of one another as a regular daily part.

The Life Possibilities Re-entry program, under the direction of Moe Mercier is the “wrap around” program that makes the Spiritual Growth program effective for community transition. It is explained elsewhere. This begins shortly after admission to the program, and includes specific planning for every aspect of re-entry, family, job, place to stay, etc.