- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

D.C. corrections officials yesterday said they are working to provide the same community re-entry services for female inmates that have been provided to their male counterparts.

The D.C. Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) provides services for male inmates at Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, N.C., to help them re-enter their local communities after they have served their sentences and stay out of trouble.

The agency aims to provide those services to female inmates housed in federal correctional institutions in Danbury, Conn., or Alderson, W.Va.

“Our aspiration is to essentially provide the same kind of service … to at least one of those institutions sometime this year,” said Cedrick R. Hendricks, CSOSA’s associate director.

Since October, CSOSA workers have been providing community re-entry counseling for local inmates at Winton viaquarterly videoconferences, Mr. Hendricks said, adding that the technology has eliminated the commute of more than 200 miles to the facility from the agency.

He said the technology should work to provide re-entry services to women at Alderson and Danbury.

“We need to have a willing partner on the other end, the technology in place — and then it becomes a matter of the scheduling,” Mr. Hendricks said.

Officials at Danbury and Alderson could not be reached for comment.

The District sends its felons to federal prisons around the country, including West Virginia, Ohio and Arizona. About 1,200 local men are imprisoned in Winton, and about 220 are participating in the re-entry program there.

CSOSA was formed after the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act placed incarceration of local felons, probation and parole under federal management and after the city closed the last of Lorton’s seven local prisons in 2001.

Former inmate Eric Cox Bey, a 40-year-old father of four, left Winton in mid-February after having been incarcerated in 1999 for drug dealing. He said he might be back in prison if it were not for the program’s religious focus.

“It gave me hope to have someone to reach out to me,” he said. “It has made me a better person. It has made me want to work today because at one time I didn’t [ever] want to work.

“By them telling me the things that I need to do when I come home and just be a better person, be a better father … and jail is not the way to go [any] more. I want to change my life.”

Hallem H. Williams Jr., senior manager for the faith-based re-entry program, in which about 50 churches participate, said CSOSA’s work is no “silver bullet, but we think that it will be helpful.”

“We think it’s important in the sense that these are men and women of God. They bring positives into the lives of these individuals,” Mr. Williams said. “For many of these men and women who are coming home, there has been a void in their lives, and we are helping to fill that void.”

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