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Work and Re-entry Center

What is the Work and Re-entry Center?

The center is a 192-bed facility located adjacent to Montana State Prison. It houses inmates who have work assignments outside the prison compound at such programs as the ranch, dairy, fire crew, community workers and maintenance. It serves minimum-security inmates and serves as a bridge between the low-security compound of the prison and community corrections programs.

What is the history of the facility?

The original Dairy Dorm opened in the early 1980's and housed about 52 low-security inmates or trustys assigned to work at the 40,000-acre prison ranch or at the Montana Correctional Enterprises dairy. The dorm was composed of modular trailer units. In 1995, ground was broken for a new building designed to house 84 inmates. Called the Tin Cup Job Honor Dorm, it provided double bunked living quarters, four single-bunked rooms for inmates with disabilities, food service and offices for staff and counselors. The Honor Dorm housed inmates working at the ranch, dairy and logging programs, and unit workers. The name was changed to th Work Dorm in 1997. An expanded building, with 102 more beds, opened in January 2009 and was renamed the Work and Re-entry Center.

Why was the name changed?

The new name better reflects the purpose and mission of the facility and the programs where its residents work. Re-entry refers to the kind of preparation needed to help offenders succeed when they return to their communities. The work programs are intended to give inmates valuable work skills, a work ethic, and a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, all keys to their ability to be successful once released from prison.

Why was the center created?

The center helps reduce the population inside the prison itself by providing housing for inmates working daily outside the prison. The center benefits the prison facility by freeing up beds inside the wire that are needed for higher custody inmates and it benefits inmates with work assignments outside the prison. It helps them begin the adjustment necessary in preparation for returning to their lives outside the prison, a necessary part of the re-entry process. It eliminates the need for dozens of inmates working outside the prison every day to move in and out of the prison to go to their jobs. This enhances security and safety by reducing the threat of contraband entering the prison. The center also allows for inmates living there to obtain most of their needed services such as life skills and re-entry classes, treatment and counseling in one location.

What are the criteria for inmates to live at the center?

Inmates must be classified as minimum custody, already have a work assignment outside of the prison, have at least six months of clear conduct, and be within three years of parole eligibility or discharge. Certain qualifying inmates, who have longer prison sentences, but have exemplary institutional behavior may be placed through the administrative review committee override process or through long-term inmate worker program.

Who determines which inmates live at the center?

Units within the prison screen their inmates who fit the criteria and, if a supervisor is interested in hiring them, the inmate can submit a job application and reclassification request for consideration by an administrative review committee.

What are the benefits of the center for the inmates?

Inmates at the center have an opportunity to live in a more positive environment than the prison setting, take additional responsibility for their actions and work ethic, better prepare themselves for release and get used to living and working in a community setting.

What staff is assigned to the center?

A unit manager, two case workers, four sergeants and six correctional officers, providing around the clock security, supervision and services. In addition, there are two ranch security officers that continually monitor inmate movement during ranch working hours.

What kind of Security is used to deter escapes?

Inmates are advised of the consequences of escaping and signs posted throughout the building remind them of those consequences. The average length of stay for an inmate in the center is six to nine months, therefore, the inmates realize that there would be much to lose if they were to escape.

What happens if an inmate escapes?

If an inmate escapes while assigned to the Work and Re-entry Center, he will be charged with felony escape and could face up to 10 additional years in prison. He no longer will be eligible to live and work outside the prison and will be housed within the Montana State Prison compound.

What services do inmates have at the center?

The inmates have access to chemical dependency and sex offender treatment; criminal thinking, parenting, life skills and anger management classes; re-entry services; medical and dental care; food service; religious activities; library; and outdoor and indoor recreation.

How is life different for inmates at the center compared to those living inside the prison?

The center is not surrounded by fence and razor wire. With additional freedom, inmates have the ability to make more individual daily decisions and are held to a higher standard than those in the prison. They are expected to work, maintain clear conduct, assist in everyday cleaning duties, be hospitable to one another and staff, and begin working with the re-entry manager to make the transition from prison to community.