OAR provides reentry services, including transition assistance and employment counseling to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals who are committed to avoiding re-incarceration and becoming established in the community as productive and responsible citizens. The OAR Reentry Services Department serves nearly 800 post-release participants annually. In addition, close to 400 pre-release participants receive assistance while incarcerated at the Arlington County Detention Facility, the Alexandria Detention Center, and Coffeewood Correctional Center annually.
Reentry advisors act as resource consultants, problem-solving facilitators, client advocates, and employment counselors, but the agenda in all circumstances is to empower clients toward the goal of self-sufficiency. They assist men and women through major life transitions directly or indirectly related to the individual’s criminal justice status or history. Eligibility for these services is contingent on a conviction record and certain residency requirements.
Participation is completely voluntary and cannot be court ordered.
Individuals have different needs and each eligible participant works with the team to develop an individualized plan that may include assistance with emergency shelter, transportation, clothing, food, identification, medication, mental health, medical care, and a wide range of social service referrals are provided. Participants are also a part of the employment program, which assists with resume building, vocational skills assessments, mock interviews and job searches.
OAR Reentry services also include solution focused interviewing that work with the participants self-determination when deciding what steps the client would like to take and in what order. Participants attend workshops and work with mentors in groups and one-on-one to discuss behaviors that can prevent participants from succeeding in the workplace and in personal relationships. Reentry participants also participate in socialization activities including Advocacy and Leadership program and activities, Supper Clubs, Creative Arts Collective, and Chess Club among others.
Putting incarceration time to good use is a challenge. OAR provides a variety of classes, groups, to incarcerated individuals at the Arlington County Detention Facility. These jail-based programs include classes in essential life skill areas such as anger management and parenting, and basic education such as computer literacy and writing.
Community volunteers provide over 40 courses inside the detention facility. Classes offered in the past have included: Stress Management, Conflict Resolution, Starting Your Own Business, Money Management. OAR also offers an employability readiness program and a vocational training program in office skills and computer proficiency.
OAR jail based programs include essential courses such as Stress Management, Conflict Resolution, Health Awareness, Life and Transitional Skills, Meditation and Mindfulness, Money Management, Parenting, Impact of Crime, Expressive Arts, Creative Writing, Starting Your Own Business, Life Skills for Spanish Speakers, Computers, Employability Readiness, Substance Abuse Education, among many others..
This six-week class teaches incarcerated individuals the intricacies of conducting an effective job search, writing resumes and cover letters, presenting oneself positively in the job interview, and working productively with supervisors and other members of the team. This program is intended to promote job retention for today’s challenging workplace.
Comments from OAR Staff Instructors and Volunteers
“The “Awareness” classes I teach are participatory sessions requiring active participation of the inmates. Topics include blame, acceptance, the grieving process, perceptions, paths through life, feelings, forgiveness and depression. When I first began volunteering I had the standard prejudices and attitudes about persons incarcerated. But the participants have been eager to grow and learn and to stop the current cycle of their lives. The experience has taught me much about our common humanity.”
Ben Perchik, Volunteer