Criminal Justice Services

We began our Re-Entry Services in 2015, under the Louisiana Department of Corrections.  This program allows participants to undergo nearly four-months of in-depth work readiness and life skills training.  Employment development begins while participants are still incarcerated. 

Upon release, these “returning citizens” receive a stipend from Opportunity Now, to assist with personal items they may need (clothes, shoes, medication, etc.).  Our program has been able to help many participants find a job within as little as one month of their release. 

We are currently providing Re-Entry Services to four (4) facilities in Louisiana, in addition to facilitating a Diversion Program for the St. John the Baptist District Attorney’s Office. Future growth aims to include the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office as a Re-Entry Service client.

WHO WE SERVE

Re-Entry Programs Graduations Update:

St. John the Baptist Parish:

  • Class 15 Virtual Graduation- November 23, 2020
  • 6 Graduates

St. John DA’s Diversion Program

  • Class 10 Graduation- March 10, 2021
  • 9 Graduates (from last 3 classes combined)

Southwest Louisiana Regional Re-Entry Center

  • Class 1 Graduation- December 10, 2020
  • 2 Graduates

Ouachita Parish Correctional Center

  • Class 1 Graduation- December 18, 2020
  • 13 Graduates

CRIMINAL JUSTICE RE-ENTRY SERVICES

Opportunity now began providing Re-Entry Work Readiness services in 2015 under the Louisiana Department of Corrections.  The goal of our program is to reduce the recidivism rate in Louisiana per the mandate of Governor John Bel Edwards and DOC Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc.  We do this through a nearly three-month course that equips vulnerable offenders (individuals with documented disabilities) with the professional, social, and interpersonal skills needed to obtain and retain a job up release.

We use intensive case management services during and post-incarceration.  Our supportive services provide stability and ongoing support as we conduct career exploration opportunities and related training or occupational certifications that may be needed.  Our job placement and follow-up services gives our consumers the assurance that they are not “on their own” once they graduate and are released back into society.

Our Consumers are Motivated to Achieve

In addition to using our own Work Readiness curriculum, Opportunity Now uses incentives and rewards to enhance the consumer’s learning experience and retention of the material. Each facility’s instructor uses interactive games, puzzles, and role-playing activities to enhance the class interaction.  Each game and/or activity is used to teach consumers a life lesson they might not have been familiar with. The interactive portion of the class also helps teach the importance of teamwork – which is an important part of being productive within today’s workforce.

Each class participates in a review for the midterm and final exam in the form of the Jeopardy game show. Opportunity Now incentivizes our consumers to participate by raising the stakes and offering a cash prize to the team with the highest score. The funds are either loaded to the personal accounts by jail personnel or loaded to a gift card that is placed in the consumer’s personal property to be available upon their release. This not only makes the games fun, but it also increases the competition and eagerness to show which team learned the most information throughout the course of the class. An added bonus – consumers receive good time credits that take time off of their sentence.

Graduation: An opportunity to celebrate the progressive journey!

Opportunity Now hosts a graduation for “returning citizens” that successfully complete the class. Depending on the facilities rules, outside guests may be allowed in for the ceremony. For example, at St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office two adult family members are invited to the graduation. Community leaders and guest speakers are also invited to give encouraging words to the students to prepare them for the world after incarceration. To show how proud we are of our consumers, Opportunity Now caters food for the ceremony.

QUICK FACT: Opportunity Now’s Criminal Justice Re-Entry/Work Readiness program has had its longest run at St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office, where 15 classes have successfully graduated.

Once the participant is released from jail, he contacts Opportunity Now and is awarded a $75 stipend to assist in purchasing basic needs items. These stipends are given from Opportunity Now’s personal account to assist the participants in integrating back into the community. The Re-entry/Work Readiness instructor also begins job developing to assist the participants in securing gainful employment.  Opportunity Now has also assisted homeless participants in securing housing once they were released.

DIVERSION SERVICES

Opportunity Now provides services to individuals placed within the District Attorney’s Felony and Misdemeanor “Second Chance” Diversion programs.  We provide an intense three-month work readiness and life skills training regimen that has been approved by the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Program participants must not commit any more crimes during their time in the program.  And they must maintain monthly check-ins for nine-months after classes are completed

After completing the curriculum, participants are prepared to pursue workforce and training opportunities. Opportunity Now provides case management services to the program participants. The case management services are geared towards helping each client achieve self-sufficiency by aggressively assisting them with job placement and/or enrolling them in skills training programs.

Opportunity Now is also responsible for the development, implementation, and coordination of a social and self-sufficiency grassroots-based outreach program for residents of St. John the Baptist Parish. The outreach initiative links participants to existing services through the development of partnerships. In the event of programmatic gaps, the outreach initiative identifies the necessary resources and will help develop new services.