The African American program teaches African American history and educates and empowers participants to adopt pro-social behaviors and attitudes. Our objectives are to increase self-control, self-management and problem solving skills by offering culturally-specific services and promoting identification/association with anti-criminal role models.
- Increasing full time employment
- Increasing education levels
- Stabilization, with affordable housing
- Breaking the system cycle of defeat
- Increasing family involvement and diminishing truancy within families
How the African-American program works
Beginning inside institutions, and with the cooperation of institution staff, the African-American Program identifies inmates who are scheduled for release to parole in Multnomah County within 180 days.
Once found eligible, participants will be moved to the Columbia River Correctional Institution, where they will participate in individual and group counseling aimed at beginning their transition to the African American Program. Participants will receive six months of structured classes that help build skills for transitioning back to the community. The program conducts nine weeks of Cognitive Restructuring followed by group sessions in domestic violence, employment readiness, stress management, African American history, educations, parenting, anger management, relationship, family dynamics, aging and disability issues, HIV and STDs, mental health, and life skills. Those with significant criminal histories and criminogenic needs receive a compressive assessments prior to release.
Inmates must make a commitment to lifestyle and behavior changes that will enable them to deal with the issues that keep them trapped within a system. Once involved with the program, behavior within the institution, while awaiting release, must reflect this commitment. Upon release, the African-American Program immediately assumes supervision, and culturally specific group meetings continue. Alcohol and drug issues are addressed within the program environment. Education, job skills training, employment and black history are part of the program’s peer support process.
Service orientation group
One of the greatest strengths of the African-American Program is the peer support found in the weekly service orientation group sessions required of all participants. Members learn to share their triumphs and failures with others who share their experiences. Longer-term group members help newer members cope, and the member hold each other accountable for success.
Family participation is encouraged. As families grow stronger, school attendance by children improves, helping to break the cycle of failure for new generation. Different service providers are line up to present and recruit participates at these out of custody group. Service providers includes employment agencies, Multnomah County Aging & Disability, Mental Health, the court, other government assistances agencies, colleges, Oregon Health Plan, community leaders, and programs tailored toward AAP clients.
Giving back to the community
After release from custody, clients are expected to give back to the community by participating in community service effort. Staff coordinate these community service events to provide a structure meaningful ways for participants to give back to their community. These opportunities provide a structured environment built in with incentives and encouragement in paving a road and direction to pro-social behaviors and lifestyle.