By Melissa Valentine, Program Coordinator, WestCare Dixon Springs SIP/DuQuoin SIP
In Southern Illinois, the month of October was bittersweet and uplifting. In June, Dixon Springs and DuQuoin Structured Impact Program (SIP) staff were able to return to work at the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center where the program is temporarily being housed. SIP focuses on a treatment-centered disciplinary regimen within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Participants are non-violent first-time offenders who are serving four months in lieu of up to an eight-year sentence. We began the journey with 22 clients and many constraints that we were not used to. Staff rose to the occasion and went above and beyond to acclimate to any obstacles encountered and accommodate the clients.
On October 7, all staff and client efforts were celebrated as the first group of SIP participants in over one year graduated. A ceremony was held with client families, other program participants, and staff on behalf of IDOC staff and WestCare. It was a very emotional and exciting day. For these young gentlemen, it is the first day of the rest of their lives – a day that they can be proud of for now and forever. They accomplished no small feat by voluntarily participating in this extensive and difficult program and it is heartwarming as staff to have been able to share their success with them and their families!