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KDOC Travels the State to Celebrate Reentry Week

by KDOC News — last modified Aug 15, 2017 01:35 PM
The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) celebrated Reentry Week July 10-14 with open house events, culminating with concerts by country music artist Mark Collie.
KDOC Travels the State to Celebrate Reentry Week

Governor Sam Brownback and country music artist Mark Collie meet inmates at HCF Friday.

MEDIA RELEASE

July 14, 2017                                                                         

KDOC Travels the State to Celebrate Reentry Week
Country music celebrity Mark Collie celebrates reentry services, performs for offenders

The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) celebrated Reentry Week July 10-14 with open house events, culminating with concerts by country music celebrity Mark Collie.

Events held in nine prison facilities and seven parole offices across the state spotlighted the evidence-based work done by staff, contract providers, volunteers, mentors, and community partners, which has led to a reduction in recidivism (returns to prison) in Kansas from over 55% to 35%. 

Gov. Sam Brownback, having officially proclaimed July 10-14 Reentry Week, accompanied Collie as he performed for offenders at Hutchinson Correctional Facility today.

“I believe in second chances,” said Collie, a singer, songwriter, documentary filmmaker (The Mountain), and actor (Nashville), whose interest in offender success has led him to do music therapy with offenders in prisons. “That’s why I’m so excited to share a message of hope with offenders.”

Guitar in hand, Collie strolled down runs of cells in the Hutchinson prison, singing “Lean on Me,” “Amazing Grace,” and some of his personal hit songs.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in life, what matters is doing the next right thing,” Brownback told offenders. “We want to give you a chance to move forward, to be ready to succeed when you leave.”

More than 5,000 offenders are admitted and released from Kansas prisons each year. One former offender shared his story of successful reentry with a group gathered in Wichita Thursday night for a concert by Collie.

“If you desire to change, KDOC has the tools to help you make that change – personal, vocational, spiritual, educational,” said Dale Terrell, who was released from prison in March and works in the Wichita area. “I really appreciate all the people involved in supporting me through the transition.”

Through evidence-based programs, core effective correctional practices, robust reentry and discharge planning, treatment and services from community providers, and the support of natural supports and mentors, more offenders are better prepared than ever to return to Kansas communities and become productive and law abiding citizens. Reentry needs include housing, transportation, employment, behavioral health treatment, financial needs, and pro-social supports and influences. 

“Today more than ever, offenders are leaving prison with more preparation, job skills, pro-social supports, connection to services, and a continuum of care,” said KDOC Secretary Joe Norwood. “This leads more offenders to a law-abiding life, increases their chance of success, increases public safety and results in fewer victims.”

Corizon Health, the provider of health care to KDOC offenders, connected Collie with KDOC and sponsored his visit. Corizon Health’s CEO Karey Witty, said Collie’s music therapy is something his organization is exploring.

“We are excited to marry inmate health care and the healing power of music therapy,” Witty said. “We share that vision with Mark and look forward to finding more ways to partner with him.”

Collie shared his stories about his connections to prisons and reentry, including his friendships with Johnny Cash, who gained acclaim for his performances in prisons, and with Merle Haggard, who found direction while incarcerated at San Quentin prison in the late 1950s.

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