Part I: A New Program to Help Women at the Gadsden Facility Succeed After Release

MTC’s all-female Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida recently developed a program specifically targeted to women soon to be released. It’s called ‘Shaping Success’.

Jerry Buscher sums up the purpose of the program. “The purpose of Shaping Success,” he says, “is to, exactly what it says, help the women prepare to be successful upon release.”

Cathryn Lokey is a project management consultant for the program. “It is a technology-based, gender-responsive, trauma-informed re-entry program,” she explains. “And it’s something that’s never been done before. Highly collaborative, there are five different companies involved; hundreds of thousands of hours of software-writing has gone into it. We are really hoping that when the program has emerged in its fullness, that it is going to be a great support to these women in helping ease their anxiety and their fears about the re-entry process, and that it will help set them up for success.”

With the support of the Florida Department of Corrections, Shaping Success employs intensive case management to implement and process each aspect of the program. Another emphasis is the use of mobile devices designed to offer pre-release program apps for participants to use and complete at their own pace.

Rosemari McCaskill is a recently hired case management coach.

“This is my dream job,” she states. “And it’s a dream because I’m coming in on the very initial steps of something that could blossom into an incredible asset for women who are coming out of facilities like this. And to be able to say, ‘I was there at the beginning, and this thing now is awesome and wonderful’? Hey, that’s a bucket list thing.”

“I enjoy it because I’m actually learning a lot,” says Amanda Austin a resident involved in the program, “and it’s helping further my knowledge in a lot of different areas and will hopefully help me be able to do things better once I get out, and in a more positive way. Basically, you interact with it, as well as visually watch and listen. So, I’m watching a video telling me how to be a great listener, or how to get along with my peers, or how to do a presentation, or how to speak in front of someone for an interview.”

“My biggest responsibility,” says Ms. McCaskill, “is to somehow convince all of the ladies that are participating in this that this is going to work for you. All you have to do is, one, believe in you, that you’re capable of doing this, and then trust the process. And if even those two things kinda get shaky, that’s what I’m here for. You come to me, and we’re going to talk about this. Because I’m on a mission to help you succeed.”