East Mississippi Facility First in State to Provide Vital Service to Inmates

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MTC’s East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian is the first prison in the state to partner with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help incarcerated men succeed after they’re released.

“Anytime we get a chance to start a new program at a facility like this,” says Warden Frank Shaw, “we get excited because MTC is all about programming and education.”

The new program is called SOAR which stands for SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access, and Recovery. The goal is to help those who qualify for Social Security disability get the help they need.

Dazara Ware is a senior project associate for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She, along with leaders of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, held a training session at the facility to launch the new program.

“It’s a model,” explains Dazara, “that’s used to help individuals that are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness that have a serious mental illness or physical health condition.”

Many of the men at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility have some form of mental illness. And in some cases, these men return to society without the support they need to be successful; some even end up homeless which increases their chances of re-offending.

Warden Shaw understands the importance of lining up support services before the men are released from prison.

“The SOAR program is something that I think with our mental health population should be very helpful to them. There are a lot of things that offenders can obtain prior to being released, funding, housing, those types of things that they might not necessarily know is available to them.”

“I’m really excited,” adds Dazara, “to be working here and under the directive of Warden Shaw who really is committed to making sure this is a success.”