L.I.N.C. provides a host of services to Correctional Service of Canada and the Long-Term Offender at a number of institutions throughout the Pacific Region (British Columbia). Though varied in their nature, these services include:
- Institutional Interviews
- Representation on Regional and Institutional Committees
- Escorted Temporary Absences
- Weekly Community Support Group Meetings
- Volunteer Activities
- Family Work
- Speaking Engagements/Public Education
Over the past year, in-reach workers have been providing service in the following institutions: Kent, Mountain, Kwi-the former Elbow Lake, Ferndale, Mission, Matsqui (including R.R.A.C.), the Regional Health Centre, the former Sumas Centre, William Head, Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women and now Fraser Valley Institution for Women, as well as Surrey Pre-trial Services Centre and Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre upon request. L.I.N.C. was funded for 4.5 in-reach workers for the 2003-2004 fiscal year, and with that approximately 7098 institutional interviews were conducted during that time period.
Every three months, an O.M.S. list is generated by Regional Headquarters of all offenders incarcerated in the Pacific Region and given to the executive director of L.I.N.C. Contact lists of lifers are then drawn up for the in-reach workers in each institution. (Some in-reach workers also have access to institutional lists as well). Each lifer in every Pacific Region institution is contacted three times a year in writing, either by the in-reach worker or his or her assistant. Clients are also referred by their institutional or community parole officers, Chaplains, Elders or by word of mouth. Every lifer and long-term offender in the Pacific Region is sent the L.I.N.C. newsletter quarterly, which includes the L.I.N.C. mission statement, bios of the in-reach workers, testimonies about the programme, upcoming events and contact numbers (the B.C. toll free number etc.) At Christmas time, all lifers and other L.I.N.C. clients who are other long-term or chronic offenders are sent a L I.N.C. Christmas card again with the L.I.N.C. contact numbers on the outside (the card is designed each year by a lifer in the Pacific Region.)
Representation on Regional and Institutional Committees
L.I.N.C. has representation on two major regional committees-the Regional Employment committee and the Restorative Justice council. It was also on the Exchange of Services Agreement Committee (ESAC) at Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women and is on the Partners in Learning steering committee at Ferndale Institution.
Escorted Temporary Absences
L.I.N.C. workers and volunteers take out clients on a variety of passes. They include: group and individual passes to the weekly support group meetings at the former Sumas Centre (and then Abbey Parole when Sumas Centre closed), Dunsmuir House, Genesis House and Manchester House, psychological and other treatment passes, pow-wows, personal development passes, humanitarian passes and passes to the L.I.N.C. annual general meeting, picnic, Christmas social, speaking engagements and volunteer work in the community. The number of passes taken out in this fiscal year- 431 was the highest number of escorted temporary passes ever taken out the Society’s history.
Weekly Community Support Group Meetings
In many ways, the weekly group meetings held at the former Sumas Centre/Abbey Parole, Dunsmuir, Genesis, Vernon and Manchester House are like aboriginal healing circles. The groups create a sense of community, a safe place where a person is not condemned for who they are but have their thinking errors as well as good points acknowledged. It has been said that the weekly groups help individuals “detox” from prison. Every person in the circle – male and female, offender or parolee, support person, family member, staff and community volunteer is given the opportunity to speak and is asked how their week has been. There is a high level of disclosure within the meetings and often a topic naturally develops. At the meetings, everyone can give feedback to an individual although often the group facilitator is the person who asks questions in order to focus on a particular issue. The combination of offenders just starting conditional release along side those individuals who have been out for twenty years, staff and others who have never been in prison serves to break down many barriers and stereotypes. It allows for example, the newly released offender to hear about some of the pitfalls he or she may be facing in the future from others who have made it on the street. Over 100 people attend these voluntary support meetings every week that are located in the Lower Mainland, in Victoria on Vancouver Island and now in Vernon in the Interior.
L.I.N.C. members volunteer time and labour for worthwhile community projects, as it is part of the group’s mandate to give back to the community and foster a sense of social responsibility. They have worked extensively with Mission Community Services, the Mission Montessori Preschool and the Mission Soapbox Garden Society.
The L.I.N.C. Society is a member of the Canadian Families and Corrections Network. L.I.N.C. workers and volunteers assist families with a variety of things including transportation to visits and private family visits (Many of the institutions in the Pacific Region are not readily accessible by public transportation.) L.I.N.C. has also assisted families with moving, short-term accommodation and food. Families are an integral part of the L.I.N.C. support group meetings and are well represented at each meeting and go to the L.I.N.C. special functions as well.
Speaking Engagements/Public Education
L.I.N.C. workers and volunteers have spoke at a wide variety of venues including: Douglas, Capilano and Kwantlen Colleges, the University College of the Fraser Valley, Regent College, high schools throughout the Lower Mainland, CSC staff college, municipal government, the National Parole Board and local Police detachments. This year, we presented as well at the Canadian Criminal Justice Association Congress and the international conference on Restorative Justice, were featured in interviews by Global TV/CTV and in articles by the Victoria Times-Colonist, The Surrey Leader, the Vancouver Sun and the Richmond News.
The E.D.G.E. (Everyone Deserves Growth & Empowerment)
A L.I.N.C. Programme (Download a Brochure)
Supported by Mission Community Services Society, the E.D.G.E. was developed by L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community), an ex-offender designed and facilitated programme funded by the Correctional Service of Canada. Its aim is to assist ex-offenders and parolees reintegrate successfully into the community, and to develop projects that benefit ex-offenders and the community. L.l.N.C.’s documented success includes Partners In Learning, a highly touted, unique programme that “helps teens and cons” (Vancouver Province, February 19, 1995) in the Mission and Abbotsford school districts.
The coordinator of L.I.N.C. is Glen Flett, an ex-offender who has worked with ex-offenders and youth for the past eight years. In June, 1996, UCFV presented him with Volunteer of the Year award for his community service work.
The E.D.G.E. Programme is a comprehensive series of nine life skills/crime-prevention workshop sessions aimed at youth in schools and communities. The programme is 4 based partly on Gordon Graham’s Breaking Barriers, a highly successful American programme that assists corporate businessmen and adult offenders in prison to change in thinking patterns and develop new strategies to productive lives.
E.D.G.E. is facilitated by trained ex-offenders in cooperation with mainstream educators and social workers. The objectives of the programme are to give youth the tools to deal effectively and constructively within an increasingly volatile world and to help them avoid making wrong choices, which lead to crime and violence. The programme also identifies youth who need more specialized programming. Research indicates that at least seventy per cent of all participants will acquire skills that will make a positive difference in future choices.
Our Blind Spots and Obstacles to Change
Affirmations and Journal Writing
My Personal View: Decision Making
The Self-Talk Cycle
The Challenge of Change: Stress Management
Action Plans, Tools & Using Our Imagination
Surviving in the Real World: Wrap-up