I. The first step in forest recovery is called Surveying. This step consists of examining the extent to which the forest is damaged, what strengths the undamaged portion of the forest contains and determining what steps need to taken, in what order, to begin the healing process. The FOREST program is designed to do the same thing with the mentally ill female offenders referred to the program. Once the mentally ill female offender is determined to be appropriate for the FOREST program, the offender will
be invited to participate in FOREST program. Prior to the mentally ill female offender beginning the next step, the offender participates in the FOREST initial assessment. This assessment is designed to both determine the current status of the female offender prior to program involvement, identify offender needs, and to serve as a baseline for future assessment to determine the offender’s progress.
II. The next stage in the recovery of a forest is the Re-Organization. This stage is when the damaged forest begins growing grasses and small brush over the damaged area. These plants are first due to their seeds not requiring as much nutrients and their smallness not taxing the soil as much. The mentally ill female offender begins their involvement with FOREST in much the same fashion. The FOREST program begins within Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF) . This is done in order for the offender to begin receiving and practicing with the skills they will need in society while still within a low demand/low responsibility environment. The primary method of skill training and practice will be within a group therapy setting.
a. The group with meet in ten (10) week increments, repeating the group offering each ten weeks. The group will meet three (3) times a week for one and a half (1.5) hours a group.
b. A maximum of 12 female offenders will be able to be in group at any one time. In the event of an opening developing for any reason, new referrals will be considered for acceptance into the group.
c. The Re-Organization Group program content will consist of linking existing programming that offenders have done in DWCF in regards to trauma, substance abuse, mental health treatment, parenting and other relevant interventions to the utilization of the skills learned in that programming in the transition process, with new program material and extensions of previously learned material.
III. The third stage in the recovery of a forest is the Aggradations stage. In this stage transplanted grasses, small brush and create mulch produce organic material that fortifies the soil in the damaged area and prepares it for larger plants and trees. In the FOREST program, this stage also occurs within DWCF. Members of the group will be selected to receive services in addition to the regular Re-Organization Group in preparation for their departure from the facility and their return to society on parole.
Aggradations is structured as follows:
a. A maximum of three (3) female offenders per month will be progressed into transition planning with their AuMHC therapist & an AuMHC case manager. Meetings will be scheduled within DWCF regarding transition planning with the female offender, the DWCF case manager, the AuMHC case manager, and the assigned Community Parole Officer (CPO) scheduled to supervise the offender when they are on parole.
IV. The next stage in the recovery of a forest is the Transition stage. During this stage, the forest uses the organic material and nutrients developed in the Aggradations stage for growing larger and larger plants, and allowing significant growths of trees to return to the damaged area. The Transition stage in the FOREST program is the same. This stage occurs when the mentally ill female offender is released from
DWCF to begin her parole in the Aurora area. This is the stage when the female offender actually has to utilize all the planning, resources, skills, and training that she has received and put it into practice.
a. Upon the female offender’s release, the transportation plans previously set up in the Aggradations stage will be implemented. The AuMHC case manager will make contact with offender that same day to begin actual integration into AuMHC system. The offender is scheduled for frequent contact with AuMHC case manager to assure making needed connection with AuMHC system as well as following up on the offender’s resource and benefits status and any needed documentation regarding outstanding applications or community contacts. The offender will have continued contact with the AuMHC case manager. The frequency of this contact is contingent on the level of identified offender need. The minimal standard of contact between the AuMHC case manager and the offender will be no less than once a month as long as offender is in program.
V. The last stage in the recovery of a forest is the Steady State. In this stage the forest has returned to it’s pre-disturbance state and the developed ecosystem is stable and integrated. This is the desired goal for the mentally ill female offender involved in the FOREST program. The offender should be established within the community, be able to meet their personal and therapeutic needs and maintain themselves as a contributing member of society to best of the ability.
Mark W. Olson, M.S., CACIII, LPC
Aurora, Colorado 80011
Aurora Mental Health Center