Colorado Department of Corrections Gang Disengagement Program
It is the Department of Corrections’ goal to implement a program that provides a more effective, leading-edge approach to gang intervention. The desire for change is being driven as a leadership response to challenges related to gang activity within Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities, and for efforts to enhance public safety by breaking the cycle of gang violence in our communities.
The Colorado Department of Corrections Gang Disengagement Program (GDP) was developed in collaboration with ex-offenders, who are subject matter experts on gangs, professionals, and have been successful, positive role models within the community. GDP sets out to deliver transformational change in relation to the nature and scale of Colorado’s gang intervention activities, as well as to change the context and culture of organizations who have a stake in the realization of GDP’s proposed benefits. GDP is a 12 week emergent program that is a coordination of concurrent individual projects that have grown in and around the DOC organization as a result of entrepreneurial pursuits of solutions to historical, current, and future gang problems; most specifically the Gang Awareness Program (GAP). Executive staff believe that successful offenders developing the program will provide the most effective and efficient program. Executive Director Rick Raemish said “The coordination of projects is necessary to deliver sustainable changes, and the desired benefits of efforts to produce shared value”.
On Friday March 10, 2017 CSP Warden Steve Owens and Associate Warden William Little met with Sean Taylor one of the subject matter experts with the program. On March 17, 2017 training began for staff at CSP. Mr. Taylor will conduct an overview and training with all CSP staff. This will allow employees to have a thorough understanding why the department is providing a gang disengagement program and it will also provide an overview regarding why people join gangs and the eight addictive components of gang affiliation which creates the cycle. As of today 180 staff at CSP have been trained.
The Department will begin the offender program at Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) in Canon City, Colorado on April 3, 2017. The intent of the offender program is, to successfully align education, activities, skills training, and cognitive behavioral intervention to more effectively build trust and communication between DOC staff and offenders involved in gangs. With this understanding, staff will be able to navigate through effective communication and obtain a better understanding of offender decision making and choices to provide opportunities for success. Deputy Executive Director Kellie Wasko said, “We have learned that our value system and the value system of offenders involved in gang activity are very similar. This program allows us to take the values that the offenders already possess and direct them to be successful members in society.”