A University of Missouri researcher and social worker is analyzing high incarceration and recidivism rates. By building off of a recent prison research project at the Moberly Correctional Center, Kelli Canada is hoping to use a community-engaged research model to improve conditions at prisons across the Show-Me State.

“If we improve rehabilitation opportunities for residents of prisons, it actually makes the working conditions for staff and for all the other people, you know, who come into contact with the prison, so volunteers’ kind of coming in, chaplains, teachers who kind of come into the facilities to help educate the residents, it actually improves the overall prison conditions for everyone,” she said.

Canada’s research team was awarded a $2.8 million grant as part of a five-year project to help transform the ways people live and work in four of Missouri’s prisons.

“We created what we called innovation advisory groups,” she said. “So, staff and residents worked collaboratively to kind of come up with solutions to problems that affected the living and working conditions. You know, when we work together on tasks, it actually kind of helps with the success and the implementation and the buy-in of those changes that can happen.”

The project focused on improved staff training, restructuring prisons, developing skills, and forging community connections.

“Especially people with more serious mental illnesses get to the services that they need, have opportunities for growth and change. Have opportunity to find joy in their life and to really have kind of meaningful activities,” she added. “In their world, they’re much more likely to be better neighbors, better brothers, sisters, children, partners, and workers.”

She said her goal is to help incarcerated residents re-enter society with the goals and resources they need to be successful long-term.

Click here for more information.

© 2024, Missourinet.