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A Look at Mercer's Merging Two Worlds Program

Tags: Mercer
June 17, 2021 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

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Merging Two Worlds is a reentry group that was introduced to the inmate population at SCI Mercer in January 2021 as a voluntary in-cell program that could be completed at each individual's pace.

With the Transitional Village on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, reentry staff started receiving request slips for information on in-cell programs. During the planning process for the Transitional Village, reentry staff discovered reentry curriculum that was developed by Frantz Beasley, a former inmate in Arizona.

Beasley is the president/founder of AZCOMMONGROUND, a Phoenix-based non-profit organization that works with adult and youth offenders. The organization targets individuals that are deep-rooted in their criminal thinking. After receiving permission to move forward with the program, the reentry counselor enlisted the help of an inmate who had expressed an interest in becoming a peer counselor. The curriculum was provided to the inmate, and he identified exercises in each chapter that would be given to participants as homework. The first few packets are small with not much homework assigned, so as not to overwhelm the participants.

MER - 2021 June - Merging Two Worlds Murals Jim Brown.JPG

The transitional unit features motivational and encouraging murals

 As the packets progress, the amount of homework expected increases. After all of the 11 packets are completed, there is one more assignment:  each participant develops a 30-day action plan for their first month after release.

Merging Two Worlds was advertised on the inmate channel and made available to any interested inmate. There wasn't a criterion to meet to enter this group—just a willingness to complete homework with an open mind. After potential  participants expressed interest through a request slip, they were sent their first packet through the institutional mail with instructions to complete the homework and send it back to the reentry counselor to receive their next packet. The reentry counselor checked the homework for completeness and appropriate answers. The next packet and homework were returned to the inmate with notes, whether indicating a good job or noting areas were the participant may have been "justifying." The notes are intended to make the inmate think and to interact with each participant through their homework.       

A mural of Kobe Bryant with a quote by him  

As of this writing, 28 inmates have successfully completed the program, 76 inmates are currently participating and 27 inmates are on the waiting list. The group consists of 11 packets that cover the following:

Self-Awareness

  • Values
  • My Beliefs
  • My Goals
  • Needs, Wants and Desires
  • My Personality

Expectations

  • My Expectations
  • Parole Expectations

Resource Gathering

  • Identification
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Social Security

Finances

  • Money Management
  • Do the Math

Life Skills

  • Parenting
  • Positive Attitude
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Anger Management

Health

  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Insurance

Relationships and Support

  • Relationships
  • Support System

Education

  • Education
  • Technology

Employment

  • Career Matching
  • Career Planning
  • Employment
  • Resumes
  • Interviewing

Resiliency

  • Resiliency
  • Self Confidence
  • Motivation
  • Transition

Below are notes sent by inmates to Mercer staff thanking them for the program and offering positive feedback:

I wanted to thank you for the outstanding Merging Two Worlds program for reentry. It was extremely informative!


I just finished 12 sessions of the Merging Two Worlds reentry program. In my 20 years of incarceration, it is by far the most in-depth, educational program to reentry I've ever seen. [Corrections Counselor] McGranahan did an outstanding job putting this program together and facilitating [it]. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. I personally believe it could be immensely beneficial to each inmate who takes it…


I wanna express my gratitude for the opportunity to participate in "Merging Two Worlds." This program was very beneficial to me. It helped me to remain focused as I worked to strengthen my principles and values positively. It was easy to comprehend and apply the information that was presented in the packets. The information was well put together. I believe this would be a great program to be added to the list of required prescriptive programming in the DOC. The Life skills and other tools for success that this program offers is by far one of the best I have had the privilege to participate in.


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