A recently opened Missouri Department of Corrections center is taking a different approach to corrections, one that focuses on restorative justice and conflict resolution, The Kansas City Star reports. The Transition Center of Kansas City (TCKC), which serves people getting ready to leave prison or who have recently been released, is one of a handful in the U.S. that operates in such a way. “It was just about the way that we relate to the residents, the way that we prepare them, quite honestly, the way that we treat them in some regards,” TCKC superintendent Michelle Tippie said. Officials with the transition center looked to European-style prison management models and asked, “How do we get rid of this us versus them mentality that exists in typical prisons in the United States?” said Gregory Winship, a leader at the facility.
The facility is supported by more than 50 community partners offering services and resources for residents. The corrections officers undergo much of the same training as residents. Some residents have jobs at a nearby restaurant supply business and many participate in a weekly clean-up of a street they have adopted in the neighborhood. There are currently 60 residents going through TCKC’s program. A little over half are on probation or parole and opt to stay at the center after losing a job or housing or running into other challenges that could jeopardize their freedom. Others come from prison and spend the last few months of their sentence at the center, which does not bar residents based on their past offenses. Fifty-four people have graduated from TCKC’s program and none have re-offended in the past three months. More longitudinal data is being collected by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which got a National Science Foundation grant to study TCKC’s impact.