The ECHO, Volume 87, Number 4, May 2015 Page: 1
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Texas Prison News
Published Since 1928 Volume 87, No. 4, May 2015 Distributed Free to Texas Prisoners
M. Bennett-Oakley: 1 0ve better to the singe motiiers
Cognitive Intervention class and persistent Windham H LeeCox
teacher heln woman change life choices and destinv C !J"i"
ears streaming down her face, M.
Bennett-Oakley took an unexpect-
ed phone call after delivering a
speech in San Antonio. She had just pub-
licly praised a prison teacher from
her past, when a member of the
audience phoned the now-re-
tired correctional educator.
Overcome with emotion,
Oakley found it difficult
to speak when she was
surprised with a call I
from her mentor.
"You have changed my
life forever, Mrs. Bohne,"
Oakley told her former
Windham School District
teacher, Pam Bohne. "What you
told me in class changed my life.
What you taught me was, 'If you change
your choice, you can change the reaction to
everything that is going on in life.' You even
made me write down goals in our Cognitive
Intervention class to finally make changes. I
have mentioned your name in magazine ar-
ticles and in every speech I've given, and I've
been looking for you for about six years just
to tell you this: Thank you so much!"
Oakley, formerly incarcerated in the Tex-
as Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ),
had just shared her inspiring - and some-
times shocking - life story with correc-
tional educators from four states
in a Region V Meeting of the
Correctional Education As-
sociation. Beginning with
,.her parents' "bitter di-
vorce" when she was a lit-
tle girl, Oakley survived
a series of tragedies that
fueled rage and rebel-
lion and led to years in
prison. Molested at age
10 by her babysitter's son,
she reached for alcohol, cig-
arettes and other drugs in the
next few years to deal with anger,
despair and "loss of control and dignity."
She ran away from home by age 15, tried
crystal meth at 17 and was pregnant at 18.
Oakley was in self-destruct mode.
After marrying a man who later became
violent, Oakley found herself again preg-
nant. She got a divorce and gave birth to a
third daughter; her mother ended up rais-
ing all three girls.
onwere in love for three seasons andyou have the photos to
prove it! Now those picturesjust ho/l!the petrifici misery,
the lies, those wandering eyes. No camera wasfast enoutq
to time freeze his perfect foufini escape from anlAoodaf-
terllis curb on copy bundfe ofjoy made is debut in the angryjluhy heat.
Your p/an of "fami fife" had too many moving parts ant now your
shoulders support the weight of the entire worfif
I spy you on a qitesdlay shopping in your faded ant! tatteredjeans,
pavement-worn slces as you menta/ily ad and subtract from a food
basket that's bereft of meat, yet repfete with littfe people things liit
infant mifkl bay wipes andthe cutest Snoopy sippny cup. 'The kft hand
fumbling for purse change rattedyou out. SingIIe mother, no matter tile
reason tor Fei nq single, you re braver than, an firefigqhter or soblier to
me for goi"g it a/one.%9u're the secret hero that 'W4as/inqton elites re-
fuse to recognize . but I do I Ai ow your type wel
)aihi shittks to tvojobs on $3 of gas at a time, coupons in every
coat potegt andsometimes crying in the darkbecause tips were terrible
14,st night symbolize your life. Yet before the tears are diy, you've af-
ready set up an unforgettabfe birtfu/ay party for your ungratefulnine-
year-o!on a less-than-zero budget. 29QCRE'JTBLE! Even the calen-
dar worf, against you when paydlys seem to arrive on asnaiPs ba4t
but you negotiate life magicafi, somehow.Y %ur puffd-baeChair and
makup-freeface are angye/ic as you dote on your kifs in public. Maybe
the riglt person wit! whisper these things to you as he springs for a
three-han movie you've been craving.
fTriday I seeyou again infusing the usuat$3 in your tankQ and/I want
tob/art out that 1 kveyoufor being so stronq, but hey, agentleman has
his rufes, so I wif/say these things in a [ave feter to afsoo mothers -
whom T/gadgy stop my warf/ifor. in between breatis and!the babysit-
ters, take agander at those past time photos again and see the slies of
time that say you were there!You mate it! Yousurvived!
Reentry and Integration Division
provides reentry assessment and planning
mentioned in the April 2015 edition of The
ECHO, a series of articles is being provid-
ed to inform the offender population of the
three phased reentry program provided by TDCJ's
Reentry and Integration Division. The April article
addressed identification document processing pro-
vided during Phase I.
This article focuses on Phase II, also known as
assessment and reentry planning. An effective as-
sessment identifies those factors that, if changed,
will help an individual avoid repeating choices that
likely contributed to their criminal history. Based
on the assessment results, an individualized plan
with goals, an action plan, and resources to address
those risk factors have been shown to improve the
rate of success upon release from prison.
Phase II services are available to offenders who are
parole approved, are not releasing to an Immigration
and Customs Enforcement or felony detainer, and
will reside in Texas upon release. Reentry case man-
agers screen on a weekly basis for eligible offenders,
and schedule lay-ins to conduct the assessment, and,
for those who score moderate or high risk, offer en-
rollment in individualized case planning.
During case planning, the case manager and of-
fender work together to address the highest prior-
ity needs in areas such as criminal history, educa-
tion, employment and social support substance
abuse and mental health and criminal attitudes
and behavioral patterns. The reentry plan is pro-
vided to the offender upon release and shared with
the supervising parole officer. In communities with
an assigned community case manager, the pn is
transitioned to Phase III, which will be discussed
in the final article of this series.
While the assessment is required, enrollment in
case management is voluntary. The only repercus-
sion for declining to participate is a missed oppor-
tunity for assistance that could make a significant
difference upon release from TDCJ.
Questions regarding reentry assessment and
planning services may be addressed to your unit re-
entry case manager by 1-60 or to the TDCJ Reentry
and Integration Division by mail to 4616 W. How-
ard Lane, Suite 200, Austin, Texas, 78728. 4
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Texas. Department of Criminal Justice. The ECHO, Volume 87, Number 4, May 2015, newspaper, May 2015; Huntsville, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth640814/m1/1/: accessed December 3, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.