SCI Graterford Recognized for Project Involving Brain Injury Assessment in Offenders
Jun 29, 2015, 05:07 ET
HARRISBURG, Pa., June 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced that his agency, earlier today, received The Organization Award from the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania at their 2015 annual conference, which was held in Lancaster.
The award is presented to an organization or group of individuals whose efforts to focus on needs and to improve the lives of persons with brain injury have been clearly evident and have positively impacted lives.
"This is yet another example of Gov. Tom Wolf's deliberate work in the area of multi-agency cooperation," Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said. "'Government that Works' means agencies working together to identify areas that need addressed and successfully working to meet those needs in a way that benefits individuals and the community as a whole."
Employees from the State Correctional Institution at Graterford were recognized for being instrumental partners with the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Brain Injury Association of PA (BIAPA) in demonstrating the problem of brain injury in prisons.
"Our partnership with PCCD and BIAPA has allowed SCI Graterford staff to screen inmates for brain injuries to determine what impact those impairments may have on an offender's reentry," said DOC's Acting Regional Deputy Secretary (and former SCI Graterford Superintendent) Michael Wenerowicz. "New needs have been identified as a result of this work, and we are working with community resources to connect offenders with services specific to this unique need."
"We are proud to have been a partner in this project. Every day we learn more about the impact that brain injuries have and the importance of treating them appropriately. This is also a great example of government agencies working collaboratively to identify an issue and address it. I congratulate Secretary Wetzel and SCI Graterford on receiving recognition for their hard work," said PCCD Chairman Josh Shapiro.
The award nomination was submitted by Dr. Drew Nagele, who works with Woods, a leading advocacy and service organization for people with exceptional challenges, disabilities and complex needs. He also serves as the treasurer for BIAPA. In his nomination, Dr. Nagele highlighted work SCI Graterford, PCCD and BIAPA officials have done on a joint project, entitled "NeuroResource for Prison Inmates with Brain Injury to Improve Re-Entry."
The project involved screening Graterford inmates for brain injury and further assessments of those with positive screens to determine cognitive impairments that will impact re-entry into the community. The work also identified inmates who require Neuro-Resource Facilitation.
Neuro-Resource Facilitation is a community service provided to individuals living with brain injuries and their families. Services provided include support in coping with the issues of living with brain injury and transition back to work and the community. Neuro-Resource Facilitation helps individuals find and apply for the most relevant programs and services to meet their needs and attain their goals and help them problem-solve any barriers that may arise.
In his nomination, Nagele wrote:
"Through countless organizational meetings over the last two years, SCI staff has worked with us to discover that 73 percent of those referred to us who were leaving the prison after completing their sentence had evidence of an event that could have produced a brain injury. Furthermore, 75 percent of them demonstrated evidence of cognitive impairment severe enough to cause difficulty being successful in everyday living or work. Those inmates were then worked with to connect them into brain injury services and supports, and were then followed into the community to ensure that they did in fact get these services and supports. The staff at Graterford has been trained to do the brain injury screening and NeuroCognitive assessment. In fact, we believe that SCI Graterford is the first prison in the country to have two of their employees become certified brain injury specialists through the BIAA Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists.
Wenerowicz said that this was a cooperative imitative that involved more than just the state prison. "We also need to give recognition to the PCCD, BIAPA, DOC's Bureau of Community Corrections, the PA Board of Probation and Parole and the PA Department of Labor & Industry's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Many individuals worked together to make this a successful venture and to make a positive impact on an individual's life."
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan McNaughton (717) 728-4025
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
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