A pilot project that helps high-risk inmates transition back into society through housing, health and community supports has shown promise in reducing criminal behaviour among program participants and is being implemented at three B.C. correctional centres.
When inmates transition from being in custody to living in the community, they often face challenges - they may not have a job, family support, savings or a place to live and may also face mental health or substance use problems. Together, the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) program and the Homelessness Intervention Project (HIP) provide inmates with supports to access housing, income assistance and health and mental health and substance use needs.
After an initial pilot at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC), Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW) and Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (VIRCC), IOM/HIP has shown promising results - 65% of the participating inmates did not reoffend over a two year period. In addition, of the IOM/HIP participants who did reoffend, 78% of the offences were of a less serious nature than the offenders’ previous convictions.
As a result, IOM/HIP will remain permanently in place at the three correctional centres, with long-term plans to expand the program further.
The IOM/HIP pilot project is playing a positive role in the lives of B.C. offenders and has supported 57 inmates in attaining subsidized or market housing on release to date. These are some of their real life stories. (Note: the referenced IOM/HIP participants’ names have been altered to protect their privacy):
- Jon, who had previously drifted between recovery houses and shelters, participated in the program and made the decision to attend treatment for his addictions issues. He filed his income taxes for the first time in many years and eventually became a peer counsellor at his recovery house.
- Jane, who had an extensive criminal record and a number of health challenges, contacted an outreach worker for help and found a place she has called home for over a year. The outreach worker helped Jane find a family doctor. Jane has maintained sobriety, works part-time at a recovery house and is looking at setting up her own business.
- Jack, who suffered from undiagnosed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and has been in and out of custody for the last nine years, received help accessing a FASD assessment. As Jack awaits his release from custody, he has signed up to receive income assistance so he can move into supportive housing and he will also have the full support of the IOM/HIP team behind him.
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice -
“The IOM/HIP pilot has shown very promising results - and the success stories clearly demonstrate that this program has truly made a difference in the lives of offenders. The continuation of this program will help more inmates develop life skills and employability, find appropriate housing and access the supports they need to turn their lives around once they leave custody. IOM/HIP builds on the progress we’ve made to enhance community safety, reduce reoffending and bring B.C.’s crime rate down to its lowest rate in four decades.”
Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing -
“We know that connecting people to housing makes a difference. The IOM/HIP program is one of the ways we are helping break the cycle of homelessness. My thanks go out to all the partners that help make this program successful.”
Terry Lake, Minister of Health -
“The IOM/HIP program is improving how we meet the unique health and social needs of offenders and helping to increase their connections to the community. The teamwork and culture of collaboration among health authorities, provincial ministries and non-profit groups for this program is remarkable - everyone is working together to develop a more holistic approach that will lead to better health and well-being for the offender and safer communities for our children.”
IOM/HIP participant, now in stable housing and pursuing his Red Seal certification in a trade (identity protected) -
“It feels awesome to finally get my life started. I’ve been clean for seven months and I’m moving forward smoothly. I want to thank you for the support money, bus passes, clothes, food and the new stuff for my place, but most of all for supporting me and not giving up. I truly see how hard you all work to see people succeed. I am forever grateful for all you have done.”
- Inmates who participate in IOM/HIP begin working one-on-one with the program’s various co-ordinators, in the areas of corrections, housing, health and income assistance, to help them create individualized transition plans for their release. An outreach worker also works with the inmate to build trust and establish relationships that will be supportive when working with the client in the community.
- Upon inmates’ release into the community, their release plans are carried out as they access housing, appointments for health and mental needs assessments, income assistance and other supportive resources. Also, offenders’ probation officers work closely with them to support ongoing planning in the community and continued access to resources.
- Ultimately, IOM/HIP’s goal is to reduce reoffending and to help offenders move toward employment, self-sufficiency and well-being.
- A key element of the IOM/HIP program is that inmates voluntarily participate in the program, demonstrating a willingness to change.
- The IOM/HIP program relies on annual funding of $159,000 from BC Housing, as well as existing resources and in-kind funding from BC Corrections, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (SDSI) and Community Living BC (CLBC).
- To participate in IOM/HIP, offenders must enrol voluntarily, be at high risk of reoffending and homeless or at risk of homelessness. They may also have mental health issues, problematic substance use, an acquired brain injury or FASD.
IOM/HIP pilot project evaluation and final report: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/corrections/docs/IOM-HIP-Report.pdf
BC Housing: www.bchousing.org
Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing: http://www.gov.bc.ca/mngd/
Ministry of Health: http://www.gov.bc.ca/health/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice