Lauren Weisner has already been working at ICJIA first as an intern and most recently as a part-time Research Assistant. She has worked on projects such as the evaluation of the Dual Diagnosis program in Logan Correctional Center and an evaluation of the Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) program. Lauren has a master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Loyola University Chicago. Her interests include applied criminal justice research, criminal justice policy, and program evaluation. Before starting as a Research Analyst for ICJIA, she worked a Research Assistant in Loyola’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice. There, she helped to develop reports that provide an overview of each county’s CJ system and county specific bulletins on prison utilization.
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Formerly incarcerated individuals may be unable to secure stable employment and struggle to acquire income; however, opening a small business may offer this population an alternative to the traditional job market. Researchers evaluated the Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) program, which offered training in entrepreneurship and other resources to those returning from Illinois prisons to Cook County. Researchers examined delivery of PERC’s entrepreneurship training, experiences of program participants and training staff, program completion among participants, and knowledge gains with information from focus groups, surveys, interviews, and administrative records. Feedback from staff and participants was mostly positive and the program increased entrepreneurship knowledge. However, engaging the 72 returning citizens in the program was a challenge—of all eligible participants, 16 attended the first week of training (22 percent) and only 12 graduated the program (17 percent).
This brief shares findings from a process evaluation of a program that treats women prisoners in Illinois with co-occurring disorders—substance use and mental health disorders. Overall, feedback from clients and staff were positive and the program showed reductions in clients’ posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and aggression after participation. In addition, researchers offer suggestions to improve the program’s physical space, as well as enhance program components and data collection.
Even with substantial efforts at the state and local levels, opioid overdoses in Illinois continue to rise. Many in jails and prisons suffer from opioid use disorders and some receive treatment. Upon release, the risk of overdose is enhanced due to reduced tolerance. This article presents findings from a survey of 36 Illinois jail administrators on the use of medication-assisted treatment for detainees with opioid use disorders, naloxone distribution to reduce post-release overdose, and policies to ensure safe withdrawal from opioids and other drugs.