NDCS Reentry, Bristol Station eases transition back into community

NDCS Reentry, Bristol Station eases transition back into community


CONTACT Cara Wilwerding, Communications Manager

OFFICE 402-479-5799 | cara.wilwerding@nebraska.gov

A variety of grant-funded programs are giving incarcerated individuals in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) the necessary skills to return to their communities.

The latest wave of Vocational and Life Skills (VLS) grants, totaling $7 million dollars, was awarded this summer to eight community organizations. Funding enables those organizations to provide individuals with a variety of education, behavior, life skills and hands-on vocational training.

“When you get out and don’t have structure, a lot of times that’s when recidivism happens,” said Donald Davis, a program participant. “Being able to go somewhere safe and structured, that’s what I needed.”

After 15 years in prison, Davis is starting over. However, he does not think his path would have been nearly as easy without the help of the NDCS reentry team and Bristol Station. Bristol Station is one of the VLS programs, available at no cost to participants, during incarceration and up to 18 months after release.

“The skills that VLS programs teach both inside and outside of prison are vital to successful reentry,” NDCS Director Scott R. Frakes said. “They inspire positive thinking and foster hope.”

Bristol Station, a 65-bed residential reentry center located in Hastings, reintegrates state probationers and parolees back into society. The facility serves both men and women.  

After spending time at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI) and Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC), Davis entered Bristol Station in late April.

“For anyone, especially anyone who has done a significant amount of time, looking for a foothold to succeed, Bristol Station is a huge asset to society,” he said. “It helps you get acclimated to the community, without feeling lost and alone.”

Davis said having structure moved him in the right direction by first helping him get his birth certificate, social security card and state identification. Next, Bristol Station professionals connected him with potential employers. Within a month, Davis was working as a machine operator at JMC Eagle – a position that he still holds today. Finally, Davis took Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) classes at Bristol, which focus on enhancing moral reasoning, improving decision-making and adopting appropriate behaviors.

Participation has helped Davis to reconnect with his wife and other family members.

“A lot of that had to do with talking with the counselors at Bristol, and understanding what I need and want,” Davis said. “The MRT class is really what brought relationship issues back to the forefront; how to deal with issues and putting yourself in the best position possible to succeed – not only professionally, but personally too.”

At the end of August, Davis successfully completed his programming at Bristol Station and moved into his own apartment in Hastings. Bristol reentry professionals helped him set a savings goal, so he would be financially stable to leave when it was time.

“I think I would have still succeeded, because I really wanted to, but it would have been a longer and more stressful process without Bristol Station,” Davis said. “They’ve helped me kind of ease my way back into society without feeling overwhelmed with the freedom that comes with it.”

Since the VLS program began in 2015, more than 6,800 incarcerated individuals have participated. More than 3,900 have reached completion. The current grant cycle started in July 2018 and will continue until June 2020. Applications for the next grant period will be accepted in early 2020.