Seven Core Members Graduate From Inner Circle Pilot Program

Seven Core Members Graduate From Inner Circle Pilot Program

Inner Circle Graduates at LCC


CONTACT Cara Wilwerding, Communications Manager

OFFICE 402-479-5712 |

May 30, 2017 (Lincoln, Neb.) – The Inner Circle pilot program is off to a great start at the Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC).

The Inner Circle is a forum where incarcerated individuals meet to discuss their reentry needs and have the opportunity to learn about reentry resources available within the facilities and in the community. The forum, which is facilitated by staff, encourages individuals to develop their reentry plans and learn about housing, employment/education, mental health, family/community support, transportation and other resources. 

Seven core members of the Inner Circle graduated on Friday. LCC Warden Fred Britten, Deputy Warden Cathy Sheair, Unit Administrator Salvador Cruz and other Nebraska Department of Correctional Services staff attended the graduation ceremony.

The core members went through a nine-week training program to learn about available community resources, how to access those resources as they transition into the community and how to share the information with their peers in group meetings and within their housing unit. During the training, individuals learned about programs on vocations and life skills which are available within the facilities.

In addition, core members had the opportunity to learn from community partners. Tracy Stueckrath from Oxford House gave a presentation that focused on sober living, sober networks and how to have fun without substance use. Ruth Karlson of Released and Restored gave a presentation on the importance of budgeting and personal responsibility. Mental Health Association (MHA) staff members Amie Jackson and Melissa Lemmer  talked about ways to identify the right environment when looking for a residence, how to approach conversations with landlords and staying on top of financial obligation.

Reentry Specialist Paul Hruskoci collaborated with Case Manager Rowan Taylor and Corporal Tabatha Richter to select core group members from a pool of many applicants. They were impressed with how much progress and positive change the graduates made since the beginning of the training.

At the ceremony, each graduate spoke about his experiences while in training. Graduates expressed surprise at the vast array of resources available to them and were grateful for the opportunity to learn about them. Some were motivated to volunteer just to break the day-to-day monotony, but soon became excited to share information with their peers.  One of the individuals said the training helped him to find his purpose; he is serving a long sentence and would like to use that time to help others do their time well. The training they received on giving presentations increased their confidence in engaging others in conversation and public speaking.

Warden Britten thanked graduates for having “the courage to want to do something positive” to help themselves and others despite the negative peer pressure they may face. He encouraged them to never “underestimate their value and worth.” Even though the core members have individual challenges, their desire to do better for themselves and to help others is consistent. They are in a “position to have positive peer influence on others.”

Facilitated by staff and core members, the Inner Circle will meet once a month. Guest speakers and successful parolees from the community will be invited to give presentations on navigating reentry barriers and accessing resources to ease an individual’s transition into the community. The goal of the Inner Circle is to help individuals plan for their lives to show them that success is possible during and after incarceration.