Hay River now has a new path for adult male offenders to work their way back into society.
The GNWT Corrections Service have recently launched a new Therapeutic Community at the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre in Hay River. This new program uses a structured schedule, as well as meaningful programs to help teach offenders valuable job skills, encourage them to take pride in their work, and give them a sense of membership in a team. The program uses these group activities, and combines them with round the clock observation and counselling to help route out the causes of negative behaviors.
This new Therapeutic Community can accommodate up to 36 men, and by using these kinds of group activities, the offenders can even assist in each other’s recovery.
When working on designing the Community, the NWT Corrections Service worked and learned from the staff and residents at the Guthrie House, a Therapeutic Community at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre in British Columbia. The Community makes use of several different Indigenous practices, such as the “Seven Laws of Living,” sharing circles, drumming, and the Medicine Wheel which supports the cultural teachings of Indigenous peoples.
Once their sentences is completed, residents are given the support they need to re-enter society. They will be given help in finding a job and a residence, and will be given assistance for up to six months after their release. Research has shown that offenders who complete programs like the Therapeutic Community are far less likely to re-offend in the future, have better luck at finding a job, are more socially and emotionally stable, and experience a better overall quality of life.
In order to qualify to join the Community, residents must be serving a custodial sentence of at least three months and must meet pre-determined risk level criteria.