" Dedicated to Rebuilding Lives "
The PROGRAM for Female Offenders, Inc. of the Greater Harrisburg Area was established in 1979 at the request of the Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman. The PROGRAM is independently incorporated, funded and is an affiliate of an agency in Pittsburgh which opened its office in 1974. Over the years, additional affiliated agencies have been implemented throughout the state and internationally in Israel.
The original goal of The PROGRAM in Harrisburg was to help women in the criminal justice system secure job training or employment. In the 1980's the staff noted due to early substance abuse, and the effect of mandatory sentencing laws, women in prison were younger and less likely to possess the daily living and coping skills essential for survival. A life skills training course was developed to habilitate clients and provide them with these basic skills.
The staff provides supportive counseling in Dauphin and Cumberland County Prisons and community based job search and placement assistance at the agency's Community Center with continued support from the United Way of the Capital Region and Carlisle and Cumberland County. Each year over 150 women are placed into employment positions, networking with over 150 employers.
As the number of women in the criminal justice system have grown, so too have the services offered by the PROGRAM for Female Offenders, Inc. The menu of services today not only includes the original supportive counseling and employment services, but also includes HIV/AIDS education, life skills training, substance abuse case management services, academic remediation/GED tutoring (Community Center), alternatives to prison including day programming, work release (Woodside Family Center), transitional residential services (Promise Place), and children's programming (Youth Services).
In the past few years the agency staff has counseled two and sometimes three generations of women in the criminal justice system in order to proactively intervene in the intergenerational nature of crime, and three programs were designed to impact children of women offenders.
Upon receiving funding from the United Way of the capital Region during the latter part of 2004, The PROGRAM began serving male for the first time by providing "Frank Talk" Sessions to male adolescents receiving case management services through the Detention Alternative Program in conjunction with the Dauphin County Juvenile Probation Department. Various adult male professionals are recruited from the community to meet with these young males to participate in frank discussion issues relative to fatherhood, criminal justice issues, drug abuse, career planning, health, and other related topics. The objective of "Frank Talk" is to promote communication between these male youth and male adults to share experiences and learn from each other.
The PROGRAM for Female Offenders, Inc. is governed by a Board of Directors, which employs and Administrator who is the Chief Executive Office (CEO). The PROGRAM's staff has grown from a two-person office to over thirty dedicated and compassionate employees and an additional corps of caring community volunteers. The PROGRAM and its staff have been recognized and hailed as leaders in the field of rehabilitation and unique programming for women and children at risk.