Family and Friends Newsletter - November 2020

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missouri department of corrections

Family and Friends Newsletter  |  November 2020

 Happy Thanksgiving








Even during a global pandemic there is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

  • The necessities: food, water and shelter
  • Caring family
  • Supportive friends, neighbors or co-workers
  • Essential workers who continue to do their work tirelessly
  • Hope for a vaccine

We are especially grateful for your encouragement of your incarcerated loved one.

Federal Reentry Leader Recognizes Missouri as National Role Model


When Pastor Tony Lowden arrived in Missouri on Oct. 7, he was propelled by rumors that Missouri might have one of the most effective reentry systems — an integrated network of government agencies, services providers and nonprofit groups — in the United States. By the time he left on Oct. 9, he was convinced the reputation was deserved.

Lowden, executive director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry, spent three days sampling the programs and services the state provides to help Missourians succeed after release from prison. The tour underscored how corrections professionals drive reentry success and support our mission of improving lives for safer communities.

Lowden toured the Transition Center of St. Louis and met probation and parole staff as well as current residents and former clients. He toured Southeast Correctional Center, visiting the Intensive Therapeutic Community and Transitional Housing Unit and meeting with education, religious services, and recreation teams. He toured the Poplar Bluff Community Supervision Center and met with the Improving Community Treatment Success team. He also met with community partners such as the Bootheel Regional Consortium, ASPIRE MO and MoSTART.

“Missouri is getting it right," Lowden told The Missouri Times. "If you look at the leadership in Missouri that has made criminal justice reform and reentry a priority — from the governor and two U.S. senators at the federal level down to the departments — they’re doing it right. I’m going back to try to replicate some of what Missouri is doing in the whole nation. It’s absolutely phenomenal for a state prison system to be doing this amount of work around prison reform.”

Parole Process Change

Video Parole Hearing

In September 2019, the Parole Board initiated changes to the parole system, utilizing the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS), in regard to release dates on new drug cases and most non-violent Class C, D and E felony offenses. Within the first 120 days of entering MODOC, most grid-eligible offenders are reviewed and their release dates are established based on their specific sentence length. Those entering MODOC who require a hearing will have their hearing set approximately four months prior to their earliest possible release date. Conducting the hearing later in the sentence structure allows time to address programming needs and develop patterns of good conduct. It also allows time to review conduct issues prior to seeing the board.

As of November 1, 2020, the Parole Board is using the ORAS at hearings to apply time-to-serve guidelines. Even though these guidelines establish consistency in release decisions, they don't guarantee release; every case is reviewed individually. Minimum eligibility based on the offense type hasn't changed, nor has the current hearing format. The hearing panel will continue to ask numerous questions in order to get a better understanding of the person, the offense and any barriers to success after release. It is critical to cooperate with the board and corrections staff to establish readiness for release.

Prior to any release, the caseworker and institutional parole officer work with offenders to identify specific needs and barriers. Case plans are developed to address any needs through programming. In most cases, the IPO submits a "release readiness report" to the Parole Board approximately six months prior to the established release date to advise of program participation, accomplishments and conduct. The board determines whether the offender will: (1) be advanced due to programming/good conduct, (2) be released as previously scheduled, (3) receive a date extension due to poor conduct or lack of programming, or (4) in rare cases, have a hearing to speak directly to the board.

Resources for Families of Incarcerated Missourians

A Resource Guide provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services may be found at