The Erie County Sheriff’s Office offers numerous rehabilitative programs to individuals incarcerated at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility.
Working with our community partners, the Sheriff’s Office has won multiple awards for programs and continues to expand offerings to improve the individual’s well-being and allow for a smooth transition back into the community.
The end result is a dramatically reduced recidivism rate and an individual prepared to move forward by becoming a better family member, friend, neighbor, and citizen.
Here are the programs with a brief description:
- High School Program
o In direct partnership with Buffalo Public Schools, this unique program was recognized by the New York State Sheriff’s Association as the “Innovative Program of the Year” for 2018. The program allows high school-age students the opportunity to receive core high school subject instruction, special education services, guidance counseling, Title I math and reading services, as well as summer programming while incarcerated. As soon as students enter the program, they begin to plan for post-release. Title I Transition Counselors meet one-on-one with each student to establish an educational plan which encompasses in-jail programming as well as a post-release plan.
- High School Equivalency Program
o Similar to the high school program, high school-age students who have either dropped out or intend to drop out post-release are provided with HSE exam preparation services.
- Project Blue
o Project Blue is a preventative program that aims to reduce recidivism and local crime rates while disrupting the jail-to-prison pipeline. This innovative and unique partnership between the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Peaceprints of WNY fills an essential service gap by providing comprehensive reentry services to the individuals coming out of the Erie County Correctional Facility and the Erie County Holding Center. Participants self-elect program participation. Once enrolled, program participants begin receiving weekly case management services, and numerous workshops with subject matter that includes but is not limited to, workforce development, fatherhood, peace and healing circles, and literacy training. To facilitate a warm handoff, post-release, incarcerated individuals are transported by our Community Reintegration Officer to the Project Blue reentry center. Intensive case management begins at release with follow-along continuing for 12 months. This program was the recipient of the New York State Sheriffs Association 2019 Innovative Program award.
- Medication Assisted Treatment Program
o Beginning in July 2022, the JMD will begin offering medically assisted treatment services to incarcerated individuals with a diagnosed opioid use disorder (OUD). All individuals will be screened for OUD upon admission to the Holding Center and if determined to be eligible, will be offered enrollment in the MAT Program. This program will include all forms of OUD treatment medication, as well as case management and discharge planning services provided by Best Self Behavioral Health, along with peer support services provided by Save The Michaels of the World. This comprehensive treatment program will engage the enrolled participant seven days per week and will link them to post-release treatment and counseling.
- New Dawn Initiative
o This program which is operated in partnership with Best Self Behavioral Health, provides in-custody and post-release support for incarcerated individuals suffering from co-existing substance abuse and mental health disorders. While in custody, participants have access to individual and group programming designed to increase the likelihood of their success upon returning to the community.
- Narcotics Anonymous
o The JMD invites institutional representatives from Narcotics Anonymous to provide the message of recovery to inmates struggling with drug addiction. During these meetings, individuals openly discuss their addictions, participate in book study and topic discussions, and listen to presentation speakers. Inmates are also introduced to the Twelve Steps of NA with the goal of helping them find a new way to live life without drugs.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
o The JMD offers AA meetings for incarcerated individuals seeking support and information in their desire to stop drinking and recover from alcoholism. Meetings are comprised of “men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism”. Individuals are introduced to the Twelve Steps of AA which provides the framework for self-examination and self-directed recovery.
- Horticultural Program
o Our extensive Horticultural Program teaches incarcerated individuals how to cultivate flowers from seedlings, eventually transplanting the flowers to County parks and landscapes. Over the years, these flowers have helped beautify our municipality’s welcome area, brighten the view at senior centers and community centers, and add color to our community. In addition, participants also manage a vegetable garden within the Erie County Correctional Facility. The variety of produce supplements diets with freshly harvested produce for use in the facility’s meals. Additionally, the program can donate fresh produce to community kitchens such as Friends of the Night People.
o Vegetable Garden – This program designed for female incarcerated individuals, cleared the overgrown and unsightly bushes lining the Correctional Facility’s courtyard and transformed the space into garden beds for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and various other garden delights.
o Holiday Wreath Program – Annually, following the last garden harvest, male incarcerated individuals prepare the greenhouses to make Christmas wreaths. The individuals use pinecones and pine boughs collected from the facility’s grounds and using boughs donated from area nurseries, assemble holiday wreaths. Our wreaths can be seen adorning the doors and community rooms of senior centers, community-based organizations, and homes of those who may not have the means to purchase a holiday decoration.
- County Composting Program
o In collaboration with the Erie County’s Environment and Planning Department, incarcerated individuals participate in a recycling program designed to reduce internal waste from the Correctional Facility as well as other county buildings and use the compost to enhance the Horticultural Program gardens and other county-owned flower beds. This unique recycling program will help reduce the County’s waste and save taxpayers’ dollars by reducing disposal costs.