Nebraska prisons launching new, ‘holistic’ approach to prepare inmates for reentry into society

NOV 25, 2023 | LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) | Paul Hammel A $900,000 grant helps set up program focused on positive thinking and relationships, and use of fellow inmates as ‘peers’

. . . State prison officials, in a press release, said that the 5-Keys programming is “evidence-based” and a “packaged approach” to preparing inmates for reentry. “This model works because these are things that all of us need to be healthier,” said Dawn Renee Smith, the deputy director of Nebraska Corrections. . .  READ MORE

NDCS launches new programs to help inmates reenter society

NOV 21, 2023 | LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) | Andrew Ward The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is launching new program it said will help inmates reenter society with a better mindset.

“Successful reentry preparation is about providing the right tools and getting the right person in the right program at the right time,” said NDCS director Rob Jeffreys in a press release. “This is an innovative initiative that takes a holistic approach to addressing barriers and building essential skills for our reentrants.”  READ MORE

WEI thanks Arnold Ventures for their support of our work with their recent funding to expand the impact of criminal justice transformation and equity.


WEI has recently been awarded 5 new projects –More about these projects to come! 


– A Two Year Project to Evaluate the Impact of a Statewide Holistic Public Defense Program on Wellbeing and Equity Outcomes
– A Second Annual Convening of Prosecutors and Researchers to Tackle Pressing and Challenging Issues in Prosecution and Diversion
– A National Pretrial Initiative to Infuse A Culture of Data in Practitioner Offices 
– A Project to Develop and Pilot Violence and Retaliation Interruption Alternatives to Prosecution 
– A Project to Develop and Pilot Behavioral Health Literacy Interventions with Staff and Incarcerated Residents in State Prisons


• NOV 2–3: Drug Testing and Community Supervision: Interrogating Policy, Practice, and Purpose Convening – The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

An invitation gathering of practitioners, researchers, academics, policymakers, advocates and activists for dialogue to drive practical change on the ground.

• NOV 3: Preventing Gun Violence: The Role of Social WorK Summit – The University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

Engagement with experts from around the US to frame and launch a shared national strategy to address the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Key leaders include Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, US Department of Justice

NOV 6: Learning Experiences to Advance Practice (LEAP) – Dr. Carrie Pettus presented on the topic “Dissemination Strategies for Non-Academic Audiences” in partnership with the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN). The LEAP program is designed to educate any interested individual about the nuances of conducting research in criminal justice settings. ABOUT LEAP

• NOV 15-17: American Society of Criminology Conference – Philadelphia

Dr. Pettus – Roundtable: Involving System-Impacted Populations in Research and Policy – providing an overview of methods that center the expertise of system-impacted individuals, including community-based participatory action research methods, qualitative methods, and community engagement in project development and policy reform.

Oct 12-13: Prosecutor Benefits Project Convening Denver, Colorado

    • Hosted by Mental Health Colorado, Claremont Graduate University, Texas Southern University, and WEI
    • Support from Arnold Ventures 
    • Research and policy impact summaries forthcoming 

Oct 26–27: 2nd Annual Convening Workshop for Prosecutor-Researcher Collaborations, Santa Barbara, California

    • Hosted by Claremont Graduate University and WEI
    • Support from Arnold Ventures
    • Research and policy impact summaries forthcoming    

Student Program – Social Impact Horizon:
Navigating Grand Challenges in Social Work



LEAP Scholars Presentation – July 10, 2023

Learning Experiences to Advance Practice (LEAP) is a multifaceted program designed to educate any interested individual about the nuances of conducting research in criminal justice settings. The LEAP program is a 1-2 year education and mentorship program that offers two tracks, an Investigator Track and Scholar Track. The program aims to advance the capacity and diversity of high impact research for populations involved with the health and criminal justice systems through specialized training and skill-development curriculums.

WEI experts launch courses on Utilizing Professional Peers in Drug Treatment Courts: A Course Series for System Actors.

This course series is for system actors working within drug treatment courts who are currently integrating or hope to integrate, professional peers into their settings.


  • Trauma Responsive Reentry
    Promoting Reentry for Young Adults: Perspectives from the Field NIJ Webinar
  • The Dollars & Sense of Second Chance Hiring: FL Employer Engagement Forum
    Right on Crime Panel
  • Trauma Responsive Reentry
    Noontime Knowledge Webinar, Social Work Month Kickoff: Social Works Breaks Barriers to GO GRANDER!
  • Trauma Responsive Reentry
    Reentry and Reintegration Roundtable with Center for Justice Integration
  • Early Learnings on Trauma Responsive and Violence Interruption Diversion Programs
    Carrie Pettus Brown Bag with Urban Institute