Berks County Prison Society, Incorporated dba Berks Connections/Pretrial Services

A Life Improvement Business

aka BCPS   |   Reading, PA   |  www.berksconnections.org

Mission

Berks Connections/Pretrial Services improves lives and creates safer, more prosperous communities by providing services, support, and community reintegration to individuals involved in the justice system and to their families.

Ruling year info

1975

Co-Executive Director

Peggy Kershner

Co-Executive Director

Nicolle Schnovel

Main address

19 N. 6th Street 4th Floor

Reading, PA 19601 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

23-1969810

NTEE code info

Services to Prisoners/Families (I43)

Prison Alternatives (I44)

Rehabilitation Services for Offenders (I40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Reentry Program

Pre-and Post-Release Case Management-
Based upon the results of a Needs Assessment performed upon a resident’s entry into the Berks County Jail System’s Community Reentry Center (CRC), BCPS staff provides referrals and information about housing, employment, drug, alcohol and mental health counseling and treatment as well as education and literacy. BCPS staff also develops and administers Transition Plans for residents of the CRC to define a pre- and post-release course of action for both the case manager and the client to ensure successful reentry into the community.

Workforce Development Services-
BCPS provides employment readiness workshops, job search assistance, and retention support for residents of the CRC (pre and post release), residents of the Wernersville Community Corrections Center, those on state parole, and Treatment Court participants. An evidence based curriculum, Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Offenders Seeking Employment (CBI-EMP), is delivered in two State Correctional Institutions. BCPS is also able to provide CBI-EMP in the Berks County Jail through the support of Justice Assistance Grant.

Community volunteers support BCPS workforce development programs and initiatives by serving as mock interviewers and by providing employment readiness assistance at the CRC and at our Career Fairs.

Financial Literacy-
BCPS provides financial literacy education in a group setting and one to one budget coaching and assistance for DOC Workforce Development and Housing program clients. In addition to educational sessions, BCPS staff provides financial coaching when employment is obtained to help individuals reach their financial goals.

Housing Services-
BCPS provides Housing Services to individuals preparing to reenter the community from the CRC, the Wernersville Community Corrections Center and those in the community on parole who are facing homelessness. Services include assistance in obtaining stable affordable housing, rent and utility assistance, case management, tenant education, and budget counseling.
Mentoring-
In October 2018, BCPS began offering mentoring services through a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which allows us to serve both individuals in State Correctional Institutions and individuals on State Probation/Parole who reside in Berks County. Our Reentry Mentoring Specialist aids clients in developing an individualized wellness plan, provides early intervention services to clients that are experiencing difficulties or exhibiting behaviors that are indicative to a backslide, and facilitates both group and one-to-one workshops. Mentoring services are also a critical component offered in our R3 program.

Job Development-
The BCPS Employment Development Specialist works within the community to develop and maintain relationships with employers to encourage opportunities for workforce development program clients who successfully complete the program. This position helps ensure that individuals referred for employment are a good match for the employer’s needs and provides ongoing retention support and assistance to the employer.

Reentry Support Services-
For returning citizens, obtaining valid identification, transportation and work- specific clothing often stands in the way of seeking and securing employment. BCPS is committed to assisting clients with removing barriers to their success and covers the cost to obtain the required identification, bus passes or work attire necessary for employment.

Computer Based Learning Center (CBLC)-
The CBLC is available for use by BCPS workforce development, R3, housing and CRC clients to search and apply for jobs, create, update and email resumes, conduct apartment searches and improve basic computer skills. Staff is available for guidance and assistance. The CBLC is funded in part by the United Way of Berks County.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Pretrial Interviews and Assessments-
Pretrial Officers conduct post-arrest interviews and assessments of criminal defendants and furnish the verified assessments to the judiciary, either prior to bail being set or at the preliminary hearing. BCPS utilizes the Pretrial Assessment Tool of the Ohio Risk Assessment System (PAT-ORAS) to assess the risk of a defendant committing a new offense while under pretrial release or failing to appear for court. BCPS also assists with jail population management. Pretrial staff conduct a monthly review of the jail population to assure that low risk defendants are not needlessly incarcerated due to their inability to post bail. We are pleased to see that on average, the true pretrial population (those held only on a bail) hovers around 20%, which is well below the national average. For those defendants that are classified as low risk and are deemed appropriate for pretrial release, Pretrial Officers will provide the assessments to defense counsel and recommend that a motion is made to modify the bail to release the defendant on an unsecured bail. In 2018, Pretrial Officers conducted 2,355 interviews and provided 2,187 assessments to the court.

Pretrial Supervision-
BCPS provides supervised release for criminal defendants who would otherwise remain in jail until the final disposition of their case. Pretrial Officers utilize the results of the PAT-ORAS to set conditions that are based on the risk that individual poses and to ensure both court appearance and public safety. Pretrial Officers provide drug and alcohol program referrals for individuals facing drug related charges and for those identified as having a drug or alcohol problem. BCPS also oversees the Community Release Bail Program, which was designed to ensure that the economic circumstances of a person will not subject him/her to punishment before trial. In 2018, Pretrial Officers supervised 840 defendants. The appearance rate for defendants under our supervision was 96% and the re-arrest rate was 6%.

Treatment Courts-
BCPS provides personnel and support for the Berks County Treatment Courts. BCPS interviews and assesses most treatment court applicants and provides referrals for drug and alcohol testing and treatment. Treatment Courts include DUI, Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health Courts. The Treatment Courts provide an intensive combination of court-ordered treatment and regular interaction with the Treatment Court Judge and the team, including the Public Defender’s Office, Adult Probation Office, TASC, SAM, Inc., the District Attorney’s Office, treatment providers and BCPS.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Mother’s/Father’s Voice Program-
The Mother’s/Father’s Voice program allows incarcerated mothers and fathers of young children to record a story on video. The child receives the book and DVD as a gift from their parent. The child can then watch the video of his/her parent reading while following along in the book. Birthday and holiday cards may also be included to celebrate milestones in their child’s life. This provides a sense of closeness between the parent and child that would otherwise not be possible. In 2018, 763 books were read and sent to children through this special program.

Family Connections Events-
BCPS staff and volunteers host social events each year that join incarcerated parents with their children and caregivers. Our Family Connections Picnic is held in September at the BIG Vision Sports Complex and serves as a United Way Day of Caring site. Children spend quality time with their parents by sharing a meal, playing games, making crafts, and enjoying the outdoors. Our Family Connections Holiday Party is held in December at the Community Reentry Center. Families enjoy a delicious holiday meal, games and crafts and the children get a special visit from Santa Claus! Generous contributions from United Way volunteers allow us to provide gifts for all the children in attendance. These events provide the opportunity for much needed contact between children and their incarcerated parents within a positive environment.

Holiday Gift Drives-
BCPS enlists volunteers throughout the community to provide holiday gifts for children of individuals who are incarcerated or involved in the criminal justice system. Some volunteers choose to deliver the gifts themselves, while other gifts are collected and distributed at a special holiday event hosted by West Lawn United Methodist Church.
Family & Friends Coping with Incarceration Support Group-
BCPS staff and volunteers lead a monthly support group for the families and friends of individuals involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Meetings are held on the 1st Thursday of the month from 7 to 9PM.

Population(s) Served
Families

Where we work

Accreditations


Since 2007

Awards

Standards for Excellence Certification 2010

Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations

Financials

Berks County Prison Society, Incorporated dba Berks Connections/Pretrial Services
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Berks County Prison Society, Incorporated dba Berks Connections/Pretrial Services

Board of directors
as of 2/3/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Thomas Rentschler, Esq.


Board co-chair

Shane Remp

Jeannie Savage

Samir Naber

Abhi Amatya

Sharon Mast

Larry Snow

Treasurer & Secretary

Matt Spezialetti, CFA, CFP

Peter Terranova

Ronald Velez

Karissa Rodriguez, Esq.

Brian Pinto, CFRE

Alexia Pursley

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/03/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data