Multi-Agency Initiative Aims to Improve Transition Services for Offenders

A new initiative aims to make Utah a model example of the success that can result when state, federal and community entities join together to provide services and second chances for people who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

The initiative is called ASCENT (Achieving Success Through Collaborative Engagement and Navigated Transition).

ASCENT, which began taking shape about eight months ago, will be officially launched on Wednesday, August 24. ASCENT brings together key agencies and partners to tackle obstacles that keep offenders from achieving success and rejoining our communities as law-abiding citizens.

Those obstacles often include access to housing, employment, education, treatment and transportation. Efforts to help offenders succeed must incorporate victim assistance and public safety, which will also be a focus of ASCENT.

Partners in ASCENT include: Corrections; Board of Pardons and Parole; Workforce Services; Human Services; Office of Rehabilitation; State Office of Education; U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services; Federal Public Defender District of Utah; housing authorities (county and state); faith groups; treatment providers; and others.

Presenters at the kick-off event will include:

• Gordon Swensen, field service director, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation

• John Huber, U.S. Attorney for Utah

• Kenny O’Rourke, who spent time in federal and state prisons

• Tina Cabral, who spent time in state prison

• Rollin Cook, executive director, Utah Department of Corrections

• Steve Gehrke, director of quality and process improvement, Utah Department of Corrections

In addition, a panel will discuss the need for a multi-agency approach to transition services. Panelists will include: Angela Micklos, chair, Utah Board of Pardons and Parole; Michael Baker, assistant deputy chief, U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services; Stephen Lisonbee, workforce development division director, Department of Workforce Services; and Brent Kelsey, deputy director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.


When: August 24, 9 a.m.

Where: 9750 S. 300 West (Miller Free Enterprise Auditorium, SLCC Larry H. Miller Campus)

What: Launch of the ASCENT initiative (Achieving Success Through Collaborative Engagement and Navigated Transition)