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Patsy Jackson, NoVA Case Manager

Photo by CJCJ2013

What goes on in an incarcerated individual’s mind as their time behind bars wanes before release? They may rightfully expect to face challenges and collateral consequences during their return from incarceration. Common obstacles to address during reentry include family reunification, housing, education, employment, substance abuse, mental health, and trauma. Among individuals previously incarcerated for violent crimes, the chances of recidivism and approaches to common challenges of reentry can be influenced by awareness of and acceptance into the No Violence Alliance (NoVA) Reentry Project.

Patsy Jackson has been a case manager with NoVA for two years. She currently has 14 clients formerly incarcerated for violent offenses ranging from brandishing a firearm to first degree murder. Patsy helps her clients succeed by minimizing barriers to reentry and facilitating reintegration in their families and communities. Individuals submit requests to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department while in the SF Jail, or walk into CJCJ’s office after release for a NoVA assessment and application. During the initial assessment, Patsy asks: what do you know about NoVA? Breaking down assumptions and myths and building on previous knowledge, Patsy sets expectations and requirements before asking prospective clients if they are interested in what NoVA actually offers.

Patsy’s provision of intensive case management builds a flexible network of resources to address individual needs and goals of the client. During assessment, Patsy asks clients about their life history, including questions about arrest and incarceration, mental health, education, family, anger, violence, gangs, trauma, and triggers. Clients also write essays to help explore their life experiences and how this effects personal attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and needs. She asks: what problems in your life are keeping you from being successful in your life today? With the assessment of individual needs and barriers, she involves participants in formulating an individualized case treatment plan. This helps clients set goals, access the resources they need to meet their goals, and monitor their progress along the way.

Patsy understands the challenges and hurdles her clients face through personal experience. Patsy’s unique perspective comes from once being addicted to drugs and homeless on the streets of San Francisco. While homeless, she decided to help others facing similar problems if she ever got off drugs. Taking her personal experience to the classroom after getting sober, she went to City College of San Francisco to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. Jackson then worked as a substance abuse coordinator and counselor before joining NoVA.

One of Patsy’s favorite parts of being a NoVA case manager is helping individuals who have lost hope to face personal challenges in their lives which often stem from systemic, economic, and budgetary failures. She sees the power of her influence and encouragement in her clients every day. Hearing I still believe in you can have a profound personal impact as opportunities close and hope in oneself is nearly lost.

For more information on NoVA, please read an evaluation from 2010.