The first two times Glen Tatro was released from prison, freedom proved temporary. He thinks his his third prison sentence, though, will be his last.
The difference is a new ex-offender program in Colorado Springs that aims to prevent inmates like Tatro from returning to crime by providing free medical care, mental health treatment and life-skills training.
The strategy is critical for inmates like Tatro, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness marked by mood swings and psychosis. Mental health treatment in prison turned his behavior around and kept him out of trouble, eliminating the voices he heard and the mania that kept him awake for days.
Because of his good behavior, he moved to a halfway house in June and has a shot at early release. But the prison no longer provides his medical care.
So the Comprehensive Healthcare Re-entry Program, launched last fall by SET Family Medical Clinics and several other local non-profits, provides him mental health treatment and medications.
The program hinges on the belief that a healthy ex-offender with easy access to medical care is more likely to get and keep a job. It will take three years to determine if it meets its goal of reducing recidivism, but cases like Tatro’s have staff optimistic that it will be a success.