WHO WE ARE
A TOP Worker interviews a fellow inmate
TOP Workers at Washington Corrections Center.
TOP is a nonprofit organization inside the Washington Corrections Center (WCC), run by inmates under a contract with the Department of Corrections.
TOP began at WCC (the reception and diagnostic center for newly committed men) when we (WCC resident inmates) noticed that many of the same people were releasing from prison and then quickly returning, often several times.
In talking to them and exploring the reasons behind this "revolving door," we heard about homelessness, joblessness, addictions, lack of treatment programs as well as access to treatment programs, and the problem of falling back into old habits and associations once they had returned to their neighborhoods and friends. We saw a system that was falling apart and failing these people.
We began writing to food banks, apartment houses, medical clinics, churches, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations, looking for resources that might be felon-friendly and that could be a resource for releasing inmates. We spoke to our friends, families, and the staff at DOC as well as the Garrett Heyns Education Center within WCC, to help us find more resources.
We now have a database of over 8,000 public and private organizations throughout the State of Washington. We use this database to build a personalized packet of information and resources specifically for the county an inmate is returning to. Before an individual leaves the system, we work with him on issues such as child support payments, outstanding driving violations, and cleaning up his credit history. We help him prepare a Personal Release Plan, with details on how he will reenter society, satisfy the stipulations of his Judgment & Sentence, and begin to build a healthy lifestyle.
TOP is currently working on an application that the incarcerated men and women can use with their JPay devices which are android tablets.
TOP was created by offenders for offenders, to make this information available to every individual prior to his release from the Washington State Department of Corrections.