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GIVING BACK

Wylisa McIntosh, 2014 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections - Division of Community Corrections.

Major: Psychology with Criminal Justice Certificate

Goals: To work within the Department of Corrections and to ultimately help improve the US Prison System.

This summer I completed a 10 week internship with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections- Division of community corrections. Specifically I worked with a probation and parole agent as she supervised a case load of around 80-90 individuals place on community supervision as a result of committing a crime. Our task included meeting with offenders both in the office and in their homes to ensure that they were abiding by the rules of their supervision, and that they were not being a danger to themselves or society. Some of the specific task that we did included completing assessments to determine the individuals risk to recidivate or commit another crime. We also provided resources on employment and housing opportunities in the area to the offenders that needed it. When needed we did Urinary Analysis (UAs) and gave Breathalyzer’s to determine if an offender had and drugs or alcohol in there system. Also a portion of the position included speaking with offenders while they were in jail to obtain statements and to complete other needed assessments and paperwork.

Despite what some may think this internship was truly an enjoyable experience for me. Even though in my short time there I witnessed individuals go in and out of custody and in continuously violating the terms of their probation, there was also a lot of good. Despite their reputation, in this internship I came across a great deal of probation officers that genuinely cared about the wellbeing of the offenders under their supervision. I was able to see that for some of these offenders, even though probation is considered by some a punishment, to them it is the best thing that could have happened. For some individuals there PO is the first person in their life to actually care about what happens to them.

This internship has taught me that it is by no means going to be an easy task to improve the prison system. However it has also taught me that there are a lot of good people already working within the system that acknowledge the need for a change. After I complete my undergraduate degree I am extremely excited for the opportunity to become a probation officer and to start on my journey to make changes in the lives of the individuals that most would rather forget.