Sheriff’s Convicted Offender Re-entry Effort (S.C.O.R.E.) is a state-funded intermediate sanctions facility operated jointly by Collin County Community Supervision and Correcting Department (CSCD) and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.
The S.C.O.R.E. program teaches non-violent offenders, 17 years and older, who are physically able to work through experimental and educational techniques on how to make better life choices and decisions.
In addition, the Veterans Accessing Lifelong Opportunities for Rehabilitation (V.A.L.O.R.) program for Veterans, which is operated in a collaborative effort between CSCD, The North Texas Regional Veterans Court, the Honorable Judge John Roach and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, is an in-custody curriculum providing treatment alternatives for felony/misdemeanor veteran offenders facing jail time or probation revocations.
V.A.L.O.R. was designed to aid veteran defendants to develop better decision-making skills and to provide the necessary tools to enhance well-being and to assist in reintegration into society.
Participants receive group counseling instruction in military sexual trauma (MST), PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), individual counseling based on mental health assessment and aid with military benefits and/or disability benefits. They also receive integration therapies such as music, art and writing and chaplain services among multiple other tools for successful re-entry to a productive and positive lifestyle.
“Oftentimes we’re looking at individuals with alcohol and substance abuse issues or veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI or MST who while dealing with the many impacts of their service to our country, find or land themselves in unfavorable situations and circumstances. The S.C.O.R.E. and V.A.L.O.R. programs offer positive and life-changing alternatives to traditional incarceration and have a proven record of success,” said Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner.
Admission to either program requires a court order, amended court order or voluntary request and requires aftercare meetings and 12-step meetings weekly to address relapse intervention and the overall recovery process.
The mission of the S.C.O.R.E. and V.A.L.O.R programs, its personnel and volunteers is to equip offenders with cognitive tools and decision-making strategies to combat errors in judgment and thinking that will deter criminal behavior and to teach positive responses that will reflect positive reactions and outcomes to negative situations.
“The philosophy is that offenders should be held strictly responsible and accountable for their actions while being provided alternative resources for positive and pro-social behavioral change. What we are finding more true every day is that the participants hold a high moral standard of conduct amongst each other. They want to be successful within the program and want even more to better their lives,” Skinner said.
Offenders participate in classroom education covering skills such as cognitive thinking, moral reconation therapy, parenting and life skills, anger management, substance abuse evaluation and treatment, individual and group counseling, AA recovery and GED Preparation and testing among others.
Program participants complete community service hours, work the detention center property’s 120-acre farm and gardens and perform community enhancement activities by maintaining the county animal shelter, clearing brush and debris from county properties, work for various nonprofit organizations and maintain the area’s county cemeteries.
“We are so very grateful for citizen support, volunteers, and local organizations and business owners for their involvement which enable the programs to work and be successful,” Skinner said.
Inmates were required to complete the Work and Technical Education for Rehabilitation program that introduced them to landscaping and gardening skills through classroom and hands-on instruction by Collin County Master Gardeners and a local Texas A&M Agrilife Extension agent. The components taught during the class included garden design, characteristics of soil, irrigation and watering, and seed starting and planting.
“The vegetables we produce and process on the property, which include squash, potatoes. peppers, okra, corn and cantaloupe, feed the main jail inmate population, individuals held at the minimum security facility and juvenile detention center,” said programs Lt. Diana LeBron. “The gardens have produced close to 3 tons of vegetables this year. Any excess is distributed to local charities, food pantries and The Samaritan Inn in McKinney.”
The recent addition of the Sheriff’s Office Honey Bee Apiary is all the buzz.
Housing 12 hives on the property, inmates, volunteers and program personnel have all been schooled and received both fundamental and crucial instruction on the art of bee-keeping from Texas Bee Supply owners Lyndon and Blake Shook.
"Sheriff Skinner attended one of our beekeeping classes and expressed interest in starting an apiary for pollination purposes. We created a custom class for the inmates and the result has been fantastic," Lyndon Shook said.
The new apiary began construction in January, and the bees arrived in late April. There have been 200 pounds of honey produced and processed thus far.
The honey is being used in the same manner as the vegetables. There are future plans in the works to sell the honey at local farmers' markets.
“Biscuits and honey are very popular among the inmates,” Skinner laughingly added.
Not only do the programs offer a positive alternative to offenders, but they also provide sustainability, teach trade and job skills. Zero tax dollars are being spent in the efforts.
The S.C.O.R.E. program serves 26 inmates while V.A.L.O.R. is serving six veterans.
For more information on either program contact Lt. Tami McCullough at 972-547-5095.
For more information on Texas Bee Supply visit TexasBeeSupply.com.