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Programs -> Saratoga

Saratoga County Jail Reentry Programs
Built by Ben Deeb

CRPA Initiative, MAT and Treatment Team, Recovery Pod, and Several Reentry-Focused Programs Inside the Jail

The information on this page was gathered in interviews with Ben Deeb conducted by Darby Larkin. Anything in quotes is a quote from Ben in that interview. Go to this page to read about the research methodology.

Words that are bold, red, and underlined are links that will scroll to another place on this webpage, open another page of this website in another tab, or open an external webpage in another tab.

**A note from the author: Part of my purpose in creating this website is to recognize that anyone can be involved in reentry work, and get involved in the criminal justice system through reentry programs. This ESPECIALLY means people with current or past justice-involvement. I hope sharing this information about the many forms of reentry programs and the many ways to build them helps other people to build and expand programs for folks with justice-involvement and heal our communities from the pain of mass incarceration. This information is meant to be adapted to each local context and resources.**


"CRPA": Certified Recovery Peer Advocate - a New York State designation for people who have lived with addiction, gone through recovery, trained to provide recovery services, and become certified to provide services to people in recovery.


"HIPAA": Federal law that protects health information so it cannot be spread or shared without a person's consent.


"MAT": Medication Assisted Treatment - this is the term used in New York for the use of medication (in addition to other treatment like counseling) to treat an addiction.


"OASAS": Office of Addiction Supports and Services - the New York State department that regulates all certified or state-funded addiction provider agencies and provides funding for recovery programs in New York State. 


"Peers": Peers and peer services in recovery care are people who have gone through addiction and recovery

"Inmate": Throughout this website, I use the terms 'inmate', 'currently or formerly incarcerated person/folks', and 'justice-involved individual', but will not use the terms 'convict', 'felon', etc. A lot of changing is happening in New York State to recognize that people should not be defined by justice-involvement, and terms like 'justice-involved individual' are becoming more common. I still use the word 'inmate' occasionally in this website to match the most common language in many counties in Upstate New York to refer to currently incarcerated folks while they are incarcerated, and the population of incarcerated folks in a jail. However, I want to recognize the humanity and the value of these individuals far outside of what the term 'inmate' conveys.


Overview of Programs

CRPA Initiative

Ben Deeb provides advocacy, program referrals and bed-to-bed transfers, and other holistic discharge planning services. Until recently he provided these services to the entire jail population, but is now able to focus on those with recovery needs 

Discharge Case Manager

the jail recently hired a discharge case manager to take care of all the reentry needs for everyone that doesn't have a substance use problem so the CRPA Initiative can focus on folks with substance use problems

Tablet Program

Tablets available for folks allow phone calls, email, and video visitation


ability to sign folks up for Medicaid while they're in the jail


Incarcerated Veterans Program connects veterans with resources and a trained peer mentor while incarcerated


Family Support Initiative runs in the jail and the community providing mutual aid, family support, programming, and enhanced visits 

Recovery Unit

a special wing of the jail for male veterans, men who are on MAT, and some men who are motivated and committed to recovery and improvement. Includes a wide variety of classes and programs led by volunteers from the community and special privileges

This system of programs has been wildly successful! Saratoga has been able to lower their recidivism rate to 8%, and provided services to hundreds of people. For more information on the success of this program, see the 'Success' section below.

More details on each program:

CRPA Initiative

CRPA Initiative

Ben Deeb created and runs the 'CRPA Initiative' in Saratoga County Jail. Ben offers Recovery Coaching, discharge planning, and case management-style services to people while they are incarcerated in Saratoga. Every week, he gets a 'scheduled release list' of everyone being released in the next 30 days. He then meets with those people one-on-one inside the jail to help them plan for release, figure out what options might work for them, and what they need to be successful. He can communicate with people outside the jail on behalf of the client, including friends and family as well as community programs, lawyers, and treatment providers. To do this, he is HIPAA-compliant, meaning he does not share information about clients unless he has a signed Release of Information to speak with that particular person or agency. Go here to learn more about HIPAA.


Funding: The program is 'contracted' out to Ben by Saratoga County Jail, and half his salary and many of the materials he uses are paid for from the jail's commissary fund. The other half of his salary is paid by Healing Springs Recovery Center, which provides totally free peer recovery support services and community events and meetings. Ben also works at Healing Springs supervising and training peers.


Through his position, Ben started other initiatives in the jail and brought community volunteers in to run other programs to help people and prepare them for release. 


Below, find details on all the services he can provide as part of the CRPA Initiative and the other programs he started!

Ben Deeb

Ben knows the cycle of recidivism that happens when people are released from jail without any services, any connections, or any help. He also knows the impact correctional officers can have when they make fun of inmates for talking about recovery, telling them they'll never amount to anything and will only end up back in jail. Ben lived in active addiction, going in and out of jail and prison, for several years. When Ben was 10 months in recovery, he decided

"I'm going to make a difference...I'm going to change the way this goes in corrections."

Now he's revolutionizing the criminal justice system and the community in Saratoga.

CRPA Services

Recovery Coaching

~ Create wellness plans with clients

~ Help clients prepare for their recovery outside of jail and focus on their recovery while incarcerated

~ Educate clients on addiction, the science behind it, the emotional toll it takes on others, and the benefits and process of recovery

Education / Employment

~ Educate clients on the education and job training options available at the time

~ Provide referrals and connect clients with education programs and assistance and job training programs

~ Motivate clients about their future


~ Help clients look for and apply for housing and housing assistance in the community

~ Advocate on behalf of clients with landlords (including explaining how the support of the CRPA program can make people more reliable tenants)

Reentry Planning

~ Help clients prepare emotionally for reentry and think about what they need, want, and should have when they're released 

~ Create a reentry plan with clients

~ Educate clients on services available in the community, help with applications, etc

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

~ Educate clients on MAT, the science behind it, and the potential benefits

~ Help clients decide if they'd like MAT 

~ Connect them with MAT in the jail and with providers and appointments in the community

Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI)

~ Educate clients on Alternatives to Incarceration programs and current options

~ Help clients think through these programs and what might be helpful and possible for them depending on their charges and criminal history

Treatment Placements

~ Educate on treatment options in Upstate NY

~ Help clients decide which programs might be beneficial for them

 ~ Refer clients to programs and make bed-to-bed transfers (directly secure a bed in a facility for a client to move to)

Insurance Navigation

~ Educate clients on insurance options and the benefits of insurance coverage

~ Assist clients in getting and keeping insurance

(before COVID this was done by the Certified Application Counselor, discussed below, but now Ben helps with this process)

ATI Court Advocacy

~ Connect pre-trial clients with ATI programs and secure bed-to-bed transfers

~ Advocate with lawyers, court officials, and judges on the benefits of ATI on behalf of clients

How did Ben start the CRPA Initiative?

Ben knows the cycle of recidivism that happens when people are released from jail without any services, any connections, or any help. He also knows the impact correctional officers can have when they make fun of inmates for talking about recovery, telling them they'll never amount to anything and will only end up back in jail. Ben lived in active addiction, going in and out of jail and prison, for several years. When Ben was 10 months in recovery, he decided

"I'm going to make a difference...I'm going to change the way this goes in corrections."

Now he's revolutionizing the criminal justice system and the community in Saratoga.

Building CRPA Initiative

Other Programs in the Jail:

Other Programs

Tablet Program

The jail has instituted a tablet program: inmates are provided tablets at specific times with access to reading and education materal, test prep, phone calls, and email and video visitation.

The tablets greatly improve all programming and visitation opportunities, especially during the pandemic.

Medicaid Applications

Ben works with a Certified Application Counselor (CAC - meaning she can do Medicaid applications for others) through Saratoga Hospital.

Before COVID, the CAC would come in every Thursday and Ben would hand her a list of people who needed insurance. She would fill out the application with them, submit all the information on her own, and send Ben their information once they were approved.

Now, Ben fills out the applications with clients, sends the information to the CAC, she submits it, and sends him back their new insurance information.

Incarcerated Veterans Program

This program assists veterans in their reentry by connecting them with veteran-specific resources and helping them access and apply for benefits.

Peer Connection: successful veterans in the community are trained as mentors and paired with incarcerated veterans to help the incarcerated veteran transition back into the community

Family Support Initiative

Family resources, especially recovery-related resources, are provided by a Family Counselor from Healing Springs. This includes connections for programs and agencies in the community offering mutual aid, NA and AA for families, family support programs, and clergy services. The counselor can also make referrals for financial benefits, free food and clothing, day care, and Narcan.

There's also a program for 'enhanced visitation' that allows folks who engage with programs to get extra visits with their children in a room specially decorated and designed to be comfortable for kids. 

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Treatment Team

Since 2019, Saratoga County jail also provides MAT services (Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction). For people who have an active prescription for MAT in the community, the jail's medical unit will continue their prescription and provide them the MAT they utilize in the community. They can provide Vivitrol, Suboxone, Methadone, and Sublocade. The person who provides the MAT medications is the doctor who already prescribed psychiatric medications for the jail, and is contracted from an outside agency. He comes to the jail a few hours each week to meet with incarcerated folks to check on, change, or write prescriptions.


The jail formed a team of people to make decisions about MAT, like what policies would be made, how to handle issues with inmates relating to MAT, and to discuss inmates receiving MAT and their treatment. This team involves everyone involved in any type of decision making or policy at the jail, including an administrator, a Classification Officer, the Program Lieutenant, the veterans Lieutenant, the MAT provider, the Registered Nurse, and some community providers working in addiction services. The meetings are an hour every week to talk about inmates on MAT, what's happening with their reentry planning, any disciplinary trouble people have had, and diversion issues (when someone pretends to take their MAT medication but hides it to give or sell to someone else). This treatment team was incredibly helpful early on in the process because everything was so new, and the jail had to write policies as situations came up.


31-Man 'Recovery Pod'

The Recovery Pod is a wing of the jail, with a common area in the middle surrounded by cells. It can hold 31 people, and it's a male unit. It's designated for the inmates on MAT, veterans in the jail, and certain highly motivated inmates who applied for the pod and were accepted by the administration. It has several special privileges and, before the pandemic put things on hold, hosted several programs and classes for all residents!

Perks of the Unit:

Workout Equipment: the other units in the jail just have a pull-up bar and the 'yard' (outdoor space) just has a basketball hoop - for the Recovery Pod the jail purchased some workout equipment to provide a "physical outlet" for participants

~ Washer and Dryer: the unit has it's own washer and dryer, making it self-sufficient and much easier to do laundry

~ Unlocked Doors: in the rest of the jail, inmates are locked into their cells at midnight - in the unit, the cell doors don't lock, allowing people to move around the pod even at night and early in the morning

~ Special Books: Through a friend, Ben secured "carts and carts" of self-help related books, books related to reentry and recovery, NA and AA books and the Recovery Bible, and other positive books.

~ Positive Atmosphere: 

"Everything in that unit was positive, they weren't allowed to gamble and play cards like the other [pods] arguing, none of that...we tried to remove as much...of the criminal element as possible"

"It was working and they were happy to be there and no one wanted to leave there...we had carts and carts of special books...there wasn't, like, people sitting around telling war stories about selling crack on the block. They were talking about the Man's Search for Meaning book they were reading, doing book studies on it. And they were talking about the addictive and criminal thinking things and life events. So, like, the positive conversation grew in this unit"

The biggest perks in the unit are the programs and classes taught by community providers within the pod! Ben has worked hard with the administration to build an expansive variety of programs, and cover what he sees as the "main pieces of success" in reentry and recovery.

Recovery Pod

Class / Program Options in the Unit

Case/Care Management Intakes

Adirondack Health Institute (AHI)

~ Case managers at AHI can meet with inmate to conduct an intake and enroll them for case management BEFORE release


~ Ben talked to the director of AHI: "I said, I want you to agree to send someone in to intake these individuals pre-release so that they're already they don't have to wait to see your enroller 2-3 days after they get out of here, and then wait a week for you to come they're already your clients. And she agreed to do that"


~ "the follow through care management [is so important]...[for] someone getting out with no housing, no job, no food stamps...they can't even leave the jail and fill the scripts they had when they got there...that first two weeks is make or break for somebody."

Employment & Training

Director of Saratoga County Director of Employment and Training

~ Workshops on resume writing, job readiness, questionnaire about strengths and transferable skills to match you with a potential job, access to interview clothes
~ The plan is to grow the program through tablets so inmates can virtually meet with employers and discuss
"what are you seeking in an employee, then figuring out ways to get them those trainings, OSHA they're coming out job-ready"

Codependency Class/Group


~ Psycho-education (education about thoughts, behaviors, and psychology) on healthy and unhealthy relationships - explores individual beliefs, self-esteem, and the impact of early childhood - discusses all forms of relationships, including with partners, parents, children, and friends
~ A large percent of the population at Saratoga County Jail are affected by unhealthy relationships and domestic violence

Yoga and Meditation

Local yoga teacher

~ Classes and discussion on yoga and mindfulness - helps a lot with emotional regulation
~ Can lead to reduction of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, and anger, better impulse control, and increasing stability and compassion

Getting Ahead While Getting Out

Captain Human Services

~ This is a class Captain created as a spin-off of the Getting Ahead class at Captain, based on the Bridges Out of Poverty model (a national evidenced-based model) - combines life skills, budgeting, and financial planning and is incarceration-specific


~ "because a lot of folks have never lived a life that supports longevity, fruitfulness, they have no clue what a checkbook balance looks like or like what they need to make to live the conversation revolves around like, in Saratoga, this is what you need to make to support, and they would do these exercises of like this is your job role, this is how much money you got, and then play it out to see if they can afford it...what they spend their money on"

Addictive and Criminal Thinking

Ben Deeb (CRPA)

~ Class based on a model focused on thought maps and core beliefs 
~ Teaches people to accept what's happened to you has made you who you are, but you have to figure out why - you became a different person in jail or prison because you needed to adapt, but you can't bring all those behaviors and thought patterns into recovery
~ Focuses on
"what you can't bring into recovery to be successful...what you think and why, where you want to be, what can you bring with you" into recovery
~ "I know that I didn't go into prison the same person who came out because of the things I saw and had to do and adapt to"

Faith-Based Program

Street Evangelist Working with Saratoga's Homeless

~ Also available to men outside of the Recovery Pod

~ One on one pastoral services, non-denominational program so everyone would feel comfortable
~ Pre-pandemic, he would go into the pods to eat lunch and hangout with the men - offering less formal emotional support 

All Recovery Meetings

and Recovery Writing

~ All Recovery: Meetings for people in recovery from any substance
~ Recovery Writing: writing and journaling exercises for recovery, some are based on an evidenced-based curriculum

How did the Recovery Unit start?

In 2019 it was obvious that bail reform was coming. Ben and the Sheriff's Office knew the jail population was about to drastically shrink when it hit. In fact, the jail's population went from 190 people to 110 in one month. With a lower population, there was an entire wing of the jail that was now empty. The Colonel of the jail was talking about re-doing this unit, painting it and updating it - and Ben saw an opportunity. 


"So why don't we have a conversation about designating one of our units as a recovery pod? You know, let's pluck the five guys out of every unit in our jail that want to do well, that wind up not doing well because of peer pressure, so to speak, image - I mean it's an alpha male environment. So a guy that wants to do well can't be vulnerable. With everybody else he's a target, he can't have any real time conversation, or any kind of work in one of those units clinically. Because anything anybody overhears, they have ammunition. So I said let's take the five people that want to do well and put them in one unit."


After some debating and discussing, the Colonel agreed to give Ben a 31-man unit (a pod, or a wing of the jail with an open area surrounded by cells), to be deemed the Recovery Pod. The unit would combine all the MAT inmates, veterans, and a group of people motivated enough to commit to the unit and safe enough to join. Inmates were told about the Recovery Pod:


"This is an opportunity. It's an honor pod, you're going to have more privileges, you're going to have programs...Ben's going to focus on your reentry needs"


Inmates have to opt into the unit and sign a contract agreeing to follow the rules of the pod. People who apply to join the unit are vetted through an interview and discussed during the Treatment Team meetings. The team at the jail decided on the privileges that would be allowed in the Recovery Pod:

"Let's reward these men for opting into a position to change"


The next question was: what to offer inside this Recovery Pod? To answer this, Ben wanted to bring in community agencies to run programs on topics they specialized in out in the community. 


"What I'd really like to do is set up a collaboration meeting with the community stakeholders, extend invitations out to every human service agency to come to this meeting and make a proposal of what they would like to offer"


Ben envisioned a meeting where all these agencies could make a pitch for a program they wanted to offer in the jail, explain it to the relevant people from the jail administration, and they could decide together which programs were most worthwhile. They invited as many agencies as they could to the meeting and had amazing turnout - 35 to 40 different community providers came! One by one, they stood and pitched an idea to a panel from the jail consisting of: Ben, the Sheriff, the Colonel, the classification officer, the Lieutenant in charge of the vet services, the Registered Nurse in the jail, and the school educator.

Building Recovery Unit

Why This Program Works and What It Works For

What success looks like for Ben and the Saratoga County Jail

Success in a reentry program is much more than just reducing recidivism rates. Recidivism is such a complicated thing - measured differently by different agencies, heavily affected by the services and benefits available in a community, and often not really meaning what we think it means. Parole violations, which include tons of things that are not crimes such as being late to an appointment or missing a curfew, make up a huge portion of recidivism. Violations make up an even larger portion in New York State. In 2019 New York State parole actually sent more people to prison for technical parole violations (specifically not new crimes) than any other state in the country, with parole violations making up 40% of prison admissions (Columbia Justice Lab). Many reentry programs try to have an impact on recidivism, and they do help many aspects of life that affect recidivism (like substance abuse and mental health), but most do not have an impact on the practices of parole as an institution. Many studies have also shown that what someone experiences during incarceration, like violence or high levels of stress, has an impact on mental health and readjustment post-release (Boxer et al. 2009, Schappell et al. 2016, Morin 2016, Wolff et al. 2007). Many reentry programs, like ABLE, do not have any control over what happens in the jail. In addition, the gaps in services, the poverty rate, shortages in affordable housing and housing services, inability to access government benefits, and high unemployment all affect recidivism. None of these things are really in the control of the reentry program - even a program designed to reduce homelessness will fail if there simply are no housing options or shelters. It may not be fair or accurate to use recidivism as the measure of success for a reentry program. Plus, a reduction in recidivism doesn't necessarily mean an improvement in quality of life. Not going back to jail doesn't mean someone got a job, or they got their kids back from Child Protective Services, or that they found somewhere to live instead of bouncing between emergency shelters.

In addition, a lot of reentry programs have common-sense positive impacts. Having a person who knows about the community and the services in the community to help you navigate release from jail will inevitably have a positive impact, even if it's not being measured. There's a quality of life improvement when someone commits to stand by folks as they navigate incarceration release, and a major culture shift in the surrounding community. There's tons of research at the national level proving there's a positive impact when someone is provided MAT, or able to talk honestly about what they're going through, or are provided tools to be more successful than they could be on their own. The reentry programs I researched had a variety of things to say when I asked how they thought about success.

Outcomes to Date

As of May 2022...


159 people have continued their MAT prescriptions while incarcerated at the jail

776 people have asked for help through the CRPA Initiative
190 people have been able to go straight to an inpatient treatment program from the jail
300 people have been referred to the Insurance Navigator
40 people received Drug Treatment Court instead of a jail or prison sentence as a direct result of CRPA Initiative services
600 people have been able to receive Individualized Advocacy through the system of jail services


The recidivism return rate at Saratoga County jail is now down to 8%
compared to the national rate of around 75%

How Ben Defines Success

He's been shifting the mindset and purpose of the jail, and of COs in other jails, from 'house and punish' to 'educate and rehabilitate':

An incredibly important aspect to Ben's work is making sure the jail can be an environment conducive to successful change for the people incarcerated by changing correctional officer mindsets. Around the time the Recovery Pod opened, a Lieutenant at the Saratoga County jail began bringing Ben and the Family Support Navigator he first worked with to the New York State Correctional Academy in Saratoga. Ben and the Family Support Navigator are both trained as trainers for the science of addiction and recovery and as trainers to provide Narcan trainings. They would run a training in the science of addiction and a Narcan training, with extra education about substance use and addiction for the incarcerated population and the rates of overdose in Upstate New York communities. Ben would also talk about his experience as an inmate, his perspective as someone who has been through jail and recovery and now works in the jail, and how the language of correctional officers does affect someone's self-esteem and their view of what's possible. In every facility he's been incarcerated in Ben has experienced the stigmatizing and dehumanizing language of many correctional officers. Many don't understand MAT and think it's really just throwing drugs at addicts. Ben educates them and works to remove the stigma by connecting with COs at a human level. He uses himself as an example, saying "when you remove active use you get a productive coworker." 


With support from inside the criminal justice system, this system of programs is still growing.


“I guess I would measure the success of our program as the fact that... the COs that used to push back are now making referrals to me for reentry needs. For coaching needs. Saying 'hey I think that this guy's been struggling with alcohol or drugs and maybe he could benefit from talking to you’. That never used to happen - I was the outsider and they didn't have any communication with me.”


“I would say I measure success on the fact that we are growing our treatment team…to adding in two new CASACs and we're onboarding a nurse practitioner so we can start inductions [for MAT]. So we've grown our team by 3, and they hired a...discharge case manager.”

“Our in-house programs went from 12 hours a week to 20, so service providers are reaching out asking to get involved. Which is testament to how it runs and the effectiveness and the community outlook of the program. So we're still onboarding people for programs.


And it’s growing because it’s improving people’s lives.


“The fact that our program is growing. The fact that...the recidivism is down to 8% for our participants.”


“The fact that the [Recovery] Unit has the lowest disciplinary rate, in the entire jail. The fact that the individuals in there that might not be fully invested in what we're doing when they walk in, still become part of, in some manner, and follow the rules at least…we've only had to remove 2 individuals from the unit that were a problem in the last year.”


“And the fact that I run into people on the street, or that are walking into the recovery center from [the jail] that talk about 'I can't believe the supports I had in a county jail, and I'm still in recovery' or they're coming here asking 'Can I volunteer? This is something I might want to get into doing' is testament to the effectiveness and the success of our program."


The attitude that got him here:


Ben has accomplished something very few people have been able to in Upstate New York. He's connected hundreds, if not thousands, of people across New York State, guiding and organizing them around reentry, support, helping each other, and helping themselves. He talks a lot about knowing how to speak with people. Different people, you will interact with differently. Building such a smooth, successful, integrated system of reentry supports and services requires a high level of committed participation from people with very different mindsets - peer advocates, incarcerated folks who are committed to improving their lives and incarcerated folks who have no such commitment, the Sheriff, Colonels, Lieutenants, all the Correctional Officer staff, medical staff, family members dealing with the trauma of a loved one's incarceration, and community members from a wide variety of places. Ben managed to connect all these people into one network, overcoming the stigma and shame and discrimination that often strangles improvement in other counties in Upstate New York. Each time I've met with Ben, we've talked a bit about his attitude and how he speaks with people, and how that's made this whole system work.

He's been relatively soft-spoken when I've met with him, but you can clearly hear and see his authenticity. He believes in these programs and he knows they're good and necessary, partially because they are what he needed himself. He connects with each person on a deeper level, and he meets people where they're at. Our criminal justice system as an institution does not do well with change,  and he's been careful to always push for it without forcing it. Many old attitudes in the criminal justice system are harmful but they’re also deeply held. He's firm, but he always comes from a place of empowerment rather than shaming or forcing change.

"You can't rah-rah these people into submission. It', consistency, need, and outcome. That's it. This is the need, this is who’s going to give it to you for free, and this is the outcome of us providing it.”

“You can't deny the numbers and the outcomes and the reduction in death from people leaving the jail. The only reason they can push back is stigma and ignorance.”

“Like it or not, the jails have become mental health facilities. So we treat mental health, and addiction, and domestic violence, and all these other things, AND we house people. We're social workers AND we're running a jail."


"It's only responsible to deal with the needs of the 200 people whose lives are in your hands.”

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