Date of Award
Level of Access Assigned by Author
Master of Arts (MA)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
The purpose of this case study was to explore the opportunities and barriers for Innovation Engineering (IE) practices within the State of Maine’s only men’s reentry center. The center trains its residents in restorative justice (RJ) processes as part of its evidence based practices (EBP) curriculum. The uncommon use of RJ in reentry offers the rationale for considering the center as innovative or “meaningfully unique” within community corrections. Reasoning followed that an innovative program might be open to directly engaging its most successful residents in inclusive idea creation and implementation for the benefit of the center. Innovation theorists hold that the most successful innovations come from including all levels of stakeholders in developing and solving problems, rather than implementing top-down solutions. The study sought to understand the influence of inclusive restorative practices as they affected residents’ optimism for collaborating. When viewing Innovation Engineering as a vehicle for social innovation, the basic restorative value of empathy crosses over into the interaction. Initially, the case study requested voluntary resident participation in an IE Create Session. The session might determine if there was resident interest and motivation to engage in innovation, given the opportunity. Perhaps people who have used creative skills for antisocial purposes might also be willing and capable in using the same creativity for prosocial innovations. Opportunities included interest by residents in using problem solving skills for prosocial ends, staff willingness to engage in some exploration of resident ideas and their invitation to the researcher to try process coaching with residents. IE exercises were implemented when possible. Barriers included the bureaucracy and hierarchy of corrections and the reentry center’s relative position within the Maine Department of Corrections. Policies and procedures discouraged innovation; and efforts required extreme flexibility and creative interpretation of IE practices, to accommodate the center’s constraints of time and availability of staff. Another hurdle was the center’s need for restraint in making hurried decisions that may affect community relations. Barriers involving residents included difficulty in contacting them from the outside, their scheduled classes and work release, and Maine’s three week scheduling approval process for residents who need or desire non-mandatory interactions with community. This study finds that inclusive innovation within restorative reentry environments may be possible with agreement on investing in equal participation from every level of stakeholders and overcoming hierarchical constraints.
Stewart, Pamela Joy, "Innovating Reentry Reform: Incarcerated People and Inclusive Innovation" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2541.