A Comprehensive Inventory of All Thresholds Organizations and Programs


Compiled by Richard Bergesen, Chester, PA

Mid-Atlantic Thresholds

This is an umbrella organization for Thresholds in Delaware County, PA; Thresholds of Chester County, PA; and Thresholds of the State of Delaware. It has no authority over it’s constituents, nor does it receive any money from them. It’s members are representatives from the three Thresholds organizations. It coordinates changes in the Thresholds Teacher’s Manual, the Thresholds Inmate’s Workbook, and the Thresholds youth workbook, as all three organizations use the same materials. It also holds training for macro teachers from its member organizations, and has helped establish new Thresholds organizations.

Originally there were 7 steps: The Definition of the Situation; The Formulation of the Possibility Set; Evaluation of the Possibilities; The Decisional Criteria; Decision; Action; Ratification. This was according to the original Thresholds Teacher’s Manual by Milton Burglass and Mary Duffy, published in 1974. Mid-Atlantic chapters now use only 6 steps which are: Define the Situation; Set the Goal; Develop the Possibilities; Evaluate the Possibilities; Make the Decision; Implement the Decision.

Mid-Atlantic Part I General Introduction || Mid Atlantic Part II Participation

(1) Thresholds in Delaware County Delaware County, PA –Jerry Duffy
Delaware County Prison Cheyney, PA –Decision@ThresholdsDelco.org / 610-459-9384
State Correctional Inst. at Chester Chester, PA —www.thresholdsdelco.org
Juvenile Detention Center Lima, PA

Mickey Burglass started the first Thresholds organization in Bucks County, PA in 1972. In the fall of 1973, in nearby Delaware County, PA, the Delaware County Justice Coalition had been meeting to improve the conditions at the Delaware County Prison. They learned of the Thresholds program in Bucks County and invited Dr. Burglass to make a presentation to them and other members of the justice community. As a result, the Delaware County Prison Board approved the Thresholds program at it’s prison, and Thresholds in Delaware County was started and has been operating in there ever since. There are currently two part-time paid employees funded mainly by foundations and U/W. Thresholds in Delaware County has expanded to also teach Thresholds at the state prison in Chester, PA and at the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center at Lima, PA. They are closely coordinated with Thresholds of Chester County through Mid-Atlantic Thresholds, and so have the same steps and curriculum. In Delaware County the program is taught continuously throughout the year, and so the macros and micros are not always exactly aligned. The program is taught almost exclusively to men due to procedural restrictions at the county prison, but both boys and girls are taught at the juvenile detention facility. In 2010 at the county prison there were 128 inmates who started the program and 84 who graduated. At the juvenile facility there were 75 graduates and at SCI – Chester over 100 graduated.

(2) Thresholds of Chester County Chester County, PA — Richard Bergesen
Chester County Prison Pocopson, PA — RBergesen@verizon.net / 610-436-6469
Chester County Youth Center Pocopson, PA —www.thresholdschesco.org

The Chester County Prison Thresholds program was conducted by the older Thresholds in Delaware County program until 1981 when volunteers who lived in Chester County broke away and formed an autonomous chapter. Each step has macro and micro meetings for men and for women at the Prison, and for women at the Work-Release Center. One step is taught each week with a macro and micro meetings. A cycle consists of an introductory session, the six steps, graduation, and a reentry session, covering 9 weeks. There are three cycles taught each year, in the winter, spring and fall. For boys and girls at the Youth Center and for girls at the Shelter there is a combination of alternating macros and micros, where the whole program is taught on a weekend once a month by a team of Thresholds teachers. There are about 100 members in Chester County, of whom about 75 are active. During any given cycle, there will be over 50 macro and micro teachers working in the correctional facilities.

(3) Thresholds of the State of Delaware State of Delaware — Len H. Beck
Delores Baylor Women’s Center Wilmington, DE –lenhbeck@verizon.net / 302-994-7200
Ferris School for Boys Wilmington, DE
Gander Hill Prison Wilmington, DE
Delaware Correctional Center Smyrna, DE
Sussex County Prison Georgetown, DE
Thresholds in Delaware County, PA

Thresholds was started in Delaware in the 1980s by Hugh Wallace, and Joann Page from the New York Fortune Society. They trained inmate lifers at the Delaware Correctional Center at Smyrna, DE. The lifers then trained volunteers from the community and other inmates as teachers. The Thresholds teachers now consist of 12 volunteers from the community and 35 inmates. A program for the juveniles at Ferris was started in 1998 with help from Jerry Nowell of Mid-Atlantic Thresholds. Thresholds is taught in all five prisons in the State of Delaware, using the Mid-Atlantic curriculum

Other Thresholds Organizations

(4) Guided Group / Thresholds Montgomery County, PA –Caryl Jones
Montgomery County Corr. Facility Eagleville, PA –CarylJo46@aol.com / 610-543-0912

In 1987, the Montgomery County Correctional Facility opened in Eagleville, PA. Two volunteers, who had been active in the Delaware County Thresholds program, received permission to start a Thresholds program there. In the beginning, the micro/macro format was used; this eventually became impractical, through lack of space and volunteer attrition. It is now, and has been for many years, a macro only program, with the name “Guided Group / Thresholds.” Decision making and self-awareness take equal importance in the program content. A version of Mickey Burglass’ original seven-step paradigm, with some alterations, is used to teach decision making. In the category of self-awareness there are workshops on such topics as anger, trust, autonomy, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, grieving, forgiveness, and many more. Individual work is done with the use of handouts. Thresholds in Bucks County, PA (Vita) Mickey Burglass

(5) Vita – Decisions for Living program Bucks County, PA Vita Education Services
Bucks County Correctional Facility Doylestown, PA –215-345-8322
www.vitaeducation.org

Mickey Burglass founded his own organization called Correctional Solutions, Inc. and helped to establish the first Thresholds organization in Bucks County, PA in 1972, teaching in the Bucks County Correctional Facility. The Thresholds program was later folded into a program taught by Vita Education Services, which uses both paid employees for teaching group sessions and volunteers for one-on-one tutoring, called “Decisions for Living”. Vita also teaches Job Readiness courses and Decisions for a Better Life workshops, and does literacy tutoring; it is the largest provider of educational services in the Bucks County Correctional facility. It is funded by fees for services from the prison, the County and Courts of Bucks, and by contributions from United Way, civic organizations, corporations, churches and individuals; it is a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) nonprofit organization. The “Decisions for Living” course helps individuals make sound choices using a logical five-step process that emphasizes self-awareness, personal responsibility, critical thinking, and goal setting. In addition to identifying the external facts of a situation, inmates learn to identify other variables that influence decision making: feelings, thoughts, attitudes, self-images, habits, values, and past experiences. Vita staff and volunteers help transform those with issues related to impulsivity, low self image, and poor decision making abilities into self-determining, controlled, socially and emotionally responsible men and women. Lessons include whole class discussion, small and large group activities, role plays and simulations and reflective writing. Vita has also developed a program for at-risk youth, “Decisions for Teens”, that has been taught in many different settings.

(6) People Against Recidivism program SCI at Graterford, PA –Prisoner, James Mohammed Taylor
State Correctional Inst. at Graterford Graterford, PA — www.pargraterford.org

The People against Recidivism program is run by lifers at the State Correctional Institutions at Graterford, PA The Founder and Director of PAR is James Mohammed Taylor, who has been incarcerated for over thirty years. He is assisted by nine other inmates as facilitators. Originally there was an outside organization that helped the group inside the prison, but due to people moving on, the outside group doesn’t exist anymore. James Taylor facilitated a Thresholds course that was introduced by several people including Tom Nightingale of Mid-Atlantic Thresholds. The Thresholds course was subsequently combined with other material, notably Ned Rollo’s book “99 Days and a Get Up: A Guide to Success Following Release for Inmates and Their Loved Ones”, which was written by a former convict to help other ex-cons prepare for re-entry into society, and is now called PAR.

(7) Sai Baba Center of Wappinger Falls, NY Wappinger Falls, NY –Murthy Cheruvu
Dutchess County Jail Poughkeepsie, NY — saicheruvu@hotmail.com / 845-559-0374
New Hope Youth Center Poughkeepsie, NY — www.sailoveinaction.org
PrisonServiceWappinger2

Mid-Atlantic Thresholds, under the leadership of Jerry Nowell, has established the Thresholds program in Poughkeepsie, New York. Sai Baba is an organization of people from India who have immigrated to the United States. They run a Thresholds program at the Dutchess County Jail and the New Hope Youth Center as a service activity of the Sai Baba Center, without any religious components. It uses the same course material that was developed by Mid-Atlantic Thresholds.

(8) Catholic Diocese of Atlanta, GA Atlanta, GA –Sandra Smith / Jim Powers
Women’s Transitional Center Atlanta, GA –JP: 404-312-2067

Mid-Atlantic Thresholds, led by Jerry Nowell, worked with the Catholic Diocese to establish a Thresholds program at a prison in Atlanta, GA. However, the inmates at that prison were transferred to another prison away from Atlanta, making it impossible for the volunteers who had been trained there to continue the program. However, Thresholds was also established at the Women’s Transitional Center in Atlanta, and that program is continuing. They use the Mid-Atlantic curriculum.

Northeast Thresholds

Mickey Burglass originally set up Correctional Solutions, Inc. to produce the Thresholds program. He then set up National Thresholds to promote the program in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Penny Rogers originally worked with Mickey Burglass, but eventually had some disagreements with him over the curriculum and went her own way. She started many of the chapters in New England. All chapters are autonomous, but Northeast Thresholds now encompasses all the chapters in New England. The Thresholds program in the Northeast has five steps that can be summarized as follows:

Step One: See The Situation Clearly – clients learn to isolate and define situations that happen to each of us
daily and to separate external events from internal feelings.

Step Two: Know What You Want – the emphasis in this step is on finding a direction or setting a specific goal.

Step Three: Expand the Possibilities – clients learn to identify numerous strategies for attaining a goal.

Step Four: Evaluate and Decide – the risks, odds, and outcomes of strategies developed in step three are examined and used to formulate a choice of action.

Step Five: Act – clients learn to create an action plan and time line for the tactics chosen related to their strategies.

(9) Connecticut Thresholds Cheshire, CT — Richard Sullo
Manson Youth Correctional Inst. Cheshire, CT –qnewsletter@palmcoastd.com / 203-439-0111
Cheshire Correctional Inst. Cheshire, CT — www.thresholdsct.org
Willard-Cybulski Correc. Inst. Enfield, CT
Connecticut Renaissance Waterbury, CT

Due to not having enough volunteers, the program in Connecticut does not have a macro group, so the micro group does both. The micro teachers go into the facility one night per week as a group with a cycle manager. The first 15-20 minutes the cycle manager does a group activity; then the clients go with their micro teacher for their session. The volunteers have a cycle manager they can turn to whenever they need to. The Department of Corrections does not allow teachers to go in individually. Connecticut Thresholds uses the 5 steps adopted by Northeast Thresholds.

(10) Southern New Hampshire Services (RSVP) Manchester, NH — Lyn Collins
Hillsborough County Dept. of Corr. Manchester, NH –lcollins@snhs.org / 603-634-1169
www.snhs.org

The Thresholds program has been run at the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections facility since 1996. The current Program Coordinator, Lyn Collins, has been with the program since 2003 and has previously been a micro counselor and macro teacher. Her husband has been with the program for almost fourteen years. The Thresholds program is sponsored by Southern New Hampshire Services, the Community Action Agency for
Hillsborough County, and is run through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Thresholds is taught in two 12 week cycles in the spring and the fall by 12 trained counselors who present the micro lessons and 3 teachers who present the macros. Trained RSVP volunteers meet one-on-one in weekly one hour sessions with selected inmates for twelve weeks. These sessions are also supported by a weekly two hour group session reinforcing the five steps of good decision making, known as “Thresholds and Decisions”.

(11) Grafton NH– Thresholds & Decisions program North Haverhill, NH — Jan Kinder
Grafton County Correctional Facility North Haverhill, NH — jankinder@charter.net
Grafton County Drug Court North Haverhill, NH — www.rsvptoday.org
/ 603-448-3906

The program “Thresholds and Decisions” has been taught at the Grafton County Department of Corrections since 1991. RSVP and The Volunteer Center sponsored Thresholds, but due to cuts in funding and staffing they are no longer involved. The Thresholds volunteers were largely self-directed and so were able to carry on, and have expanded their work to include working with offenders through the Drug Court. Thresholds was tried at the Sullivan County DOC but space and volunteers were an issue, and then Sullivan County got a big grant to build a community corrections wing that incorporates counseling and other reentry services. Thresholds consists of the same five steps that are used by Northeast to teach decision-making, problemsolving, goal setting and image building, based on the contention that behavioral change is motivated by the creation of a changed self image. It teaches how to choose and condition attitudes; by expanding possibilities and choosing a complimentary attitude one begins to accept responsibility for himself, and can reach realistic goals.

(12) Maine General Health Reach (RSVP) Waterville, ME –Ruth Saint Amand
Kennebec County Jail Augusta, ME — ruth.stamand@mainegeneral.org / 207-861-3428
Somerset County Jail Madison, ME — www.mainegeneral.org/rsvp

Maine General Health works through the RSVP organization to provide three main programs: RSVP Reading Program; Bone Builders; and Thresholds and Decisions. Training, support and materials are provided by HealthReach RSVP, but the program is taught by volunteers. RSVP matches peoples abilities and goals with volunteer opportunities that help non-profit organizations or programs that help the community. The Thresholds program has been taught for eight years. The Thresholds and Decisions program has the same five steps as Northeast. Its core beliefs are: people can change; all people are unique, important and irreplaceable; and attitude and self-image make people who they are. The program is taught to groups of inmates twice a week for four weeks. It has 15 trained volunteers, and approximately 100 inmates graduate from the program each year.

(13) Franklin and Hampshire County, MA Amherst, MA — Sherrill Ashton
Franklin County Jail Greenfield, MA –thresholds002@cs.com / 413-549-1745
Hampshire County Jail Nothampton, MA — www.amherst.edu/academiclife/cce/connect/education/groups

The Thresholds program is taught in the jails of Franklin and Hampshire Counties. The effort is led by Sherrill Ashton, who has worked in the jailsnsince 1979. Volunteers include students from Amherst College.

(14) Thresholds/Decisions of Rutland, VT Rutland, VT — Frank and Rita McCaffrey
Rutland Dismas House Rutland, VT (Frank) –FBM4141@aol.com / 802-824-4080
Rutland Correctional Center Rutland, VT (Rita) — RitaMcCaff@aol.com / 802-824-4080
www.dismasofvermont.org/ttdprogr.htm
When you visit this site, be sure to check out the beautiful Power Point summary they have created.

Rita McCaffrey organized a group of 10 people to take Thresholds training in Albany, NY in 1974, taught by a team headed by Mickey Burglass, to work in various cities in New England. In the later 1970s there were programs in Burlington, Woodstock, St. Johnsbury and St. Albans Vermont; Penny Rogers helped her in the beginning. Rita was the Volunteer Coordinator, and her husband Frank McCaffrey was the lead teacher. The Correctional Center where they taught underwent some changes, becoming more of short term facility, so the cycles were pared down from the original 12 weeks to 10 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks and eventually an intensive week of training for 10 to 14 men. An outgrowth of the program was establishing a Dismas House in Burlington in 1986, Rutland in 1990 and Winooski in 2008. These are a kind of half-way house for inmates getting out of prison. Thresholds was also taught at the Rutland Dismas House. For personal reasons, the program has been temporarily suspended, but there are plans to start again at the Rutland Correctional Center in the fall of 2012