ReMerge celebrates 9th rehabilitation graduating class

ReMerge celebrates 9th rehabilitation graduating class

Story by:
Alex Gerszewski
DOC Public Information Officer

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._A ReMerge graduation event this week at the Oklahoma History Center celebrated four Oklahoma women who have successfully completed the yearlong diversion program.

Since 2011, the comprehensive female rehabilitation program has helped 61 mothers or pregnant women facing incarceration through substance abuse treatment, education programs and legal assistance.

Since its inception, ReMerge has received full support from the district attorney's office and has worked with District Attorney David Prater to dismiss the felony charges ReMerge participants once faced.

"This is a new beginning for you, your children and your entire family," Prater said to the recent graduating class. "Do not waste this opportunity. Harness what you have learned, lean on your newly found support systems and teach your children about what got you here to avert them from a path to incarceration."

ReMerge works closely with NorthCare and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to provide services and develop individualized treatment plans to address the needs of each participant and their families.

In addition, ReMerge participants are supervised by an on-site probation and parole officer with the Department of Corrections to provide supervision, monitoring and drug testing.

Tara Willitt, program coordinator female offender diversion programs with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said the program is working to stop the cycle of incarceration for families and with an offender population expected to grow by 900 within the next year the need for this program continues to be critical.

"I have seen firsthand women who have completely turned their lives around after going through the ReMerge program," Willitt said. "They gain a sense of self and learn what triggers their addiction so they can overcome it before using again. It is such a blessing to have a great program to combat female incarceration in the state."

ReMerge Executive Director Terri Woodland said the community support of the organization is the driving force behind the success of the women and the program.

"These women work hard and earn everything," Woodland said. "But without the support from donations, community partners and foundations we would not be able to accomplish the amazing work we do. It is a true blessing to give these women and their families a second chance."

Woodland said there are 46 women currently involved in the program who are mothers to 112 children. The next graduation event is scheduled for spring 2016.

For more pictures on the graduation event, click here.