Alternatives to Incarceration Powered by Everyday Heroes

by | Feb 3, 2023

Joanne Rivera has worked as a Human Services Worker at Community Partners in Action (CPA) for over six years. Her office is based in Waterbury at the Transitional Housing program where she helps residents who are pre-trial or sentenced, referred by the Court Support Services Division of the Connecticut judicial branch.  

It’s a hands-on role that involves spending quality time with residents, helping them to make the behavioral and life changes that will move their lives forward. Joanne ensures people in her care get the right intervention resources for handling challenges including substance abuse, anger management, and adjusting to setbacks.

She also works with residents on a wide range of day-to-day needs like completing job applications, making appointments, or accessing state entitlements.

“I leave here every day with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I’ve helped to empower and lift up the residents in my program,” said Joanne.

Alternatives to incarceration is a concept that spread across Connecticut between 1985 – 1990. Two innovators including the Department of Correction’s Commissioner Larry Albert and a CPA attorney developed it as a cost-effective solution to the overwhelmed court dockets and overcrowded prisons.

Joanne’s Supervisor is Sarah Drayton who oversees the Waterbury residential operation that offers transitional housing to men. The men who stay there often use the group intervention services provided through the Alternatives to Incarceration program. De-escalating challenging situations and the ability to give individuals the space they need to regroup is an essential skill for employees working in community-based programs.

“You give the respect, and you get the respect back,” says Sarah.

When former participants stop by and let the team know they are doing well, that makes everyone in Waterbury feel empowered. They see how their commitment to the work is positively impacting the men in the program.

 “Helping others and seeing participants succeed makes me happy,” said Sarah, who has been with Community Partners in Action for 16 years.

Sarah looks for employees who align with the CPA mission, acting as positive role models who support participants with multi-cultural backgrounds. To learn more about work opportunities at Community Partners in Action, visit the Careers page.