New Practicum Partnership: Mission Behind Bars and Beyond (MB3)

Mission Behind Bars


By Judy Hughes, U of L Office of Marketing and Communications


Talk about a perfect fit. A new Kent practicum site has turned into a win for all.

Judith Heitzman, a part-time faculty member, started things out by volunteering with and then making the Kent connection with Mission Behind Bars and Beyond (MB3), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting people trying to re-adapt to life after incarceration.

Social work master’s student Maria Trevizo is applying her UofL criminal justice undergraduate degree and her personal passion for prison re-entry services, plus organizational skills, to the tasks of helping women make that transition from the Dismas Charities-Diersen detention facility in Louisville.

 “Mission Behind Bars and Beyond could not be happier about its new partnership with the Kent School of Social Work,” said the Rev. Dean Bucalos, MB3 executive director, who added that Trevizo “hit the ground running and has won over the people whom we serve.”

“Maria is providing a service that not only benefits those who are incarcerated but she is also helping to create a system of case management that has been lacking and can be sustained in the future,” he said.

As Trevizo explained, there can be gaps in services and major barriers that people face upon being released from prison. People may struggle to remain in recovery from substance abuse, feel labeled or deprived, have trouble getting assistance or jobs, and encounter family issues as they try to reunite. MB3’s case management helps to identify, locate and access resources for the women while they work on their goal plans. The faith-based organization also pairs the women at Diersen with mentors who help teach life-skills classes and support them in prison aftercare during their recovery and re-entry.

“I have already become a referral source for many different resourceful organizations and have consulted with professionals that have been helping me build a resource guide not just in Louisville but for counties across Kentucky,” Trevizo said.

She said she was elated about the chance when Tony Helm, also a Kent part-time faculty member, suggested she seek the MB3 placement because he knew of her criminal justice interest and devotion to reform, recovery and re-entry. This year she has been “soaking up all the knowledge I can by working directly with real clients.”

“My experience within this practicum has been heartwarming and at times disheartening but nonetheless rewarding,” Trevizo said.

Society tends to punish people in retribution but not, as a rule, to encourage them in rebuilding their lives afterward, Heitzman said. Continuing to volunteer there, she is the practicum site supervisor and faculty colleague Stephanie Prost, whose expertise is corrections and social work, is the field liaison for Trevizo’s practicum.

“The thing that drew me to it specifically is they (MB3) are so focused on helping people re-enter society successfully,” Heitzman said. “It’s all about restorative justice.”

“It’s a good place. I’m happy to be connected with them,” she said.