President’s Report

Four months ago our world changed. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, was declared an international pandemic prompting the adoption of significant safety procedures to try to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Governor Whitmer issued a “Stay at Home” order, and health officials urged people to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

As an essential service, we couldn’t just shut down and send everyone home. Of course, hand washing and good sanitary practices have always been a huge priority in our facilities. But for residential facilities like KPEP, keeping residents at least six feet apart can present a significant challenge. So, we established procedures designed to ensure the safety of our staff and clients:

  • We reduced the number of residents in each facility
  • We transitioned all outpatient groups to tele-health
  • We ensured we had adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • We established requirements that staff and residents wear masks in all common areas
  • We implemented daily temperature checks for all staff and residents

Staff members have been diligent in following these and other safety procedures, helping to keep themselves and others safe and healthy. This is incredibly challenging, but vitally important in a setting like KPEP. Fortunately, our history of adherence to high standards of cleanliness, sanitation, safety and security through our American Correctional Association accreditation has been a critical aspect in making a seamless transition to the necessary safety policies and practices under COVID-19.

This has been especially evident at the Walnut & Park Café. Jenn Heath, a full-time employee at W&P and graduate of KPEP, shared with me a conversation she had at her daughter’s pediatrician’s office. Jenn was asked a series of questions about COVID-19 safety protocols in her workplace, since they knew she left the house to go to work each day. Jenn told them that her workplace was the safest place she knew.

During the last three months we have seen a large increase in referrals for both transitional housing with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and home confinement with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). More recently, in the last few weeks we have seen a large increase in the number of Residential Sex Offender Program (RSOP) referrals as prisoners are now past their early release date and eligible for parole. Referrals for Residential Diversion Services are still down and will continue to be until the courts and probation and parole fully reopen. Once that occurs, we anticipate experiencing a jump in our numbers.

KPEP will stay vigilant in following all protocols set forth by the CDC, state officials and our governing agencies as we start to see the number of clients increase again.

COVID-19 is likely to continue to be a threat for many months to come, perhaps until a vaccine is available for widespread use. Through this crisis and beyond, KPEP is proud to be an essential part of the criminal justice system in Michigan, and we are committed to maintaining all necessary safety procedures to keep residents, staff and community members safe.