Opening Avenues to Reentry Success (OARS) supports the prison to community transition of inmates living with a serious and persistent mental illness who are medium-to-high-risk of reoffending. The program is a collaborative effort of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services.
Empowering participants to make healthy choices
The population served by OARS faces significant challenges on reentry. The offenders have many needs that cannot be easily served by any single system or entity. Without an integrated network of supports in the community, these offenders are more likely to commit a crime and return to prison. The strategies employed by the OARS Program are proven to reduce recidivism rates for these offenders.
OARS uses a team approach to provide participants the stability and skills necessary to live successfully in the community. This includes connecting the participant with locally-based supports for health care, housing, education, employment, and transportation. Each participant's support is different depending on their individual needs.
Participants graduate from the program when they demonstrate the ability to maintain their mental health and basic needs without the assistance of their program team. Depending on their needs, participants may receive services for six months up to two years in the community.
Inmates at all 36 adult prisons in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Resource Center, and the Wisconsin Women's Resource Center are eligible for OARS, provided their mental health needs and risk factors for criminal behavior meet the criteria for enrollment. They also must be releasing to one of the 51 counties in which OARS operates.
Prison staff recommend inmates for the program. Each prospective participant is interviewed by program staff to determine if they are a good fit for OARS.
A social worker, OARS program specialist, case manager, and community corrections agent works with each enrollee three to six months prior to release to prepare them for life in the community. This team continues to support the participant throughout their time in the program to ensure the goals in their individualized service plan are achieved.
Available in 51 counties
OARS is available to inmates releasing to one of these counties.
- Eau Claire
- Fond du Lac
- Green Lake
- La Crosse
- St. Croix
Resources for professionals working with OARS participants
Program manual, P-00702 (PDF)