This month's Spotlight is Berks
DOLAN CONSTRUCTION INC.
Berks Connections / Pretrial Services
Founded in 1975 as the Berks County Prison Society, BerksConnections / Pretrial
Services ("BCPS") is a non-profit agency that serves a unique role throughout
our community. BCPS serves thru two operating units –
• BCPS/BerksConnections provides volunteer and staff-based outreach to inmates,
youth, their families and the community. BerksConnections makes connections
between inmates at the Berks County Prison and people in our community who care
about them and who can help them. BCPS serves as a link between incarcerated
parents and their children, between ex-offenders seeking a positive
reintegration back into our community and people and agencies who can help, and
between at-risk youth in our neighborhoods and at the Berks County Youth Center
and positive role models and activities;
• BCPS/Pretrial Services serves as the Court-appointed Bail agency for Berks
County and assists Berks County government agencies by providing personnel and
support to a number of criminal justice programs. BCPS/Pretrial Services staff
work to ensure that supervised defendants released by the Courts on bail adhere
to all conditions of their release (including drug screening and
counseling/treatment programs), appear at all court proceedings, report any
changes in status and refrain from illegal activity.
Connecting People Who Need Help with People Who Care
The BCPS/BerksConnections Mission:
• To reduce recidivism and help forge positive outcomes for inmates at the Berks
County Prison and detained youth at the Berks County Youth Center;
• To provide community-based outreach to inmates and their families;
• To provide services and support to ex-offenders and to aid their reintegration
back into our community;
• To provide safe and positive recreational activities for the children of
inmates and other at-risk youth; and
• To serve as a link between the community, social service agencies and the
Berks County criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.
Programs for Incarcerated Adults
BCPS programs are a vital link between inmates at the Berks County Prison and
their community to which they will re-enter.
Mentoring - A BCPS Volunteer Mentor offers support to a “matched” inmate through
regular visits, and can offer simply an opportunity for conversation, or
specific skills and support like tutoring, literacy and GED assistance. Mentors
let an inmate know that their community still cares.
Group Events - BCPS staff and volunteers host a number of ongoing events at the
Berks County Prison. These events, held monthly and to celebrate holidays,
provide a connection between inmates and their community.
The Mothers’ Voice Project - Mothers’ Voice maintains the crucial bond between
incarcerated parents and their children at home. BCPS staff and volunteers help
to record an inmate reading a story for their children. Parents also record
brief personal messages to remind their child that they are being thought of
even though they’re apart. The tape and the book are then delivered to the
child. Birthday and holiday cards are also sent from parent to child.
Programs for Juveniles
BCPS programs provide a needed role model for the children of incarcerated
parents and other at-risk youth.
Mentoring - BCPS Juvenile Mentors provide an adult companion for children and
youth, someone to talk to and enjoy time with on a regular basis. BCPS staff
carefully match each Volunteer Mentor and child.
FUNdamentals - The FUNdamentals Program teaches life skills to youth and
promotes self-esteem through learning experiences, volunteering and fun
activities with positive adult role models.
Group and Holiday Activities - BCPS staff and volunteers host parties for
children with parents in prison and at-risk youth during holidays like Easter,
Halloween and Christmas, coordinate gift drives during the Easter and Christmas
holiday seasons, and host monthly events for youth detained at the Berks County
Re-Entry and Reintegration
Most Berks County Prison inmates will re-enter our community. Unfortunately,
over 50% will again return to prison. BCPS programs are designed to aid re-entry
and reduce recidivism. BCPS works to assist the re-entry efforts of
ex-offenders, serving as a connection between the criminal justice system and
Assessing Needs & Coordinating Services - BCPS assesses inmates’ critical
post-release needs and acts as a referral source for community-based assistance.
BCPS is a founding member of the Berks Community Resources Network, a group of
non-profit social service and government agencies that work with individuals
involved in the Berks County criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.
Providing Information and Referrals - BCPS publishes a community-wide Guide to
Services, and can provide referrals and information about Housing, Employment,
Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Counseling and Treatment, Education and Literacy
to individuals. These individuals include defendants on pretrial release;
inmates at Berks County Prison and ex-offenders re-entering the community.
BECOMING A BCPS VOLUNTEER AND SUPPORTING BCPS
BCPS volunteering is rewarding and simple. You can choose an activity that can
involve an hour or more each week, a couple of hours a month, or a few hours a
year. Depending on your activity, BCPS staff may assist you in obtaining
clearance at the Prison or a child-centered background check. Volunteer
opportunities are available at the Prison, Youth Center, or throughout the local
As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, BCPS relies on the generosity of our
community for both volunteer-based assistance and financial support. Please
visit our website and learn more about how we've been connecting people who need
help with people who care:
BCPS | Berks County Courthouse | 633 Court Street – 16th Fl | Reading, PA |