Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP)
The Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) was mandated by the legislature in 1992. It is a voluntary program for inmates who meet certain statutory and department requirements.
CIP consists of three phases:
Established by state statute, CIP goals are to:
Offenders are reviewed for CIP participation after admission to a state receiving institution. Offenders submit an application to the program and those applications are reviewed to determine eligibility based on statutory criteria. Ineligible offenders include offenders committed or previously committed to prison for certain serious crimes against persons. Specifically noted in law are crimes such as murder, manslaughter, criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, robbery, arson, or any offense involving death or intentional personal injury within the preceding 10 years.
Eligible applicants are then physically and psychologically screened before signing a written contract agreeing to comply with CIP requirements.
Statutory Admission Criteria:
M.S. Sec. 244.17 defines CIP eligibility by the following criteria:
Statute Prohibits CIP Placement for Offenders Who:
"I have choice and free will. I am accountable for my thoughts, feelings and actions. Today I commit myself to positive change. I will give 110 percent of myself, 100 percent of the time. If I do my best, I will succeed."
INSTITUTION PHASE I
The Minnesota Correctional Facility-Willow River/Moose Lake consists of two sites. The facility's Willow River site became the location of the institution phase (Phase I) of CIP in October, 1992.
The Willow River site currently houses adult male offenders. Female offenders are at the CIP program at the department's MCF-Togo facility in Togo, Minnesota. The CIP program for women moved to the Togo facility in January 2004.
CIP Phase I has a sterile, austere environment with a rigorous daily schedule. Work, specialized training, chemical dependency programming, education and physical activity are planned for virtually every minute of the day from 5:30 a.m. to lights out at 9:30 p.m. There is no recreational television, and visiting and telephone privileges are severely restricted.
Offenders are required to maintain a high level of program activity and discipline. When they fail to do so, they are confronted and directed to conform to program expectations. Failure to respond to directives is handled with immediate sanctions by staff.
Offenders may be removed from CIP and returned to a secure facility for medical, legal, or disciplinary reasons. An offender may also be removed if the warden considers the participant to be a risk to the public.
Phase I Program Components Include:
Critical thinking skills - All aspects of CIP integrate critical thinking skills development. Critical thinking skills development is used by all staff as an important component of all offenders' daily routines. It concentrates on developing skills needed to think and solve problems, use social skills, manage emotions, use reasoning and think creatively. All CIP offenders participate in a cognitive skills course taught by trained staff. Topics include decision-making, identifying and avoiding criminal thinking, and motivation and goal setting.
Chemical dependency (CD) - Offenders participate in a six-month cognitive behavioral CD treatment program. The cognitive behavioral approach addresses three basic premises:
Literacy/education - All offenders are tested to determine academic achievement levels. Personal educational plans are developed to increase literacy levels for offenders who fail literacy criteria. While the emphasis is on literacy, there also is involvement in other educational areas.
Transition programming - All offenders participate in transitional programming provided by the transitions coordinator to assist in the re-integration process. Offenders create a resume, cover letter, and list of references. Offenders learn and develop skills on how to find a job, interviewing techniques, and how to disclose their felony record.
Physical training - Rigorous physical training is conducted every day in addition to an intensive work schedule. Training emphasizes stretching, power walk, run, strength training, aerobic, overall physical conditioning and physical activities that can be adapted to a healthy lifestyle.
Support groups - CIP provides support groups available in the community (AA/NA, spiritual programs, grief group).
Behavioral training - Training in regimentation includes intensive instruction in courtesy, self-discipline, close-order drill, and exercise.
Work - An intensive work program is a major component. Most work is manual labor, serving as a basis for developing good work habits. Work squads complete improvement projects on the facility's grounds and perform community service work projects when requested.
For the Togo CIP program:
For information about visiting offenders in the Willow River CIP program, click here.
COMMUNITY PHASE II
Following completion of the institution phase of CIP and with the approval of the department's Hearings & Release Unit, offenders are generally required to participate in the community-based Phase II for a six month period of time.
Sixty days prior to an offender's projected Phase I completion date, the assigned ISR agent reviews the offender's status. Offenders graduate to Phase II only after successful completion of Phase I and development of an appropriate release plan.
Offenders are held accountable for Phase II supervision requirements by agents on Intensive Supervised Release (ISR) teams located throughout Minnesota.
Phase II programming requires that offenders continue to maintain a high level of positive activity. Strict accountability is mandated. Offenders are expected to contact their agent daily, submit to random drug and/or alcohol tests, maintain full-time employment, remain active in community service, participate in aftercare programming, and abide by curfews assigned by the agent.
While on Phases II and III, offenders have not reached their supervised release dates. If they violate conditions of the written agreements that permit them to participate in Phases II and III, they are subject to revocation procedures. Sanctions that may be imposed range from more restrictive supervision (i.e., electronic monitoring) to termination from CIP and return to prison.
Phase II Goals:
Phase II Programs:
Program components include:
Daily contact - As legislatively mandated, offenders are expected to have daily contact with their agent.
Random drug and alcohol testing - Offenders are expected to submit to random drug and alcohol tests as directed by the agent. Revocation procedures begin if there are positive test results.
Work/vocational programs - Offenders are expected to secure and maintain full-time employment or be involved in full-time vocational training.
Community service - Offenders are expected to volunteer in the community as approved by the agent.
Critical thinking skills - When offered, offenders may participate in weekly group sessions that utilize critical thinking skills training in analyzing and solving their problems.
CD counseling - CD counseling is continued in Phase II. Weekly AA/NA group participation is closely monitored by agents. Offenders may be required to attend CD group sessions.
Physical training - Offenders are encouraged to continue physical training experienced in Phase I.
Weekly schedules - Offenders submit a weekly schedule that must be pre-approved by the agent. Random, unannounced, 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week contacts and phone calls are made to ensure schedule compliance.
COMMUNITY PHASE III
Upon Phase II completion, the offender moves to Phase III. This is the last phase of the CIP program. In Phase III, the offender is expected to practice what he or she has learned in Phases I and II. The appropriate level of supervision is maintained by the agent to maximize the offender's chances of success.
Phase III generally lasts for a six month period. Offenders are placed on regular supervised release with the approval of the department's Hearings & Release Unit.
When offenders are placed on regular supervised release after successfully completing all phases of CIP, they are considered to be graduates of the program. They remain on supervised release until expiration of their sentence.
In 2006, the DOC completed an in-depth evaluation of CIP. Researchers looked at all CIP offenders since the program began in 1992, one of the longest periods for such an evaluation. CIP participants were compared to a control group with similar criminal factors. The evaluation found that: