Bridget Irwin M’15, originally of White Mills, recently accepted a promotion with Graceville State Correctional Facility located in Graceville, Florida. Irwin graduated from Mansfield University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, emphasizing in human development and Spanish. She graduated this August with a master of arts degree in criminology from IUP. Before graduating in 2007, she secured employment as a prevention specialist and moved to Williamsport. Irwin worked with many local government positions, including the county’s Pre-Release Center, where she worked for three years. She transferred from PRC to the new Lycoming County Reentry Services Center, which was managed by the GEO Group. She served as a case manager for eight months before being offered a promotion to transitional case manager in Graceville, Florida, working at the Graceville State Correctional Facility.
Irwin is part of an international movement toward a continuum of care initiative among corrections. Irwin works with a caseload of over 50 inmates, with one year or less left before their release date from Florida’s Department of Corrections system. Her duties include classification as well as general transition needs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, addressing housing, employment, and life skills needs. She is now a certified facilitator for Moral Reconation Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Abusers, Ohio Risk Assessment System, Level of Service Inventory-R, Life Skills, Pre-treatment, Motivational Interviewing, Thinking for a Change, and Aftercare Group, and she was certified by Taser International.
“The best part of my job is helping offenders pay back their debt to society by becoming functioning members of society. Sometimes they have never seen a résumé. I had 14 graduates from the program in Williamsport, and they are all working and sober. One is currently working 50 hours per week. The job is very rewarding as well as challenging. The greatest struggle is the community not wanting them to just sit in jail; however, when they’re released, no one wants to give them a fair chance at a new start. We address up to eight criminogenic needs with these offenders before release. Someone has to give, which is why I educate employers on the tax credits available for hiring offenders and the Federal Bonding Program. Not all offenders are bad people. Sometimes they’re just community members that need assistance and hope. I saw heroin take over my town in Williamsport. I then saw those offenders take back their town. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I feel honored to be a part of their journey.”
Irwin plans on continuing her career goals and has expressed interest in the Australia Continuum of Care Program set to open in 2017 with GEO Group. “I owe a lot to my experiences and internship at SCI Waymart. I come from a line of offender, correctional workers and law enforcement professions. I am not sure where I will end up by the time I am done. There is nothing more heartwarming than hearing an offender call my name years later to thank me for everything I did and to take a moment to brag on their successes. All I know is I want someone to say, ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up.’”
Irwin is a member of the American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon. She is also the daughter of Mary Irwin, the granddaughter of Alicia McLain and the niece of Peggy Pulici, all of Hawley. Irwin is also the proud sister to Erin Irwin, currently of Easton. Irwin currently resides in Dothan, Alabama.