Thresholds of Chester County is a non-profit organization that teaches decision-making skills to interested inmates by developing and maintaining a group of volunteers. Through this program, Thresholds builds a constructive relationship between the Chester County Prison, Chester County Youth Center, and the community. Our goal is that inmate-students, after completing the course, will cross-over a threshold to a new beginning in their lives as they start to make decisions that will serve them in a more positive way.
"Thresholds" is a six step decision making process that was designed by former inmate Milton Burglass who was in prison for embezzlement. He noticed that the biggest challenge for incarcerated men and women was making sound and informed decisions. The six steps are analyzing a situation, setting goals, examining possibilities to reach these goals, selecting the best option, making a decision and developing strategies, tactics and a timeline to put a decision into action. It is a very basic process designed to "slow" the decision making process down so that people can see there are options and goals to help keep you focused. This is taught to adult men and women in the Chester County prison, as well as youth who are residing in the Youth Center. All inmates participate on a volunteer basis. The purpose of Thresholds is to empower inmates to learn how to set goals and develop practical plans to reach them, and make better decisions by understanding the difference between reacting and making decisions (to think before they act), which may positively impact their lives in the future. We also hope that teaching these skills will have a residual positive effect on the local communities since these participants will be going back into our local communities. It is an opportunity to teach them much needed skills for the transition process and how to positively deal with barriers they will face on the outside. It is also a goal of Thresholds to help others in a nonjudgmental environment from a mentorship role, for people in prison who may otherwise be isolated and have no other form of positive support or influence.
Thresholds is made up of two parts: Classroom training that is taught by experienced volunteers and one on one individual training between a volunteers and a student on a weekly basis to compliment the group learning objectives that take place over 8 week cycles in the Prison. The Youth Center program is conducted over a weekend.