Rejoining society

Many of the inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility will be released once their prison term has expired, or if they are released on parole.

However, before being released, it’s important that they develop skills that will help them once they rejoin society.

One of the people in charge of making sure those inmates learn those skills is Netti Renshaw, associate warden for treatment.

“I supervise the health services, work with our reentry staff to help offenders once they return to the community and review treatment programs to make sure they are meeting our inmates’ needs,” Renshaw said. “I also work with parole releases and have daily interaction with the staff and offenders.”

Renshaw has been at FDCF since June 1998, right after the prison’s opening. She started as a corrections counselor before becoming an assistant unit manager, then a unit manager.

She’s been an associate warden for three years.

Renshaw said every day in her job is different.

“I’m involved in classifications and have daily meetings with other staff members,” she said. “We look at the needs of our offenders.”

Working at FDCF, Renshaw said she enjoys seeing inmates get motivated into changing their behavior.

“We have the opportunity, while they’re here, to help them challenge their thought process and offer them the chance to gain skills,” she said about the offenders. “That’s the theory I come from.”

Inmates who aren’t motivated can be a challenge to work with.

“They have no intent to change,” she said. “Nobody else can do their work for them. You have to have the patience to let them be where they want to be.”

Sometimes those inmates end up learning from their fellow offenders.

“They’re able to observe what others are doing and make decisions on their own,” Renshaw said.

One way in which inmates are able to change their behavior is by participating in different programs offered at FDCF.

“We have several offender groups and many of them are involved in fundraising,” she said. “They’ll send their receipt to the food bank and women’s shelter. They all have a charity that they support and focus on.”

Renshaw said she treats everybody with respect, and that can lead to success with inmates.

“You’re able to establish a rapport with them,” she said. “You start to grow a place where people talk about things. They challenge themselves to go farther than they thought possible.”

She encourages everybody to challenge themselves, including her fellow staff members.

“I encourage them to take a risk to grow and work with our offenders,” she said. “They’re usually willing to do that.”

Her ultimate goal is to make the offenders better than when they entered the facility.

“The reentry process starts the day they come in,” she said. “We’re focused with each individual’s needs and strengths and how to build more skills and a plan for when they go back to the community.”