Free World Bound Presented Reentry and Integration Division Award
Prism Health North Texas’ (PHNTX) Free World Bound program has been awarded the Reentry and Integration Division Award as part of the Texas Governor’s 2022 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards. The Free World Bound program, which works with ethnic minority individuals who are currently living with or are at risk for HIV and who are currently or previously incarcerated, includes HIV prevention services and linkage to medical care to help them succeed within society. In late 2021, the program was awarded two grants by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), allowing it to expand from 30 prisons to becoming available to any of the 61 prisons in the state of Texas.
“Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TCDJ) and this state are better because of these award recipients,” TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said in a release. “They are heroes who are making a profound and lasting impact on the lives of so many across the Lone Star State.”
Daron Kirven, PHNTX Senior Director of Community Outreach, and Nadia Mitchell, Program Manager, accepted the award in Austin. Kirven was essential to the establishment of the Free World Bound program in 2001, and has been integral to its development and expansion since then.
“In the 21 years we have been working with incarcerated Texans through Free World Bound, we have been proud to provide support and solutions that lead to success upon reentry to society,” said Kirven. “I could not be more proud of the work accomplished and appreciate the recognition by the TCDJ.”
In addition to linking the incarcerated individuals to medical care and providing HIV and STI testing, Free World Bound provides assistance with referrals to essential services, linkage to social services, procurement of HIV medication or PrEP, housing and transportation, behavioral health services, emergency financial assistance, and with HIV, STI, and substance misuse prevention education. Process and outcome evaluation will be integrated into all phases of the project to ensure that stated objectives are on track to be achieved.
The program works to further Prism Health North Texas’ mission to advance the health of North Texas through education, research, prevention, and personalized integrated HIV care. When being released from incarceration, healthcare can fall in priorities when compared to housing, food, transportation, and employment. The Free World Bound program works to maintain access to healthcare, HIV care, and PrEP in order to set a solid foundation for success in other areas of life upon reentering the free world.
“In the 13 years I have worked with Free World Bound at Prism Health North Texas, I have learned that working with the currently and previously incarcerated population is not just a challenge but an honor,” Mitchell said.