– A program aimed at helping inmates better themselves ended after a year of testing
at five Pennsylvania state prisons and now Department of Corrections officials are evaluating the program’s
effectiveness with the hope of acquiring funding to continue it into the coming
Beating the Odds, which began 30 years ago in the Pittsburgh
area and mostly worked with young adults and students, was piloted at SCIs Coal
Township, Greene, Muncy, Pine Grove and Smithfield from July 2017 to July 2018.
At each prison 25 inmates were recommended by staff for the program that
provides individuals with stepping stones to a better life, including mentoring
during incarceration and upon release from prison, as well as assistance in
“Ninety percent of our inmates will return home one day, and our
preliminary evaluation of this program shows that participation has resulted in
positive outcomes for inmates,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.
“Most people want to succeed in life, yet some who have great
potential have made serious mistakes,” said Rocco Scalzi, founder of Beating the
Odds Foundation and motivational speaker through Quarterbacks of Life. “Through
this reentry program, a flexible curriculum allows motivational speakers,
program coordinators and prison teams to work with inmates to overcome
obstacles and set their lives on paths to success.”
The program, which is a journey of success, helps inmates,
particularly those age 18 to 27, to understand the nature of success, identify
and challenge things that prevent success, and uses five powerful stepping
stones to success to achieve dreams and goals. The program also assists inmates
in finding employment and furthering their education upon release from prison.
“For people to be successful, even former inmates, they have to
have dreams and be able to put those dreams into attainable goals,” Scalzi said.
“We also help them to realize that they have potential, how to develop that
potential, maintain a positive mental attitude and to never give up.”
The program works with inmates who have 12 to 18 months
remaining on their minimum sentence expiration dates. At the end of this first
year, several inmates have been released from prison. One, through contact with
Scalzi and his connections, has gained employment with a business in the Philadelphia
area. Another recently released inmate is beginning her mentoring opportunities
with Scalzi. Other inmates who continue to serve their time are excited about
the opportunity to mentor other inmates in the program if it is continued.
Scalzi is a former Altoona City police officer and a Vietnam
veteran. He has worked for decades with individuals, schools, government
entities and agencies to help anyone who has potential to set their life on a
path to success.
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan McNaughton 717-728-4025