Kyra Jaehn

2019 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award


Interned with the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center

I am a senior at UW-Madison and I will be graduating in May 2020 with undergraduate degrees in Legal Studies and Social Work along with a certificate in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in order to receive my Master’s in Social Work and continuing forward to eventually get my Ph.D. in Criminology or Social Work.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Social Services Department of Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, which is a facility run by the Department of Health Services geared towards the rehabilitation of sexually violent persons deemed more likely than not to recidivate. Sand Ridge Treatment Center’s goals include researching the causes and treatment of sexual violence, treating and teaching patients with the goal of providing a safe return to the community and exercising custody over individuals that reduces the opportunity for further sexual offending. Those who work here operate under the assumption that even sexually violent individuals can make positive changes in their lives and behaviors when treatment/learning opportunities are provided in a respectful environment.

Before starting my internship at Sand Ridge, I was unsure as to what route I wanted to take following the completion of my undergraduate degree. I was contemplating whether I wanted to get my Master’s Degree in Social Work and work in the criminal justice system or if I wanted to pursue my Doctoral Degree and research criminal behavior and treatment approaches. Since interning at Sand Ridge, I have decided to pursue my Ph.D. as research leads to the creation of successful facilities like Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center. My goal is to be able to help create the systemic change that is needed in the Criminal Justice System.

Throughout the duration of my internship, I learned how sexual offenders are civilly committed under the Chapter 980 law, which treatment methods have proven effective in reducing recidivism, what methods of interaction get the best responses from patients, and broadly, what a social worker’s role in prison looks like. I was able to interact with patients daily and begin to develop a better understanding of these individuals, while learning how to handle all of the paperwork and communication that goes on in the background to make the facility function. Some of my duties included interviewing patients to fill out their social histories; shadowing various supplementary treatment groups and SR releases; and filling out discharge plans, high profile notices, and patient requests. One of my favorite things about my personal experience at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center was being able to interact with the patients and analyze various case studies that were given to me as each story is intensely complex and provides plenty of room for further research into sexual offending.

I am extremely honored to be one of the recipients of the Audrey J. Harris Award, and cannot be more grateful for how it has impacted me this summer. The scholarship allowed me to accept my position at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, as I would have not had the financial ability to do so otherwise. With this internship and this scholarship, I have been able to find where my passions lie and the future career I would like to pursue.