What Is SWAG?

Mentor and Recovery has developed the SWAG course curriculum for men and women who are within 30 to 60 days of release. Utilizing a holistic approach, SWAG incorporates peer support, a recovery-oriented, evidence-based practice in which a “peer,” provides mentorship and support to an individual who is about to return to the community. A growing body of evidence indicates that peer support improves quality of life and supports recovery for individuals with behavioral health needs. Peer support encompasses a broad spectrum of peer-provided services, ranging from assisting with community connections and integration to more informal individual or group support sessions. All peer support, however, is founded upon the principles of mutual support, respect, empathy, empowerment, personal responsibility, and the sharing of personal stories. Utilizing SWAG can play an important role in the pre-release process by addressing some of the potential barriers that the participant expects to face upon release. This will allow the individual to develop a Personal Re-entry Plan (PREP). In this way, with the assistance of a peer, each participant can take ownership of his or her release strategy. Employing PREP in combination with an arranged “hand-off” to community-based services ensuring continuity of care post-release – keeps individuals in their homes and communities and out of jails and prisons.


Onsite Facilitator

Reginald “Reggie” Smith

Reginald “Reggie” Smith is the Founder and Chair of the Board of Building Promise USA. Raised in the Third Ward of Houston, Texas, he cycled through alternative schools and “at risk youth” programs only to be funneled into the juvenile justice system at the age of sixteen and the adult system at seventeen. This began a more than twenty-year odyssey of substance use and criminal justice-involvement, treatment programs and prison cells. Finding himself in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas for the second time, he remembered what his grandmother used to tell him as a boy, “If it is to be, it begins with me.” It was then that he realized that if he didn’t make an extraordinary effort to change, nothing was going to change in his life! Again, he remembered his grandmother told him, “If not now, when?” So, he made a commitment to himself that day to overcome any personal adversity, real or perceived, that would keep him from achieving his goals and reaching his full potential. Reggie has gone on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. He was the Communities for Recovery, Hogg Peer Policy Fellow from 2016 – 2018 and a Policy Analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition for 2018 – 2019. He is currently a Senior Advisor for the Peer Service Unit of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Reggie’s mission is to help build a community-based infrastructure of reentry support services to assist individuals with criminal justice involvement and behavior health challenges to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.