Dr. Cheryl Clark

Dr. Clark is co-founder of Social Synergetics and is recently retired as the Director of Shock Incarceration and the Willard Drug Treatment Campus (WDTC) for the New York State Department of Correctional Services (NYS DOCS), both programs which she designed and developed. Shock Incarceration is internationally recognized as the leading program of its type in the world. As of reporting at July 2010, NYS DOCS research documents the Shock program contributing more than $1.377 billion in cost savings to the taxpayers of New York State.

In 2001, Dr. Clark earned a Ph.D. in the School of Health and Human Services at Columbia Commonwealth University after obtaining a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY. She has studied accelerated learning and transformation technologies for more than 30 years. Her doctoral dissertation,12° Of Freedom: Synergetics and the 12 Steps to Recovery, is considered a ground-breaking work in the field of substance abuse treatment. It includes a comprehensive overview of the model she named Social Synergetics™, offering an innovative, fully integrated model for recovery from addictions and transformation.

Dr. Cheryl ClarkIn her 35 years of State Service, Dr. Clark has been recognized for her innovations in the field of Criminal Justice for both staff and inmates.

She began her tenure in Criminal Justice in 1974, where, within 6 months, she was named Director of Training for the Commission of Corrections, and later promoted to Director of Operations. While at the CDC, Dr. Clark designed and developed the Network Program, the first Total Learning Environment™ (TLE™) in a correctional facility. The Network Program was implemented in 1979, in four correctional facilities, and eventually grew to 31 units in 29 facilitates. One of the Network units still remains in operation, since 1981, at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility, in Clinton, NY.

During this period, Thomas A. Coughlin, then Commissioner of NY DOCS, visited a Network Unit at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Fishkill, NY. Commissioner Coughlin was impressed by the positive environment and results he saw at Fishkill. While touring the Network unit in Fishkill, he asked, "Clark, why can’t they (all facilities) all be this way?"

In 1985, Dr. Clark was appointed Director of Staff Development for the NYS Division of Parole, to assist with the implementation of the Division's Regional management system. She developed supervisory and Management Training Programs for the Division and was charged with streamlining and improving training programs for all levels of Parole staff. She considers one of her most significant accomplishments for that agency the design and implementation of the first Street Survival course for Parole Officers.

Commissioner Coughlin continued to think about what he had seen on the Network units in many of the DOCS facilities, and, in 1987, Dr. Clark was asked to return to DOCS to develop the Shock Incarceration program. Shock was to be a 6-month program that would prepare young, non-violent felony offenders for early parole release consideration. The program was to be based in the TLE™  model developed by Dr. Clark for Network and would operate in special facilities, providing a schedule of rigorous physical activity, intensive regimentation, general education, discipline and substance abuse rehabilitation.

In 1987, the first Shock program opened in Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility (SICF), near Corning, NY. It was quickly followed by the opening of Summit SICF in March 1988, Moriah SICF in February 1989 and Lakeview SICF, the largest such facility to every operate in this model (750 beds, originally), which opened in August of 1989.

As of 2004, with 28,000 graduates, the documented savings for the taxpayers of the State of New York as a direct result of the Shock Program exceeded $1.18 billion. As of 2009 more than 40,000 young men and women have graduated from Shock Incarceration Program and reintegrated successfully into their communities. The documented savings are now estimated at more than $1.33 billion.

Because of the outstanding, unprecedented success of Shock, in 1995 Dr. Clark was asked to design the Willard DTC and expand Shock staff training to include all staff of the DTC. The Willard DTC is unique as a stand-alone correctional Drug Treatment Campus. Based in both military and Network community models, Shock Incarceration and the DTC have an equal emphasis on self-discipline, treatment and life skills education.

In 1990, Dr. Clark was awarded the Governor's Productivity Award for outstanding contributions to State Government. In 1995, the American Correctional Association acknowledged her for her outstanding contributions to corrections, as "Best in the Business".

In 2009, Dr. Clark received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Transformational Leadership Council, which she is a founding member.

And, on June 6, 2010, the Women’s Prison Association (WPA), the nation’s oldest service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories, honored Dr. Clark with the Isaac T. Hopper Award for outstanding service to corrections services.

Dr. Clark is internationally recognized as a leader in her field and an expert in substance abuse treatment. She is the principal author of DOING LIFE!® A Life Skills Program for Recovery from Addictions and SMART CHOICES: A Guide for Making Choices That Work.

Dr. Clark is most proud that the graduates of the Shock Program have achieved the highest passing rate of the GED (General Equivalency Diploma) of any program in the country in less than 1/4 of the time at twice the passing rate of inmates in other DOCS programs nationwide.

PhD Dissertation: 12 Degrees of Freedom - Synergetics & the 12 Steps to Recover

Read Abstract and download chapters.

Other Published Writings

A Fuller View (Contributing Author)

Lifeskills Curricula

More about the Curricula developed from Dr. Clark's work in the criminal justice system, co-authored by Lisa Matheson.

DOING LIFE! A Lifeskills Program for Recovery From Addictions

S.M.A.R.T. Choices! An Accelerated Lifeskills Program

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