Leaders from State of Alabama agencies joined on Tuesday to form the Commission on Reentry. The primary goal of the Commission, adapted from Section 3 of Alabama Senate Bill 221, is identifying, implementing, and promoting evidence-based research, policies, strategies, and programming to support successful reentry and reintegration.
Bureau Deputy Director of Parolee Rehabilitation Rebecca Bensema said, “This is the first committee of its kind that unifies state organizations for the primary goal of supporting previously incarcerated individuals in becoming productive citizens for the good of the state of Alabama. This is the first time state leaders have come together and asked what can be done to better serve our justice-involved citizens.”
The Commission is designed to address many goals involving reentry and rehabilitation in Alabama’s criminal justice system. The goals include, but are not limited to:
- Developing and presenting a strategic plan to make communities safter by reducing recidivism and victimization.
- Assisting individuals who return from prison in becoming productive citizens and saving taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.
- Promoting partnerships and collaboration among state agencies and with local governments and organizations to effectively and cost-efficiently advance reentry and reintegration efforts and eliminate duplication of services.
- Developing strategies to expand access to educational programs and support programs upon reentry.
- Developing strategies to ensure access to health care coverage and behavioral health services upon reentry.
- Identifying and addressing other unwarranted barriers to successful reentry.
Director Cam Ward said, “Reducing recidivism is one of the primary missions of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles. For the first time ever, we have major agency heads in one room developing a plan to coordinate and expand services to those who were formerly incarcerated. I believe the Commission on Reentry has the chance to make an impact on those returning to society, and I am proud to be the chairman of this effort.”
Members of the Commission include Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, Ingram State Technical College President Annette Funderburk, Senator Will Barfoot, and Representative Connie Rowe, along with leaders from the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, the Alabama Department of Labor, Medicaid, and the Governor’s Office.
Additional meetings are planned, and important developments from the Commission will be reported in future releases.