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Commission on Reentry: Offender Diversion Opportunities and Shared Resources Discussed in Fourth Meeting

Highlights:

  • A shared resource website for all offenders entering the Alabama Department of Corrections system was proposed, with offenders having access to the platform during every step of the system.
  • The Commission discussed strategic plans to make communities safer by expanding diversion opportunities, such as using a Perry County facility for parolee skills training, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.
  • There was an informal vote to extend the Commission beyond the originally planned conclusion of early next year.

Leaders from State of Alabama agencies met Tuesday for the fourth Commission on Reentry meeting. The Commission discussed strategic plans to make communities safer by expanding diversion opportunities. These diversion opportunities enable an offender to pursue programming that provides the resources to become a more productive citizen. A Perry County facility, which the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles plans to use for parolee skills training, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment, was given as a primary example.

Associate Justice Sarah H. Stewart organized a presentation, provided by the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship, about the need for paid apprenticeships behind bars.

Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Deputy Director of Parolee Rehabilitation Rebecca Bensema proposed a shared resource website for all offenders entering the Alabama Department of Corrections system, with offenders having access to the platform during every step of the system.

“A shared intake system would provide offenders access to resources provided by each state agency represented in the Commission. The system would also allow for each entity to obtain important data regarding offender needs that can assist in the delivery and implementation of support services throughout the state.” Bensema said.

There was an informal vote to extend the Commission beyond the originally planned conclusion of early next year.

Commission Chair Cam Ward said, “I am excited at the prospect of continuing to work with this amazing group of people on much-needed Alabama rehabilitation opportunities.”

The next Commission on Reentry meeting is planned for Nov. 9. The Commission plans to evaluate the cost of criminal justice programs based on available data and determine which of these programs are operated by agencies within the state.

Members of the Commission include Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, Ingram State Technical College President Annette Funderburk, Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kimberly Boswell, Senator Will Barfoot, and Representative Connie Rowe, along with leaders from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, the Alabama Department of Labor, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, Medicaid, and the Governor’s Office. 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.