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Arts Show Featuring Pieces from Justice-Involved Individuals Announced at Commission on Reentry Meeting

Highlights:

  • Five organizations are currently working together to create an arts exhibition from justice-involved individuals called “Changing the Course.”
  • The Commission heard the story of Ronald McKeithen, incarcerated from 1984 to 2010, via a presentation from Alabama Appleseed.
  • Brandon Johnson from the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office presented the need for housing solutions.

Leaders from State of Alabama agencies met Tuesday for the fifth Commission on Reentry meeting. Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Executive Assistant to the Director Jill Stallworth announced that five organizations are currently working together to create an arts exhibition called “Changing the Course,” which will exclusively feature pieces from current and formerly incarcerated individuals.

“We are working on hosting an art exhibition to display the creative talents of those who are currently incarcerated, as well as those who are on parole,” Stallworth said. Stallworth presented research on the need for art and education as a diversion opportunity for justice-involved individuals at all stages.

Kyes Stevens, Director of the Auburn University’s Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, shared additional details about what to expect from the event. The organizations working together to develop this event are the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, Alabama Department of Corrections, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Ingram State Technical College, and the Bureau.

The Commission also heard the story of Ronald McKeithen, who was incarcerated from 1984 to 2010. This was facilitated by Executive Director Carla Crowder from Alabama Appleseed.

Brandon Johnson, Director of Policy for the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office, presented the need for housing for formerly incarcerated people and requested the Commission consider ways to improve housing in Alabama as a method to reduce recidivism.   

ABPP Deputy Director of Parolee Rehabilitation Rebecca Bensema discussed a recent multiagency Information Technology subcommittee meeting, specifically progress towards developing a combined intake system allowing offenders having access to the platform during every step of the criminal justice process. Bensema presented Florida’s resource as an example of an already functioning shared intake portal.

The next Commission on Reentry meeting is planned for Dec. 7. 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.