By Matthew Estes, Communications Director
BIRMINGHAM – On Friday, Aug. 26, 16 participants from the Birmingham Day Reporting Center graduated from the program, celebrated by a commencement ceremony and luncheon at Grace and Truth Church. Several special guest speakers spoke at the event. After a processional, Birmingham DRC Administrator Leah Thompson acknowledged all guests for coming to support the graduates. Rebecca Bensema, the Bureau’s Assistant Director for Reentry, thanked all community partners and supporters of the program.
“The goal of reentry efforts at the Bureau is not just to reduce recidivism or relieve prison overcrowding. We are making a human investment,” said Bensema.
Dena Dickerson, Program Director of the Offender Alumni Association, delivered a message of encouragement to the graduates, many she worked with personally. After an introduction from supervising officer Jonathan Rattliffe, the audience was presented with an inspiring testimony from program graduate Willie Terry, who discussed how a post-incarceration commitment to the program changed his mindset.
“I was willing,” said Terry. “I didn’t want to repeat my old ways.” He discussed the difference between his attitude the first time he participated in the program and his successful second attempt.
A highlight of the event, Officer Jonathan Rattliffe was awarded a Certificate of Achievement from Director Cam Ward for supervising 10 of the 16 graduates. Pastor Doug Taylor of Rebirth Christian Fellowship provided the keynote address, and Pastor Steve Longenecker of Grace and Truth Church concluded the event by praying for the graduates.
Day Reporting Center District Manager Stephanie Stewart said, “This event is an example of how the Day Reporting Centers assist the agency in meeting its mission of enhancing public safety and rehabilitating offenders.”
The Bureau gratefully acknowledges Grace and Truth Church, along with all community partners, for their involvement in the DRC program and this event.
DRCs provide counseling, educational training and supervision for probationers and parolees. With a focus on employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, mental health, and cognitive restructuring needs, DRC staff is committed to reducing recidivism rates and improving public safety through behavior change. Currently, full Day Reporting Centers are located in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Day Reporting Center Lites, condensed versions of DRCs offering similar treatment, are located in Albertville, Bay Minette, Fort Payne, Opelika and Jasper.