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Governor Cooper unveils State Reentry Action Plan

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 2:59pm
Author: 
Sonja Bennett-Bellamy

Governor Roy Cooper is making good on his promise to make North Carolina safer by helping people leaving the state’s prisons become productive members of their communities.

During the second meeting of the State Reentry Council Collaborative this week, Gov. Cooper unveiled the comprehensive action plan created by the Council to ensure the success of formerly incarcerated people after they’ve paid their debt to society and return to their communities.

“North Carolina is a better and safer place when those who take responsibility for and learn from their mistakes can get another chance to live productive, purposeful lives,” Gov. Cooper said. “Ninety-five percent of people in prison will be back out. We owe it to everyone to make sure they’re successful.”

The Governor tasked Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks with developing the reentry plan, which is designed to ease the transition from prison back into society.  The plan seeks to coordinate existing resources, identify resource gaps and advocate on behalf of people with criminal records.  It is centered around six key components:

  • Create a State Reentry Council Collaborative
  • Develop detailed implementation of the Reentry Action Plan
  • Provide Capacity Building and Technical Support for local Reentry Councils
  • Expand and formalize faith-based and community engagement
  • Resolve Warrants and Pending Charges prior to release
  • Address Major Reentry Barriers such as housing, transportation, employment, and substance misuse and mental health

Since the State Reentry Council Collaborative was established by lawmakers in 2017, it has made its first report to the legislature and has developed nine work groups made up of various advocates and stakeholders.  The first five of those work groups have addressed topics related to employment, faith-based organizations and initiatives, transportation, substance misuse and mental health, and advocacy and communication. 

The Council also retained Attorney Daryl Atkinson to help implement the action plan.  Atkinson is co-director of Forward Justice, a law, policy and strategy center focused on racial, social, and economic justice in the South.  Formerly imprisoned in Alabama during the 1990s, Atkinson, recognized by the White House for his work in reentry and employment, gave the Council a charge.

“Our task collectively is to figure out how to create opportunity and unleash their potential,” said Atkinson.                    

See pictures from the State Reentry Council Meeting here