Author: Greg Thomas
After a two-year delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reentry Programs and Services successfully hosted the 2022 North Carolina Reentry Conference at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro on April 26-27. A pre-conference workshop on April 25 focused on effective correctional education strategies that prepare returning citizens for reentry and reduce recidivism.
Governor Roy Cooper provided the keynote remarks on the opening day, affirming his commitment to supporting reentry efforts across North Carolina. He reminded attendees that supporting reentry initiatives is morally the right thing to do and greatly benefits returning citizens and the entire community. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” he said.
“We were pleased to provide a platform for reentry stakeholders to come together,” said Nicole Sullivan, deputy secretary for Analysis, Programming and Policy. “Successful reentry depends on collaborative partnerships, and the conference allows reentry leaders to network, build critical relationships, and enhance coordination of reentry efforts statewide.”
Breakout sessions covered a wide range of reentry issues and challenges, including housing, substance use, employment, and transportation. The conference also featured interactive reentry simulation sessions that show participants the challenges of getting an ID, finding a job, and other everyday tasks returning citizens face.
“Reentry simulations can be very eye-opening,” said Lateisha Thrash, director of Reentry Programs & and Services. “Putting yourself into the shoes of someone reentering the community shines a glaring light on the difficulties they face and helps participants think about solutions from the other side of the issue.”
Other conference sessions provided information about technology, voting, expunctions, restorative justice, implicit bias, and other issues that affect the lives of returning citizens. Media coverage of the conference helped highlight the work that goes into reentry efforts in North Carolina.
“Helping returning citizens helps us build stronger communities,” said Monica Artis, reentry programs manager. “It is important to build awareness of reentry challenges and resources so that we can empower reentry stakeholders to not only support returning citizens, but also to advocate for systemic change.”
The conference fittingly wrapped up Second Chance Month, a time to highlight and build support for reentry efforts across the state. During Second Chance Month, local reentry councils, prison facilities and other reentry stakeholders held dozens of reentry events, including employment fairs, workshops, and resource referrals.