State Reentry Summit Held Today in Greensboro Effort Aims to Improve Community Safety by Helping Former Offenders Lead Productive Lives

Raleigh

Today, many of the leaders in North Carolina’s efforts to get people leaving prison on track to lead productive lives came together in Greensboro to learn, share information and develop new strategies during the 2019 North Carolina Reentry Summit.

The summit, “Harnessing Hope for People Returning from Incarceration,” brings together members of community and faith-based organizations with experts in reentry to expand their knowledge of the needs and obstacles faced by people returning home from prison. 

During the summit’s opening session, Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein spoke to the more than 500 attendees. Gov. Cooper, a long-time advocate for removing the barriers people face when they transition from the state’s prisons and jails back into communities, released a State Reentry Action Plan last year. Holding the summit was a goal included in the Plan. 

“When formerly incarcerated people get the help and support they need after leaving prison, they can become better neighbors, better employees and better parents,” Gov. Cooper said. “Inevitably, this makes our economy stronger, our neighborhoods safer and our state a better place for all people to live, work and enjoy life.”

Faith-based organizations have long been engaged in prison ministries. The Reentry Summit seeks to educate and empower those same volunteers to help formerly incarcerated people as they return to their families and communities. People returning to their communities from prison or jail face critical challenges including finding stable housing, transportation and employment. Many also struggle with issues related to education, medical and mental health care, and successfully reuniting with their family.

In 2017, the state legislature created the State Reentry Council Collaborative (SRCC). The group includes representatives from state agencies, the State Community College System, the judicial branch and community and faith-based organizations. The SRCC was tasked with studying the needs of people leaving incarceration and increasing the effectiveness of local reentry councils. The group has developed recommendations on how to reduce barriers and help people leaving prison find resources. 

Gov. Cooper thanked Summit attendees for the work they do and challenged them to use their networks to assist and support people with overcoming common barriers to reentry.

“Now is the right time and North Carolina is the right place for a whole community approach to providing reentry services. We can all make a difference in a person’s life,” said Erik A. Hooks, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. “I join Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein in their strong commitment to taking deliberate steps to removing the barriers often faced by formerly incarcerated people and reducing repeat offenses in our state.”

The Reentry Summit was sponsored in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

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