Reentry council streamlining process for ex-offenders

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A state official told the NEW Reentry Council that it needed to streamline its processes to achieve its goal of helping people gain self-sufficiency upon reentering society after a period of incarceration.

“What the agency would like to see is your infrastructure a little more sound,” said Monica Artis, community development specialist for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. “You have to have a sound infrastructure in order to have processes in place.”

During a the first meeting of the full council since November, Artis said local leaders need to have more buy-in on the value of the council’s endeavors.

Artis said the state is “amping up” an effort to work with incarcerated individuals prior to their release, creating a plan that will lead to parolees being self-sufficient within 6-9 months of release.

Since April of last year, the Nash Edgecombe Wilson Reentry Council has been actively trying to reintroduce itself to Wilson County. The organization’s mission is to assist people returning to the community following a period of incarceration with resources they can use to make the transition back into society as productive citizens.

The council seeks to help these people with transportation, housing, education, job referrals and other support.

“The ultimate piece is getting them to self-sufficiency,” Artis said.

“If they don’t have the support system behind them, it’s tough,” said Hayward Humphrey, director of continuing education at Wilson Community College and a member of the council. “I want them to transition through the program and graduate. If we can get them there, we can get them through to graduate.”

Artis said the reentry council will benefit by adding status meetings about the individuals who are going through the transition period.

“It’s all about the communication process,” Artis said.

“Can we do better? We can always do better. Do we want to do more? We always want to do more,” said Sharon Goodson, executive director of the North Carolina Community Action association, a partner in the effort. “Looking at where we are, I think we have come a long way from where we were and I think there is a bright future for those that would be served by our staff and this council.”

Since 2014, the NEW Reentry Council has assisted 1,068 ex-offenders and helped more than half of them find jobs in the three counties.

For more information or to assist the council, call Bettie Applewhite at 252-281-4980 or email her at bapplewhite001@nc.rr.com.