UNIONTOWN — At a press conference at the new Perry County PREP Center on Friday, multiple state officials said they wanted to cut the state's recidivism rate by half by 2030.

The goal is part of Reentry 2030, a national initiative led by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Correctional Leaders Association, and JustLeadershipUSA. Reentry 2030 was launched in April 2022 with funding from Arnold Ventures, BJA, the Tow Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles director Cam Ward said the state has a recidivism rate of around 28 to 30% and ranks 25th nationally. Recidivism is the likelihood an offender reoffends after completing an initial sentence. 

"We're not the best, we're not the worst. We want to be one of the best. We want to cut recidivism in half, by 50%, by the end of this decade. Let's be one of the top states in the county with how we deal with recidivism. Second, we want to also and this goes hand in hand, to increase employment for those fully incarcerated by 50%," Ward said. 

Alabama's Commission on Reentry recently concluded a two-year-long collaboration process, resulting in a comprehensive final report that sets forth solutions to Alabama's most pressing reentry issues. Each of the commission's 15 participating agencies has a plan outlining how they will contribute to the state's reentry strategy, including streamlining the issuance of state identification cards, expanding access to behavioral health care and addiction treatment, and increasing participation in job training and educational services by 50 percent to support people in finding gainful employment.

"The Alabama Department of Labor is proud to be a partner in this forward-thinking initiative," said Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington. "Part of our mission at ADOL is to connect employers with employees, and this is just another way to do so. We are busy looking for and implementing ways to get more people actively involved in the workforce. Additionally, this program has the added benefit of reducing recidivism and helping break barriers to employment for those who may need it the most."

The PREP Center is located at 4805 U.S. Highway 80 in Uniontown. The PREP Center provides reentry and rehabilitation services for probationers and parolees, encouraging incarceration diversion for prisoners to receive support services for successful reintegration into society. The residential facility serves up to 250 male participants throughout the year.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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