U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) urged the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) director Colette Peters on Tuesday to look to one Alabama prison program as inspiration for reducing recidivism.

“As a Christian, I know a lot of times we live under grace, and we certainly need forgiveness,” Moore explained in a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the FBP. “I don’t think there’s an exemption for prisoners. I think people who are incarcerated also need second chances. I’m a proponent of that. In Alabama, we have an amazing prison system.”

“One of them specifically is J.F. Ingram, where they actually bring incarcerated individuals over to a college next door, and certain individuals are picked out, and then they train them in skills,” he continued. “Some are certified welders. Some are [auto body]. Some can do cosmetics, all kinds of neat stuff, and we know the recidivism rate is so much lower coming out of J.F. Ingram right now than any system in Alabama, so I’d encourage you to look at the model there for what they do.”

J.F. Ingram State Technical College in Elmore County provides prisoners with technical education. In 2017, the school established its Job Placement Division, which assists graduates in finding jobs when released from prison. 

“If they have a skillset, we can put them in the workforce, and they don’t go back to the same-old-same-old,” Moore said. “They don’t go back to the same group of people they were running with before they were incarcerated.” 

Moore added that he’s working on bipartisan legislation to reduce recidivism rates by instituting IDs for prisoners coming out of federal prison, which he hopes will help them obtain employment.

In response, Peters said the FBP has piloted an ID program, which the agency is rolling out to all its institutions.

“Where we need your help is states accepting them,” Peters said. “So right now, we have 15 or 16 states that say that they’ll accept them.” 

“I am conservative and hard on crime as anybody, but I understand grace as well, and there are people who get into that system,” said Moore. “Sometimes they just need opportunities. If we can train them and get them with a skillset into society, I think we, as Americans, will benefit. Communities will benefit. Certainly, society will benefit.”

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