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Program Offers Second Chance for NC Citizens

The NEW Reentry Council is one of five pilot programs in North Carolina that are working to reintegrate former inmates into their communities through employment and support services. (Kathryn Decker/flickr.com)
The NEW Reentry Council is one of five pilot programs in North Carolina that are working to reintegrate former inmates into their communities through employment and support services. (Kathryn Decker/flickr.com)
February 29, 2016

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – Reducing the number of people who reoffend after being released from prison and increasing public safety are goals of a pilot program in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties – just east of Raleigh.

The NEW Reentry Council is funded by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and administered by the North Carolina Community Action Association.

According to training coordinator Krystina Dillard, the program works by providing support to people as they reintegrate back into society and find work, housing and a supportive community.

"Employment, transportation and housing are just the basic human needs that all of us need and especially someone who is going to be facing challenges with having stigmatized and having this criminal record," she states.

Dillard says currently 49 percent of people released from jail or prison return within a few years in North Carolina.

In its first 17 months, 91 percent of people enrolled in the program obtained jobs or earned educational or vocational credit.

The Department of Public Safety has identified four other areas as having a high rate of citizens reentering communities after a prison or jail sentence - Mecklenburg, Buncombe, Pitt, and the region of Hoke, Scotland and Robeson counties.

Dillard, says beyond giving people the opportunity to improve their life, the program benefits the entire community.

"That's an issue of public safety,” she states. “Research has shown that when there are opportunities for people to be proactive in their communities, for people to be engaged and involved and supported, that those people typically are less likely to reoffend and go back to jail or prison, which means there's less crime in their community."

She also points out that people who find employment also begin contributing to the economy through taxes and consumer spending – versus spending time in prison and costing taxpayers for that service.

The cost to house a prisoner in North Carolina state prison is $28,000 annually.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC