Hinds County Reentry Program Starts Collecting Applications Sept. 1 | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hinds County Reentry Program Starts Collecting Applications Sept. 1

Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun said the county reentry program gives a new opportunity for those coming back from prison at a press briefing on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Photo courtesy City of Jackson

Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun said the county reentry program gives a new opportunity for those coming back from prison at a press briefing on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Photo courtesy City of Jackson

Hinds County will take applications from potential participants in its reentry program on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at the Jackson Convention Center from 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m.

The program targets Hinds County residents over 18 years of age who have at least one felony conviction, Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun's aide Louis Armstrong said at a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

Armstrong, the director of the reentry department, told the Jackson Free Press that the Supervisors are committing more than $388,000 to the program, taking in 60 participants for one year. "The plan going forward is to be able to track the success of these participants to demonstrate that reentry is a viable alternative," he said in the phone interview on Friday, Aug. 27.

"It is designed to reduce recidivism so the individuals will help being incarcerated, come home to have a second chance and not recidivate and go back to crime."

Formerly Incarcerated Directs Reentry Program

Armstrong, formerly a member of the Jackson City Council, spent one year in federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting a bribe to influence a council vote in 1999.

In July of last year, Hinds County set aside $50,000 for the reentry program. On Wednesday, Armstrong introduced the department staff who will provide case management and workforce-development services, which are two components of the program.

"The case-management aspect requires that they go through an orientation, work on their cognitive-behavioral issues like decision making," Armstrong told the Jackson Free Press on Friday. "And we try to affect how they make decisions so that they can begin to make better decisions."

"In the meantime, we work on housing, we work on family relationships, we work on any substance-abuse issues they may have or any other mental-health issues they may have," he added. "We work on getting them their identification. Many of the individuals don't have a driver's license, don't have an ID card."

Working With Community Partners

Armstrong said that the department will work with more than 25 community partners, including Hinds Community College's workforce-development section, State of Mississippi Mississippi Employment Security division, local partners focused on health care, substance abuse, mental health and housing.

"Participants must show up on time as required. They must submit to random drug testing, and they must fully participate in their recovery," he said.

Armstrong said the plan is to start the program in November after admitting the participants who can continue submitting applications until then.

"The process is to provide services to those with high-risk individuals who are most likely to recidivate,” he said Friday. “So we do a scientific assessment to determine who is most likely to recommit crimes, and those are the individuals we will work with."

"We will give them credentials, and we will give them job placement services so that they can become productive citizens."

Interested participants should come to the convention center on Sept. 1 with a legal form of identification (if they have one), proof of age and proof of Hinds County residence. However, those who do not have a means of identification will receive assistance to get one.

Calhoun said that the program is important to the county and has been in planning for some time. "For the citizens coming back into Hinds County, this is something that will give them the path to a new life," he said on Wednesday at the press briefing.

Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.

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