New group sets sights on helping released inmates reenter the community

Kickoff set for November 13


Core-group members meet to organize a community partnership to focus on helping released inmates successfully reenter society as productive members: (from left) Larry Reid, retired Hayden school teacher and organizing workhorse; Ray Sport, Pinson land surveyor and Gideon minister, designated as lead contact by ADECA; Daryl Wheeler, Blount County community corrections officer; and Glenn Bynum, pastor of Pleasant Mount Baptist Church at Pine Mountain and leader of a church prison ministry.

Core-group members meet to organize a community partnership to focus on helping released inmates successfully reenter society as productive members: (from left) Larry Reid, retired Hayden school teacher and organizing workhorse; Ray Sport, Pinson land surveyor and Gideon minister, designated as lead contact by ADECA; Daryl Wheeler, Blount County community corrections officer; and Glenn Bynum, pastor of Pleasant Mount Baptist Church at Pine Mountain and leader of a church prison ministry.

A group is being organized to address the needs of people who have completed prison sentences and who are being released for reentry into the community. The newly forming Blount County Community Partnership for Recovery and Reentry (CPR) will hold its charter organizational meeting on Thurs. Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in the private dining room off the main dining area at St. Vincent’s – Blount Hospital

Speaking at the meeting will be Frank Daniels, special projects coordinator at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), which is coordinating the organizing effort at the request of Gov. Bob Riley. Joe Thomas and Ken Burroughs, both special projects managers at ADECA, will also attend. Debra Daniels (no relation to Frank), director of the State Prisoner Fellowship and co-chair of CPR region 8, which includes Blount County, will also address the group.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather and identify local individuals and agencies that are currently involved with or who have an interest in helping those released from incarceration to make a successful transition into a productive life in the community.

The meeting will attempt to inventory activities and resources already available in the community, assess specific needs facing released former inmates returning to Blount County, and set up procedures to amplify and coordinate services to meet those needs.

The effort to organize Community Partnership for Recovery and Reentry groups around the state is being supported by the state Department of Corrections with the assistance of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Each local organization will be county-based and will focus on meeting needs of former inmates returning to that county.

Special emphasis is placed on involving the faith-based community in the organization, according to Blount County lead contact Ray Sport, since some churches already have experience and skills in working with prison populations from their prison ministries. Other groups requested to attend include county and state agencies, as well as civic clubs and public school administrators and employees.

“We’re looking for the churches to really step up to this need,” said Frank Daniels. “This project depends on mobilizing their efforts.”