North Carolina joins an effort to improve outcomes for freed prisoners

Jan 29, 2024, 2:41 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has joined a nascent nationwide effort to improve outcomes for more prisoners who return to society through an approach focused on education, health care and housing.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed an executive order Monday that seeks to reduce recidivism through formal training and workforce tools for incarcerated people so more can succeed once they are freed.

More than 18,000 people are released annually from the dozens of North Carolina adult correctional facilities, the order says, facing obstacles to a fresh start from their criminal record.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to live a life of joy, success and love even when we make mistakes,” Cooper said at an Executive Mansion ceremony. “Every single one of us can be redeemed.”

The order aligns with the goals of Reentry 2030, which is being developed by the Council of State Governments and other groups to promote successful offender integration. The council said that North Carolina is the third state to officially join Reentry 2030, after Missouri and Alabama.

North Carolina has set challenging numerical goals while joining Reentry 2030, such as increasing the number of high school degree and post-secondary skills credentials earned by incarcerated people by 75% by 2030. And the number of employers formally willing to employee ex-offenders would increase by 30%.

“This is the perfect time for this order, as employers really need workers for the record numbers of jobs that are now being created in our state,” the governor said. “Our state’s correctional facilities are a hidden source of talent.”

The executive order also directs a “whole-of-government” approach, in which Cabinet departments and other state agencies collaborate toward meeting these goals. For example, the state Transportation Department is directed to help provide the Department of Adult Correction information so that incarcerated people can learn how to get driver’s licenses and identification upon their release.

And Cooper’s order tells the Department of Health and Human Services to create ways to prescreen prisoners for federal and state health and welfare benefits before they are freed, and look into whether some Medicaid services can be offered prior to their release.

The order “charts a new path for us to collaborate with all state agencies to address the needs of justice-involved people in every space,” Adult Correction Secretary Todd Ishee said in a news release.

The governor said there is already funding in place to cover many of the efforts, including new access to Pell Grants for prisoners to pursue post-secondary degrees and land jobs once released. But he said he anticipated going to the Republican-controlled General Assembly for assistance to accelerate the initiatives.

Republican legislators have in the past supported other prisoner reentry efforts, particularly creating mechanisms for ex-offenders to remove nonviolent convictions from their records.

Cooper and other ceremony speakers touched on the spiritual aspects of prisoner reentry.

NASCAR team owner and former Super Bowl champion coach Joe Gibbs talked about a program within the “Game Plan for Life” nonprofit he started that helps long-term prisoners get a four-year bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry so they can counsel fellow inmates.

And Greg Singleton, a continuing-education dean at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford, is himself an ex-offender, having served four years in prison in the 1990s. The college has educational opportunities inside the state prison and county jail in Sanford. Plans are ahead to expand such assistance to jails in adjoining counties.

“What if God didn’t give second chances — where would any of us be?” Singleton asked. “Oh, but thank God he did, thank God he did.”

United States News

Associated Press

Singer Justin Timberlake arrested, accused of driving while intoxicated on Long Island, source says

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer Justin Timberlake has been arrested and is accused of driving while intoxicated on New York’s Long Island, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official said Timberlake was expected to be arraigned later Tuesday in Sag Harbor, on the eastern end of Long Island. The official could not […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Southern New Mexico wildfire leads to evacuation of village of 7,000

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a village in southern New Mexico were ordered to flee their homes Monday without taking time to grab any belongings due to a fast-moving wildfire. “GO NOW: Do not attempt to gather belongings or protect your home. Evacuate immediately,” officials with Ruidoso, a village home to 7,000 people, said […]

9 hours ago

A sign outside the Internal Revenue Service building is seen, May 4, 2021, in Washington. The gover...

Associated Press

The IRS plans to end another major tax loophole for the wealthy, could raise $50 billion in revenue

The Internal Revenue Service plans to end another major tax loophole that could raise more than $50 billion in revenue over the next decade.

12 hours ago

President Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the Wh...

Associated Press

President Biden to announce deportation protection and work permits for those married to US citizens

President Biden is planning to announce a sweeping new policy that would lift the threat of deportation for those married to U.S. citizens.

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Former GOP Rep. George Nethercutt, who defeated House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, dies at 79

SEATTLE (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, who was a Spokane lawyer with little political experience when he ousted Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley as part of a stunning GOP wave that shifted national politics to the right in 1994, has died. He was 79. Nethercutt died Friday near Denver of progressive […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Convicted killer of California college student Kristin Smart ordered to pay $350k in restitution

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — A California judge ruled Monday that a man convicted of killing 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart in 1996 must pay just over $350,000 to her family for costs they incurred after her death. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ordered Paul Flores to make the payments after a […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

North Carolina joins an effort to improve outcomes for freed prisoners