In addition to working on legislative issues concerning offenders and ex-offenders, the Council is working to establish Community Reentry Councils in each probation/parole region in West Virginia.
At this time there are nine active Community Reentry Councils. Their purpose is to bring together human services, faith communities, corrections, law enforcement, courts, and social services agencies in order to address barriers to reentry such as housing, employment, behavioral health, substance abuse, family services and help resource positive youth development, benefits, and food assistance. They identify community assets and service gaps, maximizing the effective use of existing resources through collaboration. They host events in the community and provide educational opportunities on these issues and resources.
A website has been developed to promote the individual councils and provide resource information for each region. https://wvreentry.org/
One key education component is the Building Bridges to a Better Community training. This training focuses on barriers to reentry, expectations from ex-offenders, connecting with employers, improving outcomes through collaboration, developing interventions, implementing effective strategies, and educating the community. The training is also applicable to returning veterans and those returning from inpatient substance use disorder recovery. Our target audience includes clergy and laity from local churches, social service agencies, corrections and law enforcement, social workers, and persons with relatives in the correctional system.
This training is free to attend. So far the council has hosted training events in Martinsburg, Charleston, Parkersburg, Beckley, and at Marshall University. Each was well received in the community and started an important conversation among those that attended.
For more information on the Community Reentry Councils or the Building Bridges to a Better Community training, please contact Beverly Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org.