RALEIGH Oct 10, 2017 RALEIGH: This week Gov. Roy Cooper will help launch the State Reentry Council Collaborative, an effort to help formerly incarcerated people successfully return to the community and become productive contributors to society. The group will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 1-4 p.m. at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, located at 1924 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh. “North Carolina is a better and safer place when those who take responsibility for and learn from their mistake can get another chance to live productive, purposeful lives,” Gov. Cooper said. “Many former offenders have the potential to make positive contributions to their communities and we need to help them find and stay on that path.” The State Reentry Council Collaborative, chaired by Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks, will examine the needs of people being released from prison and ways to help them successfully reintegrate into their communities. The group will also focus on increasing the effectiveness of local reentry councils, which provide direct support and case management services such as assistance with housing, job placement, transportation and referrals for mental health and substance abuse services for those leaving prison. The Reentry Council includes representatives from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the N.C. Community College System, non-profits, the faith community, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Members will work with community stakeholders including law enforcement to develop and carry out a Statewide Reentry Action Plan. This comprehensive plan will address the myriad of challenges and barriers that offenders face when they leave prison and return to society and outline specific reentry strategies for state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, and community stakeholders. Supporting formerly incarcerated people who are working to transition back to communities is a priority for the Cooper Administration and ties directly to other critical issues facing North Carolina and the nation, including the opioid crisis and workforce development. “The vast majority of people leaving prison have some type of addiction,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Treatment during incarceration is an essential element of successful reentry programs, which give people a better shot and reduce repeat crime. Helping people get the tools they need to thrive while they’re in prison makes them much more likely to succeed once they’re out.” To help with reentry, Gov. Cooper’s budget, Common Ground Solutions for North Carolina, recommended an additional $9 million for behavioral treatment, support for local reentry councils, and extending transitional housing for formerly incarcerated individuals. “In North Carolina, about 23,000 individuals get released from prison each year to return to communities across our state,” said Sec. Hooks. “We work with community and faith-based organizations, law enforcement, businesses, formerly incarcerated individuals, and others to help former offenders succeed. This new State Reentry Council Collaborative will help create a comprehensive reentry strategy for all North Carolina communities." The Reentry Council’s core membership is expected to meet quarterly with workgroups meeting more frequently to further develop recommendations for the Statewide Reentry Action Plan. Over the next several meetings, the SRCC will learn about ongoing reentry work in North Carolina, review model programs in other states, and discuss substantive strategies that can be successfully implemented.