Cranston, September 23, 2008 – The Rhode Island Department of Connections has contracted with Leadership Rhode Island, utilizing funds from the Rhode Island Foundation, to further its mission of better preparing inmates for successful reentry to their home communities. In the coming months, LRI will convene forums for public information and dialogue about prisoner reentry in four communities where the RIDOC has already established Prisoner Reentry Councils – Newport, Pawtucket, Warwick, and Woonsocket.
Corrections Director Ashbel T. Wall II is pleased that LRI has been chosen for this role. Director Wall notes, “Leadership Rhode Island, with its expertise in coalition building and creating public dialogue, is the ideal neutral party to convene these discussions. LRI is uniquely positioned to leverage its facilitation and program planning expertise as well as to involve community leaders (LRI alumni) in these events.”
Each year LRI holds a Criminal Justice Day for its leadership class, a portion of which is spent touring one of the state prisons and hearing from key RIDOC staff and other partners in the law enforcement community. Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services Roberta Richman is an LRI alumna and it was she who approached LRI’s Executive Director Kathy Swann about the reentry forums, feeling that they were a “natural fit” for the job.
Initially, LRI will meet with leadership from each of the four reentry councils to gather information and learn about the unique issues, challenges, and opportunities facing their communities when it comes to prisoner reentry. They will then prepare a report based on those findings with recommendations about how the public dialogues should be designed.
“LRI focuses on issues in community leadership and is pleased to have been invited to work so strategically with a government agency and our alumni,” notes Kathy Swann. “We’re very excited to have this opportunity to bring more public awareness to the important issue of prisoner reentry.”
The issues forums will be scheduled for the fall, with a final report promised to the RIDOC by February of next year.