JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A plan to stop crime in Jackson starts with those currently incarcerated.
Hinds County supervisors are working with city, state and federal agencies to reach high risk offenders to turn their lives around and turn them into tax paying citizens.
“Get them home. Get them rethinking and get them employed,” said Louis Armstrong.
He is the coordinator for Hinds County’s Reentry Project, designed to successfully reintroduce inmates into the community after completing their sentences.
Armstrong, a former Jackson City councilman, served over a year in federal prison on bribery charges.
He worked with the Hinds County Board of Supervisors to launch the reentry program for the currently incarcerated.
“The day they get here we will be able to implement their case management plan that allows us to manage, track and assist returning individual, so they do not commit another crime,” said Armstrong.
Program supporters refer to the participants as returning citizens. They will undergo eight weeks of orientation, participate in behavioral programs, followed by workforce training being offered by Hinds County Community College and Holmes Community College.
The board allocated $250,000 dollars. The city pledged $250,000 upon council approval.
Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Credell Calhoun worked for a year to raise funding for the program. His plan is to decrease crimes in Jackson by equipping inmates who have completed their sentences with the housing, training and jobs needed to become contributors to the city and state.
“I think we’re going to be very successful. We are following the model that’s very successful,” said Calhoun. “So in two or three years you’re gonna see a totally different City of Jackson.”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said their past convictions often bar them from many opportunities.
“These type of programs focus on why,” said Lumumba. “They focus on the lack of opportunities. They focus on how that lack of opportunity increases the likelihood of re-offending.”
The plan is modeled after Birmingham’s Dannon Project which reportedly has a 92 percent success rate.
According to officials, it has been designated by the Department of Labor as the number one reentry project in the nation. Two hundred will be selected at an estimated cost of $8,000 per person for one year.
The Office of Reentry is to be fully operational in 60 days.