As Formerly Incarcerated People Return to Their Communities in W.Va., This Network of ‘Resource Brokers’ Is There to Guide Them – via 100 Days in Appalachia

Amber Bjornsson, photo by Marcus Constantino/100 Days in Appalachia

Read this excellent article from 100 Days in Appalachia about progress being made in West Virginia helping returning citizens succeed. Lots of inspiring ideas here.

Amber Bjornsson says she had a “true heart change” while serving a two-year prison sentence for the years of fines and felonies she previously collected. Once her sentence was complete, Bjornsson moved into a recovery home.

As Bjornsson returned to life outside of incarceration, she started to see the full picture of the obstacles in front of her. She took a job that paid minimum wage at a restaurant within walking distance of her transitional housing. Then, she faced the substantial court fines she’d accumulated prior to her prison term.

Once a returning citizen has their needs identified, staff at the DOC can reach out to the local Reentry Council. Sharp and her team hope to soon provide training to the DOC reentry coordinators, a fairly new position within the state agency that are specifically tasked with helping people who are leaving incarceration prepare for the transition.

“We’re bringing together all community partners that are touched by people who have re-entry concerns,” Sharp said, “private businesses, nonprofits, local government and faith-based organizations, and anyone who can provide a resource for people coming out of incarceration.”

“People have to have the opportunity to change. People in the community have to support that, as well…”

Read the entire article here:

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