Alabama PREP Center converts former prison into unique Residential Reentry Program

The Alabama Pardons and Paroles has teamed up with GEO Reentry and a vocational college to deliver treatment and job training in a renovated prison that once held 700 inmates. The program combines cognitive behavioral treatment for individuals who previously failed probation and parole along with vocational training that helps them transition into good paying jobs upon release.

Pardons and Parole Bureau Director Cam Ward said this new program is intended to “help people on parole or probation overcome addictions, become employable, and stay out of trouble,” and he said it is off to a good start. The program, located in Perry County, Alabama, is called the Parole and Probation Reentry Education and Employment Program Center, or PREP. 

At this residential program, GEO Reentry provides substance use and mental health counseling and will also provide career tech training through J.F. Ingram State Technical College. Participants travel from the PREP Center to the college twice weekly for the vocational classes. PREP’s first class of graduates completed the program in 2023. Eventually, the state hopes to ramp up to hundreds of participants.

The Pardons and Paroles Bureau purchased the vacant prison with funds appropriated by the Legislature for that purpose — $15 million for the purchase and $4 million for renovations. The program is aimed at people who have gotten into trouble for violating the terms of probation and parole for reasons such as failing a drug test as opposed to people who commit more serious violations.

Director Ward said PREP can be an important component in reducing the recidivism rate in Alabama, a key part of solving problems in Alabama’s overcrowded and understaffed prison system.

At the foundation of GEO Reentry’s in-custody treatment is evidence-based programming, designed to address underlying reasons for antisocial behaviors, and ultimately to change criminal thinking and behavior. Treatment is tailored for each individual’s needs for a successful transition to the community upon release. Starting treatment before release facilitates consistency in treatment, expedites behavior change, and promotes effectiveness in reducing recidivism.

Would you like to see how the PREP Center works? Watch the video.