Franklin County holds Reentry Coalition Summit to highlight reentry efforts

Franklin County held its first Reentry Coalition Summit on May 17 featuring such special guests as Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, who was instrumental in launching the Franklin County Day Reporting Center, run by GEO Reentry Services, 10 years ago.

The all-day summit, sponsored in part by GEO Reentry, also featured a speech by Senior Research Associate, CCJR and UCCI Deputy Director Myrinda Schweitzer-Smith, and included a panel discussion of ex-offenders currently going through the reentry process and breakout groups covering issues of housing, substance abuse and employment.

The event had a wonderful turnout with approximately 175 attendees, spanning multiple state and county agencies. During the day, topics covered a wide range of issues, including reentry efforts within institutional settings, core correctional practices and community resources available to ex-offenders.

In his opening speech, Sec. Wetzel discussed reentry as being a practice that begins the moment someone enters a prison. He detailed specific intervention for employment, housing, mental health and a holistic approach, and noted offenders need to be restored once they complete their sentence and reintegrate into their communities. He also commented on pre-trial being an issue for corrections and how more people should be diverted away from even setting foot in prison.

Sec. Wetzel formerly served as the warden of the Franklin County Jail, where he helped the county stay at the forefront of correctional reform.

The keynote address was given by Schweitzer-Smith who discussed criminogenic needs, treatment approaches, what works and evidence-based practices.

A special thank you to everyone who attended, including Sec. Wetzel and Schweitzer-Smith, as well as President Judge Carol Van Horn, County Commissioners Thomas and Keller, Warden Bill Bechtold, Probation Chief Dan Hoover, County Administrator John Hart, County Assistant Administrator Carrie Gray, DRC Director Kim Eaton and  Former Commissioners Warren Elliot and Cheryl Plummer.

On behalf of Pennsylvania GEO Reentry, we are grateful for the support received toward this event.