By MARY SELL and CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey and several state agency leaders will be meeting soon to discuss the future of the LifeTech Transition Center, a residential parolee education program in Thomasville.
“This particular facility has presented its challenges over the years,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said Wednesday. “The governor will be meeting with (Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker, Pardons and Paroles Executive Director Charlie Graddick, Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day), legislators and others to start looking at options.”
Last week, Alabama Daily News reported that some lawmakers were concerned about a “significant scale back” coming to the program that is a partnership between the Pardons and Paroles and the community college system. Some said the state, trying to fix crowded conditions in its prisons, needs more programs like LifeTech, which has provided skilled training to more than 6,300 offenders since 2006 and has a recidivism rate of 13%, less than half of the statewide recidivism rate.
At the time, Pardons and Paroles said the entire agency was being closely evaluated and “resources will be directed where they have the probability for best positive impact on public safety and on offender rehabilitation.” It would be premature to say how much LifeTech could be impacted, the agency said.
On Wednesday at their monthly meeting, Baker told ACCS board members the program is successful.
“The Pardons and Parole Board is evaluating that whole process,” Baker said. “We have employees there that I’m concerned about, I want them to know that we’re working through this, they need to continue doing their jobs, and as we move forward there is a scheduled meeting later this month in the governor’s office with all the parties involved and we hope that results is it comes out with a better clear direction about where that whole program is going.
“… I think the governor’s office will be supportive. But since it’s in the press I just wanted everyone to know that we are on top of it and we’re going to be involved and we’re going to be advocates of continuing the program because it is a good program that has succeed in assisting those people that have been incarcerated in a way to be successful with the skills program once (parolees are released from prison).”
Day, the Thomasville mayor, last week said security has been a concern at the facility but a fence around it is planned. In this year’s General Fund budget, lawmakers added $1 million for security upgrades at LifeTech.
The Legislature also allocated $2 million for LifeTech in the 2020 education budget. Eighteen-week programs in welding, building construction, small engine repair, horticulture and industrial maintenance are offered.