Springdale gets re-en­try cen­ter

Pro­gram will pro­vide drug coun­sel­ing, re­sume as­sis­tance, cloth­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRAN­DON HOWARD

SPRINGDALE — Brian Stock­slager first started us­ing drugs as a teen. He bat­tled a metham­phetamine ad­dic­tion for more than 20 years, fi­nally break­ing the cy­cle when he was 40.

Now Stock­slager is de­voted to help­ing other strug­gling ad­dicts.

He’s in­volved with Re­form­ers Unan­i­mous, a Bi­ble- based pro­gram de­signed to ad­dress ad­dic­tive be­hav­iors. Stock­slager plans to hold weekly classes this spring at the Re­turn­ing Home Cen­ter.

The 15,000-square-foot fa­cil­ity at 703 N. Thomp­son St. opens Wednes­day and will pro­vide drug coun­sel­ing, re­sume as­sis­tance, cloth­ing and more to for­mer in­mates hop­ing to rein­te­grate into the com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to Nick Rob­bins, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Re­turn­ing Home Inc. On Satur­day, more than 100 peo­ple toured the build­ing dur­ing an open house.

“For for­mer in­mates to be suc­cess­ful, they need these ser­vices. And for or­ga­ni­za­tions to be suc­cess­ful, they need to be able to co­or­di­nate at a high level, Rob­bins said. “The cen­ter is fo­cused on get­ting ev­ery­one un­der the same roof. When some­one comes through those doors, we iden­tify and try to meet their needs. If we can’t we’ll have re­fer­ral agen­cies that say here’s where you need to go.” Groups at the cen­ter in­clude TCIY Min­istries, Nar­cotics Anony­mous, Good­will In­dus­tries of Ar­kan­sas and Dress for Suc­cess North­west Ar­kan­sas, which pro­vides women with pro­fes­sional at­tire. Stock­slager said the cen­ter “ab­so­lutely” will help lower the state’s re­cidi­vism rate by putting for­mer in­mates in a po­si­tion to suc­ceed.

“Hav­ing a pro­gram like this, I’m re­ally ex­cited,” Stock­slager said. “You can­not crawl out to Un­cle Joe who’s cook­ing meth and

think you’re gonna make it.”

Ar­kan­sas has about 56,000 parolees or pro­ba­tion­ers, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Ar­kan­sas Com­mu­nity Correction. The agency, which over­sees the state’s com­mu­nity correction fa­cil­i­ties, es­ti­mates 53.3 per­cent of Ar­kan­sas of­fend­ers will re­turn to prison.

Rob­bins said the re­cidi­vism rate is high be­cause for­mer in­mates of­ten strug­gle to man­age ba­sic life skills once they’re re­leased.

Claire Williams, an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for re-en­try with ACC, said there are roughly 7,900 for­mer in­mates liv­ing in North­west Ar­kan­sas. Williams said a “re­source hub” like the cen­ter is vi­tal to suc­cess­fully rein­te­grat­ing of­fend­ers into the com­mu­nity.

“Hope­fully [ the cen­ter] will be a model for other parts of the state,” Williams said. “From what I’ve seen to­day, the com­mu­nity has given amaz­ing sup­port.”

Ar­kan­sas Com­mu­nity Correction de­scribes re-en­try as in­te­grat­ing an in­mate back into the com­mu­nity as a “law-abid­ing cit­i­zen,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site. That process in­cludes meet­ing a hi­er­ar­chy of needs — food, hous­ing, em­ploy­ment — that could take as long as six months.

The cen­ter plans to ded­i­cate 5,000 square feet to non­profit groups will­ing to help with re-en­try ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease. Plans call for us­ing the re­main­ing 10,000 square feet for tran­si­tional hous­ing with space for a weight room, li­brary, com­puter lab, class­room and com­mu­nity room, the re­lease said.

Phoenix Re­cov­ery Cen­ter of Ar­kan­sas will over­see the hous­ing of roughly 65 to 75 men, ac­cord­ing to Matt Bell, the cen­ter’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. The cen­ter pro­vides sober liv­ing and treat­ment ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to its web­site. A time­line for im­ple­ment­ing the hous­ing wasn’t avail­able Satur­day.

“Re­turn­ing Home Cen­ter is a very in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion to a large prob­lem,” Bell said. “There’s noth­ing like this in the state.”

Cathy Richard­son, owner of Recla­ma­tion House, a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion group liv­ing cen­ter in Jones­boro, said she be­lieves in Rob­bins’ con­cept.

“It re­ally does take a vil­lage to get some­one back on their feet,” Richard­son said.

Rob­bins en­cour­ages for­mer in­mates to visit the cen­ter “whether they were re­leased yes­ter­day or 10 years ago” and wants lo­cal non­profit groups to know they’re wel­come to par­tic­i­pate.

“If we ever want to re­duce crime, we need to in­vest in the in­di­vid­u­als com­ing back to our area,” Rob­bins said. “We think we can meet those ba­sic needs and treat those core is­sues that has led to neg­a­tive re­sults.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Marty Housam (right), with Good­will In­dus­tries, shows Satur­day cloth­ing avail­able to men dur­ing an open house at the North­west Ar­kan­sas Re-en­try Coali­tion build­ing in Springdale. The coali­tion helps re­cently re­leased in­mates tran­si­tion back to a life out­side of in­car­cer­a­tion. Sev­eral agen­cies and groups are lo­cated in the build­ing and ready to help.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Carla Jones (sec­ond from left), with The Choice Is Yours Min­istries, talks with vis­i­tors Car­rie Williams and Richard Short on Satur­day dur­ing the open house.

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