Local Reentry Program Hoping to Reduce Likelihood of Repeat Offenders

Dr. Ralph Soney is heading PCC's efforts to help former prisoners reenter their communities upon release from incarceration.

GREENVILLE—Pitt Community College President Lawrence Rouse updated Pitt County Commissioners on the college’s latest activities Monday, including the progress being made by the county’s reentry program for former inmates. 

Since 2021, when the N.C. Department of Public Safety chose PCC as the intermediary agency for the Pitt County Local Reentry Council (LRC), the college has overseen services intended to reduce recidivism. PCC Reentry Coordinator Ralph Soney says the local reentry program has already received 340 referrals from a variety of agencies, including Pitt County Probation and Parole and the court system.

Of the many obstacles former inmates must overcome to successfully rejoin their communities, Soney says homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, transportation problems and mental health issues are the most prevalent. He said helping program participants find gainful employment is crucial to successful reentry.

“We know for a fact that justice-involved individuals who get training and education are five times less likely to reoffend,” Soney said. “Pitt Community College’s reentry activities provide a seamless way for them to get the training and education they need to succeed and not reoffend.”

Soney says the job training and other services provided through the reentry program represent “a serious return on investment” to the county.

“When a formerly justice-involved person comes back to the community from jail and gains employment and doesn’t reoffend, it benefits the overall economic health and safety of the community,” he said. “This means they are contributing to the local tax base and are less likely to victimize other citizens.”

Last fall, commissioners designated $1.8 million for PCC to continue overseeing the LRC for the next 18 years. The funding will be taken from Pitt County’s share of a roughly $26 billion-national opioid settlement and distributed to the college at a rate of $100,000 per year.

After receiving an initial $1.08 million through the settlement, Pitt County will receive another $7.7 million over the next 18 years to combat opioid addiction and provide treatment to people with substance abuse problems.

Located on Evans Street in Greenville, PCC’s Reentry Center is open weekdays, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Though walk-ins are welcome, individuals needing reentry services are encouraged to call (252) 689-1509 to schedule an appointment.