PCC-Pitt County D.A. Formalize Partnership

Pitt County District Attorney Faris Dixon, left, and PCC President Lawrence Rouse signed a memorandum of understanding this month, formalizing a longtime partnership intended to help lawbreakers turn their lives around through education.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College and the Office of Pitt County District Attorney Faris Dixon have formalized a long-running partnership that offers individuals facing incarceration an opportunity to pay their debt to society through education.

Since his election to office in 2018, Dixon has collaborated with staff from PCC’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement on alternatives to detention. The goal, Dixon said, has been to help lawbreakers develop personally and professionally in the hope of reducing the likelihood they’ll commit future offenses.

“As district attorney, I ask these individuals, ‘What is your plan for the morning after you get out of the criminal justice system?’ If they don’t have one, they’ll be right back in jail,” Dixon said. “PCC gives them a chance to break that cycle.”

During a July 9 signing ceremony at Pitt, PCC President Lawrence Rouse said Dixon’s efforts to redirect and retrain individuals involved with the Pitt County justice system parallel the college’s mission to educate and empower people for success.

“District Attorney Dixon’s heart is focused on helping individuals turn their lives around to become productive citizens, and that is what PCC is all about,” Rouse said. “… We all make mistakes, and, as a society, we have a choice to educate or incarcerate those who commit crimes. PCC is an off-ramp from the criminal justice system, and now is an ideal time for individuals to pursue higher education, because there are many jobs available in our community.”

Dixon agreed and noted that education has historically served as the foundation for growth and success throughout the state. It’s been a priority of North Carolina legislators, regardless of political party affiliation, he added.

“(Education) is why we’ve grown to become the ninth-most populous state,” Dixon said. “… But not everyone needs or wants a four-year education. The jobs Pitt Community College teaches people to do cannot be shipped overseas. They are needed to help communities thrive.”

Through its newly-signed pact with the college, the Pitt County District Attorney’s (PCDA) Office will identify students interested in enrolling in PCC courses and coordinate with Pitt staff regarding recruitment, enrollment and class scheduling, as needed. Dixon’s office will also be responsible for ensuring an amenable meeting location and safe learning environment for training conducted on-site.

For its part, PCC will work with PCDA to provide general education courses, adult high school proficiency, resume writing, job readiness and career training. The college will also offer academic support to PCDA referrals and help them enroll in life skills courses and training that prepare them for a successful transition to PCC curricula and/or the workforce.

Dixon was confident the partnership with PCC would be life-changing for program participants who earn credentials that lead to employment. “If you go to work and work hard, you won’t have a whole lot of time to do much else,” he said.