Five Alabama are working together to highlight the creative talents of the current and formerly incarcerated.
The organizations are working together to create an arts exhibition called “Changing the Course,” which will exclusively feature pieces from current and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Executive Assistant to the Director Jill Stallworth announced the project to the Commission on Reentry at its fifth meeting on Wednesday.
“We are working on hosting an art exhibition to display the creative talents of those who are currently incarcerated, as well as those who are on parole,” Stallworth said. Stallworth presented research on the need for art and education as a diversion opportunity for justice-involved individuals at all stages.
Kyes Stevens, director of the Auburn University’s Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, shared additional details about what to expect from the event. The organizations working together to develop this event are the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, Alabama Department of Corrections, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Ingram State Technical College, and the Bureau.
Brandon Johnson, director of Policy for the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office, presented the need for housing for formerly incarcerated people and requested the Commission consider ways to improve housing in Alabama as a method to reduce recidivism.
The commission also heard the story of Ronald McKeithen, who was incarcerated from 1984 to 2010. This was facilitated by Executive Director Carla Crowder from Alabama Appleseed.
ABPP Deputy Director of Parolee Rehabilitation Rebecca Bensema discussed a recent multiagency Information Technology subcommittee meeting, specifically progress towards developing a combined intake system allowing offenders having access to the platform during every step of the criminal justice process. Bensema presented Florida’s resource as an example of an already functioning shared intake portal.
The next Commission on Reentry meeting is planned for Dec. 7. The primary goal of the commission, adapted from Section 3 of Alabama Senate Bill 221, is identifying, implementing, and promoting evidence-based research, policies, strategies, and programming to support successful reentry and reintegration.