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First class of PREP, Alabama Dept. of Corrections’ new program based in Uniontown, prepares for new endeavors

On Friday, Feb. 24, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles held its first commencement ceremony for the 10 graduates of the Parole and Probation Reentry Education and Employment Program Center, or PREP Center, located in Uniontown, Ala.

Director Cam Ward inspired each graduate to take the skills obtained during their time at the PREP Center and do great things as productive citizens of society. “You all are now role models of society, so show us what more you can do to continue to make us proud,” Ward said. “These men are an amazing example of what the world has to offer if we truly believe in second chances.”

On behalf of Ingram State Technical College, Dr. William Young reminded the graduates they were provided with the tools, skills and resources to enter the workforce prepared and confident. “You all now have a world of new opportunities,” he stated. He also commemorated them for being trailblazers for the PREP Center. “As the first graduating class of the PREP Center, you will always be remembered.”

Testimonial graduate Eugene Lymon, showed appreciation to each administrator and staff member who were involved in the transformation of these individuals. He thanked them for guiding and helping them achieve the necessary steps to accomplish goals and live a successful life. “The Perry County PREP Center has given us the knowledge to understand we can do better,” Lymon said. “This program has given me the endurance to be a better father and better man.”

“We are so proud of the hard work done by the PREP staff, program providers, ISTC/GEO, community partners and these participants. These men started as inmates and have now returned home workers, parents and neighbors contributing to Alabama communities,” said Assistant Director for Reentry Rebecca Bensema.

The PREP Center was officially opened on April 21, 2022. It provides reentry and rehabilitation services for probationers and parolees, encouraging incarceration diversion as a sanction response and an option for justice-involved individuals to receive support services and resolve barriers to successful reintegration. The two primary program providers at the PREP Center, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, and Ingram State Technical College, work together to provide mental health assistance and education and employment readiness services to participants.