Re-entry services center to open on Macdonald Avenue

Re-entry services center to open on Macdonald Avenue

A new re-entry center that’s about to open on Macdonald Avenue will serve about 300 formerly incarcerated persons and their families each year, according to county officials.

A ribbon-cutting event for the West County Reentry Success Center at 912 Macdonald Ave. is set to take place Tuesday at 2:45 p.m.

Located in 3,200-square-feet of space in the historic Milens Jewelry Store building, the reentry center will be a first-stop hub for ex-inmates trying to get on the right track. More than two-dozen public agencies and nonprofit organizations will offer services from that one location. They intend to offer opportunity and stability so that their clients will be less likely to return to an overcrowded, increasingly expensive jail system.

The center was made possible through funds disbursed as a result of the prison realignment legislation of 2011 (Assembly Bill 109), which transferred low-level prison inmates to county jails in order to ease overcrowding. Of the new center’s $526,688 annual budget, $433,000 comes from AB109 funds. The remaining funds came from local, established services provider Rubicon Programs and other sources.

As far as we know, the new re-entry center has received little to no opposition from local residents. County leaders say the community has been calling for these types of services in lieu of building more jails. A plan to construct a maximum-security jail at the West County Detention Center in Richmond, funded mostly by an $80 million state grant, is facing stiff community opposition, even though expanding re-entry services to inmates is central to the project.

The new Reentry Services Center on Macdonald Avenue was described as having a bright and welcoming atmosphere with multiple meeting rooms and an open “atrium-style” common area. The center is being governed jointly by Rubicon Programs and a Steering Committee composed of 12 local stakeholders.

“For more than five years, the West County community has advocated for a better solution to support post-release success and increase community stability and safety,” Nicholas Alexander, the center’s director, said in a statement.

Rebecca Brown, who chairs the center’s steering committee, said prison realignment is “a call to action for all of us to work together to develop smarter solutions to our nation’s deeply flawed criminal justice system.”