Western Kentucky reentry service providers met for the Western Kentucky Reentry Council virtual meeting last Thursday to give updates about pre-release resources, evidence-based programming and other reentry initiatives.

According to the council, “reentry involves the use of programs targeted at promoting the effective reintegration of offenders back to communities upon release from prison and jail.”

Dennis Ritchie, director of reentry services for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, announced Darleen Horton as the new Expungement Program Manager for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

He said that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person expungement clinics that started in Louisville were planned to expand to Hopkinsville, Paducah and Bowling Green, but the pandemic derailed those efforts.

He noted that three upcoming statewide expungement virtual clinics are scheduled for July 15, Sept. 16 and Nov. 18.

Ritchie informed the council that Goodwill Industries was the recipient of a $10 million donation, and with the new funds, a proper expungement program will be officially announced in the coming weeks.

One of the goals of the expansion is to achieve 1,500 expungements every year for the next three years. So far this year, 635 expungements have been granted.

Ritchie would like to see one-day expungements.

“I feel like that would be such a game-changer for people,” said Andria Barkett, program administrator for the Kentucky Department of Corrections and meeting host.

Oxford Houses of Kentucky Reentry Coordinator Brent Welsh announced the opening of 12 houses in June and July. Oxford Houses provide substance abuse treatment at their reentry houses.

Robert Worden of DAV, Disabled American Veterans, announced offices have resume in-person services.

Bill Allen of WKEC, Western Kentucky Educational Cooperative, explained that the GED remains imperative for reentry success, especially during the forthcoming COVID-19 pandemic recovery. He also announced that all WKEC centers are fully open and have resumed services.

Julie Copeland of Centerstone announced that street outreach has resumed since COVID-19 restrictions have eased, they were awarded funding to help veterans, and western Kentucky referrals have decreased considerably. Centerstone is a not-for-profit that provides mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

The next meeting is set for July 15 at 10 a.m.