Local organizations looking to start re-entry center for released prisoners

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Organizations such as the Interior Aids association are coming together to address the needs of those who are coming out of incarceration. Wednesday, people gathered at City Hall for an open discussion on the Facing Addictions Communities Project.

Cathleen McLaughlin the Director of Partners in Progress said, "They said not in my back yard. We don't want a center because that will draw felons. My response is, those felons are already in your community. They're already there."

The objective of the meeting was to address how to structure a recovery and re-entry center for those who have been released from correctional facilities from around the State. Guest speaker Cathleen McLaughlin, from Anchorage's Partners Re-entry Center, spoke about the success of the program in the Mat-Su area and what it would take to get a center in Fairbanks.

"From my vantage point, there are three phases. One is stabilizing somebody," she said.

Meaning, finding people housing, food and their basic needs.

"The second is to give them purpose and incentivize them to become good members of the community," she said.

So helping people find jobs, improve their behavior, mental health and addressing their addictions.

"And the third is to restore," she said.

And lastly, making sure that people are accountable for their actions and a law abiding citizen after being released back into society.

"My point is because he had a place to go and he has a place that is going to be welcoming. Every time he walks in we call him by his first name, we don't call them by their last name, we call them like they are a community member. We don't have authority over them. Then we can build a trusting relationship," she said.

McLaughlin says, the re-entry center in Anchorage is a bridge to fill the gap between being incarcerated and being released back into society.