LifeTech Gets New Name, New Purpose

By Jeff Byrd, Thomasville Times

The LifeTech facility at Thomasville now has a new name and a new purpose.

Alabama’s Director of Pardons and Parole Cam Ward met with Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day and Clarke County Commissioner Jackie Ray Rush on the next chapter in the Department of Corrections’ goal of reducing crime recidivism.

The LifeTech facility was mired in controversy in much of 2018-19 as a handful of parolees escaped or walked-off the facility. On at least three occasions, the escapees stole vehicles from Thomasville residents to make their escape. All were later caught and returned to the state prison system.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of the facility as the Department Corrections opted not to bring the parolees back to the Thomasville from their home areas in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Still, Ward and the Governor Kay Ivey administration saw the need to reform and revise its support system for parolees in a bid to reduce repeat criminal activity or recidivism.

Now, the Thomasville facility, will be renamed the Thomasville Regional Day Reporting Center. The new center, which will be a day center only, and will serve seven Southwest Alabama counties in Clarke, Marengo, Wilcox, Sumter, Choctaw, Washington, Dallas, and Monroe.

Day wanted to be perfectly clear about two features of the state’s revised plan for the facility.

“First, there will be no overnights. These folks will be bused in and bused home. Secondly, none of the people who come to this facility will be a sex offender,” Day said.

Ward issued a release on the role the Thomasville facility will play for the ADOC. The facility is located on 2115 Bashi Road.

“The goal of the proposed Thomasville Regional Day Reporting Center is to provide moderate or high risk, highneed offenders with supportive services and reentry resources to reduce recidivism and increase the offender’s likelihood to succeed in becoming a productive citizen. This new concept provides successful programming achieved at existing Day Reporting Centers to offenders in rural Alabama counties that do not have access to support services,” Ward said.

Ingram State Techinal College will return to provide most of the in-school classes for the state’s participants.

“Participants that are eligible for the TRDRC include male and female offenders who score very high or high-level offenders per the Alabama Board or Pardons and Paroles validated risk assessment tool. Moderate-level offenders who are high in criminal needs per risk assessment are also eligible,” Ward said. “Participants are required to have a minimum of one year of supervision.

Per an agreement with the City of Thomasville, no sex offenders are accepted.”

The probation clients can be ordered to the Thomasville facility by either the probation judge as a condition of probation, intensive supervision as ordered by a judge, as a violation of parole, or referred by a probation officer as a deterrent for those who are poor candidates for community supervision.

The participants will meet at their probation offices in their home counties before being transported to Thomasville. For Marengo, that’s the Linden Probation and Parole Office. The Selma Probation and Parole Office handles both Wilcox and Dallas Counties. Monroeville handles Monroe County and Chatom handles Washington County.

A total of 32 participants will be transported daily from each of the seven county centers. Clarke County participants will come from Grove Hill. Four transportation vehicles will leave each site at 7 a.m. in the morning. In the van will be two state security officers. One will drive and the other will maintain security.

“This was important to us that they have state security officers in the vans and on the scene in Thomasville,” Day said. “The biggest problem our folks had with LifeTech was they were here overnight and the ones who escaped, or walked off, wanted to go home. This time, there is no incentive for them to leave, because they will be going home each day.”

The ADOC provided travel times with the Linden trip covering 27.4 miles at 32 minutes. Selma is the longest ride at 61.8 miles and at 1 hour, 11 minutes. The Linden and Clarke county vans will be at the site at about 7:30 a.m.

“The programming day will start at 9 a.m. and will run to 3:30 p.m. There will be a 30-minute lunch break. It will run four days a week.

“This gives us 24 hours for the week for instruction and programming,” Ward said. “There will be curfew checks and GPS monitoring.”

Ward said there are two main phases of the program. The first phase will focus on detoxification and cognitive restructuring. This will include rigorous drug testing, substance abuse treatment, mental health assessment, education and life-skills training and community service.

The second phase will focus on maintaining sobriety and include random drug screens, along with continued educational trade and supervision.

“We feel like Pardons and Parole has come up with a detailed and efficient plan,” Day said. “This is a voluntary program and something me and Commissioner Rush can support.”

Day said it will likely be August at the earliest before the new Thomasville Regional Day Reporting Center will begin.

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published this page in News 2021-06-22 10:38:05 -0500