LifeTech, a previously successful residential job-training center for the recently paroled, is expected to reopen later this year.

The center was shuttered last year in a controversial move by the then-leader of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

Now, new director Cam Ward says he expects a “soft opening” of the Thomasville center in late summer.

“We’re going to reopen it and Ingram State Technical College will have a campus in LifeTech,” Ward said last week. Ingram State Technical College provides job training to incarcerated adults.

Prior to its closure, LifeTech had provided skills training to more than 6,300 offenders since 2006 and had a recidivism rate of 13%, less than half of the statewide recidivism rate.

“We need to provide the skills for inmates not to come back to prison,” Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said. He’s chairman of the Senate education budget committee.

The Alabama Community College System oversaw the educational aspect of the site and provided instructors.

Both Ward and ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker disagreed with former Pardons and Paroles director Charlie Graddick’s efforts in 2019 to close the facility.

"The LifeTech Transition Center has provided vital services, education, and training for all those who have passed through its doors and we are grateful that under the leadership of Director Cam Ward the Center will soon reopen," Baker said in a written statement. "Ingram State is uniquely suited to serve the individuals making this important transition and our staff is eager to assist these individuals as they reenter society and the workforce."

In the 2022 education budget, Gov. Kay Ivey and lawmakers appropriated $2 million for LifeTech, the same amount it's been funded in recent years.

Ward also said Ingram State will have a presence in the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles five-day reporting centers that offer reentry and rehabilitation programs.

“One thing we’re doing is increasing our education availability in those centers with Ingram State,” Ward said.

The 2022 Education Trust Fund has appropriated $1 million for those centers.

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