It isn’t often you hear about corrections officials standing up in public and declaring that inmates who inhabit our prisons and jails are mostly people who “made a mistake that can be fixed.” It’s probably even more rare to hear about one of them retiring from the prison industry and continuing to work toward helping prisoners stay out of prison, not keeping them in.
Yet, that’s what has happened in Ohio: former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Terry Collins, made his comments at the grand opening of a new multipurpose facility designed to help ex-offenders make it in the community.
Collins was so invested in the idea that prisoners could be rehabilitated that before retiring as director four years ago, he was known for saying “We need to stop sending people to prison because we’re mad at them.” And now, the new re-entry facility in Chillicothe bears his name, The Terry Collins Re-Entry Center.
Unlike many other high-level public corrections officials who fill their retirements with consulting jobs in the private prison industry or professional correctional associations, Collins hasn’t missed a beat in his lifelong quest to provide education and support to those leaving prison — rather than keeping them locked down, mere fodder for an ever growing prison industry that right now cages more than 2 million men, women, and children.
To learn more about the Terry Collins Re-Entry Center read The Columbus Dispatch’s article “New center to help inmates move from prison to society opens.”