Nonprofit expands to open SC's 1st 'healing first' center to help lower prison reentry rate
South Carolina will join nonprofit Concordance's national effort to reduce the prison reentry rate after a $60 million donation by Wells Fargo that will help open the state's first "healing first" center.
South Carolina will help launch a national effort that advocates are calling a transformative approach in reducing the country's prison reentry rate.
On Wednesday, Wells Fargo announced the company will spend $60 million to support a national expansion of so-called "healing first" centers, led by nonprofit Concordance, that will provide incarcerated adults with mental and behavioral health treatment inside and outside prison walls.
Currently, Concordance only runs its program in Missouri.
But the Wells Fargo donation, leaders said, will help open 40 new centers nationwide, including in South Carolina.
Officials said the Greenville/Spartanburg-area center will open early next year.
"When I took over (in 2013), the Department of Corrections' recidivism rate was 32%, which is pretty high," corrections Director Bryan Stirling said Wednesday at the State House. "Eighty-five percent of the folks who come through the Department of Corrections in South Carolina get out with under five years, and they're back out amongst us."
Today, 17.8% of those return to prison charged with a new crime, Stirling said.
With Concordance's help, that rate will be lower, he added.
"This not only will transform that person that was incarcerated, this is going to transform their family, this is going to transform their community, this will transform their county, this will also transform the state," Stirling said. "This is going to be transformative for the United States once they (Concordance) spread their wings and go to other states."
The five-phased program is optional and runs on an 18-month timeline, starting six months pre-release and running for one year after a participant leaves prison. The program includes substance abuse and mental health treatments, and classes on digital literacy, education and job training skills.
"We have too many people in the prisons and not enough people working," Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday, citing more than 100,000 open jobs throughout the state.
"But we must do more and we now have the opportunity to do that," he continued. "With this combination of inspiration and money and technique and ideas, here, South Carolina is going to be the first in doing something good."