County ready to open its Rapid Resource Center on the westside

Photo courtesy of Franklin County
Pictured here cutting the ribbon at the Rapid Resource Center is (left to right) Commissioner Erica Crawley, Commissioner Kevin Boyce, County Administrator Ken Wilson, Director Ruchelle Pride, Deputy County Administrator Joy Biven, Karhlton Moore of the US Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.

The Franklin County Commissioners hosted a ribbon-cutting and open house on April 18 at the newest iteration of their Rapid Resource Center concept at the new James A. Karnes Corrections Center on the westside.

The Rapid Resource Center is designed to support inmates and their families as they leave incarceration and return to the community, and to help address the causes and challenges that brought them into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place.

“Our new jail is designed to allow us to support its residents with programming, as well as to be safer for both the people who are incarcerated and the staff, and the Rapid Resource Center is an extension of that,” said board of commissioners president, Kevin Boyce. “It’ll be staffed largely with people who have experiences facing the same challenges as those who are being released, and who can help with everything from a phone charger and a warm coat to a referral for a substance abuse treatment program.”

The Rapid Resource Center is a welcoming, judgement free, space, which inmates and their families are encouraged to visit upon their release, and its services are promoted on screens in the jail. The center’s staff can provide referrals to health, mental health, and addiction treatment services, as well as Narcan and fentanyl test strips and other harm reduction supplies. Visitors can also find help at the center with applying for benefits, obtaining a birth certificate or reinstating a drivers license, connecting with emergency food, shelter, or transportation, or even finding workforce training or help applying for a job.

“Since we designed this new Rapid Resource Center from the ground up, we were able to purpose-build it to be of the most service to our residents,” said commissioner John O’Grady. “The ‘exit-through-the-giftshop’ model ensures that as many people as possible stop in to see us and that we’re able to help make the transition back into the community as smooth as it can be for them.”

The Rapid Resource Center at the other county jail facility on Jackson Pike has been operating since 2021 and is staffed around the clock six days per week and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. More than 18,000 individuals have received services there, and Rapid Resource Center staff also follow up with recently released residents to ensure a continuum of care. There’s even a Bridge Transitional Housing program that provides a limited number of recently incarcerated homeless residents with a place to stay for a few days while they work with staff on a longer-term housing plan.

“Jails are often occupied by individuals who are dealing with various crises. Spending time incarcerated can only worsen the challenges that they and their families are already facing,” said commissioner Erica Crawley. “The Rapid Resource Center is a valuable resource that enables these individuals to address the root causes of their problems, empowering them to succeed once they return to the community. This, in turn, can potentially prevent future encounters with the justice system.”

A number of county and community partners work with the commissioners’ office to ensure that the county’s Rapid Resource Centers are a success, including Primary One Health, Southeast Behavioral Health, Basecamp Recovery, Alvis House, the March Program, Cornerstone Promise, COTA, and the sheriff’s office, all of which are invaluable assets in supporting the transition of residents as they leave the jail.

The new Rapid Resource Center at the James A. Karnes Corrections Center will be open soon, and the ribbon-cutting and open house was timed to coincide with Second Chance Month and National Reentry Week in which partners throughout the community celebrate returning citizens and promote resources to help them be successful.

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