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PACEs in the Criminal Justice System

Discussion and sharing of resources in working with clients involved in the criminal justice system and how screening for and treating ACEs will lead to successful re-entry of prisoners into the community and reduced recidivism for former offenders.

Formerly Incarcerated People in West Virginia Find Community Support (


Amber Bjornsson says she had a “true heart change” while serving a two-year prison sentence for the years of fines and felonies she previously collected. Once her sentence was complete, Bjornsson moved into a recovery home.

As Bjornsson returned to life outside of incarceration, she started to see the full picture of the obstacles in front of her. She took a job that paid minimum wage at a restaurant within walking distance of her transitional housing. Then, she faced the substantial court fines she’d accumulated before her prison term.

Jobs and Hope is a statewide collaborative of government agencies and community service organizations. The program works hand-in-hand with Community Reentry Councils, a group of organizations that help individuals access basic needs such as clothes, shelter, and work in the towns they’re returning to. West Virginia’s 20 Community Reentry Councils were established by the state Council of Churches, an organized collaboration of more than 14 denominations that run volunteer, lobbying, and social justice efforts in West Virginia. 

The issues that returning citizens may face in their communities are vast, explained Bev Sharp, director of reentry initiatives for the West Virginia Council of Churches. They can range from access to adequate housing to the need for added job training to help signing up for food stamps or Medicaid to accessing transportation to get to their jobs or parole meetings.

To read more of Amanda Page's article, please click here.

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