ATEF named 2024 Reentry Facility of the Year

Published 12:35 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – On Feb. 29, leaders of the state, county and local community collected at the Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility located at 102 Industrial Parkway in Columbiana to honor its reception of an award naming the facility as 2024’s Reentry Facility-of-the-Year.

The GEO Group, who provides complementary solutions for numerous government partners worldwide, presented the award during a ceremony that sought to recognize the facility for the role it plays in the provision of diversified correctional and community-based reentry services for members of the prison population that will soon move back into society following their incarcerations.

Baron Warren, a nationally known speaker and life coach recognized for his book “5 Steps to Manhood,” was present at the ceremony and served as the keynote speaker. Warren, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, also served as a correctional officer for the Michigan Department of Correction before becoming an author, life coach and public speaker.

Among the crowds Warren normally addresses are those in the process of moving away from prison and back into society. In covering that topic, his “1 Hour To Manhood” program focuses on men who have been incarcerated for long periods of time and how they can work to become independent by living a life of purpose and integrity.

The ATEF, which is operated by the GEO Group for the Alabama Department of Corrections, advocates for a platform of services focusing on the delivery of educational, vocational, cognitive behavioral and substance abuse programs in addition to further treatment and faith-based services.

At the time of its opening in 2008, the ATEF was the first and still remains the largest residential style reentry center in the region. The facility currently has a capacity of 600 male and 120 female program participants, who are all specifically assigned to the facility as part of a cohesive six-month drug rehabilitation, education and vocational degree program.

“Programs and services currently offered at the Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility include, cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse programming, educational services, life skills and relapse prevention,” said Portsha Jones, assistant director of programs at ATEF. “(We also offer) cultural diversity programs, family services programs, workforce development activities, work release services, community volunteer service, faith-based services and alumni and aftercare programs.”

Through a partnership with J.F. Ingram State Technical College, the ATEF is able to provide vocational trainings in the fields of carpentry, welding, forklift, barbering, cosmetology and plumbing. They also focus on the G.E.D attainment and the organization and drafting of resumes.

The GEO Group currently manages a collection of at least 100 secure facilities, processing centers and community reentry facilities that encompass roughly 82,000 beds.