After spending more than a year carefully restoring Florence’s 1953 Ford firetruck to good running order and a shiny like-new appearance, Arizona State Prison and Central Arizona College officials proudly presented the vintage vehicle to Pinal County Historical Society Museum members and friends Nov. 29. “I kind of get the glory for everything,” Florence Complex Warden Kevin Curran told those present for the unveiling, “but Butch (Loudenslager), CAC, my Deputy Warden of Operations Jeff Van Winkle, all the inmates, came together to make this happen.”
The Governor and Cardinals players met with inmates who have graduated from an eight-week re-entry program, a Gov. Doug Ducey-backed initiative that has tripled in size since its creation early last year. The program aims to reduce recidivism by giving individualized attention, including job- and life-skills training, to prisoners considered "moderately or highly" likely to commit another crime upon release. It also recruits local employers willing to take a chance on convicted felons in the hopes that other companies will follow suit. "There are 42,090 men and women in Arizona state prisons," said Ducey, who — along with Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill and players Antoine Bethea and Corey Peters — toured a Second Chance center Tuesday.
According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, four out of 10 inmates will end up back in the prison system. However, a program recently started by Hickman's Family Farms is hoping to lower that number, by providing recently released inmates with a job, as well as a place to live.
Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson has organized community discussions all over the state. But Thursday was different. “We’ve never done anything like this," Jackson said. "The Department of Corrections has never done anything like this.” Participants gathered at the Eagle Point Second Chance Center, a lower security facility at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Lewis in Buckeye.