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Wilmington organization expands to help ex-offenders

The Wilmington Hope Commission now has more than enough space to help ex-offenders at its Achievement Center on Vandever Avenue in Wilmington.

The Achievement Center officially opened its doors on Thursday, with nearly 200 community members touring the new facility. In addition to the Commission’s board members and Executive Director Charles Madden,  Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., and Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams attended. The hope for the new center is to help reduce crime and violence in the city by helping those returning home from prison.

“We have the responsibility to reduce the cycle of violence in our community. We believe the Achievement Center is going to play a central part in that effort,” Madden said.

According to Madden, the Achievement Center will serve as a one-stop shop.

“We are partnering with a number of critical players to provide solutions to barriers typically faced after incarceration,” he said.

Also helping with the project are the Delaware Department of Correction, Health and Social Services, the U.S. Probation and Parole Office, Criminal Justice Council, as well as several other public, private and faith-based community organizations. Services will include everything from job placement to housing.

In January, Markell suggested the state take a look at the sentencing process in Delaware by switching to concurrent rather than consecutive sentencing.

“Delaware has an incarceration rate that is higher than the national average,” Markell said.

Markell believes the center will help keep ex-offenders from returning to prison.

“I think it’s a really encouraging start. When folks come in here they are going to see a range of services that are available. They will be treated with respect. I think it’s really valuable,” Markell said.

Space was limited when the Hope Commission was housed in the Linden Building on Orange Street. The Commission rented office space from the United Way of Delaware. Although the Achievement Center is open, officials won’t be settled from the move until next month.

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