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Deal picks Neal for strategic role


ATLANTA — Jay Neal served as a Georgia Baptist pastor for 25 years. He has also served as the director of the North Campus of Penfield Christian Homes in Lafayette. For the past decade he has also served in the State Legislature as the representative of Georgia House District 2. Representative Neal was the chairman of the State Properties Committee until Jan. 13 when he was appointed to serve as the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support, and Reentry.

Jay Neal

In his new position Neal will be responsible for developing state-specific approaches to improve prisoner reentry into the community. The specifications for Neal’s role state that he will be responsible for developing and executing “a robust and systematic prisoner reentry plan for Georgia to ensure the effective supervision and delivery of appropriate services to returning citizens.”

Neal explained, “My experience as pastor and director of Penfield’s North Campus gives me a unique background for leading this initiative. The governor expressed his interest in having someone with a background in providing services rather than a law enforcement or corrections background. My knowledge of the challenges these returning citizens will face, coupled with the successes we have seen in our ministry, helps create the balance needed in this effort.”

Neal continued, “Ultimately our number one goal is public safety. More than 90% of all prisoners are eventually released back to their communities. The question is: How can we better prepare these returning citizens and increase the odds of their success so that they do not commit new crimes?

“Equipping these returning citizens to successfully transition back to the community and become productive members of society rather than returning to a life of crime creates a safer community for each of us to enjoy.”

“Public safety is not just a corrections issue. It is a community issue. Government, businesses, faith-based and community leaders, along with dedicated citizens are all major stakeholders in public safety, and therefore have an important role in reentry.”