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Assata Thomas will soon take on the role of Executive Director for the Office of Reentry Partnerships. Photo Courtesy of The City of Philadelphia.
Assata Thomas will soon take on the role of Executive Director for the Office of Reentry Partnerships. Photo Courtesy of The City of Philadelphia.

City of Philadelphia appoints new Director of the Office of Reentry Partnerships

Assata Thomas, a former correction officer and experienced social services executive, will officially take on the role beginning August 1.

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The City of Philadelphia announced today Assata Thomas has been appointed as the new Executive Director for the Office of Reentry Partnerships. 

The Office of Reentry Partnerships, which was created in 2019, is housed within the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice & Public Safety (CJPS) and focuses on serving individuals, families, and communities impacted by the mass incarceration system. 

The Office has set out three primary goals:

  • Set a clear vision and direction for a measurable citywide approach to improving reentry outcomes
  • Drive and sustain an unprecedented level of coordination between the local government, other government partners, service providers, education and training programs, employers, and community members.
  • Ensure that City reentry initiatives are research and data-driven. 

“Supporting individuals impacted by the mass incarceration system is a crucial component of our violence prevention strategy,” said Erica Atwood, Senior Director of CJPS, in a press release. “By guaranteeing that individuals returning from incarceration have supports and a way to move forward with their lives, we improve their lived outcomes, increasing safety for the individual and the communities they live in.”

Formerly incarcerated people face an unemployment rate that is five times higher than average. Beyond just employment, convictions create barriers to education, housing, financial opportunities, professional licensing and many more. 

With her new appointment, Thomas will play a key role in helping address several of these challenges, foster the reality of improved outcomes. 

Thomas has more than two decades of experience in the social services sector throughout the tri-state area, beginning her career as a Corrections Officer for the State of New Jersey. There, she became the first woman to be appointed President of the Corrections Officer Training Academy of New Jersey. 

She most recently served as Director for Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice, and is currently Chief Community Justice Officer for the Institute for Community Justice. 

Throughout her career, Thomas has displayed a true commitment to social justice and advocating for those affected by mass incarceration, crucial elements that she will bring into her latest role.

“As individuals continue to be released from incarceration and return to our communities, it is imperative that we are providing the necessary support for successful reintegration,” said Thomas in a statement.

“We need an infrastructure that supports not just in theory, but in practice, a system that is designed to be part of the restorative process both to the individual and to the community,” she added.  

As someone who has lived through a felony conviction herself, Thomas holds the distinction of having both a professional career within the matter, as well as personal experience. 

She will be completing her Masters in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law School in November 2022.

Atwood said the Office is thrilled to welcome Thomas into her new role.

Thomas’ new role as Executive Director for the Office of Reentry Partnerships will be effective Monday, Aug. 1. 

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