Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has decided upon former Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins as administrator and executive director of the Office of Re-Entry, effective Oct. 1.
Harris has also made four important reappointments as he prepares to complete most major portions of the transition by Oct. 31.
Collins said he is pleased to be joining Harris’s administration.
“Although underutilized in the past, the Office of Re-Entry has the potential to change lives, change families and change communities,” he said.
Collins currently serves as vice president of community engagement at the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission. There, he has worked to increase positive community engagement and outreach to help reduce crime.
He previously served as a special assistant to the Shelby County District Attorney General for 12 years, where he led such programs as “Mentoring in Lieu of Prosecution” and the local iteration of a national Stop the Violence campaign named “Do the Write Thing.”
“There are two really important things Shelby County government should do to reduce crime and promote public safety. I think we all agree that one of them is to invest in education and create more opportunity for our students to succeed,” said Harris in a release about Collins’ appointment. “Whether we realize it or not, the other is to make intentional investments in re-entry.”
Harris said that in more than 90 percent of the cases, the people in prison right now will get out and return to our community.
“We have to be prepared to reintegrate them into society and reduce recidivism,” Harris said. “The stakes couldn’t’ be higher.”
Many of the individuals in prison now were sent there for non-violent drug offenses, Harris said.
“When they get out, if we don’t have a robust re-entry program set up for these ex-offenders, there’s a good chance they will commit a new crime. Worse yet, there’s a good chance the new crime will be much more serious and may possibly involve violence.”
Harris called re-entry “the under-discussed but critical piece to public safety.”
Collins’ professional background, Harris said, reflects an understanding of crime and public safety and that he understands the connectedness between public safety and re-entry.
Harris has reappointed John Zeanah to lead the Office of Planning & Development and Alvin Benson to serve as chief of the Shelby County Fire Department. Criminal Justice coordinator Chris Floyd and Mental Health Services Coordinator Kim Daugherty were also reappointed.
More announcements are scheduled for later this week as Harris prepares to complete most major portions of the transition by Oct. 31. Candidates may continue to submit resumes via www.transitionshelby.com.