KEEP provides opportunities for higher education

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By Jaccia Dudley, Digital Media Specialist

Dothan, Ala. – Probation and Parole Officer Harold Purefoy of the Dothan Field Office has gone the extra mile to provide offenders with the tools to succeed when they return. In celebration of National Second Chance Month, the Alabama Office of Pardons and Paroles highlights the extraordinary efforts of our officers and support staff as we come together to rehabilitate offenders and direct them back into society while minimizing recidivism.

Officer Purefoy acted as a catalyst to initiate progress into the Knowledge Empowers Education Program, or KEEP. In partnership with Wallace Community College, KEEP is a program that provides educational development and job training skills for offenders.

Purifoy’s extensive background in law enforcement and teaching is central to his understanding of the importance of educating probation and parole wardens. Officer Purefoy is a retired National Guard veteran who served as a local law enforcement officer beginning in September 2002. While recovering from his injury in the line of duty, he served as a teacher at Barbour County High School where he taught business education for three years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Purifoy joined the office in 2019.

He said he wanted to identify a major problem that exists in the system. He asked, “If you only provide the individual with the skills they had before they were imprisoned, how can they advance after they are released?” With this idea in mind, Purifoy wanted to create a resolution to address the issue of offenders who lacked the basic education and soft skills necessary to advance.

“Without an education, these individuals miss out on many life-changing opportunities,” said Purefoy. “A person who lacks knowledge is only a muscle, so I wanted to develop a resource to address this problem.”

As a 2018 graduate of Wallace Community College, Purifoy collaborated with their team to produce an effective program that could provide adult education and work readiness opportunities for offenders. After nearly three years of contacting multiple resources and organizing this project, KEEP officially kicked off in January 2023.

Perhaps he was the initiator, said Purefoy, but he could not have done it alone. He has credited Wallace’s staff, his Dothan field office staff, and Dothan field officer Ken Brown to help the program work together seamlessly.

“It took the entire boat support to keep this project afloat,” he said. “Along with other administrators and administrative support assistants, OIC Brown was one of the biggest voices when getting judges’ approval to support KEEP.”

Seventeen-year-old office worker Ken Brown has worked hard in creating, funding, and combining a program that provides GED opportunities and higher adult education along with professional abilities such as nursing, welding, medical technician skills, general maintenance, and logistics.

“Officer Purefoy is a passionate advocate for education,” added Oike Brown. “He had the full support of me and the team from the moment he presented the idea.”

KEEP is just one of many efforts in rehabilitation services provided by our dedicated staff and support staff. Officer Purifoy and the Dothan crew showed an example of what it means to believe in second chances. “When you show people that there is an alternative path, it makes a huge difference that can completely change the course of their lives and that was one of my goals in developing this program,” Purefoy said.

Current students in the program are completing a 12-week welding course. They are scheduled to graduate on May 24.