WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Washington County Sheriff’s Office is awarded nearly a quarter million dollars to continue one of their programs.

Washington County’s RSAT program is aimed at recovery, rehabilitation and re-education for participants to prepare them for re-entry into society.

“To see them out, engaging in lawful employment, engaging with their family, being productive members of society,” said Washington Country Sheriff Joel Cochran. “But the main element we like to brag about is we like to reunite people back with their families.”

Sheriff Cochran and his team began the RSAT program in October 2020 to reduce drug abuse and repeat offenses. 

Since then, he and program coordinator, Pastor Patrick Wilson, have grown the program to include additional courses for success.

“We’re all about shifting the mind,” said Pastor Wilson. “Of course, when they first get into the class, they don’t know really what to expect out of the class. But, uh, they come in one way and they leave another way. And the way that they leave is so much better.”

The recent grant is given by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. It will allow Washington County’s RSAT program to expand its reach and resources.

“Once I got in here, I realized that it’s more to life than what I was choosing to do,” said Corey Andrews, a RSAT program participant.

“I’ve gotten more in tune with a rational mindset- rational thinking,” said Robert Windsor, a RSAT program participant. “And being able to look into the future and progressively think about, like, what actions yield which consequences.” 

Malik Holsey, a RSAT program participant, leads his class in a group affirmation.

“I am enough,” began Holsey.

“I am enough,” repeated his classmates. 

“I have bad anger, but I haven’t shown it since I’ve been in the class,” said Holsey.

“This program really changed my sense of direction,” said Jimmy Dixon, a RSAT program participant. “It taught me how to be a better man. It taught me that it’s never too late to change your ways.”

“I’ve learned a lot about myself mostly,” said Michael Foster, a RSAT program participant. “And, you know, taking that forward, I can become a better person.”

Since the program began, 29 students have successfully graduated. The class of 2023 say they’re ready for their big day.

Sheriff Cochran and Pastor Wilson tell us that one hundred percent of this year’s class will also graduate with their high school diploma.