Substance abuse program offers Washington County inmates second chance

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Step by step, inmates at the Washington County Jail are trying to live sober lives. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office began a new substance abuse training program this month, aimed at giving inmates the tools “to re-enter society and become productive citizens,” said Sheriff Joel Cochran.

Inmates were carefully selected. Patrick Wilson, the program’s coordinator, says they were looking for candidates who were committed to working on their substance abuse.

“The program has four components — recovery, rehabilitation, re-education and re-entry,” Wilson says.

For the next six months, these 10 participants will be challenged. They will open up about their addictions, go through counseling and learn lessons that extend beyond the walls of jail.

“It’s helping us learn basic skills that we neglected when we were out there on the street,” Tadavis Henderson says.

“One thing I learned is honesty,” Brandon Smith adds. “During drug addiction, we all tend to lie, manipulate and do things to beat the system. Honesty really helped me open up and find out who I am.”

It is a second chance for these participants and their families, who are following them along this journey.

“This isn’t the life to live,” Henderson says. “Now, I can actually teach my children before they head down that path.”

“Doing drugs hurts not only me and my kids but also the community,” Richard Forehand adds.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Oconee Fall Line Technical College, Family Connections & Communities in School and UGA Cooperative Extension Office among others. Throughout the program, participants can earn a high school diploma/GED and industrial certification in forklift training. They can also take part in resume workshops. The program’s leaders have spoken with employers, who are willing to offer participants jobs once they are released. It is all part of an effort to prepare them for healthy lives after jail.

“When they gain re-entry back into their communities, we believe they’re going to be an asset,” Wilson says.


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