Rebuilding lives and communities

State Representative Jay Neal

Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, Georgia, celebrated its first anniversary this summer as the state’s first Faith and Character Based Facility.  This prison-wide program provides a comprehensive rehabilitative process to help offenders gain life skills to re-enter society as productive citizens.

State Representative Jay Neal (R-LaFayette) spoke to the prison staff and participating offenders in a special ceremony on August 16.  Rep. Neal has supported this initiative since its inception, having become aware of the stranglehold addiction can have on a person when an addict came to his church seeking help.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) began operating six Faith and Character Based Dormitories within select prisons in July 2004. Currently, 13 GDC facilities offer the dormitory program, in which community partners work with prison staff to affect spiritual and social change in the offenders. Walker State is the first facility to take the program prison-wide.

Participating offenders listen to Rep. Neal

The treatment effect is just over 10 percent to date, determined by a reduction in recidivism, or the rate of offenders who were released but then return to prison.

The program provides an “environment for change” through the promotion of personal responsibility, integrity, accountability and the building of one’s faith. It is open to all offenders, regardless of their faith (or no faith), who demonstrate the desire to confront the habits and behaviors of their past.

The program lasts two years and is divided into four six-month phases of curriculum: Foundation, Discovery, Transformation and Transition.  Each stage of the program is designed to help the offenders return to their communities with positive and attainable goals.

After the first year at Walker State, 144 offenders graduated from the Foundation phase and 116 graduated from Discovery. 

Danny A. Horne, director of Chaplaincy Services, credits the program as “part of the visionary leadership of Corrections and supports safe facilities and safer Georgia communities.”

“I would like to thank all GDC personnel, volunteers, family members and inmates that have made this first year a successful one,” said Warden Scott Crickmar. “It is my intention to continue to further the vision and goals established by the Department for our facility.”

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