Young offenders cutting their way to success - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Young offenders cutting their way to success

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January 29, 2004

Sumter --For young adults sent to jail --life when they're released is sometimes harder than being behind bars. Those without job skills are more likely to return to a life of crime. One program in Sumter county  is  helping young offenders get past their obstacles.

From the confident  rhythm of his hands you'd guess 20-year-old LaReginald Johnson had been cutting hair all his life. "I used to mess up a lot of people's head but now I got to the point I can just do it,"says Johnson. Getting to that point took time, which Johnson has had plenty of. He has been housed at the Sumter Youth Development Campus since age 17. Now through a new program he's learning a skill to use when he leaves.

"These kids are beautiful kids they just need direction,"says Tosh Sevier of Albany, who helped start the program. The program that teaches those behind bars barber and cosmotology skills.

Many take Sevier's classes seriously because they see cutting hair as an accessible and legal way make money after they're released. "I come and ask my kids how they are doing today and what are some of your concerns?,"says Sevier. "What do you see in your surrounding that needs to be changed."

That kind of mentoring has been the key the programs success. "I have learned people skills,"says particapte Johnny Smith. "If they come at me  wrong I know how to come to them right," says  Smith.

 LaReginald will be released in March and through the help of Sevier will have his own barber chair at shop in Albany. "I could have gone out there and got lock back up but he has been with me and mentored me and he got me straight,"says Johnson refering to Sevier.

The barber program is one of many career programs offered on the Youth Campus. They are actively seeking other professionals willing to help with career training.

posted at 6:50PM by scott.hunter@walb.com