Inmates graduate from Rehab program - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Inmates graduate from Rehab program

October 26, 2006

Valdosta - 19 students clad in caps and gowns have anxiously awaited this moment for a year.

But instead of a theater or large venue, this ceremony was held at Valdosta State Prison, and these men were graduating from its faith and character based dormitory program.  "The goal and purpose of the program is to prepare offenders to re-enter back into society as better people," says Toriarn Weldon, Project Coordinator.

The year-long program hopes to help these men rehabilitate, make positive changes, and find faith.  "We're looking to change, providing pro-social environment while they're incarcerated because I've seen many times we're promoting positive thoughts and changing addictions," he adds.

Nathan Brown graduated from the program in 2005 and has since served as a mentor for fellow inmates.

He says the program has helped him to be more social and take initiative while reaching out to his peers.  "It has helped me understand the importance of reaching out and helping other men and sharing the things I have and invest that in other people's lives," says Brown, an Inmate at the Prison.

Having currently served 30 years of his sentence for kidnapping, murder, and armed robbery, he says the program has helped him to take responsibility for his actions.  "I made the choices, I was the only one who did and I think that's the most important thing that the program really confronts an individual with."

Although still years from his next parole hearing, he and the rest of the graduates returning to prison's general population will help promote an atmosphere of positive change.

The prison has been tracking graduates who have re-entered society.  They say 95 percent of the former inmates continue to do well and stay out of prison.

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