GA programs work to improve lives of inmates returning to society

GA programs work to improve lives of inmates returning to society

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - After receiving a federal grant, one group wants to use that money to help communities improve the lives of people returning from correctional facilities.

The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network created a forensic peer mentor training program to help with this effort.

What's working? What needs improvement? What keeps them hopeful? Those were questions asked at Tuesday's Forensic Peer...

Posted by Marilyn Parker WALB on Tuesday, March 12, 2019

While many people serve time for the crimes they commit inside these walls, Forensic Peer Mentor’s said it’s what happens when they return to society that we should focus on.

Some people go to jail one way, and leave another.

“I was in prison way before I was in prison,” said Lindsey Sizemore, the program director.

A life, locked down, as inmates wonder what life will be like on the outside.

Take Sizemore for example.

Lindsey Sizemore. (Source: WALB)
Lindsey Sizemore. (Source: WALB)

She is the project director for the Forensic Peer Mentoring Program aimed to improve the lives of people returning to communities from correctional facilities.

Something she's all too familiar with.

“I was in prison. I hit my rock bottom and had to come to terms with who are you and how did you get here," she said. ”It’s a whole other level of powerlessness."

But it was in her cell where she found her recovery, and her truth.

“When I was using and I was stuck in addiction and I was homeless and around these dangerous people I was creating another prison for myself,” she explained.

Tuesday, she headed a program seeking input from people impacted by incarceration.

“This program is not just starting with a returning citizen it also follows you as you continue on into the community and frankly where you need it most,” she said.

It’s where people like Howard Jackson came to reflect on his time in jail.

“I wasn’t in that long but I managed to come out and know what to do where a lot of folks that were in with me were repeat offenders,” said Jackson.

Howard Jackson. (Source: WALB)
Howard Jackson. (Source: WALB)

He also made suggestions on ways to help the community.

"It all starts at a young age, give kids hope,” he said.

He and Sizemore have similar stories, surrounded by belief.

“Because if you can do it, that means I can do it even if I don’t believe in myself all the way right now, it still means that it can happen,” said Sizemore.

A message, that spreads from behind bars.

The goal is to have 60 new forensic peer mentors working throughout the state, to reach as many inmates as possible.

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