By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Many state inmates being held at the Pearl River County Jail in Millard graduated from a program aimed at giving them a better lease on life when they are released.
Sheriff David Allison said the six-month program ended with 56 Mississippi Department of Corrections inmates being held at the county jail in Millard graduating from it. The program, which focuses on drug and alcohol addiction treatment, started during the summer. On Monday all their work paid off as 56 inmates were presented with certificates.
Teddy Lewis, one of the program’s facilitators, said the program used group work and seven different journal books to help the inmates change their way of thinking. After they worked through some of the work in the journal, the program incorporated art, including drawing and Bible study.
Even with the things the inmates learned during their time in the program, program facilitator Carl Heberg knows there will be challenges ahead for the inmates when they enter society.
Brad McCormick, one of the graduates of the program, spoke to the rest of the class about what he’s learned. In spite of his criminal record, McCormick knows that he has strengths he can rely on to become a person who approaches life situations differently than he did in the past. He said he’s been in a number of programs, but this program was on par with the best treatment centers.
Through the program McCormick said he’s learned to use his emotions to look at life situations constructively, which has helped him become more rational and less stressed. There were times when he would start a day in a bad mood, a state of mind that resulted in him becoming easily stressed or confrontational, but now he’s learned to let things go and not hold a grudge.
“I’ve learned not to dodge consequences for my actions and instead take them on the chin,” McCormick said.
McCormick now believes he has a plan he can rely on when he goes back to the outside world.
“Life waits for no one. If you don’t have a plan or vision you will fail,” said Maj. Julie Flowers.
The Rev. Jimmy Richardson shared a story about a young man who had aspirations of becoming an NBA star, but a knee injury prevented that dream from becoming reality. The man eventually married his childhood sweetheart and had a child. In order to pay the bills the young man took on a regular job, but the pay was not sufficient to provide for his family so he turned to selling drugs, Richardson said.
After some time the man became dependent on alcohol and was eventually arrested and convicted for selling drugs. However, during that man’s time in jail he turned to the Bible and when he returned to society, he turned his life around and now preaches at two churches. At the end of the story Richardson said the story was about him.
“Today I don’t have to run when I see the police coming. Now I have lunch with them,” Richardson said.
To this day he advises those to whom he preaches not to look down on someone who has spent time in jail.
“All of us have done something we could have gone to jail for; we just didn’t get caught,” Richardson said.