Day one out of incarceration, the Liberty County Re-entry Coalition program is changing the outcome for people coming out of prison. The program is designed to successfully reintegrate people after they are released from prison by offering comprehensive treatment and services.
The program offers day one essentials for people coming out of prison including clothing, shoes, and personal hygiene products. They also offer access to substance abuse treatment, reconnecting with jobs, possible housing and reconnecting with family.
“The first meeting we had was outside of Dorchester,” Liberty County Re-entry Coalition Executive Director Daisy Jones said. “We started to have conversations about how to develop a program here and how to build it from scratch.”
During the planning stages a needs assessment was conducted with information based on data from the Department of Corrections about how many people are released from prison in Liberty County annually. They also conducted a focus group with people in the community who had been to prison and asked them questions about what should be the program’s priorities and if the re-entry program was needed.
“We saw there was a need,” Jones said. “There wasn’t just a mom and dad saying we have a son or daughter in prison but we actually had data from the Department of Corrections of the numbers on an annual basis being released to the county.”
Organized in 2012, Liberty County Re-Entry Coalition was one of 17 pilot sites for the Georgia Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. The center’s doors opened in 2016 after the Liberty County Board of Commissioners gave the non-profit human service organization a building to rent.
“Several people from the government’s office came a few months after we opened and they said to us that we had accomplished more than any other pilot site in Georgia since they rolled this program out,” Jones said.
From there the program has seen tremendous success and has served over 330 people coming out of prison. Of the people who have been served, 84 percent of people are employed, 86 percent of people are in stable housing, and 100 percent of cases have been managed.
In December 2018, the program received a phone call from the Faith and Justice Director Tony Lowden requesting mentors out of Liberty County to come to the governor’s mansion to train mentees due to the success at the center.
“The key is to tell the story to as many people as possible to be aware that we’re here,” Jones said. “We have had an ongoing amount of people donating and the number of resources and partnerships has increased but we also have obstacles as well like needing a van or transportation to get people to work and we need sustainable financial funding to keep going.”
The program was presented to the Liberty County Board of Commissioners in Nov. 2018, with a request that $6,000 be allocated each year to help with costs. The city of Hinesville earmarked the program $2,500 in the 2019 budget to assist with funding.
Jones said although 2019 has been busy so far, a lot of people have been coming forward wanting to help with the program.
“When people come out of prison, you see people who have no options and are sleeping in the woods or a tent, so the program has to be built holistically where we are looking at everything someone might need to be successful,” Jones said.