The Liberty County Reentry Coalition recently hosted a workshop to teach faith-based organizations how they can help former inmates during their transition back into society.
The June 25 workshop was hosted at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Tony Lowden, the director of the Faith and Justice Initiative from the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry, was the keynote speaker.
Lowden spoke about a program called Healing Communities of Georgia. The program is a network of diverse congregations, nonprofits and state agencies that serve as stations of hope for returning former inmates, their families and the victims of crime.
The focus of the faith-based organizations in the program is to facilitate mercy, forgiveness and compassion for those leaving prison and attempting to rejoin society.
Lowden, a preacher, said faith-based organizations should be at the forefront of the program if they truly exemplify their Christian mission in serving their community and having mercy on others.
He offered several examples of how many people in the Bible, including Jesus Christ himself had all “done time.”
Lowden also offered examples of how the program helped place charter schools inside certain prisons, allowing inmates a chance to earn a standard high school diploma instead of just a GED certificate.
He said those inmates were able to graduate like typical students, in cap and gown, and walk down the aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
They also re-entered society with a better chance of landing a job.
According to a Healing Communities of Georgia news release, all of its member organizations have the ability to successfully address the direct needs of impacted citizens. These groups, HCG says, are in an ideal position to address systemic issues and provide constructive feedback to policymakers by speaking collectively on relevant issues.
In additional Liberty County Re-entry Coalition news, the organization also launched a GED component June 8, according to an LCRC news release.
While the coalition has been working to design an effective and sustainable re-entry program since late 2014, the GED initiative is in response to the number of ex-offenders who want to participate.
“We want to provide effective services and not turn anyone away, so deciding to put this component in place will help people who need it right now,” LCRC Director Daisy Jones said.
The SOAR GED Prep and Pass component currently has eight participants, with space for 10, in its first six-week program. Participants are issued a GED study booklet and calculator, and undergo a pretest assessment to determine their individual needs.
“What’s good about this program is the individualized attention each participant will receive to help them pass the GED and obtain a high school-level education,” mentor coordinator Morris Cockerm said. “Of course, it is up to them to do the work to get prepared and ready to pass the required tests.”
The coalition is expected to launch the full program in the next few weeks, after staffing and equipment needs are met. Based on information from the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Jones expects the program to serve between 10 and 20 ex-offenders per month.
The re-entry program will offer a variety of tailored services and in-house training, which includes employment preparation, financial literacy, social media awareness, customer service and resiliency.
“Our goal is to change the outcome and reduce recidivism,” Jones said. “Much of what we will provide is reliant upon collaboration and support from community partners, businesses, churches and agencies.”
To learn more, call the coalition at 912-877-5293.