Saying the foundation of a successful prison re-entry program lies at the foot of faith-based organizations, Liberty County Re-Entry Coalition Director Daisy Jones welcomed pastors to a Stations of Hope meeting Thursday.
The meeting at the Hinesville Library introduced Healing Communities of Georgia, a Department of Community Supervision, Re-Entry Services Unit in Atlanta program. The state-wide initiative calls for the collaboration of faith-based and other organizations.
These Stations of Hope are agencies willing to assist formerly released prisoners as they reintegrate into society. The agencies follow the principles of Healing Communities of Georgia, which include forgiveness, grace, repentance and restoration.
Former inmate Curtis Curry Jr., who is now the bishop of Ignite Church in Richmond Hill, spoke about faith based organizations’ role welcoming and supporting former prisoners into the community.
“I come from a two-parent home and I am a pastor’s son,” he said.
Curry said his parents provided for their family. Every need was met. He even attended private school. But he started getting into trouble when he was a teen.
“I went to summer school every year just to be able to go into the next grade,” he said. “Not because I was dumb but because I was rebellious and lazy.”
He said he joined the military, going against his parents’ wishes of attending college. He said his sister thought the military would save his life.
“But it wasn’t even a year after I got out of the military that I got a 20-year sentence in prison,” he said. “I did almost 17 years in prison. And I can stand here and tell you that what we are doing here today is a great need. Because in a lot of ways I have seen the system fail to rehabilitate people.”
Curry said budget cuts axed prison education and apprentice programs, leaving prisoners with less hope and activities to kill the time.
“They were turning people into animals,” he said. “I’ve literally seen the administration push people into behaving that way.”
He said the support of his family and church community upon his release saved him.
“I am a recipient of grace,” he said. “They were there for me and that was a big... It played a big part in who I am now today.”