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Long Pre-Release Center has Family Reunification Day
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Long County Pre-Release Center counselor Angela Harris speaks to families about the adjustment of their loved ones being released from prison. - photo by Mike Riddle / Coastal Courier
LUDOWICI -- The Long County Pre-Release Center had a Family Reunification Day for inmates soon to be released and their families on April 25.
The families met first and did activities to help give them understand what to expect once their loved one was released and back home with them. They also were got tools and references to help the family and the inmate readjust to being together.
After this, all of the group went outside to enjoy a barbecue chicken meal prepared by local churches.
Carolyn Mock, who was from Calvary Baptist Church said, "I hope that a day like today will inspire these men to get out and find a good job, to let them know that there are many in the community who are behind them and there to support them."
She said an example of the support could be seen in the meal put together by 19 churches of all denominations.
LCPRC chaplain Steve Stokes said, "I want to thank all of the churches who helped and a special thanks goes out to Sister Rosaline Smith."
As head of the Restoration Prison Ministry, Smith not only helps at the Long center, but also five other incarceration centers.
Guests, who spoke to the families and inmates, were Smith State Prison care and treatment warden Wayne Johnson, Georgia Department of Correction re-entry supervisor Lisa Haughey and Georgia DoC board member Sheriff Cecil Nobles.
Haughey said Georgia has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the country, with one out of every 16 people under some type of correctional supervision. The national average for this is one in 36.
"The number one goal in corrections will always be security of the prisoners. But what we have to realize, is that if we don't give these people the tools to go to work and be productive once they are out, most of them will be right back in a prison here or somewhere else," Haughey said.
Stokes said centers like the one in Long are working..
"I got a call yesterday from two different former prisoners; one in Columbus and one in Atlanta. The one in Atlanta is about to finish his BA and is accepted to attend the Candler School of Theology, and the one in Columbus has a job and a place to stay and is just doing a good job."
The chaplain continued, "These success stories are something that most people never hear of, but they are out there."
Curtis Berry, who was there with St. Thomas Missionary Baptist Church said, "The community is here to support these men when they are out, they just need to be thoughtful of what they do, and get involved in the community."
Nobles addressed the group charging them, "You have a chance to get your lives back together when you get out. Don't do the same old things you did before. Do something good for your community and your country."
The LCPRS holds prisoners who are close to being released, and helps prepare them for reentering society.
"One thing I want to express to everyone is the need for volunteers," Stokes said. "We can train you and you can volunteer as much or as little as you can, but we need people who will help."
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