The six-week program gives tools to prevent participants from going back into incarceration.

By Allison Joyner

To prevent a repeating cycle of imprisonment, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) to create a program to helps those returning to society. 

Last month, the “Step in the Right Direction: Pathway Forward Reentry Program” began at the Henry County Restorative Center to help men released from Henry County Jail develop new life skills they will use after release. 

The 180-day program will feature learning modules focused on personal development, job readiness, securing housing and addressing transportation needs, among other topics. At the end of the program, the inmates will receive a certificate of completion from Morehouse School of Medicine and participate in a graduation ceremony. Resources on enrolling in government assistance programs for amenities like food, housing and healthcare are also given to participants to utilize after graduation.

This partnership will help maximize the opportunity for each inmate to succeed and prepare them for a promising future. “Recidivism has been an ongoing initiative Sheriff Reginald Scandrett has had on the top of his list,” said TaMarlion Carter, Director of the HCSO. 

Morehouse School of Medicine building
Credit: Morehouse School of Medicine.

Thanks to a grant from healthcare company Wellpath, which has already funded the school’s life coaching program, MSM can improve health equity efforts for those who have been imprisoned. 

“MSM has always had a focus on equity, and when we think about health equity, we think about vulnerable populations but one of those significant populations are those currently incarcerated,” said Dr. Adrian Tyndall, Dean and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs at MSM. 

The program serves men whose sentence is almost complete and teaches them life skills like problem-solving, job readiness, success planning and money management, which will help them from falling back into the criminal system.  

“We at MSM want to help resolve their internal issues that are happening and rehabilitate them not by locking them up but by giving them a pathway forward,” said Dr. Angelita Howard, Founding Dean of Online Education and Expanded Programs at MSM.

The recently opened Henry County Restorative Center was developed to support mechanisms that directly reinforce the HCSO recidivism initiative. The center uses four approaches — educational enrichment, life skill enrichment, technical enrichment and self-care enrichment — to help engage, equip, empower and employ those participating in their programs. More specifically, applicable inmates will be able to receive their GED,  or welding, forklift, fatherhood and job interviewing principles certifications. 

Sherriff Reginald Scandrett cutting the ribbon to open the new Henry County Restorative Center. (Image provided by Henry County Sherriff’s Office.)

“Not only is [the program] equipping the individual but it’s strengthening their families and the potential for the community to step in the right direction,” Carter said. 

Howard told SaportaReport that 30 participants are currently enrolled in the program and are motivated to use what they learn after release. Also, the Henry County Courthouse is interested in using the program for alternative sentencing instead of jail time. 

“It’s programs like these that will equip them to go back into these dynamics because once an individual is a part of the justice-involved system, it will be downhill from there,” Carter said. 

HCSO is looking for more partnerships through their Henry County Sheriff’s Office Foundation with local businesses and organizations. Click here to find out more


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