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MDOC Expands Program to Improve Inmates’ Lives

JACKSON – With the help of volunteers and mental health staffers, the Mississippi Department of Corrections has expanded a program to both male and female inmates to help them understand the behavior that led them to prison, how to cope while in prison and how to stay out of prison.
 
The program, commonly referred to as the 1A Men’s or the 1A Women’s Program at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) in Pearl, combines faith-based values with mental health and is available for inmates with life sentences and those within a year of release. The women’s program has been ongoing since 2009, while the men’s portion started in January. With recent graduations, 70 inmates have completed the program this year.
 
"The program is another example of our goal to provide meaningful rehabilitation," Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall. "For the offenders who have life sentences, they can still help society through this program by becoming positive influences on offenders who are released and giving those offenders a better chance at success."
 
Joe S. Jones, 44, among the recent graduates of the 1A Men’s Program, said the program has made a difference in his life and those around him.
 
"This program is a light in our dark place," said Jones, of Canton, who is serving two drug sentences - possession of cocaine in Leake County and sale of cocaine in Madison County.
 
"This means a lot to me. I pray that God will continue to bless this program and MDOC will allow it to continue to make a difference in men’s lives," Jones said. "I have seen guys step up and take responsibility."
 
Eric Hicks, 32, who graduated the program on Aug. 30 while in prison for burglary and grand larceny in Itawamba County, said he appreciated the instructors. "This program changed my life, and I hope to someday change someone else’s life for the better."
 
Dr. Sandy Adams, director of Mental Health at CMCF, said plans are underway to expand the program from three days per week on a 12-week cycle to a four-day-a-week five month program. The goal is to help offenders "learn how to identify their destructive patterns of behavior and to give them the tools and skills to make the necessary changes to lead to a successful and productive life," Adams said.
 
Classes include Addictive Personality, Boundaries, Anger Management, and Jobs for Life. "The purpose of this program is to grow emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually," Adams said

Published: 12/18/2017