By Kevin Harvison
Offenders housed at Jackie Brannon Correctional Center graduated on December 19 from the Substance Abuse Program. This program is under the direction of Rebecca Greenfelder. This program is six months in length with sessions running 5 days a week, five hours a day, there are two cycles per year. They are exposed to individual and group counseling sessions covering behavioral modification, effects of chemical abuse, goal setting and relapse prevention. It trains them, refines them and tailors them to be the best among the best at Jackie Brannon Correctional Center and encouraged to carry this on with them into the community upon release.
In this class 25 participants were initially accepted and 15 graduated. Even though some participants have additional incentives to participate, such as parole stipulations or sentence modifications, all of the participants volunteered for placement in the program. Before being accepted into the program all potential students are interviewed and held to a rigorous standard. Once they are accepted all the participants are housed within the same area so they can help each other and hold each other accountable for their decisions and actions. It is not uncommon to find some students not willing to make the changes necessary to succeed.
The graduation ceremony is a milestone for those who worked hard and made it to the end of the road. Some family members may be approved to attend but it is mostly the teachers, staff and students that attend who celebrate this occasion. Upon completion of the program 4 participants will be released from incarceration. They are encouraged to use the skills and knowledge gained from the program to help them make sound decisions and to move beyond their past. There are few participants who have been recommended for parole by the pardon and parole board with a stipulation that they complete this program prior to release. For those that do not discharge they return to their jobs within the facility while awaiting parole or transfer to a lower security facility. Some find it difficult to maintain those changes they made during the class while they are surrounded by the unchanged population of the rest of the offenders.