Program developed for inmates
By Howell Dennis
CROWLEY – A partnership between four collaborating agencies: The Goodwill of Acadiana; the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office; the Louisiana Rehabilitation Service; and the Louisiana Workforce Investment Area #40 Fourth Planning District Consortium is in the process of developing a goodwill program for inmates who are within six months of rejoining society.
The program, called the Acadia Parish Reentry Initiative, is to prepare the inmates for life after prison by training them in work maturity skills, social and functional skills, drugs and employment information, general career exploration, decision making, soft skills and work maturity skills training, job search assistance, job placement assistance, job retention support, and other case management skills.
“This is a voluntary program that we think will help them stay out of jail,” said Deborah Aymond of Louisiana Rehabilitation Services. “We want to help these people determine their strengths so as to see what type of job or career they could excel in.”
“We want to help out inmates with disabilities such as substance abuse and mental disabilities,” she added.
The program was discussed at the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office with members of the press who got to tour the room where the program would be held.
The APSO will provide classroom space for the program which will have ten inmates taking part in the classes with two guards present during each class. The program will take place four times a year. The program is tentatively set to start in August or September.
The staff who administers the program will be provided by the Goodwill Industries of Acadiana and the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Of course the agencies involved will anticipate a few problems as well.
“You understand that there will be inmates who join just because it’s a program,” said Eby Henry, warden of the Acadia Parish Correctional Center.
“We do understand that some of the inmates will possibly cause problems and may have to be dropped,” said Aymond.
“Don’t worry about that,” said assistant warden Lois Martin emphatically. “If they are causing problems they will be dropped.”
Certain parts of the program, such as the budget and the attainment of inmate medical records, are still being ironed out. However, there are no foreseeable major issues and the possible benefits of the program are too strong to ignore.
“If these men use this to their advantage it can change their lives forever,” said Aymond.