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Churches, organizations encouraged to join prison reentry program

Churches and faith-based organizations were in attendance to hear, among other topics, about the Stations of Hope program. / Mary Green

The Georgia Department of Community Supervision visited Albany on Tuesday, asking church communities to consider becoming part of a prison reentry program.

Churches and faith-based organizations were in attendance to hear, among other topics, about the Stations of Hope program, which helps former inmates in their transition back to communities, including with job and housing searches.

Individuals can get involved themselves through the “I Choose Support” program, which can provide one-on-one or group mentoring with volunteers.

One returned citizen said these mentorship programs are crucial for when they get out of prison.

“It’s very disturbing, constantly hearing ‘No’—‘No, I can’t rent to you,’ ‘No, I can’t give you this job,’ ‘No, I can’t help you.’ So a lot of times, we just need that person that we can talk to and give us that encouragement,” said Jamaica Jones, who was released on parole in 2013 after an armed robbery conviction.

“We’re changing that whole concept of doing away with the stigma and the shame so that our returning citizens—we keep using the word ‘returning citizens,’ because they’re coming back to our communities—that we want to welcome them,” said Tony Lowden, the director of faith and justice services in the Department of Correction’s reentry services. “But we also need some accountability, that you have to do the right things to stay in our communities.”

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