Step-Down Program Brings New Hope to Offenders
HENNING – A group of West Tennessee State Penitentiary inmates have successfully completed the first of its kind program designed to help turn their lives around. A graduation ceremony was held at the facility for five participants who successfully completed a 160-hour Restrictive Housing Step-Down Program. The four-phase program is designed to assist inmates who are currently on maximum security housing obtain intensive behavioral health programming in order to help them transition successfully to general population at the facility, programming includes classes such as Victim Impact and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention.
Program Facilitator, William Warr, spoke to the group and said the graduates were a blessing to the staff. “You have the opportunity to look at life and see how you fit in,” said Counselor Warr. “This is one of the best classes we’ve had and they really stuck to the program.”
During the ceremony, the participants had the opportunity to talk about the program. A graduate, Jason, thanked the staff for the opportunity to be in the program. “We had a lot to learn in a group setting, and we got to learn from each other,” said White. “I wanted to say thank you to the staff for treating me like a human and showing that you were thinking of me. That meant a lot. It felt like you wanted to do this, not because you had to. I’m going to take what I learned in class and use it to make you all proud.”
Another graduate, Ociel, who recently discovered his love for drawing said, “I picked it up as a hobby, but then I realized I was pretty good at it. I started to draw things for other people and bought some books to learn more about it. Since coming to the step-down program, I realized I wanted to do it as a career someday and that I could. I started to draw pictures for the guys in the program with me, and it was a great way to keep busy. I’ve learned that if you want to do something you have to work on it, especially if you want to be successful. I don’t have a lot to lose, but I have a lot to gain.”
Associate Warden of Security, Johnny Fitz, closed the ceremony by saying thank you to the staff for their dedication to the program and congratulating the class on their achievement. “Now, you will transition into the open population and I want you to keep up the good work because you all are inspiring others.”
After the ceremony, the staff provided the participants with a potluck home-cooked meal.