As a former prosecutor, Gov. Nathan Deal said one of the most frustrating parts of the job was the “revolving door,” seeing the same faces and families in court because they “never broke the cycle that they are living in.”
“Some people think mere passage of time is rehabilitation,” Deal said. “It is not. In fact, it may be the exact opposite in many cases.”
Deal cut the ribbon Tuesday at the Hall County Correctional Institute’s welding shop, where members of an accountability court program can learn the trade before leaving prison.
The Re-entry Accountability Court Transition program, which started in 2014 for non-violent offenders to get substance abuse treatment and vocational training, is overseen by Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller. Lanier Technical College and WorkSource Georgia are partners in the welding shop program.
“We’re going to produce 30 returning citizens to Hall County on an annual basis that will have a national and state certification in welding,” Warden Walt Davis said. “That’s a skill that’s needed in this area.”
Deal praised local officials for their work setting an “excellent example,” which the governor said he hopes to replicate across the state.
Lanier Tech donated eight welding machines for the new facility on Barber Road, where 10 inmates can work at a time, Davis said.
Deal and others have cited a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce statistic about a need for 200 more welders at any given time.
Hall County had the first county-level Residential Substance Abuse Program after a $50,000 grant in recent years.
When surveying the issue of prison reform, Deal said it was learned that almost seven out of 10 inmates had dropped out of school. Lack of education led to high recidivism, especially among juvenile offenders, Deal said.
The cooperation of prosecutors, judges and the community at large will “make programs like this possible,” Deal said.
“The families of those inmates will now have a paycheck that they can depend on. Children will be supported. They won’t be in the prison system, and they won’t be in our court system in-and-out,” he said.