New Attitudes Behind Bars - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/26/03

New Attitudes Behind Bars

Conflict resolution, responsibility and spiritual guidance: those were all missing from the lives of the women inmates in the Life Learning Program. The women learn their irresponsible actions come with consequences. Now they're finding a new attitude.

Tajuana Cox says, "Me knowing, and praying, and trusting in the Lord and having faith in his will, I won't go back to that life I had when I was out there."

The women made bad choices that put them behind bars, but they're trying to prepare for life on the outside. 

"We don't discriminate on age, charge, whether they're pre-trial or sentenced. Simply do you want help and are you willing to do what's needed to change," says Chaplain Joe Collins.

Rachel Long says she knew she had to change, having lost all the values she grew up believing.

"I remember exactly what brought me here and I know when I go out these doors, I'm going to change and have motivation. I have a goal, I have a plan."

At the end of 15 weeks, the students graduate and move on to the next class. This is the first day of sewing instruction. The four students are graduates of the second life learning program. They're making teddy bears for public safety officers to give to children. 

Melissa Jones says, "You learn a lot about yourself and actually what got you here, where you went wrong, and how you can strengthen your life and make your life better through these classes."

The women say that means they will be reponsible, productive citizens when they walk out the jail doors.

The Life Learning Program started last August. Chaplain Joe Collins says he is working on starting a similar program for the men in the jail.

by Marcia Hill

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