Inmates Say They Need Help To Break Jail Cycle - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/16/04

Inmates Say They Need Help To Break Jail Cycle

Murder charges will keep a Tylertown couple locked up until they go to trial. Twenty eight year old Carey Williams and his wife Tequana are accused of killing an elderly Tylertown woman who was found dead in the trunk of her car last week.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a judge denied them bond. One reason the Williams' were already out on bond when they were arrested. They're charged with robbing and threatening to kill another elderly woman in December in Pearl River County.

Unfortunately, authorities say it's common for people accused of one crime to end up accused of another. Darlene and Melissa are both inmates and neither for the first time.

"There are people that step out of here that the only thing they know to do is to go right back to that behavior," said Darlene. "They don't know any better and there's nothing out there for them to go to."

Repeat offenders account for more than half of the people locked up in the Harrison County Jail. Sheriff George Payne said it's common to see the same faces coming through the door.

"It's extremely frustrating, especially for our narcotics agents who may arrest the same subject three and four times before actually able to get them off bonded and actually locked up where they can't make bond, which then exasperates our overcrowded problem."

A new life skills program run by Good News Ministries is helping break the cycle. Inmates learn everything from how to handle their anger, to how to be a good parent and how to dress for a job interview.

"We have this behavior because it's a pattern and we have to learn how to break that pattern. You have to say, 'I'm not going to do this anymore,'" Darlene said.

Like many of the inmates here, Melissa and Darlene's problems stem from drug abuse. The women say until people deal with the deeper issues that landed them in jail they won't truly find freedom.

"Oh, I'm leaving with absolute confidence that I'm not coming back here," Darlene said. "I have a daughter and I have grandchildren who I love. I live for them and that's exactly what I'm going to do."

Darlene and Melissa say a major part of the problem is that many people have no where to go once released from jail. The women say there needs to be a half-way house to help re-introduce inmates to society.

by Danielle Thomas

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