FSDP is proud of our team of advocates and we’re pleased to share the latest blog post from our Community Outreach Advocate Janet Goree and how she is planting seeds of harm reduction in the Georgia state corrections system…
As Community Outreach Advocate for Families for Sensible Drug Policy, I take every opportunity to embrace and share our mission of empowering families to increase access to effective substance use disorder treatment and reduce the harmful consequences of oppressive drug policies.
After my youngest child was sentenced to a very long prison sentence I looked for a support and advocacy group where I could make a difference, an organization that was doing work that I could believe in. I found FSDP and knew I was home, especially because of the focus on families.
One of my regular outreach activities is visiting the Mitchell County Correctional Institute, a medium/minimum security facility housing 135 state inmates as well as 24 county offenders. The facility sits just on the outskirts of the tiny town of Camilla Georgia where I live. Every other month I arrive at the facility on a Friday morning to speak to a roomful of inmates whose release dates are in sight.
The facility is run by Warden Bill Terry and is an exception in Georgia because of the commitment of the warden and his programs manager Kim Hatcher. They want to make sure the men leaving their facility have as many tools possible to make sure they never return.
My background is in child abuse prevention, which I became involved in after the shaking death of my granddaughter Kimberlin. I became involved in prison reform after my son Bobby was sentenced to thirty years in prison for robbing a drugstore.
I have just started to introduce harm reduction into the presentation. The first part of my presentation to the inmates is about the stressors they will be facing when they get out and some ways they can cope with them. I do an exercise with them called ” match the crime to the time”. The two crimes are 1) shaking a six week old child causing her death, and 2) robbing a drugstore while being improperly withdrawn from methadone at the hands of a professional. No one was physically injured.
The two sentences are 1) five years probation and 2) thirty years mandatory minimum. While most on the outside not involved with thehe work we do would guess that the murder of the child would certainly be the more severe sentence, the guys on the inside all get it. You see there is no money in locking up murderers but hundreds of millions of dollars have been made behind the war on drugs. Both of these crimes and sentences have impacted my family as my son Bobby is the one serving thirty years.
Just before I leave I tell them about FSDP and assure them that there are people out working very hard to change things, people that care about them. I look each and every one of them in the eye and wish them luck. Then I quietly say a little prayer as I walk out the doors they are locked behind.