Rehabilitation program helps inmates transition into society

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LULING — Over 15 inmates at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in St. Charles Parish graduated this summer from a rehabilitation program offered by United Way of St. Charles.

Project Transition began in 2005 as a collaborative effort between the United Way of St. Charles, the 29th Judicial District and the St. Charles Mental Health Task Force to help inmates transition back into society.

United Way of St. Charles partners with the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse to offer inmates, within 12 months of their release, the opportunity to attend life and job skills training and substance abuse education classes.

In 2009, the Project Transition curriculum was expanded to include anger management sessions.

“The good thing about this program is that, through the support of United Way of St. Charles, all the classes are presented by professionals who are trained in the areas they are teaching. It’s a great program that our inmates really enjoy,” said Gary Bolden, chaplain and program director at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.

Nationally, the percentage of prisoners returning to prison is approximately 67 percent. Of those inmates who have graduated the Project Transition program, only 3 percent have returned to prison.

“We are very proud of our Project Transition program because it takes concrete steps that have proven to lower the prison recidivism rate in St. Charles Parish. These inmates are learning and becoming productive, tax paying citizens in society, which is good for our community as opposed to tax payers paying for them to continue returning to prison,” said John Dias, UWSC Executive director.