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January07 Impact Sheet - Georgia Department of Corrections

2007 Kick-offs!

Choose Freedom


Project H.I.P.



See it on page 2


“Faster. Friendlier. Easier.”


The Georgia Department

of Corrections protects

and serves the public as

a professional organization

by effectively managing

offenders while helping

to provide a safe and

secure environment for

the citizens of Georgia.


The Georgia Department

of Corrections is the best

corrections system

in the nation at protecting

the citizens from convicted

offenders and at

providing effective opportunities

for offenders to

achieve positive change.

We are a leader and partner

in making Georgia a

safer, healthier, better

educated, growing and

best managed state.


News and Facts to Keep You Informed - January 2007


GDC Board Member Promotes New Poster

Campaign to Fight Meth Epidemic

It’s been a year since Governor Perdue talked about

Georgia’s “meth epidemic” in his State of the State address.

He stressed that the citizens of Georgia “cannot allow the

scourge of meth abuse to run unchecked in our state.

Georgia will fight back.”

Taking the lead to expand our continuing efforts to

support the Governor’s campaign to fight the destruction of

methamphetamine abuse across the state, GDC Board

member Bill Jackson challenged the Office of Public Affairs to

create a new Choose Freedom poster to promote the

Governor's anti-meth campaign.

“Bill Jackson continues to put the needs and well-being of

the citizens of Georgia first, and we are very grateful for his

passionate leadership on our Board as we collaborate with

communities like Columbia County to stop meth abuse among

our younger citizens.”

A former member of the Georgia General Assembly,

Jackson is an active member of the Columbia County

Chamber of Commerce and has provided guidance for getting

the “meth message” into the schools in his community. The

new poster will be used to launch the 2007 Choose Freedom

community awareness campaign.

Bill Jackson

GDC Board

As a Georgia State Representative, Mr. Jackson

worked tirelessly to encourage children to

improve their lives through education, faith and


Corrections Division Director Arnie Depetro and his staff also are working to coordinate Choose

Freedom events with education partners in Columbia and Richmond counties in the greater Augusta

community along with schools in Clayton and Cobb counties.


A Safer, Healthier,

Better Educated Growing,


Best Managed Georgia

Core Organizational


Value Based:

Stewards of the Public


Embrace Change:

Change, Transformation is


Business Acumen:

Better Business Practice

A Learning Organization:

People are the Centerpiece

The Georgia Department of Corrections hosted a Tift Campus Relocation

briefing for community leaders, Tift College alumni and local residents in

Forsyth at the Mystic Biscuit Café during the holidays. GDC Board

Member Judge Tom Salter joined Commissioner Donald and Assistant

Commissioner Brian Owens in welcoming more than 50 guests and GDC

senior staff. Rep. Jim Cole and Forsyth Mayor Jimmy Pace were among

the special guests who greeted the standing room only crowd.

The special occasion featured an introduction of the

new architecture team that will lead the preservation and

restoration of the Tift Campus. Lord, Aeck and Sargeant,

the architecture team selected, has

extensive experience in the

conservation and rehabilitation of

historic structural designs and

buildings, such as those found at

Tift Campus.

“We envision the newly

renovated Tift Campus will become

the center of what Governor

Perdue has proudly proclaimed to

be ‘State Office South,’” Donald


Tift Campus Relocation Update

Mrs. Carey Russell, wife of Forsyth city

councilman Lamar Russell, expresses

her excitement of the GDC move to her

alma mater, Tift College , in Forsyth, Ga.

(above) Forsyth Mayor Jimmy Pace (l) speaks with architect Tony Aeck (c) and

Forsyth Downtown Development Director, Vincente Williams on the positive economic

impact the GDC move will have on the Forsyth-Monroe County community.

Continuation . . .

Page 2


The unusual partnership of Judge and

inmate makes for success in ensuring

the message is delivered!

Judge Steven Teske and volunteer

inmates of the Atlanta Transitional

Center give an “in-your-face” perspective

of life behind bars.

Project H.I.P., founded in October 2004

by Clayton County Juvenile Court

Officers and volunteers, is on a mission

to divert youth from future criminal

activity through educational motivation.

Including GDC inmates testimonies.

Research shows that scared straight

methods do not work.

By being informative, rather than

confrontational, Project H.I.P. has the

ability to reach youth who are at serious

risk of actually going to jail or prison.

Both the Choose Freedom Campaign

and Project H.I.P. use GDC inmates to

educate youth about the harsh realities

of a delinquent lifestyle -specifically the

realities of prison.

Inmates focus on the path they took

and the choices they made that led to

jail, such as drug use/distribution, gang

affiliation and related crimes, the

negative psychological effects of "gang"

lifestyle, and their choice to drop out of

school. Overall, Project H.I.P.'s main

goal is to reduce the recidivism rate of

youth by educating youth to change.

Visit our website at


James E. Donald

Public Affairs Director:

Yolanda E. Thompson

Managing Editor:

Tracy J. Smith


Paul Czachowski

Mallie McCord

Tracy J. Smith

Please direct comments or

questions to:

Office of Public Affairs

2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

East Tower, Suite 864

Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Phone: 404-656-9772

Fax: 404-656-6434


News and Facts to Keep You Informed - January 2007

Campaign Takes On Meth! Gang Violence!

hoose This year marks the beginning of the third year of the Choose

Freedom community outreach campaign.

This is a special collaboration between the Office of the Governor,

the Children's Youth Coordinating Council, the Georgia Department

of Juvenile Justice, the Georgia Department of Corrections and a host


of local schools and community groups across the state.

“Make the Right Choice.

Choose Freedom.”

Since its inception, one of GDC's

community partners, Judge Steven C.

Teske, of the Clayton County Juvenile

Court, has included GDC inmates'

testimonials in his special juvenile

intervention program, Project H.I.P.

Working with Judge Teske, the Corrections Division and the Office of Public Affairs have

coordinated both in-school and after-school events reaching more than, 500 "at-risk" youth

who reside in Clayton County.

This year Judge Teske has invited the Choose Freedom program to partner with Project

H.I.P. in Clayton County's middle schools and high schools as well as his evening reporting

center program for juvenile offenders.

2007 Declared Time of Change

HeartBound Ministries

Thirty-seven prisons in Georgia's

Department of Corrections will soon

receive a copy of the country's fastestselling

audio Bible to date. Zondervan,

the world's leading Christian communications company, is

donating 40 copies of Inspired By ... The Bible Experience to

HeartBound Ministries, a non-profit outreach organization that supports

and equips Georgia prison chaplains and ministers to foster successful

transitions back into society.

HeartBound is expected to begin using it in its ministry programs immediately.

Distributes New Audio Bible

Joe Shelton, (r), a HeartBound founding

volunteer, listens to a GDC inmate at a

recent holiday event.

Partnering to Combat Recidivism

one heart at a time

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners...”

Hebrews 13:3

Zondervan and HeartBound Ministries' goal for Inspired By ... The Bible Experience

is to foster inmate study groups that will listen to the audio Bible while participants read

along. In addition to the audio Bibles, HeartBound will provide chaplains with a Certificate of Completion for inmates

who participate and listen to the entire New Testament.

"The chaplain system is vital to the correctional process and HeartBound Ministries is integral to delivering the

transformative message of Christ to inmates in the Georgia Department of Corrections," said Paul

Caminiti, vice president and publisher of Bibles at Zondervan. "Our mission at Zondervan is to engage people with the

Bible, and we hope our donation of Inspired By ... The Bible Experience will help Georgia inmates experience the

Word of God like never before."

Released in October 2006, Inspired By ... The Bible Experience is the fastest-selling audio Bible to date and the

most ambitious audio dramatization of the Bible ever recorded. The product features more than 200 renowned

celebrities, including Tyler Perry, Samuel L. Jackson as God, Blair Underwood as Jesus, Angela Bassett as Esther

and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Judas, as well as renowned clergy and Christian leaders, including Atlanta-based Bishop

Eddie Long.


To arrange for an appearance by the Atlanta Transitional Center

choir, contact Climon Nix, the center's chaplain, at 404-206-5128.

By Carlos Campos,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 12/24/06

hese are not your typical choirboys.

They are convicted felons —- murderers, burglars, armed robbers, dope dealers and thieves.

Some of them bear the hard edge and the scars from a quarter-century of fighting for survival

behind bars.

But they have a passion and talent for singing and they use that gift to discourage others

from following in their footsteps.

The 15 men make up the

Atlanta Transitional Center

Choir. The transitional

center is a prison of sorts,

although it is far more relaxed

than a traditional

prison surrounded by razor

wire. Though the inmates

are all serving sentences

for serious crimes, many of

them are allowed to leave

the center during the day to

work, either performing

duties for the state or for

private companies. They've

earned the prison system's

trust that they will return to

the center every night.

Choir member Omar Howard speaks at a performance in Roswell, noting how hard it is to be away from family at Christmas.

Below right—Choyce Butler (c) prays with Jeanne Patterson (l) and Mari Ann Perusek after a performance.

The Department of Corrections formed the choir as part of its "Choose Freedom"

campaign to warn youngsters of the perils of a life of crime that leads

to prison. With more than 53,000 men and women in prison in Georgia —-

the nation's fifth-largest inmate population —- the department is hoping such

community outreach can reduce the number of people entering its custody

every year.

This is far from "Scared Straight." The choir's mission is not to frighten

young people with tales of gang fights, sexual assaults, stabbings, loneliness,

despair and other prison nightmares. Instead the men sing, perform skits and

talk about their love of Christ, the bad choices they made and doing the right

thing before it's too late. Often performing in churches, they also bring a

message of redemption through Christianity. Some of the choir members

also speak to schoolchildren.

On a recent weeknight, the choir belted out Christmas standards at Northminster

Presbyterian Church in Roswell, just down the street from some of

metro Atlanta's toniest neighborhoods.

Carolyn Christie, director of Christian education for Northminster, said the

area's affluence does not insulate its young people from trouble.

The thing about families that are well-to-do is they have the ability to hide

those things —- they can send their kids to rehab, things like that,"

Christie said. "These kids go to parties, and they have the same choices —-

to drink and drive, do drugs and have sex —- that normal 'at risk' kids have."

At Northminster's Wednesday night fellowship dinner, the men recently

opened with a brief Scripture reading, then launched into "Joy to the World"

and "O Come All Ye Faithful," accompanied by a piano. They then performed

original songs accompanied by synthesized keyboard tracks.

One of the most rousing songs is called "Lead Me," which includes a soulful

rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" mixed with a little R&B and rap. The men

sway in unison, clap their hands and snap their fingers.

Among them is Chris Teasley, sent to prison for murder in 1982. Teasley is a

former prison barber who said he was once so racist he refused to cut black

men's hair. Now he is one of two white men who sing with 13 black men in a

prison choir.

"The people that I hated the most were the people that God kept putting in

my life," Teasley said.

Teasley said he's been changed by Christ, and singing in the choir is a way

for him of "giving back." He said he hopes somebody can learn from his


Original article appeared in the Christmas Eve Edition of the Atlanta Journal

Constitution. For additional PAO info contact, Director Yolanda Thompson.

Inmate James Stewart sings in a recent performance of the Atlanta Transitional

Choir, participating in the state’s “Choose Freedom” campaign.

Photos by Ben Gray/staff

"I've taken," said Teasley, of Dalton. "I've had two children

that grew up without me."

Inmate James Stewart of the Mechanicsville neighborhood

near Turner Field in Atlanta said singing in the choir gives

him a sense of accomplishment.

"It's really been a great blessing to be able to get back into

society," said Stewart, serving a five-year sentence for

burglary. "And be a contributor to society and not a liability."

"Stewart said getting sent to prison inspired him to turn

his life around. But "I would tell a kid that it's not a place

for them to want to be."

Darlene McDonald of Johns Creek attended the performance

with her 16-year-old son, Kyle, a student at Northview

High School.

"It was an experience we're not going to get on a Sunday

morning here, so it was good for us," Darlene McDonald


Kyle said the performance was a welcome change from

the "dull" church music he's accustomed to. He agreed

that the message is important for young people everywhere.

Yolanda Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said

the spread of methamphetamine abuse has helped redefine who's at risk.

"When you consider that where crime lives is changing across Georgia, that the

meth epidemic is moving the faces and places of crime beyond the inner city, it

makes sense to reach out to youth who are at risk before they get into trouble,"

Thompson said. "The message to 'Choose Freedom' is easier to believe when it

is delivered by inmates."

The men of the choir perform wearing casual clothes —- jeans, khaki pants,

colorful polo shirts, plaid button-downs —- not uniforms. They are not led

around in handcuffs. After the performance, they mingle with congregants,

chatting in a relaxed setting.

The only indication these are inmates is the lone prison guard keeping a watchful

eye in a corner and the two state transport vans outside with bars in the windows.

"A lot of us made the wrong choice," said inmate Omar Howard, serving a

prison term for armed robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and other crimes.

"And that's why we're here now. This might be the hardest time of the year because

I'm not with my family."

Howard, his voice heavy, turns to the men behind him and asks, "How many

Christmases have you missed?"

"Twenty-five" comes the somber answer from Teasley, the inmate serving a life

sentence for murder. "Thirteen," says another. "Nineteen," says a third.

Later, after wringing as much time as they could out of their appearance, they

filed out of the church and back into the van for the drive back to prison.

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