ON THE FLIPSIDE!
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GEORGIA CUSTOMER SERVICE
“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
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.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
News and Facts to Keep You Informed - January 2007
GEORGIA: LEADER IN BATTLING
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.
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
Stewards of the Public
Change, Transformation is
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
“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 . . .
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
Tracy J. Smith
Tracy J. Smith
Please direct comments or
Office of Public Affairs
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
East Tower, Suite 864
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
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.
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
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...”
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
WANT TO HEAR MORE?
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, email@example.com
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
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
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
"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
"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.