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Potter and Randall county jails reducing recidivism through successful inmate programs

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Potter and Randall County Jails are seeing a rise in inmates who graduate from the intensive programs they offer stay out of jail once released.

Both jails offer a variety of programs, but the intensive programs are what’s making the long-term differences in inmates’ lives.

These programs offer life skills and resources for inmates who have a long history of crime, looking to make a change.

Randall County offers a 12-to-18-month prisoner re-entry program called PREP.

The Randall County Sheriff says more than 60 percent of the people who have complete that program have stayed away from crime and have become productive citizens once released.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed about the PREP program is and the main reason for its success is that it’s a faith-based program that puts that at the center of everything that is done. Whenever they go through this program, by the time that they get out they have a job, they have a place to stay, they have money in the bank, and they have a vehicle,” said Christopher Forbis, Randall County Sheriff.

Sheriff Forbis says one thing they’ve done to help improve the programs is by adding Pastor Larry Miles from Trinity Fellowship Church as head of volunteers to their ministry program.

“He is building our ministry from the ground up and so we are going to be looking at a lot of different things and avenues in order to assist and help our inmate population whenever they get out,” said Sheriff Forbis.

The Potter County Detention Center offers similar intensive programs as well.

80 percent of the men and 98 percent of the women who have graduated from those programs at Potter County have not reoffended.

“That number is going to increase. Not maybe doing well but getting out because some of our who have been in TDC (Texas department of corrections) for a while are close to being released. So, these numbers will change overtime. We not only wanted to reduce recidivism, we wanted to change the culture of our jail. So, we wanted it to be a benefit both to inmates obviously, but also to officers,” said Rhea Nixon, Potter County inmates program coordinator.

Over the last year the Potter County jail saw 700 disciplinary incidents.

Of those, only four belonged to inmates involved in the programs.

“I think that’s a really awesome number to show that the inmates actually are taking something from programs and using it now. Not just in the free world, but using it now in the jail setting as well,” said Nixon.

Potter County’s program director will speak with other Texas jails this week that are looking for guidance and have heard about the success of the inmate programs Potter County offers.

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