Eleven inmates took a vow to change their life when they entered the Substance Use Group during their stay in the Coffee County Jail. These eleven inmates are in jail based on drug-related offenses. Eleven inmates will walk out of the jail in a matter of months and will rejoin society.
They are Samuel Wilder, Johnny Reed, Adam Cable, Matthew Taylor, Dominique Williams, Brian Escalon, William Hartman, Martin Anderson, James Whitaker, Justin Logan and Devin Barrett.
To make their transition more successful, Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin brought in therapist Ashley Allen from QCHC to help.
Throughout the 12 week program, the inmates met as a group to talk about their life with drugs, their future goals and to support one another during incarceration, as well as create a foundation for when they leave the jail.
“Each and every one of you are going to be released out of this place,” said Partin. “Your goal is to change the community and come out a better person.”
He addressed the group on their graduation day, Wednesday, Dec. 19, and told them that when they walk out of the jail, they will be bombarded with peer pressure from their old circles and that history will repeat itself if they haven’t learned from it. He encouraged them to stand strong and begin making a good history for themselves, as well as trying to help the bad history of others in the community turn good.
A lifetime of drugs
One inmate was ready to give it all up.
“I’m at a point in my like that I can’t do it anymore,” said Johnny Reed. The 49-year-old has been struggling with drugs since he was 18. He shared what started his descent into drug abuse, a tale he only told the Substance Use Group before sharing it with the Times.
“I watched my brother drown. I couldn’t swim and couldn’t save him,” Reed revealed. His brother’s death left a void within him, something he tried to fill with drugs to help ease the pain. His drug use evolved into him becoming a regular user of meth.
“I never hurt anybody but myself,” Reed said. “When people do drugs, they say ‘I’m not hurting anyone but myself,’ but that’s not right. I harmed my mom, my dad, my kids, the community. I come from a good family.”
He knows he hurt his step dad and mom and feels guilty about it every day, Reed said.
Coffee County Sheriff Department Officer Daniel Ray added that he had never seen two people cry harder than Reed’s parents when he was arrested.
The last words his 9-year-old daughter allegedly told him that all she wants is for her father to get better and come home.
Because of this, Reed wants to be better.
“My greatest desire is to be a better man,” Reed continued. Allen has given him the courage and strength for him to try and become that.
Allen helped him “show me my vulnerability” and her and Partin have “cracked open the door and I am ready to push it open,” he said.
Once he is released from jail, he wants to go straight into the drug court program or a long term rehab program to help him get stabilized and grounded before he reenters his life in the community.
“Meth took away things money can’t buy – my values, morals and respect. Meth has taken that from me,” Reed said, getting emotional as he spoke.
“I want people to say ‘Johnny, that’s a great man,” not say ‘that’s a drug addict,’” he added. “I’m going to be so much more.”
Another inmate in the group had many run ins with Partin during his patrol officer days. James LAST NAME has been trafficking drugs from Warren County to all over the area for a good portion of his life.
“This man was my enemy,” he said about Partin. “I’ve got a little one now and I don’t want him to go through that. I lost my other kids to drugs and I don’t want to see him go through that.
His goal is to get out of jail and talk with kids about his story and hope he can steer them clear of drug use.
Partin wants these inmates to use CCSD to their advantage, but in this case, the acronym doesn’t only mean Coffee County Sheriff Department. It means courage, commitment, strength and dedication. While in jail, Partin wants to help these men and give them the chance to rejoin society.
“They’re human,” he said, not animals and not bad people. His goal is to treat them like humans and to get them back on their feet so they don’t return to jail in the future.
Allen added to this and said oftentimes, what she hears from the men and women she works with is that they are treated like “throwaways” and are “never given a way to rejoin the community.”
With her, she witnessed the 11 men have the courage to be vulnerable, put trust in her and each other and take a leap of faith.
“They put themselves out there to try, and they might fail, but they had courage to anyway,” she said.
A few members even started a Narcotics Anonymous group within the jail on their own – they meet five times.