Nearly half of all North Carolina prisoners released from jail eventuallyend up back behind bars. Experts blame addiction as a major reason forthe relapse rate. But, a new program could help turn that trend around.
Larry Fullove has a lot on his mind. Four months go, he nearly diedfrom 13 years of abusing crack cocaine. But Tuesday he graduated from anew corrections department program that he says has freed him from thebondage of substance abuse.
"I want drugs and alcohol out of my life," Fullove explains. "I used andabused drugs and alcohol for 20 years, but I can sit here and say now thatthese three months have been the most productive three months of my life."
Fullove says structure is the key to his recovery. Each participant inthe program gets up at 5:30 every morning for a 13-hour workday thatincludes classes on education, job skills and getting along with otherpeople. Organizers say the inmates are learning more while costingtaxpayers about half the cost of continued confinement
"This program is demonstrating a per-day cost of between $28-$30 dollarsa day, compared to $50-55 dollars a day in a facility," says programcoordinator Mike Rothwell.
Fullove understands the scepticism some North Carolinians might haveabout money spent on the program. After all, he says, he's gone throughthree other programs that didn't work. But, he says he believes this well-rounded effort will work, and he's ready to prove it to the peoplehe's hurt.
"To me, it's not about talking," says Fullove. "It's about living it, andI intend to do that one day at a time. Eventually, they'll see thechange, and I'm looking forward to it."
Tuesday's graduation ceremony marked a milestone, not an end. Participants still have another 90-day program to complete on at out-patient basis.
The aim of the program is to end addiction through positivereinforcement, inspiration, and behavior modification. Offenders are alsorequired to take courses which will further their educations.