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Repeat offenders offered hope with PREP Program

Amarillo, TX - Many drug and alcohol offenders are finding themselves back in jail regardless of time served.

A recent study suggests those who served longer sentences for drug related crimes had the same re-offending rates as those who served shorter sentences. However, the local program says sentence length does not necessarily change an inmates behavior.

According to the Randall County Sheriff, Joel Richardson, drugs and alcohol are the hardest addictions to overcome, and doing so isn't easy. Richardson said the inmates have to be ready to change, and then have the opportunity to get help in order to change. He said otherwise they're going to go right back into the behavior they once had before.

Richardson said in order to change an inmates behavior, a true offer of intention is needed to help them realize their potential. "Our program is faith based, and we believe that you can't change a persons behavior until you change their heart," Richardson said.

The Randall County Jail is offering repeat offenders the opportunity to reinvent themselves before entering back into society.The program is a four step process that allows assessment and education, skills training, employment in the community and the release back into society.

Rolando Ramirez, a former repeating offender said his time in the program was invaluable and without it, his life would be completely different. "The people here are just awesome and the reason why is because they have God in the center of their life, and from that you know anything is possible, and they let you know that," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said re-offending rates have declined since the program began and he is now contributing to the program as a teacher. The program is funded by the offenders who pay an hours wage per paycheck once they begin working, which the Sheriff said helps give inmates incentive to do well.
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