When Daryl Oliver began working as a volunteer chaplain at the Anson County Jail last summer, he said he saw the “need and opportunity” to introduce a life-skills curriculum to the inmates.
With the blessing of Sheriff Landric Reid and Capt. Freddie Paxton, jail administrator, the program will begin Friday through Safer Communities Ministry.
Oliver, executive director of SCM, said the program educates and challenges men and women to “live an improved life,” helping clients in the areas of: self-identity; boundary setting; addition recovery; character development; building and maintaining relationships; and anger and stress management.
SCM also provides list of community resources to help inmates set and reach goals for employment, education, housing and other areas of self-improvement.
Recently added to the list is Talent Force, an agency Oliver said has “agreed to help those who have made bad choices find employment, which will help them as they transition back into the community.”
Oliver said SCM has been working with inmates for 35 years in neighboring Union County, which has a recidivism rate of 15 percent, compared to the state average of 50 percent.
According to Oliver, five out of six who take the life skills program don’t return to jail.
“We save the county $1.87 million dollars (at a cost of $27,000 to house an inmate for a year) over a four-year period of those that do not return,” he said. “However, we cannot measure the impact on the families that are forever changed by a family member that ends the vicious cycle of incarceration and becomes a productive citizen.”
Last month, SCM started a similar program in Richmond County. On the day the program launched, Oliver said, 59 of the 96 inmates signed up.
Oliver said his group is looking to partner with churches and other community organizations “to make neighborhoods safer, change lives and protect taxpayer resources.”
“We believe that anyone can be transformed and made new through a personal relationship with God, and our goal is for each individual to be rehabilitated and for broken families to be restored,” he said. “We provide hope to the hopeless and empower the weak to be strong.”
SCM is also on the front lines of the drug-addiction crisis, conducting weekly recovery meetings in Union, Stanly and Richmond counties. The meetings are not only for those struggling with an addiction but also their loved ones.
“We get people into detox and faith-based treatment programs and all the places we send them are free or of little charge,” Oliver said. “We help parents and grandparents to not become enablers and co-dependents … Our desire is to start an addiction ministry in Anson County as well.”