Twenty-two incarcerated offenders graduate from Project Safe Neighborhoods prevention and reentry program
ATLANTA – On January 9, 2019, the first group of participants graduated from the U.S. Department of Justice’s new Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) prevention and reentry program (known as “A.C.E.S.”) at the Metro Reentry Facility.
The PSN strategy in the Northern District of Georgia marries enforcement efforts with support of prevention and reentry programs to combat violent crime in a lasting way, including by engaging directly with offenders about the consequences of continuing violent behaviors and supporting locally based prevention and reentry efforts.
“This first graduating class from our PSN prevention and reentry program demonstrates how law enforcement can work collaboratively with community programs to connect with the most hard-to-reach populations and prevent violent crime,” said Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We believe these graduates are on the right path to becoming productive citizens in our community.”
“We appreciate the support of our federal partners in assisting us with creating a safer Georgia,” said Timothy C. Ward, Interim Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections. “This program provides a unique opportunity for these individuals to become productive members of their community upon release.”
“Our expectation is that the A.C.E.S. group will become the model of reentry in Georgia,” said Art Powell, founder of EGRESS Consultants and Services, LLC. “Our hope is that these men have prepared themselves to become Credible Messengers to others upon their release. This unique group came from different gangs and criminal organizations, and yet did not have a single fight or issue during their six months together, an amazing accomplishment in itself. They have now formed a bond of camaraderie and mutual support that we hope will become a movement!”
“The A.C.E.S. initiative is a true demonstration of the impact that credible messengers have on reducing crime and restoring communities,” said Deborah Daniels, co-founder of Offender Alumni Association. “A former offender helping another former offender move forward and leave the past behind is the heartbeat of the Offender Alumni Association.”
As part of the PSN program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office partnered with the Georgia Department of Corrections, EGRESS Consultants and Services, LLC, and the Offender Alumni Association, to implement the intensive 6-month long prevention and reentry program for selected young adult repeat offenders at the Metro Reentry Facility who are incarcerated for gun or gang-involved crimes. The program relies upon the Credible Messenger model which utilizes individuals who have relevant life experiences (including their own prior involvement in the criminal justice system) to intervene with the program participants in a group setting.
The program participants themselves chose to name their group “A.C.E.S.” (Adults Committed to Empowerment and Success). Beginning in July 2018, twenty-two (22) A.C.E.S. participants met every week with Credible Messengers to learn how to make better and safer decisions, pursue their goals in preparing for reentry, repair relationships with family and community, and connect to educational, job readiness, and employment opportunities. The Credible Messengers will also serve as mentors for ongoing one-on-one support for the participants upon release. The members of the group were recognized this week for their completion of the PSN program.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.