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Sheriff's Department teams with United Way to combat homelessness

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The "frequent flyers" at the Gwinnett County Jail have earned that status because jail amenities -- heating, air-conditioning and food, for instance -- trump the alternative: sleeping in encampments in the woods, under bridges ... or worse.

In an effort to reduce the jail's recidivism rate, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department is partnering with the United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Regional Commission on Homelessness to provide homeless inmates with shelter, drug treatment, job-skills training and crime prevention classes upon their release from jail.

"This program is something I've felt was needed in Gwinnett County for a long time," said Sheriff Butch Conway.

The cost of the program will be offset by seized drug money and will not burden taxpayers, officials said. Studies have shown that one in seven inmates is homeless.

"Further studies show that those inmates who have stable housing when they're released are less likely to return to jail or prison," said Conway. He calls the approach "proactive law enforcement" that addresses "a very complex and chronic problem."

Hapless inmates with no place to go create a health risk for themselves and others.

Lawrenceville police officials told the Daily Post last year that five pedestrians have been killed within a couple miles of the jail since 1993. Four of those fatalities involved freshly released inmates or homeless people known to frequent the jail. Most were struck along Ga. Highway 316.

Once an inmate posts bond, the jail has no legal means to hold them, officials have said.

Demetrius Jordan, Regional Director of United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, said his agency's Regional Commission on Homelessness has worked to end chronic homelessness and help inmates re-enter society on solid ground.

The partnership "will serve as a model to address tough issues while being sensitive to shrinking resources," Jordan said.

Comments

BuzzG 2 years, 6 months ago

They are "chronically homeless" because they are chronically lazy and won't take a job. It is their problem. Don't reach in my pocket for the funds to make life easier for the "chronically homeless".

What nonsense. They are not "hapless." People make their own luck. This article shows a complete lack of understanding that people are responsible for their own lives. If there is "too much recidivism" then we are either not keeping them locked up long enough or making their lives too comfortable when they are locked up.

Butch Conaway ought to be ashamed to make these statements. He is obviously in the wrong job.

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notamom 2 years, 6 months ago

I like the idea of using seized drug money to attempt to rehab these inmates. How would you suggest dealing with these people?

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myview 2 years, 6 months ago

This program is a great idea and obviously needed. I'm happy for some of my tax money to be used this way. BuzzG's comment sounds like a broad assumption.

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jack 2 years, 6 months ago

Is it not enough that we provide help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless? Must we now provide hap to the hapless?

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