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New Freedom from Past Choices

February 15, 2019

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

Over 20 men in the Twin Rivers Unit at Monroe Correctional Complex had reason to celebrate in January. They were the first group to complete the New Freedom class, a gang intervention graduation.

The Twin Rivers Unit is known as a safe harbor, a place for those who have left gang life and affiliation. Classification Counselor James Leffew welcomed the participants with open arms.

“One of the things we’ve encouraged with this particular class is, you see guys coming in, tell them they made the right decision, give them that handshake,” Leffew said.

The class opened participants' minds to new ways of thinking. Programs and classes like New Freedom are important to the department for improving public safety because it supports people’s ability to grow and change. James Long and Travis Robertson embody that philosophy.

“He was a northsider. I used to be a southsider and we let go of that and we’re here now. We’re doing this class together and gotta let go of all that hate and pain and open yourself up. That’s what we’ve done with each other,” Robertson said.

The goal for the second session of the class is to include group therapy and work on life skills. Long and Robertson’s advice for those who are on the fence about joining this class is, “A lot of people have pride issues, like he said, caring about what people think. We just let that go. You gotta grow up sometime.”