RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Life behind bars can be a time of reflection, and now in Richmond it can also be about personal growth. Behind locked doors at the Richmond Justice Center, lives are changing. The REAL program stands for Recovery of Every Day Addictive Lifestyles. That includes alcohol, drugs or anything else that got the men there in the first place.
Vincent Haskins is a Peer Leader. “This program is giving me a chance and opportunity to take back what I lost, and that is control,” Haskins explains. “I’ve been in and out of prison from 17 years of age, and here I am close to being 40.”
Haskins says this is the first time he and many of the other violent offenders have ever had a chance to get to the root of their issues. REAL focuses on behavior modification so hopefully when they get out, they don’t return. Sheriff C.T. Woody launched REAL in May.
“We believe in making better citizens instead of better criminals,” Woody says and then makes his rounds to talk with program participants. They are on a tight schedule. They are responsible for making their beds and tidying up in the morning, and then group sessions follow where they share stories of their past and visions for their future. Some take college-level courses. Community leaders also come in to work with them one-on-one.
“The most important word in community is unity,” says Woody. “You and I can make a difference, and when we do that we are making better citizens, helping those who have made mistakes.”
People like Haskins, who says he is committed to beating his addictions for good this time for his son and daughter, ages 4 and 5. He knows others in the program feel the same way. “It’s time for a change.”
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond