UR study finds REAL Program is working

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Men participating in the Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lifestyle (REAL) Program inside the Richmond City Justice Center are setting themselves up for success on the outside, according to University of Richmond Professor and Researcher, Dr. Lisa Jobe-Shields.

She followed nearly 500 inmates for one year following their release, and found the REAL Program made a big difference.

“For those that participated for more than 90 days, they were only going to return about 30% of the time, and this was statistically significant,” says Jobe-Shields. “This is a comparison to the 50 or 55% we saw for those in the program less than 90 days or those that didn’t participate at all.”

The REAL Program focuses on behavior modification and helping participants strengthen life skills.

“Everything from budgeting to parenting to job preparation and mock interviews, having a resume all of that is components of the REAL program all geared obviously at returning them to the community and not back in the jail in the future,” explains Dr. Sarah Scarbrough, the program director at the Justice Center.

Adds Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody, “We now have concrete research that shows how rehabilitation and recovery programs reduces recidivism when implemented properly.”

Sherman Green, a graduate of the REAL Program, agrees. Green spent more than half of his 43-years behind bars for drug offenses, but he now credits what he learned for keeping him out for good.

“Today I’m not stuck anymore,” Green says about closing what had become his revolving door to jail. “Today God is working in my life, right? And I’m just trying to be the best Sherman I can be, right, on a daily basis.”

Next week the REAL Program will celebrate the opening of a new resource to keep men on the right path when they are released from jail. The REAL House recovery facility will continue a focus on behavior modification while they transition into life on the outside.

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