Caldwell Co. creates successful jail rehab program

Recidivism has been replaced with rehabilitation at the Caldwell County Jail. Inmates are provided an education, job training and even a place of work when they get out.

Edgar Orsini walked was booked into the Caldwell County Jail in 2012. He'd already served time in prison for drugs.

"I learned absolutely nothing. Just to pass my time and actually be a better criminal and that's what I did. I got out in 2005 and continued my life of crime,” said Orsini.

Orsini was like many inmates in Caldwell County. He calls it a generational curse. His mother and father did time in prison. Crime was all he knew.

"Me and my brother used to say we were destined to go to prison and we knew it. Even though we had great hearts, we didn't have the skills to be kind people, to know what it was to say ‘yes sir, thank you,’” said Orsini.

Orsini says his stay in Lockhart, was different, “My eyes were opened and I saw who I was really hurting which with my family, my daughter, my children. It hurt so bad to the point where I gave up in the sense that I gave my life to the lord.”

"In our facility they're not called inmates or convicts. They are called by their first or last name,” said Sheriff Daniel Law.

After noticing his jail was maxed out daily, so much so a new wing was added, Sheriff Daniel Law changed his philosophy on how a jail should be run.

"We were creating worse criminals. These people are going to get out of jail,” said Law. "When they get out you don't know who's living next door. Would you rather have a better person or worse person?"

With the help of Sgt. Anthony Hardee, he began offering GED classes (82 have graduated since 2013),  ministry services, alcoholics anonymous classes and job skills training.

The men gave us a tour of the newest addition to the program-- an aquaponics farm built by the inmates.

"Our average length of stay is about 29 days, so that length of stay isn't long enough to experience a lot of programs that we do. By doing this they're able to plant a plant and they're able to eat the same food that they plant in here and it teaches them about responsibility,” said Sgt. Anthony Hardee.

Hardee says in Caldwell County, 64 percent of those jailed have a mental illness, 68 percent have addiction issues and seven out of 10 no high school diploma.

Law says in 2009 the prison averaged 300 inmates per day. Now he says the daily average is between 100 and 150. He attributes that to the program.

The success stories are plentiful. The former inmates are not just successful members of their community, but they're giving back.

Orsini, who now owns a transportation business, visits the jail weekly to host bible study. He has also established a foundation where inmates can donate to crime victims.

"It's success. I'm happy,” said Law. "Not only did we find someone who took the opportunity and did the best with it, but now I'm glad I can call him friend."

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