By Tim Callahan
Jerrell Brown was at the end of the road and jail was the only building on the street.
“I had to do something different,” he said. “No matter what it was, it had to be better than what I was doing.”
That something different was a pilot jail diversion and reentry program that Brown heed pioneer in South Carolina as a “lab rat” for director F. Gareth Bashears and Life Recovery Solutions, LLC.
Brown was one of the first graduates back in 2010 and he has not returned to jail as he has so many times in the past after getting out. And, that is the purpose of the new program – to stop the revolving door.
Brown has a job as a coast to coast truck driver, a permanent place to live, and is still in recovery for alcohol and drug addiction.
And, he just got married.
“There is no way I could have seen myself before as being married,” Brown said. “The program transformed my life.”
While he said he got a lot out of learning things like life skills, living in balance, thinking for a change and relapse prevention, the therapeutic community was the biggest benefit he derived from the program, as it taught him how to relate with others.
“I found out that when things didn’t go my way, there were different ways to respond than I had been responding,” he said.
Even learning to respond to a question about where he grew up took Brown time. The natural response would have been “detention centers and jail” but, after a minute or so, Brown finally said, “Andrews. I grew up in Andrews.”
But, truth be known, he said, he really “grew up” in the jail diversion and reentry program. And it didn’t come with the mixed message, “Do as I say, but not as I do.”
“The Life Recovery people had all been where I had been,” he said. “They not only understood, they showed us how to live by their example. And, they gave us hope. If they had done it, maybe we could, too.”