The substance abuse program inside the Chatham County Detention Center is celebrating the newest graduates education in sobriety.
The ceremony held inside the jail featured former NFL player and Georgia native Ben Troupe.
Troupe played 5 years in the league, but it’s his life experience, not his athletic ability that makes him a keynote speaker graduates behind bars can relate to.
“I look at him as a beacon of hope and having some experience with a father, ah, that’s been incarcerated, so it shows them that they can get out and do something, but most importantly, that we got an NFL player that cares,” said Eric China, the HDH Addiction Services Director contracted to run the program.
Troupe says his own father spent years in prisons in Georgia because of drug problems and he’s hoping his story can resonate with those who truly seek sobriety after their release.
“Hopefully they realize that it, there is a life outside of here and hopefully I say something to them to make them not want to come back here,” said Troupe.
He reminded the graduates applying what they’ve learned behind bars is not the same as facing temptations when they’re released.
“Out there the fight is waiting for you. I’m not talking about physically…because I know you can take a punch, can you take one mentally?” Troupe asked the inmates.
Inmates like Robert Bookter and Nelson Davis say encouragement from someone like Troupe strengthens their resolve to stay clean and stay on the right side of the law when they’re released.
“He was great! You know, gave us a lot of motivation. To hear him speak showed me that you can rise from situations like this and better yourself,” Davis said.
“What I take from here I would like to be able to take and be able to teach to my kids so that they don’t make the same mistakes that we made,” said Bookter.
Both men are part of 52 inmates who received certificates for successfully completing the six-week program.
China says graduates of the program have lower recidivism rates than inmates who do not tackle their addictions.
“We want to save everybody, but the reality is we can’t. So if I can get the mindset that I can change one individual, help change one individual,” said China. “Because we can’t change anybody but lead them to that change, we’ve done our job, one at a time.”