The Lee County NAACP is partnering with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to help inmates at the county jail prepare for a brighter future.
Through the new program, NAACP leaders will provide sessions on job training techniques, resume writing, educational opportunities, personal rights, economic development, and how those stopped by law enforcement can prevent a situation from escalating. The goal is to restore hope for people who are incarcerated and cut recidivism rates.
Leaders of the NAACP said they plan to go to multiple jails to hold these classes. Their goal? To give inmates a sense of purpose and hope for a better future. Inmates will also learn how to deal with law enforcement to keep situations from escalating, by showing respect and following directions.
“It’s not just put on law enforcement shoulders to deescalate the situation but the citizens as well,” said James Muwakkil, Lee County NAACP president.
“Both sides can help each other be successful and what is success? Success is non-confrontational,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
NAACP leaders said they’re anxious to get started because they see too many people get out of jail, only to go right back. They hope the skills they teach inmates will slow that trend.
“What inspired us was seeing Black and brown persons going in and out of the criminal justice system and not having a vision or a plan for their life,” said Fredrick Dunbar Morgan II, co-chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee.
Hope, a plan and a vision – exactly what leaders of the Lee County NAACP want to bring inmates.
“This is building their skill sets all around for them to be able to be successful citizens when they get out, thereby lowering recidivism, strengthening the community,” said Jacquelyn McMiller, co-chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee.
One more way to strengthen the community is to teach inmates how to deal with deputies and police, remind them of their rights and how to keep those interactions peaceful.
“We want to begin to get that message to them that this is the way you should behave when you encounter law enforcement, follow directions. You should be less argumentative, you should be less vulgar,” Muwakkil said.
Marceno said that includes “training people, citizens who maybe don’t train and think like that.”
Leaders said they’re still working out the schedule for the new program, but they hope to get started as soon as possible.
Marceno, Muwakkil, and other NAACP leaders held a press conference Thursday to announce the program. You can watch a replay below or by clicking here.