LA PLATA, Md. (Jan. 13, 2010)—The Charles County Sheriff's Office, Corrections Division, today announced that Dr. Lonise Bias, motivational speaker and founder of The Abundant Life Resources, A More Excellent Way LLC., will be meeting and speaking with inmates currently enrolled in the Charles County Detention Center's "Successful Transitioning and Reentry Skills" (STARS) program on Tuesday, January 12 at 2:30 p.m.
Dr. Bias was thrust into motivational speaking after her two sons died in tragic, unrelated circumstances. Len Bias, a University of Maryland Basketball player, died on June 19, 1986 of cocaine intoxication - just two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics. Four years later, another son, Jay Bias, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting at a shopping center.
Sheriff Rex W. Coffey said although the Corrections Division's primary responsibility is to keep inmates secure, staff also focus on finding ways to help inmates make better decisions. "We invited Dr. Bias because we thought her unique experiences could ultimately help motivate inmates to make better choices as they prepare to re-enter the community within the next 2-4 months."
According to Captain Pamela Dottellis, Director of the Charles County Detention Center, the STARS program was the concept of Sgt. Tracy Williams, an 18 year veteran and supervisor in the Classification Unit. "Sgt. Williams' daily interactions with inmates led her to understand some inmates desired a faith-based program in which life skills could be taught," said Captain Dottellis.
Sgt. Williams brainstormed with Officer Ryan Taylor of the Classification Unit and Chaplain John Lewis, founder of Point of Change Jail & Street Ministry, and in 2008 they established the STARS program.
STARS is a 10 week course consisting of educational sessions and skill-based curriculum such as computer technology, typing, writing, resume writing, preparing for job interviews, financial management, parenting, bible study, CPR/first aid, kitchen manager certification, nutrition, and many more. Most of the classes are taught by community members and business people who volunteer their time to come to the jail to teach these valuable skills.
The STARS program is extremely popular at the Detention Center and space is limited to ten. Potential students must submit an application, write an essay, pass a screening process, and appear before a selection committee. Inmates are not given special credit for attending and class participation is strictly volunteer.
The current class consists of people who have been charged with non-violent crimes such as burglary, drug possession, child support violations, DUI, and probation violations. To date, the Corrections Center has graduated 17 students from the STARS program, boasting an 88% success rate; only 2 graduates have returned to jail.
"I've worked at the detention center most of my adult life and I know first-hand there are inmates who really want to make a change," said Sgt. Williams adding, "many of the participants were never taught simple, life skills." Officer Ryan Taylor said the ultimate goal of the program is to reduce recidivism by equipping offenders with necessary life skills and tools before they are released.
The Charles County Detention Center is located at 6905 Crain Highway in La Plata.
Source: Charles County Sheriff's Office