Hannah Morrison feels a confidence in herself and her actions that she hasn’t felt in a long time.
Morrison, 23, is one of the eight graduates from the first-ever Barren County Detention Center Moral Reconation Therapy program. The graduates had their ceremony on Friday at the center. Family members were invited and they had pizza to celebrate.
Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter said MRT is a program that helps rehabilitate inmates by teaching them to be more responsible citizens when they are released from jail.
“It gives them a head start into reality and what to do and how to act when faced with difficult decisions when they get out,” he said. “It’s been proven to be highly effective against repeat offenders.”
The program, which is almost like a therapy session, taught Morrison how to take a different and better look at her own life.
“It’s an amazing class because it helps you to not re-offend so you don’t come back to jail,” Morrison said. “It helps you take a look at your life, your personal relationships, goals and overall integrity.”
Morrison said she’s gone to a few sponsored addiction programs unsuccessfully, but this one has proven to be effective.
“You can go to meetings all day long, but it’s got to start from the inside, and this class has helped me take a look at the real Hannah,” she said. “I think that’s where it all starts is within yourself. You’ve got to want it in your heart. It’s helped me realize what’s important, and I don’t want to go back to that old lifestyle.”
Victoria Wells-Bailey, 35, also said the class has helped her improve her inner self.
The most important thing I learned was to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve done,” Wells-Bailey said. “I learned to clean everything up, my mind, my body, my spirit. Night and day, I’m a more positive person. I used to see things as half-empty, now I see things as half-full. I’ve done a complete change and it means a lot to me.”
Sgt. Gaye Jones was the teacher for the therapy program, and she said it was originally designed in the prison setting with the mentality of “you can’t take people, put them in jail, take all their responsibilities away and expect them to be responsible people.”
“We’ve gone through a whole lot of emotions with this class,” Jones said. “We picked apart their pride, their ego, their good points, their bad points. We’ve cried, we’ve been angry, but we’ve also laughed.”
Jones said the important thing was the inmates realizing the issues they were hiding for so long caused most of their illegal behavior that landed them in jail.
“Once you get rid of all of those problems, you can leave here with a step up and you don’t have to have all of the burdens holding you down anymore.”
Graduating the program also allows for a 90-day incentive credit, which means the graduates receive 90 days off of their incarceration time. She said she knew most of them signed up to get the 90-day credit, but they found out they couldn’t fake their way through the class.
“It started changing them, and they didn’t even realize what was happening to them,” Jones said. “The change came before they knew what got them, and they started thinking about things in a more responsible manner, that’s what we’re looking for, that’s the inspiration we need.”
Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer was also there to see the inmates graduate. She said she was very moved by their stories and their completion of the program.
“I am very, very proud of you all,” she said. “You can succeed when you get out of here, and I want you to know that and believe that in yourself. You can get out of here, get a job, be respectable. Feel it yourself. Don’t let anyone put you down and tell you you can’t succeed, because you can, and you know it.”