Former Appling County prison becomes treatment facility - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Former Baxley prison transitions into treatment facility

Ribbon is cut on new treatment facility in Baxley. Ribbon is cut on new treatment facility in Baxley.
Commissioner Brian Owens of the Georgia Dept. of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens of the Georgia Dept. of Corrections
BAXLEY, GA (WTOC) -

A new sign and new name goes with the new mission of a former prison in Baxley.

The head of Georgia's corrections system says the Appling Integrated Treatement Facility will house non-violent inmates with addiction issues and mental illness.

"Often, the judge has no other option than to send them to the state system to get their illness treated. What we're trying to do is give judges options on the non-violent offenders," said Commissioner Brian Owens of the Georgia Dept. of Corrections.

Owens said that nearly 10,000 current inmates fit that description. But others commit petty crimes and go in and out of county jails.

Right now, it's all falling on us. Unless programs like this get started, our jails are going to be our mental hospitals and our drug hospitals," said Appling County Sheriff Benny DeLoach.

Owens told the crowd gathered Wednesday this kind of treatment helps inmates recover and not commit more crimes and is cheaper than locking them up over and over. Prosecutors agree.

"We want people punished for their crime, but we also don't want to see them again. We want them to learn a lesson and go back into society," said District Attorney Jackie Johnson.  

The center also saves money using a former detention center that was supposed to close earlier this year.

Transition center also saves 50 jobs that would have been lost in the community, something no one wanted to see.

The commissioner hopes one stay in this center is the first and only prison these inmates ever see.

In addition to the staff of 50 who were already there, eight specialized counselors join the Appling staff.

Georgia started moving inmates there in June from prisons statewide.

Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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