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      Detention center program helps inmates turn a new leaf

      File Photo (WCIV)

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- When Jason Mauz was sentenced to serve time, he didn't expect the change he experienced.

      "I thought I neverwould change, have the desire to change, just in a rut because it was to hard," said Mauz."But, this program has helped me to believe anything is possible."

      Mauz is one of 18 men who graduated from the Turning Leaf Project, a program at The Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center meant to show the impact crimes have on the community.

      The goal of the Turning Leaf Project, also known as Impact on Crimes, is to reduce rates of re-incarceration by educating inmates on the impact crimes have on victims as well as provide a "cognitive behavioral education."

      "Since I've been in this class, I've been in notone altercation verbal or physical," said Lewis Thompson, who graduated from the program in February. "I want to thank Amy for that. I mean shechanged my whole lifestyle."

      The program was founded and is operated by Amy Barch.

      "You always hope they are getting it, and I put so mucheffort into it," said Barch. "I make them do so much homework and at the end I think you seethe transformation."

      The first phase of the program encourages the inmates to take responsibility for their actions and make amends. Victims are invited to the classroom to share their stories which can also help in their own recovery and closure.

      The second phase of the program focuses on changing the behavior that leads to crime in the first place.

      Mauz says he has a whole new outlook on life.

      "...To stop doingall the negative things I was doing and be the kind of man my son needs me tobe. The kind of man I want him to be one day."

      The program has an emphasis on developing social, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Barch says the project has shown to significantly alter a person's direction in life.

      "Inmates leave the class with a strong commitment and improved skills to make better choices upon release," said Barch.

      The program is voluntary. Eighteen inmates graduated Tuesday.

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