MOBILE, Ala. – When four nonviolent street-level drug offenders accepted a one-time offer to separate themselves from the criminal behavior they once knew, their lives changed. Thursday, the Mobile Police Department will celebrate the accomplishments of these individuals who have been participating in the Second Chance or Else (SCORE) program for the past year. A special graduation ceremony will be held at police headquarters at 5:30 p.m.
“At one point, they were committing drug offenses but now they have a new way of thinking and are contributing to society,” said Commander Curtis Graves who oversees the SCORE program and serves as the director of the Mobile Police Department Office of Strategic Initiatives. “Although they are men with limited criminal histories, the drug crimes they committed did endanger the community and would have caused irreversible damage to their future and the future of their families.”
Instead of being arrested and charged with drug distribution, these carefully handpicked SCORE participants met with a community panel once a month, attended a weekly Fatherhood Initiative mentoring program, enrolled in a career technical education program, and sought and maintained legitimate employment.
One participant overcame an eight-year addiction to pain medication. After paying down over $2,000 in traffic fines, he obtained his driver’s license and soon enrolled in a certified pipe welder program. He has since become employed as a pipe welder and a part-time welder instructor. Another participant sought credit counseling to improve his credit score and has recently purchased his first family home all while in the SCORE program.
“We addressed their barriers and equipped them with the life skills needed for self-accomplishments worthy of applause,” Graves said. “Sometimes decent people make bad choices and place their families in a free fall that continues the cycle of bad choices that negatively impact the community.”
Since the SCORE program was implemented in September 2015, it has been an extremely successful program with respect to the reduction of recidivism, Graves added. The City of Mobile has experienced a 50 percent reduction in drug-related recidivism among the graduates of SCORE over a five-year period.
Through collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Mobile County Health Department, along with the support and guidance of community leaders and judges, the Mobile Police Department’s SCORE program will continue as a drug market intervention program that strategically focuses on closing down illegal open-air drug markets and restoring the community.
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