A 13-week program in the Cobb County Jail is teaching detainees how to be better parents and people.
COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A program inside the Cobb County Jail is working to give inmates skills to be better parents and people.
“The kids need the dads. So basically, this class is designed to teach them how to be better fathers, develop better relationships with the mother of the child, develop a better relationship with the child,” Dr. James Anderson, the Parenting 101 instructor said. “And in the end, it creates a better situation for the kids in general.”
The 13-week program teaches both parenting and nurturing skills to the men inside the jail. Anderson said he also adds a spiritual component. He said the goal is to equip men with the tools they need to break the cycle of people coming back to jail.
“They didn’t have those tools in their box. So when they come through Cobb County, it’s unfortunate that it did happen, but it’s a blessing in disguise,” said Anderson. “We can give them some of the things they need so they won’t come back, and we can decrease recidivism.”
Derrand Garrett knows about the benefits of the program first-hand.
He’s a husband, a dad of four, and a former detainee who graduated from Parenting 101 last year when he was in the jail for 10 and a half months.
“It definitely affected my family,” Garrett paused with a sigh. “Dramatically.”
When Garrett moved to the honor dorm in Cobb County Jail, he was allowed to pick programs to participate in.
“It’s not about doing the time, it’s what you do with your time,” Garrett said.
He said he was immediately drawn to Parenting 101.
“Parenting was like, right up my alley,” said Garrett, as he talked about how much he loves being a dad. “I feel like a lot of times we want to be great parents, but we don’t always have the necessary tools to express that or communicate that.”
Garrett said the program helped him look inside himself and find a better man.
“The spirit of the whole program was very overwhelming. You know, I saw some of the guys, the tough guys, who don’t say much. You seen them break down and became emotional – it really was a humbling experience,” said Garrett, adding that the program humanizes the people who participate. “We all got a chance to release and grow. I was just really expecting to come in and do some pamphlets and little worksheets and get out of the cell for a little while. But it actually taught me a lot. It gave me some real resources that I didn’t expect to leave with.”
WATCH: Garrett performed a poem he wrote called ‘Do You Believe’ when he graduated the program. The story continues below the video.
Garrett took the class with Lester Smith, who is a current detainee and, since graduating from Parenting 101, now acts as the program’s assistant facilitator.
“It hasn’t been easy. Everything is a process. But the willingness to be open minded and honest– it helped me to do better, to be better. Cause once you do right, you are right,” said Smith.
The current class of Parenting 101 graduates on Monday. After graduation, Anderson said they’ve added another course, Parenting: Part 2, that helps fathers develop relationships with their child’s mother.