COVINGTON, Ga – Friday was graduation day at the Newton County Jail as Sheriff Ezell Brown, joined by sheriff’s office personnel, program facilitators and local officials including Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn, District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, Clerk of Courts Linda Hay and County Clerk Jackie Smith gathered in the jail’s training room to celebrate Newton County’s first RSAT graduation.
RSAT, or residential substance abuse treatment is a program that targets high risk, high needs offenders with a history of substance abuse as a crime producing behavior. Newton County’s is one of three such programs in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The others are in Gwinnett and Rockdale Counties.
Henderson told the four graduates to take advantage of their new opportunity and to be good citizens.
“We all fall down,” he said. “But Glory be to God, we will get back up. That’s what this class is all about, getting back up, being productive, being good citizens and just loving your fellow brothers and sisters.
Ozburn told the graduates they cannot undo their pasts but that they are in charge of their futures.
“I say all the time you can’t unring the bell. Whatever has happened has happened,” he said. “But you can control what happens from this point forward. You’ve been equipped how to recognize triggers, how to recognize situations that can get you in trouble, so just avoid them, stay away from them.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but if you ever need help, reach out for it. Don’t wait until you’re found out and you get in trouble. Reach out because these people will continue to be here for you. We want you to succeed. You have our support.”
Brown told the group their graduation means a lot to the community.
“You must understand that you are the first,” he said. “So by being the first, it means a lot not only to me, but it means a lot to this community.
“When it’s all said and done, you are going to write the letter of success, you’re the one that’s going to burn the path for others to come aboard.”
Brown also thanked his staff and others involved in the program that made the county’s first RSAT program a success.
“Thank you for your service. We know that there are voluminous places you could have gone and that you would have gone, but as Chaplain Walden said earlier, thank God that he led you to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to help saves the lives of these individuals here and we know that it’s going to impact the lives of others with the tools that you have put in their toolbox.”