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Opinion | Small group, big accomplishments: Birmingham DRC Graduation

This small group has made a big accomplishment in conquering the Birmingham DRC program and getting their lives on track.

Birmingham DRC Graduation
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Whether celebrating the accomplishments of 28, like back in August 2023, or a smaller class of seven, like on Thursday, June 20, there is an undeniable sense of spirit permeating the Birmingham Day Reporting Center graduation ceremonies every time. You can tell the graduates just get it.

There’s no doubt much of the credit belongs to the administration of Officer Leah Thompson and the work of the officers and support staff who stand with the participants at every ceremony. I feel compelled to acknowledge each of the dedicated Birmingham DRC employees by name: Officers Edward Seabron, Ti’Keedra Feagins, Edwin Melton, Robert Reyes, and Carlos Jones, alongside support staff members Janaska Hunter, Kayla Hicks, and Amanda Johnston, all do fantastic work.

Still, the bulk of the recognition belongs to the participants, who effectively put into practice their program’s resources and teachings to pull themselves up, alter their lifestyles, and find success. I see a group of participants who go into each day as a team and support each other through the highs and lows. It feels like the graduates are each other’s biggest fans, determined to help each other succeed.

My favorite parts of these graduations are often the moments when program participants take the stage. Rarely is something so meaningful to a person as a lifestyle change, and they often speak truths relevant to everyone, showing it is possible to overcome great obstacles. It was a pleasure to watch Lindsey Gilley and James Starkey talk about their time with the program, and the smiles on the faces of the staff members and community partners as the speakers acknowledged the staff on stage. Keynote Speaker Danny Dandridge, a mentor with the Offender Alumni Association, reiterated their ability to move past previous habits by speaking directly to the graduates. Finally, Bureau Director Cam Ward delivered a message of resiliency the graduates are sure to remember in times of future adversity.

This small group has made a big accomplishment in conquering the Birmingham DRC program and getting their lives on track. Life comes with its share of challenges, but I’m confident in these seven graduates’ abilities to meet them head on as they proceed into a bright future.

DRCs provide counseling, educational training and supervision for probationers and parolees. With a focus on employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, mental health, and cognitive restructuring needs, DRC staff is committed to reducing recidivism rates and improving public safety through behavior change. Currently, full Day Reporting Centers are located in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Day Reporting Center Lites, condensed versions of DRCs offering similar treatment, are located in Albertville, Bay Minette, Fort Payne, Opelika and Jasper.

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