People who have been in trouble in the past but want to change their lives and fit into the community will have that chance in a new program established in Limestone County.

The Community Corrections Program is for inmates who have not committed a violent crime and who are willing to work their way out of trouble. Officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections created the program to help ease overcrowding in state prisons. Limestone County officials liked the idea.

By June 1, the county is expecting 1,000 prisoners from Limestone County to be enrolled.

“Our program is here to help non-violent offenders,” said Mandy Morgan, a case manager and administrative supervisor with the program. “We want to put our clients back into society where they are working and doing some good.”

Community Corrections, now operating from the second floor of the Limestone County Courthouse, will soon move to new headquarters on South Jefferson Street. The old Hometown Grocery building is being renovated for new offices and will be ready for occupancy by March 1, officials said.

Morgan said the program started with 90 inmates and seven administrative officers. Thurman McCormick, who was a consultant for the program, has been named the program director.

“It’s more like probation with more restrictions,” Limestone County Revenue Enhancement Officer Rodney Jackson told county commissioners recently.

Commissioners signed an agreement with the State Department of Corrections to operate the program here from May 1 to Sept. 30. Limestone County was awarded a $74,400 federal grant for the project through the state.

Limestone District Judge Jeanne Anderson said Limestone County judges support the program. She said no violent criminals would be placed in the program, which must be self-supporting to stay in operation.

“People sent from the court to our program will be supervised by this staff,” Morgan said. “We are going to make sure they are working and paying their fines and restitution. If they don’t have a job, we’ll help them find one. If not, they will do community service for us.”

The program is aimed at inmates who have been sentenced to jail for writing bad checks, failing to pay child support and other misdemeanor crimes.

“It’s a way for them to fit in society and make something of their lives,” Morgan said. “We are here to help and, at the same time, collect fines and restitution for their victims.

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