Georgia leads the United States in the number of people under correctional supervision with one in 13 adults in the state either in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole. This compares to one in 31 adults nationally. 

In a state like Georgia, criminal justice reform, prisoner reentry, and community reintegration are more important than ever. 

As part of the Dignity Unbound storytelling series, our team recently finished filming several inspiring human dignity success stories that have come from one of our nonprofit partners, Georgia Center for Opportunity, which works to address so many vital issues in their community.

One of these inspiring stories is the story of Truth. (Video coming soon!)

Truth went from PTA president to a prison cell. In between were a series of stressful and traumatic events: a resentful divorce, a balloon mortgage, drugs and addiction, a not-so-victimless crime, and her three kids were taken away from her. 

Truth spent seven years in prison for arson. 

“Never would I have done such a stupid, desperate thing as upending my children’s lives by everything going up in flames if I was a sober mother,” said Truth. “I didn’t know there were real community resources out here wanting to help me, like Georgia Center for Opportunity; but when you’re in the throes of addiction and desperation you feel so alone.”

Yet through all of this, she found redemption and renewal.

She looked deep down inside and realized that the one person who could actually help her was herself. Truth knew she had to let go of the resentment toward others. She said, “I [realized] that I was as much to blame, and that’s what gave me the power to mentally and spiritually recover.”

Society expected her to do her time and take the steps toward recovery, and she did. Even after all of her hard work, however, she and many others in similar situations, are left facing numerous barriers, many seemingly insurmountable.

That’s when Georgia Center for Opportunity steps in.

They help bridge the gaps between recovery and community reintegration, among other things. They work with local companies ready to hire the formerly incarcerated because far too many individuals coming out of prison lose hope and fall back into illegal activity the longer they are unable to work. Georgia Center for Opportunity is also leading on reforms in licensing for the formerly incarcerated because too many laws restrict the formerly incarcerated from being licensed for various professions.

“We believe that everyone regardless of race or the circumstances of one’s birth, should have the opportunity to achieve a better life and to achieve their potential,” said Randy Hicks, president and CEO of Georgia Center for Opportunity. “Sadly, however, there are still too many barriers that interfere with the pursuit of opportunity and trap people in poverty.”

Dignity Unbound: Georgia Center for Opportunity

Truth is now a Peer Recovery Specialist for Fulton County Superior Court. (Photo by Paul Ward).

It wasn’t easy, but through hard work and resolve, Truth has dedicated her life to giving back to the community and making a difference. She now serves as a Peer Recovery Specialist for Fulton County Superior Court helping men and women avoid prison through their drug court recovery program. “Helping others find their purpose and bring their lives back on track is a high better than any drug,” Truth said.

We share this and more inspiring stories from the work of our local partner Georgia Center for Opportunity as part of the Dignity Unbound storytelling series. Look for the videos we will release on Truth’s story coming soon. 

To support causes like this and other similar Dignity Unbound projects around the world, please visit https://dignityunbound.org/donate.