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New program in Gwinnett County offers second chance for first time offenders

The program officially launches September 25.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s office announced a new program to help curb incarceration. The office has partnered with Rehabilitation Enables Dreams (RED) to enhance the social, financial and civic knowledge of offenders.

Back in June, RED founder David Lee Windecher and Gwinnett County District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson signed a Memorandum of Understanding and made the partnership official.

“Giving first time offenders a second chance is paramount in furthering progress within our communities,” Austin-Gaston said in a statement. “Expanding accountability courts and rehabilitative resources is essential to the betterment of Gwinnett. We believe RED’s program is a worthy solution to keeping people out of trouble and back on a productive path.”

RED is an accountability court-styled program serving individuals aged 17-28 years old. Since its founding, 94 percent of RED participants have graduated and just as many have re-entered society seamlessly.

“The benefits of our program have saved lives and have also proven economically beneficial to the state of Georgia and its taxpayers,” Windecher said in a statement. “RED’s restorative justice program will save Gwinnett taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars while enhancing their communities.”

According to a 2018 study by PrisonPolicy.org, Georgia leads states in the use of traditional correctional controls. The same statistics show more than one-third of Georgia’s population holds a criminal record, which may cause challenges when applying for gainful employment, safe housing or academic opportunities. Funneling individuals through the traditional prosecutorial methods of the criminal justice system disenfranchises a large portion of the population and creates an astronomical, unintended economic burden on our taxpayers.

The program officially launches September 25.