Chilton County Community Corrections Program offers prison alternative

Published 3:25 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chilton County Community Corrections Program has been offering a prison alternative since and providing participants a chance to serve their sentence in the community.  (Contributed)

Chilton County Community Corrections Program has been offering a prison alternative since and providing participants a chance to serve their sentence in the community. (Contributed)


CLANTON – The Chilton County Community Corrections Program has been offering an alternative to prison sentences since forming in 2007.

Chilton County Court Services Director Cheryl Maddox said the CCP is part of the Alabama Department of Corrections and is a way for convicted criminals to serve prison sentences outside of a cell, from their homes.

Maddox said each inmate is required to provide proof of residence and proof of employment or be actively seeking a job.

“The corrections program is prison within the community,” Maddox said. “We care and we want them to succeed, to have a job and become tax-paying citizens. The program is a way to start that.”

She said while it’s hard for the participants to find jobs there are employers in the county who have approached her and are willing to give the inmates a second chance.

“Sometimes they’ve had a job and their employer will hire them again,” Maddox said. “For others it’s harder to get a job with a criminal record, but we have a few great businesses in the county that actively seek us out and give them a job.”

She said each sentence is case by case, but most of the inmates are sentenced to community corrections on non-violent charges or part of an early release agreement.

“A lot of the people we see just never got out of a bad situation and got caught,” Maddox said. “With the corrections program they are able to try and start fresh being at home, away from a prison or jail cell.”

She said some of the cases are referred to community corrections through Chilton County Court Referrals under the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts ran out of the same office at Chilton County Court Services.

“We do both community corrections and court referrals out of our office,” Maddox said. “It can be busy at times with our small staff, but we make it work.”

The ADOC has strict regulations for the corrections programs with differing consequences based on severity. Community Corrections Officer Bruce Reynolds said it is a constant job to make sure the inmates involved in the program do what is required of them. Reynolds has to know where each individual in the CCP is at all times and they have to call and tell him whenever they are leaving their house or going somewhere.

“I am their prison guard,” Reynolds said. “You don’t get to leave your cell without the guard’s permission so they have to let me know where they are at all times. It’s a round-the-clock job.”

Each individual enrolled in the program must do bi-yearly office visits with Reynolds or Maddox and respond to random color-coded drug testing at any time through their sentence. Maddox said they have a curfew at 10 p.m. and they conduct spontaneous home visits to make sure the participants are where they are supposed to be.

Reynolds said if any participant violates the agreements and is not at home when conducting a home visit, it is seen as an escape and they have to issue a warrant for their arrest. Maddox said they will usually be sentenced to a few days in jail before being released back to the CCP.

“We don’t want them in jail, but sometimes that’s what it takes,” Maddox said. “We hope that they see the differences and will come back to the program and do everything they’re supposed to, some do, some don’t.”

Maddox said the Chilton County CCP has an average of 35 participants in the program and has a cap at 80 inmates.

Reynolds said he has been with the CCP since it began in Chilton County and has seen many people reach the end of their sentence and start a new life that began while in the program.

“This is a great service we offer,” Maddox said. “We are happy to do it and when they succeed we succeed, and it’s sad to us when they fail. We are here to help them.”

Maddox said to keep the CCP operational they must have an ADOC approved plan and submit a new plan every year. She said the CCP began after the county commission passed a resolution of endorsement and support in 2007.

Maddox said the program would be impossible without the support of the court system, county commission and judges in believing in the mission of community-based alternatives to incarceration.