Norfolk Sheriff’s Office graduates 14 inmates from addiction recovery program

NORFOLK, Va. - Fourteen inmates graduated from the Norfolk Sheriff's Office Addiction Recovery Grant Program Friday.

One by one, with a smile on their face.

An unlikely room of men accepted a single paper recognizing weeks of hard work.

A graduation behind bars.

“I had a problem with drugs and alcohol and the type of lifestyle that I was living in the past; it wasn’t fit. It kept me coming back in and out of jail, which is something I am trying to stop doing,” Albert Cowell said.

Cowell was just 13 when he started drinking.

He knows his addiction to alcohol is why he kept coming back to jail for the past 20 years.

In the United States, the recidivism rate is over 76 percent in a five-year period.

“You’re taking the time to do something better for yourselves,” Sheriff Joe Baron said.

The Norfolk Sheriff's Office wants to stop the cycle.

The sheriff's office says on average, 80 percent of its inmates suffer from some form of substance addiction.

With 1100 inmates, more than 800 will be suffering from some form of substance abuse.

Their answer? A 12-week addiction recovery program.

The program’s therapy, reentry classes and trauma informed care are all made possible by a grant.

“The behavior that came from the substance abuse led me down dark paths, and there was an ongoing cycle and I just couldn’t seem to get it right,” said Christopher Nixon.

Nixon treated his depression with alcohol, and that’s kept him in and out of jail his entire life.

At 51, he says this program is forcing him to face his past.

Now he believes in a future.

“I’ve decided to transition from here into another halfway house facility in Harrisonburg, Virginia,” Nixon said.

Both Cowell and Nixon say the program has saved their lives.

This is the second class to graduate from the program.