By Paula Walter
Staff and inmates from Northeast Correctional Complex (NECC) in Mountain City recently honored crime victims during Tennessees Department of Corrections (TDOC) Victim Impact Awareness Week. Two separate walks were held where approximately 85 inmates participated in addition to a large group of NECC staff that walked around the complex under a bright October sky. The fourth annual event also gives offenders a chance to give back to victims by participating in fundraisers.
TDOCs Victim Services, a division of rehabilitative services, offers a 12-week class for offenders that helps them understand the impact their action has not only on the victim and their families, but also on their own families. The goal is to rehabilitate so they can become productive members of society once they are released. The prisoners will hear from both victims and survivors of crimes as to how their lives have changed, as well as the lives of their families. The program also offers an opportunity for both the offender and the victim to meet.
According to Robert Reburn with TDOC, this year the inmates raised $3,124.03 at NECC alone by selling doughnuts. The funds will be donated to Cap the Gap for Foster Care Inc., an organization that assists Tennessees Department of Childrens Services (DCS). According to Joni Cannon, president of the executive board for Cap the Gap for Foster Care, Inc., they are ready to step in and lend a helping hand in times of need. Cannon was quick to explain that those who work for Cap the Gap For Foster Care, Inc. do not know the identity of the children they help. The childrens confidentiality is protected in every way, said Cannon. The organization serves Carter, Johnson and Unicoi counties.
When children are removed from their home by staff from DCS, they often come from in homes where they lived with domestic violence. Drugs are often present, and in particular, methamphetamine. Placement can take up to a day. In cases where the children lived in homes where meth was made, they cannot bring anything with them when they leave, not even the clothes on their back. If they are old enough, they will be given a hazmat suit to don. Younger children are wrapped in a blanket. Regardless of their age, they leave their home with no socks, underwear, toothbrushes or even a backpack that may contain their homework. Once DCS picks them up, they are taken to a location where Cap the Gap for Foster Care, Inc has provided the basic necessities for them. The organization has a supply closet with clothes for youngsters of all ages from birth to 18 years old. They are able to receive toiletries, tote bags, back backs, hygiene supplies, new underwear and baby supplies. They also have gift cards to fast food restaurants to distribute. According to Cannon, they are often able to fulfill special requests, such as band camp, field trips, and even cap and gown fees. The organization does everything in their power to try and keep life normal for the children. We have accomplished way beyond our dream, Cannon said.
If you are interested in helping children in need, you may contact Cannon at [email protected] .
By Paula Walter