Rehabilitation facility celebrates first anniversary

A center that helps state inmates get ready to reenter society celebrated its one-year anniversary Thursday.

The Alabama Therapeutic Education Facility held a special program to mark the milestone.

The center opened March 1, 2008, even though the building was still under construction. Some employees worked out of trailers, and since the kitchen wasn’t finished, food had to be brought in.

“We faced a lot of obstacles and challenges, and we have survived,” said Ike Hadley, ATEF director. “But if I believed it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be here.”

Since those early days, 398 inmates have graduated from the program, and so far, none of them have committed new crimes, according to state records.

“If they continue to run the operation like they are now, you don’t have to worry about recidivism,” said Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe. “This is a good place. They have good people. We’re proud to have them here.”

Of the almost 400 inmates who have graduated, less than 20 are out on parole. Most are in the state’s work release program.

New-Jersey based Community Education Centers operates the facility.

They offer inmates counseling, classes and job training. They also provide treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

“I do use this program and what they taught me every day,” said Curtis Jones, an ATEF alum. “It’s part of my life.”