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Ten Cocke County inmates graduate from substance abuse program, preparing to re-enter society

Ten Cocke County inmates will graduate from a new substance abuse program Saturday, and many former inmates said they don't plan to return.

COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. — In Cocke County, ten inmates will soon graduate from a new substance abuse program. These men successfully completed their 90 days in the Tennessee Jail Chemical Addiction Program, also known as TNJCAP or JCAP.

JCAP is evidence-based and studies show it has worked in other places. Cocke County Jail is the first in Tennessee to start using it.

WBIR 10 News sat down with several of those inmates to learn how the program is helping them re-enter society successfully.

“I’ve been a drug addict, a thief. I’ve been a criminal. The opposite of a contributing member to society,” Thomas Edwards said, who recently graduated from the program.

“I was a trainwreck when I came in. It was really really bad,” Sean Gregory said, who also graduated from TNJCAP.

But for the past three months, they’ve been learning. Together they learned how to fight addiction, manage anger, make sustainable decisions and tips for developing healthy relationships with the people around them.

JCAP Coordinator, Dan Williams, has been leading classes for these inmates and says he couldn’t be prouder of the men in the program.

“They’ve achieved more than I thought was humanly possible in just three months,” he said. “It’s been a joint effort and again all success comes to these guys.” 

Williams also said the bar has been set high by inaugural graduates and it’s going to be tough for the next group to top them, but he said he’s ready for the challenge. 

For some of them, this is the first family bond they’ve ever built.

“We’re always there for one another,” Matthew Dailey said.

“These are all my brothers right here. I’ve gained nine new brothers. 12 with the teachers. Several new family members,” Edwards said.

The journey, they said, has been anything but easy. However, the results made it all worth it.

“To let go of control, that I don’t have to control every situation. It’s actually freed me a lot,” Gregory said.

They are preparing for JCAP graduation day and their release dates soon after.

“I want people to look at me and say, ‘That guy right there. He’s doing it. He’s changed. He’s turned around. He’s turned the tables. He’s that guy,’” Edwards said.

The goal of the program is to make sure graduates never return to the jail unless it’s to visit.

“If you just need somebody to talk to; if you just want to come by and see us come on. We’re two parts, protect and serve,” The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office said.

The formal graduation ceremony is on Saturday, October 30, at Lincoln Baptist Church.