COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office wants inmates to focus on turning the page on their life of crime and focus on hope and making a better future for themselves as they pay their debt to society.
Norman Quarles is someone, who’s paid his debt to society and now wants to make sure today’s generation doesn’t have to go down the same destructive path he was once on.
Sheriff Greg Countryman’s office purchased 300 copies of the book, “A Story of Hope,” a short depiction of the life of a former Columbus gang member, now minister.
According to Countryman, he wants to let inmates know it’s ok to have hope, and want’s to show them someone who was once where they are now and made a change for the better.
“Even if you’re in the worst place, you should be able to have hope. Someone that has sold drugs, someone that has been in gangs,” said Countryman.
According to Quarles, after his last time in the Muscogee County Jail in 2008, he told himself he wouldn’t be back.
“Mind you, I’m in my 30s and I looked around and I saw a lot of 17, 18, 19-year-old men running around playing, you know like it was a joke. I sat at the table right then and I said to myself, I can’t do this no more,” explained Quarles.
According to him, the city of Columbus does not have a gang problem and he wants to change the narrative about gangs and violence in the city.
Of course we have people who commit crimes who may be gang members, but we don’t necessarily have a gang problem,” said Quarles. “You know, I talk to a lot of these young men who are committing these crimes. These young men who are out in the streets, and I tell you, 70 percent of the young men I talk to, they say if they had an opportunity, they would do something different. Of course, some of them have committed crimes and they have to pay for what they did, but at the same time, we have to throw them some type of lifeline. We have to be able to show them that, look, if you want to do better, this city is behind you.”
According to Quarles, the people he ministers to in the streets and in the Muscogee County Jail just need a little direction and positive reinforcement to change their lives, and that’s what he hopes the inmates and those who read his book can take away from it.