There are about a dozen guys sitting in this room — some of them tattooed, some with long hair or dreads — talking casually about doing drugs, committing crimes.
Quietly and calmly, they are listing the factors that led them into both. Joe McGrew urges them on, writes their answers on a board at the front of a classroom.
Yes, a classroom.
This is cognitive behavior class at Turning Leaf, a program that rehabilitates and reintroduces convicted criminals into society. This is no “hug a thug” session, as some dismissively call attempts to curb recidivism. This is a way to cut down on repeat offenders and unclog the justice system.
Turning Leaf takes repeat offenders out of cells, puts them in jobs and forces them to take 18 hours of class a week. The purpose of these classes is to rewire their thinking, to make them take responsibility for their actions, to learn a little self-control and self-respect.