Offenders Saddle Up for Equine Auction
GDC Partners with the Georgia Department of Agriculture
FORSYTH, Ga. -- On April 14, the Georgia Department of Correction’s (GDC) Equine Program at Lee Arrendale State Prison (SP), along with the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), held an Equine Auction at the Equine Care Facility in Mansfield, Georgia. The auction provided the opportunity for some formerly abused or neglected horses to find new homes and help raise money for the cause.
“We are proud to partner with the Georgia Department of Agriculture on a program that helps enrich the lives of our offenders, as well as gives these horses a second chance,” said Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier. “It also allows our offenders to begin building a resume and return to society as contributing citizens of their community.”
The Equine Program started at Lee Arrendale SP in 2011. The team consists of Equine Program Manager, Dennis Gallman, and two selected offenders from the facility who help to rehabilitate the horses. These horses have been taken into custody by the GDA due to mistreatment or neglect.
“This extraordinary program truly exemplifies what great things can be accomplished through state cooperation by seamlessly meeting the objectives of both agencies,” said GDA Commissioner, Gary Black. “We are extremely pleased with the long-term success of this program, which can be contributed to the continued dedication of a very notable objective.”
The facility can hold about 22 horses at a time and once they get enough horses, the GDA sets up the auction. All the money raised goes back into the program to purchase items the horses need. The Equine Program team gets about six months to work with the horses to prepare them for the auction.
“We go through the starvation phase where we put weight on these horses, we go through a trust stage where we handle the horses, we gain the horse’s trust again, and then we find out if they are rideable or not,” explains Gallman. “If they’re not, then we try to break and ride them. If they are breakable, we continue to ride and exercise them and build up their endurance.”
The offenders on the team work to feed, water, groom, lunge, and train the horses. They say over time, they develop a bond with the animals and learn to heal each other. The Equine Program also works to reduce recidivism rates by giving the offenders a chance at a long-term career.
“I am about to start Large Veterinary Technical classes. We are also doing an Animal Care Technical On-the-Job Training, it is 1,200 hours, and they all come from the college,” said offender Stephanie Cothern. “I am trying to get some connections while I am incarcerated so I can proceed with my future, because I feel like this is my gateway to freedom.”
The Equine Program, along with the GDA, were able to raise $1,500 at the auction and found some well-deserving horses new homes.
About the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC)
The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising nearly 52,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 10,500 employees. For more information on the GDC, call 478-992-5247 or visit http://www.gdc.ga.gov