Arthur Townes, Director of New Jersey Alumni Services for GEO Reentry Services, spoke about his experience in the criminal justice system with radio host Dr. Donna Sewell during an episode of “The Wellness Enclave,” which aired on February 27. “The Wellness Enclave” is a weekly radio show produced by Mind’s Eye Enterprises that discusses emotional health and how it affects various facets of everyday life. Townes was a guest on the episode “From Incarceration to Freedom,” where he shared his experiences with substance abuse, recovery and reentry.
During the interview, Townes recalled his struggle with drug addiction and crime began in his adolescence. He described how peer pressure largely contributed to his introduction, and later addiction, to opioids, and added that he felt his experience in the criminal justice system was a turning point in his life. Townes shared painful experiences and noted he felt mentally and emotionally incarcerated long before his physical incarceration.
“It bothered me on a profound level that I couldn’t be there for others who had been there for me,” Townes said.
Townes was later placed at a halfway house where he first heard a reentry program alumnus share his experience in recovery. The strength, hope, and positivity in his peer’s story shifted Townes’ attitude and inspired him to become a mentor.
While receiving treatment at a rehabilitation center, Townes worked closely with his counselors to improve himself while also mentoring others who struggled with substance abuse. Townes spoke positively of his reentry experience and how he benefited from participating in the program.
“Don’t be afraid to seek support,” Townes said. “…It works if you work it.”
Townes also shared the joys of living a drug- and crime-free life and the rewards his transformation has brought him. While enrolled in the reentry program, Townes was able to further his education and later earn his Bachelor’s degree. Now, he is taking graduate-level classes in pursuit of his M.A., a rewarding experience he credits as the direct result of reentry services.
Townes is now the Director of New Jersey Alumni Services for GEO Reentry Services, a role that allows him to help others on their own recovery journeys. He regularly visits facilities to connect with current residents and share his own inspiring experience with reentry services. He also hosts various community service activities and gatherings for former participants in reentry programs, and he alerts the network to opportunities for work and education as they arise.
GEO Reentry’s Alumni Services provide long-term support for former participants in GEO’s reentry programs. Alumni Services assists participants in finding housing, education, and employment; making connections within the community; and building a support network. Participation is voluntary. Additional information on the program is available here.
You can listen to Townes’ story on “The Wellness Enclave,” here.