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      "I hope to get a new life."; Re-entry program begins for inmates

      J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway has recently expanded its re-entry program for non-violent offenders.

      A contract has been signed between the detention center and the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDS) to permit men who are in SCDC to be diverted from prison to enter the detention center's three-phase re-entry program.

      The program will now allow men over the age of 25 and those who live outside of Horry County to be accepted into the program.

      David Hamrick, 40, is from the Spartanburg area.

      He was the first man admitted to the program about a month ago.

      He was arrested and sentenced to SCDC after being arrested for possession of meth and violating probation.

      Alcohol and drug addiction is something Hamrick has been struggling with for 25 years.

      In order to participate, Hamrick has to be a willing participant in the re-entry program, and the detention center has to be willing to work with him.

      "Right now, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. I'm trying to apply myself. Learn as much as I can right now," said Hamrick.

      According to program leaders, it prepares the men to acquire skills necessary to become more productive citizens, including changing their criminal mindsets.

      "He already has some humility. He already sees a need for him to change his life, and we actually provide the impetus, the environment. A safe environment for him to do that," said Director of Program Services Garth Beshears, who works with David and other men through the re-entry program.

      Beshears said Hamrick's motivation to change has the potential to rub off on some of the younger men in the program as well.

      The SCDC pays for the men to go through the J. Reuben Long's re-entry program.

      The program will take about two to three years to complete.

      "I hope to get a new life. I hope to continue with my recovery as far as my sobriety. I hope to mend relationships," Hamrick said.

      Besehars said they hope to have around 90 people like Hamrick in the program by this time next year.

      The detention center has also been talking to Horry Georgetown Technical College to give the men more education and give them a better chance at getting a job after they go through the program.