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Don’t forget that AMIkids still needs our assistance

Thanks, but don’t ease up now.
By the time a folder with accolodate after accolade about AMIkids’ work in Screven County was sent on its way to the Capitol in Atlanta for Gov. Nathan Deal to read, nearly 500 letters and 700 signatures were included in the request.
To those who put forth the effort to type a letter, handwrite a letter, or rather pen your autograph in support of AMIkids, we applaud you, but the work is far from done – actually, it really has not even begun.
The struggle to get a redo on the bid that AMIkids initially lost remains in full force. We cannot become lacidasical now.
We, as a newspaper, admit that we have not taken what would have been hours to read all the papers intended Gov. Deal, but of the ones we did see the words “community,” “jobs,” “positive,” and “caring” were very prominent.
While no one in Screven County wants any jobs to leave our community, the governor, as the leader of the state, has to look out for all of Georgia, not only Screven County.
We do not fault Telfair County in its quest for more jobs. In reality, we praise Telfair County officials for wanting to better its economic standing. Also, based just on the face value of a bid to house troubled boys, Deal logically would deem the other bid the one to choose.
But there is so much more to it. So much more than just a dollar sign followed by a string of numerals.
The short of it has Telfair County saving money by housing the boys ages 14-20 in a former adult prison that has barbed wire fences.
AMIkids, however, does not operate with prison-type guards, prison-type cells, and prison-type confinement. It has an open-area facility that is conducive to turning boys who have made bad choices into men who can become productive members of society. It also must be emphasized that AMIkids has been cooperative partners as a transitional facility.
When asked to be a “boot camp,” the program did it. When asked to be a short-term boys facility, the program did it. When asked to be a long-term boys facility, the program did it. Not only did the program perform each of these tasks, but the AMIkids employees did so with a high success rate while the students at the Old River Road facility received an education.
Putting a juvenile in a prison leads to one of two future outcomes. Either the juvenile makes a commitment never to return to a setting or the juvenile figures that officials already have deemed him a criminal so why not just be one as an adult.
Americans spend millions of their tax dollars a year housing convicted individuals in prisons across the nation. Despite cutbacks in expenditures in Georgia, adult offenders must continue to be housed in state prisons that cost taxpayers an average of $35,000 per inmate.
Yes, Gov. Deal approving the other bid does seem to save money, but that is only initially. A majority of the youth who would be housed in a prison setting are destined to become housed in a adult prison facility within a matter of years.
And adult prisons keep offenders typically longer than a year – which is the length of time AMIkids stay, but in much more relaxed, less confrontational atmosphere.
As one of the students wrote in an essay published in the May 28 edition of the Sylvania Telephone, prison cells create a blockade to becoming better people.
“Compared to a YDC, Savannah River does not have cells, so when we get in trouble or do something wrong, we are allowed to talk to someone about our problems instead of being behind a locked door,” wrote “Brandon,” whose last name has been withheld because of the ages of the students and their judge-mandated sentences.
“If there is any place designed to help you transition back into the community it is AMIkids Savannah River. Compared to a traditional YDC, Savannah River offers more training, guidance, and rehabilitation,” penned “Dalton.”
“I greatly appreciate everybody at this facility that encouraged me to be more than just another kid that committed a crime,” “Simeon” wrote.
AMIkids Savannah River is a model program. You won’t find another one of its kind anywhere in the state. It has been a model of educational services for youthful offenders; a model for quality rehabilitation; and a model for life transformations.
Honorable Gov. Deal, AMIkids Savannah River is requesting you reverse the bid in its favor, but rather open the bidding back up so both sides are bidding on apples and apples and not on oranges and apples.
None of us -- yourself included Gov. Deal -- want this program to become a lemon. Please Governor, help our state get the best program for these young men.
To sent another letter to Gov. Deal, his mailing address is --
The Honorable Nathan Deal
Office of the Governor
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA  30334
Thanks everyone for helping to give AMIkids another shot at the bid.