Meeting Minutes June 23, 2016



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gwinnett County Detention Center

 Pastor Lee Robbins said the blessing for the special meal of hotdogs and hamburgers prepared by the GCDC, and he thanked Col. Pinkard for providing the food for us.

 Pastor Lee then presented President Russell Gray in honor of his birthday and all sang “Happy Birthday” to him.


President Russell Gray called the meeting to order and recognized Col. Pinkard, who welcomed everyone to the GCDC and presented Deputy Baird, a former employee in charge of GRIP who has returned and will be helping Deputy Strauss. The colonel also thanked everyone for supporting the reelection of Sheriff Butch Conway to four more years of service and pointed out the plaque on the wall which contained a proclamation from the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to recognize the outstanding work of GRIP and the supporting role played by the GGRA, Viewpoint, and United Way. He also thanked all the staff at the GCDC for the great job they are doing.

Russell Gray welcomed all new members and recognized the many first-time guests and church volunteers who were in attendance. The two meeting rooms were filled with about 75 people—great attendance!

Russell Gray presented the first speaker on the program, Chief Tripp Powers, Coordinating Chief of the Department of Community Supervision (DCS) which was founded in July 2015 by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. It combined the offices of probation and parole. The website is Chief Powers began his career as a probation officer with the mentality of “trail ‘em and jail ‘em.” He then went to Athens where he saw some of the people he had jailed straightening out their lives and finding jobs and became a believer in transforming lives.

 The DCS has been authorized to recruit a Community Coordinator charged with working with the community to help meet the most pressing needs of returning citizens.  Since most returning citizens are going to be on probation and/or parole the Community Coordinator will report to Chief Powers, who will announce his choice from among several qualified candidates as soon as final approval comes down from State DCS.  The community Coordinator will recruit volunteer committee chairpersons under him/her to make up a Transition Team.  A Steering Team will also be formed to be made up of entities like DFCS, GGRA, GRIP, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc as an Advisory Council.

He invited any individual, group or entity to volunteer their help with any of the above volunteer positions.

Chief Powers then introduced Mike Kraft, Director of Court/Board/Field Services in the DCS. He shared briefly about his roll working with the courts, boards and the many services available to provide the help necessary for returning citizens to find and stay on the right path. Phone: 404-357-3773.


The next speaker introduced by Chief Powers was Lisa Brown, Chief Housing Coordinator for the Department of Community Supervision (DCS). Her website is She supervises two housing programs: Reentry Partnership Housing (RPH) and Transition Housing for Offender Reentry (THOR). Both programs serve both men and women, including expectant mothers. She made a point that inmates cannot make parole without a DCS approved place to live. Email:

Phone: 404-274-9266.

The third speaker from the DCS was Rev. Tony Lowden, Healing Communities Coordinator. He is working to build the capacity of all faiths, businesses, and non-profits and offers training for those interested in participating. This type of program was begun in Detroit, Michigan, and was tailored to meet the needs in Georgia by the Faith Council established by Gov. Nathan Deal. Website:

The last, but by no means least, of the speakers of the day, was Senior Pastor Richard B. Haynes of Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Lilburn. Website: He shared a very inspirational message from Jeremiah 18 where God told the prophet Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house to watch a marred piece of pottery transformed into something beautiful in the Potter’s hands. It was the perfect example of what is possible in the life of an inmate when he/she submits to whatever breaking and remaking process God chooses to use.  God never gives up on those who have been broken, no matter how many times, and neither should we.

With all the information given on the importance of housing for returning citizens, Russell Gray shared a story from a newspaper article about a man who was robbed and killed in his car where he was sleeping in the parking lot of his workplace. He had no other place to lay his head.

 Col. Pinkard acknowledged all the hard work Russell Gray has put into the GGRA, thanked him for all he does, and presented him with a new fishing pole for his birthday.

Donna Worden announced that she had a list of job openings available for returning citizens that day and passed out copies to nay in need of a job.

Everyone was invited to attend the closed circuit TV broadcast to the inmates with messages by Rev. Tony Lowden and Pastor Haynes.

Chaplain Booker was called on to pray the benediction.

Respectfully submitted by

Judy Rushing, Secretary

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