There’s a one-of-a-kind halfway house in downtown Dothan that helps non-violent offenders readjust to life in the free world.
If it weren't for the house, the offenders would be back on the streets, potentially committing more crimes.
Johnny Sutton, who is a repeat offender says, “Having my throat cut, being shot at; that's no life. Me being in this house with Brother Bigham, that's my life and I thank God for it everyday.”
Sutton is very emotional about his roller coaster life in and out of prison after numerous offenses. The latest one: manufacturing methamphetamine.
After 18 1/2 months, he's out of jail and living at Inn Zion Halfway House studying scripture.
He praises his support system and the help he's getting, transitioning back into society.
“We need support because without it we have no stability, we mess up. First thing we want to do is go grab stuff we always did, maybe drugs, beer whatever,” Sutton says.
An ex convict himself, Brother Ozie Bigham has been mentoring men like Johnny in the Houston County Jail and two other jails for the last seven years voluntarily.
Through private donations, he bought a house, furnished it and provides food from the food bank, shelter, jobs, and ministries to offenders when they get out, all for $20 dollars a day.
Bigham says, “We can build bigger churches, but this is the way to build self esteem and show men.”
Mattie Lee Taylor makes coffee in her kitchen next door to the half way house.
Even with repeat criminals one house over, Mattie says she feels safe, supports the mission, and hopes to see change in them. She says it, “Always made me feel good to see change when others don't think so, if no one tried, [they] never would change.”
Brother Bigham is trying to make a difference in Johnny and other's lives so they can become productive citizens in our community and not a burden on taxpayers.
Brother Bigham studies each prison record before taking someone in and he knows each person before they go to the house.
He’s also moved in to provide supervision.
The halfway house is in need of more funding and volunteers. If you want to help, contact Brother Bigham at 258-9117.