FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Franklin County has been tormented by illegal drugs, especially meth.

Sheriff A.J. Smith has been giving jail inmates the opportunity to turn their lives around, through a drug rehab program called the Fresh Start program, which started in 2017 to provide inmates with resources to kick their drug and alcohol addictions.

The goal is to keep the inmates from becoming career criminals and to give them a second chance, once they are out of jail.

For some former inmates like Ashton Shiver, the program has been a success.

“When I first got there I was on drugs I didn’t really care about anything and I thought everyone was out to get me and I didn’t like anybody in jail, especially the officers, and I thought that I would just get back out of there and do even more things,” Shiver said.

Shiver became addicted to drugs at 13-years-old. Over the next seven years, he had a lot of run-ins with the police.

By the time he was 19, he was facing a one-year sentence in jail.

Shiver said he thought once he got out, he’d go right back to using drugs and committing crimes, but that was not the case.

“The things they are showing you actually goes to life, your job, relationships, everything. And you set those things that they taught you, those steps, and the ways that they show you to better your life and you set those into your life and you know that is your picture from here on out,” Shiver said. “You place that in front of you and take the steps and it really does help.”

When he graduated from the year-long program, Shiver went to a recovery home where he now works.
He continues to go to AA meetings and attends church.

Shiver hopes one day he can start his own business and help others struggling with addiction.

“More and more sheriffs who run jails are realizing that locking people up without any kind of programs or any kind of education or any kind of way for them to change their life is nothing but a recipe for them to get out of jail and commit more crimes,” Smith said.

Sheriff’s officials said they’re also helping people, who are not in jail, get into rehab programs, free of charge.