A new documentary on prisons and faith is set to air Thursday in the state with the fourth largest prison population.
Through the Door,” produced by EthicsDaily.com in Nashville, Tenn., will have its TV premiere on Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters this Thursday. AIB is delivered to more than 1 million homes in metro Atlanta.

The half-hour program explores how people of faith are making a difference in the lives of the incarcerated and those recently released from incarceration. Interviewees and stories in the program come from Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas and Georgia.

The documentary will air at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern) with encore performances at 9 p.m. Friday; 12 p.m. May 12; 7 p.m. May 13; and 10:30 p.m. May 15.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) has a 2014 annual operating budget of $1.1 billion, according to a GDOC budget fact sheet.

It has the fourth largest prison population in the country (behind Texas, California and Florida), with roughly 55,000 offenders in its prison system and almost that many in its jails. (See The Sentencing Project for more state-by-state numbers.)

GDOC’s website provides prison costs for fiscal year 2011, with breakdowns according to state prisons, prerelease centers, private prisons and so forth.

The cost per state prisoner in 2011 was more than $18,000, or about $51 per day.

According to a 2011 Pew Center on the States report (“State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons”), Georgia’s recidivism rate has been trending downward.

Roughly 38 percent of the inmates released in Georgia in 1999 were back in prison by 2002.

Almost 35 percent of those released in 2004 returned to incarceration by 2007.

Recidivism rates garner much of the attention for prison-related news. So do corrections budgets.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican and former prosecutor, said in February that the state has saved more than $20 million as a result of changes to criminal sentencing in 2012.

“State lawmakers crafted legislation to establish alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug and property offenders,” wrote PolitiFact.com, which classified Deal’s claim as “true” on its Truth-O-Meter.

Deal also appeared at a “Summit on Reentry” in Atlanta in February, in which he and U.S. District Attorney Sally Quillian Yates touted the benefits, including tax credits, of giving jobs to former offenders.

“No matter how many prosecutors we have, we’re not going to jail our way into safer communities,” Yates said, according to The Atlanta Voice.

Deal became Georgia’s governor in 2010 – 40 years after Jimmy Carter began his governorship. Carter himself is an interviewee in “Through the Door.”

During his interview at The Carter Center, Carter spoke about his own initiatives with prisoners during his years as governor.

They included visiting with business leaders across the state and asking them to invest in former offenders, or “returning citizens,” by giving them jobs.

Visit ThroughTheDoor.info for show times, community screenings, editorials and stories, film clips, photos, ordering information and more.

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