Non-violent, male offenders offered second chance

Far left, Dr. Bo McNeely offered the vocational address Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Crowley’s meeting. Guest speaker was Lee Mallett, third from left, owner and founder of The Academy of Training Skills. He was welcomed by President-Elect Mary Zaunbrecher, second from left, and program organizer Peggy Sandidge, far right.
Academy of Training Skills in its fourth year

When the founder and owner of The Academy of Training Skills (ATS) Lee Mallett spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday, he spoke of second chances for male non-sexual and non-violent offenders.

His academy, located in Lacassine, the first of its kind, according to Mallett, doesn’t rely on public funding, making it self-sufficient.

The academy came to fruition about four and a half years ago after Mallett saw the effects of drugs on people around him.

“I’ve never seen anything as devastating as what drugs do to a human being,” he said.

After seeing its effects, Mallett turned to his local district attorney to see if the program would be something worth creating and after getting the green light, Mallett went to work creating the academy.

Now, ATS not only is aiding the judicial and correctional systems by reducing overcrowding, while at the same time providing an avenue for positive change in lives and communities, it also now offers drug counseling through a contract with New Horizons Counseling Services from Lake Charles.

Even with the new program, Mallett’s tuition has remained the same and now he has the proof that the program is working with a 78 percent success rate.

ATS accepts offenders awaiting trial, child support cases and any case that falls under Article 893 as well as probationers who have not been revoked and are awaiting a revocation hearing. All of these, as well as those who are sentenced to ATS, have a chance to change their lives through ATS.

“If they really want to change, we do everything we can to help them,” said Mallett.

That help begins with making sure academy cadets are clean, healthy and employed. ATS places its cadets into jobs within a 40- to 50-mile radius of the facility and provides them transportation to and from its employment.

Mallett explains that once the person is placed in employment, his funds are used to pay the $434 per week tuition and the remaining funds are put to the side for the cadet until his exit of the program.

The $434 weekly tuition gives the person housing with three meals a day, clothing, a 24-hour cleaning service, transportation (to and from job and to and from court), training (in-classroom and on the job), medical aide (full-time nurse as well as an on-call doctor), personal assessment with individual treatment programs, several forms of counseling (one-on-one, group, substance abuse and AA/NA), church, basic parenting and life skills, GED, HEARTS program, family visitation, recreation activities including weekly basketball, horseshoes, volleyball and/or weightlifting tournaments, and access to a library and local and national news.

The facility is also DOC certified and ACA accredited and is free to tax payers.

By comparison, jail costs taxpayers $350 per week per inmate and inmates are offered housing with three meals per day, clothing, transportation to court, laundry, church, Bible study, a law library, medical, visitation, recreation and access to daily news.

For more information on ATS, visit its website at