Despite the true definition of the word, “reality” can take on many forms. Sachs Media Group client Bridges of America deals daily with inmates and clients for whom “reality” brought events and circumstances that drove them to the criminal justice system. The Bridges teams of counselors and staff works with those inmates and clients to help prepare them for their eventual return to “reality” with tried and true coping skills.
For The Jacksonville Bridge, “reality” came in the form of reality television when UP Television, the network of uplifting television, spent time in December filming a visit between an inmate, Shawndell, his girlfriend, Ciara, and their daughter Shania. Shawndell has a family-type relationship with the Bulloch family of Lakeland, who star in the “Bulloch Family Ranch” on UP Television, which brings to the spotlight honorable people doing down-to-earth, honest good deeds.
“Bulloch Family Ranch” chronicles the lives of Julie and Rusty Bulloch, a fun-loving working class couple that work hard to make ends meet. Dozens of young people who have disadvantaged backgrounds or have fallen on hard times have been taken by the Bullochs and given unconditional love. As a natural part of that storyline, the Bullochs brought Ciara and Shania for a visit with Shawndell in Jacksonville, where he is serving the remainder of his prison sentence at The Jacksonville Bridge to better prepare for his transition back into the community.
Regular activities while filming – classes, counseling – were not disrupted at all. What we hope viewers see when this episode airs, is that Shawndell’s story is just a representation of the work that goes on in Jacksonville – and across the state at the other 6 (soon to be 10!) Bridges of America locations – on a daily basis.
As the Sachs Media Group lead professional on the Bridges of America relationship, I encouraged them to pursue the reality filming opportunity to shine a light on the many positive aspects of the re-entry portion of the corrections continuum. It’s our job to make sure clients carefully consider each chance to tell their story – and further their mission.
I traveled to the set that day, and assisted in any way I could. We ensured that all DOC regulations were observed, and that the privacy of other inmates and clients was protected. And, as is often the case with production, we remained flexible with delays and weather concerns.
The “reality” for Bridges of America is that they do the very best they can to prepare more than 1000 men and women in their care and custody for their release. They take their job very seriously and take pride in their successful statistics in reducing recidivism. Sachs Media Group is honored to help them tell their story and be a part of their team.
Watch for this episode to air on UP Television sometime this spring.