Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Set Free Indeed

Name of Innovative Program: 
Set Free Indeed
Sponsoring Organization
Set Free Indeed
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Tonja Myles
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Set Free Indeed is an innovative program originally established to offers faith-based support for those who need help conquering substance use disorders. Developed, organized and founded by Mrs. Tonja Myles, this faith-based, non-profit organization brings together local churches, businesses, state and local politicians to unite in serving and addressing the addictive needs of the community in the areas of sex, drugs, gambling and substance abuse addictions.   Mrs. Myles supervises a clinical and educational multidisciplinary team for this program that is designed to work with adults and adolescents struggling with addiction, destructive behavior, or any form of bondage that is holding them captive.  Mrs. Myles has gained admiration and recognition in the community and has had a weekly television show for the past 6 years.  Named “Choices”, the show focuses on empowering people to “make better choices so you can live a better life.” The show appears on metro channel 21 in the City of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.   
Creativity and Innovation: 
Tonja Myles helped to develop, coordinate and expand the Set Free Indeed Program to include:  (1) support services for the family members of loved ones suffering from addiction (2) referral, resources and supportive services to help men and women who are or were incarcerated to regain, reestablish, and recover their lives (3) a volunteers division with 25-30 city-wide volunteers and (4) a weekly non-denomination church service at The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison {The Set Free Church}. She has created and developed an educational opportunity of The Set Free Program for The Louisiana Department of Corrections by providing a certified substance abuse and parenting class weekly.  She coordinated with corrections officials for all class participation to go towards "time served" for those who successfully completed and graduated from this program. The Set Free Program additionally provides reentry plans, recovery coaching and resource referrals.
As a former Military Police Sergeant in the Louisiana Army National Guard, Tonja Myles has utilized her dynamic leadership qualities to develop and implement the Set Free Indeed model program. Through her advocacy, she along with Louisiana State Senator Sharon Weston Broome have established a Mental Health Roundtable made up of leaders in law enforcement, behavioral health specialists, legislators and community organizers.  This group holds monthly symposiums purposed to offer solutions to the mental health challenges that affect the community and its direct relation to violence and crime.      
Through the Set Free Indeed Program, Tonja Myles has developed strategic partnerships with entities such as the Louisiana Department of Corrections. She collaborates and works with probation and parole officers, judges on The Prison Re-Entry and Recovery Program designed to provide offenders with supportive services and resources that enable independence and productivity.  She leads the Set Free Indeed advocacy efforts, support services and referrals for families with incarcerated loved ones who suffer with behavioral disorders caused by addictions.Additionally, Mrs. Myles works with the The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program which is designed to eliminate violence in Baton Rouge by targeting specific areas. BRAVE is based upon “Project Ceasefire,” a program that has proven effective in reducing serious violent crimes in US cities. With the BRAVE Program she reaches out to youth and gang members encouraging them to make better life style choices to avoid participation in crime. 
Set Free Indeed is a model program that addresses addiction and can be replicated and/or adapted to meet the needs of a target population. This innovative program uses community partnerships to directly reach populations that are most susceptible to mental and behavioral health challenges such as incarcerated populations and underserved communities. The core focus of Set Free Indeed includes: (1) support services for the family members who have loved ones suffering from addiction (2) referral, resources and supportive services to help men and women who are or were incarcerated to regain, reestablish, and recover their lives (3) focus on volunteerism and advocacy and (4) developing a spiritual or faith based connection. 
The outcomes for the Set Free Indeed Programs have been favorable due to the leadership of Tonja Myles who is a Certified Peer Support Specialist.  She has implemented and led for the past 7 years a support group for women in prison who have behavior health issues.  The first of its kind in the State of Louisiana, this program serves the incarcerated women in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and addresses behavioral health issues caused by traumatic events and substance abuse. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. This program has been certified by DOC and has had over 4000 graduated and referred to local treatment centers upon their release. The success rate of the program is 65 percent do well after completion. The programs biggest challenge is budget cuts; however, Mrs. Myles works with limited resources to insure that all participants “Stay Free.”