Patrick Price, 30: Parole worker’s mission was to change people’s lives

For much of this year, Patrick Price’s mission was to identify inmates serving long sentences for relatively minor drug offenses who met criteria under new legislation that made them eligible for early release from prison. Then he got to tell them about it.

Some of these offenders were serving life-without-parole sentences and had no hope of ever walking free again. So Price’s news was met with both disbelief and unbridled joy.

“Once Patrick realized these guys were wrongly given a lot of time, he took it on as a crusade: He wanted to right what had been done in the past,” said Scott Reaves, a colleague at the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. “He was very passionate about it.”

But that hardly defined Price. He’d married the woman of his dreams, and they had three sons in their four years of marriage. At his church, he taught Sunday school and mentored dozens of teenagers. He considered his life goal was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible.

Patrick Price, of Woodstock, died suddenly in his parole board office on Sept. 29 of medical causes that have yet to be determined. He was 30.

Price’s funeral was held Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock. He was buried at Enon Cemetery in Woodstock. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the Patrick Price Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank.

Price met his wife at the Baptist church in Woodstock where their families were members and where he taught fifth-grade Sunday school.

“He didn’t just teach those boys for that single year,” his wife, Brittany Price, said. “He took them for life. He discipled and mentored them for years.”

During Saturday’s funeral, dozens of those young men, all wearing white button-down shirts, stood in appreciation, looking down at Price’s flag-draped casket.

Another one of Price’s favorite tasks was to accompany his wife on Valentine’s Day to deliver flowers and chocolates to widows and divorcees. “He wanted to send love to those who really needed it,” Brittany said.

As for his parole project, Price was excited about changing inmates’ lives, she said.

For example, in early July Price called Ella Jackson in Macon to let her know that her son, sentenced to life without parole for repeat drug offenses, would be the first inmate released under the new criminal justice reform law.

The elated Jackson told her son, Darion Barker, the news when he telephoned her from prison a few days later. But Barker didn’t buy it. He thought someone was pulling a cruel scam.

He told her to call the number back to see if the parole board office identified itself on the other end. So Jackson called Price back and, to Price’s amazement, asked for some proof.

On Barker’s first night of freedom, after 20 years in prison, his family held a celebration party. Price called the home that night and asked for Barker to be put on the line. “Do you believe me now?” Price asked.

In late July, Price drove down to Macon and then returned to Atlanta with Barker in tow. He wanted to be there when Barker surprised his daughter and let her know he’d been freed.

At the parole board, Price’s title was Strategic Planning, Initiatives and Innovations Coordinator.

“That meant he was our go-to guy,” said Chris Barnett, the board’s executive director. “Anything that had to be done above expectations, he’d be the one to do it. He had all the talent and potential to one day run this agency — or any agency in the state of Georgia.”

Price’s father, Gene Price of Marietta, said he was always amazed how his son made the time to mentor young men and help them through their early-life struggles.

“Patrick’s schedule was atrocious,” he said. “But he always wanted to do as good a job as possible and to give as much of himself as possible. That’s just the way he was. Speaking as his father, I’d love to be half the man he was.”

In addition to his wife and father, Patrick Price is survived by his three sons, Peyton Keller, Evan Patrick and Nathan Jude; his mother, Paula Price; his sisters Laura Latham and Kerry Gwinn; and grandparents Sarah Price and Paul and Peggy Brown.

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