Marshall County Sheriff Matt Hassel had it bit of bad news for the County Council Monday. He told them the new Attorney General, Todd Rokita is not going to support and sponsor the Jail Chemical Additions Program (JCAP) grants.
Sheriff Hassel explained that JCAP, one of the many steps taken by the county to assist with the jail overcrowding issues the county experienced in 2019 has been very beneficial.
The county was awarded a JCAP grant in July 2020 which allowed them to hire a Jail Program Director. The sheriff said, “We were still crowded until COVID hit and that’s what really brought the numbers down. Since we’ve gotten this program up and running our number haven’t gone back up. We’ve been running in the 150’s to 160’s for about 12 months. I contribute a lot of that to this program.”
Josh Pitts, program director at the jail told the county council he is a licensed clinical addiction counselor and conducts a lot of the programs himself. They currently offer substance abuse classes, individual counseling, skills building with Purdue Extension, GED through Plymouth Adult Education, art classed by Heartland Galleries, a logistics certification through Work One and Grace College, decision making, narcotics anonymous and parenting facilitated by the Woman’s Care Center.
Sheriff Hassel said, “We’ve seen, thanks to these programs a change in moral with the inmates.”
Bo Holcomb Chief Jailer spoke about the benefits the staff is having with the programs for the inmates. Holcomb said it’s very difficult to try and incentivize good behavior because he really only has the ability to discipline by taking away some of the freedom’s inmates have. He said, “Inmates have a lot of time and idle hands are the devils workshop.” Giving them options to participate in programs has made a difference. There are about 160 inmates in the jail and Holcomb said, “Some are drug dealers, some are alcoholics, some just make terrible decisions but the one thing they all have in common is they are all addicts. They are either addicted to drugs, alcohol or just making terrible decisions.” He said, “We owe it to these people, we owe it to the community to give them the help that they need.”
Sheriff Hassel told the County Council he would like to keep the position after the grant ends in July and fund the salary and benefits for the program director out of the Local Income Tax and he would fund the programing costs using the Commissary Fund. He will also seek out other grants for assistance of the program.
The sheriff said part of their goal is to reduce the number of inmates who are repeat visitors to the jail.
Following additional discussion the Marshall County Council unanimously pledged their support for Sheriff Hassel to seek an additional appropriation in May to fund the Jail Program Director’s position after the grant runs out in July.