Even though someone may be an inmate, it does not mean they cannot better themselves and the Clay County Justice Center hosts numerous programs to do just that.
Those incarcerated have numerous programs to join that allow them to prepare for their release and return to being productive members of the community.
"We probably have more programs available than most jails in the area," Clay County Sheriff's Department Assistant Jail Commander and Jail Division Program Coordinator Ron Keen said.
The program with the highest level of participation is Celebrate Recovery, which helps individuals, not just inmates, who struggle with addictions, hurts and other hang-ups.
"We have an average of 120-130 inmates at any given time and about 40 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women participate in Celebrate Recovery," Keen said. "We have it one night a week and the instructors and associates talk with both the men and women."
One area the jail attempts to help inmates turn their lives around is by working to change their perspective when they come across difficult situations.
Thinking for a Change is an 11-week program that encourages individuals to think through a situation before acting.
"It helps get them to start thinking with a positive attitude as they prepare for life when they are not incarcerated," Keen said. "This, along with many of the programs we offer comes with the potential of cutting part of their sentence, but it depends on the individual."
Clay County Community Corrections Case Manager Jaime Ringo is the instructor of the course, which takes place twice a week at the jail.
"You can't force an individual to do this, but we hope to plant a seed to get them to start thinking about what they do," Ringo said. "Everything is not black and white either because each case is different and there are a lot of angles to consider in various situations."
The course is a cognitive-based program, sponsored by the Indiana Department of Correction, that began with offenders on probation, but Ringo said it is not just for the criminal mindset.
"The class can be used for anyone," she said. "It does a lot of good and after I finished training to teach the class, it made me look at my own patterns as well."
This is the fourth year Ringo has been an instructor for the course and is currently teaching her third class at the jail.
"The success of the course depends on the individual and if they re-offend, but it is enjoyable, especially seeing the reaction of someone who gets it," she said. "I have had a lot of people come up and tell me they got more out of it than they expected."
The maximum number allowed in each course is 12 to allow for more individualized learning.
"Every class has its own dynamics," Ringo said. "We prefer to have class sizes between 10 and 12 because there would be chaos if there were more and we don't anyone to feel like they lost in the crowd."
In addition to providing Adult Education courses for inmates to earn their GED or take college courses, the jail also offers a slew of faith-based programs.
"We currently have five faith-based programs that come in at least once a week to reach out to those wanting to embrace their religion," Keen said. "They all have good attendance with about 25-30 attending each session."
There is also the Unchained Ministries which comes in once a week, typically working with reformed adults.
"There is a high success rate with the faith-based programs because a majority of people become part of a church when they have completed their sentence," Keen said.
Keen also said while the jail does not have any outreach programs, their work release program has a 50-50 success rate.
"We are very particular about who we choose for work release," he said. "They have to be cleared by the court in order to qualify and we monitor everything, but it is a way to get them to be productive wile serving their sentence."
All of the programs are determined by funding, which Keen said is becoming harder to get, but the jail is instituting a couple of new programs as well.
"We just started a Stress Release for Women course which helps the female inmates, who are can't see their kids or take care of the bills, manage their stress in positive ways," he said. "We are also planning to start a Child Service program that will help inmates control and solve their family problems."
Even with the multitude of programs available, sometimes the easiest way jailers are able to help inmates is by lending a kind ear.
"We can't provide advice unless we have experienced the same thing, but we have to listen to a certain extent," Keen said. "Sometimes all that is needed is to be a good listener and let them talk their way through their problems. Many of the inmates want to do better when they are done serving their sentence, and we encourage them to become productive members of the community when they get out."
Just the facts
Individuals incarcerated at the Clay County Justice Center have numerous programs to enter in an attempt to rectify their lives and get back on the straight and narrow when they are released. Here is a list of the programs offered through the jail.
* Adult Education (twice a week)
* Celebrate Recovery
* Thinking for a Change (twice a week)
* Stress Release for Women
* Unchained Minitries
* Child Service (starting soon)
* Faith-based programs (United Methodist Church, Rock Run Church, Good Hope Baptist Church, Gideons and Jehovah's Witnesses).