National News

New sheriff's program aims to send inmates from jail to jobs

Posted May 31, 2018 10:02 a.m. EDT

— When it comes to crime in Douglas County, deputies in the sheriff's office says they see many of the same offenders and they want it to stop.

They're hoping a new program will send inmates from jail to jobs.

"Prevention has always been a part of law enforcement," said Master Sgt. Jesse Hambrick, spokesperson for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. "Instead of focusing as much on the enforcement side, which people see, we can focus on the prevention side and that's what we're doing," he added.

The jail, in the last several years, has mainly helped inmates battling addictions with treatment and job placement.

Now, Sheriff Tim Pounds is pushing to make the extra resources an official program for more inmates. He's moved Officer Lisa Williams into a full time roll to get newly released inmates jobs, housing, and social service needs.

Williams says, without those resources many inmates will return to crime. "They'll be back here, and it will be just like a revolving door," Williams said. "Because, when they get out and they don't have these resources then they don't have jobs, they don't have shelter and they end up offending again and coming back here in the jail."

Sheriff's deputies have gone out to local businesses and asked if managers will let newly-released inmate work for them. Some businesses are already saying 'yes.'

"We had people from local roofing companies that are willing to work with people that need help," Hambrick said. "We've got people that are with actual government services that are able to provide help, people that are will mental health services that can provide help."

The focus will be on inmates who are likely to make bond and be back out on the streets before trial and who aren't headed to prison where there are already state-run re-entryprograms in place

They say helping inmates who are likely to get out soon is much cheaper than housing them in jail.

"Statistics say that $1 worth of prevention is worth about $7 dollars in actual enforcement," Hambrick said. "So, we're looking to try to, number one, make our job a little more productive and a little more profitable. Number two, we're trying to help those in the community that can in turn help other people," he added.

Williams says they plan to follow up on former inmate's progress when the program is fully functional.

It's a new look at community service for greater community good.