BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County Warden Dustin Myers had good news to report at this month’s Jefferson County Jail Inspection/Intermediate Punishment Board meeting.
“As far as the programs and stuff we’re picking up steam,” he said.
One of Myers’ goals since becoming warden has been to get programs into the jail to help those inmates who will eventually be transitioning back into society.
In December he had told the board that while there were some programs at the jail, “It’s just not enough. Not to my standards, I want more,” Myers said. “I want more programs up there. I want more help for these guys.”
As to what type of programs he has been looking for, at the December jail board meeting Myers said he was looking for “any kind of rehabilitation programs.”
Last Tuesday he said, “We’re getting a lot more calls from the public, different kinds of groups – drug and alcohol, AA – things like that. They’re finally picking up and they’re catching on that we will take whatever they got. Something that comes up, they just call us and we get them in and it’s finally picking up steam. It took a little bit but we’re off the ground and running so definitely.
“Plus our veterans are being taken care of thanks the deputy warden. He created a new report that Veteran Affairs gets every month so they’re tracking those one. So I guess as time goes on, we’re just getting more and more groups up there that want to be there and help you guys out. We haven’t turned anybody away,” Myers said.
Noting that the Veterans Affairs Office is working well, jail board Chairman Commissioner Herb Bullers asked Deputy Warden Daniel Muñoz to talk a little bit about what is being done for the inmates who are veterans.
“The beginning of every month our jail manage system is going to email Veteran Affairs of every inmate that’s currently housed there that is a veteran. Then we also have on our kiosk machine where they can write requests out to administration where we set one up for Veteran Affairs, where only the warden and I can see, and once we get them, we will email off to her (Veterans Affairs Director Krupa Steele) because they might have specific questions or something like that for her. We can get them right off to her and then a response and then the response brought back to them,” Muñoz said.
“Eventually we would like to hit every group we possibly can. But it’s just, it’s a slow process but I mean we’re getting it done as fast and we possibly can,” Myers said.
Separated at jailSheriff Carl Gotwald noted a person at stopped at his office with a request involving two sons currently housed in the county jail in two different blocks. The parent was hoping to have them housed in the same block so that visitation could be on the same day with both of them.
Myers said the two would not be housed together and that policy is in the best interest of the two men.
“We keep them separated as best as we possibly can,” he said, unless because of housing restraints they have to put them together. The reason for the separation, Myers said, is people who are related or best friends tend to be “less likely to do something stupid” if they’re separated, inferring that it keeps them out of trouble while they are housed at the jail. “Honestly, it’s in their best interest to keep them apart from each other.”
New direction at jailMyers noted that one of the lieutenants at the jail noted that some inmates are looking at substantial time in solitary confinement and don’t have anything to look forward to. “So we’re kind of giving them a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. For anybody I would say over 60 days in the hole, if they show us a pattern that they are trying to behave and they are trying to do the right thing and follow the rules we will actually let them out of the RHU (restricted housing unit) early. One condition though if they do violate it in any way – they get wrote up or do something stupid – then they’re going right back to the hole for the remainder of the time they owe.
I know this never been in place and we have inmates up there that have a good number of days in the RHU because they just do what they’re supposed to do. So now we’re giving them something to look forward to.
“I guess they’re going to get a second chance. And it’s working. We’ve already had two inmates go through it and they’re doing great. These are two of our major problem guys and they’re doing good.”
Myers did clarify that if an inmate violates anything on it and ends up back in RHU, they do not get a second chance at the program.
Even an inmate that has 1,000 days in the RHU for bad behavior will get the chance to be in the program and leave the RHU for changing to a good behavior pattern. Myers noted that “we’re not going to hold a grudge against anybody. Everyone will get a fair shot at it, no matter what they did to get time in the RHU.
Recording meetingGotwald asked if the jail board meeting could be recorded in the future. He said they were at one time and then discontinued. When asked why he wanted the meetings recorded he said sometimes he ask a question about something but what he’s asking about isn’t in the minutes he says he’s told to prove it.
Bullers noted that having the meeting recorded is not a bad idea and that it will be looked into.
Next meetingThe next meeting of the jail board will be held at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the large conference room at Jefferson Place.