LPCO TV: Why Helping Inmates Matters

02/24/2020

La Plata County Sheriff Captain Ed Aber explains how hundreds of volunteers offer services to help jail inmates turn their lives around, and why that’s so important to our community.

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HELLO AND WELCOME TO WE ARE LA PLATA COUNTY TV. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE'RE HERE WITH CAPTAIN ED ABERFROM THE LAPLATA COUNTY JAIL. AND THE JAIL PROVIDES A CRITICAL PUBLICSAFETY FUNCTION BY HOUSING PEOPLE ACCUSED OF, OR SENTENCED FOR CRIMESIN YOUR COMMUNITY, IN OUR COMMUNITY. BUT YOU DO A LOT MORE THAN JUSTHOUSING INMATES. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE PROGRAMS THAT YOUOFFER AT THE JAIL?

YES, WE HAVE ABOUT AN AVERAGE OF 201INMATES AT THE LA PLATA COUNTY JAIL. AND WE TRY TO PROVIDE SERVICESTO CREATE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE THAT ARE INCARCERATED TO IMPROVETHEIR SITUATION AND THEIR LIFE AND MAKE DIFFERENT DECISIONS ANDHOPEFULLY NOT COME BACK THROUGH THE JAIL.

GREAT. SO WHAT ARESOME OF THE SPECIFIC OFFERINGS THAT YOU HAVE BESIDES JUSTINCARCERATION?

SO WE HAVE A HUNDRED, CLOSE, GETTING CLOSE TOA HUNDRED VOLUNTEERS AND THAT PROVIDE THESE SERVICES, AND WE ALSOHAVE CONTRACTED SERVICES. SO THOSE SERVICES INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH ANDSUBSTANCE ABUSE, MEANT,  COUNSELING. WE HAVE A PSYCHIATRIST THATCOMES INTO THE JAIL TWICE A WEEK. WE HAVE A COMPLETE, FULL MEDICALSTAFF TO INCLUDE A DOCTOR THAT PROVIDES SERVICES IN THE JAIL. THERE'SALCOHOLIC ANONYMOUS, AND THERE'S RELIGIOUS SERVICES, THERE'S LIBRARYSERVICES, AND WE ALSO PROVIDE GED SERVICES. THE SEXUAL ASSAULTSERVICES ORGANIZATION COMES IN AND DOES COUNSELING AND WE PROVIDEVETERANS SERVICES.

WOW. SO THAT'S QUITE A RANGE OF SERVICES.CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND OFFERING THESEPROGRAMS?

WELL, IT'S UNFORTUNATE, BUT A LOT OF THEINDIVIDUALS WHO ARE INCARCERATE, HAVE SUBSTANCE-ABUSE ISSUES ORMENTAL-HEALTH ISSUES OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH. THOSE INDIVIDUALSWITHOUT A DIFFERENT TOOLSET, YOU KNOW, HAVE LIMITED CHOICES IN WHATTHEIR DECISIONS ARE, AND THEY FREQUENTLY FIND THEMSELVES BACK IN THECRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

GREAT. SO YOU'RE REALLY TREATING THEWHOLE PERSON, TREATING PEOPLE WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY. RIGHT? SOWHAT ARE SOME OF THE SUCCESS STORIES THAT YOU'VE WITNESSED THROUGHTHESE RELATIONSHIPS?

SO IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, WE'VEGRADUATED 18 PEOPLE  WITH GEDS IN THE JAIL, AND THAT GED SERVICESPROVIDED BY DURANGO ADULT EDUCATION. OF THOSE 18 PEOPLE THAT GOTTHEIR GED WHILE THEY'VE BEEN IN JAIL, THERE'S ONLY BEEN THREE THATHAVE RETURNED BACK TO THE JAIL. IT'S PROBABLY ONE OF OUR BIGGESTSUCCESSES IN REDUCING RECIVIDISM.

WOW, THAT'S VERYIMPRESSIVE. SO HOW, HOW DO YOU WORK WITH YOUR JAIL STAFF TO KIND OFCULTIVATE THIS PHILOSOPHY AND, AND IMPLEMENT THESE PROGRAMS?

IT'SREALLY A MINDSET AND A PHILOSOPHY OF TREATING PEOPLE WITH DIGNITY ANDRESPECT, MEETING THEM WHERE THEY'RE AT AND LOOKING FOR THOSEOPPORTUNITIES WHERE SOMEBODY IS OPEN TO ENGAGEMENT AND WHEN THEY'REIN THAT POSITION, WHEN THEY'RE OPEN FOR ENGAGEMENT, HAVING THOSESERVICES READILY AVAILABLE AND BEING ABLE TO DIRECT THEM IN THAT,THAT DIRECTION. SO IT TAKES COMMUNICATION, IT TAKES ENGAGEMENT ON THEPART OF THE DEPUTIES AND THE INMATES, AS WELL AS THE STAFF THAT ARESERVING.

SO IT'S REALLY, REALLY ABOUT RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING.YEAH. SO ARE, ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROGRAMS BESIDES THIS LONG LISTTHAT YOU'RE HELPING TO BRING TO THE JAIL IN THE FUTURE?

ONE OF THE PROGRAMS I FAILED TO MENTIONIS LIBRARY SERVICES. WE HAVE A, WE HAVE A LAB, COMPLETE LIBRARYSERVICE INSIDE OF THE JAIL. AND THAT REALLY DOES HELP PEOPLE PASS THETIME OF DAY. ONE OF THE PROGRAMS THAT WE'RE IN THE PROCESS OF ISOBTAINING SOME STATE FUNDING FOR THIS MEDICAL-ASSISTED TREATMENT INTHE JAIL. SO MEDICAL-ASSISTED TREATMENT IS A PROGRAM THAT'S DESIGNEDTO HELP PEOPLE THAT HAVE AN OPIOID ADDICTION, TO USE MEDICALASSISTANCE TO, TO HELP BREAK THAT CYCLE.

GREAT. WONDERFUL.WELL, THANK YOU FOR SPENDING THE TIME WITH US TODAY, AND THANK YOUFOR JOINING US. THANK YOU.

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