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Hearing sheds light on inmate re-entry program

August 01, 2019
OSSIPEE — About 50 people turned out for a public hearing July 24 to learn about the Carroll County House of Corrections' inmate re-entry program.

The TRUST (Transitional Reentry Under Supportive Treatment) is an intensive program for offenders that "helps provide the tools and resources necessary for success. The program was established in 2016 with a $200,000 grant. An additional grant application of $400,000 has been filed in hopes of continuing to fund the program.

In 2017, 21 inmates graduated from the TRUST program and were back in the community. After a year, four had been arrested for new criminal offenses. Consultant Kevin Warwick said that amounts to a 19 percent recidivism rate, low compared to the national average of 65 to 72 percent.

TRUST programming includes classes in anger management, social skills, problem solving, risk management, stress management, and mindfulness through meditation. Case management is a main component of the program. Inmates receive a full assessment to identify their specific needs. Case Manager Wanda Eckhoff received many accolades for her work during the July 24 presentation. She helps create case plans to help inmates transition back into the community including helping them get social security cards, driver's licenses, birth certificates, employment, housing, establishing medical insurance and a primary care provider, and arranging for continued mental health and substance abuse treatment as necessary.

The ideal candidate for the TRUST program is an inmate sentenced for six to 12 months in jail to allow for stabilization, assessment, program completion and a step-down process to help them re-integrate into the community. However, said CCHOC Superintendent Jason Henry, the average length of stay used to be 45 days and is now down to 30 days. Henry, Warwick, and program director Jim Stoddard all indicated that doesn't prevent as many services and access to programs still being offered. It was pointed out that 90 percent of jail inmates have co-occurring disorders, meaning they have co-existing mental health and substance abuse disorders.

There were concerns from the audience including the need for transitional housing and transportation, a concerning and rising trend of methamphetamine use, the need for additional and connected community resources, and the likelihood of the jail having to soon offer medication-assisted substance abuse treatment and its related costs.

Several key community members attended the presentation including former longtime county commissioner Marge Webster, current commissioners Amanda Bevard, Terry McCarthy and David Babson, former jail superintendent Dennis Robinson, Carroll County Restorative Justice Director Lance Zack, several state representatives, Sheriff Domenic Richardi, and County Attorney Michaela Andruzzi.

In other CCHOC-related news, the county delegation jail subcommittee is scheduled to hold its first meeting today, Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. at the County complex in Ossipee with its charge to begin a deep-dive into the $4 million annual jail budget.

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