Inmates at the Boyd County Detention Center who have a conviction to improve their own lives will play chess instead of poker as part of a new program aimed at changing attitudes and lives, according to Deputy Tony Daniels.
“If they play a game, it’s going to have to be chess. Chess teaches that you have to think about your next move ... and that’s something some of these guys need to work on,” Daniels said last week, explaining that many of those in the jail are guilty of using poor judgment based on the only information they’ve ever known.
“We get a lot of guys that just make bad decisions,” Daniels said, explaining the motivations that resulted in the new Route 1-80 program under development at the jail, which will incorporate three different programs approved by the Department of Corrections aimed at helping offenders alter the thinking that resulted in their offenses. One program is designed to “retrain the mind with morals and values more typical of society,” he said. “A lot of these guys grew up with a different standard of normal than most people grew up with.”
In conjunction with the “New Directions” program and another called “Inside Out Dads,” Daniels said he has confidence those who apply themselves and commit to the program, which also incorporates a dedicated “therapeutic community” cell block separate from the jail’s general population. Those who complete each of the three components of the Route 1-80 program, which is modeled after a program in Marion County, will be able to qualify for up to 90 days of “good time,” although Daniels said those who try to participate only for a reduced stay will find they have to give up a lot to take a shot at it.
“They now have it pretty easy in there. They can watch TV all day, have their meals delivered and their laundry done and hang out all day. That’s about as easy as it gets. When they come into this program ... they’re going to lose a lot of that easy,” he said. “Their day will be full and they will have a rigorous schedule.”
Daniels said each inmate must complete and pass an interview process to evaluate motivation, with 50 applicants now seeking one of the 32 to 40 beds in the men’s community cell, or 16 spots in the women’s therapeutic cell. For those who are accepted for Route 1-80, television time will be limited in lieu of time spent reading books, he said, as part of an educational effort to help inmates realize their potential and hopefully avoid more bad decisions. The program will include keeping personal journals that will be shared with family members, who are often codependent or fill enabling roles, during weekly meetings aimed at reconnecting family ties and improving communication skills. The program will also target at-risk youth within the community in hopes of reducing the rate of incoming inmates.
The deputy said expenses for the Route 1-80 program will be paid for using commissary funds, and resulted from Jailer Joe Burchett’s frustration with a lack of results from the previous “Fed Up” program at the jail. Daniels, who worked as a pastor for a jail ministry at the facility for more than three years before going to work there, said he was honored to help draft a program that might make a difference for some inmates.
“The old program did not meet the jailer’s expectations, so he asked me to give it a complete facelift and achieve these goals,” he said, noting community groups and church officials will also be called upon to help.
“Providing an environment of structure and discipline along with educational opportunities and support services, Jailer Joe Burchett believes the implementation of such a program will greatly contribute to lowering the recidivism rate for inmates and reflect a positive impact on the county as well as the families of offenders through the development of men and women into their full potential as productive members of society,” Daniels said.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.