By Mariah Timms
The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is in a period of transition, and nowhere are the winds of change felt more strongly than in the Adult Detention Center.
“Of course we’re going to have our bumps here and there—it’s corrections, it’s a jail, things are going to happen—but our goal is to provide the opportunity and create the right environment for success,” Capt. Chris Fly said.
Fly, previously in charge of the Rutherford County Correction Work Center, has started laying the ground work for a much more programs-based experience for those incarcerated at the jail.
“The main focus we’re doing is, instead of these guys and girls sitting in their cells staring at the walls, we want them to use their time effectively, in a way to work, reduce them from having to come back,” Lt. Richard Grissom, program director, said. “We just want to give them the tools they can use to be productive citizens when they leave and possibly keep them from returning.”
A 2013 report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND corporation demonstrated that increasing the opportunity for education inside jails and prisons significantly reduces the rates of recidivism for the individuals who participate in the programs.
Under the terms of the study, which looked at more than 30 years of recidivism rates, those involved in the studied treatment groups were 43 percent less likely to be reincarcerated within three years of their release.
On top of the findings of recidivism rates itself, the study determined the 12.9 percentage-point reduction shows that correctional education programs far exceed the break-even point in reducing the risk. From that data, the cost to educate an inmate is far below rehousing those individuals later on.
“This works,” Grissom said. “When you can use different parts of different programs that have been proven to work and when you start getting that amount of input, you can make a lot of difference.”