RECOVERING ADDICTS HELP SHERIFF
BREAK RECIDIVISM CYCLE
Friday, August 6, 2010— In an effort to help stop the cycle of recidivism, former Cook County Jail inmates whose addictions led them to start a life of crime are set to return to the jail Friday to begin outreach and partnerships with those now in jail under similar circumstances, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
The Day Reporting Center/Pre-Release Center Alumni Association was recently created in an effort to link those who have led clean, sober and productive lives since they left the jail with those about to be released.
A ceremony to kick off that program – featuring former inmates, elected officials and community leaders - is set for 11 a.m. Friday at the Cook County Jail garden, located behind 3026 S. California St.
“Time and again, we’ve seen studies showing how many crimes are driven by drug addictions,” Dart said. “Yet for years, we’ve allowed people to walk out of the jail without all of the tools they need in order to succeed. We can’t act surprised when they then go back to the same friends, do the same things and wind up back here. This can help change that cycle.”
Friday’s program is designed to link former inmates and community leaders with the 450 men housed in the jail’s drug treatment centers. Former inmates hope to inspire those now in jail by telling personal stories, while awards will also be given to select participants.
The Alumni Association is made up of nearly 40 former inmates who have shown years’ worth of commitment to recovery and service to their community. The group was organized late last year as a way to develop a positive social network for those leaving custody and returning to their families and communities. The group’s goal is to provide support to those men and build new friendships based on recovery and responsibility.
Next month, the Alumni Association will begin monthly meetings aimed at continuing those relationships and inviting others as they are released from custody. They plan to create a mailing list to send meeting and contact information to hundreds of former inmates as they leave custody. Additionally, they will continue outreach efforts by directly linking them with committed community partners in the neighborhoods where they’re returning.
The Day Reporting and Pre-Release centers have helped more than 20,000 men since opening in 1993. The programs are available to those facing trial or who have been sentenced to the program. Most participants have a criminal history involving drug charges and none have a record of violent crimes. The programs include intensive therapy, courses on building life skills, GED classes and self-help groups.