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JCAP to expand to women inmates

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A jail-based addiction treatment program is expanding to serve women, opening a new front in the response to drug dependency.

The Jail Chemical Addiction Program, known as JCAP, will begin accepting female participants next year. A multi-pronged approach involving the jail, mental health counselors, courts, probation officers and firefighter/EMTs, the 90-day voluntary program offers counseling and life skills to inmates with substance use disorders.

“Our goal when we started was always to have men and women, but we knew it was going to be big, it just turned out to be much bigger than we thought,” Montgomery County Sheriff Ryan Needham said.

Nearly 20 men have graduated since the program launched in the spring. The jail hopes to have about half that many to start the women’s class.

The county is one of less than a dozen Indiana communities with the program. Initial funding came from the Indiana Drug Enforcement Association and Valley Oaks Health.

Inmates don’t have to be facing drug charges to apply for a spot. 

“If you’re in here for a burglary but you’ve been committing burglaries and thefts because of your drug problem, we’re going to get you in to JCAP,” Needham said during an interview at the jail.

There’s a tightly controlled schedule of classes, counseling sessions and homework assignments, all in a separate pod from the general inmate population.

Valley Oaks providers run counseling meetings and jail chaplain Jamie Cevala teaches classes on anger management, parenting, substance abuse and other topics.

Inmates also receive basic first aid and CPR training from community paramedics.

“The old way of putting you in the jail cell for six months and just letting you walk out the door … with no treatment and no nothing, and then society just expects you to not do anything again — it doesn’t work that way,” Needham said.

Graduates are presented with certificates in a brief ceremony, which is timed close to their release from jail. At the end of their sentence, participants often begin the work release program or drug court.

The Montgomery County Community Foundation recently spoke to recovering addicts about the program after a site visit to the jail.

“In sharing these experiences with a donor, the donor became interested in learning more about the JCAP program and in particular what it would take to make it available to women,” MCCF executive director Kelly Taylor said.

The anonymous donor gave enough funding to operate the women’s program for three years.

“This wouldn’t be possible without the community foundation,” Needham said.

Another recent JCAP graduate will share his story Tuesday during the Drug Free Montgomery County Coalition’s Red Ribbon Breakfast. The event begins at 7:15 a.m. at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau.

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