Jail plan hopes to reduce repeat offenders

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MIDWEST CITY -- The Midwest City jail is kicking off a program they hope will help inmates not become repeat offenders. The program is designed to provide help for those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse.

Major Bob Cornelison, with the Midwest City Police Department, said, "We have long since understood our jails here local or across the nation have became home, or almost a dumping ground for people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues."

The Midwest City jail is home to a few dozen inmates serving their time there as opposed to the county.

The police department says close 4,000 men and women spend time in the city jail each year.

Of those, they suspect a good 85 percent are struggling with mental illness or addiction, problems they are hoping to combat with a new program.

Cornelison said, "We thought it was important to offer a service that would allow somebody to get healthy and be sober."

They are working with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to add a health professional who will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those who choose to get help.

Cornelison said, "This is for somebody who recognizes they have a problem and somebody who wants to get healthy."

It's a program inmates we spoke with support.

Bradly Studdard, an inmate, said, "I think a lot of people need that kind of help instead of being locked up."

The program is modeled after one used by many county jails and prisons. The hope is once an inmate gets help and gets out they won't be coming back.

Cornelison said, "That's our goal to get people healthy and not have them come back. It serves everyone better."

Jail officials say the inmates who take advantage of the program will be required to take part in certain follow up care once they are released. That care will be decided on a case by case basis.

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