WARSAW — Kosciusko County’s first Jail Chemical Addiction Program class made up of men celebrated its success with a ceremony Friday, Sept. 27.
The ceremony took place in the multi-purpose room in the downstairs area of the Kosciusko Justice Building. Following a buffet lunch, Sheldon Albright, Leyon Gilliam Jr., Joshua Auer, Daniel Honea, Phillip Boyd, Dustin Myers, Neal Minnick, Matthew Seabolt, Zachary White and Cody Paine were recognized for completing the program.
While two groups of women have graduated from the program in the past year or so, this one was the first for male inmates.
Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle P. Dukes singled out JCAP graduate Neal Minnick at the beginning of the presentation.
“Mr. Minnick, Do you know why I put you in charge back there? Do you know why I put you in charge of the JCAP team?” Dukes asked Minnick.
“Because I care,” Minnick responded.
“You care and you’re a leader,” Dukes affirmed. “You are a leader.”
“I want to publicly say thank you for holding these guys accountable,” Dukes said to Minnick. “Thank you for bringing them up when they need to be brought up. Thank you for having their backs.”
“Look at Neal. I chased that man for 20 years of my career. Look at him — he’s clean, he’s healthy, he’s working hard. That’s what we want. That’s what we want in Kosciusko County,” Dukes said.
Representatives from several organizations involved with the program also spoke at the event.
Jaclyn Franks, MPH, HHS Extension Educator, and Mindy Wise, 4-H Educator, from the Kosciusko County Purdue Extension Office, said they met with Courtney Jenkins, JCAP coordinator, this spring to discuss how Purdue Extension programming might fit into the JCAP program.
“It was the proudest day of my career to see these men stand up in front of my colleagues and tell them how Purdue Extension programming impacted them and how the skills they gained from our classes have changed their lives forever,” Franks said. “The difference I have seen in these men in the brief time I have known them has been nothing short of astounding.”
Franks stressed the importance of the JCAP program in providing tools and resources for participants to live healthy lives, free of substance abuse.
“This program has allowed these men to form connections with their contributors and the community so they know, when they get out of jail, there are a lot of people who care about their health, well-being and sobriety,” said Franks.
“Life is tough,” Dukes said to the JCAP graduates. “Fall back on your training. That’s how you survive this. You’ve got to fall back on what this lady (Jenkins) and the community members have taught you. You can do it. We have your backs. The ball is in your court.”
Dukes addressed Warsaw city council members, county council members and Mayor Joe Thallemer in a pitch for working together.
“There are probably three sheriff offices in the state of Indiana that are doing the JCAP program,” Dukes said. “We went and visited these. We’re leading the way. I am one missing piece of the puzzle from taking this to the next level.”
“Let’s throw politics out the window,” said Dukes. “Let’s just sit down and talk on how a city and county partnership looks and let’s take this to the next level. I promise you, I will give you every ounce of energy.”
“They’re my guys,” Jenkins said tearfully. “When I go home at night my family asks about them, because I talk about them all the time. They’re really good people and they care. They’ve become my friends. I am incredibly proud of the progress they’ve made. I trust them with my life — I know they would protect me. I know they care about me as much as I care about them, and I’m just grateful to have been part of this program.”
Two JCAP graduates, Cody Paine and Zachary White, then requested the opportunity to speak.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” Paine said to Jenkins. “You have such a passion to help people like me, people who have felt alone and lost.”
“You are the reason I’m standing here today. You have never judged me and only motivated and encouraged me,” said Paine. “You truly are a blessing, not only to myself but to this community.”
“Coming into this program, it’s not my first time being incarcerated. It’s not my first time being around opportunities to help addicts like myself,” White said. “She (Jenkins) put her entire heart into this thing. Thanks to the sheriff — he’s awesome. It’s so foreign for me to have someone in law enforcement be on my side, rooting for me. His job is to arrest people like me. I appreciate every one of you guys and I promise we’re going to make you proud.”