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Thumbs up; thumbs down, March 21

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Jail’s outpatient program seeing success

The new intensive outpatient (IOP) program being run by Boyle and Mercer counties filled up almost as soon as it opened its doors, and officials are eagerly waiting for it expand further.

Right now, 20 people who would otherwise be inmates in the Boyle County Detention Center are instead released and participating in the program while they learn strategies for combatting drug addiction and gain valuable work skills.

There has been a little turnover as a couple of those released have reoffended. But according to officials, the majority of those in the program are succeeding so far — and some that organizers expected to reoffend quickly have turned out to be “shining stars” of the program, according to Jailer Barry Harmon.

The program is still in its infancy, but the early indicators suggest it may be accomplishing exactly what it was created to accomplish — rehabilitation.

Rehabilitated offenders wind up holding down steady jobs rather than taking up space in a cell. Recidivism is responsible for a huge chunk of the local jail’s population. If you could reduce the chances that someone who goes to jail ever goes back, you could greatly reduce the resources needed to run the jail — resources that are ultimately paid for by taxpayers.

Recidivism is also a personal problem for people battling drug addiction. Every stint in jail is time they can’t be with friends and family, can’t be working and earning a paycheck. When you help someone avoid going back to jail, you prevent the disruptions that prevent many drug users from finding stability.

The IOP program addresses both of these recidivism problems directly, by reducing the jail’s population while helping individuals find stability.

No wonder officials are looking forward to April 1, when they hope to double the number of inmates participating to 40.

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Officials acknowledge importance of parks

It’s nice to see officials with Boyle County and Danville disagreeing on how they should spend money on local parks. That’s because they could be disagreeing on whether to spend money on local parks.

Having nice parks — and Danville and Boyle County have one of the nicest around in Millennium Park — makes a huge difference for our quality of life. Parks make people more likely to relocate here, they serve as the hub for countless community athletics and activities, they make businesses more likely to open and expand, and they give everyone regardless of income level easy access to nature.

Some in Boyle County government are promoting the idea of upping county investment in Millennium Park to improve paving, upgrade athletic facilities and more. Many in Danville government are focused on conducting a study to develop a new parks master plan aimed at making sure investments in local parks provide what residents want.

Both ideas have merit and both seem like good ways to ensure local parks continue to impress and serve the local residents well. Parks have enormous value and we’re glad to live in a community where that value is understood.