Letter: Local incarceration leaders accomplishing a lot

Published 2:53 pm Monday, November 18, 2019

From Margaret Gardiner, Chair of The Women’s Network, Boyle Chapter, Danville —

This past Tuesday evening, Brian Wofford, our Jailer for Boyle County and Brad Adams, Warden of Northpoint Training Center gave a talk about these corrections facilities to The Women’s Network of Boyle. The range and excellence of their presentations sparked the longest discussion period that we’ve ever had in our open meetings on social issues.

I’m writing The Advocate-Messenger because the professionalism and competence of these officials stood out as they described their complicated leadership responsibilities. They deal with a difficult population. Criminal behavior is often alongside addiction, mental and physical health problems, poverty and/or limited job potential.

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Not only are they securing this population and providing for all their basic needs with limited resources 24/7, but they are also working to help develop the treatment, education and skills training resources for some inmates to turn their lives around. Those who heard the presentations are grateful that we have Wofford in charge of our county jail and Adams as Warden of a state prison within our area.

We would like a wider audience to appreciate how lucky we are to have their talents and commitment to work for the betterment of our criminal justice system.

At the same time, our community needs to understand that they are working with rundown, failing buildings and equipment, with serious overcrowding, overburdened with numbers in part because some state laws are more punitive than in most of the U.S. Then too, the lack of mental health and addiction treatment services in the community as well as poverty perversely feed crime. Both prevention and rehabilitation are under sourced. But Wofford and Adams are seeking solutions.

They voiced appreciation for all volunteers that assist their work, but more are needed. Strides have been made in addiction treatment. They lauded employers who are willing to hire workers coming out of prison trying to put their lives back together. Adams pointed out the huge barriers that face inmates who are being released at the end of their sentences, including housing, jobs, debts, and restoring family relationships.

The deck is stacked towards recidivism if they are left to cope alone. Wofford was unable to comment on whether the county would renovate its joint Boyle/Mercer jail or build a new one, but options are being investigated and the fiscal courts will make the final decision.  Community concern and support will decide how well Wofford’s and Adam’s best efforts succeed.